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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How It’s “Supposed” To Be

I haven’t had many profound revelations lately.

Honestly, blogging has been hard in the past months. Not because God isn’t moving but because life looks so incredibly different than it used to.¬†My weeks are jammed pack with lesson planning, emailing parents, grading papers, leading 2 lifegroups, discipling girls, running my church’s social media accounts, and somewhere in the middle, finding time to invest in my friendships and my relationship.

And… quite frankly…. most of the¬†revelations I DO have are about dating. A lot of my time with God lately has consisted of talking to Him¬†about my relationship. I don’t know if that’s “right” or “wrong” or what. But in the past week, the Boy and I have seemed to be climbing a mountain in our relationship.

It’s been marked by difficult conversation after difficult conversation, miscommunication after miscommunication. It’s been exhausting. We’ve both been tired… physically and emotionally.

Saturday morning, we sat in his car and just looked at each other. And I managed to say what we were both thinking, “Is it supposed to be this hard?”

Neither of us had the answer for that. I even used the phrase “Are we trying to make Ron Swanson date Leslie Knope? Maybe Ron and Leslie aren’t supposed to be together.” (Yes… I did say this in a legitimate serious conversation. And yes, I might’ve been crying a little bit.)

And then we just decided to try. We decided to keep pressing in. To give this relationship our all. We talked about the areas that were hurting the other person, we decided to forgive each other, to consciously try to improve, to ask God for wisdom and to move on. And we got out of the car and went to breakfast. And suddenly every ounce of heaviness just disappeared. And I sat across the table and laughed with my best friend and enjoyed my breakfast with him.

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I will not quit in a difficult season.¬†That’s not the point. Seasons are called seasons for a reason – they change. And I will not let a difficult season define if my relationship has substance or not. I will not bail when things get hard. I am a woman who presses in to the hard things. It’s at the very core of who I am. I am not one who bails. And the difficult seasons are going to be the things that create the depth and strength our relationship needs.

Because here’s the thing. I don’t care what it’s “supposed” to look like. I don’t even know what it’s “supposed” to look like. I don’t know what I’m “supposed” to feel or how our conversations are “supposed” to go or how often we’re “supposed” to be having these conversations. I just know I’m submitted to God’s will for my life and He directs every detail of it. I know that God is the one who clarifies and defines the boundaries in our relationship. I know the guy I’m dating loves Jesus and is submitted to His will as well. I know the guy I’m dating is trying his hardest to pursue me to the best of his ability. I know the guy I’m dating is submitted to community and seeking wisdom from friends. I know the guy I’m dating serves me consistently and makes me laugh on a daily basis. I don’t know what it’s “supposed” to look like. But I know those are the facts. And I know he’s worth choosing to fight for.

Yes, our relationship might be Leslie Knope dating Ron Swanson. But maybe in God’s kingdom that relationship works out. And maybe it doesn’t. Maybe in a few months we’ll realize it wasn’t meant to be. And that’s okay.

But I will always choose to believe the best. I will always choose to press in for clarity. And as his girlfriend, I will fight for him.

But I also know this. I will not base the foundation of my relationship off of what I feel in a difficult season. 

I write this not to air my dirty laundry or expose all of my secrets. And to clarify, I am not miserable in my relationship. In fact, I am crazy about this guy. He consistently amazes me with his growth and humility and patience. And he’s worth sticking around for.

I write this to prepare those who are not yet in relationships. 

When you start dating someone, you will have all sorts of ideas of what it’s “supposed” to look like. And I’ll break it to you now… It most likely won’t look like that. There will be glorious parts that are way more fun and better than you ever thought they’d be. But there will also be moments and seasons that are harder than you expected.

Don’t ditch when the unexpected happens. Get to the other side of it. Let the glory in your relationship rise to the surface with the ebbs and flows of life. And rid yourself of the idea of how things are “supposed” to be. Let God write a brand-new story that has yet to ever exist.

It’s not supposed to look like anyone else’s story. it supposed to look like yours.¬†

Date A Guy Who…

“He’s cute, and sweet, and funny, and has GREAT hair.”¬†

These would probably be things you would find in my 6th grade journal, written about whatever guy of the week I had a crush on. And that would probably be the extent of the list. The fact that he had talked to me at least once that week was also a major qualifying factor. Bonus points if you chatted me first on AIM.

Gratefully, my list of things I look for in a boyfriend has¬†become a little less… superficial. But even now, the things I’ve realized I need aren’t the things I’ve expected.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned while dating The Boy is that dating doesn’t look how you think it’s going to look. Such is life, though. You can be as prepared as you can be, but there’s no formula for your exact relationship. You’re going to have to undergo many rounds of trial and error, finding out what works and what most definitely doesn’t. And along the way, you’re going to discover qualities about the person you are dating that you had no idea were so important.

So women, through my process, here are things I believe I should’ve added to my list…

1. Date a guy who is¬†patient.¬†One of the thing I am continually blown away with is The Boy’s patience. He is by far one of the most patient people I have ever met. Even when things irritate or frustrate him, he never raises his voice or yells. And I am a woman who needs a handful of grace. Unfortunately, I do have stereotypical mood swings. I am not always nice. And I am not always loving. But he has shown countless amounts of patience towards me when I am not so deserving.

2. Date a guy who¬†isn’t afraid of your emotions.¬†This one is huge. Women’s emotions are a lot for guys to handle. Very rarely, if ever, do they feel things as deeply as women do. So living life in close proximity with a human who feels things on a totally different level than they do is probably…. honestly… a little draining at times. Date a man who isn’t intimidated by the fact that you have emotions. Date a man who won’t run away from them, but instead will sit there and listen to what you’re feeling. And later, you can admit you were acting crazy and you can both laugh about it together.

3. Date a guy who¬†doesn’t pursue you perfectly.¬†Because where’s the depth in that? Now hear me out about this one. I didn’t say “doesn’t pursue you well.”¬†But a perfect pursuit is overrated. And honestly, there’s only One who is the perfect Pursuer. Date a man who pursues you as best as he personally can, and who is consistently trying to learn more about how to pursue you better.¬†Date a man who is a student of your heart… who is willing to take the risk and time to fail and get up and try again. Dating a man who doesn’t pursue you perfectly will teach you how to communicate in ways you didn’t know how to before. Dating a man who doesn’t pursue you perfectly will allow you to understand your own heart better. Dating a man who doesn’t pursue you perfectly, but pursues you with vulnerability, enthusiasm and teachability is a game-changer. Do not compare your pursuit with the relationships around you. This.. this right here in front of you… this is YOUR pursuit… YOUR relationship. Date a man who¬†learns the keys to your heart and remembers them.

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4. Date a guy who isn’t afraid of hurting your¬†feelings.¬†In my mind, there’s nothing more irritating than someone who doesn’t tell you how they’re really feeling because they’re too scared they’ll offend you. You can’t have an intimate relationship with that person because you never know what’s really going on. Date a guy who tells you what he really is thinking and feeling and¬†isn’t afraid it’s going to hurt your feelings. I’m not saying he communicates his thoughts with anger, bitterness or finger-pointing. But he isn’t afraid to tell you he doesn’t agree with you or that how you acted earlier that day really hurt his feelings. Or even better,¬†date a guy who isn’t afraid to call you out on your junk, but calls you up to the woman God created you to be.¬†Date a guy who challenges your thought patterns. Date a guy who calls out when you’re believing lies.

5. Date a guy with flaws.¬†There’s an episode¬†in Parks and Rec when Ann Perkins is first dating Chris Traeger and likes him but can’t find anything wrong with him. She says “He’s like a perfect human person. I can’t find anything wrong with him.” Then, not long after that, Chris gets embarrassingly sick with the flu and Ann has to take care of him in all of his.. well.. mess. And she is relieved that she has finally seen some of his flaws.

THIS IS REAL LIFE.

Dating someone who is flawless is both unrealistic and dumb. I’m not saying major, red-flag flaws here. But I am encouraging you to date someone who isn’t afraid to let you see their flaws. It takes vulnerability and a ton of bravery to let someone see the places in you that aren’t perfect. Dating someone is…

their flaws + your flaws = your relationship (iron sharpening iron)

When someone allows you to see their flaws, it also brings out your own. And with flaws out in the open, you go into situations together fully dependent on God to be the Perfect One and make you stronger. Meanwhile, you press in and sharpen each other, making each other look more and more like Jesus. Sure, it’s a little difficult at times. But it’s good. It’s soooo good. Don’t be afraid of the flaws. You have just as many. Learn to work through the mess with someone, not alone. Their flaws rubbing up against your flaws is just part of the process.

Men, Eggplant, and Fat Coats

I haven’t blogged in a while.

I like to write when I have clarity about what season I am in, what God is doing, or after major revelations or breakthrough.

But in efforts to maintain the mission and integrity of this blog, I have always felt the conviction to write about the process. The middle and in-between stages of life. The normal… at times, mundane… things.

So this is an in-process post.

I don’t have major revelation or breakthrough. Just small ones… little bits and pieces that God is teaching me in the small moments.

This post might seem like a ramble. But I’ve decided to write the small revelations I have gotten in the past month. Not just when the breakthrough happens, just the learning and the in-process moments that I am currently in. Because for some of these, the breakthrough hasn’t happened yet. The truth and revelation are there. But the sinking in and accepting it as a reality in my heart hasn’t occurred yet.

It will. In time.

But for now… I process.

#1) We have to let men be men.¬†My goodness, have I received and realized this conviction in the past month. My relationship has recently taken a “re-vamp,” if you will, after a few hard conversations, followed by¬†a couple of weeks on a break to let God speak and work on us. I had become frustrated that he wasn’t leading how I wanted him to… Was his work ethic an issue? Did he have ambition or drive? Follow-through? These questions surged as I forced my hand into his life, bringing about my own motion to things I felt he should be working towards, trying to make him the guy I would want to be with. I led. I controlled and didn’t let go. Until I broke. And realized that what was happening wasn’t sustainable. If we wanted a successful, kingdom-minded relationship, he didn’t just have to lead. I had to let go.¬†I had to take a step back… let him grow… give him space to step up.

And this is the moment. Because, women Рthe moment you let go, real men will step up and lead. As women, that is often the most terrifying part; letting go and trusting someone else with the plans. Trusting someone will take charge of their life and therefore lead you well. Real men will do it. They will shape up, get their life together, chase after their dreams and goals, and pursue you with everything they have. They just need to be given space to do it. And you must make the choice to relinquish your control over his life or keep trying to take the lead. Show him you believe in him enough to lead you.

Men don’t need more mothers. They need best friends, supporters, believers, cheerleaders, partners. Women who will be with them in the trial and error, the failure and the success.¬†

#2) Shame is stupid.¬†I’ve realized there are two things that keep us out of the Throne Room of God – our sin and our shame about our sin. Shame is just as much of a hindrance to intimacy with God as our sin. It is our sin that puts a barrier between us and God, but when we realize our sin and are too shameful to run to Him in it, we are refusing to walk out of a jail cell that isn’t even locked. God is the safest place to go to in our mess. It is why David is considered a man after God’s own heart, despite being an adulterer and murderer. Because in his darkest and most shameful sin, He RAN, broken, unhindered and unfiltered, into the Throne Room and the arms of a loving Father, full of repentance and desperate for forgiveness.

#3) Comparison makes me want to vomit lately.¬†Last week a female co-worker looked me up and down and then asked if I wanted a winter coat. She had bought it when she weighed 180-190 and was “very large” and now it simply was way too big on her (she AND her dog fit in it)…so she thought I’d want it. I looked at her wide-eyed and smiled that I would love the coat, later sulking in this realization that this woman not only thought I was much larger than she was, but also assumed I weighed around 180-190 lbs. It was a comparison trap – bait that was sitting there, waiting for me to take, telling me that I should absorb the words into my being, compare how my beauty measures up to the women around me, and immediately begin dieting. Women! We must put an end to this! Be the most complete version of you that you were created to be! You are enough! Stop provoking comparison out of other women by self-promoting. Rant over.

#4) Joy the Baker’s new cookbook is changing my life.¬†Changing my life is an exaggeration. But I’m totally in love with it. It’s worth every penny. Buy it.

#5) Spaghetti squash and eggplant are secretly delicious.¬†I’m obsessing about these two things right now. I made this recipe for a friend and it was TO DIE FOR. I’ve also been eating too much eggplant parmesan because Trader Joe’s sells these breaded eggplant cutlets in the frozen food section and they are unbelievable. Pan-sear them, sprinkle parmesan on them, the serve them over spaghetti and a tomato sauce of your choice. SO good.

This ended up being more of a top 5 things that are on my mind right now. Pick and choose which one you’d like to hold on to for your week.

My Boyfriend’s Girlfriend

After months of single-Christian-girl posts, this was bound to happen, right?

I was bound to start dating someone… the waiting time was bound to end… and my posts were bound to turn into “how to rock at dating” posts.

So let me just put this out there.

After not dating someone for 6 years, getting all sorts of wisdom and revelation about it, finding contentment in my singleness, developing patience, going crazy deep with God, getting healed from all sorts of stuff… I just assumed that I would be the best girlfriend ever.¬†

Why wouldn’t I be? I’ve had 6 years of waiting. 6 years of being patient. 6 years of watching friends date, learning from their mistakes, hoarding wisdom.

I was going to nail this whole dating thing.

Folks.

That is not what has happened.

I am not the perfect girlfriend.

Despite my surplus of stored knowledge, I have failed on more than one occasion. And the vast majority of the time, I have no idea what I’m doing.

I have had my feelings hurt by things that are¬†so minor and insignificant. And yes, before this, I would’ve considered myself extremely secure and confident. If a girl would’ve come to me a few months ago, telling me that her feelings had been hurt by the things my feelings have been hurt by, I would’ve laughed. “Get over yourself,” I would’ve smirked at her. “You’re just being insecure.”

You see. My boyfriend’s girlfriend has been the furthest thing from perfect. She¬†has¬†not been entirely patient. She has given her insecurities and doubts room to run around in her brain. She has felt needy and therefore more insecure. She has whined. She has cried for a whole Sunday afternoon because of a bad dream. She has been annoyed. She has believed lies.

My boyfriend’s girlfriend is not who I thought she’d be.

I thought she’d be perfect. I though¬†I¬†would be perfect.

I realize this sounds ridiculous… no one can be perfect. I get that.

But I thought this would come easier to me.

The reality is that dating is wonderful. It is so incredibly wonderful and fun. But it is so refining…allowing someone to come into the mess and imperfection of your life.

When you are single, your mess and imperfection affect your roommates and close friends and that’s about it. The majority of the time, your mess and imperfection are something between you and God. When you get moody, you get away and get with God. If you don’t want to talk to people for a while, that’s fine. You don’t have to. If you need a weekend to yourself, sure. Go for it. Your schedule is yours.

When you are dating, someone is in the mess with you. They are unashamedly walking into your insecurities, fears, doubts. They are doing life WITH you. And there’s no running away. There’s no hiding from your mess… your selfishness… your pride. It all surfaces and makes itself known pretty quickly.

It is the iron sharpening iron. 

It is the moments you realize how you’ve spent a good portion of your life only thinking about how things would affect you… you’ve never considered how they would affect someone else.

It’s after conversations and interactions realizing how much of you is still not yet there… how much of you still doesn’t look like Jesus.

Being single was a wonderful thing. Being single was actually way easier than dating.

But I had no idea how selfish my heart had become… how unwilling it was to share… how independent and self-sufficient I had grown to be.

I am being refined in the most marvelous way in this season. Insecurities I thought had been conquered are revealing themselves to need even more victory.

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And I am walking through it all with the most patient, servant-hearted, steady man I know. I am honored to be sharpened and pursued by him. And if there is one phrase we have continued to encourage each other with in this season, it’s this:

There’s grace to figure it out.¬†

We must extend patience to each other in the process of learning how to date in a God-honoring way.

We must forgive and offer grace for those moments of miscommunication and unmet expectations.

Perfection isn’t expected from either one of us.

Pursuit of Him is.

And in the process of figuring out how to be my boyfriend’s girlfriend, I am¬†learning how desperate my heart¬†has been to fully embrace His grace all along.