Keli Gwyn
Romantic Proposal: “I Do” Serenade

I met Jennette Mbewe here on my blog. She left a comment on a post and mentioned how her husband proposed, performing a song he wrote, along with the others in his music group. I asked if she’d share the story, and she generously agreed to do so.

Jennette is an author, artist, mother, wife, but not always in that order. Born and raised in Minnesota, she grew up enjoying the Northern Lights and the great outdoors. From early on she knew she wanted to be a writer, but she forgot about her dream until recently. Now she balances marriage, mothering two beautiful kiddos, and her literary pursuits.

And now, the story of how Jennifer was swept off her feet by her talented husband, in her own words. . .


Many people have asked us how we met. I’m from Minnesota, my hubby’s from Zambia, Africa, and we live in Texas. If you’d asked him, he would have told you, Ebay. Yes, he’s a comical one. No, we met in Minnesota at a camp.

When James and Jennette first met.

It was the summer of 2000. I was helping a camp in the middle of nowhere Minnesota prepare and decorate for the summer. James and the Zambian Vocal Group were in route for Canada for a tour, when they were informed that their visas weren’t ready. They were stuck in Minnesota for a week, but they knew someone who knew someone who knew of this camp. Viola! Problem solved. They would stay at the camp.

My first impression? He liked to talk a lot. When I first met him he was going on about measuring the football field with a pine needle or something, and how they were going to have the world championship of foosball later that evening or the next, I don’t exactly remember. A couple of days later, I heard James and his group sing for the first time. They asked the audience if anyone knew the song: The Lion Sleeps Tonight, and in my naivety, I raised my hand. So, there I was singing: In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight…acapella style. Yeah, that didn’t go over very well. It’s not the same as belting it out in the barn with only cows to worry about.

But we had a connection. One time, he was playing the piano and I asked, “Do you know–” and he started playing the song I was going to ask him. Freaky. The song: Fur Elise. While everyone was out having fun, he and some of the Zambian dudes stayed behind to help us finish the cardboard planets and animals, so that we would be able to go watch the fireworks later. We did a lot of talking. Then they had to leave.

Phone calls, emails and handwritten letters ensued. I gave him the third degree. I wasn’t about to get serious with someone I hardly knew. We had an interesting courtship to say the least. We didn’t do the usual dating like most people. Part of that was due to him being on the road all the time and my own personal issues, but he saw something in me and persevered, and for that I’m forever thankful. We had talked about marriage, and he told me he was going to pick out the ring, but as far as how or when, I didn’t know. I just knew he would, eventually.

James and Jennette’s Wedding Day

So, there I was sitting in a living room down in Corsicana, Texas. It was December 17th, 2001. I would be leaving for Minnesota to spend Christmas with my family, and he and the Zambian dudes were preparing for a winter tour. I was watching Waterworld. I had always been curious about the movie since I love water, and I hadn’t seen it yet. So to be interrupted, I was a tad annoyed.

The group would pray before they set out, and so we stood, but suddenly I found myself in the middle of the circle. They sang the “I Do” song. My face was probably beet red. I don’t even know if I heard the whole song, but at the end James got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. And I said yes. It’s been the greatest adventure ever since.


And here’s a video of Jame’s song that he and his group sang for Jennette. . .


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Keli Gwyn
Blogging Break & Guest Post

I’m heading to my church’s Women’s Retreat soon, so I’m not posting today.

I am, however, privileged to be a guest on my friend and agency mate’s blog, Simple Revelations. Amanda Dykes invited me to share the real-life romance of my beloved in-laws, who had “A Shotgun Wedding.” I love their story.

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Keli Gwyn
Romance with a Twist

We experienced a stretch of triple-digit days here in the Sierra Foothills of California this past week, but the high temperatures didn’t keep me from thinking romantic thoughts.

Gwynly and I are native Californians, so we’re used to dealing with the heat. We didn’t let it stop us from walking. We just slathered on the sunscreen, donned our wide-brimmed hats, grabbed our drink bottles, and hit the local hiking trail. I will admit that when I looked at the thermometer in my Sport Trac before starting out and saw that it was still 105 degrees at 5 p.m., I did take a deep breath and brace myself. Despite the heat, we enjoyed our walk.

We stopped by the supermarket afterward, where the AC felt mighty good. As is often the case, my mind was on more than the task at hand, in this case picking out produce. Knowing that romance can happen almost anywhere, I asked myself how I could possibly turn our experience into a blog post.

I’d all but given up hope of turning the trip into a post, when unbeknowst to him, Gwynly melted my heart. . .with a baggie full of tomatoes.


Yup. Tomatoes. Tied with a knot rather than closed with a twist tie.

I have an aversion to twist ties. Seriously. I refuse to use ’em. I was never fond of them, but an experience when I was cleaning out my in-laws’ house while settling their estate left its mark on me.

Mother and Dad had been raised during the Great Depression. As a result, Mother had a hard time parting with anything that might be of use. I found a stack of aluminum pie tins and another of plastic strawberry baskets. There were shelves of empty mayonnaise jars in the pantry and a cupboard full of margarine tubs.

One day I pulled open a kitchen drawer and found the entire thing filled with used twist ties in all colors. And not just the small ones used to close baggies. She’d even saved the large ones from heads of lettuce.

This struck me as sad. My in-laws lived in a lovely home they’d designed themselves, and yet Mother couldn’t shake the feelings of deprivation from her past. Whenever I see a twist tie these days, the surge of emotions I experienced when I opened that drawer return.

Gwynly doesn’t share my twisted view of twist ties, but since he loves me, he’d done things my way. He saw me smiling and gave me a quizzical look.

“You tied it,” I said.

“Yeah,” he replied.

A blog post practically wrote itself, one talking about how understanding my guy is. About how, after fifteen years, my patience had been rewarded. About how I’d never have to deal with twist ties again.

And then reality returned in the form of a bag of apples.

Yup. Gwynly closed it with a twist tie.

Since he knows me very well, I was able to tell him what had taken place in the produce section. How delighted I’d been when he put the tomatoes in the cart. How disappointed I’d been when he added the apples. And how the romance post I’d been planning to write had just fizzled.

Gwynly explained that he’d tried to do it my way but couldn’t bring himself to continue and listed his reasons. He likes to reuse the bags when he cleans the cat box and can’t if they’ve been tied shut because, unlike me, he can’t get the knots out. Knowing how “green” my science guy is and now much conservation means to him, this made sense. It also showed me that his use of twist ties has nothing to do with me and everything to do with practicality.

So, being the reasonable and understanding wife I am (I’m chuckling as I type this), I decided to accept Gwynly’s reasons, give the guy a break, and put an end to the twist tie tussle.

When I informed him of my decision–telling him that even though I’d continue to tie my produce bags but would not be a pain when he used twist ties on his from here on out–he grinned and said the words that made my post possible after all: “Compromise can be quite romantic, don’t you think?”

Yes, it can. Lesson learned.

We left the supermarket with Gwynly grinning because I finally “got it.”


What’s something you and your special someone have compromised on?

Do you have any quirks that drive your special someone nuts?

Have you met anyone who dislikes twist ties as much as I do?

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Keli Gwyn
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