Jenna and Matthew
How We Met
Matthew and I met in my kitchen at my 18th family birthday party. It was the end of my brother’s spring break of his freshman year of college and he invited some of his college friends to come to our house. Matt and I hit it off instantly and I even took him to my senior prom a few months later. It was like an unrealistic Disney Channel Movie and I was ALL about it. We even had our first kiss dancing to “Enchanted” by Taylor Swift. It was a summer filled with tons of fun, and I left for college (a different school than Matt’s) in August.
Our Disney Channel movie turned into a drama filled with unbelievable difficulty and unexpected hardship. Three weeks into my freshman year of college I had a terrible accident. Someone hit me on the head with a huge water cooler and I had a Traumatic Brain Injury. It tested and tried every part of my being. I had to come home from school and was dizzy to the point of falling down, and nauseous to the point of throwing up, every day for about 5 years. I forgot the names and faces of family and friends, as well as a few years of my high school memory. My mind would “reset” mid-sentence and I would not know who I was, where I was, who I was talking to, or what we were talking about. The symptoms I had were completely debilitatingly and I could barely read or drive. It was daunting and scary. We went to every single doctor we could find, and none of them had a solution that worked for me. Each door that we opened was closed in our faces. I lost my identity but found it fully in my faith in Christ and His love.
Matthew stood by my side through it all. Every day. There are not enough numbers to count how many phone calls we had that were filled with tears and prayers. He comforted me, supported me, led me, treasured me, and gave me such a loving perspective.
Matthew went on to be a 5 time All-American in college tennis and graduated first in his class. Although I was heartbroken that I was taken from my own collegiate tennis team and scholarships, I supported him wholeheartedly through it all. I was (and am) SO proud of him and all of his hard work.
We are a team. When one of us loses, we are both losing. When one of us is winning, we are both winning.
After God healed me from the emotional scars that ensued after the accident, He healed me physically last March, almost 5 years after the accident. It was a complete miracle. My doctors, who do not profess a faith in God, gave Him all of the credit because there is no other way that I could be so horribly hurt, and then be healed. My vision is restored, and the symptoms that left me lifeless are healed. Matthew and I cried and prayed again as we celebrated unbelievable victory through faith in Jesus Christ.
I had taken abbreviated course-loads at a new college closer to home. Last fall, I finally was able to take a full lineup of classes, and I went on to play tennis during my last semester of college. This was a dream we did not imagine would EVER be possible. Before I was healed, I was unable to successfully even watch tennis without feeling horrible and needing a nap. It was such a surreal experience, and of course, Matthew became the assistant coach for our team and cheered me on court-side.
I will graduate in May with academic honors, a few job offers, my own clothing company (JShotmeyer.com), and a FIANCÉ. However, the sweetest part of this whole experience has been knowing that both God and Matthew do not love me any more or less at my best than they do at my worst. When I was on my couch unable to get up without throwing up, and the doctors said I would never be able to live a full life, they did not see me any different than they do now.
I am unbelievably thankful for the point of tears to have been shown such a beautiful aspect of true, unconditional love. We are SO in love and SO excited for our next chapter together.
How They Asked
On March 16, 2018, it was the anniversary of when we had met 6 years before. I was staying with my family at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Florida, and Matt was visiting a friend of his in Jupiter. I knew we would see him in Florida, but I DID NOT SEE an engagement coming…
It was our first day in Palm Beach, and I knew Matthew was going to meet us on Worth Avenue for dinner at one of my favorite restaurants in the world. It must only be about a mile drive from The Breakers to Worth Ave, and as we were leaving the hotel to meet Matt, the skies opened up to a CRAZY RAIN STORM. I did not think much of it, but little did I know Matt was stressing like crazy trying to coordinate the photographer in the location he set amidst the huge drops of rain.
As we pulled up to Worth Ave, the sun came out, leaving the colors of the palms and flowers as vibrant as ever. I saw Matt down the street and ran (I was in heels so I’m sure it was more of an awkward speed-walk) to see him.
He was acting a bit pre-occupied but not to the point that I saw the proposal coming. One of my favorite things to do is walk around Worth Ave enjoying flowers and palm trees, especially in their post-rain vibrancy. I mentioned that I would probably take a few photos of our company’s newest bow tie which I had in my purse. Immediately, he exclaimed, “Oh you have it with you! I’ll put it on!” We found a store-front with a reflective mirror and he happily tied it on in under a minute (which is both SO impressive and SO convenient when you have a bow tie company! Haha!).
He asked me to hold his jacket while he put it on, and I remember thinking things were a little fishy, but not super out of the ordinary. I said to myself, “Ok if he is going to ask me to marry him, he would have a square box in his pocket…”
Sure enough, there was an imprint of a small box in his pocket. I stopped breathing for a moment and then decided not to be dramatic because he always has his pocket full of random things. I decided there was still a huge chance it was not happening, and I did not want to get my hopes up or ruin the moment.
We continued to walk the beautiful street and came upon a gorgeous via which is called, Via Parigi. There were twinkly lights lining the palm trees, a gorgeous fountain, and picturesque benches lining the circular courtyard filled with flowers. We sat down on a bench and began to reflect on how it was 6 years ago exactly since we had met. What a crazy 6 years it had been. He handed me a card he had written to me for the anniversary, and I still did not know he was going to ask.
Then, in the most surreal moment of my life, he asked me to stand up as he reached into his pocket. I knew for sure what was happening. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.
We had our moment together in private. Not one person walked by to my amazement. I was so so happy. In addition, I always cringe when people are watching me, and it made me so happy that it was just the two of us.
After a few minutes went by, Matt turned and introduced me to our PHOTOGRAPHER he had hired, who was in a stairwell window and had captured the whole engagement. I was in shock and awe. She had been taking secret photos the whole time!! He then said we could take photos with her for the next hour before our dinner reservation with my family. It turned into the most beautiful evening, with so many memories I will cherish the rest of my life.
We celebrated at dinner with my family and then went back to The Breakers, found a beautiful couch in the courtyard, and called all of our family and friends.
The night could not have been more perfect, I will cherish those memories forever!
I cannot wait to marry my best friend. Having been through so much, I walk into this next stage with total confidence and peace which comes from our faith in Christ.
In our engagement photos, you can see the huge fountain in the middle of the via. Each night that week, we went back to the fountain to reminisce about the engagement, and dream of the future. For me, there is a beautiful and deep symbolism in the fountain.
We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). In a relationship with Christ, we do not have to love based on our feelings. However, when we spend time with God and allow Him to fill us with His unconditional love, we can pour that love into each other, rather than from an empty cup. This is my goal for our marriage, and it gives me such sweet peace to know Matt and I have not been alone in our journey so far, and we will not be in the future. Our foundation is firm, and we are on CLOUD NINE.