the proposal

My sisters are chatting about candle lighting ceremonies.  My cousin has made herself available to help with questions and contest entries.  Local friends have given me names and websites for photographers. My aunt and mom have already started planning.  I now own several magazines.  I have a rather large rock on my hand.
It’s official, I’m engaged!
For the story of how we met, click here.
And without further ado, here’s the detailed engagement story you’ve been waiting for…

Our engagement story:

On Friday, November 1st Cason went in to work and I planned an afternoon of shopping followed by an evening of studying.  I was at Target when Cason texted me to let me know they had too many people for his shift, so he got to go home.  I asked if we were making plans for the night, and he said he wanted to have a nice date night since we hadn’t planned one in a while.  (This is not unusual–we like to randomly plan fun nights, spur of the moment, where I put on a dress and he wears something besides athletic shorts.)  He picked me up at 6:30pm and we ended up going to dinner downtown at a place called Sam’s on the Square.  They had about 10 different kinds of tacos to choose from–I got fish tacos, and they were surprisingly delicious.  At dinner we did our fair share of people-watching; we constantly overhear tons of hilarious conversations among “college kids.”  So at first I didn’t notice how quiet Cason was being.  Towards the end of dinner I remember asking why he was so quiet–come to find out, he was super nervous.

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After dinner we went to one of my favorite places in Waco–Katie’s Frozen Custard.  We get Katie’s at least twice a week because it’s so delicious!  Then we took our frozen treats to Baylor instead of to my house to watch TV, which is perhaps when I realized something was up.  We parked on campus and walked towards Pat Neff Hall, passing the Judge Baylor statue and stopping in the gardens to sit and enjoy our frozen yogurt.  At one point in our walk I got pretty excited about the shrubs because they were cut to spell “Baylor Bears,” and I remember thinking it was strange that Cason seemed indifferent.  (We usually get excited about random/new things, but he had seen the shrubs before when he scoped out the location, and he had other things on his mind–which is obvious in retrospect.)

So we sat down in the middle of the garden looking at the glowing green Pat Neff Hall.  I’m trying to eat my frozen custard, but it was unusually cold outside for Texas so I gave up and listened to Cason tell me the history of the glowing green light.  (I’m still rather shocked that he did his research.)  After sitting for a few minutes I told Cason that I had to go to the bathroom, so he said, “Well then I will make this quick.”  (This is it!)  Then he got down on one knee, with the glowing green building behind him, and he told me how much he had always looked forward to finding the right person, how at times he wasn’t sure it would happen, and how he was blessed to have found me.  Then he said my full name and asked me to marry him.  I said, “Yes” through my tears and I got down to hug and kiss him.  Then he stood up and asked me if I was going to say yes (which apparently happens in more engagements than you would think), and I told him that I did say yes and that I do want to marry him.  So he put the ring on my finger and we smiled and laughed and kissed and hugged.  Then, since it was dark, he pulled out his iPhone and turned on his flashlight so I could see the ring. (It’s perfect, by the way.  We previously looked at rings, so he had a good idea of what I wanted, and he just took it and ran with it. 🙂

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We walked back to the car, giddy, and I asked all sorts of questions like, “Were you nervous? Did you think I would say no?” etc.  (Yes he was nervous but not because he thought I would say no.)  Once we got back to the car, we called my parents and face-timed them so they could see the ring.  Then we face-timed Cason’s parents, who were on their way to Florida with his youngest brother.  It was all very exciting to start sharing with family.  I also called my aunt and my nana, and my cousin’s reaction was priceless.

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People asked me if I was surprised, but I think the better question is, “Were you pleasantly surprised?”  Truth be told, if I had no inclination that it was coming, I would have been surprised, but I’m not sure that I would have liked it.  Cason’s proposal, for me, had the right balance of expectation and surprise.  So yes, I was pleasantly surprised.  It was a special moment shared between the two of us, which we will never forget.  Even now when I drive by campus at night and see Pat Neff Hall glowing green in the distance, I get this big grin on my face.

blessings from a social butterfly

Do you know someone with certain personality traits that never cease to leave you shocked and amazed?  I am continuously amazed by the way my sweet boyfriend, Cason, uses his social skills to bless and give to others.  Let me share a story with you.

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A few weeks ago Cason decided to sell his TV on Craigslist.  Not a new phenomenon.  People sell stuff on Craigslist all the time.  Well after a series of texts and calls from random people, Cason finally has someone who wants to meet up to see the TV and potentially make a purchase.  He asks me if I want to tag along, which of course I do, so we set off for the local Starbucks and grab some drinks while we wait.  Soon enough a newly-married military couple approaches, and Cason starts up a conversation with them.  Me, I would immediately start talking about the TV and get down to business; that’s just the way my brain works.  Cason, no, he starts by asking them about their background: Are you military? Where are you from? Are you new to the area? (Duh, seriously why can’t I ever think of the right questions to ask in social situations?)
Anyway, they head off to Cason’s car to check out the TV while I sit sipping my still-hot latte.  Cason returns quite some time later with a huge grin on his face, which I immediately interpret to mean that he sold the TV.  However, the first thing out of his mouth was something like, “They are a really cool couple.”  (By now I shouldn’t be surprised that Cason always puts relationships with people above business.  It’s something I truly admire about him.)  Then he goes on to tell me about how the couple was looking for a good church in the area and had visited one.  Cason, being the social networker that he is, knew people at the church and recommended people they could get plugged in with.  Finally he tells me basically that he loves to sell things on Craigslist because it gives him opportunities to meet people like that.  Gee, isn’t that an awesome perspective to have on what many, including myself, would typically view as nothing more than a means to a quick & profitable business transaction.
You would think the story ends here, but there’s more.  We saw this sweet, young couple last weekend at church and made plans to grab some dinner this past week.  We ended up going to a Mexican restaurant in town, which worked out because apparently they had been looking for a good Mexican place since they moved.  We found out that they are about the same age as us, about a year younger than both of us.  We had genuinely good conversations and I enjoyed getting to know them.  Let me just say that meeting and getting to know new people is not my strong suit, so I was very thankful to have Cason by my side to ask the right questions and keep the conversation rolling when I was certain that an awkward silence was about to strike.  Come to find out, the husband is here for training this year, but he will be stationed in Texas only 30 minutes from Baylor next year.  I know that there’s no way to tell what direction this newfound friendship will take, but I think it’s amazing that God would have us meet through Craigslist and be sending us to similar places at similar times.

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Not only did Cason’s social skills and love of people bless another couple as well as myself this week, but it also got me to thinking about the way we view business transactions and business as a whole in this country.  I was thinking that perhaps if business was less focused on the almighty dollar and more focused on the people behind the cash, then maybe we would find ourselves living in a place filled with more blessings.  Perhaps this is idealistic, but I just can’t help but think that our businesses should be more about providing quality services and goods with excellent customer service as opposed as simply a way to make more and more money.  Certainly this attitude of service partnered with business gave birth to social entrepreneurship, which is something I could definitely get on board with. Just food for thought.

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In closing, I just wanted to say again how thankful and blessed I am to have a wonderful boyfriend who truly sees the value of meaningful relationships. I am thankful that God has blessed Cason with this uncanny ability to have a genuine conversation with everyone he meets.

How I decided on a graduate school

  1. I decided on a program.
    I wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember, but I decided to pursue another passion in college, psychology.  Along the way I realized that I still wanted to be in a school setting and make a difference in the lives of children.  Then I discovered the field of school psychology and I realized that I was made for it.  So I looked for graduate programs in that field and to my excitement found a 3-year Specialist program.  This would give me a year of full instruction, a year of instruction and work in the schools, and finally an internship year.  When I first realized I would have to go to grad school, I honestly was not thrilled about more school.  However, this program seemed to be tailored to my needs in that it would allow me to actually start doing what school psychologists do under the supervision of professors and other school psychologists.  Plus, more education in a field that I am thrilled about is actually appealing to me now.
  2. I decided on a region.
    When I was young, I was a homebody.  I never ventured far from my parents.  As I’ve gotten older, my comfort zone has expanded somewhat, and I knew that I still wanted to be in the south for graduate schools.  I looked at schools in North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Texas.
  3. I applied to most of the schools with my program in the region.
    I applied to Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, University of Alabama,  and Baylor University.  School psychology is growing but still relatively new, so it’s not a program that everyone has.  I know it looks like I was pretty selective in where I applied, but I honestly had pretty slim pickings.  The good thing though is that these are all incredibly amazing programs.
  4. I interviewed with schools via Skype and in person.
    Georgia Southern accepted me without an interview, but I Skyped with three of the faculty from Baylor, and then I did an all day interview with the five faculty at Appalachian State.
  5. I made a pros and cons list.
    This is somewhat of an inside joke for anyone who saw the pros and cons list.  One school had all the pros.  We will just leave it at that
  6. I picked the program that was the best fit for me…
    …and that program is BAYLOR UNIVERSITY!  I am so pleased to announce that I have been accepted to their school psychology program for this fall, and I have accepted their offer.  (Many of you know this already, but it feels more official now that it is on the blog!)  I will actually be visiting next week, and I am thrilled!

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I was so excited once I finally accepted their offer that I could not sleep.  I stayed up making poster prints like the one above to hang in my apartment in TEXAS.  This feels like an absolute dream come true, but looking back I realize that I worked my whole life (up until this point) for this.  The goal has always been to do well in school, find a job that I am passionate about, and do what it takes to get there.  This is just another stepping stone along that path, and I am so blessed by and thankful for everyone who has helped and supported me along the way.  I recognize that this achievement cannot be credited to my work alone.  I needed the help and support of my parents, family, friends, and teachers.  Who I am and what I have achieved is a combination of my experiences and interactions with others, and I don’t take that for granted for one second.  Finally, I must acknowledge that my Creator and God had his hand over all of this.  I can look back and say that there were definitely times along the way when I wanted to give up, and I would not have made it through without my relationship with Christ as the foundation of my life.  All the glory goes to Him and the way He has placed people and experiences in my life to form me into the woman I am today.

homecoming no. 8

Do you ever have one of those days that takes you back several years and at the same time makes you wonder how the future will turn out?

My best friend from high school was nominated for homecoming court for her university.  When I found out about this a couple of weeks ago, I was not surprised at all.  Carmen is the kind of person who seems to instantly click with anyone she meets.  Carmen genuinely cares about people, and that really inspires the way she interacts with others.  It’s no surprise to me that everyone sees the best in her because that’s exactly what she does–she sees the best in everyone.  I am very proud of her for staying true to herself throughout college and for loving and inspiring others around her.

This is a photo of Mary Kathryn, myself, Carmen, and Carmen’s sister, Joy Beth, from the homecoming game today:

Honestly, the fact that Carmen was on the court was not what took me back to the days of high school.  It was more of the fact that this was one of the few times Carmen, Mary Kathryn, and I have been together since high school.  The summer right before my freshman year in high school, Mary Kathryn and I met when we were trying out for cheerleading and volleyball.  Carmen and I met the week before school started when we were both shopping for school supplies in Office Max with our moms.  I remember her mom picking up a rolling backpack with light up wheels, and we all laughed about how much we would get made fun of if we had those for the first day of high school.  In those moments, I had no idea just how much these two would mean to me over the course of high school.

This photo is from the first day of my junior year of high school.

Looking back on how far we have come together, and sometimes apart got me to thinking about where we will end up in five, ten, fifteen plus years.  We all seem to be going our separate ways: getting married, applying to Teach for America, living abroad in China.  Our lives really couldn’t be taking us in more different directions, but there is something in me that really wants to believe that the past we have all shared together is stronger than anything in the future that will threaten to pull us apart.  Perhaps that is wishful thinking, or perhaps that is exactly the kind of thinking that keeps good friends together–probably the former.  And even if we do not remain close (because let’s face it, we don’t always talk or hang out like we used to), we still have our memories that we have shared together.  I know that sounds trite, but there really is something powerful about a memory, don’t you think?

To close, here is one of my more recent favorite songs about high school memories:

When I think about you, I think about seventeen;
I think about my old jeep.  I think about the stars in the sky.
Funny how a melody sounds like a memory, like a soundtrack to a July Saturday night.