Wednesday, February 18, 2015

all the single ladies

a year ago i thought i would never meet him.

but it turned out, i had already met him.

but let me explain. in the year leading up to him, the Lord had been taking me on a faith adventure of sorts. and i had confused the voice of the Lord, with my own desires.

my desires - the beauty and glamour of living in California.

His desires - to bring me back to Colorado, i place i vowed to never return except to visit my family.

I worked for an entire year with the goal of moving to Orange County to be a part of a new church plant out there. my heart was set. i firmly stated to everyone around me that nothing could stop me from moving to California, and that's where my heart was.

(i find that when we use like "never" or "nothing" with God, He laughs and moves the pieces of your life into a total different direction...towards that very thing you said "never" to.)

i moved back to Colorado in June of 2013, with every intent of leaving by June of the next year.

in September, this chick Lindsay started working at my Starbucks. i knew she loved Jesus. but i didn't know we had so much in common. and i didn't know how much my friendship with her would change so much in my life.

in January of last year, she was speaking at the Saturday night service at our church. and she invited me to come hear her preach.

she also said, "you should meet this guy at my church, and date him"

knowing i was only a short season away from leaving Colorado forever, i said i would meet him, but couldn't make any promises.

January 18.

i met him that night.

he had a fluffy mustache.

he was awkward.

i made it very clear that i was moving to California in 6 months and had no interest in being friends.

i shut the door in my heart and made a declaration that i wasn't going to date anyone, cause it would only be a distraction from the ultimate goal of moving.

but them something started to happen inside my heart. and his.

we started to take a liking to one another.

a few months later we started hanging out.

he suckered me into playing softball with the church.

we would spend 4 hours at a time sitting talking in his old, beat up Honda.

saying goodbye at night got harder.

and one day, exactly 4 months later on May 18th, he asked me in the most precious way to be his girl.

i said yes.

meanwhile. i was still wrestling with the desire for California. but my heart had grown strings and roots in Colorado.

through a lot of prayer, talking with mentors, and talking with Byron...i made the decision to surrender that dream for the dream of being a wife and having a partner to do ministry with for the rest of my life.

we knew that if we were to date, it wasn't for fun or for kicks and giggles. it would be with the intent to get married.

that was 9 months ago. and right now we are on track to be married later this year.

and i cannot wait to share his last name and create a legacy for our family.

but i was convinced i would never meet him.

i got to the place where i was content.

i was happy.

i didn't want a man.

i wanted Jesus. only Jesus. only His plans and purposes for my life.

i desired to know His voice and His word.

i desired intimacy with Him. and i loved Him deeper and sweeter than i ever have before.

i reached the place where my soul was satisfied with just loving and being loved by my first Love. Jesus.

and then, basically out of thin air, all the puzzle pieces falling together...there he was. 

he pursued me with kindness, respect, gentleness, holiness, joy.

he was a gentleman.

he wooed the deepest parts of my heart and beckoned me to take a risk that could end in heartbreak.

or it could be the best and greatest risk i have ever taken before.

and that is what happened.

i risked falling in love.

i risked putting my heart out there.

i risked vulnerability in the deepest parts of my heart that not a lot of people have seen.

i risked sacrificing a dream, in exchange for a new dream. a better dream. a lifelong dream that was being fulfilled in front of my very eyes.

i watched as the Lord fulfilled the desires of my heart in this man.

He cares about the details and tiniest desires, you know?

the blue eyes.

the parents that are still married.

the love for Jesus.

the simple last name. (ha! no more butchering my name, folks!)

when Jesus is the center of your romance here on earth, the result is something so overwhelmingly beautiful.

and hard.

its a daily challenge.

we choose each other. daily.

we choose to forgive.

we choose to honor.

we choose to sacrifice our desires for the sake of the other.

we choose to be willing to go the extra mile to serve each other. even when it means we will have to go beyond our own comfort zone.

but we challenge each other.

we are better together than we are apart.

and i know as you are reading this, there are desires stirring up inside of you to have a romance and love story of your own.

well, dear sister.

let me assure you.

he is coming.

maybe you're not ready. perhaps he isn't ready to lead you in the way he needs to be able to.

but let me let you in on a little secret.

you know how you get annoyed when they say things like...

"it will happen in God's timing."

"it will happen when you're least expecting."

"it will happen when you don't really want it."

"it will happen when both of  you are ready and the Lord sees fit to put you together."

i know its annoying...but you know what else it is? ITS TRUTH.

me and Byron was something that definitely happened in the Lord's timing. it wasn't mine. i didn't want a relationship. but i needed one. i have grown and been put through the refining fires so much since i started dating this man. i have been challenged. i have been shaped to look more like Jesus. i have learned about love, forgiveness, submitting, and following my man as a leader.

i sure wasn't expecting it. i was expecting to be living in sunny California at this point in my life.

i didn't want it. at all. i wanted Jesus and only Jesus. i wanted to whole heartedly follow His calling.

but sometimes His calling takes us places we don't expect.

and i know that myself and Byron were both in a place of being ready and the Lord proceeded to put us together.

when he asked me out, it included a note that said "They always told me I needed to find a companion who was running after God as fast as I was. Looks like I found my running mate!"

and we're going to be running the race of life together for the rest of our lives.

hand in hand.

side by side.

neither of us trailing behind.

but both of us refusing to let the other fall behind.

God placed two broken souls together and made something so incredibly beautiful.

from the brokenness of our lives has come something new, and something that the Lord is putting through His fires so that it can last forever.

i will hold that man's hand and his heart forever. championing his dreams. pushing him forward. making him feel honored, respected and loved. doing life together.

all this being said, dear sister, don't lose heart.

ever.

the Lord is working and fighting on your behalf.

He is aligning all the puzzle pieces to fit together to create your own love story.

one that is unlike anyone else's, but one you will treasure more than any other gift the Lord has given you.

so take heart.

be patient.

rest in the fact that the Lord has not forgotten you.

He's just perfecting your story.

He's preparing you and the sweet, sweet man of yours.

so use this season of singleness to fall in love with Jesus.

i don't regret a minute of my single season.

i fell in love with Jesus in the deepest, most intimate places of my heart.

and i urge you to do the same.

when you love Jesus well, it prepares you to love your man well.

when you forget about Jesus and you're not satisfied with Him and only Him, don't think for a minute that a man will satisfy you.

he can't. only Jesus can complete you and make your heart truly satisfied and at rest.


so learn to love Jesus well.

learn to follow well.

learn His voice.

and don't stop praying for that man of yours.

he needs it.

you need it.

your heart needs it.

he's on his way, lovely one.

you are beautiful and worthy of being cherished, treasured, and led by a man who loves Jesus beyond anything or anyone in this world.

be encouraged and never lose heart in this adventure of loving Jesus.

"...He has made everything beautiful for its own time..." [ Ecclesiastes 3:11 ]

Saturday, January 10, 2015

macchiato

November 4th of this past year should have been just like any other day.

but it wasn't.

it was the worst day.

the few days before that, my sweet pup, Macchiato, had been acting strange.

she was just laying there. not moving. not getting up...not even for food.

and that just wasn't like her.

she wasn't eating or drinking. she was breathing hard for seemingly no reason at all.

she was acting like something was very, very wrong.

we took her to the vet that Tuesday morning, expecting bad news, but hopeful that they could help her.

they took her back. on a blanket. cause she wouldn't get up to walk. my dog would never stand to be drug on the floor by a stranger, and not let out a single bark.

they put her on oxygen. took an x-ray. and called us back.

the doctor showed us the x-ray and explained that she had fluid in her lungs, and her heart was enlarged, and she was probably experiencing heart failure. he told us there were options to try and extend her life for a few more months at the most.

we fought tears as we discussed what to do.

the nurse took Macchi out of that room to put her on the scale and get her weight.

54 pounds of fur and love.

she wouldn't get down by herself. so we helped her off the scale and back onto the blanket.

and she just let her legs go limp and she fell to the ground.

my sisters and i didn't realize what was happening until the doctor rushed over, trying to save her.

her heart had stopped.

she was gone.

my mom got there right in the moments that she was passing.

and thus began one of the absolute most painful moments my family has ever experienced.

we wept. sobbed. our guts wrenching and hearts ripping into pieces. gasping for air. unable to breathe or process what had just happened.

i texted my brother who was at work.

"you need to get here. now."

he arrived. and i saw my brother cry for the first time in my life.

our sweet girl who was a part of our family for 12 years...was gone.

my brother in law Travis arrived. and as a family, we mourned our girl and said goodbye much quicker than we wanted to.

my mom prayed as we cried. thanking the Father for the 12 amazing years we had with her. for giving us the best dog ever. for the lessons she taught us. and how we would never forget Macchi.

it was much more painful than anything i had ever imagined.

i always joked about her being the immortal doggie...and on this day, i wished it could be true.

she was my pal. my confidant. my running buddy. my listening ear. my wresting partner. my instagram model dog. a troublemaker. my friend.

even as i write this, tears are running down my cheeks. i miss her everyday.

// i have heard so many different people claim that their dogs were the "best dog ever". but frankly, they are wrong. my dog was, without a shadow of the doubt, the best dog ever.

she taught us so many lessons about life and love.

she taught us about faithfulness and loyalty.

it didn't matter what kind of day we had dealt with, or what kind of mood we were in... she was always there to greet us when we came in the door. tail wagging. barking and yelping loudly. even when she was being sassy and didn't get up to greet us...her tail still flopped up and down from wherever she was laying.

i miss those welcome home greeting every time i walk in the door.

she taught us that you must be faithful to your pack, and protect each other.

huskies are very protective of their packs and make excellent guard dogs.

we were her pack.

and any intruder (visitor)...needed to be fully tested and barked at to get approval.

she always had our backs.

she taught us unconditional love.

john grogan wrote in Marley and Me... "a dog doesn't care if you're rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his." // 

and that, friends, is the absolute truth.

Macchi loved everyone. she put up a tough front with strangers...but ultimately, she was the friendliest dog on the planet and would jump up to hug you and lick your face if she thought you needed a hug.

we poked a lot of fun at Macchi. all out of love.

telling her the she was the worst dog ever. and nobody liked her. and nobody loved her. and how stupid she was. and how she was an evil doggie.

and alas...she loved us like she never heard any of it. (cause we all know dogs understand their humans...the good, bad and the ugly)

she taught us joy.

she always had a smile on her face. she brought us so many laughs and so much joy.

she was the derpiest dog on the planet.

she would do the dumbest things.

she would jump up onto a bed or couch and totally miss her hind legs and fall right on her butt.

she would dig holes in the back yard and run back and forth like a psychopath.

she would sit on chairs in the dining room and lick the frosting off of cookie bars when we weren't looking.

she would howl at every fire truck.

she would chase bugs and snap at flies until they were pounced on under her paws.

she was also awesome. i've never met another dog that would give high 5's on command.

and in the end, she taught us the art of staying strong.

the doctor explained that she had probably been sick for quite some time. but huskies are so wild hearted that they are good at masking the pain and problems and acting like nothing is wrong. until it just becomes too much for them to handle, and they have to show their weakness.

she showed us that being strong take a lot of guts, but there is a moment to show your weakness.

and as though she knew that her family was there with her.

that we loved her so much.

that she was the greatest dog ever.

she had the strength to let go.

to go peacefully.

she made the decision for us so we wouldn't have to decide to extend her life or let her go.

she didn't want to put that burden on us.

so she decided for us. that it was time.

and she went.

one minute there. the next, gone.

we showered her with love. told her how she was the best dog who ever lived. that we loved her so much. that we would miss her so much. that we would see her in eternity.

i knelt beside her. leaned over. held her in my arms. kissed her sweet, furry face. took her collar off. and said goodbye to the sweetest furry friend i could have ever asked for.

and i still try to talk to her as if she were laying on her spot on the love seat.

we choose to remember the happy. the good. not the sad.

john eldredge said in one of his books that God showed him in a dream and told him that one of the dogs that he loved so much was in heaven, waiting for him.

so we choose to believe that God cares about the things we love and care about, and that we will see her again one day.

cause i really do believe that the best of the best puppies go to heaven and wait to be reunited with their humans.

cause God is good.

and His love is faithful.

"Macchiato" is the italian word for "marked".

our Macchi left a mark on our hearts and lives forever.

to the best dog who ever lived.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

are you afraid of Jesus?

i work in a coffee shop, and every saturday night we have a large group of people that come in to hang out together for hours. 

i was minding my own business, wiping down the bar for the 529th time. and then something caught my attention. 

i heard in a small voice from one of the kids in the group asking an older gentleman- 

"are you afraid of Jesus?" 

my first thought was, 'what a ridiculous question, how could you be afraid of Jesus?' 

but as i thought about it more, and more, and more, i realized that this ten year old kid was asking a really valuable, heavy, soul searching question. 

and it got me thinking about the times i have been afraid of Jesus. 

and why i chose to follow Jesus. 

even when i was afraid of Him. 

there have been moments throughout my life where i have thought, 

"is this for real? what if none of this is real? what if this whole God and Jesus thing is just a story? what if i'm wrong? what if what i've spent my entire life knowing, isn't really reality? what if i'm living in a fairy tale? what if He isn't really there? maybe we're just all crazy." 

but each time i've let my mind wander into an alternative reality, i am brought back by this one thought, and every time come to the same conclusion. 

if none of this is real, then life is meaningless. 

if Jesus isn't real, if the God i have walked with for the past 8 years isn't real, if life after this isn't real- then what is life? 

life without Jesus is nothing. 

He is the very purpose in all of creation. 

He is the hope of every heart. 

He is the heartbeat. 

because if not then what are we even doing here? 

i wouldn't want to be alive if it weren't for the love, presence, hope and life of Jesus inside of me. 

and i've walked through seasons with my back towards Him, and death consumed my heart. 

in those seasons and every moment i've let doubt wander into my mind, i was afraid of Jesus. 

i was afraid of surrender. 

because Jesus isn't a safe God. 

He's dangerous. 

so surely following Jesus has to be dangerous. 

real, all-in Christianity, is not safe. 

surrender is not safe. 

if requires you to give up your will. 

your dreams. 

your passions. 

your fears. 

your inspirations. 

your inadequacies. 

your failures. 

your successes. 

your crowns. 

your ideas. 

your possessions. 

your rights. 

your l i f e. 

surrender demands everything. 

surrender asks you to willingly become a servant. 

a slave. 

death to everything you've ever known in exchange for the life of Jesus. 

its not an easy death. 

its not comfortable. 

its not safe.

but this death brings life abundant. 

i could choose the safe route. 

a well paying nine to five desk job, a husband and three kids, a mini van, and a house with a white picket fence. 

the "American dream".  

but i don't want the American dream. 

i want God's dreams. 

and that requires going beyond the limits of "safe". 

because if you ever truly want to go into the depths of all of God's heart, presence, love, and the "plans I have for you" in Jeremiah 29:11- 

safe isn't an option. 

i had to come to a moment of recognizing that life could no longer be safe. 

i wanted surrender. 

i wanted to know the plans God has for me. 

i wanted to know Him. 

i wanted something and someone greater than anything i could ever imagine. 

and i found Him. 

he is Jesus. 

i was afraid of Jesus. 

i was afraid of the fire in His eyes. 

i was afraid to let His love cover the shameful parts of my story and life. 

i was afraid to give up my comfortable prison cell of sin. 

i was afraid to give up the identity i found in my weaknesses and failures. 

i was afraid to be bold and believe what He said about me. 

i was afraid that i wouldn't be good enough for Him. 

i was afraid i would fail Him. 

i knew i couldn't love Him the way He deserves. 

i was afraid to give Him control of my life. 

i knew that once i did, i couldn't rely on my own strength because His plans go beyond my ability. 

and i liked being able to control my life and what happened next. 

He seemed dangerous. 

following Him would cost everything. 

but there was no other option. 

i came to the all inclusive decision and truth that Jesus is the only Truth. 

He is the only way to life. 

He is the meaning of life. 

i fell in love with Him. 

and following Him might be dangerous, but there was no other choice. 

dangerous freedom over peaceful slavery. 

and in surrender, in submitting my heart to the dangerous path and all consuming God, there was freedom unspeakable. 

and freedom for every day. 

and a love, a hope, a joy, a Savior who makes every day worth living. 

sometime i think what my life would look like if i had chosen the easy route. 

if i hadn't signed up to have a target on my back that says "kill" to the enemy. 

if i had not listened and responded to the constant beckoning of my King. 

and i don't want it. 

any of it. 

safe is not the path we are called to. 

we are called into dangerous living. 

dangerous faith. 

dangerous joy. 

dangerous hope. 

dangerous to the kingdom of darkness

and wrecking every heart that might surrender to the Lion of Judah. 

cause if you want to walk with a Lion, you have to be willing to risk what others are not willing to risk. 

so let me ask you the same question that this ten year old boy unknowingly challenged my heart with. 

[ are you afraid of Jesus? ]

and what is it that you are afraid of?

are you willing to exchange your fear or hesitations for a life that cannot be contained or imagined? 

don't be afraid. 

there is freedom in surrender. 

and the dangerous path might not be easy, but you regret one moment of it. 

the goal of life is not to arrive at death safely. 

the goal of life is to L I V E


"Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” “That you will, dearie, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver; “if there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or else just silly.” “Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy. “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” - C.S Lewis