God, through the generosity of his people, gave this dear place to us a number of years ago as a retreat house to be used for family vacations, personal times with the Lord, short breaks from ministry, and small retreats for team members. It's become a holy place, a sanctuary to be refreshed in by the Lord.
But today, something else happened there for the first time.
A young man proposed to a young woman!
And Claire, a best friend since childhood of the bride-to-be, had the privilege of being their photographer today.
I had the joy of being a witness to this sacred event for a young woman I love like a niece.
Claire and I came up early as she wanted to determine the best angles and places to stand in order to record this precious event. Our delight to be here was beyond imagination!!!
One car drove up first, carrying a sister, brother and sister-in-law of the young woman getting engaged. They hurried in the door to take their places.
And then the next car arrived, with the young woman's parents, and the couple about to be engaged.
The bride-to-be thinks that they're coming up for family photos.
But with a wondering glance back at her mom, she is led onto the porch at Selah, about to experience one of the sweetest events of her life!
|Can you see her sister, Hannah, beaming in the reflection of the window?!|
This is our dear Hayley Ellenwood and her soon to be fiancé, Austin Henckel!
They had come to spend Christmas with the family, but all along Austin had planned to propose to her!
They met at Moody Bible Institute over a year ago when they were both students there, and have been dating since last fall. Today is the culmination of their love as he leads her through a canopy of letters he's written to her over the past year (and sneakily brought with him for this event!).
|Hayley's brother, Noah, capturing the moment|
And finally, in a circle of lights, Austin read his last letter to her, asking for her hand in marriage. We couldn't hear, but we could see the delight on Hayley's face.
This was just before he knelt down to ask her to be his wife!
It was one of the dearest, sweetest and most emotional moments I've ever witnessed. What a privilege to get to be there with her family for this sacred event.
Claire and Hayley's dad, Mel, were outside on the porch, recording the event in photos and video while we stood inside witnessing Austin's proposal to Hayley.
To which she, of course, said a very happy YES!!!!
Moments after her answer, we all streamed out to give our congratulations!!!
I didn't cry until this moment. But when Hannah hugged Hayley, and Amy hugged Austin ... oh my!! SO sweet!
To see each member of the family embrace Hayley and Austin with love and joy after the proposal was truly a beautiful moment.
I could hardly see through tears as Amy held Hayley's face. Pure happiness right there!
Newly married to Noah, Hayley's new sister-in-law, Jill, gazed at Hayley's ring with such tenderness and joy, entering in to the joy of her new family. That touched me as well.
And then ... these two best friends since they were three years old ... embracing too. AAGGHH!!! So much LOVE and emotion here!!!
Finally, a hug from dad, Mel, for his girl, Hayley, who he will walk down the aisle this summer.
Just. So. Precious.
These two are SO right for each other!
After all those congratulatory words and hugs, Claire had them pose for some engagement shots.
All day it had been rainy and cloudy, but for this hour, the air cleared and provided such perfect lighting to highlight these two dear ones!
Claire's shots of the day are magnificent (if you are a FB friend of Hayley or Austin, you'll see some of them on their pages!), and I know it was such a privilege for her to be there for this time.
And then ... it was finally time to get to those family photos!!
You could see the joy in the Ellenwood family written across their faces as Claire captured this moment in their family history.
How kind of the Lord to work out all the details to make it possible for all of them to share in this special moment.
After family photos were finished, we gathered inside Selah and prayed over Austin and Hayley.
And after all of us had prayed and said, "Amen", Austin said, "Can I pray too?" And he proceeded to pray the sweetest prayer of all!
Oh what a good man he is, and how perfectly God designed he and Hayley for each other. There's nothing sweeter than knowing that two people are SO right for each other.
Thank you Lord, and thank you Ellenwood family, for letting me stand with you as a witness to this sacred event!