On Promises Fulfilled

I avoided writing for all of engagement.

It might’ve been the chaos and busyness of everything. It might’ve been because I had absolutely no clue how to process through engagement – so I just threw myself into wedding planning.

Maybe it was some other reason. I’m not sure.

 

But on April 2nd, we got married. And I’m ready to talk to about it ūüôā

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It was the dreamiest and most perfect day of my entire life.

I don’t say that to be dramatic. Seriously. It was the absolute best day of my life. It¬†was exactly everything I wanted it to be and more. There is nothing I would change about that weekend or that day.

We kept pausing that Sunday after the wedding, overcome with how blissful and overwhelmed we felt. It was by far the happiest day of our lives. So many people worked together to pull it off and we are so grateful for every single one of them.

 

Engagement, however, was not the most blissful time of my life.

Engagement was filled with tears and processing through every single bit of fear I had in my body. New fears of intimacy and commitment overwhelmed me. Noah dealt with many days (and nights) of me shutting down, confused about my own emotions, and quite frankly, terrified of marriage.

The thought that kept going through my head was “There’s no way out. Once I’m in this, I’m totally stuck. There’s no way out.”¬†

And that thought was terrifying.

 

This was the first time I had chosen a relationship that was going to last for the rest of my life,  no matter what. 

 

To bring light to the season of engagement, in case you are engaged or in case you plan to be engaged and deal with this too, let me just tell you…

I thought about calling off the wedding more than once. 

Not because of anything Noah ever did. And not because of any legitimate fight we ever had. But simply because I was overwhelmed with fear, sometimes that manifest itself in what I thought was legitimate logic.

 

Thoughts like¬†“He doesn’t know the ways to romance me perfectly”¬†or¬†“Is he ever going to¬†learn how to¬†communicate better?”¬†or even¬†“Our story doesn’t look like theirs and they’re so in love and confident about marrying each other and I’m just scared. Is this okay?!”¬†

 

I found flaws in everything. Every little thing that came up was a “make or break” for me.

 

But time and time again I would go to Jesus and community and they would both remind me of the Truth: That Noah was the best for me. That he loved me better than anyone. And that I loved Noah.

There are moments where you need those around you to bring you back to the Truth, even if it becomes repetitive. And even if it seems like common sense. 

 

The truth is that I dealt with fear all the way up to wedding week.

Throughout our entire dating relationship and even to engagement, I never felt I heard God say “Noah is the one. Marry him.” I always felt like He gave me the freedom to choose him and didn’t give me many directional words about our relationship.

I wondered if I should’ve heard “Noah is the one.”; wondered if that was the tell-tale sign of how you know if you should marry someone; wrestled with this fear time and time again that maybe this was wrong.

 

But I decided to move forward afraid. Even if I didn’t have a “Thus sayeth the Lord.”¬†

 

And then wedding day came. In fact, about two weeks before wedding day, I felt my heart begin to shift. I consistently started praying that I would feel everything Рthat I would be totally aware of what a big fulfillment this was. And I felt fear begin to disintegrate. 

 

That day was so peaceful yet I was filled with nerves and excitement. It all felt so surreal.

This was my wedding day. The day I’ve been dreaming of for years. This was it.

 

And then suddenly 5:00 was here.

And as we waited to be lined up and begin walking down, I started crying and laughing hysterically. And I couldn’t stop.

This was it. This was the moment we had been praying for. As I walked towards the doors, my dad squeezed my hand. And I couldn’t contain the emotions I felt.

Gratitude. Thankfulness. Love. Overwhelming joy. All of it.

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And I saw him.

Everyone else disappeared around me and I saw him at the end of the aisle. Crying. Grinning like a fool. And I was overwhelmed.

He was it. There was no doubt in my mind. He was my husband. He was the man God had promised for me, exactly and specifically. It was Noah. 

When I got to the end of the aisle, we were both overcome with such joy. I kept staring at him and all I could think was “Wow. You’re him! YOU’RE HIM! I can’t believe you’re him! I can’t believe I get to marry you. I can’t believe it. I can’t believe you’re him.” I literally only thought those thoughts for the entire ceremony.

And this overwhelming wave of the fulfillment of a promise filled me when we were pronounced man and wife. There was no doubt and no more fear. Noah was more than I asked for. He was more than I imagined he would be. He was the answer to a 7 year promise. He was the exact fulfillment that God said he would be.

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Marriage is a dream.

I can’t explain it more than that and I don’t care if this is just the honeymoon phase.

But I feel more alive as a wife, specifically as Noah’s wife, than I ever have before. Despite the unfamiliarity of learning to live with a boy (lol) and adjusting to life as a married couple, there is still this place of familiarity and safety.

 

Nothing is a make or break anymore.

He is my partner and best friend. And it is the most blissful feeling to have someone know you better than anyone else. 

 

I’m more in love with him now than ever before.

 

I think I had to choose him, you know? I had to do it all afraid only on faith and hoping that I wasn’t wrong about this being it. Because the revelation that he WAS it came at the absolute most perfect time.

 

I was made to be his wife. I really was. And he was made to be my husband. Undoubtedly.

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On Perfection, Promises and Proposals

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If you’ve followed my social media, you might’ve seen that a pretty big thing happened a week and a half ago:

We’re ENGAGED!

YAY!

Noah proposed to me on Saturday, October 17th. And so far engagement has been crazy. Crazy as in, I feel like I am shell-shocked the majority of the time, saying over and over again: “Is this real life??”

Engagement is WEIRD. I don’t think anyone told me that. Or maybe they did and I ignored them.

Basically transitioning into engagement is so sudden and rapid, that there is very little time to process. You get a ring on your finger and all of the sudden all of your “maybe one day’s” become reality in the blink of an eye.

You have to start teaching your heart how to let its guard down.

There are no “what if’s” anymore.

There are just “is” moments.

This is¬†happening. We are getting married. We are planning a wedding. You actually¬†are my husband I’ve been praying for.

Thats sounds so exciting to people. I get that. If you’re single, you might be thinking “I want the is moments! I want to be saying all of that.”

But for me… it has been terrifying.

Engagement¬†isn’t an easy adjustment! I have no idea why but it’s mostly just freaked me out because CRAP GOT REAL, FAST!

Here’s the situation.

“My husband” and “marriage” have been HUGE promises on my life for the past 5-6 years.¬†

I’ve gotten words upon words, fought through seasons of doubt and pressing in, seasons of intense revelation, seasons of drought.

I’ve pressed into believing for guys who weren’t it.

I’ve had my heart broken and been disappointed.

I went 6 years without dating anyone, all while God kept speaking “He’s on his way.”

So when he actually did arrive… it was hard to believe that this was REALLY it.

Given – there were a LOT of things to tip me off. Many, many various confirmations.

But I tried dissecting all of it… all of him… to figure out if he really was it.

I analyzed him up and down. I ran every situation through my “perfection” lens. I took into account all of my emotions, making sure they lined up with the emotions that I thought coincide with receiving a promise from God.

And let me just tell you…

It didn’t add up.

He wasn’t perfect. (shocker… he’s human so perfection is pretty hard to achieve). I didn’t feel perfectly all the time. (shocker… I’m human so I’m a rollercoaster of emotions very often and perfection on my part is pretty hard to achieve as well). I wondered consistently if our love was “big enough” to sustain the big words I’d gotten.

I have been attacked with doubt and fear over the past 2 weeks. Right before he proposed until even now. Sometimes, waves of panic hit me. “Marriage is forever. Do I love him enough? Do I like him enough? Do we have what it takes to have a successful marriage for the rest of our lives? Holy crap… ‘the rest of our lives’!”

Our proposal was a little¬†awkward and not perfect but adorable just the same. (Not a flaw on him… being the crazy person I am, I voiced a lot of things that I wanted in a proposal and he tried to incorporate every little thing¬†I wanted and that was adorable and wonderful because he’s amazing… but probably not the way he originally wanted to propose… which would’ve been way better than all of my ‘suggestions’ – that was a huge ‘trust your husband’ lesson in itself) ¬†

I knew it was coming. (How do women not know it’s coming, by the way?? He was SO weird all day and that made ME weird! I kept thinking ‘If he isn’t proposing, we’re going to need to have a serious talk because he’s so weird right now.’)

I wasn’t overwhelmed with joy and began weeping when I saw the ring.¬†(Which was what I expected my reaction to be. I¬†was more just like HOLY CRAP THAT IS GORGEOUS. AND IT’S ON MY HAND. WAIT WHAT. THIS JUST HAPPENED. THIS HAPPENED?!?! I JUST GOT PROPOSED TO!? WE’RE ENGAGED!?!)¬†

In fact… I was talking about poop 30 seconds before he proposed.¬†(Not my proudest moment. Apparently when I know I’m getting proposed to and there’s a camera in my face, I turn into a little crazy wind-up toy and start talking about whatever’s on my mind. Namely, poop. That picture at the top is probably the moment that that’s happening.)¬†

And I have felt scared. Scared of marriage. Scared of that kind of intimacy.¬†(That’s what’s really¬†happening in me right now. Despite the fact that I’ve longed for marriage, when it’s at my front door, for some reason, it’s still scary).¬†

And I have wondered, “If this is it, am I supposed to feel this way?”¬†

But I had this revelation yesterday.

I think we miss many promises of God because we insist they look perfect. We think, “If it’s from God, every aspect of it will be perfect.” AND THAT’S NOT TRUE.¬†

I would love to ask Mary how she felt when she was pregnant with Jesus.

I bet she dealt with insecurity. I bet she had stretch marks and sore feet. I bet she had nights of no sleep or days where her hormones got the best of her and she yelled at Joseph for cooking pita the wrong way.

She was carrying that perfect Promise inside of her. Yet I’m sure there were many aspects that made that Promise feel less than perfect.

I wonder if at any point during those 8-9 months, where her clothes started fitting weird or her best friends started spreading rumors about her, if she thought “This can’t be the promise. It’s too messy. It wasn’t supposed to be like this. There are so many things about it that aren’t perfect.”

Especially when her contractions started while she was on a donkey.

Especially when there was no room for them as her contractions worsened.

Especially when she propped her head and feet up on hay as the cows in the pen behind her kicked up dirt.

It wasn’t perfect… the birth of our Savior and the circumstances surrounding it… the biggest promise there ever was.

He was delivered in imperfect circumstances. 

That’s the point.

Promises are delivered in imperfect circumstances. 

I am so sick of people not walking into their promises because every little thing is not perfectly aligned. Of young adults dating and breaking up after a while because their relationship is “hard” or isn’t “perfect” or their significant other just doesn’t “get them” perfectly so it surely can’t be their spouse, because their spouse will always¬†just get them. (THAT’S A LIE, BY THE WAY).

Of people working at jobs or moving to cities and having relational conflict or trouble in ministry and just ditching because it’s not perfect. Because ministry has to be perfect if it has the hand of God on it too, right?

Y’all.

Stop insisting that perfection = the promise.

And stop comparing your promise to what you see people advertising the promise looking like on Instagram. Church-planting, engagement, marriage, relationships, whatever. I guarantee you it’s less glamorous than you think.

Enjoy the process and the fact that it’s not perfect.¬†

I’m walking into a promise. And I’m terrified most days.

But I’m marrying a man who flippin’ adores me. Really. It is overwhelming how much he loves me.

I’m marrying a man who is HOT and loves Jesus with a fiery passion.

I’m marrying a man who is so extremely humble, patient, and loves people intensely.

I’m marrying a man who is a fighter and is tender-hearted.

I’m marrying a worshipping warrior who loves to press into the hard places.

I’m marrying a man who isn’t afraid of my emotions and is so steadfast & resilient, especially when I feel like I’m all of the place.

I’m in love with him.

And I pick him to be in this process with.

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Also look at him y’all.

That’s my freaking future HUSBAND. WHAT IS LIFE AGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

On Love and Instagram

I’m a highly emotional person.

I’ve mentioned before that I am pretty much Leslie Knope.

And if you need a clue into my emotional spectrum, just watch this.

As I’ve gotten older and as my relationship with Jesus has deepened, I’ve gone through many processes of learning how to not let my emotions rule me.

It’s difficult.

Being a highly emotional person, feeling things really deeply, but learning that your emotions don’t always tell the Truth. They might be accurate and in tune with what the circumstances around you are telling you. And you might be totally justified to feel what you feel. But many times, they don’t align with the capital T Truth that comes from God.

So what then?

What’s the balance?

I have to feel. Numbing is bad news and when I choose to numb, I choose to numb to God.

But even still, as a Christian who is growing and allowing God to shape and mold her, who submits her emotions to Jesus, I still don’t feel everything completely rightly.

Maybe it was naive of me to think that as I got older, my emotions would all come into alignment and I would feel the exact right thing in the right moment every single day.

But it isn’t true.

Sometimes, I don’t feel the right things in the right moments.

Sure, there are things that hit me like a ton of bricks in the “feels” department.

But sometimes, I just don’t feel what I’m supposed to be feeling.

For example:

I am crazy about my boyfriend. He is loving, compassionate, patient.

I expected, though, that when I found someone who I wanted to be with and who adored me that I would always feel like I was madly in love with them.

SURELY.

I had these high expectations for my own emotions. That they should be exactly like what I see portrayed in romantic comedies and on social media.

But the reality¬†is that I don’t feel completely infatuated with him at all times.

I find things I get annoyed at.

I have moments where I just don’t want to be around him.

But Instagram tells me I should feel more and all the time, right?

That when you fall in love, you’re supposed to be constantly obsessed with being with that person and everything about them is just the most wonderful thing.

When I look at social media, I see the highlights of everyone’s love life. I see the romantic things some girl’s boyfriend did for her. I see women gushing about how obsessed and crazy they are for their significant other and how he makes them feel. And I buy into it.

I buy into the comparison trap.

The trap that tells me what I’m feeling isn’t right – I’m not feeling enough or my feelings don’t align with the feeling and emotions I’m seeing broadcasted all over Instagram.

I admit it.

I often use Instagram as a measuring stick for how I should feel about Noah. 

Guilty.

It’s embarrassing to write that.

But it’s true.

I read the captions of people’s pictures. I admire how infatuated people look with each other in pictures.¬†I see how “in love” people are. And this voice inside my head creeps in and says “If you don’t feel exactly like that… this isn’t the right relationship for you.”

How dumb is that.

Instagram is telling me if I should be in love or¬†not. In fact… Instagram is telling me what love looks and feels like.

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I have one thing to say to Instagram now.

Screw you. 

I will not allow anything but Jesus to be a measuring stick for my relationship.

I will not allow anything but Jesus to define what being in love is.

Noah does make me feel many of the things I see on women’s Instagram captions. Oh, it’s not 24/7. Absolutely not. But it is often enough to know I’m absolutely crazy about him.

So I’m here to banish the expectation that you single girls have… the expectation that will cause you to break up with a perfectly wonderful human because you aren’t sure if you “feel” enough.

You aren’t going to feel all the right things every. single. day. of your relationship.¬†

Think about your relationship with Jesus. 

Do you constantly feel in love with Him? Loved by Him? Adored by Him?

Probably not. I bet you have days where you’re just not feeling it but you choose to press in.

The Truth is that you are. Regardless of how much you feel.

But you mustn’t dictate the status of your love based on what you think you should be feeling.¬†

A question I’ve continually battled over is “Do I feel enough for him? Enough for it to be it?”

Well what is “enough”? What the heck am I comparing it to besides the descriptions that are posted on social media of what people feel for their significant other?

Yes – feelings and emotions are important.

Yes – your man needs to make you feel something. He does need to give you those swoony moments where you look at him and think “I’m not sure I could be happier.”¬†

But the truth is that you aren’t going to feel that at all times.

There will be these moments where the way he says “But um….” will annoy the heck out of you for no reason.

But you have an opportunity to choose him.

The key is to listen to Jesus.

Let Him lead you into the exact relationship that is best for you.

Let Him decide your steps. Open your heart to hearing from the Truth He is speaking about your relationship. Let Him define what being in love looks like for your relationship. Let Him tell you how to love and serve someone (who has flaws…just like you) regardless of your emotions.

Nothing else.

This Isn’t A Perfect Love Story

There’s a part of Noah and mine’s¬†story that most people don’t know.

Our friends and family here in North Carolina know.

But if you’ve been keeping up with my life through social media, there is an aspect I’ve intentionally chosen to leave out.

In fact – if some of my students are reading this – I have lied to them about this part.

Consider this my apology. Sorry, guys.

Here’s the real story.

In January of 2014, I joined Christian Mingle, feeling lonely and pretty hopeless about the dating scene in Raleigh. 

In case you’re wondering, that’s not a good reason to join a dating site.

I never paid for the site but it was flattering having guys “wink” at me or try to message me. I vaguely alluded to how to get in touch with me in hopes that if I guy actually took time to do the research, he would figure it out. And at times this worked – I went on a couple of dates with a few guys.

Eventually, however, Christian Mingle became a place where I was getting my attention needs filled. I was on it way too often and consuming too much of my time seeing how many people had viewed my profile. I had started using it to fill the void in me of not feeling lovely or worth pursuing.
So I deactivated my account. 

As last summer came, I began prophetically proclaiming over all of my single friends that they would begin dating. I felt like there was shift in the seasons and that I was to speak it out over friends who had been believing for relationships. And it started happening!

Many close friends began dating relationships and I was thrilled beyond belief for them.

Yet a part of me ached. It was like I’d missed the blessing.

The weekend before Memorial Day, on a Saturday morning, I sat in my girls’ group crying that I had missed it.¬†And before I went to a Heidi Baker conference that night, I felt grace to re-activate my Christian Mingle account.

I don’t know why. Maybe out of desperation. But for whatever reason, I re-activated it.

I went to the conference needing Jesus; completely desperate for fresh revelation and a touch from Him.

After worship, Heidi stepped on stage.

And if you’ve ever heard her preach, you’ll know that she’s kind of all over the place but in the best way. She lives a life of consistently and constantly listening to the voice and urging of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, she probably always diverts¬†from whatever plan she originally had intended on speaking about.

She looked out and said: “God wants to restore hope tonight for things you’ve been longing for. Especially with marriages. So if you’ve been wanting to get married, stand up.”¬†

I stood up. So did half of the room.

And she begins to pray. That spouses would come. That hope would be re-ignited. And most fascinating to me, she prayed that marriages would come out of that conference.

“Keep your eyes open! Look around the room! ” She prayed. “Lord, would marriages come out of this conference!”¬†

It was hilarious. But my spirit began to break and shift as hope pressed its way in with every word she prayed over us.

Noah was supposed to be at that conference.

Friends of his were there.

But that day, he was helping a friend with their car and wasn’t able to make it.

So four days later, the hottest guy on Christian Mingle tried to send me a message.

He was really the only one I cared about trying to find, so I did extensive Google and Facebook research (yes – I’m that girl) and found him.

I sent him a message explaining who I was. We kept talking. He was really cute. And loved Jesus a lot.

A week and half later, we met in person for the first time at Caribou Coffee.

That’s the real story of how we met.

Through Christian Mingle.

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We hate that.

Seriously, we would not recommend Christian Mingle.

But God used it.

But one of the hardest parts about our relationship is that we had to create a friendship from the ground up. 

We didn’t have a history of common experiences. We were complete strangers who were interested in dating each other but had no idea about the other person’s past.

So the first time we dated – it was a mess.

We tried really hard. Our hearts were in the right place.

But I was a bit of a control freak who had unreasonable expectations for what dating relationships should look like.

And he was a commitment-phobic guy who didn’t know he had emotions or how to be vulnerable with me‚Ķ or community.

And ultimately we broke up because we were on two completely different pages. In short, I said to him “Hey. Either have a goal of marrying me or don’t pursue me.”

So he broke up with me.

In the two months that we were broken up, God addressed every inch of control in my heart… examining it in and out. As I tried to maintain bitterness at love, God cracked my heart open and began showing me that real love has no control. 

He started showing me how I had even tried to control my relationship with Him – I wouldn’t completely surrender to my love with Him because I knew the power of love. I knew that it could control me in ways that probably weren’t logical. And I wasn’t sure if I was okay with that.

But He kept planting seeds of hope.

He also kept teaching me how real love is a choice.¬†That regardless of feeling it, or not feeling it, God’s love for me is the most powerful because He chose me and picked me as His own. He didn’t feel love for me and THEN decide to die for my sins. He chose to love me and rescue me from the pit of Hell. I was picked. He wasn’t obligated.¬†

After my spring break trip, thinking I was over Noah, I came to church hope-filled that the best really was to come.

I walked to my usual seat. The band came on stage. And then I saw him after not seeing him in three weeks.

And I lost it.

My spirit broke inside of me again, moved by my feelings for him that I thought were dead.

That was who I wanted.

I looked at God and said “If I get to pick, I want him. I will wait however long it takes. And I don’t care how it looks or if this is illogical. But I want to choose him.”

Two weeks later, he asked me to talk.

He told me he was still crazy about me.

We began an intentional friendship.

And the next week he told me I was what he wanted. He chose me. And he would do whatever it took to win me over.

This shattered every. single. one. of my rules.

Rules about saying things so intensely.

Rules about pursuit.

Rules about guarding my heart.

It broke them all.

But Jesus consistently has said, “I’ve always promised you extravagance. And that had to break all of your rules.”

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We spent a month and a half becoming friends again; hanging out in groups, running random errands together, not hanging out one on one.

Then we spent a month going on dates. And me being overwhelmingly and extravagantly pursued by a man who realized exactly what he wanted. Who had become vulnerable and was willing to share everything with me. Who left me feeling like the most loved woman in the whole world every night as I went to bed.

(If you’re wondering‚Ķ this was never the case the first time around).

And now. We have been in a relationship for a month.

I can confidently say I am not dating the same man I was dating before.

I can also confidently say that I am being pursued by a man who is day after day, all in.

It’s still messy. Nothing about it is what I would have written. And nothing about it is what I would’ve expected. There are still many things we’ve had to face as a couple that I wouldn’t have chosen to put in the story. There are also many things that have been put in the story that have overwhelmed me with unexpected joy.

But that’s the point.

I couldn’t have written my own love story if I tried.¬†

I love that it’s mine. I love that it isn’t finished yet. I am being broken and refined in more ways than I knew I could be, but it is making me look so much more like Jesus.

I realize I am breaking so many “dating” rules by writing this; by writing this love story as if I know this is it.

I don’t. Nothing is guaranteed.

I would like this to be it. So would he.

But we are submitted to Jesus, to the process, to community, and taking each day as it comes, listening to God’s voice every step along the way.

Whether or not this is it, this is the story we’re wrapped up in right now. And it’s not perfect. But right now‚Ķ today‚Ķ it’s ours. We’re in it.

Don’t let your “rules” for how it should be block out God from writing your story.¬†

Submit yourself to His voice and to the wisdom of close friends who are also walking with Him and you.

Be vulnerable in the midst of your story with other people and listen to His leading.

Pay attention to when your spirit feels unrest.

And pay attention to when it doesn’t.

This is our story for now.

There is no part of it that you can’t ask about.

Let there be freedom in having your own story be written in a way you wouldn’t have written yourself.