Because I purchased the ring online from a Jeweler in LA and the center diamond from another Jeweler in Atlanta, the ring wasn’t completely ready until Friday. I rushed to pick the ring up after returning from a staff retreat in Anna Maria Island, FL. Jennifer drove down on Thursday and we enjoyed the beach together on Friday Morning. The whole time I’m thinking “She has no clue what’s about to happen this weekend.” Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep Friday night and woke up early on Saturday to prepare for my twin brother and mom’s arrival. It was such a blessing having them here to share this experience with me. They helped me pick up the flowers (48 Roses!) and vase and my mom worked hard arranging those to be placed in the Pagoda at Lake Eola.
I picked up Jennifer at 6:00 for dinner at Hot Olives in Winter Park. Hot Olives was perfect and we enjoyed the Garden patio almost to ourselves. After dinner, I took her to Starbucks close to Lake Eola. We took our drinks and started walking around the lake (we did this on our first date). We were having our usual conversations until we got stopped by a local church group who were evangelizing, preaching, and passing out tracks. Of course we got stopped and it was a little awkward. We assured the guy that we were Christians and told him about Metro Life Church (the church we’re both involved in and where we met). He asked if we were married and I was thinking, “not yet and I’m not gonna be if you don’t let us go soon!).
Anyway, he did let us go and as we started approaching the Pagoda, my heart stated pounding. There were people all around and they seemed to simply scatter as we got closer (and they weren’t people who knew us). As we got closer, I begin saying, “Ok, serious conversation time. I have a confession to make.” She got quiet and I definitely got her attention. I continued, “I tell you all the time that I like you and that not exactly true, because I more than ‘like you’, I ‘love you’. And, I want to spend the rest of my life with you.” I realized that I had started going down that road and we hadn’t even made it to the Pagoda yet where I wanted to pop the question. So, I grabbed her hand and said, “Come on!”. I pulled her into the pagoda where she saw the roses that had been placed in there by my roommate, Mark. She then asked, “How did you get these flowers in here? You love me? Really?” (She was so cute!) I then repeated, “I love you and I want to marry you.” I then dropped to one knee and grabbed the ring in my pocket, pulled it out and continued, “Jennifer Linda Lightfoot will you marry me?” She eventually eked out, “yes!”. I put the ring on her finger and stood up (and we’ll reserve the rest for just me and her). I then told her that the night wasn’t over and there was more. So, we eventually started walking back to the car carrying a very heavy vase of roses.
I drove her to City View Apartments in downtown Orlando. As we pulled up the apartments, her sister, Stephanie, and brothers, Daniel and Caleb where waiting outside with huge smiles on their faces. Her Dad and Mom were patiently waiting at the door. I let her go in first and she was overwhelmed with all the people who were there. (She later told me that she had never seen so many people at an engagement party before). The place looked great! Our friends Kristen and Becky along with Allura, her mom, did such an amazing job with the room and desserts. People even had gifts and cards for us, which I’ve never seen before. When I walked in, I announced, “Well, She said Yes!” and everyone screamed and clapped. Brian, her Dad, welcomed everyone, congratulated us, and prayed over us and the food.
It was all a very cool and almost surreal experience. One I’ll never forget! I’m so thankful to have such an amazing church, friends, and new family. Her mom is already calling me, son! God is so good!