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!!!!!

God Is Not Terence Fletcher

My heart has been tested recently with how deeply I really trust the Goodness of God.

Not just the sovereignty of God – the fact that He is in control of everything. But the Goodness found in that control. The fact that He is not an evil dictator; He doesn’t enjoy my pain and suffering; He does not delight in causing me hardship.

When circumstances get hard and I choose to believe that God is good in them, sometimes I start associating the negative circumstances with the goodness of God.

My heart subconsciously believes¬†“Yes, He is a good God. He just makes me suffer because He believes I’m strong enough and wants to help refine me. God in His goodness will keeping placing hardships on me. That’s how this relationship works.”¬†

I begin seeing him as that loving and so tough Olympic coach. Maybe even that professor from Whiplash, Terence Fletcher, but without the name-calling and especially without the vulgar language. (P.S. That movie was awesome but the language was horrendous.) I see God as the one who will push me to the breaking point to get me to be the best I can be.

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I’m missing something critical about the character of God here.

God’s heart is not for suffering. It is not for hardship. And it is certainly not for my pain.

Oh yes, there are times he permits hardships. He shapes all things together for good and uses the hardship to refine me. Absolutely.

But there is an even more prominent characteristic of God.

His desire to give me good things. 

“Fear not, little flock. For it is your Father’s great pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” – Luke 12:32

When I reject this belief in the sovereign goodness of God, it changes how I interact with situations in my life.

It makes it almost impossible to confidently walk into good. 

There have been good things that God has placed in front of me, and yet I start picking them a part, trying to predict the flaws and figure out how they are going to spontaneously combust in front of me.

“They can’t be¬†this¬†good” I think to myself.

So I find all the little flaws. And my heart retreats back into itself. I hold out the flaws before God and say “See? See this is why it isn’t the fulfillment. This is why it isn’t good. I know what You’ll do. You’re going to ask me to give it up. That’s what you always do, God. You ask me to give it up. But see? I know the flaws. I know why it wouldn’t work. So when You ask me to give it up, it’s fine! It won’t hurt because I never fully believed it could happen anyways.”

Oh. Little. Flock. 

He sighs at me.

Believe in my goodness”¬†He whispers.¬†

If I don’t believe the simple Truth that God longs to give me good gifts, that He longs to bring the fulfillment, He longs to answer promises, I will never walk into the fullness of them and thus, I will never truly receive them.¬†

How can I receive Good when I am consistently believing God is going to take it away?

I can’t protect myself from the One who just wants to give me Good.

He is better than I believe He is.

He wants to give me better than I think He does.

Sometimes you must risk to believe something is completely Good. Not only partially Good.

Sometimes you must accept the thing at face value, and not pick it a part to try to figure out the one way it must be bad.

Eagerly anticipate the Good, friends.

Not the hardship.  

Why I’ve Stopped Guarding My Heart

There’s something on the tip of my tongue.

I don’t know what it is but it’s burning in me. I think it could be the thing causing the migraine right now.

I can barely sit still as I think about what I want to say but don’t have language for yet. So here’s to hoping that somehow, as I write this, my words with transform into what has actually been wrestling inside my heart for days.

I wasn’t made for the waiting room.¬†

For my whole life, as I’ve grown and walked with Jesus, one of the things I’ve been trained in is how to guard my heart. Guard your heart, Courtney. Guard your heart. Guard your heart.

What does this mean?

In my mind it’s meant protect yourself. Keep yourself safe. Don’t give your heart away.

Hear me out РThere is validity to this. 

We aren’t called to flippantly throw our hearts towards passions and people that are not from God. Especially when it is the wrong time and they are the wrong things.

But what happens when they are the right things?

What happens when Love begins to beg you to let your heart lead?

I’ve realized lately how risky Love is. And as a woman who struggles with wanting to maintain control over her life, I fear the totality of allowing Love to lead. Who might I be if I wholly surrender to It? What kind of decisions might I make if I let Love lead me instead of my own logic and reasoning?¬†

This is a terrifying reality to me.

Can’t I trust Love? Can’t I allow It to lead me into the good and pleasing will of God? God who is Love?

I still want control. And I realize it’s because I don’t completely trust my own heart. It has led me astray in moments before. It has been persuaded by beautiful words and empty promises and manipulated by false romance. How, then, can I allow Love… Love that is a matter of the heart and not the mind… to lead me?¬†

I can’t reason out falling in Love with Jesus. I can’t lay out enough evidence for why I should fall in Love with the Most Holy. I love Him, surely. But have I risked allowing that Love to consume me? To surrender my control and fall hopelessly into Love with Jesus?

When I fall in Love, there won’t be a logical reason for why I follow. I won’t be able to soundly prove why I will follow Him wherever He urges my heart to go. I won’t be able to argue my point for why I will obey His calling no matter what. My heart will be controlled by Love and nothing else. I will have lost control.

But He’s worth my whole heart.

He’s worth the surrender.

He can be trusted to lead and guide me into good and pleasing things.

My heart can be found completely safe within His calling.

Sometimes it feels safer to stay in the waiting room. 

We get into a comfortable place of waiting on a promise – interceding for the breakthrough. We know that we’re kept safe in the waiting room and at the right moment, the promise will come. So we gather in words and visions and promises for what might be on the other side of the waiting room. We develop expectancy. We foster unbreakable hope in the waiting room.

This is all well and good. It’s what we’re supposed to do in that season.

But how will we respond when Love calls our name? 

When He begs us out of the waiting room and into the promise? 

We must risk to believe.

We must risk to let Love lead.

We must risk to follow His calling – that He will keep us safe.

Sometimes, we are no longer called to guard our own hearts. Sometimes, when Love calls, He promises to be the One that guards our hearts instead. Sometimes, we’re supposed to open it up to whole-heartedly believing the fulfillment has arrived.

At the right time,¬†we’re called to step out of the boat. And to maintain focus on the One who called us out of what felt so safe and comfortable. And into the risk.

The Story of A Hopeless Heart

Hope is one of the most risky things we’re asked to hold on to as Christians.¬†

That might sound like a bold statement.

But hope is often met by pain and disappointment and it is one of the biggest risk we are asked to consistently take.

So why hope? Why is the Bible filled with both faith and hope; two necessary factors in walking with Jesus? Why must we choose hope time and time again?

My heart has been sick since January. Somewhere in the process, I let go of hope. I stopped believing for the best. I numbed myself to dreaming.

The pain that came from having expectations and hoping only to see them shattered or unmet was too much. And so I retreated back to my own personal limits; my own well-kept yard of not-risking. And my heart began to wither. I let go of dreams, desires, expectations… and the vibrant life in my heart began to dull. I couldn’t feel God. I couldn’t hear Him clearly. I felt abandon, dry… like I would die of hunger for Him. I ¬†became cynical. Practical. I hated love. Didn’t believe in it.

I was physically ill most weekends from February – March; my heart often anxious and unrest in the midst of this.

Hope was too risky. And keeping my heart safe within its walls was surely the way to keep it unharmed. Right?

But God.

God, concerned for the health of my heart, pressed on it, ever-so consistently. I felt everything I didn’t want to feel as He begged my heart to hope again.

Cynical.

I filled my world with busy-ness and activities. I ran myself weak.

He continued to press.

“Why love? Why hope for the impossible best? Why hold on to dreams that are so far out of reach?” my heart fought back to Him.

But God.

Around three weeks ago, He found me at my breaking point, weary, anxious, desperate. And He crawled into the narrow gaps I had left open for Him.

He breathed, “Faith sees, and hope FEELS. And my precious one, when you choose to not hope, you choose to not feel. When you choose to not hope that there is the best in store for you, your heart becomes sick. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, my love. Choose hope. Believe the best. Believe I’m that good.”¬†

And I gasped for air. Alive. My heart began pumping again.

Undone by my sudden light-ness, I became aware of the necessity of hope.

Regardless of the circumstances, regardless of how many times I had been disappointed, regardless of the impossibilities that stood before me or the lack of visible breakthrough, I had to decide to choose hope. 

Hope was better than the outcome. Hope was the thing keeping my heart alive.

So, friends, while hope seems risky, don’t cut it off because you don’t see the¬†breakthrough in the timing you imagined.

God is a God of “And suddenly.” In moments, He changes the course of events. In minutes, He brings the fulfillment. In seconds, He arrives in a better way than you ever thought possible.

Saul became Paul in an instant.

Lazarus was raised from the dead in a single moment.

It only took 3 DAYS for the sins of EVERYONE IN THE WORLD (past, present and future) to be paid for for eternity! 3 Days! 3 Days is not a long time, friends. In 3 days, Jesus was crucified and rose again and EVERYTHING CHANGED. 3 Days!

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Hope paves the way for your breakthrough. You must develop a lifestyle of unbreakable hope in your life. 

Hope that is not swayed by situations or circumstances. But hope that is founded on the truth and goodness of The Most Holy One.

Follow the calling of His voice. Risk when He says risk. Dream when He says dream. Hope when He says hope. It will never be in vain. And you will never be unprotected from His grace.