Well, dear readers, I'm happy to report that I am engaged to be married! Kristian, aka the Love of my Life, asked me to marry him last Thursday, July 28, and we couldn't be happier to take this next step toward the Sacrament of marriage. I plan on writing a post about how we met and all that good stuff, but in the meantime (and since I know everyone loves a good engagement story), here's how he did it:
Two weeks ago, Kristian asked if he could plan a mini-retreat for us on the 28th. If you know me at all, you know that a day of prayer with the man that I love is pretty much my dream date, so. He told me that this would be a necessary step in relationship moving towards engagement, and since I had it in my head that he wasn't going to ask till the end of August/early September, I wasn't suspicious at all. I was actually getting antsy and wishing he would just forego whatever fancy plans he had for the proposal and ask me to marry him already! And just to give you a sense for how pathologically impatient I am: our five month anniversary isn't until next month. But I digress.
The day of the retreat rolled around and Kristian picked me up that morning and took me to the beautiful Our Lady of Schoenstatt Shrine, a short drive from my house. He had printed out all of the readings that the Church suggests for use in wedding Masses, so we picked two (Genesis 2 and 1 Corinthians 13) to meditate on individually. After about 20 minutes with each reading, we came back together to discuss our reflections, both of which were quite different, but mutually enriching. It was a beautiful and spiritually restorative morning.
During our "retreat", we spoke openly (as we had many times before) about our desire to marry one another, but Kristian continued to be vague about when he thought that would actually happen, so I still didn't suspect anything as he drove me to my favorite chapel in Austin to go to confession with my favorite confessor, followed by daily Mass at said chapel.
After Mass, Kristian went to ask the sacristan to keep the lights on in the chapel so that we could take a photo in front of the altar. I thought that was a little strange but I STILL DID NOT SUSPECT ANYTHING. When he got back, we went and lit a candle in front of the image of the Divine Mercy and prayed together, in thanksgiving for God's mercy, manifest particularly in bringing us in to each other's lives.
There was a nice lady praying next to us on the kneeler, and Kristian asked her to take a photo of us in front of the altar. At that point, I saw that he had his rosary pouch in his hand and I finally started to get suspicious. When we had taken the photo, Kristian turned me around and said, "There's one more thing." He got down on one knee and said, "Christina Grace, I love you and I want to be a saint with you. Will you marry me?"
And of course, through my tears and laughter, I said "yes."
He slipped a beautiful ring on my finger, and I feel like I've been living someone else's life ever since then. As any woman who is single and in her thirties will tell you, it can be really tough to keep hoping that the Lord has someone for you--someone who isn't perfect, of course, but is a man after his own heart who will help you get to heaven. So the fact that 1) Kristian and I met, 2) We fell in love, and 3) We're getting married seems nothing short of miraculous to me.
A note about the ring: I told Kristian that I 1) didn't want him going into debt to buy me a ring, 2) didn't want a diamond, but a pearl and 3) would love an heirloom/antique ring if possible. He totally came through with his grandmother's ring in a unique floral design, which is reminiscent of the parable of the pearl of great price, Anne Shirley's engagement ring, and of course, a flower.
All in all, I couldn't have asked for a more perfect-for-me proposal. Kristian's original plan was to propose at the top of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome in September, but the Holy Spirit kept nudging him to just do it--and I'm so glad he did. As much as I love Rome and St. Peter's, in the end I prefer the simplicity of a proposal bookended by beauty, prayer, sacraments, and laughter (we both couldn't stop laughing as we walked out of the chapel). We are going to be married in the same chapel, and we will be able to go back to the site of such a beautiful moment in our lives whenever we want to in the future.
I have more to say on the topics of dating, marriage prep, etc, but for now I will close with this: Nothing is impossible for God. He brought Kristian into my life, he gave us the capacity to recognize the other as our future spouse, and he gave us the courage to say "yes" to the vocation of marriage. And no matter what joys and sufferings the future holds for us, I know that we are both loved by the Origin of Love itself, and so our life will always be good.