When it happened
Saturday, January 26, 2013
How we got engaged
Oh gosh, where do I start?! Derek and I had been talking about marriage for a few months before our engagement, so I was trying my BEST not to get impatient...but of course, I was. Derek is so laid back that I knew the proposal would probably be spur of the moment and not very well planned out. Boy was I wrong! The morning of my 25th birthday was uneventful: birthday pancakes, and a trip to Goodwill with Kati. Derek told me earlier in the week that he would plan everything for my birthday, but we had gone back and forth on whether we wanted to see Seven Handle Circus play that night, so I assumed he was planning dinner and then the concert. I started getting ready at Kati and Matt’s a little late (shocker, I know), and told Derek I would be a little later than he told me I needed to be to make it to dinner in time. While I was putting on my makeup, he told me that he had to help Matt move some Green Eggs at the clubhouse and to be ready when he got back. A few minutes later I received a text from Derek on my phone: “Whenever you’re completely ready, there’s a note outside on the porch swing for you. Maybe bring a bottle of water with you.” So of course I ran downstairs immediately in my bathrobe to see what in the world he was talking about! This is what I found:
At this point I was getting a little curious, but I didn’t want to think too much into things, so I didn’t overanalyze (for once!). I called Kati and asked her if she knew what was going on. (I thought I would be able to tell if she was lying, but apparently not!) She said she honestly had no clue but that I should hurry and get ready. So of course I took like 20 more minutes to get ready, just in case! When I was finally ready, I jumped in my car and drove down to the Harbor Club dock. What I found there took my breath away. Derek was standing by the water beside the cutest rowboat I had ever seen! He had his hands in his pockets and looked just as smug and sure of himself as ever. I walked down to the dock and he told me to get in the boat to which I asked him if he was crazy! He finally convinced me to get in, and off we went! It took us a little while to get going, but we finally started moving in the direction of the open water in the lake. Somehow Derek had chosen the most beautiful day in January; it was PERFECT! The 45 or so minutes that we rowed along was like something out of a movie…
Derek was just as calm as could be through the entire trip, so I knew there was no way this was the proposal; I assumed he would be nervous when that day finally came, and that I would be able to tell what was going on (wrong again!). Anyway, we kept rowing and farther and farther into the lake, and I kept asking where we were going; Derek kept telling me that it was just a little further, and that we were just going for a little ride.
As we got further into the lake, Derek pulled out a Bible and asked me to open it up and read the verses that were written on the page in the front. Of course I did, and come to find out, they were all about marriage! My eyes started to fill with tears, but I held them in as best I could.
We came upon the point on Lake Oconee that juts out near the sand bar. As we got closer we heard music, and there were people sitting around a fire playing bluegrass. I also noticed several signs on the point saying “No trespassing! Do not come on the shore uninvited.” Derek suggested that we stop and talk to the people playing bluegrass, so of course I was like “No! They have to invite us first!” We rowed a little closer and Derek started talking to the people and decided to park the boat and finally convinced me come up on land. As we got out of the boat, one of the guys helped us on to shore and introduced himself as Jim McBath. At this point, I knew something was up! I had heard Derek talk about his dad’s best friend Jim throughout our relationship and I knew that there could not be two Jim McBaths! He invited us up to where the band was playing and we went and started talking to them. Derek mentioned that it was my birthday and asked them if they would play a song for me. As the sun was going down, they struck the first cords for one of our favorite songs, Swept Away, by the Avett Brothers. As soon as they struck the cords, the waterworks came! I was swept away (pun intended) by the moment and the love that Derek had put in to planning this entire thing. Throughout our relationship the only arguments we’ve ever had have been because of Derek being so laid back and last minute and me being a little more on the controlling side, so the fact that he planned this entire day, knowing that it was important to me, meant the world to me.
As the band started to play, Derek asked me to dance. The next 3 minutes will forever be engraved in my mind as the epitome of perfection. As I laid my head on his shoulder, I felt the sunlight shining down on us as it set over the lake. The love I felt in that moment was indescribable. At the end of the song, Derek dropped down to one knee, opened a ring box, and asked me to be his wife. Of course I said yes and gave him a big kiss! It was PERFECT!
After a few tears, Derek led me a little closer to the shore and prayed for us, for our marriage, and for our future together. When I opened my eyes I heard people coming (aka howling, if you know my family) from the shoreline and low and behold, it was my family and Derek’s!
Derek had invited my parents, Allen, Kati, Matt, Rosie, and Scott down to celebrate our engagement. He had also enlisted his friend James and his girlfriend Meredith to video and take pictures! He truly thought of everything. After many congratulations and more than a few tears of joy, we all headed back to Kati and Matt’s where Matt had cooked bar-b-que for everyone. We and the amazing band celebrated my birthday, our engagement, and the best day of my life so far :) . After dinner, Kati, Matt, Allen, Derek, and I headed to Athens for the original plan for the evening, to see Seven Handle Circus at the Georgia Theatre. For the last surprise of the night, Derek had called 25 or so of our closest friends and invited them to the concert too! It was an amazing end to an amazing day! I consider myself to be blessed beyond measure, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for our life together!
In the Spring of 2012, I began working on an idea of how I would propose to Kari Beth one day. My initial plan did in fact involve a row boat, however, an over-ambitious intention to build it by hand! So after a couple months passed, I decided I would have to modify my vision to simply restoring an old rig. But when a few craigslist searches came up short, I decided I might just have to take the easier route and buy a more solid, ‘ready-to-row’ row boat.
In addition to my row boat troubles, I had also planned to propose in the late Fall, but things were getting a bit hectic with Peach State Pride, so once again I pushed back the engagement. Reasonably so, Kari Beth was growing impatient with me and as January 1st ushered in a new year, her plans for a summer wedding were beginning to fade. While this brought about a little bit of stress in our relationship, inwardly I knew the proposal was just a couple of small details away. I had recently bought the perfect ring and had found the hand-crafted row boat that I was looking for. The finishing touch involved a little song that Kari Beth and I both loved by the Avett Brothers called ‘Swept Away.’ With the help of my Dad’s good friend, Jim McBath and his small gospel band, I was about to sweep Kari Beth of her little, unsuspecting feet!
When the day finally came, I literally could hardly wait because Kari Beth was completely clueless. ‘Dinner out in Athens’ she thought! Meanwhile all the plans were in action, my parents, her parents, and the band had arrived at Harbor Club on Lake Oconee. The weather cleared up, the wind died down, and the sun was smoothly slipping from a calm sky. Kari Beth was running late, just as planned, which left me the perfect opportunity to sneak out, plant ‘the note’ and head down to the dock. When I arrived at the water’s edge, I texted Kari Beth to check the note that I left for her on the porch swing. ‘Come down to the dock and sail away with me’ it read. Still unknowing (somehow) Kari Beth made her way down to the dock with the biggest smile on her face. And of course looking amazing! We set off in the boat, me dressed in suspenders and slacks, Kari Beth in a sweet little dress and big boots… and after a not-so-smooth start, I finally got us going in the right direction. She was just peacefully enjoying, this random, romantic row out on Lake Oconee at sunset!
Our destination was the Point, a nearby peninsula, protruding out into the open lake just around the corner from the Harbor Club dock. 30 minutes of rowing was just enough time enjoy our evening stroll and read a little scripture. It really was a surreal, perfect time that will always nostalgically resonate within my heart and mind as long as I live! And to Kari Beth’s credit, she seemed to be growing a bit suspicious. ‘What is that?’ I said, ‘Is that music?’ Kari Beth’s eyes fixed on the Point, 50 or so yards away where the sound of bluegrass was blowing towards us. I steered the boat in the direction of the sounds and ensured Kari Beth that we wouldn’t disturb anyone. Against Kari Beth’s wishes I approached ‘the strangers,’ complimented their musical gifts, and struck up a little small-talk. And what do ya know? Those strangers invited us right up onto the shore, much to Kari Beth’s sha-grin. And of course, her being the trusting girlfriend (soon to be fiancé) that she is, she gave me a cautious look of approval and I accepted the invitation. While ashore, we quickly made acquaintance with the group and I requested they play a song for Kari Beth’s birthday.
And at that time, the events began to become a reality to Kari Beth. The first chords of music filled the peaceful evening air and landed upon her heart just the way I had hoped. She finally knew. Tears rolled from her eyes as I asked her to dance. The words and notes of ‘Swept Away’ became the backdrop to the perfect moment in our relationship. As we danced on the red clay and under the Georgia Pines the moon was rising and the sun was setting and our future together was one huge step closer to reality, but our love was clear in the moment. And as the final notes of the song began to play, I dropped to a knee, pulled out her ring, and asked her to marry me. Her reaction: A simple ‘yes,’ followed by a loving embrace and the perfect ending to an amazing day.