Two weeks from now... [marriage]

...I'll be a married man!

In the next few months, my beloved fiancée and I will be writing a few stories about our engagement and marriage preparation, as well as some of the awesome highlights of our preparation for our actual wedding and reception.

We might have a 'special section' on this site for marriage-related topics (you can already read through some marriage-related posts here), or we might set up shop on a different site... whatever the case, we would both appreciate any prayers you can spare for our marriage, and we will be sure to keep all of you in our prayers as well!

Why learn NFP when you are engaged?

Jeff and Natalie at the Botanical GardensThe text below appeared in a recent issue of The Chart, a newsletter published by the Archdiocese of St. Louis' Office of Natural Family Planning. I co-wrote the article with my beautiful fiancée, Natalie (she'll be my wife in two weeks!):

Using Natural Family Planning has helped my fiancée and I to understand her body in a new light, and has helped us grow in love. The method helps us to communicate and appreciate her signs of fertility. It has alerted us to some potential fertility issues that we can account for and discuss with her doctor before we begin our married sexual relationship. We have also been privileged to form new friendships with other couples practicing NFP.

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


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.

Lord of the Rings... [UPDATED]

[Update: Here's a gallery of photos from the big event (on Facebook).]

Image taken last week with my D90 (with 50mm f/1.4) and an external flash shooting through the famous $0.02 mini macro studio:

Diamond Engagement Ring - Cathedral Setting, Round Cut Diamond, White Gold

I hand-held a Nikon SB-24 flash connected via a wireless trigger over a folded sheet of paper that acted as a giant diffuser for the ring, which I simply placed on a 'seamless' piece of cut computer paper (standard copier paper.

You don't need to go expensive to have the finest results. No doubt about that. You just have to do things with care and love, and a little ingenuity.

Here's a setup shot:

Prayer During Courtship / Engagement

Remember, O most blessed Mother, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.

Inspired with this confidence, unworthy as we are of thy protection, in the presence of God the Father, the Author of Life, of God the Son, Who gave marriage the dignity of a Sacrament, of God thy Holy Ghost, Who sanctified marital love, we entrust our courtship to thy motherly protection.

Guide us during the course of this relationship; make it a holy and loving friendship. Keep our courtship pure and chaste. Bless our friendship with a holy love. Watch over us from Heaven. Send us grace to live in the favor of God and to share in the eternal love in which we shall be united forever in Heaven.