The Engels Family

If there was ever a time that my words have felt insufficient, it is now.

Cancer is ugly. But as we entered the house to document the Engels family, we have never witnessed something so beautiful.

Rich and I love the Engels family. And I don’t use the word “love” lightly or flippantly. In moving from Fort Lauderdale to Chattanooga about eight years ago, they became dear friends and church family to hundreds of people here. Rich and I became close to Kenny while we served with the youth group at our church for several years, and Kenny travelled back down to Ft. Lauderdale to perform our marriage ceremony. We could not have been more blessed, encouraged, or challenged by him.

Once married, we attended home group at the Engels for a couple of years before Alana’s arrival made it too difficult to make the 45 minute drive to their home every Monday night. It was at their home group that we fell in love with Christi and the girls. We were in awe of their incredible family, and the love, joy, and peace that permeated their home.

Now, in the face of the strongest trial of their lives, the Engels family is still displaying the same love, joy, and peace that they were when the waters were still and the storm was no where to be seen. With daunting news from the doctors about the cancer in her brain and lung, Christi is still believing God, trusting Him, and relying on His strength…and it could not be more beautiful, convicting, or comforting to us.

Without further ado, let us introduce to you the most amazing family you will EVER meet. Kenny and Christi and their four beautiful girls, Riley, Avery, Sydney, and Chloe. Rich and I were blessed and honored to be let in on a slice of their day for some photos on Sunday afternoon. Here are just a few that we love.








Beautiful, valiant Christi..























As we struggle with what we can do for them, I can’t help but think that they have helped us far more during this time than we could possibly offer back. Just by being themselves and giving God the glory even through their trial. So, we pray.

I want to conclude this post with a moving poem that Kenny wrote for his wife four years ago after she’d been diagnosed with breast cancer and was undergoing treatments. As they go through their storm, these words have never rung so true…

A mountain looms.
Ominous and Stoic.
Though the soothing melody of the valley brook
warms the heart to stay.
There will be those that venture beyond
the comforts of pasture
because the mountain calls.
Or is it
that they are called to the mountain?
is terrain Unstable
Jagged and Rough
Swelling with struggles, stumbles and strain
Body taxed
Teeth clinched
Cries of war
A quest within a journey
to master and not be mastered

Yet what is it I see?
Such beauty approaches
Sure to be swallowed by such harshness
Yet like an eagle taking flight
She steps to the darkness with such ease
Seeming to float over the undulating incline
Watching her body move
It is apparent that she is not in a battle
But in a dance
And that she is not bowing to the mountain
But the mountain has become her stage
Like the feet of a deer
She absorbs the lows
And embraces the highs
It is effortless, yes
But more a picture of the miraculous
Knowing the adversity of the elements
And yet displaying such peace.

Arms outstretched and head lifted high
The rhythm of her feet draw you in
And reveals that she does not dance alone
The speed, the placement, the stability
Indicate that her feet are responding
Simply shadowing the footwork of a masterful lead
And she climbs on
Unaware that there is an audience that watches
Amazed and inspired
As they witness something so graceful
And so full of Grace

He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and will make me walk on my high hills
Habakkuk 3:19

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What other’s are saying

Something subtle, yet powerful, happens when I look at Bo. There’s an energy present that is very real and felt only between the two of us. It is the connection we have with each other, embodying all that brought us together and the love we share. I imagine that most people assume it’s there, but no one actually looks for it. Except you. Instead of taking pictures of the two of us, you capture what is between us. It is a profound gift that you have, Rich, to catch meaning in a glance or love in a touch. Thank you so much for sharing your gift with us. - Rebekah Hughes

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