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I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year’s! I know I sure did. Andy and I took about 5 days leave for New Year’s to visit his friends and family down in Louisiana. I’ll recap the trip tomorrow, but I wanted to share with you all the biggest news of all: Andy and I are engaged!
As we arrived into Louisiana, I asked him what our plans were. I asked if we could visit historic Natchitoches (where they filmed Steel Magnolias) on Thursday morning when we had some spare time and would be in the area, and he said no. That was my first clue that we would be getting engaged on Saturday.. On Friday evening, I overheard him answering a call from his brother and he mentioned something about the waterfront. Clue #2. To this Criminal Justice major, the mystery was solved. By the time I arrived home to Kentucky on Sunday, I’d be an engaged lady.
I woke up the morning of Saturday, January 2, and thought “This is the morning that I’m getting engaged.” I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face. We ate lunch with Andy’s dad, his dad’s girlfriend, one of his brothers, and his brother’s girlfriend. Parker (his brother) and Anne (Parker’s girlfriend) left lunch pretty soon after eating, and I assumed they were going to get ready for the proposal.
Andy said we were going to go to a nice dinner in Monroe, and needed to put on our fancy clothes before leaving his dad’s house, so we did, even though it didn’t make sense to dress up to drive a few hours. I noticed Andy had a few cuts on his chin from shaving and thought about how nervous he must be.
The drive to Natchitoches was unusually quiet, as Andy was consumed by his nerves and I was consumed by the thought of how my life was about to change.
We went to the historic waterfront district, and decided to go for a walk beside the Cane River Lake. I left my DSLR camera in the car because I knew it would get in the way. We walked through an area where they were having a Christmas festival, and then stopped by the Roque House. I noticed a guy in a black sweatshirt with a hood pulled over his head, and presumed it was Andy’s brother Parker. We walked around the back side of the Roque House, to the Beau Jardin garden area.
Andy led me up the steps beside the waterfall. He looked around to see if his brother was in place, and I cracked a joke about making a wish despite not having a penny to throw in the fountain. He was standing behind me, and I knew it was coming. My heart began to pound (so did Andy’s) and I turned around to face him. He got down on one knee and reached into his back pants pocket and asked the most important question of my life…
After talking to some of the onlookers, one of whom captured some photos of the proposal, we headed back to the car. I teased Andy that he can never surprise me, because I always find out about it. He said “Oh, you’ll see.” We got back to the car and I decided to get out my tripod and DSLR to take some photos, when he told me to open the front passenger door. I did, and found a bouquet of flowers sitting in my seat. He then told me to look under the seat. I did, but I didn’t see anything. At his urging, I bent down to see under the seat, and I saw the cutest pair of eyes staring at me. It was a kitten! Unbeknownst to me, he unlocked the car doors when I wasn’t looking so Anne could sneak the flowers and kitten into the car.
When we arrived in Monroe, we first got the kitten settled in the hotel before heading to dinner at the Waterfront Grille. Andy was still wearing his Army Service Uniform, and I was still in my fancy dress. We were a little overdressed for the restaurant, but that was okay by us. We enjoyed a nice dinner of teriyaki chicken and grilled catfish. As we were ready to leave, the waiter said that the couple who had been sitting across from us paid for our meals. I was about to cry upon hearing that. Did the couple notice the glow on our faces? Did they see me show off the ring to my fiance? Did they hear us talking about our plans for the wedding and our marriage? I’ll never know, but I do know that Andy and I will be forever grateful to that couple who blessed us on an already perfect day.
People have asked me why Andy and I chose to get engaged so early in our relationship, at 6 months of dating, and why we want to marry at the 11 month mark. I’ve tried to describe it to people, and I always get strange looks. There’s a number of reasons why: we’re saving intimacy for marriage, and we think if we draw our relationship out we may fall into temptation; there’s always a chance he could deploy and we’d rather marry now and build our marriage with both of us being together instead of waiting until he deploys; we’re both financially and emotionally ready to begin a marriage. But the biggest reason is his job. Andy has faced life-and-death situations, and he knows that life is precious and can be taken in an instant. Why wait to get married just because “society” says you shouldn’t meet and marry within a year, when we know we want to spend the rest of our lives together?
The length of the courtship doesn’t always determine the fate of your marriage. You could date for 5 years and still end up divorced, and you can date for a few months and spend a lifetime together. My mother’s biggest fear is that I’ll end up like her and my father, and I’ll admit, the thought has crossed my mind a time or two. But Andy and I have something that my parents didn’t– a relationship founded in Christ. I believe that through God, our relationship will last.