Joshua Sheik and I first learned of each other’s existence when he found my writing online. We’re not entirely certain how this happened, but in September of 2013 he was seeking press for the premiere of his first feature film and sent me a message on Facebook inviting me to cover the red carpet event. I was in the midst of working on an attempted web series pilot and was eager to make more local filmmaking connections, so I accepted his friend request. Noticing that Joshua was very handsome and accomplished and a Christian, I actually kind of hoped he might audition for the series. Anyway, he lived in south Alabama and I lived in northeast Alabama, which was a great distance for not having my own means of transportation. I anticipated a scheduling conflict the date of the premier as well, so, in Joshua’s words, I “turned him down.” Quite the contrary, I had an odd fleeting thought of “I could see myself marrying that man.” But like any intuition on which I can’t perform complete data analysis, I abashedly dropped it like a hot potato and soon got distracted with my multitude of projects.
Over the next couple of years we corresponded online and I got another chance at attending a red carpet event premiere with him: our first date in August 2015 for the Birmingham premier of Woodlawn, on which he had worked as a production assistant. I recall running into Joshua Walsh at the event and he teased Joshua, “First date not only at a movie but at a movie you made? Hey, that might turn into something!” It was indeed the start of a two-year long distance relationship.
At the end of those couple of years Joshua asked me if I was concerned about timing – if I wanted the relationship to move forward faster or not. As a twenty-seven year old graduate student, I was at perfect peace with it, and said I could be comfortable with it suddenly moving quickly, and comfortable with waiting. For once I wasn’t trapped in a mindset of wishing I could escape to the past or the future. I felt the peace of a Christ-centered relationship that really does surpass all understanding.
October 29th, 2017 was my sister Rachel’s wedding. Before she and Adamson departed for their honeymoon, Joshua (unbeknownst to me) showed her a picture of a beautiful ring he had designed for me. On the 31st, Joshua and I had a routine Taco Tuesday date at Loco Mex in Jacksonville (where we ate on Tuesdays when he was in town). We chatted about my grad school history classes among other things (Dr. Prudlo let him sit in on my Medieval Thought class when he visited), and afterward he dropped me off on campus for that day’s class and my supplemental instruction job. That afternoon I suggested we pay a visit to my grandparents because my grandmother’s birthday was the following day. I was oblivious to Joshua planning a proposal and complicated the strategy. Grandmama insisted we stay for supper, which resulted in us not returning to my parents’ place until late in the evening. What he had planned for sunset would have to suffice with moonlight.
Upon arriving home, I prepared to watch the film Luther in honor of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing his 95 theses on the church door in Wittenberg. I noticed Joshua didn’t take off his shoes. “Don’t you want to go for a walk?” he asked. I was usually the one insisting on going outside for walks, so this intrigued me, especially since it was chilly and after ten o’clock at night. My mind was tilting towards over-analysis mode and I hoped there wasn’t something wrong that he wanted to discuss.
The moon was bright enough to cloak the field in blue light as we walked toward the small lake on my family’s homestead. Joshua pulled out a folded paper and said that he decided in honor of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation it was an appropriate historic date to pose an important question – and he had 95 ways of doing so, the first of which he was about to do now: he opened a ring box, got down on one knee, and said,
“Amanda Read, will you marry me?”
“I will. Yes, I will!”
The ring was a gorgeous marquise diamond (my and his favorite diamond cut) set high in an elegantly braided rose gold band. We strolled the homestead showing it off first to Jubilee (the horse) and the other Fair Hills Farm animals. I felt like walking a few laps before breaking the news to my family that there was yet another wedding in the works. Joshua had actually asked my father for my hand in marriage as far back as January or February of that year, and my siblings and a few friends already knew about it those long months without giving me the slightest clue. As a symbol of his commitment to me, Joshua let my dad keep his ring (a sterling silver one he collected in Israel that is inscribed with the Joshua 24:15 verse in Hebrew) reserved for our wedding day. Dad jokingly referred to it as Josh’s “down payment” on me.
The next day Joshua joined me on campus and my Medieval Thought class cheered. He told the very Catholic Dr. Prudlo that he planned a Reformation Day proposal specifically with him in mind (ha!). We got married in a small wedding at Fair Hills Farm four months later on March 17th, 2018 (the date having historical significance as St. Patrick’s Day and the wedding anniversary of Charlton and Lydia Heston).
So, with the remainder of those 95 proposals to occur at any point during our lifetime, I’ll set my mind to thinking of a total of 95 different ways to say “yes.” It has certainly been my answer every day since that fateful All Hallows’ Eve!
Wedding day photograph of the rings by Abigail Read Photography. My wedding band also has a Hebrew inscription – “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:3).