Jessica and Phillip

Image 1 of Jessica and Phillip

How We Met

It’s wild to think that we have lived side-by-side for so long but didn’t officially meet until April 2, 2016. Phillip is “from” Crestview and I (Jess) am “from” Niceville– and “from” is in quotes because we both were born outside of Florida and lived abroad for many years, but both graduated high school from those places. Phil did notice me at Wine Bar, where he worked as a Sous Chef, when I would come in on Wednesday nights for burger night a few years ago, I’d almost always come in wearing heels (no, it has nothing to do with me being naturally tall.. I’m 5’10.5″), so he called me a “Tall Glass of Wine” and “noticed” me from the kitchen. That was my “Cheers!” I knew most of the servers, but never made it back into the kitchen, so I didn’t know he was admiring me from a distance!

Philly and I officially met when I had a friend and her two kids staying at my condo/home/unofficial bed and breakfast, Mermaid Pointe, for the weekend. I suggested we go to a kite festival on the beach because I love my stunt kite, and I guess the kids were a good excuse to go. ;) My friend invited her friend to meet with us, since he had written her letters when she went through boot camp and was her Game of Thrones buddy. Phillip walked up on the beach and of course, I immediately noticed him! He was ripped and tan from afar, and had striking green eyes and a contagious smile and laugh up close. And of course, he’s LATINO! (Okay, everyone knows I’ve openly had a type for a very long time!) He’s also actually taller than me!

We hit it off right away! I was excited and bubbly, and sharing with him about filming a submission video for my friend Neil for American Ninja Warrior, and just noticed out loud, “the clouds today are SO BEAUTIFUL! Look at them!” Phil responded with, “You’re always this happy, aren’t you?” and I felt like he instantly knew me. He used my video with Neil as an excuse to keep in touch, further than just meeting on the beach and going our separate ways.

Image 2 of Jessica and Phillip

We started messaging each other and tried to have our first date as a coffee date. Yes, I was willing to wake up early for this man, even though I’m typically not a morning person! Philly had to cancel, so he ended up taking me out for a real first date at Vintij Wine Boutique, where he used to work, on April 12, 2016. He picked me up at my apartment and wouldn’t tell me where we were going. We drove by the joint KFC/Taco Bell and he joked that I could have one or the other, but I threatened him not to limit me. If I want fried chicken AND a taco, it’s our first date and I’ll eat both! Actually, to date, I don’t think we have yet to eat at either of those places together, but I was super excited when we rolled into the Vintij parking lot because I had never been there before. Although Phil was no longer working there, it was evident that he was missed and respected by his former co-workers. This was the first glimpse I got into seeing what kind of character Phil had. If people who saw him regularly while he was working still held him in high regard, he must be a man with a well-earned reputation.

Image 3 of Jessica and Phillip

I asked Phil all kinds of questions that night and he had all kinds of answers. He wasn’t afraid of my tough questions– even if I threw him into the deep end on the first date.

. In fact, he welcomed them. I wanted to find someone to go to church with and workout with, and he looked to be just that man! It was clear from the very first date that our priorities were in line: faith, family, friends, fitness, fun.

Since then, we have obviously grown together in those areas. I still cherish the fact, well, we both cherish the fact, that we can both be ourselves around each other, even if that includes being completely silly together, or being honest with tough questions. There are a lot of questions that come with dating me because I don’t date just to date. I ultimately wanted to find someone to end up with. Through all the fun and all the questions, we can both say we have found our soulmate, who also happens to be our best friend.

Image 4 of Jessica and Phillip

how they asked

Many of my friends got engaged and married when we were in our early 20s and I kept waiting, praying… and waiting, praying… and waiting, praying… for the right man. At times, it was so easy to have faith. At other times, it was so hard not to compare my journey with others and think to myself, “that could never happen to me,” or, “I’ll never find a love like so-and-so.” Well, I (fiiiinally) met Phillip when I was 31. I can honestly say that he was worth the wait and the answer to my years of prayers. So, from the girl it could never happen to, here’s my proposal story: Phillip took me to Europe for two weeks on a vacation, and to meet his sister and her family, about a year into our relationship.

Image 5 of Jessica and Phillip

We spent a few days in Venice, wandering the canals together, hand-in-hand. On our last day there, we took a cruise to three islands right outside of Venice. When we got to Torcello, I saw a stunning brick bridge over a canal with a full blossoming white wall of flowers in the backdrop, and excitedly begged Phil to take a picture with me on it. Grabbing him by the hand, I handed my phone off to someone else from the cruise to take the picture. It was picture perfect! Phil had been praying for God to show him the perfect place for him to propose and that was it! Of course, I said yes (!!) and cried more happy tears than I ever have! However, it got even better! We followed the canal around and it led straight to a church.

Image 6 of Jessica and Phillip

We went in, lit two candles, left them side-by-side, and took time to pray together. When we finished and walked outside, there were two white doves sitting there! We were astonished and so were the people on our cruise! Doves are one of the few animals that mate for life and it was a clear sign that, after years of prayer and devotion to God, He really does answer prayer!

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