On August 20th, the weather was fair - it had been raining off and on for most of the day, and it was the first Saturday that I had found myself praying for no rain! We had planned, prepared, thought out, shopped around, decorated, placed, and prayed over this day.
Matt was going to propose to Julia.
David and I were told to be "in place" at 5:40 SHARP, and so we scurried to get the set up in place. Everything was going as planned - Daddy had called Matt and asked if he would mind picking up his fishing stuff at the barn on their way to "an engagement party" for "a friend" down the road at Burnt Oak Lodge.
Nannie had made a cute invitation in advance, had a coworker address it, and sent it to Matt in the mail - but really, there was another surprise in store!
At around 5:55, Matt proposed to Julia on the pier that protrudes out over a pond that Matt and I grew up fishing on. A pond that my PawPaw's voice still echoes over in my mind - it reminds us all of him. He built it, and he loved it. A pond that watched Matt & Dad, Matt & PawPaw, and Matt and I walk down its banks. A pond that has accepted TK into its waters and allowed him to emerge with pride at what he retrieved. A pond that's given Matt some of the biggest bass of his life - a pond that watched he and Julia fall in love, that gave Julia an opportunity to experience her love for fishing with Matt.
Now, it's a pond that holds one of the most precious memories that Matt and Julia will ever have - and one that David and I will cherish forever and be so grateful for being a part of it "with" them.
It hosted one of the biggest days of their lives. It reflected the action of commitment that Matt offered to Julia, and it rippled at the giddiness of her acceptance to commit herself to him.
It was beautiful.
Quite possibly the most beautiful thing that I've ever witnessed. The happiness that seeped from their being was all that my soul could take. Julia has felt like my sister for a long time - from probably the second time that I was around her. She is kind, compassionate, all about family, but most of all - she loves Matt well, and she makes Matt happier than I have ever seen him.
His smile is different when she's around. It's a smile I've known was inside him, but that I'm so happy to finally see. I will always love Julia for bringing out that smile in him, but moreso than that - she just "fits" into our family - the last missing piece has been filled in.
Who knew it was in Vernon, AL all this time?
I really love watching God's plan unfold.
Matt & Julia spent time hugging and talking all the
"did you know?"
"I can't believe this!"
"I love you!"
"I'm so excited"
while David and I sat - discretely - in the "blind" that Daddy had prepared especially for this day, and tried to hold it together!
...until Matt called us out of hiding to see them at the pier!
but I couldn't help but stop along the way to capture a few moments.
I am so incredibly happy for them.
This day would not have been the same if TK hadn't been there to witness it, and of course he had his own part of the day to plan - planning what his sign for pictures would say!
And I think he came up with a really good sign for them, myself.
A few more pictures before Matt and Julia "had to go to the engagement party"...
but first, Julia wanted to call some people!
Julia wasn't fired up about going to someone else's engagement party after just getting engaged herself, but Matt promised they'd just make an appearance and then be on their way to see her family and friends!
What Julia didn't know at the time was...
The engagement party was really being thrown in their honor!
Matt had planned and orchestrated the entire thing.
Her family was there - even her Aunt from Texas flew in to be part of this for Julia.
He thought of everything!
Julia's sweet niece, Hartley, greeted Julia at the door, and the rest - as they say - was history! Family flooded Matt and Julia with hugs and congratulations.
I can only imagine how overwhelming it was for both of them!
And Matt sat back and enjoyed Julia's excitement all night! Of course, his excitement was oozing from his being, too!
So many hugs and ooh's and aaah's over Julia's ring, and so many smiles and laughs over the whole story and trying to keep everything secret!
Not long after everyone had greeted Matt and Julia, Matt had something special planned for Hartley. Even though she seems timid in this photo, she loves Matt and is so excited about Matt and Julia's wedding.
"She just can't wait to see Matt and Julia all dressed up!"
Matt asked Hartley if she would be his niece, and she glady accepted!
It was a very sweet moment - one that I hope Hartley is able to remember forever.
She even got her own ring out of the deal! So, now Julia isn't the only one with the bling!
To commemorate the evening for Matt, David and I gave him a custom made Houndstooth Game Call that his buddy, Lyle, had a big hand in making happen for me. After all, he is the brains of the operation. I hope Matt and Julia can pass this down for generations to come to remind their future family of this special day!
And now, to wrap this up - I am so excited for the memories ahead with this girls! They already feel like family to me. We were all in agreement that lying to Julia (even if it was for her benefit in the end) was one of the hardest things we have ever had to do! But -- so worth it in the end!
To Matt & Julia - may this season of life be one that you cherish forever! It is fun, but it is fleeting! It goes by so fast. David and I cannot wait to experience all of this with you, and we can't wait to see where God leads you both. The best is yet to come!
(And PS - it never rained. The sun shined down on the pier as Matt dropped to one knee. It continued to shine until it fell beneath the trees. It was perfect.)