Ciera and Dillon
How We Met – her side
I don’t actually remember ever formally meeting Dillon. I can vividly remember the day I first saw him though; Mother’s Day 2014. Have you ever had moments in your life that made you take a step back and question why they were so significant? Seeing Dillon that day was one of those moments for me. I had no idea who he was, and frankly didn’t even speak a word to him; however, I remember even the smallest details that surrounded seeing him in the church lobby that day. We wouldn’t have our first conversation, become friends or even live in the same city until another year later, yet, the feeling of first locking eyes on him felt significant then, and definitely now, so I didn’t want to leave it out of this write-up. God knew all along, even if it took the two of us quite a while later to see. By the time I actually came around to becoming friends with Dillon, I had called Tulsa my home for nearly six years. Had it not been for finding such a supportive church community at Woodlake, Tulsa definitely would not have been in the picture for me that day.
I have Woodlake to thank for many things in my life, but right now we’ll focus on it being the place where I gained a new best friend in Dillon. Dillon moved back home to Tulsa from Colorado in 2015 and started hanging around my friend group (many of whom he had been best friends with since they were in grade school). I was never formally introduced to him, nor did I introduce myself, so we just kind of existed in the same spaces. My first significant conversation with him came one night around a campfire at our best friend Kylie’s house. If I remember correctly, I was on one side of the fire and Dillon on the other. Per the usual, I was deep in conversation with a couple of friend’s of mine about theology. Before I knew it, our little group had expanded and Dillon had moved to join in. Knowing him now, I’m not shocked at all at his eavesdropping.
One brief mention of the words “Old Testament” and he can’t resist being a part of the conversation. That evening, Dillon and I sat around the fire for close to two hours talking theology while our friends dished questions out to us. We went back and forth answering with our views on things, and quickly found that they lined up close to perfect with one another. This may sound like a boring conversation to you, but we were having the time of our lives. As far as friendship goes, the rest is history. Soon after that night we decided to launch a Bible study group together twice a month, and seemed to gravitate towards one another at any event. There was rarely a moment where we weren’t playfully arguing with one another, smack-talking each other in games, giving each other dating advice (laughing to myself at that now), or discussing the ins-and-outs of the latest podcasts we had listened to or books we had read. I had prayed for a friend like Dillon in the season I was walking through and God delivered above and beyond.
He quickly became my best friend and a constant source of hope for me. I was happy to keep it there, but thankfully, my heart led me to think there could be something more. I won’t go into all of the details of how we started dating, because that would make this short write up quite a bit more lengthy (I’m pushing it on brevity as it stands). The main points you need to know are: dating Dillon was something I both fought and prayed over long before it ever crossed his mind. Here’s a snippet of what that looked like for me: This past June I came home from leading a youth camp with him and was immediately offered a pretty incredible opportunity that would require me to quickly leave Tulsa and move out of state. There was nothing that should have held me back from being elated about the doors that flew open, yet, I found myself unable to stop crying at even the thought of walking through them.
I spent hours in prayer that night, trying to navigate why I was feeling so conflicted. Every single time I came to the same conclusion; I was not ready to be in any city where Dillon wasn’t there. For the first time I realized what many had seen all along; Dillon was more than just a friend to me. From June-November I didn’t breathe a word to him about my feelings. Instead, I took it to prayer and had the support of some incredible girlfriends. I felt strongly that if this were the right thing, in time, Dillon’s eyes would be opened to it too. I didn’t wait for him to come around, but kept living my life and honoring the friendship we had. I wouldn’t trade those 5.5 months for anything, but boy was I excited when they turned into something more. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I was driving to visit my sister in Texas when I received a phone call from one very nervous Dillon. He started out by saying there had been something he’d been wanting to talk to me about for a while but hadn’t been able to get the words out.
He then asked me if I had seen the movie, “We Bought a Zoo.” Very confused, I answered, “Yeah, why?” Dillon said, “there’s a line in the movie that says ‘it only takes 20 seconds of insane courage and I promise you something really good will come of it.’ I want to use my 20 seconds right now. Ciera, I was wanting to know if I could take you on a date.” Of course I accepted (and actually re-arranged my entire travel plans to make it home on time to go on a date that weekend). Our first date was November 26th, and we’ve spent just about every other possible moment together since. Dillon will tell you that he knew in the third date that he wanted to marry me. Truthfully, as crazy as it sounds, I would’ve said yes right from the get-go. As it turns out, I didn’t end up having to wait long.
how they asked – his side
We hadn’t been dating long, but I knew after the third date that Ciera was the girl I wanted to marry. I couldn’t picture doing life without her and she had become one of my best friends. I enjoyed every moment that I was gifted to spend with her, and I knew that if it were ever going to be possible to date her I would need to take the leap and move from beyond friends. I had a suspicion that she may return my newly developed feelings, but still felt like I was about to risk it all. Well she said yes to that first date, and life has become better than I could have ever imagined when I made that first phone call. Back to the proposal though. Like I said earlier, after the third date I knew for sure that this was the girl that I wanted to marry. We spent as much time as we possibly could together for the first few weeks, and somehow the idea of marriage came up in conversation. This was wild to me. To think about marriage is one thing, but to vocalize the idea, and in only three weeks’ time, could seem a bit crazy. Still, I knew somewhere inside that the thought of getting married so soon wasn’t too crazy at all when I thought about how crazy I was about her.
Literally that night, a few weeks into dating, I went into planning mode for the proposal. I knew that I only had one shot at proposing to the girl of my dreams and it had to be perfect. Part of talking about getting married was that I was introduced to the wonderful world of Pinterest. Wow! Fellas if you are not already on Pinterest, it is worth your time. Not really knowing how or what to do for the proposal I began looking through Pinterest and dreaming. At the same time I had to work on obtaining a ring. The ring ended up being easier than I expected when we went shopping and she fell in love with one right away. It kind of surprised me. However, watching her look at the ring the way that she did, I knew that was the one I had to get. After receiving her parents’ permission I went with my friend Kipp on a Saturday afternoon to purchase it (he is married so naturally he is an expert on these kinds of things, right?). I purchased the ring with the assurance that it would be here in four weeks; no problem. After we made that big purchase, I went to Starbucks with our friends to start to nail down some of the specifics on how this proposal would work.
I had some basic concepts down, as I felt like I had a pretty good idea of some things that Ciera would want. First, Ciera has a ton of people that she loves that are a part of her life and I knew it would be fun to involve as many of them as possible. Second, I liked the idea of us having a moment alone during the proposal. Third, I was aiming for February as the month to pop the question, which actually ended up making things a little difficult. In Oklahoma, everything in nature is pretty dead and the weather is super unpredictable, but I didn’t want to push it back any longer.
This was going to take a magic trick (or more accurately, the hand of God) to pull off. We spent that afternoon planning and walked away with a pretty concrete idea: we would invite a bunch of people to a park and I would propose in a boat in the middle of a pond. Though I thought it was a pretty good plan, I started to think out the details and something about it just didn’t feel right, so I decided to completely switch it up. (I’m so glad he didn’t choose this route. Dillon doesn’t know this but a friend of mine got engaged almost the same exact way not too long ago. I think it’s a beautiful idea but I would never want to strip that day from her. Secondly, we all know I would’ve likely fallen in the water in five-seconds time. It wouldn’t be so fun diving for a ring in the bottom of a pond.-Ciera).
Eventually a creative spark hit me and with the help of Pinterest (and some inspiration from others), the new idea began to take shape in my mind. The result was, I would propose at our church. This was where Ciera and I first met and plays a really big role in our lives. Also it solves the February weather problem. I would invite everyone I knew and more, and give them a chance to tell Ciera how much they loved her by making signs before she arrived. They could then line the hallway to the auditorium and we could walk through a human tunnel. Then when we entered the auditorium a video of the people who couldn’t make it could play on the big screen, once again telling her how much they loved her. After that, we could walk to the stage where I could make an arbor type of thing; under which I could tell her how much I loved her. If you’re noticing a theme, you are correct. I wanted the entire proposal to be a night where Ciera would hear how loved she is. I knew this was the right plan and the proposal of her dreams, but making it happen was still going to be an act of God.
I turned to Facebook and made an event for the big day and with the help of some of her wonderful friends sent the word out that February 18 was going to be the big day. Things went very well and I could never say thank you enough to all of the people that helped me along the way to make the big day special. Everything, except for one thing, went perfectly to plan. However, that one thing was pretty important. When four weeks rolled around after purchasing the ring, I called the shop because we had a little over a week until the proposal and I hadn’t heard an update on its’ status. One week out from the proposal they didn’t have the ring. In fact, it was still with the jeweler waiting on the setting. They told me that they may have it in two weeks and asked if that would be a problem. I said, “big problem. I need that ring by the 18th.” They thought they could push it and have it to me by the 16th, but that day came and went without the ring making it. Finally, it was scheduled to be overnighted and to me by the 17th, one day away from when I was supposed to propose.
I was sweating bullets; there was no way to move things around, and as far as I understood rings were pretty important for proposals. Thankfully it came in just in time and we were good to go. With everything in place, Ciera spent Saturday with her family and friends shopping, while several people who were with her snuck away so they could come help me. I spent the bulk of afternoon setting up for the proposal at the church. I had arranged with Ciera that we would have dinner that evening with her family and mine so they could spend time together. I picked her up at 5pm to spend a little time together just the two of us before we needed to be at our “dinner plans”. We went to a coffee shop that was down the road from the church and not really out of the way from the place we were going to eat. We have a running joke about coffee shop dates, so it ended up being pretty funny and significant that this would be our first coffee date ever.
It was a blast! I had so much fun holding in the secret about what was to come, knowing she had no idea. Brandon, one of the pastors at our church and also one of our best friends, sent us a text that we needed to stop by the church. This was not too uncommon, so we accepted and headed that way.
I can vividly remember walking up to the door; knowing she had no clue what was happening until we touched the door where she saw all the people cheering. The moment was magical; far better than I could have ever dreamed. Our dream proposal went off without a problem and the love of my life said yes to spend the rest of her life with me.