A LOT has happened in my life lately. A LOT. One of those big giant things?
I GOT ENGAGED!
Today, an online friend asked if I would tell the story of my engagement… and hey, I’m all too happy to oblige 😉
It will get super longish, because it’s a STORY. I want to tell all the things I’d tell if I was in the room with each and every one of you! There are headers if you want to skip the prologue. And like any good internet geek… There’s a tl;dr at the end if you just wanna skip down there 😉
For those of you who don’t know, Carl Torbeck and I actually met almost nine years ago, in the spring of my freshman year of college. We were both working at the academic tutoring center on campus. We became fast friends and hung out often. I had a crush on him, but my parents weren’t sure what they thought. I remember praying in my room one evening, “God, if this isn’t meant to happen, please take away my desire for him or take him out of my life! I can’t do this!” Then, another woman came into his life, and when he graduated from college I gradually faded from his life. I figured, “Okay, God, there’s my sign.”
Fast forward 4.5ish years, to May 6th, 2015. Facebook does that lovely, “Here, friend these people you might know!” thing and I was shocked to see that Carl was on Facebook. I’d learned a couple years ago that he had been through some VERY difficult circumstances after we parted ways. I wondered if he would be mad at me for disappearing from his life… or if he’d even remembered me. In a few moments of insanity, I clicked “request friend”.
Within the hour he pinged me. We started talking. We messaged every day. Ten days later, we met up in real life and ended up walking around on our old college quad until 1:30 am – talking about everything from favorite foods to much, much deeper things. The next 6 months flew by and we talked every day as we hung out and moved from friendship to dating to courting. In mid October, we both decided that we were on the path to marriage. It was for real. And the entire time he was so considerate, so thoughtful, so careful, so putting-me-first, so fun, so gentle, so godly, so WONDERFUL. He’s so easy to be around. And his parents love me to bits. It’s insane. Gosh amighty. What a treat of a family to be so welcomed into. I think of Isaiah 43:18-19 when I think of how God brought Carl and me into each others’ lives at such a time:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
Indeed, our faithful God is.
Well, okay, so… he has always been telling me he doesn’t want to rush me, he wants to let me take my time, enjoy the moments, because it’s all so new to me. We both knew we are getting married. We’ve talked about budgets, weddings, marriage counseling… we’re both honestly more interested in the marriage than the wedding anyway. So, the way he was talking, I figured we were 2-3 months out from engagement at least.
Last week was a tough one for me, a.k.a. I was very aware of my selfish, sinful heart, my bad attitudes, and how little I deserve good things. Friday night, November 6th, Carl came into town and he & I had dinner with a couple of friends from church. We ended up in long, deep conversation about their past, and about marriage and spiritual leadership and a bunch of heavy stuff. Carl stayed the night in town, and went dancing with me Saturday morning. Afterwards, we went on a walk around town; it as a BEAUTIFUL fall day, and as we walked hand-in-hand and chatted about the week and the future I gushed about how much I loved the weather, how happy and peaceful and calm my heart feels in nature, and how excited I was that we would be hiking with my favorite cousins & some siblings on Sunday. We came to a little bridge and I just stood there, enraptured with the trees around us, and he just stood there behind me patiently, stroking my back, deep in thought. When we came to a clearing and I took off running around in the grass and climbing into trees, laughing like a child, he waited patiently, looking so fondly at me. I thought it was a perfect morning. Little did I know what was going on in his mind.
See, he’d had the ring for a month. It was at his house (an hour away) that morning. He’d been so intentional in waiting a MONTH for certain things to align that he knew would be important to me… even though there were days he wanted to just forget the plan and propose to me. He stuck with it, and by that Saturday morning, everything was aligned. When we were on our walk and I was gushing about how wonderful the weather was, his gears were turning. He was thinking, “I don’t need to wait until a day in December when she has a free weekend. I don’t need to plan so much elaborate stuff. I just need to listen to HER, and let her pick the proposal by what she loves.”
Then came Sunday, November 8th. That morning, unbeknownst to me, he’d gotten up early, driven an hour to his house to get the ring, and then drove an hour back. He picked me up for church, pretending he had slept in and just relaxed. We went to church together, and the sermon was on God’s grace upon grace to us in the face of our wrong desires and feelings. I was super convicted about my week and so thankful for blessings like Carl and sunshine in spite of my selfishness. Carl became very serious during the sermon, as well. What I didn’t know was that he was thinking about how God had blessed him with me.
After church we talked about the sermon as we met up with my family for a quick lunch. We threw a frisbee around. It was gorgeous outside. I kept telling Carl how wonderful the day was. When my favorite cousins arrived and it was time to leave for Starved Rock State Park, it “just so happened” that Carl and I ended up in his car with no other passengers. We had a blast singing along to the radio and talking for an hour+, laughing as my Uncle – who was leading the caravan of cars – got lost several times. It was a perfect day. I had that, “I’m going on an adventure” feeling in my chest the whole time. The sun was shining, the grass was green, the leaves were gold and red. I couldn’t stop gushing to Carl about how wonderful this day was, in a beautiful place with people I love.
We began our hike, and as we started to hit the parts of the trail overlooking the Illinois River, Carl hung to the back of the group. On one scenic overlook, as my cousins finished looking down at the water and began to head out, Carl said, “Oh, I think I’m gonna stay here for a few more minutes and enjoy this overlook.” Totally oblivious, I said, “That’s a great idea! I’ll stay here with you.” He stared out over the water for a few minutes, then pulled me into an embrace. Becoming very quiet, he said in almost a whisper, “You… are everything I ever wanted.”
I was touched. But still oblivious. I said, “Aww! You are so sweet. You’re everything I ever wanted too.” We stood for a moment, then he suddenly said, “Really?” I nodded, and before I knew what was happening he had slid smoothly down onto one knee and pulled a ring out of his pocket. The leaves were gold. The river was sparkling. The air was crisp. The sun, starting to set behind him, poked through the trees. He smiled up at me and it hit me all at once what was happening. He asked if I would marry him…. it kind of became foggy at that point… I had not even a second of doubt that I wanted to marry him, but I still couldn’t believe he was proposing to ME! This isn’t the kind of thing that happens to Libby! This happens to other girls!
My first words were, “REALLY!? Really? I mean, yes! Absolutely! Really?” Haha, poor guy. He just laughed and grinned so big. As soon as I said yes, he started to slide the ring onto my finger. I couldn’t believe it! After a bajillionty more times of me saying “really?!” he stood and we hugged again. “Wait… did I even say yes?! Of COURSE ABSOLUTELY I will marry you!” We stood there for quite awhile. We prayed, I cried, we talked, and we stood and just enjoyed the moment and tried to comprehend what was happening in our lives. It was remarkable, actually, that no one came by. The park was full that day and there were people everywhere, but, as his parents joked later that night, “the people must have seen the angel with the flaming sword standing there to ward them off” haha!
Finally we decided we should catch up with my family. I was trying to decide how to tell them the surprise news, but lucky for me I didn’t have to — my twin sister, Kate (my best friend in life!) ran up to me immediately and started gawking at my left hand. “CAN I HUG YOU?!” she cried. I asked if she had known, and she said, “Nah, when we turned around and saw Carl take a knee, we figured you two could use some space.” They had witnessed it! How wonderful! Carl explained later that this was exactly what he’d hoped for — he knew I didn’t want to be on the spot when he proposed, but he wanted my family nearby so I could share the news as soon as I wanted to. It was a PERFECT DAY. He had waited so long for the right time, and he NAILED IT. His patience in the last month super paid off. I was kind of in a daze for the rest of the hike 😉 On our drive home, we were mostly silent…. actually, both of us cried streams of silent tears as we listened to music and praised and worshipped God for what He had done in our lives. We got back into town and celebrated with his folks, then told my parents and my non-family “dad,” Jeff, before eventually parting ways for the night. I can still hardly believe it! Jubilation!
And dang, the ring is like a star on my finger!
Woot! If you made it this far, pat yourself on the back! You deserve a trophy!
tl;dr – Carl proposed to me on the perfect autumn day while hiking in a beautiful state park. It was the perfect proposal for me! I am so excited to marry him. God is SUPER good to us.