How we met
In July 2014 we met at a staff event for Life.Church, where we both have the privilege of serving. He was currently an intern in Tulsa, and I was in OKC. At the time, I was in a relationship, and James had no idea. Right when we met, he was really flirty and forward, and I was not okay with that. Not impressed. He left, feeling confident that he had struck a chord, and drove home and announced to his staff team that he found his future wife. A week later, his sister informed him that I was not available.
By January 2015, I was hired at one of our Life.Church campuses in the Tulsa area. The 2nd weekend I was there I visited his campus and he asked for my number and then texted me that night asking if I wanted to get lunch. I was still not interested. I responded letting him know that I don’t hang out with guys one on one without knowing them that well, so I can hang out in group settings in the future. I struggled with telling him that, because I really didn’t want to give him hope.
Soon after, my friend goes to James and tells him that she thinks that I’m interested (not true), and that he should make a move. He got advice from mentors and leaders in his life, and they encouraged him to call my Dad. My Dad happens to also be his boss, and pastor! He ended up attempting to call my Dad to set up a meeting with him, which really freaked me out, especially because we weren’t even friends. After all this some leaders in his life told him to back off and focus on his internship and not pursue me. He listened!
Months later, James and I ended up in the same circle of friends, and we would see each other often! In the beginning he would hardly acknowledge me, but as time passed we slowly started talking to each other. Then we would talk more and more until we found ourselves talking after church for hours. Because I was so disinterested in him in the beginning, I got really confused and wasn’t sure what I wanted. I at the end of July 2015 he asked me to coffee and sat me down to explain to me that he was very much interested in me, and that I meet and exceed all 4 qualities that he looks for in a girl. Going into that coffee I wasn’t sure how I wanted it to go, but by the end of it I decided to give him a chance.
We literally only hung out about once a week for around 2 months, then I finally decided that I was ready to move forward. So I told him that I was finally ready for him to meet with my Dad. (His approval is essential.) A few days after he met with my Dad, he asked me to be is girlfriend.
Just over 6 months later, we are engaged!
how they asked
Thursday night he casually asked me if I could hang out with him the next day. I did have lots planned for my Friday, but I told him that I would rearrange my schedule to hang out. We had lunch at our favorite breakfast place, went hiking, and then he told me that he was going to give me 1 1/2 hours or so to get ready for dinner and a movie. I told him I didn’t need to shower, and wouldn’t need to hardly take any time to get ready. (I’m proud of him for trying to help me know to dress cute.) He picked me up and we went and saw Zootopia. I looked over his shoulder at his phone before we went into the movie and almost saw a text about some of the scheming! Everything was so normal…almost too normal. My Dad called me during the movie and left a message just saying he wanted to see how I was doing. My sister sent me a Snapchat just saying “Going on a date with my hubby! What are you doing?”
After the movie, I asked him if we were going to go to dinner, and he said he wasn’t that hungry, and he thought it would be nice to walk around for a bit. (I thought that was suspicious because he’s always hungry! Haha.) He took me to the trails on Riverside in Jenks. It was so beautiful. When we got out of the car, I saw him stick something in his back pocket. I had this “WHAT IF” moment, and told myself that it’s just his phone. Then he pulled out a journal that I had got him for Christmas.
We have used it to write each other notes back and forth. He told me that he was brining it because he wanted to have a more intentional romantic date together, so he thought it would be nice to look back at the notes we wrote each other. I was already about to cry because it was so precious. I convinced myself that there was no way this was the proposal, this was just a really sweet date.
We walked me up the Jenks Pedestrian Bridge, and then he pulled out the journal and started reading. I started to quote the first page to him, because I’ve read it so many times. He went faster and faster through the book until he came to the newest entry. He read me some of the sweetest, kindest, most loving words I’ve ever heard and then told me to turn the page. Shaking, I grabbed the book, and turned the page and then everything happened at once. As I read the words, I saw him get on his knee, and say the words “Mandy Groeschel, will you marry me.”
Then I heard a click, turned and saw the photographer, and screamed “ARE YOU SERIOUS?!” I threw the journal on the ground, and spun, and fell, and came up again, and started crying.
It was all a blur! Then I grabbed him, staring into his eyes, and he said: “You have to answer!” I responded: Oh yeah! Absolutely!” Then I cried, and cried, and cried. Then we went to his parents house where my family and friends were all waiting for me.
It was perfect!