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 🙂

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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 – that 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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I Think I’m Normal: 3 Post-Breakup Thoughts

There are things that happen on the other side of a break-up. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this. I guess I had forgotten about it since my last breakup when I was 19. But there are consistent things that happen… thoughts that go through your head.

I am still unaware of how to deal with many of them. I post this to let you know that if you, too, are dealing with the healing after a break-up and are experiencing some of these things, you are not alone.

I don’t have the answers for this. I still fight the tension between who I was when I dealt with a break-up as a teenager and who I am now that I’m dealing with a break-up as an almost 25 year old.

So here’s a little glimpse into my mind lately:

The thought: 

I LOVE BEING SINGLE. *10 minutes later* I HATE BEING SINGLE. 

This one sucks. I feel flippant. I feel unresolved. I feel easily swayed. I feel discontent one minute and completely content the next. There are moments I am so confident that this was the right thing and am hopeful for my future. There are other moments where I am miserable, full of doubt and second-guessing, wanting to do anything it takes to mend my previous relationship. Unfortunately… I’m pretty sure this is normal. I think this is part of the process of dealing with a break-up.

The Truth:

“For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:8 (AMP)

“so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind…” – Ephesians 4:14 (ESV)

I am not one who believes truth according to her emotions. I am proclaiming that over myself, being the emotion-filled woman that I am. The truth of the situation is that in want or plenty, in singleness or dating, I am content. I am right where I should be. I am not exempt or escaped from God’s will. Even if there are moments it hurts more than others, I am content. Because God is still good. And that means His plans for me are good. Just because something is painful in the moment, doesn’t mean it’s not exactly where you need to be. 

The thought:

We totally broke up because he thinks I’m fat and ugly… he just didn’t want to say that. 

I mean… yea. That thought crosses my mind more times than I’d like to admit.

The Truth:

Really, Courtney? Haven’t we already dealt with this?

Because God says “You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless” – Song of Solomon 4:7 (MSG).

And I am enough. Just as I am. In my places of too much and my places of not enough, I am enough just as I am. We did not break up because of my physical appearance. That is just stupid. Next.

The thought: 

I missed God. I missed it. I messed everything up. This could’ve been it but I was too prideful, too controlling, too over-analytical. I ruined something good. It’s all my fault. 

Honestly… this one feels like truth more times than it doesn’t.

The truth: 

“Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored….

That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” – Most of Romans 8 in the Message.

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Bottom line: I haven’t missed anything. His will for me is perfect. And I haven’t escaped it. It’s not possible for me to escape the will of God for my life when I am seeking Him. It’s just not possible. I choose hope. I will believe the best. I will allow the joyful anticipation to deepen, even in the midst of a momentarily painful season.

Whale Watching

This is an old post from almost 2 years ago. I recently found it for a friend and thought it’d be worth a re-post if you find yourself at the beginning of 2015 still waiting for breakthrough. 

Mystery (noun):
– One that is not fully understood or that baffles or eludes the understanding.
– One who arouses curiosity.
– A religious truth that is incomprehensible to reason and is knowable only through divine revelation.

God is all that is mysterious.

And that is difficult for someone like me who loves to understand. Because that’s the point of mystery…it’s not supposed to be understood.
Realistically, there is probably more that I don’t understand about God than the amount of things I do understand about Him. And the question I’ve been asking myself lately is “Am I okay with the mystery?”
Am I okay with not having the answers to everything?
Am I okay with not understanding why things happen the way they do?
Bill Johnson says, “In order to have the peace that surpasses all understanding, you have to give up the right to understand.”
That makes my heart ache. I insist on knowing the answers to things more than I accept this peace in the mystery. It’s funny because the verse before that one that talks about this peace starts off with “Do not be anxious about anything.”

Despite our anxious worries, and our vain strife of trying to understand the complexities of His mystery, God pleas with us “Learn to be okay with the mystery. Release your right to understand.

The hardest thing about living in the mysterious is balancing it with expectancy. Believing for big and mighty moves of God, hoping for the impossible, but accepting the mystery when it doesn’t happen like you expect to or it doesn’t happen at all.
This season…actually this past year…has been marked by God pleading with me to maintain expectancy for really big things. That sounds fun. But it’s terrifying. And Proverbs 13:12 has been eating my lunch. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…”
Which can only mean one thing. Expectancy makes the heart healthy.

This is hard for me to grasp. God is saying it is better to hope and be expectant than to have no hope whatsoever. He doesn’t say disappointment makes the heart sick. He says a lack of hope does.
But disappointment hurts. It hurts. It hurts. It hurts. And I hate pain. Yet I will trust God when He says that not hoping is worse for my heart. And I will relinquish my right to understand.

The picture I keep getting in my head when I talk to God about expectancy is whale watching.

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I’ve never seen a blue whale. The only evidence I have that they actually exist is what I read on the Internet and in books. They are the largest animals on this planet. Yet I’ve never seen them. And for most of their existence, people have known very little about them. The biggest animals on the planet are extremely mysterious.

But how stupid would it be of me to go blue whale watching and not be expectant to see one? How idiotic would it be if I refused to peer off the edge of the boat into the vast spaciousness that is the ocean? How much would it affect my experience and the experience of those around me if I looked at my feet the entire trip, content with what was inside the boat, instead of scanning the horizon in the hopes of seeing even a spout of water?

I would be an idiot to get in that boat without expectancy.

Expectancy allows you to see so much more than your normally would. People who go whale watching and expect to see a whale, jump at any slight wave, any bubbles breaking on the surface, any foam of water. They’re more likely to see everything the ocean has to offer. They see more than people without expectancy.

So maybe that’s the point.

You get to see more.

So I will keep my eyes on the horizon, at the ready for a spout of water. I know there’s a blue whale out there. And I’ll keep watching till I see him.

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 – the 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.