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!!!!!

The Glorious Now

Around 3 years ago, this lovely little thing called Pinterest came into my life.

And I don’t know about you guys, but¬†Pinterest¬†is straight up, my jam.

I love it. 

I love it for being a teacher. I love it for decorating my house. I love it for cooking. I love it for exercising. I love it. I’m very “pro-Pinterest.”

It gets my mind dreaming and creating. It allows me to see things according to their potential, and not their current chaos. It gets me stoked to take on a new project. Like lately I’ve been doing some¬†¬†furniture rehab.¬†Not that I’ve gotten super crazy with it, but still! Pinterest is there telling me “Hey, Courtney. You’re so creative. You can make your house look like anything you want it to look like! You can be as organized as this teacher on this blog right here! You can do ALL OF IT.”¬†

And I’ve tapped into this whole other side of myself I didn’t know I had. This girl who loves the potential of what things¬†could be – who lives for the “will be one day”.¬†

There is SO much value in dreaming. There’s value in seeing the hidden beauty in things when they aren’t there yet. It gives us hope for what’s to come. If a day seems bad, we have promises and words and dreams to hold on to about things to come. And we maintain hope.¬†

As prophetic people who can hear the voice of God, we see things that aren’t yet as if they were already. We get promises from God about situations around us or victories we’re GOING to have or the person we’re GOING to be.¬†

We need this. We need the dreaming and the promises for a hope and a future. We need it to live.

But sometimes, these fulfillments don’t come immediately. And as receivers of the promises of God, when things don’t happen when or how we want them, or how we expect the promises to pan out, we¬†gather up disappointment by the fistful.¬†

We then shove them up to God, pouting “BUT YOU PROMISED.” Another day goes by where the promise didn’t happen. And we disappear from the present; sulking and persevering and pressing in for what isn’t¬†yet.

Our days become occupied with what is to come and what isn’t yet.¬†We work FOR something or TO BE someone we aren’t yet. Because we’ve heard “the best is YET to come.” So we look forward to tomorrow or maybe even the day after because then, maybe then, the best WILL come then. Just not yet.¬†

My life seems to be full of “not-yet’s.

My house is not-yet put together quite how I’d like it to be.

My classroom is not-yet as organized as I’d like it to be.

My family has not-yet experienced the major breakthrough they need.

I’m not-yet dating someone after what seems like a while of waiting.

I caught myself occupied in them this morning. I held these promises from God tight in my fists, swarmed with pressing in to the ‘not-yet’s’, disappointed and heartbroken by the middle time.

And then it was like I rubbed my eyes and woke up.

I’d been missing it.¬†

I’d been missing the glorious right now.¬†

If every day has a greater glory than the day before it, that means every day HAS glory. And it’s my job to see it – to find the glory in the now – to absorb all of the glory that’s wrapped up in today.

And then, go to bed knowing that tomorrow is going to hold even more.

Dreams were created to give us hope for AMAZING glories to come – not bind us to an obsession with the future.

When my life is occupied by the ‘not-yet’s’, I miss the oh-so glorious now. I don’t see the glories in the moments that pass me. I’m too busy thinking about “what could be” or “what isn’t yet.”

So on my way to school… I danced. A lot.

I blasted music and jammed.

I noticed a gorgeous bush full of red flowers at my school I’d literally never noticed before.

I became overwhelmingly thankful for a lot of friendships in my life. 

There were glories… I just had to look for them.

But “He will complete what He appoints for me…”¬†

He will bring about fulfillment to His promises.

It’s my job to enjoy the glorious now.

Yes, the best IS yet to come. 

But the key to contentment is knowing the greatest glories of my life so far are happening today.

It’s our job to find them.

My Groaning and His Glory

I wish I could just let you read my journal from the past few months. The pain, the timing, the oh-so-perfect alignment, and the now-evident irony.

 

You might’ve gotten a feel of it from my posts from this summer… But since April, I’ve been full of groaning. Groaning that might not have manifested itself in the natural but was more than felt by my spirit in the unseen. This feeling of longing… that if I have to wait any longer for something to change, I just might die.

 

It was this terrible battle inside of me.

I wanted to quit. To give up hoping. Abandon ship.

But I also knew that if I stopped hoping, I would die. 

I had to hold on to hope; to hold on to the unseen belief that He is trustworthy and good. Because without it, I would be dead where I stood.

 

I say “dead” like it would’ve really happened because that’s how it felt. The hoping was painful but the quitting was sure to be even more so.

 

There was nothing I could see to make me believe He was moving – nothing I could even feel to make me believe He was actually listening to the painful groaning of my anxious heart. Peace came in waves. When one revelation of hope washed over me, it was soon followed by doubts and lies that swarmed me like bees.

In the morning, I could wake up fine. But by 3 pm, I would be overwhelmed with everything that needed to be taken care of that I had absolutely no control over.

 

I couldn’t put my hand to anything. Nothing I did could bring about forward motion.

I was forced to be still. 

To move when He said move, but mostly to be still. To press in when He said press in, but mostly… to be still.

 

But He was listening.

 

When I didn’t see it or feel it, He was listening.

He was behind the scenes, silently orchestrating every little detail.

 

As I groaned, He held me, not saying a word but allowing me to dig deep into the truth of who He really was.

I dug for answers. I dug for revelation. I dug for truth – something to hold on to.

He mended my heart. He brought up places of pain, hurt, neglect, and doubt. Every inch of them, He brought to light. I tried to not feel, but He pressed in. Trust me, He begged. Hope in me, He reminded. My thoughts are not your thoughts. Nor are my ways your ways. Trust for the fulfillment.

 

“But why?” I wanted to, and often did, scream at Him. “God, what is the purpose of hope?”

“Hope keeps your heart alive. It keeps it healthy… beating… thriving. It allows you to see things that haven’t happened yet. It allows you to laugh through pain. It supplies oxygen to your lungs. It keeps you breathing. You¬†must¬†hope in my Goodness.”

 

So I chose to believe for provision, for fulfillment, for answers to promises. That I wouldn’t be numb forever. I wouldn’t be stuck in the same thought patterns forever. That the season WOULD shift.

 

I just had to wait.

 

He loved me in the middle of my mess and impatience. He loved me despite my doubts that He did. When I told Him that there wasn’t any way He really loved me, He never left… He just made Himself even more near… never angered or frustrated. Always loving.

 

And then just like that, one day, everything shifts.

You feel it. Something in your bones says “Today is the day that everything changes. Today’s the day that we’re done with that old season and we’re walking into a new one.”

 

For me, it started with a new house. 

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A house that has almost every minor detail I’ve secretly wanted. A house that has enough room for hosting people. A house that I have come alive decorating and creating in already. A house God promised I would have when I moved to Raleigh… I just had to wait a year for it.

 

It was then followed by a table. 

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A table that was totally free. A table that should’ve cost a month’s rent. A table that can comfortably seat 8. A table that makes my heart flutter with dreams of¬†dinner parties that fill people, body and soul. A table that is a symbol of a dream of God in my heart and this is only the beginning of the fulfillment.

 

And then there’s this last part.

How when I left California, I felt like God had said “Let’s go home and buy you a car.” How after that, I just chuckled and said, “Well okay. This should be good because I have $350.” But this time, there was no doubt that followed. I knew it was going to happen, despite the facts.¬†So I came home and told a few people “This week, I’m buying a car.”

I asked God for specifics.

He mentioned a silver 2009 Nissan Versa with 110,000 miles on it. And something about $3000.

 

Last Sunday, I texted a friend to pray for provision for a car. This is the same friend who prayed for me to get a job this time last year, and two days later I did. The guy has serious favor for asking for big things. So he prayed.

 

On Monday, I came home with one of my friends to my roommate in the kitchen. We started talking and then I heard what sounds like running coming from the other side of the house. In seconds, about 12 of my friends swarmed my living room, cheering and yelling! Confused, I start laughing and said “What’s going on?!” They told me that¬†we were¬†having a surprise encouragement night for me (!!!) and then a worship night. I was so overwhelmed. Surprises are one of my love languages but it is extremely hard to surprise me. Apparently not as hard as I thought though, because I had absolutely no clue this was happening.

So they each took turns encouraging me. My heart felt like lava was being poured in it. Refreshment washed over me and I was totally undone with love.

 

My roommate ended the encouragement time by hanging me a gift bag with an envelope inside. I opened it to find a stack of 100-dollar-bills and started bawling. “That’s a little over $2500 we raised for a car.”

 

Undone.

 

Overwhelmed.

 

The tears could not stop flowing as I covered my mouth and looked around the room of my friends, cheering and clapping.

 

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He had heard.

This whole time, when I had doubted that He had heard, He was actually rallying the troops. He had been organizing a battle plan all along. He had been moving on my behalf when I couldn’t see it.

 

This weekend, with the money my friends spent a month and half raising for me, I’m going to be able to put down exactly $3000 on a 2009 silver Nissan Versa that has about 110,000 miles on it.

 

 

He’s a God of breakthrough. He’s a God of fulfillment. He finishes what He starts.