12 Days and a Ring on My Finger

The love story that I wrote for myself goes something like this:

Girl attends a Christian college, and becomes friends with a nice Boy (preferably one who is planning to be a pastor and maybe even plays guitar and sings worship songs on the green). Girl and Boy fall in love. Girl and Boy get engaged during senior year (in the spring, when the flowers are blooming and the air smells sweet). Marriage follows soon after graduation, and the Girl and Boy enjoy a blissful life together. 

But my love story went nothing like that.

It was more like this:

Girl attends a Christian college, meets lots of nice boys, THE END. 

For a while.

Fast forward seven years (seven years of waiting and wondering about God’s plan for her life; for the full story, see my blog post from February). Girl is willing to try anything, so she signs up for a Christian dating website. So does a Boy. Boy and Girl meet online, decide to pursue an intentional relationship, and do so for six months of “dating” confined to emails, online chats, and loooooong Skype video calls. Girl and Boy meet in the summer of 2012, get engaged twelve days later (yep, you read that correctly, and I’ll explain more if you keep reading), and say goodbye after just two blissful weeks together. Girl and Boy are separated by oceans for another year before they get married. To be continued…

12 Days–What?!

So, if we’re being technical, I can honestly tell people that I met Charles in person on June 13, and just twelve days later on June 25, we were engaged.

That sounds much more sensational than explaining how we painstakingly worked to get to know each other via long distance communication, how we read books together and discussed difficult topics in order to build a strong foundation for our relationship, how we spent countless hours learning to communicate clearly with one another, how we sought the Lord together and on our own in order to follow His will for the relationship, and how we (mostly I) cried often because of the difficulty of separation.

It may have been only twelve days of in-person, direct contact, but it seemed like a lifetime of waiting before that. And, since I have another year on my contract in Taiwan, we won’t be rushing into any shotgun wedding either.

The Details

Note & fair warning: Some friends have asked about the details of my time in person with Charles and about our engagement. This will probably get a little sappy, but I’ll try to keep it real. If you want to skip this part, go for it, but be sure to glance at the last section of this post before you hit that close button on the page.

The first day with Charles was awkward. I knew this guy sooooo well, and yet I didn’t know how to hold his hand or what it felt like to walk or sit next to him. My family did a good job of breaking the ice by, well, just being themselves. We laughed a lot that first day and evening, and my tension and nervousness quickly melted away.

On the second day, we took things up a notch and traveled to another country. Alright, it was only the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, but still, it was a great day with the whole family. The weather was beautiful, and I had fun experiencing it all with Charles by my side.

For the rest of the week, we spent time hanging out with my family in New York and visiting some cool local sights. This was a great time for Charles and me to get to know each other face-to-face, and to test the relationship in real life situations. We found that we really did enjoy each other’s company, that we could laugh together and have fun, and that we were a good team. It was also really important for me to see how Charles interacted with my family; not only did he survive the week with us, but he seemed to really enjoy his time! Here are a few photo highlights from the week (note the first picture below shows an example of working together–successfully making a cheesecake–and laughing together–my JOKE t-shirt that my sisters bought and prompted me to wear):

The next week, we flew down to South Carolina to spend time in Charles’ hometown of Beaufort. It is a BEAUTIFUL place, and I truly fell in love with it…and more in love with Charles at every new experience that we shared. His parents were incredible (I stayed at their home), and I met many of Charles’ wonderful friends. It was encouraging for me to see Charles on his home turf and to meet the quality people with whom he associates. Over and over again, the Lord confirmed what I had already surmised about Charles: he is an amazing man.

Engagement Story

Unbeknownst to me, a very nervous Charles called my dad on Sunday evening to ask for permission to marry me. After 45 minutes of grilling Charles with tough questions, my dad said “yes.” Whew. Step one complete.

The next day, Charles took me out to Old Sheldon Church, a phenomenally beautiful place about thirty minutes from his home. The sight is the ruins of a church that was built in the 1800’s; the church was burned down and all that remains are the brick walls and columns of the original building. The church is in a secluded area, and all around it are beautiful live oak trees with Spanish moss. It is an incredibly tranquil and breathtaking place.

We walked around the building and grounds for a while, and there were lots of other people milling around as well. I was beginning to wonder why Charles wanted to hang around so long because usually I’m the one that wants to linger and enjoy the view at a place like that. But, I let him lead, and I enjoyed the time to reflect peacefully as we walked.

You can actually walk through the building ruins, and we had done so already, but near the end of our time, Charles walked me into the center of the church again. The rest of the people had cleared out, and we were alone in the beauty of the place. Before I knew what was happening, Charles was down on one knee and asking me to marry him. I couldn’t believe it! Of course I said, “yes!” right away. I put on the ring, and then Charles stood up and kissed me. That was our first kiss, and I will never forget it. In the ecstasy of the moment, I held onto him and didn’t want to let go. It was wonderful.

Then we walked out of the church, and I promptly told him that I needed all of the details that he had been keeping secret for so long: how did you choose the ring? what was it like talking to my dad? how did you make the plan to come here? We talked and I giggled and kept looking at the beautiful ring on my finger. Then we found a picnic table nearby and sat down and prayed together that God would bless this new step of our relationship and that we would follow Him in every way. I think I was thanking God that Charles asked, and he was thanking God that I said “yes.” *smile* I cannot think of a better way to celebrate our engagement than to join together in prayer.

Here are some photos of that beautiful day which I will treasure forever:

We went home and then began the fun of telling relatives and friends about our engagement. We told his parents in person, video called my parents on Facetime, told my sisters over the phone and then later met up with them on Skype, called my grandmothers, Skyped with my best friend, told two of his friends over dinner, and posted a creative little engagement announcement on Facebook (at which point the well wishes came pouring in). It was a very exciting evening.

What’s Next?

That’s the question that people keep asking me. I can tell you that we don’t have all the details worked out and that we are well aware that God might have a different idea in mind that is better than what we can plan. We are willing to follow Him wherever He leads. But here’s my best guess at what the future holds:

I will finish out my contract year at Morrison in Taiwan. I am excited about teaching there for another year, and this year I’ll also be leading the Christian Service Learning program for the middle school, so that will be an exciting endeavor. Next summer, Charles and I will get married (where? we don’t know yet!), and then I will move to Beaufort, South Carolina with him. He has a great job doing computer stuff (that’s the technical term-hehe) at his church, and we’d like to stay there for a while. While I am sad about the idea of leaving Taiwan, I know and trust that God is opening this door for me to marry Charles, and I am happy about this next stage in our lives. Also, missions is NOT off the table for us, and we are excited to see where God will lead in the future.

Update: Read my post entitled “Grace Sufficient” for a new and different version of our “What’s Next?” Again, God has different (better) plans than we did.

Why I’m Happy That I’m Not Writing My Own Story

One of my favorite Bible verses is Proverbs 19:21 which says, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (emphasis added). Read that verse in different translations, and the same meaning is always revealed: people make specific plans and choose paths to follow, but God’s purpose is bigger and fuller and more abundant than all of man’s plans, and ultimately God’s purpose will stand. I am so thankful that my little “perfect” plan of how I would meet my future husband did not pan out as I expected. I could not imagine someone better suited for me than Charles, and there is no way under the sun that I could have orchestrated our meeting and relationship like God did. I am thankful that my life is in God’s hands and that He is directing my path.

23 thoughts on “12 Days and a Ring on My Finger

  1. I cannot believe I am the first to post a comment. First I want to say, as a parent that I had a perfect plan that read in a similar manner to your plan. I figured you would find your future husband at college and marry soon thereafter. I was disappointed when that did not happen but it did cause me to pray more intently and to trust more fully. Now I can see that God can be trusted with the big things (like our children’s future spouses). I am so excited about how God has led you guys and look forward to having another man in the family. Mom, your sisters and I are so happy for you guys.

    On another note Christel, have you ever considered taking up writing as a profession. I think god has gifted you with words. Mom and I knew that when you were a small child. Remember when Miss Sherri, your kindergarten teacher, moved your desk up beside her desk to “help” you with your urge to express yourself?

  2. This is SO beautiful Christel. I can’t wait to chat with you more about it…and see that beautiful ring IN PERSON this fall. God is truly amazing and the plans He holds for our lives are breathtaking. Did Nathan and I ever thing we would be adopting a little boy from Taiwan, as our first child, even though we (think) we are able to have a child the old-fashioned way? No. But God certainly does have a way of adding love to a life in unexpected ways, doesn’t He? Thank you for sharing this post! I agree with your dad, you have such a gift with words (although I think there is an inside joke in there that I am missing…maybe?). You should write a book sharing your story. So many Christian women graduate college without a ring on their finger and I really think your journey on trust and God would be an inspiration and a comfort!! Plus your Taiwanese adventures would make for a great read ;-)

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Angela. It is truly amazing how God works. I can’t wait to meet you in person in the fall and to get to spend some time with you.

      I do love to write, and my dad was giving an honest compliment, but the inside story is this: when I was in kindergarten, we all sat at tables in groups. Well, I loved to talk so much that my teacher moved me to a separate desk all by myself so that I could focus and not distract other children. The funny thing is that while she was trying to discipline me, I thought that I was getting special treatment in a special seat by myself! I guess it worked to keep me quieter, but the purpose of the move was totally lost on me. :)

  3. Funny, but your plan of a love story WAS what happened to me… met in college, engaged his senior year, married that summer… but 5 years later separated and a year after that divorced. Hm. Not exactly my plan (or God’s). But I learned that no matter what happens, God is there as long as you seek him. I’ve definitely been burned, but even though my American Dream didn’t work out, I know God still has a purpose for me. Reading your story reminded me of my own lessons, and is encouraging me that perhaps blessings still lie ahead! I miss you Christel! It’s been WAY too long!

    1. Alison, I know this has been a painful season for you, but I also trust that God has blessings and plans for your life! He is faithful. I miss you too, and it has indeed been too long. Maybe I’ll be able to meet up with you once I live in the U.S. again and have some more time for in-country travel. Praying for you, friend!

  4. For years we have prayed for the woman who would become our son’s wife. After he passed his mid 20s, we thought maybe God intended a life of singleness for him. I often told friends if God wanted Charles to marry, He would have to drop a woman down through the roof of the church into the tech booth. Charles spent more time there than any place.

    One of the things we prayed was that our son’s future bride would first love the Lord and then love him. God is so faithful. He sent a beautiful, talented woman who is beyond all we asked or hoped she would be. Seeing them together left no room for doubt, God had orchestrated their meeting in His own good time.

    Can you believe both their initials will be C.J.P when they marry. Who could need more confirmation than this ? We love you Christel and look forward to getting to know you even better. You are a blessing, not only to Charles but to the whole Prezalor family.

    1. Nellah, your comment is one of the sweetest things anyone has ever communicated to me. Thank you so very much.

      As you can tell if you read my dad’s comment, my parents have prayed for my future husband for a long time as well. I know they must be just as excited about welcoming Charles into our family because he is a committed, passionate, and godly man. (At least, I know I feel that way!)

      And the initials thing? How cool is that? =D

      I love you too!

  5. Oh Christel! You’re love story is so wonderful!!!! The Author knew exactly how to make it perfect. I’m so excited and happy for you. I just hope your Kentucky family gets a chance to meet your handsome prince. Love you, sweet.

    1. Oops! That’s your, not you’re. I know YOU’RE a grammar cop, which is probably why I made that typo.

    2. I have already told Charles that we WILL be making a trip to Kentucky together as soon as it is feasible. I really want him to meet all of my dear family there. There’s no place like home, and Kentucky is a big part of home for me. :) Love you too!

  6. Love the whole story. So exciting to see God work and bring about the perfect match, it gives me hope for my grandchildren as I pray for their future life mate. SO happy for you!!!!

    1. Thank you, Mona! I can’t wait to share more with you in person when I return to Taiwan (next week!). I hope you are all doing well and have had a great summer as a family.

  7. Christel – What a beautiful, beautiful story!! I am so happy for you and your future husband. Sometimes it is so hard to wait on the Lord and His plan when you have your own plan waiting & ready to go! And, your old 8th grade English teacher here is very proud of your writing skills (& grammar skills, too). :) Good luck with those middle school students this coming year. Something tells me that they might be a little different than American middle schoolers… God Bless!

    1. Thank you so much! I have had a number of great writing teachers over the years (including you!) who have helped me along the way. One thing I remember most about your class is the poetry we wrote and compiled. I’m pretty sure I still have my poetry anthology from 8th grade. I loved the creative side of writing that I experienced during that year. I also remember studying “The Lord of the Flies” and looking at it from the biblical worldview of sin being innately human–that children (the “innocent” ones of humanity) were dropped onto an island that had no evil, no government, no predators, and all the natural resources they could need, and yet they still turned wicked by their own accord. That certainly compels mankind to recognize our need for a Savior. The kind of thinking and analysis we did in class really stirred my soul and helped me to begin to understand that literature is more than just interesting stories.

  8. Christel, what a beautiful and encouraging testimony!! and i don’t just mean this story, but your faith and faithfulness in general. Thank you for sharing this story, and for the encouragement you bring to many by following God’s leading and seeking His glory above all things. I would love to use this post and/or your story as I share with young people about relationships, dating, purity, trusting God’s leading, etc. Please let me know if that’s okay with both you and Charles.

    I will be lifting you up in this next year. Wish you showers of blessings, and that God uses you two in mighty ways to further His Kingdom and give glory to His name.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Jenny. God is the one who is faithful.

      I would be happy for you to share my story with anyone who needs to hear it. Feel free to use this blog post as you wish; I wouldn’t have posted it if I wanted to keep it a secret. I’ll double-check with Charles, but I’m sure he is totally fine with you using our story too. Thanks for asking!

  9. Congratulations to my favorite English teacher! I am so happy to see that God has been a major influence on both you and Charles. You both look so happy in all your photos. I believe that God has many more things for both of you in the future and I pray that His blessings continue to prevail.

    That in mind, I wanted to share with you my favorite verse. Micah 6:8 “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

    I look forward to more of your posts!

  10. Christel, It’s funny to read your story, because I too am living abroad in Asia, and met a godly guy online, through a different website, but he is also from the Beaufort area :). We had one 10 day visit, and one more visit coming up now. We might get engaged this visit, because like you, we sense God is leading us this way, but it seems a little crazy, perhaps, to on-lookers, because we haven’t spent much time together in person (unless you count our very long Skypes :) ).
    I was wondering if you have any advice, a couple years later, ie: things you wish you’d known, or things you’d do differently, or recommendations? I’d be happy to hear if you do. I think you can see the email address I entered with this post :). Blessings, Julie

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