Her Story: The Perpetual Blessing

Like all the other stories I love to tell, this is [Part 3 of] a story of redemption, fulfilled hope, and an amazing God, who knows and hears His people.

The Aftermath

We’ve been engaged for a month and a half now. We say I do in 5 months and 7 days (according to the Wedding Party App) or 161 days (according to The Knot app) on October 14th, 2016 at 5:30 pm. We’re neck deep into wedding planning AND future planning (aka buying a house, the bain of our existence).

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We have an amazingly magical venue that my perfect soon-to-be mother-in-law found for us that looks exactly like something she found on my Pinterest that I pinned YEARS ago (free blessing). We have a DJ (free blessing). We have cakes (majorly discounted blessing). I said yes to a perfect fairytale dress (partially paid for blessing)! We have a caterer and florist (who is giving us way more for what we are paying than she probably should). A wax seal has been acquired. We have a wedding website. An adorable custom Harry Potter themed cake topper from Etsy has been ordered. We completed a marriage enrichment class. We have a photographer. We’re reading marriage books. A return address stamp for stamping invitations has been ordered. Our honeymoon travel and lodging are booked. (We’re going to New England IN THE PEAK OF AUTUMN! Flying into Providence, Rhode Island, staying in Cape Cod in Davenport, Massachusetts and visiting lots of amazing stuff like Martha’s Vineyard.We scored a major Southwest cheap flight deal and are using a family timeshare for another MAJOR discount.) Engagement pictures are happening soon. We’ll be starting more in depth marriage counseling soon. There are bridesmaids, groomsmen, a proxy, a director, ministers, and a parade of kids ready to help us celebrate our day. Showers are being planned. Tuxes are being ordered. Gifts are being purchased. Registries are being completed (Target, Belk, and JCPenney down, Bed Bath and Beyond still to be completed. Also, no one ever mentioned how EXHAUSTING registering is.). Money is being saved out the wazoo; we’re paying for everything ourselves and God is giving us supernatural abilities to save like never before and blessing us like crazy through other people. AND MORE PLANS AND THINGS AND TO DO LISTS GALORE!

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It’s busy, amazing, hectic, beautiful, overwhelming, humbling, financially straining and requires major trust that the Lord will provide, warm and fuzzy, and a little stressful at times.

BUT here are the things I know:

1. I love William Allen Twiner III and am called to love him forever. When I wrote that blog post that I didn’t know was for him, I said this:

I say a lot of things, I make a lot of lists, I think and overthink almost everything, I have a lot of ideas, but here’s what really matters more than anything else – I need you to love Jesus more than you will ever love me. God is love. And I don’t want any sort of version of love that exists without God. We need the Holy Spirit in our corner fighting our battles, keeping us holy, interceding for us, and doing the changing of our insides (hearts, brains, souls, habits, etc) – work that we can’t do ourselves. Jesus has to be the center – the everything. You can’t lead and love me like Christ loves the Church and I can’t submit to your leadership and love without Jesus. We can’t forgive 70 times seven without remembering the depths of our wretchedness that Jesus died to forgive and redeem. I am certain that it will be impossible for you to love me forever without the Holy Spirit on your team (and vice versa, we’re flawed humans!). Marriage is a picture of the Gospel, and we simply can’t do it without being wrecked every day in all of our moments by the power of the Gospel. Love Jesus and let’s always push each other to Him. ALWAYS.” 

 I love his beard, his smile, his squinty eyes, his face, his heart, his soul, and his laugh. I love how he loves me. I love that he believes in me and see the best in me. I love that he wants me to finish my seminary degree. I love how he loves his family. I love how he knows scripture more than I do. I love that he’s ridiculous and pretentious, but would do anything for anyone. I love that he’s a protector and a provider. I think he’s handsome and hot. I love how he loves the Church. I love that he’s a closet nerd and loves reading and knowing things. I love that he wants me to write a book AND wants us to write a book together (WHAT?! who is this man??). But more than any of that, I love that in every way possible he meets every one of the requirements I wrote about before I knew they were about him. He loves Jesus more than he loves me and he knows we can’t do this thing called marriage without the Holy Spirit.

2. I’m a bride. At the end of every day, at the end of any given moment, no matter how stressful or hard or overwhelming it has been. I AM A BRIDE. I am secure. I am loved. I am chosen. When I look back at our proposal pictures, I don’t see the things I see when I normally look at pictures of myself. I don’t see double chins, arm fat, eyes that are too squinty, teeth that aren’t white enough, or a stomach that’s too squishy. I see a girl who is beaming and knows she is loved. I see a blushing bride.

And then it hits me. EVERY. TIME… I was already a bride! YOU were/are already a bride. WE are the bride of Christ. Oh to see ourselves the way Jesus sees us. Oh to be able to go to that place, the place of knowing that no matter what, at the end of the day we are secure, loved, and chosen. Oh to radiantly beam and bask in the love of our Savior and to see that glow vs all of our flaws when we look at ourselves.

3. Marriage and the road to marriage are meant to be a picture of the Gospel! Just as William’s love and my status as his bride push me to understand God’s love deeper, so it is, or should be, with marriage. As all the decent marriage books say, the purpose of marriage isn’t to make us happy, it’s to make us holy. It is not to fulfill our happily ever after dreams. I do think I will live happily ever after with Mr. Twiner in the “in good times and in bad” sort of way. But I also know already just from being his fiance, that this road is going to continuously refine us and make us more holy.

I am NOT an expert on all things wedding or love or marriage expert (I’ve been married negative years!). But I know that this marriage, as with all of the other things God calls His children to, is meant to be used for His glory. I believe and KNOW with all of my heart and William and I are stronger together than we were apart. I believe that God is going to use us more in ministry together than he did separately (which if you know us, is saying a lot! Neither of us shied away from ministry because were single). I know that just like the Gospel, it’s going to be hard and beautiful all at the same time, but sanctifying and refining if we let it! In every way possible, in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, it will be a perpetual blessing. For blessings aren’t just the good things! And our definition of good isn’t God’s. Being blessed is to be aware of God’s presence and goodness in all of it, the beautiful and hard parts. 

To my married friends: don’t give up! I believe that God can and wants to use your marriage to refine you and make you holy. He wants to use it to demonstrate and declare the Gospel to the world. He can make all things new. He doesn’t waste anything. He can redeem and restore. You are blessed!

To my single friends: don’t give up! I pray for you more now than I ever have before. If you want to be married, it’s okay to want that! I think it’s okay to pray for it. I think it’s okay if for a season praying for it hurts and you can’t for a little while. Hope against hope that God will give it to you, but trust and believe that IF he doesn’t, HE IS STILL GOOD. Know that your life is abundant and useful exactly as is. But also, give people chances! Everyone deserves a first date. Don’t settle! If you are looking for the perfect person, you’re going to be looking forever. Go with your instincts, but not your fears. Risk is worth it sometimes. Sometimes it’s not though. The Holy Spirit is capable and willing of guiding you, invite Him to do so, let Him. Don’t be frivolous with your purity because you think you’ll be single forever. And if you have been, restored purity is possible. Marriage isn’t the end game. It’s a calling. And when God calls you to it and you get to fall in love with the person you’re called to forever with, IT. IS. WORTH. IT. It’s worth all the waiting. It’s worth all the heart ache. It’s worth the agony. You are whole and worthy just as you are. You are blessed!

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Part 1: The Prequel

Part 2: The Proposal

Her Story: The Proposal

Like all the other stories I love to tell, this is [Part 2 of] a story of redemption, fulfilled hope, and an amazing God, who knows and hears His people.

The Best Day Ever

On Saturday, March 19th, 2016 around 1 pm, William Allen Twiner III asked me to be his wife, and I said yes!

I knew he was going to ask me to marry him at some point, he knew I was going to say yes, we knew we were being called to marriage, but I didn’t know when or how.

He perfectly deceived me into thinking it wasn’t happening when it happened. (Deception is acceptable when it comes to proposals and surprise parties!). I thought there was a youth event at his church that he was speaking at. I thought we were going to the sanctuary early for him to practice his message before the event. I knew something was up when we got to the church, and he wouldn’t let me bring my purse or Chick-Fil-A sweet tea with me.

I told him several weeks before that I needed a new small Bible to carry in my purse, and he previously told me he had one I could use but kept forgetting to give it to me. He told me he brought the Bible, and it was down front if I wanted to go and get it. Confused, I awkwardly and nervously walked towards the front where I saw flowers and a Bible. As I got closer, I saw that the Bible was engraved with the beautiful inscription “Mrs. Kasia Twiner.”

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I believe my exact eloquent words were, “STOP IT!” Tears filled my eyes and I turned around to find him. He was, of course, down on one knee. Tears streamed down my face as I took everything in and I could barely catch my breath.

He was crying now too and holding a book. The book was Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (we’re nerds, okay?!) and part of it was cut out to reveal the chapter title, “The Unbreakable Vow.” A ribbon was attached, and the most beautiful ring I have ever seen was tied to it.

He said the four words I’ve dreamed of hearing my whole life, “Will you marry me?” I sobbed more, hugged him, and said YES (of course).

Both of our hands were shaking from nerves and excitement which made getting the ring off the ribbon a humorous event. I gawked at the ring for a bit, crying more and more. He took me to the alter and we prayed together which of course resulted in lots more tears.

Then he told me that there were people, lots of people, who knew, who were there, who were waiting to celebrate with us. TEARS!

I started going through the list of special people asking one by one if they were there. My best friend who lives in Georgia now? Yep. TEARS. My best friend who was eight months pregnant and lived in Texas? Yep. TEARS. My aunt and cousin? Yep. TEARS. All of my Arise church family that I had just seen that morning at a birthday party? Yep. TEARS.

He finally interrupted me and said, “everyone, they are all here, waiting to see us!” I sobbed a little more, stopped in every bathroom on my way to the fellowship hall from the sanctuary, which was at least three, to clean up my face only to cry more.

All face cleaning was in vain because I basically just cried for the next hour. It was so overwhelming and beautiful to see a room full of people supportively celebrating a day that I never thought would come, but one so many of them prayed for and believed would come even when I didn’t.

We were showered with love and support and hugs and happiness. A family that means the world to me gave us way more money than they should towards our wedding. My best friend’s mom and dad gave me pearl earrings and told me when each of her daughters got engaged she gave them earrings, and now it was my turn. My best friend’s grandmother sent a crystal bell, a family heirloom, as a gift. There were gift cards, books,  kind word after kind word, and happy tears shed for and with us.

His amazing mom, wonderful sister, and fantastic brother-in-law made the most delicious food and most beautiful decorations (and have bestowed blessing upon blessing on us through this whole journey!). They sacrificed their time and effort to make the perfect day happen. And MY groom… He planned the most magical, memorable day, said the most perfect words, picked out and designed the most breathtakingly beautiful ring, and made me feel more loved than I’ve ever felt. It was truly the best day of my life to date, and I will cherish it for the rest of my life!

 

Part 1: The Prequel

Part 3: The Perpetual Blessing

Her Story: The Prequel

Like all the other stories I love to tell, this is [Part 1 of] a story of redemption, fulfilled hope, and an amazing God, who knows and hears His people.

The Prequel

On January 12th, 2016 I wrote a post about/to my future husband (you can read all of it here).

I said these words:

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know where you are. I don’t know if you’re near (in proximity and timing) or far. If I’m honest, some days I don’t even know if you exist.”

It turns out he did indeed exist, that I did, in fact, know him, that he was 22-25 miles away in proximity, and that he was way closer than I ever could have imagined in timing. On January 14th, 2016 (two days later, what?!) I started falling in love with my future husband.

If you read my last blog post, you know a little about William: we met in college, he was one of the 35 guys I had a crush on at MC, he thought I was weird, I thought he was snobby. We didn’t stay in touch, but his wonderful sister and I (former camp friends) stayed friends on Facebook.

 

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circa 2006 at a college formal

 

For at least a year, Emily (my amazing soon-to-be sister-in-law) kept telling William to read my blog. She thought/knew that he would like me, my words, and my heart. Everytime Emily would mention it, William remembered the college version of me – bright, colorful, determined to show the world she was different and unique through her fashion choices. In a word, I was weird, PROUD to be so, but weird and hadn’t quite realized yet that my weirdness could be expressed through my personality and not through my wardrobe. My mantra was that if I dressed “normal” and trendy, then I was a sellout and not true to myself (silly!). According to William and Emily, the conversations went something like this.

Emily: Did you read Kasia’s new blog post? I really think you’d like her! I think you’re going to marry her.

William: Rainbow Brite?? The girl that wore wristbands and pigtails? That’s weird Emily.

Emily: From what I can see on Facebook, she dresses pretty normal now. And that doesn’t matter anyway! The heart is what matters and I really think you’d like her heart.

In December, I wrote the Christmas Pep-Talk post. Emily delivered a final plea to get William to listen to her. She told him she’d never mention it again, but asked him just to read it. He did and realized she was at the very least on to something about him liking my heart. He added me on Facebook, we did the normal catching up thing, then stopped talking.

Meanwhile, I was visiting my best friend and her family for Christmas. We were sitting at the kitchen table playing Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit.

Me: William Twiner just added me on Facebook??

Micki: Is he single?!

Me: I don’t know. He was one of the 35 crushes though and he likes Harry Potter.

We’ve been having conversations like this for 13 years. Nothing out of the ordinary. We went right back to being impressed with our Harry Potter knowledge and drinking our wine. But I did decide at that moment that I’d pray about him later.

2015 was a year of learning to hope against hope that God was going to give me a husband IF He wanted to (I had given up on that many times before), and IF NOT, He was going to continue to be GOOD in my life and give me an abundantly full life with or without a husband. I felt many things prior to that year in regards to a future husband, entitled and hopeless being the reoccurring themes. But 2015 was a year of being driven to consistent prayer for the first time about this area of life. I kept finding out over and over again that other people in my life regularly prayed for MY future husband, and that one existed. I didn’t even pray those prayers for myself. Here and there sure, but with no sort of consistency.

When a girl that I barely knew for a few months over ten years ago told me that for TWO years she had been praying for me, it pushed me to pray those prayers for myself consistently for the first time in my life. I made a habit out of praying about and for any single guy who was in my life or crossed my path in a significant way. My prayer was always the same, “I love my life! It is abundant and full and beautiful. If this guy, or any, could be someone who would bring me closer to you and not further away, work out the details. If I could be better used in ministry and for Your glory with him than without, work it out. If not, let me forget about him.”

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:13

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” 1 John 5:14

When William and I had a short fleeting conversation on Facebook, I prayed that prayer about him a few times, then moved on. Meanwhile…

Emily: Have you talked to her again? Did you read her future husband post? I think it’s about you.

William: What am I supposed to say? ‘My sister thinks I should marry you. Want to hang out?’ That’s weird Emily.

And then Alan Rickman (Professor Snape on Harry Potter) died. Within minutes, we each posted similarly sentimental things about being sad about his death. I messaged him on Facebook and told him I had been in my office sobbing for an hour about Alan Rickman and how watching Harry Potter would never be the same. That lead to nerdy conversations about what houses we were in and how at some point everyone thought or hoped they’d be Gryffindor, but most of us weren’t (I’m a Hufflepuff, he’s a Slytherin ). That perfectly lead to us talking about the Gospel and sin and really deep and beautiful things about Jesus and His love and redemption in our lives. (And we pretty much haven’t stopped talking since that moment.)

The next day, after literally talking non-stop for 24 hours with a short break to sleep, he asked me out on our first date. It was perfect. It was different. I tried to be calm and pretend that what was happening wasn’t happening even  literally saying to my roommates and friends who were joking about us getting married the day after our first date, “I CAN NOT start a new job, get a new car, and get married in the same year!” Well, I was wrong.

I knew I might marry him on our first date.

I knew I could probably marry him on our second date after we both shared our stories, the good, bad, ugly, beautiful, and redeemed parts.

I knew I was supposed to marry him the morning after our second date when before 8 am God’s response to my late night and early morning prayers for direction was the most beautiful sunrise I’d ever seen, a perfect and beautiful rainbow as a reminder of His promises, and hearing the lyrics to a worship song that had previously only made me think about MY story, but was very clearly speaking to my heart about HIS story:

“My [his] past embraced. My [his] sin forgiven. I’m [he’s] blameless in Your sight. My [his] history rewritten. You delight in showing mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. Oh Love, great Love. Fear cannot be found in You. There will never be a day You’re uncertain of the ones You chose.”

I knew at that moment that if God chose to give me this man, if he was calling me to him, that despite the mess in both of our redeemed pasts, our future would be breathtakingly more beautiful than I could ever imagine.

I knew I wanted to marry him when he told me I was the epitome of Molly Weasley, when he held my hand for the first time, when he told me he loved me, when he noticed my favorite freckle on my lip and so many other little quirky things about me, when he prayed for me before I told him about hard stuff from my past, when he prayed for us when we had our first disagreement, when I saw him teach God’s word, when I saw over and over the passion he has for Jesus and His word and ministry, when I really saw the way he looked at me, when I realized my prayers and hopes for a man who could lead me spiritually were being met in him, when I saw him serve his branch of the body of Christ so beautifully, when I saw how much he loved his niece, sister, mom, grandparents, etc., and a million other times.

I knew I was going to marry him because of all the moments that didn’t even actually involve him. Moments between a Heavenly Father and a terrified girl when overwhelming peace that surpasses all understanding was delivered over and over again in abundance. This peace was something that I couldn’t have mustered up on my own. Have you met me? I’m probably one of the least calm and most easily frazzled people you have ever met (just change something I have planned out to see for yourself). Every big and baby step along the way was filled with supernatural peace and affirmation.

I knew he wanted to marry me when we had the “are we on the same page” talk not too far into dating.

We knew.

I admittedly wanted to roll my eyes more than once when other married couples said those words in my previous years of life. “We just knew.” “When you know, you know.

It’s a different kind of knowing than I imagined, but for us it was true. I expected the “knowing” to feel like magic (I think we can blame movies for that). This love for sure is full of magical feelings, butterflies, and sparkles, but more than anything else it just feels like home. It feels normal. It feels like forever. But this kind of knowing isn’t based on a feeling for me. It’s a know I felt deep inside my soul. It was a knowing that came with the aforementioned supernatural peace that only the Creator of love can deliver. I knew it as sure as I knew God called me to Himself, saved me, and would love and pursue me forever. It felt like a calling just as much as being called to ministry or a job or to move or to do anything else I had previously done in life that the Lord called me to.

When we had that conversation and realized we both knew, that we both wanted to spend forever together, and that we wanted to be obedient to the calling to sacrificially love each other and be covenant committed to one another for eternity, more peace and affirmation continued to be delivered! We were scared. Scared of ourselves, scared of enemy attacks, and scared of what other people would think. But the good thing about allowing God to lead you to the person He has for you is that He is more than able to squash every fear. William told me that he adamantly believed we should get married on my favorite day (all the heart eyes and tears!). We considered our fears and our “knowing” and decided if the only reason we wanted to wait until 2017 was because of what other people would think, it wasn’t a good enough reason! God continued to give us abundant peace about 2016 and affirm that decision in beautiful ways and through the support of family and friends.

To be continued…

 

Part 2: The Proposal 

Part 3: The Perpetual Blessing

Mondays and Meet-Cutes

Mondays

Mondays get a bad rep. I think they deserve it sometimes, but I also think they deserve redeemable chances and for us to not hate them.

Last Monday, I really wanted to be mad at Monday because 1. It was Monday. 2. I was sleepy. 3. It was rainy (which made me sleepier). 4. My hair looked a lot better in my morning pre-coffee sleepiness than it actually did once I got to work and saw it after a cup (or two) of coffee. 5. I didn’t like the breakfast I brought that I just so happened to make FIVE of for the whole week.

I could have stayed there, and I kind of wanted to stay there, but I decided not to. I was reminded that Mondays also bring new mercies – new opportunities to be a good friend, new chances to see the people you encounter every day as souls and not just passersby, new moments to allow the Holy Spirit to use your life as a vessel to demonstrate and declare the Gospel, more shots to encourage the people in your life.

Instead of wallowing in my Monday woes, I prayed for people specifically and by name and told them I did so, hoping to encourage their Mondays. I decided to be open to conversations, interruptions, and interactions. I still wanted a nap, but instead of focusing on the terribleness of the dreaded MONDAY, I found myself only being able to think of the many reasons I have to love my life and my Jesus more despite Mondays, rain, sleepiness, bad hair, and gross breakfast.

This Monday I wanted to wake up REALLY early to go to the grocery store and have Jesus time. I turned off my first two alarms instead of snoozing them and didn’t wake up for grocery store time. I had time for Jesus time which was great, but then I got stressed out about completely silly things that seemed surface at first. When I couldn’t shake them, I dug a little and realized the roots were much deeper and weren’t about the silly surface things at all and actually about some major unbelief issues. I sobbed in my car and then panicked some more. As I walked across campus to acquire the breakfast that I didn’t get at the grocery store, I prayed out loud and hoped no fellow sidewalk walkers would think I was crazy for talking to myself.

I’ll leave out some of the details because I don’t need to share EVERYTHING with you, but my prayers went something like this:

God, please forgive my inability to believe that you are good, gracious, glorious, and great. Help me believe that you ARE good, gracious, glorious, and great in ALL of my life, but right now specifically in all of THIS. 

Remind me that you are good and for our good and that we don’t have to look elsewhere for goodness because it’s all found in you. Remind me that you desire to give us good gifts and want to continue to give us good gifts. Help me trust that goodness is okay and that bad things aren’t always right around every corner and destined to happen. And when bad things do happen, help me remember that your goodness isn’t diminished.

Remind me that you are gracious and that I don’t have to prove myself! This is what I’m struggling with the most today. Remind me and show me that you are gracious and you freely give me grace that I don’t deserve – that I can’t earn your grace or your gracious gifts. Remind me that you have the authority and desire to lavish gracious gifts on us. I don’t deserve it, but I’ve been chosen by you.

Remind me that you are glorious and that I don’t have to fear others. You created us for YOUR glory, not ours. You bless us to bless others for YOUR glory. 

Remind me that you are great and that I don’t have to be in control! Remind me over and over that control IS NOT mine. YOU and you alone are GREAT and in control. Calm the panic and anxiety I feel when I recognize that I’m not in control. I’m not in control of the future, and that’s okay. Let me not go to the worst and bad places and think the worst things will happen, but let me rest and know that I am not in control. You are. And you love me.

Holy Spirit, intercede for me with the words I don’t even know to say. Fight for me. Thank you for these gifts! Forgive me of my unbelief and help me believe.

Monday didn’t miraculously get less “Monday” because I prayed and trusted God with my unbelief. In fact, when I went to the cafeteria a few hours later, I was the Monday-est kind of clumsy. Does anyone else feel clumsier on Mondays?! First, I dropped grape tomatoes from the salad bar on the floor. Next, my to-go box came open and spilled half of the beautiful salad with sticky, wet dressing all over the floor and I had to squat down and clean it all up while wearing a skirt. Then, I literally got hit in the face with the door because I didn’t know it would swing closed so fast. Next, I spilled my drink multiple times on the sidewalk and myself as I walked. Lastly, my to-go box carrying arm got tired so I tried to maneuver a switch between to-go box holding hand and drink holding hand and the box started to flip and fall to the ground and I caught it, spilling more of my drink. BUT, because I got another fresh dose of new mercies and felt the peace of God wrap its arms around me like a secure hug earlier, I just laughed.

I think it’s okay if Mondays (or Wednesdays or Saturdays) are bad days. But I also think it’s okay and a good if we don’t let bad starts or moments turn into bad days or weeks or months or seasons. I think it’s okay and good to fight with everything we have for redeemed Mondays and moments. I think it’s okay and good to ask God and the Holy Spirit to fight the fights we don’t know how to fight and give us new mercies and fresh doses of peace and hearts that belief. And I think it’s okay and good to laugh at the ridiculous moments instead of claiming them as a bad day moment. Mondays deserve second chances and attitudes of gratitude too. And today on this Monday, one of the things I am feeling the most gratitude for is actually a someone I haven’t told you (blog world) about yet.

Meet-Cutes

So… I met a boy! Well, I remet him actually. His name is William and we went to college together and have known of each other for 13-ish years. He thought I was a little weird in college (and let’s be honest, I was and wore wristbands as bracelets and had a different color hair every other week and dressed up in character for a Harry Potter movie premiere we both went to once). I thought he was a little snobby (even though he was one of the 35 college crushes). Needless to say, we didn’t stay in touch, but his sister and I kept up with each other via social media posts. She had apparently been strongly suggesting that he might like me if he read my blog posts and got to know me. He decided to take a chance on the weird girl from college, and because I vowed to do brave things this year, I welcomed it. We started reconnecting, catching up, and getting to know each other. We talked about Jesus, the Gospel, sin, rebellion, and how our stories had been redeemed A LOT. (We also talked about Harry Potter, which as you can assume, I loved.) He read every single one of my 31 People(s) posts + some (what?!).

He realized his sister was right (as a sister to a brother I would just like to add that SISTERS ARE USUALLY RIGHT, listen to them), and asked me out. It’s been a beautiful and fun whirlwind of a surprise! In August, my word for the month was anticipation. I declared in this Instagram post that I was anticipating all the things of the season I love, the end of summer, and a meet-cute. For those of you who think I made up that word, it is defined as “a scene, typically in film or television, in which a future romantic couple meets for the first time in a way that is considered adorable, entertaining, or amusing.” When I was anticipating that said meet-cute, William was nowhere on my radar! He was and is completely unexpected, but I’m overwhelmingly thankful for him every day. He’s funny, wise, quirky, a closet nerd, intentional, confident, bearded, a giver of the best hugs, notices and likes all of my quirks, encouraging, and loves Jesus in a way that inspires me and pushes me to Jesus over and over again.

I’m certain you’ll be hearing lots more about him soon, but today I just want you to know that he exists and is pretty fantastic. This morning when I had my sobbing freaking out panic moment that I confessed to him, these were the things he said to me:

“Who can add a single day of to their life with worry? 

Look at the lilies of the field, even Solomon in all his splendor was not adorned as the lilies were. If God provides for them, the grass of the field that is here today and gone tomorrow, how much more will He provide for us his children?

What father would give his child a snake that asked for a fish? Does not our Heavenly Father want to give good gifts to his children? 

In all things, pray without ceasing. 

I pray the Lord calms your heart and allows you to trust in his providence.” 

And that is all I need to tell you about him today! He loves Jesus and makes me want to love Jesus more. If you’ve been around here anytime, you know that I’ve questioned whether or not I’d be single forever and confessed that I hate dating and that it scares me. Here’s what I know now because of the gift that William is to my life:

None of us are promised that we won’t be single forever, BUT I 100% believe that it is 100% okay for you to be single and want to not be single. I don’t think it’s okay to think your life isn’t or won’t be good if you’re single forever or to feel entitled to not being single, but I think you should continue to fervently bring those prayers and desires to our good, good Father.

The right kind of dating that is the God-honoring, fighting for purity and holiness kind of dating is not scary. It is good and able to bring you closer to God and not further away from Him and stir your affections more for the Creator of the Universe who redeemed your story and another person’s story that is now in your life.

All relationships are messy and refining, but refinement is GOOD.

It really is worth the agonizing hurt and wait and heartache to get to experience the kind of dating that is free of guilt and shame. It really is.

Enjoy your Mondays, give them second chances. Ask for and receive new mercies and fresh doses of peace. Pray for your meet-cutes. Pray for your single friends. Pray for your married friends. Pray for your engaged friends. Pray for your friends in dating relationships. To do so is part of loving them well! All of those things and stages of life are difficult and beautiful for similar and different reasons. Love your life and the people in it even if all the people you want in it aren’t there! The end.

 

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Oh, you wanted a picture, right? 🙂

 

31 People(s): Future Husband

Dear Future Husband,

Here’s a few things you’ll need to know if you wanna be my one and only all of my life…

JK. I hate that song. (In case you don’t know what song I’m talking about, listen at your own risk.) It’s annoyingly catchy and flawed and not the song I want to sing to my future husband. Or the words I want to speak to him since I don’t plan on ever singing a song to him, or anyone, other than our future children when no one else is listening and/or my car steering wheel…

Not that it doesn’t have some decent points (feel free to read the lyrics before you read my commentary on them):

You can take me on dates and buy me flowers. I’ll buy groceries, I actually like doing that, but if you’d like to be in charge of the budget I’m totally okay with that because I hate math and will always spend too much if left to my own devices (but I’m working on that – 2016 goal sneak peek). I actually did learn to cook and I’m pretty dang good at it. It would be nice if you’d treat me, and all ladies, like ladies. When I’m acting crazy you can tell me everything’s alright if you want to, but you can also gently remind me that I’m being crazy. You can – and I hope you will – tell me I’m beautiful whenever you want to. After fights we should probably both apologize, not just you, and I am wrong often. We can disagree. Making time for me is also cool since my love language is quality time and since we’ll be, you know, married. We can see your family more than mine, but I’d like to claim Thanksgiving with mine at least every other year. We do Thanksgiving well and fairly drama free. I’m flexible on which side of the bed is mine, but I’d like you to be on the side closest to the door in case anyone breaks in so you can punch and/or shoot/stab them or something. I’m not good at those things. You can open doors for me if it’s convenient and you aren’t carrying things or I am carrying things, but I’m probably going to kiss you whether you do or not. Classy is good. And I honestly don’t care too much about rings and carats or even real diamonds, but rose gold is good, and/or a tattoo because that’d be cool, but rose gold something please (I’ve already instructed a couple of people to give you the rose gold specification when the time comes, but just in case they forget, it’s here now, forever, so make good choices, unless I change my mind, which is possible).

Okay we’re done with that song. DONE!!

But for real, here are the things I want to say to you/about you in no particular order with no sort of organization.

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know where you are. I don’t know if you’re near (in proximity and timing) or far. If I’m honest, some days I don’t even know if you exist. I don’t know if I’ve already met you once or twice or several times or if our paths have even crossed yet. I don’t know if I met you in a coffee shop, if we met at a wedding once, if we went to college together and will reconnect someday, if our mutual friends think we’d be perfect for each other, if you have a beard, how you like your coffee, IF you like coffee, or ANYTHING.

I know nothing.

Well… I do know what our wedding will be like and what we’ll name our kids. Too soon?

I don’t know if you’ll actually meet the three Q “requirements” that one of my RAs made me come up with (she had three Ds) – quirky, quizzical (wise), and quixotic (the only q word that could summarize my “huggable” preference, some of the definitions are negative but I chose to go with the “extravagantly chivalrous or romantic” one, hugs are chivalrous and romantic, it’s a stretch, but just let me have it!). I don’t know if you will be any of the things I wrote on “The List” in the back of the future husband journal that I started my freshman year of college in 2002 that I haven’t written in since Valentine’s Day 2007 when I penned that I hoped I’d meet you before the next Valentine’s Day (spoiler alert – that didn’t happen). I haven’t been able to bring myself to dispose of that ridiculous journal. I like going back and seeing how much I’ve learned about life since than, cringing and laughing at the ridiculousness, AND noticing how much my writing skills have improved, but seriously, you’re never reading it. Ever. Literally almost everything my naive younger self wrote in there is ridiculous and I take most of it back. In particular, I would like to say loud and clear that I DID NOT mean it when I said on April 3, 2002 that I wanted us to date for a year and then be engaged for a year before we get married. We’re 30-ish something now, let’s get this show on the road!

Seriously though, my April 3, 2002 self was crazy and clearly didn’t know that 14-ish years of additional life lived would have a major impact on the appeal of dating. I kind of hate dating and the idea of dating you scares the heck out of me. If there was a reality show about arranged marriages set up by friends, I’d be on board. Some parts of dating are fun and I wouldn’t want to miss out on them, but some parts? Let’s just skip it and get married okay? Okay whatever, I know that’s not feasible. But if we have to do this dating thing, please have people that are going to coach you through dating me and make sure I have those people too. I don’t want to mess things up with you, but I’m absolutely terrified that I will. Dating is hard! There’s the whole uncertainty thing EVERYWHERE. Not knowing who likes who or officially or how much or blah blah blah that is enough to drive even the sanest person crazy (and due to my flair for the dramatic I’ve never held that title). And then all the rest – the formalities and pressure of trying to be impressive and your quirky self at the same time and saying things too soon or not soon enough and the fact that we’re 30-ish and have lived enough life to make enough mistakes we’ll have to talk about at some point. And then the risks of potential heartache and rejection. There’s a lot! I know it’s worth it, but I’m just scared. When you like me, just tell me. If we’re dating but it’s ambiguous because no one has said that word, just tell me. If I’m your girlfriend or you want me to be, just tell me. JUST SAY THINGS! Don’t leave me to guess and be confused because I promise I’ll probably guess wrong. Convince me that we can do this dating thing and do it well, okay?

We have to work out. I’m a really good cook and I’ve been waiting to cook for you my whole life, or at least since I got my first Easy Bake Oven circa 1992. Picture proof below. Also, I still make this face when people make me take pictures with the gifts they got me, but I really was excited.

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But really, I’ll cook healthy things most of the time, but I’m going to want to blow you away with my cooking skills so that you’ll brag about how your wife is the best cook ever. That means I’m gonna use butter sometimes. And desserts. So we have to work out. Together, separate, I don’t care. There just has to be some accountability and push there or we’re both gonna gain weight.

I apologize in advance for rearranging the dishes you put in the dishwasher. I want you to load the dishwasher, and I promise I don’t think you’re doing it wrong. It’s just a puzzle I have to figure out and make pretty and I can’t stop myself. I have to make it pretty (and filled to the maximum capacity). And the fridge. And the cabinets. And maybe your side of the closet. I’ve never shared a closet (other than college when I hadn’t discovered my love for organization yet, don’t talk to my college roommates about my cleanliness back then, especially Brownhair), so I don’t know my limits.

I cry a lot. Happy. Sad. Mad. Confused. Traffic. Hanger. Tired. TV shows. TV commercials. Radio commercials. Adele songs. Babies. At the gym. At work. Because I don’t like my hair. Because I don’t like my outfit. Because I spilled my coffee. Baby animals. Any military reunion video. Any movie about sports (or if I’m forced to watch real sports and not movies about them). You can laugh at me, I don’t mind. Unless it’s a mad or sad cry then maybe just laugh WITH me afterwards when I’m experiencing the after cry happy high after you’ve hugged me. Just embrace it and don’t be scared of it. I’m a cryer. Just let it happen.

Waiting is and has been pretty dang hard. I know you know this too. But it really is! I love love. I have been loving love as far back as I can remember. I’m not one of those Singles Awareness Day/let’s wear black on Valentine’s Day/over love and couples kind of girls. I love couples, marriage, hearts, hanging out with couples, watching movies and shows about love, and even Valentine’s Day. I celebrate it for others and think it’s beautiful. I’m not obsessed with having it or finding it, I’m not bitter towards others who have it, I’m not full of angst about not having it, but I’ve never been opposed to it. I confess that many times I’ve felt sinfully entitled to feeling like I deserve you so we can be each other’s family and create our own family to redeem broken family stuff. I also confess that in those hard counseling days, one of the biggest lies I clung to was believing that if God didn’t give me you, it meant He lied about the abundantly full life promise. Week after week my counselor tried to get me to say that my life could and would be great with or without a husband. I wouldn’t say it. I’d say back over and over, “I like my life now, and I’ve had a great life, but I don’t think I can keep loving life forever without a husband and family.”

With the utmost sincerity, I really do believe now and forever that my life will continue to be abundantly full and beautiful with or without you. Thanks to a lot of hard counseling work freeing me up from shame and feelings of unworthiness, I was in a place where I was able to be forever changed in the way I think about sin and unbelief by what I learned from my Gospel community and other wise people. The past year or so of life, I’ve been on a forever journey of realizing that sin and clinging to lies is less about behaviors and more about an inability to believe fundamental truths about God – that He’s good, great, glorious, and gracious. When we believe He’s good, we don’t have to look elsewhere for satisfaction. When we don’t, our idol becomes comfort. When we believe He’s great, we don’t have to be in control. When we don’t, our idol becomes control. When we believe He’s gracious, we don’t have to prove ourselves. When we don’t, our idol becomes power. When we believe He’s glorious, we don’t have to fear others. When we don’t, our idol becomes approval. (These are called the 4 Gs and they are from Tim Chester’s book You Can Change.)

I struggle with all of those things at different moments, but there was one that was a blaringly obvious idol in my life. I didn’t believe God was good. I really, really didn’t. Satisfaction was found elsewhere, mainly in the idea of you and a future family. If I didn’t get those things, I couldn’t believe life would continue being good. I feel free from that now. I absolutely hope you exist. I miss you even though I’ve never met you. I wish you could hug me. I wish I could hold your hand. I wish I wish I got to pick out Christmas presents for you and use all the lovey dovey stationary I’m hoarding from my stationery subscription to write you cute notes. I wish you would have gotten to meet my dad. I wish I could pack your lunch. I miss you on holidays and when I have to move heavy furniture or fix things. And with 100% confidence I already know I’m going to love you (hence why you’re worthy of one of these 31 people(s) I love posts). But, I also know that even if I keep hoping forever that you’ll come and you don’t, God is still good and so is my life.

To wrap this ridiculously long letter/post up: I say a lot of things (good grief I just wrote 2500 about a person that I don’t know yet…), I make a lot of lists, I think and overthink almost everything, I have a lot of ideas, but here’s what really matters more than anything else – I need you to love Jesus more than you will ever love me. God is love. And I don’t want any sort of version of love that exists without God. We need the Holy Spirit in our corner fighting our battles, keeping us holy, interceding for us, and doing the changing of our insides (hearts, brains, souls, habits, etc) – work that we can’t do ourselves. Jesus has to be the center – the everything. You can’t lead and love me like Christ loves the Church and I can’t submit to your leadership and love without Jesus. We can’t forgive 70 times 7 without remembering the depths of our wretchedness that Jesus died to forgive and redeem. I am certain that it will be impossible for you to love me forever without the Holy Spirit on your team (and vice versa, we’re flawed humans!). Marriage is a picture of the Gospel, and we simply can’t do it without being wrecked every day in all of our moments by the power of the Gospel. Love Jesus and let’s always push each other to Him. ALWAYS.

PS. I like beards and hugs and I’m not getting rid of all of my pink decor.

Can’t wait to hug you forever,

Your Really Awesome Future Wife

Note: Should I ever start dating someone, can everyone remind me to revert this post to a draft??

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This is part of my 31 People(s) I Love series. I’ll be writing about 31 people/peoples that I adore! Click here if you would like a list of all the posts in this series.