An Engaging Story...

There are pivotal moments in everyone's life. In my life, I have been fortunate to have multiple moments of this nature—I decided to join the Seminary straight out of high school, stayed in for four years and had many wonderful experiences in discernment. Then I decided to leave the Seminary (another huge moment in my personal life... even if some people weren't so pleased with that decision).

Just recently, another moment occurred which has changed my life, and will hopefully help influence many others' lives for the better! I am now engaged to a beautiful and very gracious woman whom I intend to marry before the end of next year... and since everyone's asking how the engagement happened, I feel like I may oblige here:

Natalie's Engagement Ring

Preparations

About a month before yesterday, I decided I really did want to marry my bride-to-be, and I went to ask her Father for her hand in marriage (he was happy to give his permission), and order a ring. I didn't yet have a date planned for popping the question, but I was sure I wanted to ask before Christmas, but after Thanksgiving.

God provided the perfect date, however, and this date was December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception; not only did I have the day off work (working for the Church has certain perks like this!), but it is also one of the primary feasts celebrated in the Catholic Church. Plus, it's a feast of our Blessed Mother, and who could pass that up? [I've since found out that this is also her favorite Marian feast—score one for good luck!]

I decided that I would drive my then-girlfriend to work in the morning, which I did. I was also able to meet the wonderful faculty and students she assists on a daily basis (which was a very pleasant experience! I hope to return and see them again). After I dropped her off, I had a quick lunch with some of my friends and got things in order for the evening.

A Simple Flower

Not being in the best financial situation this Advent, I ruled out the possibility of getting a present or a large bouquet of flowers; rather, I bought a solitary Gerber daisy from the local florist (Gerber daisies are her favorite—gentlemen: you should find out what your partner's favorite flower is if you'd like to show her little tokens of appreciation from time to time!), and placed it on the passenger seat of the car, then headed off to pick her up from work.

In the midst of the frigid, windy rain, she entered the car and was enlivened a little by the warm pink daisy on her seat! Score one for the planning, and for pretty flowers ;-)

God First

It's a good idea to talk first to God, then to others, about any important decision in one's life. This is a fact that I've verified through trial and error countless times. He's kinda important, eh?

I had told my girlfriend that we would go to Cannoli's, a nice family Italian restaurant in north St. Louis county, that evening... but I had other plans in mind. On the way to Cannoli's, I slyly asked if she'd like to go to the perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel at St. Ferdinand Parish. Of course, who could pass up a chance to pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament?

Eucharistic Adoration - Praying Before the Monstrance
(Image taken for Spirit and Truth promotional materials, spring 2009.)

We arrived at the chapel, and individually prayed the Glorious mysteries of the Rosary (in honor of the feast of Mary's Immaculate Conception). We then spent a little time praying silently before I knelt in the back pew (she was still sitting) to pray a little more from that posture... but really, to prepare for being in the posture to propose (sly, I know...).

As an aside, don't give your girlfriend your phone and let her use it to pray using iRosary if you're about to propose; a friend sent a text message of congratulations/luck as she was praying, but luckily she wasn't looking at the phone at that time! I quickly reached over and closed the message before she had a chance to read it!

Others Second

As 3:45 neared (I wanted to ask at a cool numeric time... 3-4-5, and also during the Hour of Mercy), I was getting nervous, because she was still sitting, and I didn't want to have to nudge her to get her to kneel beside me. But her guardian angel must've intervened, because she knelt beside me to finish her prayers as 3:43 went by. At about 3:45 and 5 seconds (I had to get the ring box out and open while her eyes were closed in prayer), I nudged her and asked her a simple but life-changing question: "Will you marry me?"

She was quite surprised and nervous (she understands, like me, the awesome power of the simple word she said), and after catching her breath, whispered, "yes!" I proceeded to put the ring on her finger, then after a few moments of feeling amazingly blessed in God's presence, we sat (mostly so she could try to catch up with her feelings, which had just launched in a rocket aimed at the moon, while her thoughts were stuck on the launch pad).

When we went outside, she asked, with a huge grin on her face (same as on mine), "What just happened in there?? Did we just get engaged?" I replied, "Yes! I'm so excited!" We hugged for a few moments, and fearing the cold would dampen our spirits, we went to the car. She then spent the next 10 minutes trying to decide to whom she should first deliver the good news, then we said we loved each other a few times.

Stalling...

God, being who He is, always likes to remind us that He should be relied upon for assistance in any situation... I had planned to hit some traffic and maybe even witness a beautiful sunset with my bride-to-be, but the damp, cold rain and cloudy skies completely obliterated that possibility, and I had an hour of time to waste before the dinner reservation time.

We decided to go to my sister's house (she lives by the Church), and say hello to my wonderful two nephews and their parents, and calm down a little over a cup of hot chocolate (thank you, sister!). This was good enough to burn up one hour of time, but I still had half an hour to burn (the reservation was for 5:30, and it was about 5:00). I couldn't arrive early, since I had invited all of her and my family to the dinner, and didn't want to arrive until they had arrived.

So I took a completely insane route to the restaurant; I basically drove around half of Florissant instead of simply driving one mile down the road to Cannoli's. Natalie, I think, was becoming aware that I was taking a rather unorthodox route to the restaurant as I turned down the 10th side street, but she was still talking to friends on the phone the whole time, so she didn't have much time to be inquisitive.

Family Third

Around 5:30, we entered the restaurant and headed back; our families clapped as we entered and congratulated us on our engagement. Dinner was beautiful, as everyone except my brother (who is out of state right now) was able to share in our joy. We had a fine Italian meal, cake (which my parents bought and had decorated with 'Congratulations Natalie and Jeff') and a cannoli (how can you not, at a place named Cannoli's?). This dinner also offered the opportunity for our families to get to know one another before the hectic time of the wedding itself.

Geerling and Pequignot Family - Engagement Party at Cannoli's

Family is a microcosm and a foundation for society—you share in each other's joy and suffering, you are always there for each other, you love each other, and you work together to make each other become closer to God and more loving as a human person. I was extremely pleased to have most of our family present after we had given God thanks and praise for all He has given us, and listened for His advice.

I am Last

I think it was Ignatius of Loyola who said "God is first, others second, I am last." Well, I try to hold to this maxim in my own life (and often fail). May this be the way that I live the rest of my married life (and the time leading up to that blessed time!).

A note to any other gentleman wishing to propose to your girlfriend: Inscribe the above words in your heart. If you want to have a lasting and faithful married life, you must always repeat these words, and try to find a woman who also repeats these words, day in and day out. Build your marriage on the foundation of love for God and love for others. Then think about your own good. Don't be selfish.

As an added bonus, if you do some 'romantical' things (like the flower, or a nice unexpected love letter), your girlfriend will be able to brag about it to everyone she sees for the next few weeks ;-)

Comments

Great job detailing the story of your engagement, you both are going to be a great married couple!

Thanks, John!

Hey Jeff - congratulations! Great story / witness, too. :-)

Blessings on you both and on your upcoming preparations!

Fr. Darryl

Thank you, Father! Haven't talked to you in a while; hope you're doing great!

Jeff, this is just about the best proposal I've ever heard of. You two are going to do well with God first in your relationship.

Have a great Christmas.

-Jason

Thank you, Jason! I hope you have a safe trip back to your hometown.

Awesome! This is a great engagement story. Thank you for sharing it. I wanted to ask if you had planned a romantic proposal, but figured it wasn't my place. Now I know. What could be more romantic than the Blessed Sacrament?! Definite score, Jeff, and now the rest of your life you will have this beautiful lady to enjoy it with! : )

Prayers and blessings for your engagement and marriage,
Dawn

Oh my gosh, Jeff. Congratulations! That is an awesome story. Thank you for sharing it. I'm so happy for you! :)

Wow. Just, wow.

Hi Jeff. Congratulations! I also posted my engagement story online when it happened more than 5 years ago now. My event didn't go as smoothly as yours, as it involved my now-wife missing the Mass at which I was going to propose because she locked herself out of the house, me boosting her through an open window, and then kneeling on the kitchen floor after to present her with the ring. But however it happens, it's the results that count.

Many blessings to you and you fiancée.

Heh. That elicited an out-loud chuckle on the train to Chicago!

So excited for you bro. I still think Seth did it best, but then, I am a little biased!

You and Natalie have the graces of a holy hour coming your way from our family;)

Now, hurry up, get married and give my boys some cousins!!!

Don't you worry; we'll get there soon enough. I don't know if we'll ever catch up, though...

A co-worker of your future mother-in-law (Sally Overturf) sent me this link to read. Although I am not of the Christian faith ( the significance of the holy days you mention are unfamiliar to me), I found this to be a very touching, heart-warming, "an engaging story". I can see from your story that true love abounds and the two of you will have a very happy and blessed life together. Mazel Tov!!

Thank you!

Your mutual commitment to your faith is a beautiful bond to share. May you have many happy and blessed years together, Natalie and Jeff !

Thank you! (And also Alan above).

Congratulations. A wonderful story. Natalie is lovely and we are lucky to have her joining the family. May you have all the happiness in the world and may your love be as fresh as it is today.

Thank you, Aunt Ellen! She is also glad to be joining our family (as am I to hers!).

Congratulations to you both . Jeff your a very lucky guy , she is the best , take care of her as I know you will . Best to you , love Craig and Linda

Thanks, Craig! I will take care of her, most assuredly.

Congratulations Jeff and Natalie. That is a truly engaging story.

Thanks, Sean!

Congratulations to the both of you!!!! I am in STP's youth group and have had the pleasure of working many Luke 18s with Natalie. I am so excited for the both of you and hope to see you two hand in hand at more SLU Masses! God Bless

Thank you, Lisa! Hope to see you soon!

Congratulation Jeff & Natalie, We are all so happy for you. We are all looking forward to the next ten and a half months as you prepare for the most important event of your lives up to now. May God continue to bless you as you prepare for this holy event.

Thank you!

Hi Jeff: Congratulations on the up coming wedding!! Sounds as if God arranged for you to find just the right companion. All it takes is for us to put our trust in him, Right. I was looking for some answers to questions about apple computers, and your website came up. I needed some utilities for my Mac. I don't like to use programs from just anyone, as you also know, they can have virus, etc. hidden in them, and who knows what else. I feel comfortable downloading programs from your site, after reading your comments. I will keep checking back from time to time. May God grant you both many blessings and a happy full life. Thanks Robie

I think that is the most beautiful story I've ever read! Natalie may not remember, but she was my very first Day Camp Aide my first year as a Girl Scout day camp leader. I knew then that she was a gem. God bless the two of you forever!

I think she's a gem as well! I have conveyed your comment to her :-)

Beautiful! It gives me hope to read your beautiful love story. Thank you!

Been married almost 35 years and I never tire of listening to wonderful stories of romance and love. Congrats to the 3 of you. Sounds like God did a wonderful job AGAIN! Imagine that!

Thank you!

Wow, I had not read your blog in a long time, obviously. I am on holidays now and thought I'd check out what you have been writing about. A huge Canadian congratulations on your engagement- what a moving story! With God as the focus of your lives together you will most definitely have an amazing faith filled marriage. Blessings!!

Thanks! We appreciate anything from Canada, and we hope to always keep God at the center of our marriage.