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When the Lord Directs

You may be wondering how I got here. How did it get to this point? How is a girl who 9 months ago was turning down any and all dating requests now ENGAGED? Sometimes I sit and wonder the same thing to be honest. Let me explain…

I always wanted to be married growing up. Always. If I had it my way, I would have been married right out of high school and would have had a house full of kids by the time I was 30. But the Lord had other plans. And at times I really struggled with that. I’ve always struggled with contentment and I wanted to be content in Christ but I also wanted to be married!

Fast forward to 2018. My health was finally doing a little better. I was on meds for the seizures and starting to do better. It was in that year that I suddenly realized my desire for marriage had left. That is the simplest way to put it. I don’t know whether it was hormone stuff from the medication, emotional issues, or simply a blessing from the Lord for that season but I had absolutely no desire to be married. I felt a peace I had never felt before. I was able to whole-heartedly rejoice with my friends who were getting into relationships because I felt no envy or jealousy! For the first time in my life, I truly felt content with singleness, even as I thought way into the future if that was what the Lord had for me.

I kept those thoughts mostly to myself. The church has a pretty high standard for girls. Most people think you are crazy if you aren’t actively looking for a husband. There were a few trusted friends, mentors, and family members that I told. Wouldn’t you know that from 2018-2020 I got asked out by more men than I ever have before? Every single time I would pray about it and every single time my answer was the same. I gently but confidently explained where the Lord had put my heart at the time and every single man understood. I’m still friends with all of them and I’m incredibly thankful for that.

On August 28, 2018 (do you know how much digging I had to do to find that date???), a man I didn’t know very well asked if I would like to go out with him. We had many mutual friends and we were both bloggers which was our connection. I prayed about it and declined but said I was always willing to have another friend. And we remained friends.

For almost two years, we enjoyed a robust friendship. A lot of our interests overlapped and he was easy to talk to. We both enjoyed talking about the Lord, what we were reading, praying for each other, movies we like, etc. While we had a lot in common, we had a lot of differences and liked to discuss both. Small stuff and big stuff. It was easy because I had made it clear that I was NOT interested and so that was out of the way.

In January of 2020, I started taking biblical counseling classes- a dream come true for me! One of the books on the reading list was Marriage Matters by Winston Smith. I thoroughly enjoyed that book. At the same time, it revealed heart issues that I wasn’t even aware of. I clearly remember one day reading the book and suddenly I started shaking all over and sobbing. I thought, “What in the world is wrong with me?? Why am I crying?!” I realized that the topic I was reading had been an issue of fear for me. I had such a strong fear about it that my body was reacting before my brain could even process the truth!

And suddenly it hit me. I’m afraid. I don’t want to get married because I’m afraid. This was new. I literally had no clue that was lying beneath the surface of my heart. (You ninny!) But with the realization came a strength. Not a quick fix to the fear but a knowledge that I’m a child of the One who calls out fear. The fear was still there but I knew it now and I could deal with it.

Suddenly, I wanted to be married. In the reading of one chapter of one book, my heart had changed.

I felt very different. No one could tell. I didn’t tell anyone for weeks because I was still praying, still processing. But I did do one thing. I started praying for God to bring a godly husband if that was his will.

A lot of people have asked me if I regret those two years where I said no to every date. I do not. Looking back, the Lord needed to work in my heart. He had weeds to pull and flowers to plant and I’m grateful for that. I’m also thankful for the contentment that I now know is possible in the Lord. Even after I felt like I could be married, I still felt content. It wasn’t like before where I had a subtle discontentment about singleness. I knew the Lord was enough either way.

As I was praying for a husband, one name continually popped into my head. You guessed it. Guy from 2018, Shawn. I kept pushing it out. Nope. We are good friends but I don’t want to marry him. No thanks, Lord. Too many differences between us.

One day in June of 2020 I got tired of the nagging name so I decided to make a mental list of qualities I would like to see in a husband. I know a lot of girls have these lists hanging around- I’m not one of them. So I sat in my prayer wardrobe making this list and like scales falling away I saw that Shawn hit all of them! What??? No! That’s not how this was supposed to work! Pretty sure the Lord heard my gasp that day.

I went to work feeling weird from this talk with Jesus. I decided I needed to do something about it. In case you don’t know, I’m a straightforward kind of person. You should know that before you read further. I messaged Shawn’s pastor. I had some questions about Shawn that were serious enough that I needed an outside opinion on. I knew and trusted his pastor and I knew his answer would be truthful and biblical. It was. And it was encouraging.

Next I messaged a mutual friend of ours and asked her opinion. She was also positive (okay, she’s been trying to set us up for years) and wanted to know WHY THE HECK I WAS ASKING.

And lastly, shaking all over and about to throw up, I sent a message to Shawn.

At this point, I don’t know what you are thinking. Am I a lunatic? Insane? Incredibly bold? Possibly all of those things but on June 19, 2020, I sent a text that was not like any text I had ever sent before. The conversation went like this:

Me: Hey can I ask you an insanely crazy question?

Shawn: YES

(I laughed despite myself because I knew he wasn’t expecting the question I was about to throw his way. He was used to my random questions, but not this one.)

Me: Okay, take it slowly. I had to think and pray about this a lot. Remember when we first met and you asked me out and I flatly declined? I had very specific reasons for that but what I didn’t know was that the Lord needed to work in my heart. There were a lot of weeds in there that I wasn’t even aware of and he has been good and faithful to remove them. It has hurt like crazy but I’m confident it has all been for my good. All that to say that if you are still interested, I would like to get to know you better. (Gosh that was hard and humbling and vulnerable and I didn’t like it at all!)

Yeah, I sent that last line too. I’ve always been completely open and honest with Shawn.

Shawn: Really??

I LAUGHED.

Shawn: That just made my day! Yes! Of course! I’ve been holding out and praying for you for two years.

What??? No. People don’t really do that, do they?? I was relieved and excited and at the same time I felt immediately calm. It was the weirdest thing. I actually had people question my excitement but I think they are confusing excitement with anxiety. And I didn’t feel anxious. I knew this person already. When we started dating, it felt like a seamless transition to me. People around me thought it was sudden and fast but it didn’t feel that way to us. We both felt sure and confident in pursuing Christ as we moved closer together. Suddenly I saw God’s hand everywhere in the past couple years.

I saw him as he had been working in Shawn’s heart and in my own to remove our sins and replace them with righteousness. I saw him preparing and preserving us for each other even though I was blind to it all. I saw that it had been the Lord that had driven our close friendship and I sat back in amazement.

How could I not have seen this sooner?? My best friend tried to tell me that my eyes lit up slightly while texting him and I told her, “Uh no. We are good friends. I just like talking to him. STOP making it something it’s not!” Do you think I’ve had to eat those words? Yeah.

And yet I’m truly just thankful. I’m thankful for those years of friendship. What a blessing! I would never, ever go back and have done it a different way. The Lord knew what he was doing and when he was doing it.

And so on October 20, 2020, my life changed for the better as I got to start calling someone my fiancé. Shawn asked if I would be his wife and I believe my exact response was, “Yes! Finally.”

The Lord has done great things for me. Holy is his Name.

(Someday I’ll be back on here to explain our dating story because that’s also a story. But I think this post has been long enough. Also, does this excuse my lack of posting over the last few months?? I hope so. 🙂 )

 
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Posted by on October 24, 2020 in contentment, marriage

 

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Raised to Walk a New Life

You know those people that come into work (or wherever) in the winter time and complain about how much they hate winter and can’t wait for warm weather but then as soon as summer is here they complain about how much they hate the heat? You know who I’m talking about? I’m not one of those people. I’m solely a summer complainer. A heat-hater. I freaking love winter and all my friends know it. So I jokingly say that I have a right to complain when summer comes around since I don’t play both ends. 🙂

In case you didn’t know, summer has finally come to Ohio. After weeks of rain, the heat and humidity have arrived. And while I haven’t particularly enjoyed the rain and have been praying especially for all our farmers, I HAVE been enjoying those 50 degree nights. That was pretty nice to have all the way through June. And I’ve also been enjoying my $20 electric bill as I push off putting in my AC until I can’t take it anymore.

Which was last night. Last night, I got home from work and my apartment was at 90 degrees with no air flow coming in. My neighbor and I agreed it was time and we helped each other get our AC units in. But after an hour, it was still at 86 and I was sweltering. If you haven’t seen this, I turn into a different person when I’m unbearably hot. Yeeeeaaahhh…need to work on that…

So I quickly texted a friend of mine in town who has a- guess what? Pool! And both my neighbor and I went swimming for a while. It was SO cool and refreshing! We stayed till the sun went down and I felt like a new human walking home.

As I thought about it this morning, a phrase is running through my head that I’ve missed since I moved to Ohio. When I was baptized in PA, my pastor said these words, “Baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Buried in the likeness of his death and raised to walk a new life.” I love that last sentence! It’s so symbolic as you are put under the water and come back up. But I haven’t heard it at any baptisms out here and I’m usually sitting waiting for it (and end up whispering it under my breath 🙂 ) It’s not like it’s a required thing to say, I just happen to like it.

Last night was a very simple but great reminder for me. As different as I felt getting out of that pool from when I got in is how different my life is in Christ! Believers are new creations! The old is gone, washed away! The new is here, being put on daily!

Thank you to my chlorine-smelling hair for the great reminder!

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2019 in encouragment

 

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Imperishable

This week I have walked through murky, dirty water. I have listened to the sound of it squish around my feet. I have seen its mud everywhere. This week I have also sat in ashes. I have coughed and wheezed. My eyes have burned from smoke. I have thrown away more things than I care to count.

It has been a long week, friends. Last Friday, we got a big thunderstorm and overnight, my town flooded. And along with it, my church. I’m not talking a little moisture here, I’m talking 6-8 inches of dark water through the entire basement. I was in shock. It was one storm! This hasn’t happened in the 6 years I’ve lived here. Needless to say, it was A. LOT. of clean up.

But as I watched the doors open on Saturday for volunteers to come help and I saw them stream in, I was reminded that the church is not the building. The church is God’s chosen children and we had a time of sweet fellowship cleaning that building where we worship our King.

Bright and early on Sunday morning (like 3:30am folks) I woke up to noise going on outside my bedroom door. I couldn’t figure out what it was so I flung open my door to find 6ft flames burning their way through my wall and just touching the ceiling. Do you know that feeling? Do you know what it’s like to wake up and find that scene right outside your bedroom? I’m sure some of you do. I was able to put the fire out with an extinguisher from the hallway and I realized that I must not have blown the candles that were on my bookshelf out before I went to bed. 😦

And as I literally sat in dust and ashes on Sunday morning, thinking of my childhood books that were ruined and gone forever, there was only one passage I could think of. It ran through my head over and over again.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:3-5

I have had the help of so many people this week that it would be impossible to list them all. My friends and church family jumped right in and surrounded me with love and practical help. I don’t know what I would have done without them.

But the thing I’m most thankful for is a salvation that is imperishable. One that isn’t kept on earth where things like floods and fires destroy. One that is kept safe for me. Praise the Lord for that.

 
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Posted by on May 24, 2019 in life

 

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In Case of Emergency

The other day I had to fill out an online questionnaire. (You have officially read the most boring opening sentence ever.) HAD is the crucial word in that sentence because it was a long, and in my opinion, meaningless, questionnaire but it was something that I really did have to do. I sincerely hope that the people who received it were able to get some sort of information from all the random questions they asked.

Anyway, one of the questions read something like, “In the event of a real emergency, how many people do you have in your life that you could count on to help you?”

Somehow my brain translated that question into “How many people would you call in the event of an emergency?” and I actually answered with 1. I thought of the time I needed to go to the ER and literally all I did was call my best friend, she came home from work to take me in, and contacted all my family. She handled everything. So in my mind I just thought, “Well, I’d call Natalie and go from there.”

I was about to click to the next question when I glanced over it again and realized my error. Oh! How many people could I count on?? That’s a totally different question! The options were 1, 2-5, 6-10, or 11+. Suddenly I knew my answer and at the same time how incredibly blessed I am.

I realized if I REALLY needed someone to help me, not only would my friends and family drop everything and come, but my church family would do the same thing. And the other churches in the area would respond too. How do I know? I’ve experienced it and I seen it over and over again. Suddenly 11+ seemed like waaaaayyy too small of a number for this question.

My guess is that the people reading the questionnaire can probably see how long I spend on each question and if I change my answers. They probably thought I was rigging my answer when it switched from the lowest number to the highest.

Nope. Just remembering the kind of community I have in Christ and what a blessing it is.

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2018 in blessing

 

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