To tell this love story we must start back before this “Mann” ever met this “Lopes”. Many years ago, God began doing a work in Naomi and Isaac’s life and they made a choice to follow after the heart of God no matter the cost. One of their passions became the art of worship through music. God began leading both of them into the ministry of leading others into the throne room of God through praise and worship, and so each of their journey’s would soon lead them down a path where life would present a God centered opportunity for Agape love to take root.
Naomi – Every summer my family and I would go on a mission trip. This particular year we decided to take a group of other young adults with us and that we should go to the Dream Center located in the inner city of St. Louis, Missouri; it is an outreach that feeds, clothes, and ministers to the homeless and less fortunate kids. We were all excited to be God’s hands and feet and know that somehow each of us would leave being the ones truly touched by God. There is something about serving others that opens your heart to truly receive from the Father. Those that have ears to hear, let them hear; I went with listening ears. The same weekend of our trip, a small group from New Horizon Fellowship Church in Evansville, Indiana also came to serve. We all served alongside each other as volunteers the entire week. None of us had never met before this trip but we all had a love for helping people in common. It is so awesome to meet and work alongside other of like minds and faith.
God had been developing a gift in me for years of music and songs. I had taught myself to play the guitar a few years back so I brought it along with us so I could use it to love on and minister to those at the center. One of the interns working at the Dream Center told me that I needed to meet a guy that came on our same trip from Evansville. She told me that he played guitar and it would be cool if we had a jam session. As soon as I heard this, I made my way to find this guy. He was shooting hoops on the basketball court with my brother and all of the other interns in the mission program. I sprinted on the court and screamed “HI I’M NAOMI, I HEARD YOU PLAY THE GUITAR!!!!! WELL, SO DO I!!!!” From here things were only a mere crush, but I knew we would never be together, especially because of the distance we lived apart, so it was never discussed. What I didn’t know at the time was Isaac was having the same discussion with himself about me…. 🙂
Let’s fast forward a little bit. One of the guys who came with us on the mission trip to the Dream Center wanted Isaac to come to Alabama, where we lived, for a night of worship. Somehow, Isaac, his family, and a few of his friends managed to find their way down here. We reconnected during this visit, but we still only remained friends. After they left, social media really helped us stay connected. Soon after their visit to Mobile, Isaac decided he wanted to become a full-time intern at the St. Louis Dream Center. He decided to dedicate his life for a full two years instead of going to college right after high school. I was somewhat jealous because my dream was to become a missionary like him and serve people for the rest of my life, and here he was being able to step into that dream. As God would plan it an opportunity arose where I was able to go back to the Dream Center for a tour of what it would be like to be an intern missionary there. At this point, Isaac had been interning for three months. When I arrived, Isaac saw me and he ran and gave me the biggest hug- still just friends. As the weekend went on, I could tell that he liked me a lot and I think he picked up the same hints. One night Isaac asked me to meet him on the benches outside to sing and play with him. It was so cold and so windy. I was nervous and I was so shaky but I blamed my shakiness on the cold. For the first time together, we sang and played our guitars to Will Raegan’s song, “Through and Through”. In that moment we both felt a paradigm shift.
After the weekend was over, we started talking a lot more and really got to know each other. At this point we were living 10 hours away from each other so we didn’t get to see each other again until Isaac came back down to Alabama. On this visit we went on our official “first date” where I took him to Fairhope, AL. A couple of months after his visit, I was able to step into my dream and went to serve at the Dream Center for a month. While I was there serving, my family came for their annual mission trip, and Isaac asked my dad if he could have permission to date me. Yes, Isaac did the old-fashioned and gentleman way of telling my dad that he wouldn’t pursue me to date me if he didn’t have intentions of one day marrying me. Wow! My dad gave Isaac his blessing to pursue me, and they even prayed together before he made things official with me. I’m thankful that our relationship was centered around our faith from the beginning.
I returned home after serving at the Dream Center and began leading worship encounters with some small groups and started attending school at Faulkner State College. I was not sure exactly where God was leading me so I decided I would just take general studies until I had a clear word as to what God has planned. Isaac finished his internship at the Dream Center and was offered a job as Associate Director of Student Worship and Creative Arts at Cross Point Church in Saint Louis, MO. We continued our long distance relationship while learning and growing together in the LORD. Isaac and I had been talking about marriage and even started looking at wedding venues just for fun. So, when my mom and dad had this bright idea for us all to go on a get-away weekend to the luxurious Grand Hotel in Fairhope, AL where we could check out the property for a potential wedding venue, I really wasn’t surprised. If you know my mom, you know this is normal; one of the many things I love about her! She told me we could have brunch there so we could see what the food tasted like. She also told me that it was the hotel’s “tradition” for the bride-to-be to wear a white dress. She went into all of this tradition talk and she told me how all of the staff needed to recognize me as a potential bride-to-be. (I would find out later that this was not the hotel’s “tradition”, but my mom’s way of getting me to dress up for the proposal. She was really good at playing this whole story. 🙂 )
The weekend approached and Isaac was planning to come in town for Friday and Saturday because we had a worship night encounter we were both leading worship in, but he had to leave Saturday to be back that Sunday for church services because he works at the church. We had an amazing night of worship on Friday night, but I was really sad that Isaac couldn’t be there to have brunch and view the venue with us on Sunday. He lived ten hours away in St. Louis and wouldn’t have made it back in time for church if he left on Sunday morning. When it was time for Isaac to head back home, we said our goodbyes and we FaceTimed each other just so I could be sure that he was on the road. I was really bummed because I thought for sure this was the weekend that he would propose to me.
Isaac – The moments leading up to the proposal somehow managed to be both incredibly nerve-racking yet very peaceful for me. I was running purely on adrenaline and three hours of sleep for the fact that I stayed up until 5:30 am the night before making Naomi’s personal video surprise. But a special moment I’ll never forget was when I went out on the dock which was right behind the house my family had rented. It was one of the most beautiful days I had ever seen, with blue skies and a surprisingly warm February sun. I remember putting my feet halfway off the dock and praying to God, not just for everything to go as planned but for his delight in the process. It was such a special moment of me being reminded of the love God shows to us every moment of our life and how much I wanted to convey that same love to Naomi. It seemed like just moments later I found myself playing on a piano watching my soon to be wife walk towards me with no idea of what she was about to encounter….
Naomi – I FaceTimed Isaac several times to really see if he was going back home. I really had wanted it to be this weekend as I did not know when I would see him again. Each time I FaceTimed, he was still in his car and each time my hopes diminished. I even told him to FaceTime me when he got home so I would know he made it home safely; not really, just one last attempt to see if he could possibly be tricking me. When he called me around 3:00am he had his comforter from his bed pulled up to his neck so I knew he was in his bed. The next morning I just had to reach out one more time. I know its crazy but I had really gotten my hopes up that it would be this weekend and it just seemed that the perfect timing wasn’t so perfect after all. I texted him that morning as I often do and asked him to send me a picture of him at church. He sent me a picture so I had to finally give in, and I would just have to trust God that His timing would be better than mine. My parents and I arrived at the Grand Hotel and as we were driving up, I saw Isaac’s car in the parking lot. My dad saw it as well and was looking in the rear view mirror to see if I saw it and when he saw that I did see Isaac’s car, it made him start sweating bullets. We walked around scoping out the premises and spotting potential wedding spots. I kind of had an inkling of what was about to take place so I was super nervous, but I had no idea how Isaac was going to do it or where throughout the “tour” it would take place. My mom told me that we had to walk to a certain place because the lady giving us the tour was in her office. My mom pointed and said “The lady’s office is right through those doors” so I continued. When I opened the door, I saw Isaac sitting at a grand piano singing the very first song that we had ever sang together; Through and Through by Will Reagan. The floor and piano were complimented with white rose petals and candles. As I began to listen to the words of the song say “you see me, you know me, you love me, through and through” but Isaac was changing them to say… “will you see me, will you know me, will you love me, through and through?” This is the definition of God’s love towards us so vividly being displayed and represented how we as people can have the same kind of unconditional love towards each other. At this moment I began to cry; I knew what was happening.
Isaac – My hands were sweating, my legs were shaking, and my mouth barely had enough moisture to speak out the words to our favorite worship song. But as she came through the door, all fear left me. God was sitting on that same piano bench, smiling and crying with the both of us. Getting through the song on the piano was just the beginning for me. I remember grabbing my bible, standing up, and taking the deepest breath of my life to prepare for what was next. This was the most thought out speech I had ever worked on. I had it all in my head and was praying it would all come back to me as I spoke. Thankfully, it did. As I read 1 Corinthians 13, I found myself beginning to choke up and actually got to the point of tears. This was one thing I DIDN’T think was going to happen. There was no way for me to prepare for emotions. After recounting our love story, the anticipation kept growing and growing. I could almost see in Naomi’s eyes, “Alright come on already! I don’t have any more tears to cry!” Traveling down to one knee was surreal. This was it. The moment I had waited for my entire life! “Naomi Hannah Lopes, will you marry me?” It was a question I already knew the answer to, but to see her nod her head yes with tears of love in her eyes was priceless.
Naomi – After the song, he got up and grabbed his Bible. He began to read 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, Love is kind…..”. As we were both sobbing, he said to me the sweetest words I had ever heard. He told me that my heart for God was what won him over. Then, he proceeded to get down on one knee and ask, “Naomi Hannah Lopes, will you marry me?” I didn’t even look at the ring. I simply said “yes”. All of a sudden, I hear cheers coming from every side of the room. All of our closest friends and family were all there witnessing the beautiful moment. I began to cry harder. It was the best day of my life and I can’t wait to spend eternity with the one whom my soul loves.
After Isaac proposed, there was an “after party” for us in a room upstairs at the hotel. It was beautifully decorated and love filled the room. All of my closest friends and family were there celebrating our special day.
After the proposal and after party Isaac blindfolded me and drove me to a certain spot. Once we arrived at the mystery location, he took my hand and guided me out of the car. Once we made it to where he wanted me, he told me to open my eyes. When I opened my eyes it was the same spot we had our first date. Under a tree at the Fairhope pier. A blanket covered with rose petals, a cookie cake and a laptop was there before my eyes. The cookie cake said “She said Yes” and it had a huge diamond ring on it…(cookie cake is my favorite). He sat me down and played a video that was on his laptop. It was a video that he had made for me that consisted of the journey of when we first met, our first date and our two yearlong distant relationship. It was so beautiful. In that moment we got to sit and talk about what just happened and really soak the memories in. I cried my makeup off even more than it was already off. It was a moment I will never forget.
Isaac – Later that night we got a chance to have a super bowl party at the vacation home my family rented with our best friends and our families. I’ll never forget what it felt like to get away from all of the hype and just sink it in with my future bride. As we swung on a hammock out by the water, I looked up at what seemed to be a million stars. If there ever was a time that reality felt like a dream it was then. This was just the beginning of an eternity spent with the love of my life.
Naomi – To me, the most special part of the whole entire day was getting to move my purity ring from my left finger to my right hand. Symbolizing my marriage to Jesus on one hand, and my soon to be marriage with Isaac on the other. Isaac and I have both waited patiently to save our bodies, mind, souls, and spirits to become one with each other on our wedding day.
Isaac – There was a LOT of work which went into planning in order for this special moment to take place. Thankfully, with tons of help on planning and execution, the proposal went almost perfectly as planned. I can truly, honestly say that I wouldn’t have done anything differently. Every part was perfect in every way! We even had an older gentleman who was a guest in the hotel ask to play a soulful dedication by Ray Charles just for us!
Naomi – The only thing that I wish I would’ve done differently is spend a few minutes with Isaac after the proposal happened and before the after party. I got so caught up in making sure everyone was having a good time and telling everyone “hello and thank you for coming” that I forgot to just sit down with Isaac and say “Oh my gosh. We are engaged.” It truly was a perfect day and I am so honored so many people showed up to love on us and celebrate this amazing journey in our lives. Honestly, I still wake up each morning and put on my ring and freak out a little inside because I forget that being engaged is reality.
We would like to truly thank everyone who helped make this day special. From both of our parents, our family and friends, and the staff at the Grand Hotel. It was our moment in life when “Everything Just Changed” and now the journey of marriage begins for “When a Mann loves a Lopes” with a Christ centered love, anything is possible. Let the wedding planning begin.
Pictures Provided By: Baylee Rae Photography
Pictures Provided By: Michele Lane
Pictures Provided By: Naomi Lopes
Venue and Catering: The Grand Hotel, Point Clear, AL