Abigail and Benjamin

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How We Met

We met at Appalachian State University in the fall of 2012. We lived on the same hall in our freshman dorm, but really started spending time together after we took the same snowboarding class together that winter. We began hanging out in big groups with friends, and eventually just started to seek out one-on-one time with one another. I honestly thought he had a crush on my roommate because he was so nervous and shy around me for the longest time. I was wanting to learn guitar and he was always playing in the common area, so I asked if he’d teach me. After a couple lessons, I realized I was absolutely no good but that I really enjoyed being around him, so I continued to pretend to want to learn.

Benjamin invited me to the church that he attended and led worship at, and I went with him. We began to spend a lot more time together, just growing our friendship. One night in April, he kissed me out of nowhere and really took me by surprise. Little did I know, it was actually his first kiss. Before we went home for summer after our freshman year, we went on one real date. I wasn’t ready for a relationship. I needed some time, just me and Jesus, I told him. So that’s what he gave me. 7 months of him intentionally pursuing me, letting me grow on my own, and waiting patiently for me. And I’m so glad he did.

How He Asked

“How did he propose?” I’ve been asked a hundred times and I’ve told the story over and over again. Each time, I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and appreciation for this man that I’m get to marry. The attention to detail, the time, the thought, the planning, the love, the intentionality, the sincerity, (and of course the sneakiness) that he poured into his proposal leaves me speechless.

I don’t even know where to begin, but I’ll start a couple of months ago. There were months and months of the two of us talking about and praying about taking the next step in our relationship. After much thought and prayer, we finally settled on a general “time frame” that would fit well with our graduation, my upcoming graduate school schedule, and everything in between. And that was all I knew. Meanwhile, Benjamin was scheming, lying (I’ve since forgiven him), having other people who were in on it lie to me as well (I’ve forgiven them as well), and coming up with the most special plan for the most special day.

Behind the scenes, Ben had arranged for both of our families to be there (minus our sisters who couldn’t be in person but were there in spirit and through FaceTime), which was so so special to me. He had all of our friends in on the big surprise, who threw us a engagement party later that evening. He had arranged for our photographer, Brian Schindler (check out his website if you haven’t already) to be there to document the entire event. He very sneakily got me out on the parkway with no suspicions of what was about to happen, under the assumption that I would be meeting our friend, John, to help him out with a photography project of his. He had thought of everything, he had taken into consideration what he knew I had dreamed of for my engagement, and I still had no idea.

April 26 is a day that Benjamin and I have celebrated for the past couple of years. In 2013, we had our very first kiss on that day (that’s a different story for a different time). We typically went on a little date every year on the 26th of April, nothing extravagant, typically just a cup of coffee and doughnuts or something of the sort. So when Benjamin told me that he wouldn’t be in town that day because he had to be in Winston-Salem for his preceptorship through the nursing program, I was a little bummed. He could tell and he said that he knew how special this day was for us so he promised me we could go on our date the next day.

That Tuesday started like any normal day for me. Benjamin came over to my apartment early that morning (in his scrubs) like he always does before leaving for Winston, said he couldn’t wait to see me when he got back into town that night, and kissed me goodbye. I finished breakfast, went to the speech and hearing clinic, followed by a long day of classes. I had planned to meet with John, our photographer friend that I mentioned above, that evening when I finished up with classes. I went back to the apartment, got ready for the photo-shoot, and headed out to the parkway.

When I got to Moses Cone, I let John know that I was there and he gave me a quick call. He told me he had gotten there a little early so he was setting up his equipment down by the bridge. So I started walking (the wrong way, because I’m great with directions), while still on the phone with him. After we figured out I had been walking in the wrong direction, I turned around and started walking back the other way. When I passed the barn stables, I saw the bridge and I saw a guy standing off in the distance, so I said to John, “I think I see you,” to which he quickly replied, “Okay, see you in a second then, bye!” So I kept walking, and I turned the bend in the road.

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It was then that I saw Benjamin standing there, with his hand in his pocket like he always stands and wearing my favorite shirt of his, with a sheepish little grin spread across his face.

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In that moment, I was so confused because I had “sent him off to Winston” that morning that I didn’t register what was happening at first. I said to him, “You’re not John,” to which he replied, “No, I’m not.” Then I said, “You’re a liar,” to which he replied with an even bigger grin on his face, “Yes, I am.” He walked to meet me on the path, and embraced me with the biggest hug I’ve ever been given.

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It was then that I saw Brian up on the hill, smiling the biggest smile behind his camera. It was then I knew what was coming. And it hit me like a ton of bricks. I buried my face in Ben’s chest and started crying, trying to process all of the emotions I was suddenly feeling. The tears soon turned into laughter and a lot of smiling, and Ben took my hand and said to me, “Let’s go for a walk.”

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As we walked up the mountain, he never let go of my hand.

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He kept looking at me and smiling.

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We were playful, tearful, talkative at times, and at other times silent, just taking it all in, on that walk up to the spot that he would ask me to be his wife.

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We got to a clearing and I noticed a tree with some pictures hanging from it, and he led me to it. Benjamin had printed out a multitude of pictures of the two of us, and had placed them strategically along the way. Each group of pictures was placed under one of four signs that read: “The Kiss,” “The Dance,” “The Growth,” and finally “The Question.”

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Each of these titles, along with the events and memories they represent along our journey together holds a special place in my heart. I stopped and looked at every single picture, crying along the way,  remembering just how far we’ve come and how much we’ve grown, remembering fights we’ve had and nights we couldn’t stop laughing, remembering all of the memories we share and the love that we’ve fostered. When we got to the final sign, “The Question,” Ben made me close my eyes and walked me over to the spot he had picked to ask me to be his wife.

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When he told me I could open my eyes, I was facing him, hand in hand, and I noticed another sign he had made that read “Will you marry me?” as well as one of my favorite quotes from one of Ben Rector’s songs. He pulled me in close, held onto my hands tighter than ever before, and spoke so that only I could hear him. When he had finished saying what he wanted to say to me, tears in his eyes, he pulled out the ring from his back pocket and dropped down to one knee.

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That moment. Wow. It is one I will never forget. The amount of emotions and thoughts and the quick rate at which they were running through my mind left me once again in tears behind the biggest smile I’m sure has ever graced my face. I pulled my hands up to cover my face.

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I couldn’t help but think about how I had dreamed about this exact moment since I was just a little girl. How, here I was now, and this dream of mine was coming true. And not only that, it was happening to the exact person who I’ve dreamed of spending the rest of my life with. How that handsome man, down on one knee, face grinning with anticipation, love, and excitement, is who I get to spend my forever beside. The peace in knowing that I was committing to spend the rest of my life with the one person that I’ve prayed that God would have for me is a feeling like one I’ve never experienced.

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After I had said “yes” a million times and through tear-filled eyes I saw him put the most beautiful ring on my finger and he pulled me in for a kiss and a huge bear hug.

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Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw our families and friends coming out of the trees on the other side of the field that we were standing in. Cue more tears from me. They met up with us, there were many hugs, many tears, and many smiles.

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After talking for a while, we headed off with Brian to take some photos in the most beautiful light I’ve ever seen. What a special time of taking everything in, of giggling and staring at my ring, of goofing around and of just basking in the love that we share.

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And how special that Brian was there to capture it all so we can look back on this day and cherish it forever.

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So, that is how he asked. Thank you to everyone who was a part of this day and who has loved and supported us thus far. We are so thankful for each and every one of you. And thank you to my love, my fiancé, Benjamin, for knowing my heart so well, for making this day so special for the two of us, for loving me, and for being you. I can’t wait to marry you.

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Special Thanks

Brian Schindler
Photographer