Harvest Preserve Engagement : Rose & Paul

Rose & Paul met back in the summer of 2008. Their churches combined efforts for a youth summer retreat in Iowa and they were both camp counselors. She recalls that the Iowa group found it odd, “How did a group from Illinois come to know about us? And why would they want to come to Iowa of all places?”

For him, it was love at first sight. “When I arrived, I was introduced to some of my group members, and one of those members introduced me to Rose. You know, there are those moments in a person’s life where everything slows down and the details of the moment are remembered in uncanny precision. I imagine it will be like this for me when the first baby is born, or when the Cubs win the World Series this year. This was one of the moments. She was a quiet-mannered person (or so I thought) and didn’t say much besides her name. She was wearing an orange hairband and had wavy long hair that went beyond her shoulders.

“Even though we didn’t talk much for the next few days, it seemed like we hit it off pretty well. If I’m honest with myself, I admit that I had no chance. She was perfect in every way I could imagine and much beyond my reach. We went our separate ways after the retreat so I tried my best to keep in touch with her from Illinois.”

Paul is a huge Cubs fan and rose has grown to love baseball as a result. Their first date was a Cubs game. “It was a home game, against the White Sox, I believe, on July 11, 2015,” Rose says. “I don’t remember if it was explicitly spoken as, yes, this is our first date, but while I was at the game, a friend of mine texted to see what I was up to. When I told her I was at a Cubs game with Paul, I remember her saying something along the lines of, ‘Ooh, is this your first date?’ and I replied, ‘I guess so!’ I could feel my cheeks burning from feeling unexpectedly shy at this new revelation, but the date itself was comfortable, relaxed, and fun. The Cubs lost, and to make it more sad and dramatic, it rained, but I enjoyed every minute of it. I wanted to share more experiences and adventures with Paul, even if they did seem unfavorable, because it was still enjoyable with him.”

Coincidently, as much as they love going to sporting games together–favorite teams being Cubs, Bulls, Bears, and Blackhawks–they both say they think they bring their teams bad luck. “All the basketball and baseball games we have been to together, our teams have lost. The teams would be doing so well, but right when we go, they have a random fluke of a failed game. The only sport that this does not hold true is ice hockey. The Blackhawks dominated, but yet I am reluctant to go to a really important game with Paul. It’s not them…it might be us.”

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“I knew that my fiancé was the one from the very first day I met her. Honestly, it didn’t take long for me to fall for her. I thought we hit it off pretty well. Most of our interaction was online because of distance but I would wait for her to come online.” That winter, they stopped messaging and she later started dating someone else. They kept in touch here and there and volunteered at youth retreats in the summers. “In the back of my mind, I always hoped it was her and always felt my heart for her,” he says.

For Rose, the knowing came a little slower. “There were so many things that attributed to me becoming confident that Paul was someone I would want to share my future with. I think the process from before we began dating and during, it just seemed like things were clicking into place, and with each fitting puzzle piece, there was peace.

“I had always been a self-reliant individual, introvert who needed alone time to recharge, and would often times become overwhelmed by it all, but still chose to deal with it by myself. While dating Paul, I found myself wanting to be vulnerable with him. I wanted to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. There were times when I wanted to just ignore and shut out the world to recharge, but I found myself inviting Paul to come share in my times of recharge. He was someone I really didn’t grow tired of. He challenged me in ways that enabled growth, both personally and spiritually, and I began to envision my future with Paul in it. I wanted to work together, cry together, serve together, fight together, pray, grow, love, and praise God together. My change in mindset, the softening of my heart, and the extension of grace in many occasions that I know were clearly not from me, fueled the excitement of marriage. Through the sweetest of times to the most sour, excitement for Paul continued to grow. I was excited about my future with Paul. And that’s when I knew. I wanted to marry him.”
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They chose a wedding date prior to the proposal. Working around their available time next year, they chose to get married the weekend of spring break.”Planning started immediately after Paul had asked my parents for their official blessing in marriage. A date was set that night, and thus began our journey in a ‘being engaged, but not really engaged, but still kind of engaged…’ state. The daunting things that had to get done in preparation for the wedding with only six months notice was a little overwhelming. Within a week and a half, we had our venue and photographer booked! The next thing would be engagement photos, but…what engagement photos without an engagement ring? So I got a little antsy. Paul kept saying to expect it within a three month time frame, but in my head, we didn’t have a three month time frame! We had much to get done before then, and couldn’t afford to wait until December for a ring! Because of the rushed timeline, I kind of gave up on a cute proposal, but just wanted it to be over so we could move on to the next task we had to get done. So when Paul kept insisting that it would happen sometime in December or so, I internally screamed, “How do you not see we are on a timeline??”

While Rose was internally panicked about when the proposal would happen, Paul already had secret plans in motion. “I wanted the proposal to happen at the Chicago Botanic Gardens and luckily for me, Rose and I had already planned a visit months in advance so events were lining up nicely for our weekend. There was a slight difficulty as she kept wanted to go on Monday (since there are less people) but I had everything planned for Saturday! So I had to convince her to go to the Gardens on Saturday by telling her I wanted to fish [on Monday]. Throughout the week leading up to the event I was running around doing little errands, picking up pictures for the surprise engagement party, getting the ring set and cleaned, and I unfortunately had to fib to Rose telling her I was really busy with work or studying. I even went to the Botanical Gardens the Wednesday before with a friend and we scoped out all the potential locations for the proposal to happen.

“The day of the proposal, I actually wasn’t that nervous at all. We were planning to get there around 4 so we scheduled lunch at 12 but after eating, it was only 1:30. Somehow we decided to just head to the gardens early but the two friends that were helping me out were not at the location yet! I frantically thought of ways to buy time so I stopped at home to go to the bathroom. Rose had wanted snacks before we went fishing Monday, so I insisted on buying snacks at Target, and then stopped by another store because we forgot to buy water. Throughout this time, I was texting the friends to make sure they were at the Gardens. Luckily, I stalled off enough time and we ended up arriving just around 3:40.”

“There were so many humans,” she complained in vain. Paul was not deterred.

“By this time, my heart was beating,” he says. “I anxiously told Rose I had to go to the bathroom so I could confirm that my friends were ready and that the ring was still in place.  We walked around the gardens for a few minutes and finally I led Rose to the location that I was planning to propose. I asked her to sit on a bench because I was ‘tired’.  Instead of sitting, she decided to continue walking…right to where one of our friends was hiding to take pictures!! I anxiously kept trying to call her back but she kept walking! I panicked at this point. Rose was going to see her!”

She interjects, “He said, ‘Oh! This is a good place to take a picture! Stay right where you are.’ But me being me chose to explore the pathway leading up and past the bench. So I walked up a few more steps, but was startled by a lady hunched in the middle of some shrubs. I quickly made my way back to tell Paul there was a weird lady in the bush taking really close up pictures of the branches or something, but Paul just ‘uh huh’ed and continued setting up his camera gear.”

“Rose proceeded to tell me, ‘There’s a lady taking pictures of the bushes!’ Praise the Lord. She thought it’s a random lady taking a picture of a bush, not her friend!  I decided this was the time and told Rose to sit down on the bench so I could take this awesome scenic photo. I asked her to look towards the distance because it was going to be an awesome picture, while I hurriedly took out the ring box and told her to wait in position so we could be in the picture together. I walked toward her and tapped on her shoulder so I could propose. She wouldn’t turn! She wouldn’t turn around and stubbornly looked the other way!”

“I stood in the place with my head turned away from the camera as I was instructed to do,” Rose says. “And that’s when I realized it was happening. The proposal was happening at that moment, and I…froze. I panicked a little and I froze, with my brain in a flurry of ‘oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness…noooooo it’s not happening right now, is it?!’ and sure enough, I feel very determined fingertips tapping at my shoulder, and Paul’s voice saying turn around. I couldn’t turn around. I was frozen. I think at one point I might have said, ‘No. I can’t.'”

“After insisting, Rose finally turned around and I popped the question.  I slowly held what I thought was her left hand and asked, “The ring goes on the left hand right?” She pulled that hand out and gave me the correct left hand. I put the ring on her, stood up, and hugged her, and our two friends [who had been taking photos] come out to surprise her. In the midst of this celebration, I realize she never said yes!  So I said to her, ‘Rose you never said yes.'”

She said she hadn’t heard the question part, so her answer was delayed but a solid yes. And while the proposal was a great surprise, it wasn’t the old secret he had up his sleeve. “Paul said his sister really wanted to see the ring and us, and would it be okay for us to stop by her place for a bit. I said, sure! And we headed over to her place. When we got to his sister’s home, we went through the backyard, and when we walked in, we were met with beautiful lights and pictures and an ‘ENGAGED’ banner with food and friends and family! Although not a large party, we had friends from both Illinois and Iowa to share our immediate joy and celebration with. The night ended with food, good company, and just a lot of love. I felt so thankful for the love received, and couldn’t have asked for a better time.”
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It was such a joy to hang out with Paul & Rose and I am so excited that we get to do it again in March for their wedding! They are not only sweet and genuine, but incredibly funny. I couldn’t be happier or more honored to be part of their wedding day.

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