a divine conspiracy (the story of us: part 5)

The last few months of college and my relationship prior to the engagement are somewhat of a blur. They were important, yes, but also difficult to remember due to the overwhelming number of changes I experienced durng that time. My life, in many ways, was shaped by our relationship. Writing that is difficult because I do not define myself by my marriage. It is a part of who I am, but it does not encompass me.

Still, I am not the same person I was when we met. I am a brunette now; I was blonde then. I am a little less tan and a little more plump than I was when we met as well. And my faith has increased by leaps and bounds. Some of these changes are good - like my faith, and others I could do without. But they are there none the less.

There are moments I remember of our last few months as boyfriend and girlfriend. Some of those moments were spent with friends; some were shared between just us two.

We shared a lot of laughs then. We attended a date party with his fraternity in Guthrie, OK. It was dinner at a tea room and then seeing the musical "Peter Pan." One of our favorite things to do is attend plays and musicals. That night we were surrounded by his friends and their dates for the evenings. We were all dressed up and bundled up in coats due to the chill in the Spring air.

Many of the friends we were with that night are still our friends today. We see them less now, but many of us are still in Oklahoma City area, working through life after college and getting by.

We spent at least one weekend together in Fort Worth, TX - a city that holds so much meaning for us both. It's the city where he spent time interning at a youth development center for two summers, and it's the city where he would eventually propose. Spending time in that city, watching him interact with the children from the development center and seeing his bonds with the people there, still makes my heart flutter the tiniest bit. His true self shined through during those moments, a self that is as caring and generous as they come.

We attended birthday parties together and dinners out with friends. We both gave up some of our friendships for one another, and we forged new relationships and friendships together. It's not that we had to give up anything for the other, but it happened as we grew closer together and grew up as well.

We spent my final Spring Break together in Texas. There was a trip to Moody Gardens and the aquarium, eating real Tex-Mex, and enjoying nights on the couch watching movies. It was the second time he met my parents and spent a consistent amount of time with them. Two short months later, he would meet my aunt, my grandparents, and my Nana when I accepted my diploma and bid farewell to the freedom college provided.

I had options when I graduated college. Not necessarily options in the job department but options for where to move to. I chose to remain in Oklahoma and accepted a job as a social worker before I graduated. It was simultaneously the hardest decision I ever made and also the easiest.

That decision was truly a turning point in my life and in my relationship. Without that job, I likely wouldn't be married or living in Oklahoma. Without that job, I would have made a different decision which would have led me on a different path. Sometimes, I wonder where that path would have gone. It could be that it would have led me right back to where I am right now. Or my life could have been completely different. I try not to focus on the "what if's" though I do sometimes struggle with wanting to know how things might have been.

My graduation was a day I both couldn't wait for and wasn't ready for. It was the ending of college, of friendships, of a chapter in my life that I was both ready to be done with and scared to leave. I was lucky enough to graduate from a small college within the university, and following the ceremony, we ate dinner with my family. It was an eventful day, filled with love and good memories and finally being able to share a part of my life in Oklahoma with everyone.

A week later, give or take a few days, I began settling into my new apartment, and a week after that, I was given a very special ring.

(title from "god gave me you" by dave barnes)

This post is part of a series. It is a snapshot of how I met (and married) my husband. To read the entire series, click here.


a divine conspiracy (the story of us: part 4)

It was winter when he first met my parents. One of his Christmas presents was a one-way ticket from Oklahoma City, OK to Houston, TX. Days after Christmas, I waited for him in the airport. We kissed and hugged and walked away from the terminal holding my hands. The plan was to meet my parents for dinner.

He spent several days with my family. It was the first time I had really intoduced my parents to someone. Past relationships had included quick introductions, but never had there been someone so important to me that I wanted them to spend days with both my parents.

We ate with my parents, told stories, and also spent time on our own. There were trips to the Kemah Boardwalk and a trip to Galveston, TX. It was sunny that day but chilly and windy. We took pictures by the beach, squinting our eyes and smiling. In so many ways, it was a dream come true. I had always wanted someone to share memories with, and I finally had that person.

"The Great Debaters" had opened recently, and we decided to spend part of the day in the theatre. I remember that is was while we watched that movie that it hit me. This was it. This was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I'm not sure why it happened at that exact moment, but I shared the revelation with him while we sat in an abandoned parking lot, looking at the canals in my parent's neighborhood. Things have never been the same since then.

We both had a lot of growing up to do at that point. Even now, we still have a lot of growing up to do. But that is what marriage is. It is not simply growing old together; it is also growing up and growing closer together.

We drove back to Oklahoma together, and then went our separate ways when he returned to his school and I to mine. The next month is somewhat of a blur. We spent as much time together as we could, but we were both busy with classes.

Our first Valentine's Day together I had high expectations. I wanted all the romance in the world, it being my first time to spend the holiday with someone special, but in the middle of the day, I received a text message that said he wasn't sure he would be able to make it out to see me. I was crushed but did my best to go through the rest of the day not thinking about it.

I left work around 5:30pm that day. I was tired and dressed not too attractively as I worked at a daycare at the time. When I reached the parking lot, he drove up. He handed me a card. It was taped to the window of the car but had blown off in the wind. He purchased two tickets to see "Definitely Maybe" and said we would spend the evening beforehand at my apartment, eating our favorite pizza.

A simple Valentine's Day. But really all our Valentine's Days have been simple. Looking back on it now, I think it was for the best. I wanted all the flowers and candies and candlit dinners I could find, but I don't think any of those would have spoken to my heart like pizza and cuddling in the movie theatre.

We were three months away from getting engaged at that time. But I didn't know it yet. I was also three months away from graduating college at that time with no sense of direction, but that didn't matter. I had someone who cared for me, and that is really the most important thing in the world. Because if you have love, you can make it through almost anything. Not that it's easy because it's not. But what is worth having that is easy?

(title from "god gave me you" by dave barnes)

This post is part of a series. It is a snapshot of how I met (and married) my husband. To read the entire series, click here.


the signs are nowhere on this road

I've had a rough week. Just rough. The week has been full of 4am wake-up calls, making coffee and lunch for my husband, going back to bed and cuddling with the dogs (which makes it harder to wake-up again at 6am or 6:30am), cooking dinner every night (turkey chili, chicken with macaroni and cheese and green beans, dumplings), and working. I was able to take off half a day on Tuesday, and I am scheduled to have the day off on Friday. And boy do I need it.

For years, I went at least 100 miles a minute. In college, I worked a total of three jobs and passed (with only one C - the rest were As and Bs) all my classes. I also had a social life. I sniffled more then and required more NyQuil in the evenings, but I was always on the move.

For the first year-and-a-half after college, I also went at least 100 miles a minute, but it took a greater toll on me. My job became my life. I chose working 45 to 50 hours a week, into the late evenings, over spending time writing and spending time with my husband. Sometimes it wasn't a choice but a necessity, but often times, I chose to complete late night visits and spend more time with my clients rather than taking only the needed information and high-tailing it out of here. For my job, this was the right choice; it helped me to know and assist my clients. But for the rest of my life, it was the wrong choice. It kept me from cooking dinner, from spending time with friends and family, and it stopped me from enjoying the time I did have off from work. I regularly needed a week or two off just to decompress and pull myself together. Now, though, just a few hours off and maybe a full day on top of the regular weekend, is enough. That's one good thing about slowing down.

It's been a struggle to let go of going 100 miles a minute. Sometimes I just can't do it; it's as though I have to have something to worry about or overthink. It's like I have to find things to fill my time up with. At the same time, though, I love the slower pace, and sometimes, I let too many responsibilities go in order to just sit and do nothing.

I am realizing how much of a balancing act it all is. When you go through life so quickly, it's easier. It's easier because you don't have (or take) the time to notice that some priorities are off. And if you do notice, you have an excuse. Often times, the excuse is one others can't really argue with. And so, you survive. You make it, and you have a reason not to have your priorities in line. It's not a way of life I would recommend, but it's how things often go. I did years of this - starting probably in high school. And through all of it, God took several attempts at getting me to slow down. There was knee surgery the summer before I started college and breaking my foot my junior year of college and on and on. I never really learned, though.

Now, I am doing my best to slow down enough but to not become complacenet with where I am in life. And it is hard. Because there is so much uncertainty right now, and I have no choice but to stare the uncertainty in the face and wonder how I can change it. When I was going a 100 miles a minute, I didn't have the time to deal with the uncertainty; I just kept moving forward.

How I wish there were a quick way to understand and master looking uncertainty in the face and knowing God's in control. How I wish there were a way to let go of the reins and be done with it. See that, God, I let go, so now You can ease up a little. But that's not the way it works.

Over the past few weeks, I have felt a lot of peace about our situation. A lot of good things have happened as well. God has stepped in and provided for us every step of the way. His provisions have not been instant or all encompassing, but that's okay. He knows best.

A lot of this hit me last night. It just hit me. All of the sudden I was overcome with this weight. And there was joy in it, too. But so much heaviness. There was no specific reason for it. I talked it over in my head and with my husband some last night. And I cried a lot (though I tried to keep the tears at bay). At the end of it, I felt a bit freer. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I was craving the quick pace, that I wanted to return to the quick pace and let go of all the stuff that comes with going through life at a normal pace.

But God knows what I need, and He knows it isn't running a 100 miles a minute. He knows the only way I can hear Him to slow down and to be still. Last night, I was more still. I knew He was present in my letting go and opening up to Him.

I'm not sure where all of this is leading. I want to know, but I understand that I don't necessarily need the knowledge. I need to trust in Him and follow Him. I can question it some but not so much that I start to pull away. He's brought us this far. I have no reason to doubt Him now.

(title from "light up the sky" by the afters)


when darkness turns to light

Just a few minutes ago, I finished reading After You by Julie Buxbaum. I read her first novel, The Opposite of Love, several months ago, and upon finishing it, I rushed to the bookstore in hopes of finding another book of hers. Now that I am done reading both novels I feel almost empty. The end of a novel, a really good novel, is the sweetest and most bittersweet moment.

For a week, my world collided with the world written of in After You. I felt what the characters felt, lived their lives alongside them. I ached when I wasn't reading, as I always do, because I so desperately want to return to their world. That's what a novel is meant to do. It's what I feel the first draft of my novel lacked and what I hope this next draft will provide.

Sometimes reading other novels helps to inspire my writing. Other times, reading makes me wonder why I try - thinking my words will never provide the sort of escape that others have provided me. But I remember, sometimes by my husband reminding me and sometimes by the little voice inside of me, that every writer and every story is different. It's not that my words need to be as good as or better than those of another writer's. What I need is to remain true to the character, to remain true to the story, and to remain true to myself - the author that the story chose.

I was able to take off half a day of work today. We've had structural engineers and foundation companies at our house, in an attempt to figure out what exactly to do with our situation. It was a much needed break, a chance to just be at home on a weekday with my husband. We watched Hawaii Five-0 together, ate lunch, and then enjoyed being under the same roof for the afternoon. He napped, and I wrote and read. It was amazing.

These are things we often do on the weekends, but for some reason, they felt more special, more important on this average Tuesday. And I think that's what I want so desperately for my writing. I want to take the things that are often seen as normal and remind others of how special and important they can be.

In college, I was taught that there is a formula for every genre of writing. I was taught that often one has to follow the formula the first time around with writing. While I flirted with (and sometimes still flirt with) the idea of nursing school, I was never particularly good at math or science - which is why I dropped nursing after barely passing chemistry and dropping out of anatomy and physiology. To be honest, I don't know what genre I am writing, which means I am unsure of the prescribed formula. It could be that I am adding in all the necessary ingredients in the correct order, or it could be that I am adding a dash too much of that and too little of this.

But I don't think it really matters. Because regardless of the formula, there is a story to be told. The characters are turning into people I care about, and the emotions, which in many ways mirror emotions I waded through years ago, are real. And these characters and emotions have somehow chosen me to be the storyteller. Hopefully, I won't let them down.

(title from "it ends tonight" by the all-american rejects)


the path is clear

I completed the first official edits of my novel on Friday evening, and last night, I began rewriting the novel. It wasn't my intention to rewrite 206 pages, but the voice feels right, in comparison to the first draft. Such is the life of a writer, I suppose. I am now seven pages into novel and enjoying the sound of Snow Patrol playing on the speaks and my fingers hitting the keys on my computer.

A feeling of peace and of knowing that this time in my life where I need to be washed over me this morning at church. It's a feeling I've clung to for the past several weeks, but this morning it took me by surprise.

I'm thankful for the feeling. The uncertainty and struggle is still fresh in my mind, and I know how dark and destructive the uncertainty and struggle can be. I also know that without the uncertainty and struggle I would be unable to recognize the peace and certainty.

For the first time in months and months, light is shining down on us and on our path. There are still shadows, but I can see where God is leading us - more than just one step at a time. I firmly believe writing has much to do with this because I know the call of the written word was placed on my heart upon my creation; it's just taken me several years to fully consent to the call.

When I wrote this specific novel the first time, I was a senior in college. I had just returned from China. I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with my best friend (and roommate of three years). I worked in a daycare. I spent a lot of nights (and money) on Campus Corner. I was constantly moving and changing and thinking and going, going, going. Now, I am married. I live in a 1700 sq. ft. hours with my husband. I work in social services. I spend my evenings either at home, with our community group, with our church youth group, and so on. It is the first time in my life that I am not going, going, going. I think the stark differences will lead to a much different perspective with the novel, and I hope this is a good thing.

Most authors will tell you that the setting of where the writing takes place is important. And it is. I am still finding my setting for writing. Currently, it is in the corner of our sectional couch. I am hoping this is the right place.

Most authors will also tell you that music is important, and it is. I am currently putting together a playlist specifically meant for times spent writing and thinking about my novel. Much of the music is music I have listened to for years and years, and while I love it, while it inspires me, I need help finding other music. I am going to include a few of the songs I am currently listening to in hopes that I can hear some new suggestions.

  1. "Simple Together" Alanis Morissette. You've been my golden best friend. Now with post-demise at hand, can't go to you for consolation 'cause we're off limits during this transition.
  2. "Just Say Yes" Snow Patrol. I'm running out of ways to make you see. I want you to stay here beside me. I won't be ok and I won't pretend I am, so just tell me today and take my hand.
  3. "I Never Told You" Colbie Caillat. I see your blue eyes everytime I close mine. You make it hard to see where I belong to when I'm not around you. It's like I'm alone with me.
  4. "On Your Way" eastmountainsouth. All the nights reflecting in our chance connecting help me find the meaning in the life I had with you.
  5. "Resolution" Nick Lachey. Living life without a plan, finding solace where I stand and learning how to love again, and all I want is something real that I can feel.
  6. "Beautiful Disaster" Jon McLaughlin. She's giving boys what they want, tries to act so nonchalant, afraid to see that she's lost her direction. She never stays the same for long, assuming that she'll get it wrong.
  7. "Comin' Home" City and Colour. I've seen a palace in London. I've seen a castle in Wales. But I'd rather wake up beside you and breathe that ol' familiar smell. I never thought you could leave me; I figured I was the one.
  8. "Dream" Priscilla Ahn. Now I'm old and feeling grey. I don't know what's left to say about this life I'm willing to leave. I lived it full, and I lived it well; there's many tales I've lived to tell.
  9. "Been a Long Day" Rosi Galan. I'm finally feeling like its ok to break into a thousand pieces no one can replace. Only I can find my way.
  10. "Days Like This" Kim Taylor. And all I wanna do is live my life honestly. I just wanna wake up and see your face next to me. Every regret I have, I will go set it free. It will be good for me.
(title from "just say yes" by snow patrol)


the bones are smiling in my body

My husband officially begins his new job on Monday, which means our lives drastically change on Monday. He has to report for work at 5:00am five days a week, which means we will both drag ourselves out of the confines of our warm bed at 4:00am. It's not that he needs me to wake up with him, but this marriage is a partnership. And sometimes this marriage takes extra work and giving up a few extra hours of sleep. I'm not looking forward to the early morning wake up calls, especially since I know at least one of our dogs will just roll over and stretch out over the entire bed. But at the same time, I am excited for the early morning time. I'm excited because I'll have an extra two hours at home in the morning. Two hours to write or to do yoga or to read or to clean or to cuddle with my dogs. I'm excited because I'll be forced to make coffee or tea for myself and my husband. I'm excited because on the weekends when our dogs wake up at 7am it will feel like we got to sleep in. I'm excited because everything is changing with this new chapter in our lives, and for once, I am at peace with all of the changes. Maybe it's because I am finally ready for change. Or maybe it's because, for the first time, it feels like I have slowed down enough to actually allow changes to happen. I'm not exactly sure. What I do know is that I am embracing the changes. And I am refusing to give up. And I am trying new things. And I am loving this new season of our lives. I entered a short story challenge earlier this week. And I won, as in I placed first. All through college I was told that I wasn't really meant for short stories, that my writing was more the style of novels. And I do think that's true. But I allowed those words to keep me in the box of writing only novels. Until this opportunity presented itself and I decided that I might as well give it a try. I'm not going to get overly emotional. I will save that for my husband. But I am going to say this: winning this challenge reminded me of how much I love writing, of the fact that this is what I love, of the fact that this is what I am meant to do. And so, I will at 4:00am and at night. Family of Three I took my first pregnancy test when we lived in that old house on Rory Drive. I teetered on the edge of the bathtub; the test rested on the vanity. The wood floors in the hallway moaned as John paced up and down, up and down. 10 steps one way, a moan, and 10 steps back. Step seven. “Is it done?” He asked. The clock ticked past the fifteen. It’d been five minutes. “No,” I said. Three more steps. The floors moaned, and he turned around. I picked myself off the bathtub. Two steps to the vanity with my eyes closed. And there it was. A solid line and a faint line. I squinted my eyes and brought the stick up to my nose. Two lines. Two lines. Two lines. “How about now?” He stopped after five steps. “Now, yes,” I said. The bathroom door opened. His hands stuffed in his pockets, and he stopped just inside the bathroom. A jingle of tags, claws hitting the floor, and three seconds later, I was in his arms with the test falling to the floor. Rascal sniffed at the test and glanced at me with warm brown eyes. “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” John said. He held me tightly, kissed my cheek, and then squeezed me again. My eyes stayed on Rascal. He dipped his head to the floor and picked up the test. He started to back out of the bathroom. “John, Rascal has the test,” I said. John dropped me to the floor. “Rascal,” he warned. Our dog was in the hallway. Five steps, a crash, and then a jingle of tags. John chased after him. I glanced in the mirror. I still looked the same. “Damn dog,” John yelled. The bathtub beckoned me, and I returned to my perch. I didn’t know then how much I would miss my family of three. I didn’t know then that it would be five years, four children, and two dogs until my ankles returned to their normal size. I didn’t know then that it would be another two years until the house on Rory Drive no long stood, and I didn’t know then that at age thirty-five I would be left alone in a 3,300 sq. ft. house on Laurel Lane. If I had known, I would have listened to my heart. If I had known, I would have whistled for Rascal and run out of the house. He would have followed me to the car, and we would have left. I would have had a new family of three. Instead, I teetered on the bathtub. John returned with a slightly bent and chewed pregnancy test. He scooped me up in his arms and kissed me while Rascal licked my legs. I would miss my family of three. Thank you Jasmine. Words can't express my gratitude or surprise. (title from "giggling again for no reason" by alanis morissette)


everything that was taken can be restored

I'm rediscovering a love for my house. This happens periodically. At times, I hate it. I hate the sloping floors, the tilting ceiling, the worries that go along with the knowledge that our foundation needs to be fixed. I hate how dusty it gets, how often I have to sweep, how dirty the baseboards always are, and it goes on.

But I also love the wood floors. I love how many windows are in the house. I love how open it is. I love that even with all it's negatives it feels like home. I've prayed about our house situation time and time again. I've asked for a miracle. I've begged for the money to fix the house. I fully believe money can miraculously appear in our bank account, and I fully believe God could miraculously strengthen the foundation. But it doesn't truly matter if He does or does not because I know that He could.

We know we will likely need to take out a large loan to fix the house. We're scared of doing this, but we know it is necessary. We hope that the loan will be large enough to cover our current credit card debt so that in five years we can be debt free (other than the house). Just last night, after celebrating our anniversay with dinner out and dessert at home, we discussed how with this new job we will need to keep one another accountable with not eating out, with not going out so that we can afford to fix the home and become debt free.

So often, my husband and I go out because we are tired of being in our house with no one else to talk to. We long for community, to have friends over and play board games. We desperately want to have potluck dinners at our house. But we've been weary of doing those things because of our house. At least, that is my excuse.

I don't take as much pride in the house as I should. Even with all it's issues, our home is still a blessing. It provides a roof over our heads, shields us somewhat from the cold and fully from the rain. It is a place we can lay our heads down and feel safe. It's where we started our family of four. It is our home even with all the problems and annoyances.

I want to take pride in our home. I truly do. I want to stop comparing it to the homes of our other friends and wishing we had waited or thought harder about the purchase. I believe this is where God wants us, but I also believe He did His best to warn us previously that this house would not be the easiest to own.

Our closing barely happened. We were set to move out of our apartment and were not quite sure where we would be moving to. At the time, I chocked this up to the real estate industry. I do remember wondering if it was a sign that this was not meant to be and thought about backing out, but then everything came together and we were homeowners. I think it was God's way of preparing us for the hardships that would follow but also showing us that things will work out in the end.

I've talked before about how similar the house and the work it requires is to humans and the work we require. The similarities still surprise me. God is a carpenter, a true craftsman, but we are not always the best subjects.

I am determined, though, to take His blessings and enjoy them. I am determined to be content in our house. I am determined to dust, sweep, vaccum, and fluff pillows at least once a week. I am determined to invite people over and not be embarassed. I am determined to love the house even when it does not love me (which it often does not).

It is easy to wallow in our circumstances, and sometimes I do. Sometimes I struggle with seeing any sort of shining light, but recentl, God has been constant in meeting me where I am. He has shown up every single time and reminded me that He has everything under control and that even though I might feel alone I am not.

I wouldn't have any determination or fight left in me were it not for Him.

As we enter this new chapter of our lives (our third year of marriage, two steady paychecks, seriously considering home repair), much will change. And I will need to hold myself even more accountable than normal.

Most people make new years resolutions on January 1 and then forget them by January 2, myself included. This year, I am making my resolutions to go along with our current place in life. Here's to our new chapter and what I plan to do/change.
  1. get back into a workout routine.
  2. cook at least five meals (for dinner) a week at home.
  3. bring my lunch to work (and eat what i bring) five days a week.
  4. invite people over more often.
  5. clean the house a little everyday.
  6. throw out the unncessary objects.
  7. drink coffee/tea from home - not starbucks or mcdonalds.
  8. put away laundry the day i wash it.
  9. stick to my grocery list.
  10. play more board games with my husband.
  11. read more.
  12. finish editting my novel and then begin rewriting it.
  13. blog at least five times a week.
  14. find more blogs to read and invest in.
  15. leave comments on the blogs i read.
  16. take more pictures.
  17. stop looking at expensive houses i can not afford and make my house truly into a home.
  18. create more.
  19. tend to my garden.
  20. limit my complaints to four a week (and hopefully not that many).
  21. smile.
  22. have grace with myself and with others. (thanks, kat.)
(title from "feel this" by bethany joy galeotti)


it only takes a spark

Two years ago, I woke up in a hotel room in downtown Oklahoma City. It was a room I shared with my now sister-in-law. We quickly got dressed and then ate a breakfast buffet in celebration. It was my wedding day.

Time was spent eating, getting a pedicure and a manicure, listening to the news on Hurrican Ike (which was lashing my parents home and brothers apartment), praying it would stop raining before our planned outdoor wedding, laughing with friends, having my make-up and hair done, and keeping my nerves in check.

The rain stopped just as my dad walked me down the aisle. Our friends and families were gathered outside under a tent. The cloud cover was perfect for pictures. Our ceremony went flawlessly (other than trying to light the unity candle in Oklahoma wind), and by the end of the day, we were man and wife.

Signing our marriage license.
Today marks more than just two years of marriage. It marks our life together. We've been through our share of ups and downs. Just yesterday we were talking about how easy it would have been to give up and how others might have done just that. We know that this journey we are on is not to be taken lightly. This journey is hard. It's full of uphill battles and downhill fights. It's full of apologies and tears and hugs and laughter. It's full of misunderstandings and holding your tongue. It's full of arguments and understandings. It's work. But it is worth it.

Our two years of marriage have also been full of change, of wondering, of uncertainty, but God has always provided for us. His provisions have not always come in the way we expected, but they have been there. He has been there. And without Him, it's doubtful we would have come this far.

Over the past two years, we've moved twice: once into an apartment and once into a house. We've found and stayed at a church. We've traveled to Costa Rica and to Michigan. We've spent weekends in Fort Worth and weekends at home. We've changed jobs three times between the two of us. We rescued a dog from the shelter in May 2009 and rescuded a second dog off the street in December 2010. We have survived several snow/ice storms. We've laughed. We've cried.

Our first house.
We have learned how to cook somewhat decent food and not burned down the house. We started to figure out what it meant to truly depend on God. We've talked about the future and what we would change about the past if we could. We have regretted buying our house and then found a newfound love for our house. We bought a car and then regretted buying that car. We've learned how to learn from our regrets rather than wallowing in our regrets. We've learned that, even if it's hard and even if we fight, we can make it through anything.

I firmly believe the things in life that are the most worthwhile are also often times the hardest things to attain. Without fighting for something, really fighting for it, I doubt you can truly appreciate it's worth.

As we embark on our third year of marriage, I am determined to fight for my husband. To shut my mouth when necessary and to hear his heart. I am determined to dream with him even if others tell us our dreams are unattainable. I am determined to support him and to love him the way he needs and desires. I am determined to be content where we are but never complacent. I am determined to pray for him daily. I am determined to fellowship with him and to laugh with him (even when his jokes aren't funny). I am determined to make this marriage last.

Christmas 2009.
(title from "sweetness in starlight" by matt wertz)


it's the miracle of day

This afternoon I celebrated my sister-in-law's upcoming nuptials. It began with lunch with my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law along with her soon to be mother-in-law and sister-in-law. We ate at Chili's and took the time to get to know one another. There was an ease in the conversation, and I felt grateful that there are so many wonderful women in my life.

The bridal shower was next. Instead of purchasing a card from Target, I utilized one of the encouragement cards sent to me from Dayspring. There are still more to be sent, but I knew that an encouragement card would be best for a soon-to-be bride.

It's been almost two years since I said "I do." And we have had our share of ups and downs. I know this will never end. It is a part of being married, a part of being human. And during both the ups and the downs, we all need encouragement. Sometimes the encouragement is to keep going, keep praying, do not give up. Other times the encouragement is to say you are doing a good job and to remind you that you are on the right path. Still, other times the encouragement is to remind you that someone else is there to sit with you, to watch a tasteful (or distasteful movie), or to just laugh with you.

We all need encouragement. I have several more cards to send, with specific people already in mind. Some of them I know what they are going through, and others I don't know the full extent. What I do know is that even if the words are not spoken out loud we all need someone to remember us and to offer a simple thank you for being my friend gesture.

(title from "for the morning" by alli rogers)


you saved my life once

Prayer is an amazing thing. I've heard this too many times to count. I've even repeated those words to others, but I rarely claimed the truth for myself.

In my mind, I thought prayer was an amazing thing for other people. I thought God would speak to others but not to me. I reminded myself that my words couldn't change the world or our situation. And while I craved growing closer to Him, I didn't believe it would happen. I didn't think that my drawing near to Him would cause Him to draw near to me. I didn't really believe that He would meet me where I was.

I can't explain the reasons for my thoughts. It's evident that He has always been there for me. Even though I made some pretty poor decisions during my adolescence and college years, He protected me from worse things happening. He kept me from going so far into a life of darkness that I couldn't get out of it. I got close, but He made sure there was always some light.

The light came from my friends and my family. They knew I was making poor choices. But they also knew I had to figure it out on my own. They offered their advice and their prayers. When I was ready to come back into the light, they had open arms and shared tears with me. Those moments alone should have been enough to show me that prayer works.

But I am a stubborn person. It often takes several conversations and a few hits over the head before I am able to admit I am wrong and then actually change my ways. It's been the same way with prayer. God has spent much time reminding me that He answers prayer. The past two weeks have finally opened me up to the understanding that prayer works, that God is moving and active, that He hears my cries and that He responds.

It started last Tuesday. Even now, over a week later, I still find myself wondering if that night actually happened. It doesn't seem real. And I struggle with understanding how and why. So much peace accompanies my every thought now because of that night. When I pray, I pray over the words that were spoken. I pray for understanding and for guidance so that my husband and I walk down the path God has set before us.

We're not sure where the path will lead, but I think that is the beautiful thing. It is hard to let go and to walk without knowing where you are headed, but it is also freeing to not have to worry about every step. I am a directionally challenged person. I can't say which direction is north unless I am close to the Interstate, and even then, I have to repeat never eat sour watermelon to remember which way is east and which way is west.

Right now, though, we know that we are in a good place. It feels like our feet are back on solid ground. Is it perfect? No, but we know it never will be. Will there be struggle? Yes, but we know that God will be with us during the struggle and that He will use the struggle to draw us closer to Him and to remind us that He is in control.

My husband was offered a full-time job, a job that will provide benefits after 90 days. It's not the perfect job, but it is with a respectable company and could very easily lead to better things for him and for us. He begins training next Thursday, days after we celebrate our two year wedding anniversary.

It took a long time to get here. At least, it felt like a long time, but really, in the scheme of life, it's not that long. But still. We are finally here.

I don't know what is going to happen. I'm not sure how this will affect us, how much it will or won't help. I'm not sure if this is where we will stay or if things will shift later on. There's a lot I don't know.

What I do know, though, is that this job is a gift from God. I do know this is the direction He is leading us in. I know that He is right here with us, struggling and fighting alongside us. He is calling out to us when we are tired and offering to help. And then, sometimes, He will help even if we don't ask for it.

I'm also learning how important it is to pray for specific things. I don't pray for thousands of dollars (though I would not be opposed to being given this) because I don't feel like that lines up with what He is calling me to. But I do pray for direction and guidance. I ask for the things we need. And I don't stop asking.

His Love Extended quoted E.M. Bounds the other day and then wrote a post on prayer. It touched my heart, and I felt God stirring something inside of me. That night, I prayed specifically that my husband be offered a job the next day. I didn't know which job it would be, but I prayed that a job offer would be put in place. The next day, I received a text message at 10:32am that training would begin on September 16th.

It's all God's doing. He knew the perfect timing. He understands the positions we need to hold when it comes to jobs. And while it might not be easy, and while it doesn't always align with what we expect for our lives, His way is always best.

(title from "light outside" by wakey!wakey!)


my head is in the clouds

It's raining outside, and I am inside my office, enjoying the last ten minutes of my lunch break. Oklahoma's recent weather has made my yearning for Michigan much more realized. The almost start of fall feels like summer in Michigan. The almost start of small even smells like Michigan. And it reminds me how badly I miss the lake, the geese and swans, walking to town for ice cream, and kayaking. I have so many memories from my weeks spent in Michigan, and I would love nothing more than to return now.

I have a yearning to take pictures. Pictures of flowers and clouds and life and wonderful, amazing things that I find. I need to turn the yearning into a reality and find the beauty here. Because right now, I am meant to live my life out on Oklahoma soil.

But.. it won't stop me from thinking about, dreaming about, and remembering Michigan.

clouds over mackinac island
lake huron
lighthouse on mackinac island.
It's not that I don't love Oklahoma because I do. But my heart feels so much more at peace up North.

Still, this is where I am called to be. This is where God has placed me. My roots are slowly growing into the red clay. And flowers are beginning to bloom. It's too soon to go into specifics, but God is showing me exactly what a little water, fertilizer, sunlight, and patience can do.

If it were up to me, I would have bloomed already, but it is up to Him and Him alone. And He knows best.

(title from "will you dance me" by julianne hough)


it feels bad now but it's going to get better

I'm furious this afternoon. Absolutely livid. And yet I am also at peace. I am also walking in the knowledge that God is sovereign that He has a plan and that His plan is perfect. I am also walking in the knowledge that He has always been present in my life and that He will continue to be present.

But I am still furious.

I am furious at the brokenness in the world, at the people who are petty enough to watch another's undoing and do nothing to help. I am furious at the separation between man and God, at how difficult it can be to hear His voice. I am furious.

I have never felt so much anger coupled with so much peace. I had a moment of anxiety and wonderment and worry and feeling as though I were free falling, but I realized those things were keeping me from grabbing onto the anger and praying through it and over it.

God is at work in the world, in my life, and in the life of my husband. We don't always know what He is doing, and we do sometimes question His methods. But we know He is present.

There is so much opposition right now. If there were not separation between man and God, I could hear Him calling out through the opposition. Instead, I am left wondering when and if I will hear His soft, still voice or when and if my husband with hear His soft, still voice.

I believe God is over everything. I believe He allows opposition to occur. Sometimes, I think the opposition shows where we are not supposed to go, but other times, opposition exists to show that we are right where we need to be. But how do you separate the two? If we could just hear God's voice on the other end of the telephone, it would be easy to tell, but unfortunately, I don't know the number to His personal cell phone.

I'm struggling with the anger, and I am struggling with opposition. I've faced much opposition in my twenty-five years, and as a married woman of almost two years, I have faced even more opposition in my marriage. But the opposition has made me stronger. And it is has shown me just how badly I need God. Still, I am not clear on which opposition is Him standing in my way and which is Him pushing me forward and telling me to fight.

I pray against opposition quite often, but now I wonder if I should pray into it. How far in am I to lean into the opposition? How long do I need to fight until I throw up my hands in defeat and declare God the victor before moving onto my next battle? Is there even a right choice?

These are the thoughts spinning around in my head on Labor Day, the thoughts that came after a long walk with my dogs and my mother-in-law and then a trip to the Arts Festival Oklahoma. The thoughts that started with worry and then switched to anger after a conversation with my husband.

There is so much injustice in the world. There is so much belittling and so much pettiness. It is a wonder anyone is able to make it for 80 odd years as a person. The belittling, pettiness and injustice is enough to kill a person's spirit, to make a person throw up their hands and declare the world the victor.

And yet, somehow, it doesn't. Somehow we continue to move on. Somehow we continue to hold out for what is promised us.

Today I am praying for His promises. Today I am searching for His plan. Today I am asking for His direction. Today I am hoping to hear answers about opposition. Today I am hoping to understand.

Because I know He has a plan. I know His promises, that were spoken over me, will become true. I know that He is working. I know, I know, I know. I am just desperate to hear from Him again and to see more than just one step in front of me.

Edit 7:47pm, Monday September 6, 2010: God is good. I still claim this and know this to be true. He has a plan. His plan is moving forward. He provides. I never question this. I wrestle with His ways, but I know He is close. He always is and always will be. Through all my weakness, He is strong. 

(title from "almost everything" by wakey!wakey!)


a divine conspiracy (the story of us: part 3)

We said "I love you" for the first time in December. It was at his apartment, and we were seated on the couch. We had just finished watching an episode of The Office, the episode where they all go on a night cruise and Jim tries to tell Pam his true feelings for her. And even though I was not (and am still not) a fan of The Office, he took my hand and told me that he was in love with me. It had been just over a month, and I said the three words back.

We talk about that night sometimes still. We even celebrated the one year anniversary of saying "I love you." And we also talk about how quickly it happened, how it might have been best to wait to say those words, but when you know, you know.

And even though I knew, I was still scared. I still pushed him away and wondered if it were real. I still asked how he could love me, how this could be happening. It wasn't a part of my plan, but really, I wasn't sure what my plan was any longer.

I wanted to move somewhere new and work for Teach for America. It was a dream of mine, a passion. I prayed over it. The love of teaching was ignited in me during my time in China, and I had a vision of myself crouching by a desk, teaching.

But I had found out in early December that I did not make it past the first round. I was devastated.  We weren't yet to the point of saying "I love you," so I didn't feel comfortable calling him immediately with the news. I talked to others about it first, cried about it, and then heard wise words from a friend who said I shouldn't put all my eggs into one basket.

I do have a habit of doing that, still to this day. I get stuck on the "correct" path for my life and decide it can't go any other way. But just like He did my senior year of college, God shows me that there is a different way, a better way.

Had I gotten into Teaching for America we wouldn't have gotten married. Had I gotten into Teaching for America I would have moved away from Oklahoma, and we probably would have broken up. Had we broken up I would not be where I am right now. And if I weren't where I am right now, God's current plan for my life would not be in action.

It was hard to think of it that way then. Sometimes it is hard to think of it that way now. But I know it to be true.

I believe not getting into the program truly set us down the course of getting married 10 months after we met. Because it wasn't until that door was shut and locked that I allowed myself to fall head over heels in love with someone 10 months younger than I.

But like I said, I still didn't make it easy on him. Even though I had known since the night we met that he was the one for me, I fought it. I was scared - of him, of the unknown, of what I was going to do with my life, of staying in Oklahoma City or returning to Texas. But God had a plan. He knew what He was doing; He was just going to take His time revealing His plan - just as I would take time trusting His plan.

When I finally did talk about not getting into Teach for America, I was calmer. But I was also determined to move off - still. I applied for other teaching fellowships and even got invited to interview for other teaching fellowships. But expensive flights and last minute interview slots made it nearly impossible to attend the interviews. And I was lost on where I wanted to be or if I could actually move off to New York City or Boston or Philadelphia or San Francisco. So I stopped looking and decided to relax into life in a relationship.

He enjoyed the simple things, and I learned to do the same. He was less enthusiastic about school than I was and reminded me that the world would not end if I didn't get a 3.75 GPA for the semester. He made me laugh. He gave good hugs. I enjoyed lounging on the couch and watching movies with him. We often went out for dessert together. And we went to church together. We talked about God, about our faith, and he helped me to grow during a time when I wasn't sure what I believed any longer.

When I think back to that year, to everything that transpired prior to my meeting him, there is no question that God's plan was always for me to meet him and to fall in-love and then to join my life with him. Of course, at that time, there were questions. But those questions would eventually be given answers, and in March of 2008, I would finally be able to look at him and say those words out loud.

(title from "god gave me you" by dave barnes)

This post is part of a series. It is a snapshot of how I met (and married) my husband. To read the entire series, click here.


it's been so long

One of the most difficult things, I think, about our current situation is how stuck we feel. I can not fully speak for my husband, though I am aware of his opinion on most things, but I feel trapped at this particular times. Many of our friends have plans for the three-day weekend. The plans include road trips, barbeques, outtings at the lake, and other fun-filled events.

I understand that eventually, hopefully, we will be able to enjoy those things. But currently we are stuck.

I have three days off work, but my husband unfortunately has three days filled of work. His current field requires staff to work 24-hours-a-day and 7-days-a-week. We wouldn't be able to afford a trip or fun-filled event otherwise, but if he worked in a different field, we could at least stare at one another instead of just at the dogs and our dusty, dirty hardwood floors.

Still, I am intent on making the most of the weekend. My plans include cleaning our dusty, dirty hardwood floors (and the rest of our dusty, dirty house), watching more episodes of The OC than is healthy, further work on my novel, napping with the dogs, and hopefully enjoying some time with friends.

I am also hoping to find a park or outdoor spot not overrun with children where I can spend some quality time journaling, praying, and writing down scripture.

I've kept a journal for as long as I can remember both the paper kind as well as the livejournal  kind. I also had a few other personal websites as a teenager that chronicled my life and hosted a few choice pieces of fiction. As far as I know, those websites have been swallowed by the Internet and will hopefully never be found again. If they are, I hope they are discussed when I am famous enough to laugh off the embarassingly emo words while discussing my life and inspiration with whoever will be the next Oprah. Please, Lord, let it happen that way.

Most of my paper journals are half empty and tucked into a box in my parents house. Those kept on livejournal or other websites were abandoned for a new layout and site name whenever I grew antsy. The new, current paper journal I now have, however, I am determined to fill with words, with verses, with sermons from Frontline Church, with thoughts on writing and etcetra. I want a place to come back to in a year where I can see how both my heart and my handwriting changed.

Also, I want to be able to follow my progression of prayer. I know that it has progressed quite a bit from God where are You to God it is so good to feel You, but I want to be able to truly see the progression. I also want to be able to see how prayers were answered and when. I also want to be able to hold onto the verses and quotes that got me through both the difficult and easy times.

Because so much is changing. I have written about much of it here, but also much of it I have kept to myself. My marriage is changing. My relationship with my family is changing. My relationship with myself is also changing. And many of those changes need to be understood on paper first before being understood on the Internet.

I may not have an adventure to a far off place planned for the weekend, but at least I can continue to adventure of discovering who I am in this world and who I am in Christ. I'll make sure to report on what I find when the weekend is over. Until then, I'll do my best to continue the story of us.

(title from "missing you" by nick thurmond)


a divine conspiracy (the story of us: part 2)

We were both seniors in college when we met. My graduation date was set for May 2010, and his graduation date was set for December 2010. He lived on campus at the time, and I lived in a two-bedroom apartment with my best friend. My college was in Norman, and his was in Edmond. Our backgrounds were as similar and as different as our college experiences.

After our first date, we spent much time talking on the phone. I invited him to my sorority’s date party just two week later. We spent only a small amount of time there and then went to see Dan in Real Life. Sitting close together in the theatre, I willed him to hold my hand. And he did. Thankfully, he linked his fingers with mine only five minutes into the movie. I would have concentrated only on the fact that he wasn’t holding my hand otherwise. And then he didn’t let go for the whole movie.

Thanksgiving was approaching quickly. I would return to Houston to see my family, and he would remain in Oklahoma City with his family. The week away awakened butterflies in my stomach. We barely spoke during the week, though I looked at my phone hourly to see if he had called or sent a text message. He was enjoying time with his family, who had traveled from Florida and California for the holidays, and I spent time with my family, who I rarely saw and who had also traveled from California for the holidays. We had plans once we were both back in school. It would be the first night I would meet his friends.

It was a date party for his fraternity. We would eat at Sonic in Edmond and then make our way to Chickasha to watch “Grease” at the drive-in theatre. The night started when he gave me a single red rose, and then it was the first time we held hands, sitting in the back of the car. At the end of the night, we had our first kiss: a quick peck on the lips in the parking lot after he walked me to my car.

After that, things sped up, and our separate lives slowly became one tangled life. He spent time at my apartment, watching movies and laughing on the couch. I spent more gas money than ever before driving to Edmond for dinner dates to Wendy’s and study sessions at I-Hop.

The first time I met his family I planned on getting to know his parents and his twin brother. Instead, we walked into his parent’s church, and he pointed at two (or was it three) pews of people. I went from knowing only him and speaking to his brother to suddenly meeting aunts and uncles and cousins, second cousins and grandparents and so on.

We had lunch with his parents and his brother at Chili’s. I was nervous and wondered if they would like me. But it was easy, or as easy as meeting your future in-laws can be. Months later, one of his cousins told me that she knew as soon as I walked into the church that I would become part of the family.

Christmas was quickly approaching at this time. We both became inundated with papers, tests, and ice storms. I was working part-time at a daycare center as well as teaching reading and math at a men’s substance abuse recovery center and also interning at the United Way. We continued our waltz of studying, seeing movies, and ordering in pizza at my apartment.

I didn’t want to think about Christmas and being away from him for over two weeks. We had known one another for just a little while, but already it felt like this was it. We had no plans to celebrate the holidays together due to distance and cost, but his parents surprised us with a one-way ticket to Houston for him, just in time for New Year’s Eve. And his sister was scheduled to land in Oklahoma City the day before I drove to Texas. We would make it through our first holiday season having met one another’s families.

(title from "god gave me you" by dave barnes)
This post is part of a series. It is a snapshot of how I met (and married) my husband. To read the entire series, click here.


all my life you've been calling me

The most amazing thing occurred last night. I attended our weekly Community Group, as I do most Tuesdays, and was encouraged and prophesied over and inundated with love from the Holy Spirit. It’s strange to write those words and realize the weight that they carry. Before last night, I was a bit unsure of the whole prophecy bit in the Bible. I understand that our church believed in prophecy. I had heard stories about prophecies coming true, but I was not a true believer in it. And then last night happened.

For several weeks and months, I’ve been struggling. I have struggled with fear, with exhaustion, with feeling stuck, with resentment, with anger, with uncertainty, with even more exhaustion, with anxiety, with depression, with not knowing how to pray, with not hearing or feeling God, with insecurity, and with other things I’m not sure how to put into words. During much of this time, I have wondered and asked where God was in all of it, what His plan was, and why He was allowing things to happen.

There were some answers, yes, but my heart continued to break for more answers. I continued to feel worn down, to feel forgotten, to be angry. I tried to find joy, and I searched for peace. I asked for peace. And He gave it, but it was often the same thing the next day. And then the next.

In the past two weeks, I began to truly press into God, more than I ever have before. I was at a point, we were at a point, where there was truly nothing else that could be done but to press into Him. It took me a long time to get to this point, and it took even longer to allow myself to let go of my own personal opinions about what it looks like to press into God.

At first, nothing truly changed. It was a lot of work, pressing into God, and it was frustrating to try and try and try but feel like nothing happened. I refused to give up, and eventually, God did begin to reveal Himself in little ways, which I wrote about in this post. But, still, it felt like something was lacking.

And then last night happened.

Like I said, we attended Community Group. Instead of the normal home, we met at a condo (which I am in love with and want all to myself, but that’s another post all in itself). Our Community Group (C-Group, for short) has recently been averaging 20 people or so. Tonight, there were a smaller number of us and then four others who had never joined our group.

The four others came to equip us, to help us to learn about prophecy and to pour into us. It was a divine meeting.

I had difficulty at first with the equipping. Questions ran wild in my head and collided with doubt. I knew and know what the Bible says, but I just didn’t think God could, or would, ever use or speak to me in such a way. And then, dreams were brought up and how dreams can often by from the Lord.

I dream somewhat regularly, and I forget several of the dreams. However, there are several recent dreams I have been unable to get out of my head, and I have wrestled with if they were from God or not. There was a tugging on my heart which told me to talk about the most recent dream and to get direction on whether or not it was from God or if it was just a nightmare, as there was fear that went along with the dream.

When I had the dream, my husband was asleep in our spare bedroom (thanks to our two Labrador/pit bull mixed dogs which regularly boot one of us out of bed). Our family of four was home at night when our house was broken into. Somehow, though I do not remember how, I was able to call the police and then make it back into the living room where we were with the burglars. Our belongings were also in the middle of the living room, ready to be taken into their possession and out of home. I recall a sense of fear in the dream but also a sense of peace. Somehow, though I really don’t know how, the burglars left our home and left our possessions with us.

I was afraid when I woke up. The dream felt incredibly real, and it took me several minutes of prayer and deep breaths before I was able to fall back asleep. I tossed and turned for the rest of the night, unsure of whether the dream was real or not.

I spent several days praying over the dream and asking if it was from God or not. I never got a clear answer until last night, when I was told that the dream did in fact come from God and that I had interpreted it correctly. My interpretation was that over the past year we had been attacked and had almost had everything stolen from us (our marriage, our sense of security, our belongings, etc.) but that the time of attack was almost over.

So much more occurred last night outside of the interpretation, and I feel it imperative to share as it was an absolutely amazing and divine experience. But I also know not to share all details of the night as I believe some of it was meant only for me and for the others in the room. There might be a time later on when I am meant to share, but for now, I want to treasure what happened in my heart and truly pray over it.

Like I said, four people joined our C-Group last night that I had never met. They knew nothing about my struggles or our struggles. And yet, the words they spoke and the pictures they shared elicited a joy and a peace in my heart that I have never experienced.

Some of the words spoken were: strength, sunrise, motherly figure, all things new, eagle’s wings, peace, light, coming out of the pit, the cusp of something new, newfound joy in our roles as husband and wife, and humble servant. Two verses shared were Psalm 40 and Jeremiah 29:11. One person also shared the story of Mary pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet. Another person also quoted some of the words I previously prayed and provided God’s response to my words.

I am still uncovering more and more truths in what were said. I am reveling in God’s love and His grace and the fact that He poured out so much into me. I feel so inadequate for what His grace delivered last night but also more complete in Him than I ever have before.

We are beginning a new journey and a new life. His blessing will abound, that was also spoken over us last night, and I feel as though we truly are on the verge of things we never could have imagined as is said in Habakkuk 1 (spoken about here).

And I couldn’t be more excited or more nervous or more anxious but all in the best way possible.

the sunrise this morning. especially poignant after last night. taken with my iphone.

(title from "the house you're building" by audrey assad)


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