You know how sometimes circumstances change dramatically in the eleventh hour? And sometimes it’s ridiculously discouraging? And often it’s hard to see the beauty of the change?
One week ago, it was a deliriously warm and sunny Sunday afternoon in southern California. This Canadaland resident was basking in the glow of her red-white-and-blue homeland, the delight of a vacation away from raincouver, and anticipating a Chick-fil-A Monday. And then. It happened. Unannounced. Unanticipated. The marine layer rolled in off the ocean with a thick fog, a chilly breeze, and my perfectly orchestrated sunset engagement shoot was lost in the murky mire of fog and cold.
Oddly enough, though? I wouldn’t trade it for the world. As romantic as an ocean sunset would’ve been, the fog was ten thousand times better.
And I have proof.
While the waves buffeted the cliff walls below and the ocean breeze swept away the unseasonably warm Santa Ana winds, Melissa and Ethan cozied their way through engagement pictures at Sunset Cliffs and I basked in the beauty of a love that spans three continents.
I have a soft spot in my heart for international romance (I mean, I was a North Carolina girl who met my Canadian husband in the wilderness of Uganda – we live international romance), and this story is cream of the crop. Ethan & Melissa started their respective journeys in Japan and Kenya (with Langley, BC connections, would you believe?!) but it took a bus stop on their college campus in Los Angeles, CA before their paths crossed, their stories intertwined, and their hearts began beating in rhythm.
I watched Ethan open Melissa’s car door for her. I marveled at how tenderly he cared for her as they scrambled up and down cliffs, teetered atop rocks, and braced against the cool breeze. I saw how Melissa was strengthened because Ethan is strong. I saw how Melissa laughed because Ethan is witty. I saw how carefully they cherished each other, how gently they walked together, how kindly they worked together.
Melissa and I spent a memorable week bouncing our way from Nairobi, Kenya all the way upcountry to Kurungu. After four months of city-living in Nairobi, taking a week out in the wilderness was the breath of fresh air that inspired in me the decision to go back to Africa on my own — in that Kurungu trip, I had a tiny taste of the Africa that was free, wild, natural. In my hope of finding that Africa again, God led my steps to the trip to Uganda in 2009 where I met my now-husband. Ten years later, here we were in San Diego celebrating her engagement, God’s gracious hand on each of our lives, and the joy of walking life with strong, godly men to cherish. And in some beautiful, little, God-ordained way, Melissa and her family sparked a journey that would lead me to Uganda…to John…and (eventually!) to Canadaland with my husband. Crazy, right?
I’m not sure romance gets any better than this: grounded in friendship, rooted in God, deep in laughter, established in respect and kindness, and entrenched in selfless love.
Yet there it was, standing in front of me in the salty-air, foggy-breeze, chilly-sunset evening celebrating their engagement with engagement pictures at Sunset Cliffs.
Romance as bright as the fog was thick. Love as full as the sunset was obscure. Joy as real as the clouds in the sky.
And somehow, oddly, the fog didn’t matter because love shone in it’s place.
Isn’t that the way it ought to be?
Words don’t even describe how much fun I had hanging out with these two . . . and then it just got even better when we used the Jeep’s headlights to cut sunbeams through the fog to create our very own deliriously glorious light-play.