Ben and I met through mutual friends who were planning to get married. Their love for each other did more than bond them for life. Ultimately without their union, I would have never met Ben. At the time of our meeting, summer 2009, I was in a relationship, living in Nashville, TN, and working as a Nanny and freelance photographer/photo assistant. My schedule was mapped out months in advance and I had taken one particular week off because my current boyfriend and I had planned to take a vacation. For whatever reason that vacation never happened, but Casey's parents were planning a surprise engagement party for her and asked some of her friends if they could make it to VA for the party. I so conveniently had that week off, so I flew to Virginia Beach. Ben and Casey's fiancée, Jeremiah, had known each other since they were young so when I got into town, Miah called Ben and the four of us hung out the entire week I was visiting. I had no intention of liking Ben. I actually was not at all into him, not in the least. (sorry, Ben)
I left to go home, Ben took me to the airport at 5am. I was very intrigued by his optimism and genuine zeal for life, but we had almost no communication after I left VA. A few months later the relationship I was in ended quite dramatically the night before I had planned to fly home for a visit to Michigan. My flight was awful because I drank too much during my lay-over and just cried and drooled on the kid next to me. (worse idea ever) That same day, I checked my email and had an encouraging message from Ben saying he didn't know why he was emailing me, but he had woken up in the middle of the night and read some verses from the Bible that he felt he should pass along. Needless to say, this email didn't help my whirlwind of emotions and I closed my computer before I finished reading the message. The last thing I needed was some amazingly optimistic godly man complicating my life during a break-up. I never went back and finished reading the email...
The development of our relationship:
A couple more months went by, I had the occasional small talk with Ben on Facebook, but nothing significant. December came around and it was time for Casey and Jeremiah's wedding. Again I flew to Virginia Beach, and I saw Ben at the rehearsal dinner. I was strangely excited to see him. (Mind you, during the entirety of Casey's wedding planning she confessed her scheme to force me and Ben into marriage. This only made me not want to like him more.) After the dinner, some of us made plans to go out and play pool, nothing spectacular, but again I was drawn to something in Ben. From this point on, the rest of the time I was in VA Ben and I were subtly trying to be near each other. We were like magnets. Ben was staying at the Brook's house until the wee hours of the morning to hang out with everyone and ultimately be near me as long as possible. We both were surviving on just a few hours of sleep per night so we could spend time together before I left.
Casey's wedding was wonderful. Ben and I were both in the wedding party and we were, of course, walking partners. Everyone could tell there was something happening even before we were willing to admit it to ourselves. The end of that week came fast, and it was time for me to go home for the holidays. I had a 14 hour drive back to the Midwest with my second family, the Roomes, and Ben and I texted almost the entire day. I was definitely on cloud 9. When I finally made it back to Michigan the texts were replaced by phone calls, most lasting no less than 3 hours. Sleep was not a priority. I remember laying in the guest room at my dads house until 4:30am on the phone laughing and talking and never wanting to hang up the phone. This same week I also went back and found that first email Ben wrote me. I finally finished reading it, and was amazed by his character and the verses he felt God telling him to encourage me with. It was amazing. At the end of my holiday stay I traveled back to Nashville to spend just a few more weeks there packing my things and preparing for the move home. I had no idea what was in store for Ben and I. Michigan and Virginia are not close.
A month later we decided to meet up in Cinncinnati, OH at Casey and Miah's home for a celebration weekend. Ben flew from VA, I drove from MI, Calen drove from TN, and Casey's cousin drove from KY. The 6 of us had an awesome weekend together, Ben and I had our first "official" date at a jazz restaurant down the street and the day before Ben flew home he asked me to be his girlfriend. January 24th. The next morning he had to fly back to VA and we desperately did not want to part ways. His flight was scheduled to leave at 6am so I drove to the airport and to our surprise, Ben's flight was delayed until that evening. (!) We had another afternoon to be together as a couple! It was perfect. And so began our long distance relationship.
This lasted 6 months. Six months of skype dates and plane rides and road trips and no sleep and constant texting. We were over it. I prayed for some kind of opportunity and within a month I had found a job with the American Cancer Society in Virginia Beach and Casey's parents offered me a place to stay until I could get my feet on the ground. More provision! I moved to VA June 1st and God has not stopped revealing himself! Around the holidays this year Ben and I got serious about taking steps toward our future together. Unfortunately, the investment of an engagement ring seemed somewhat of a discouragement to us. We prayed for provision if this was the plan God had for us. Shortly after Ben's mom offered us her mother's diamond ring. We were ELATED! We felt like it was a double answer to prayer: confirmation and provision. I was very excited to have such a special piece of jewelry too. Then just last month I went to MI to visit my family and my dad and Aunt offered us my grandmother's ring, the ring we decided to accept and re-set. It was my dad's mom's ring. The diamond is stunning: 1ct round cut, colorless and flawless to the naked eye. But more than anything it is yet another testament to God's provision and such a perfect piece of sentiment from the Harvey family. I am so honored to have an heirloom diamond.
Our last 9 months have held a lot of growth for both of us individually and as a couple, but we have seen how perfectly our dreams align and we have been able to develop realistic plans for our future together. It is safe to say we are beyond excited about what God has in store for us.
And the engagement (finally!)
Ben and I are more of the sentimental type, opting for adventures and memories over a shower of material things. So, naturally, our engagement was personal, intimate, and sentential; reminiscent of a significant memory from the beginning of our relationship.
It was a Thursday evening and we had made plans to eat dinner with friends, but Ben had asked me to stop at his house before hand because he had a lot of "things" to do. I remember driving to his house thinking "I wonder if he's going to propose tonight?". (Mind you, this was a thought I had almost daily since I knew my ring was set or at least close to being set.) I got to Ben's house and was surprised he was not doing any of the "things" he said he needed to get done before dinner. He said he had finished them. weird. I tried not to look into it. We talked about our days and Ben mentions some news about the ring adding "we'll find out more when the ring is done". * He's not proposing tonight. *
I sat in the kitchen, hungry, wondering why we can't eat dinner now instead of waiting 2 hours. Ben disappeared for a second, returning with his computer playing a song by The Tallest Man on Earth (one of my favorite musicians). The album that was playing has specific significance to my difficult adjustment period this past summer. Moving to the East coast was not an easy thing for me and as a gesture to cheer me up, Ben bought The Wild Hunt album for me which we listened to on his roof under the stars.
As the music was playing Ben fondly reminded me of that evening, then asked if I wanted to go on the roof. I did, of course. We climbed on top of the roof and laid out a blanket, sat back, listened to The Wild Hunt, and talked. Ben and I could sit pretty much anywhere together and do nothing but talk and laugh and be perfectly content. As we talked about the view we wished we had from the roof, Ben asked me to stand up. He grabbed my hand and pulled me to my feet; we stood with our arms wrapped around each other discussing the things we hoped to do together and the peoples stories we hoped to be a part of. At the closing of that conversation Ben dropped to one knee and told me he wanted me to be his wife and opened a little black box holding the most beautiful, breath-taking ring I'd ever seen. At that point, everything became a blur. After staring at that box for what felt like an hour I realized he was proposing to me. I don't really remember what I said, and I don't even recall him asking "Caitlin will you marry me?", but I remember the feelings of love and excitement that totally consumed me. Even after months of talking about our future together, I was still amazed that Ben was asking for my hand in marriage. After the realization that this WAS really happening, the tears began and I was overjoyed that I would get to spend the rest of my life with Ben.
From the day we met God's hand has been obvious in our relationship. He perfectly orchestrated every detail that has gotten us to this point together. We have yet to decide a date for our wedding, but we have no doubt that we are supposed to be together not just because we are in love but also because God has a greater purpose for our lives together.