Why was this ring so precious in her sight? Why was this ring more valuable than the grandest ring in the world? What was the meaning of this ring? What did this ring speak to her heart all through her childhood, into her teenage years and now into womanhood? Why did she desire this ring to be her ring when she would say “yes” to the man?

The ring spoke of God’s faithfulness, God’s redemption and God’s hope. The ring symbolized that beautiful things can come from mistakes or choices that we make. The ring was a plot twist.

Every little girl dreams of growing up, finding a nice boy and falling in love. The next step they dream of is having that boy ask her the most important question of her life; “Will you marry me?” and they then imagine a beautiful, brilliant diamond being slipped on their finger.

Cairo dreamed something like that, but it was a bit different. When she dreamed of growing older, meeting the boy, falling in love and him asking the most beautiful question, well the next moment didn’t have him slipping a large, flashy diamond on her finger, he was slipping a simple gold band that held one small diamond in the center. It was a ring she had seen every day, probably touched when she held the hand of the one wearing the ring, gazed at across the dinner table and at a young age, put it on her small finger to pretend she was married.

The ring that Cairo dreamed of receiving from the man she would marry, was the ring that her father gave her mother when he asked her the question, “Will you marry me?” To Cairo this ring held much more than one would know and the meaning of the ring was deeper than the question of “Will you marry me?”

The Ring5

Cairo and Colin met at church through a friend. It was an evening service and her friends whispered to her, “You two would be great together.” She watched him during the worship portion of the service, and was intrigued with his focus on God. She hadn’t seen it with most guys her age; even though Colin was a year older he still seemed mature and wise beyond his years. She could see his relationship with God. She did not look at him in a romantic way but a way that fascinated her. Later on in that service, the pastor said, “Hey, maybe you will meet your future spouse tonight!” (This pastor is officiating their wedding!)

Over the next while her friends kept on saying that they would be perfect together. Cairo kept it in the back of her mind. She hadn’t dated anyone before. She thought from a young age that she wanted to be married when she was young and start a family but at 16 years old she hadn’t even liked a boy before.

It was September, the week of her 16 birthday when she met Colin. During that week they became friends on social media. Cairo posted a status, “All right, the world has one year to sing me ’16 Going On 17’!” In November, Cairo received a text message from Colin containing a voice memo. If you know what’s right for you and for this story you will click on this link:

Colin sings for Cairo! (Sixteen Going on Seventeen – Oscar Hammerstein II/Richard Rodgers)

Colin had made note of Cairo’s request and took time to create something so beautiful for her. He was smitten with her! After Cairo had listened to the song, she realized that she did have feelings for this guy; she liked him!

Colin asked Cairo on a date. She informed him of her dad’s rule for dating: The first date will be dinner with the WHOLE family. 8 children. 2 parents. Now Colin is an only child and this first date was not what he had in mind. He laughed it off and Cairo informed him again that the first date would have to be dinner with her family. He agreed! The house was a buzz the day he came over. The kids were watching out the window upstairs for him and when he arrived they ran down the stairs screaming. Cairo is the eldest and this was the first boy that had come over for the first date with her family! The dinner went well; Colin was a bit overwhelmed. He wasn’t scared off, in fact he was ready to pursue Cairo more and the following weekend, the old fashioned way, asked Cairo’s dad if he could date her. Cairo’s dad informed Colin that he knew he was a good guy, with good character by the way the other kids responded to him. Kids can tell a lot about an adult and he knew his children really liked Colin! Cairo was impressed with the way Colin went about asking her dad’s blessing. Cairo was reminded that her dad had always said she would end up with a guy that had a pastoral heart, creative and musical! If you ever meet Colin you will see this is who he is. (I posted about Colin in a previous post; “When Anxiety Challenges the Creative” please read it, as you will meet a great guy through it.)

Colin and Cairo dated for almost 3 years and had talked about getting married. It was September, the morning was quite cold but the afternoon was warm. It was Cairo’s birthday. Colin and Cairo had gone to church and then had brunch with her family. When brunch was done, Colin asked her to go for a walk to the lake down the road and there, sitting on the bench, he asked her the simple, most important question, “Will you marry me?” Cairo answered with the most confident, “Yes!” Colin slipped the ring that Cairo had always dreamed of wearing since she was little, the ring of hope, faithfulness, redemption and love onto her finger. That would be the foundation of their marriage.

Arizona by Colin Carbonera (written for Cairo)

A few days earlier, Colin had asked her parent’s blessing to marry Cairo. They said of course! Colin then asked for Cairo’s mother’s ring and there her mother slipped it off her finger and gave to Colin so he could give it to her daughter, the daughter that had come out of a choice she had made at a young age.

Cairo’s mother was a good Christian girl. She met a boy when she was about 12 years old when he and his family visited mutual friends in her hometown. They both fell for each other at a young age. Later this boy and his family would move to the same town and they would start dating. Cairo’s mother graduated high school and went away to college; this boy still had one year of high school left. In her 2nd year of college, Cairo’s mother came home for Christmas break, a few months later she found out she was pregnant. It was a path she never thought she would walk down as she was taught that you wait for marriage. This was a shock to her and her boyfriend, their families and friends. It was a difficult journey they needed to navigate as teenagers. There was no decision to be made about keeping the baby; it was something that was out of the question. After much discussion, prayer and thought, Cairo’s dad proposed to her mom. He had always wanted to get married young and he knew that he wanted to be with her. Before they were married they went to a marriage counselor and were informed that they had nothing going for them; odds were against them. At 18 & 19 years of age they were married. They married against all odds: teenagers, dating, pregnant, no careers, concern from family and friends. They married unsure of what the future would hold for them. Cairo’s father had bought her mother a simple engagement ring that symbolized choice, hope, redemption and the desire to see God’s faithfulness cover them.

Cairo always wanted her mother’s ring because she had seen couples’ marriages fall apart who seemed to have everything (good families, great jobs, money, children, homes). Her parents had nothing, started at a different point than most and yet their marriage continues. Married 20 years with 8 amazing children! This ring reminds her that even though we sometimes don’t make the best choices in life, if you make room for redemption and hope it doesn’t have to ruin your life. It can have the greatest plot twist and turn into a beautiful story.

Every time Cairo will look at the ring she will be reminded of hope, perseverance, redemption, love and faithfulness. These are the values that surrounded her childhood home and these are now the values that will surround the home she will create with Colin.

The meaning of the ring stands greater than the most brilliant, brightest, grandest ring that this world has to offer.

A ring of love.


All photos used with permission.

Carey Stevens Photography

Josie Jaggers Photography