Friday, August 15, 2008

Engagement Story

****EDIT**** I just added pictures of the engagement. If you want to see my entire facebook album, go here.

I got back this evening after spending three days in Arkansas with my family. Because that's what you do when you get engaged, right? Leave the state for a little bit? It was a great time to get away and think without being able to use the internet or phone. But since I'm back, it's time for me to tell you all the story of how Austin and I got engaged. It's going to be a long post, I think.


I am still in shock that I'm actually engaged. I keep looking down at my left hand and noticing that there is now a diamond on it (actually there are 13). I think back to last weekend and wonder if the proposal actually happened. It feels like a dream that I will eventually wake up from. It really is the weirdest feeling. Before Saturday, Austin and I did not talk about getting engaged. At all. We never used the words "when we're married" or even "if we're married". There were some implications and hints, but nothing direct or outright. Most people think this is really strange, but Austin had his reasons. He actually told me before we even started dating that he didn't think he would talk about getting engaged with whoever he married before proposing. Although there were times in our relationship when I wondered what on earth was going through his mind regarding our future, I am so glad that I never asked him and that he never told me. Austin knew that girls get emotionally attached easily, especially when marriage is talked about in a relationship. Expectations begin to form and if the relationship ever had to end, the pain is so much greater than it would be if marriage was not discussed. By not talking about marriage, Austin was guarding my heart and preventing me from forming expectations before commitment was made.

The words "do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires" are used on three separate occasions in the book of Song of Solomon. I think Austin tried his very best to prevent me from thinking about our relationship on a different level until we were engaged. That level of love was not ready to be awakened yet. I realize that most people choose to talk about marriage before a proposal happens, and I know that this makes most sense to them. Please know that I do not think that our way is "better" or "ideal". I do not think that one way is better than the other. I only know that I could not have been more pleased with the way that Austin handled everything in our relationship. He kept my heart from longing for something that had not been promised and my mind from drifting off into daydreams.

Even though Austin and I never talked about getting married, before we got engaged we discussed many important topics: church, sex, disciplining children, adoption, financial issues etc. You name it, we probably talked about it. We viewed marriage as a possible goal/end to the dating process, and we wanted to make sure that we were on the same page with the issues that we talked about. Getting engaged was not some wacky, crazy thing that just "happened". Although I was surprised and couldn't have predicted when it was going to happen, I knew that it was somewhere in the future. We were serious about our relationship with each other and knew that we would probably get married. We just didn't say that.

There were many points in our relationship that I just wanted to know. I was especially nervous about what I was going to do after graduating in December. Austin would reassure me, saying, "I promise that everything will be fine." At one point he told me, "You don't need to worry about what will happen to you after graduation. Just focus on being a good student teacher and I'll take care of the rest." Yet I still became unsure and uneasy about my future! I would tell my friends my thoughts and they would advise me to "just ask him". That doesn't sound like a big deal, but if you understood our relationship and how Austin does things, that wasn't some small thing. Not only was I not trusting in what Austin had told me, but I wasn't trusting in the Lord. He was using Austin to lead in our relationship, and yet I wanted to take control and sort things out for myself. I wasn't trusting God's perfect timing and I wasn't trusting that what He had for me was the best. It was a trust issue. I have had large trust issues with God in the past. Some of them didn't go over well, but in the end I was always kicking myself because God was always right. Always. He has never disappointed me. (Side note: This doesn't mean that God has always given me what I want! He always does what is best for me. Sometimes this is very different from what I think is best.) Anyways, I am so glad that I never confronted Austin, because I knew deep down that I should just trust in what He had said and trust that God would lead him.

Engagement Day - Saturday, August 9, 2008

Austin graduated the day before. For those of you who don't know, he was a finance major at Texas A&M and has a job working as a financial advisor for IMG Financial Group in Houston, starting in September. His family planned a graduation party at "the farm", which is some land his family owns about an hour away from College Station. He invited my family to come, and to my surprise, they all agreed to be there. My family drove to College Station on Friday night and attended Austin's graduation dinner. The next morning, we drove to the farm and made it there by 9:30 or so.

I had completely forgotten to bring my tennis shoes to the farm so Austin presented me with a brand new pair of $20 ones he had bought the day before. I thought it was completely unnecessary, and suggested that we just didn't walk around on the land. After a few seconds I realized that he really wanted to go on a walk, so I dropped it and accepted the beautiful white, gray and pink tennis shoes.

We hung out with the family for a little while, and then at 10:45 or so Austin told me he really wanted to go on a walk with me before it got to hot. I began to suspect something, but I calmed myself down and told myself not to get my hopes up. There was no way that he was going to propose! We walked around the land for a while, looking at frogs and cows and other nature, and then he led me around the pond into a grove of trees. I spotted rose petals on the ground and knew immediately what was going on. Apparently, I started squeezing Austin's hand and shaking nervously, and I said, "Wow, this is pretty" or something equally dumb.

He had a blanket laid out by a fallen tree, and had placed two things on it (it wasn't until later that I saw what they were). By this time I was shaking uncontrollably, and so Austin told me that "I better have a seat". I sat on the fallen tree, and he sat beside me. He started it off with "I know you need clarity, so I'm going to be very clear here..." (a day or so before this we were talking about how we started dating and how I wasn't sure if we were boyfriend and girlfriend for an hour or so... and how I needed clarity in relationships). Austin then asked if I saw the tree, and pointed behind me. I turned around (and I don't know how I missed this) and saw a gigantic tree behind me with the words, "KATIE, WILL YOU MARRY ME?" carved into the trunk. I remember at that moment feeling completely overwhelmed and amazed. It truly was like something from a movie.

I don't think I knew what to say or how to react, but Austin said some sweet things to me and then showed me a box he had made. The top of the box looked like a treasure chest, and the bottom part looked like the trunk of the tree that he had carved into. He actually carved the bottom part himself, that talented guy. He opened up the box, which had a ring box inside of it. He then opened the ring box, took out the ring, and got down on one knee. Austin asked me to marry him, and I said "of course!" and he slipped the ring on my finger. I wanted to cry, but I was too happy and so tears wouldn't even come! We hugged and talked about everything for a while. He had carved the words in the tree earlier this summer, when he lived at the farm for a month. Apparently he would come out to the tree every day for a week and carve for a few hours. He handed me a plaque after proposing, with a poem on it that he had written. One of his friends burned the poem into the wood. It says:

"'In the midst of the garden
And bearing God's Son,
Trees often were used
for God's purpose,
As when it started
Twill be in the end
Where the tree that gives life
Will sustain us.'

We had our very first date underneath a tree (it was a picnic) and began dating in a tree (kinda), so Austin carried on the tree theme with the proposal.

I was amazed at how much planning he had put into the entire proposal. It was insane! After an hour or so, we headed back to the farm house where our families were sitting, all in a circle. We walked out, holding the box and the plaque, and I simply held up my left hand and was giggling like crazy. Everyone knew except for our grandparents and my youngest two sisters. We had a wonderful time talking about the proposal and future plans for our wedding. And of course, everyone wanted to see the ring.

It is the most gorgeous ring I have ever seen! I could not have chosen a better one myself. I love that I did not give him any advice or help with it. He did everything - EVERYTHING - himself! It is beautiful and very suited to my taste. I love it!

Wedding Stuff

We got planning right away - like five minutes after Austin proposed. We are thinking about getting married in early January, which is pretty soon considering that the average engagement period is 16 months. I have started playing around with colors and flowers, and we've been doing some research for a location. We'll get married in Houston, but we're not sure exactly where yet. Austin is so good when it comes to wedding planning stuff. A few weeks ago he was telling me that he thinks it's silly when the wedding is thought of as just the bride's. For many couples, the engagement period consists of the bride doing a ton of work, and the guy just sitting back and doing whatever for however many months. "And that's how you start off your marriage??!?!" Austin says.

Austin is such a wonderful leader, and so wedding planning is a beautiful way to practice the husband's (or future husband's) leadership before marriage. Right after proposing, he showed me a list of things to discuss and think about that he had made on his computer. He is definitely taking the reins and I feel so at ease with wedding planning. He is so wonderful!

I still can't believe that I am engaged. I keep looking down at my ring, thinking, "this is the same ring that I will look down at when I am 80 years old" and I'll think about Austin and think, "this is the same man who will help me move our college kids into their dorms". It is surreal. I am so excited about marrying him! I have to admit, I freak out a little when we talk about getting married since we didn't talk about it at all before Saturday!
. . . . . . .

I have a lot of topics that I want to write about on here regarding marriage and preparation for marriage. There are a lot of topics where I would LOVE to hear your opinions (those of you who are married). I desperately want to seek the counsel of older men and women. I want to hear advice and wisdom that will help me prepare for marriage, so if you have anything to tell me, please let me know! (You can email me if you like.)

I hope you don't get sick of hearing about marriage stuff. I hope that what I think about and the experiences that I have will help those of you who are not married yet, when the time comes for you to plan a wedding. I desire that this blog would be used for God's glory and to benefit the body of Christ. Hopefully I can address some topics that a lot of y'all are wondering about!

It's getting late here so I'm going to stop writing now. I'll add pictures later so check back for that.



Terri said...

Katie!! I am so happy for ya'll congrats! I will definitely be praying for you guys during your engagement...if you need anything let me know. Love Terri

Reagan is a Biology major at said...

Hi Katie,

My name is Kacey, long story short on how I stumbled across your blog...I am Reagan Ratcliff's fiance and your profile popped up on the side of his facebook page and I saw the picture of the tree and became curious! Austin and yours story is unbelievable...he did an amazing job. I hope for all the best for you guys.
Anyways, what I was really writing about. Reagan and I aren't married yet, so I have no advise there, but we are reading a book right now that was suggested by a married woman. It is called Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerich and Reagan and I really are learning a lot from it. It is a great tool that the Lord is using to reveal to us how we should treat one another as husband and wife. If yall have time before January, you might want to check it out! Congrats again & God Bless.

Anonymous said...

SOOOO EXCITING! I'm so happy for the two of you and I can't wait to see you!!! What are you doing this Saturday?!?!?!

Michael said...

Congratulations Katie!! Austin is the man! What a great proposal. Best of luck to you guys for all the planning!

LAstar said...

AHHHHH I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!! i can't believe you are getting married in january - but that is AWESOME!!!!!!!! so happy for you!!! :) :)