How We Met
Johnny and I met on a plane ride to Indonesia. We happened to sit next to each other for every flight from America to Southeast Asia, as we were both members of the same service trip. It immediately felt like we were old friends and we could not stop talking! During our summer overseas, we got to know one another as friends. We saw each other come alive, realized our shared value of faith, and the spark only grew. The night of our first date in Bali at the end of the summer in 2018, there was a massive earthquake that happened while we were in the uber on the way to our first date. Luckily, we and the people around us were safe! But, I have been “shook” ever since!
How They Asked
We were on a trip to visit my parents in Florida. I had no idea anything was coming because we were supposed to have premarital counseling together on the afternoon of our engagement (highly recommend counseling to all engaged/nearly engaged couples!) I was so cranky that day because I thought that this trip would be the perfect opportunity to propose, but was absolutely convinced it was not happening. When our counseling session was “cancelled,” my fiancé Johnny asked me to go on a surprise date.
We have actually gone on surprise dates for weeks, as a trust-building exercise, so this was not out of the ordinary, or so I thought. I was confused because I thought we were supposed to spend time with my parents (in hindsight, I should have been suspicious but I was too in my head about the whole thing!) I was late getting ready for the first time ever and was not even going to wear makeup or dry my hair. My younger brother came into the bathroom while I was getting ready and assertively told me that my hair looked terrible and to do my hair. I consented, thankfully. Johnny then drove me to a beautiful hotel restaurant in downtown Naples, where we enjoyed a glass of wine and some appetizers. When he asked me to get up from dinner to go for a walk, I was still clueless.
He confidently walked me to this clearing that led to the beachfront. He handed me a handwritten letter. This did not make me suspicious either, as he gives me a letter each month before the first of the next. Johnny is always so thoughtful and sweet that none of his acts of kindness tipped me off! We began officially dating on September 1st, 2018. So, the first of each month is a mini anniversary for us. November 1st, 2020 would have been our 26 months dating anniversary.
I began to read the letter out loud, and towards the end of the letter it stated “I know what I want, and 26 months will not be long enough…” I looked up from the letter to see him down on his knee when he asked me, “Julia, will you marry me?” I blacked out at this moment, but apparently screamed, laughed, and cried all at the same time and somehow choked out an emotional “YES!” I shouted shortly after, “I have been such a jerk to you all day, and I am SO sorry!” We enjoyed the moment together watching the sunset. It had been storming all day with an 80% chance to continue through the night.
But, the storm stopped and actually made way for the most magical, stormy, pink sunset! Johnny then told me we were going back to the hotel to enjoy dessert and champagne. I happily agreed as we walked back toward the restaurant. When we arrived, my entire family, his family, and some of our closest friends were waiting at the entrance to surprise me with the most beautiful engagement reception. This was extra special considering the fact that I had not seen most of these people since before the COVID-19 quarantine began.
I was so surprised and overcome with emotion that I almost fainted. The dinner was absolutely glorious, filled with tearful speeches, encouragements, and prayers. The entire time I could not stop thinking about how my fiancé and the engagement were better than I could have ever hoped or dreamed. This engagement reflects the love represented in Ephesians 3:20, which states God does exceedingly and abundantly more than we ask, think, or imagine. Johnny is constantly reflecting this better-than-you-can-dream love of God to me, and I am so thankful!