Wednesday, January 29, 2014


My fiancé is gonna pay. 

He doesn't really know the full extent of how bad it's going to be, and neither do I. But, he's gonna pay. I'll make sure he does. 

Because I'm broken, shattered and just all around jacked-up. 
When you've encountered unfaithfulness in relationships in the past, it makes it pretty impossible to enter into another relationship with complete trust. And so, he'll pay. Not because I want him to, but that's just the reality of the mess I am. Untrusting, fearful, always sure that some girl is looming around the corner ready to seduce, ready to be available in all the ways I cannot, and willing to give in the ways I'm unwilling to give. 

I hate it for him. 
I hate that what I often have to offer is fear, doubt and skepticism. I hate that while I can know he loves me, there's this little voice that constantly haunts me: …but does he really? Is it enough to keep him from wandering…? 

I'm fighting it.
Every day, in millions of situations. I rarely allow myself to voice the fleeting thoughts, but it doesn't change the fact that they constantly exist. Who is he texting? Did that hug linger for too long? Was that conversation too intimate? Does he have a hidden secret that I know nothing about? 

I'm not proud of them. Admitting them makes me aware, yet again, of how painfully insecure I am. Of how painfully broken I am. It's maddening at times. Why can't I be a normal person in a normal relationship without having to sabotage everything good in my life? 

Maybe normal doesn't exist, but I sure wish it were different. That I could be different. That I could trust fully. 

And so I'm fighting. With everything that I can. The moment the irrational thoughts surface are the moments I try to view the situation from every possible other angle. They're the moments when I try to stifle them, when I swallow the fears and attempt to convince myself that my worst-case-scenario isn't always my actual-case-scenario (in fact, it rarely is). 

The other night my fiancé, before hanging up the phone, said, "Debbie. I want you to know I love you. And I want you to know the fullness of what that means and to never doubt it. I want to do whatever I can to make you always feel loved." My eyes stung with the awareness of how often I struggle to continually allow myself to receive that in the fullness of what is given. 

He's done nothing wrong, he's done nothing to deserve the questions, the suspicion, the doubts…but yet he pays. Most days he pays, even if he isn't fully aware of it. He pays because of my pain, my past baggage, my burdens. And yet, he chooses to love me anyway. It's unreal

But I don't want that to be my life. I don't want that to be our forever. I don't think that's how it's intended to be and I don't plan on dwelling in that existence. He shouldn't have to pay because of another's mistakes. 

And so I'm fighting. 
Fighting to allow the Lord to heal me, to work in those wounds, to build up a trust between the two of us that can only come from Him. 

It's hard.
It's unnatural.
But it's necessary. 
I don't want him to have to pay. I want to love him in the fullness of always hoping, always trusting and always persevering. It can't happen on my own. 

And so as I fight, I'm thankful for a man who stands by my side. Who assures me of his love for me in moments when I least expect it. Who looks deeply into my eyes, longing to see all of me….a man who embraces the woman I am and supports the woman I am becoming. A man who tolerates the fears, the questions, the insecurities… a man who does whatever he can to make sure I know that he only has eyes for me.

I'm getting there.
Because the Lord heals. He makes the impossible possible. 
There's hope, even in the midst of our biggest wounds. 

I believe, firmly, that I will fully trust again. 
I believe it because I already trust a lot.
I'm still a work in progress.
But, there's hope.
I'm fighting for it. I'm fighting for good to prevail. For my life to be defined by God's redemption and faithfulness, not by the darkness that attempts to steal, kill and destroy. 

There's the promise of life and having it to the full…and I intend on living in the fullness of that promise. 

I hope you do, too. 

Your entries will remain anonymous

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Quiet Few

Whenever I watch American Idol auditions, I wonder at least a few times, "Who are the people telling these people that they should go on national television and sing?"

I guess I get it. We're a society that urges people to chase dreams, and no one really wants to be the person who dashes anyone's hopes. But, I value honesty. And sometimes we have to be willing to recognize that maybe (just maybe), we're not quite as good at something as we hope we might be.

I've been wondering it a lot myself, lately.
I see a bazillion blogs and articles get posted and I think, "Dang... she can write. Why am I even trying?" I feel like an American Idol contestant who only dreams of that golden ticket that's gonna take me to Hollywood (which, in reality, still doesn't mean much of anything).

Most days I want to quit.
Most days I think I should.
Most days I don't even know why I started.

And then there are the quiet few. The quiet few that urge me to keep going. Sometimes I tune their voice out, believing quite fervently that they are the ones pushing me to audition for the sake of a few laughs on national television that are forgotten as soon the scene changes. But, oftentimes I listen.

They're the whispers that gently say, "Keep going. This matters. This affects me. It challenges me. It makes me feel like I'm not alone. Your voice matters. You remind me of truth, even when I don't always want to hear it."

The Quiet Few.

They aren't always the same voices, either.
And so I keep going, recognizing that the end to all this madness doesn't have to be fame or fortune. It doesn't have to be wild success of Pulitzers and popularity.

Perhaps it's just one or two.
Perhaps those American Idol contestants embarrass themselves on national television but they bless a few in their most inner circles. Perhaps it's their babies, as they sweetly sing them to sleep at night. Maybe a local congregation of church-goers (who might be mostly deaf, but eager to see a young face passionate about using their voice for the Lord). Maybe family members on important family occasions.

Maybe the Quiet Few.

Too often we give up on our dreams because we aren't good enough. There's always going to be someone better than us, more talented, more successful.... people are going to want others more than us. There's always an excuse to give up (unless on the rare occasion that you're a prodigy).

But what if we shifted our dreams.
What if it wasn't about numbers of people, what if it wasn't about our own worldly success? What if it was simply about doing something that mattered? And what if it only matters to a few, but it still matters? Or what if it was about who we'll meet along the journey of pursuing our passions and the impact we might have on them?

I'm probably never going to "make it" as a writer.
I imagine I'll keep writing though.
(For those of you who wonder why, you can thank all of those people who keep telling me to.)

Because I've decided, even if it's just a few, it's worth it.
Even if exposing my life to the world wide web does good for one or two, I'll keep going. Even if trying to eventually write a book falls short of actual publishing and only makes it into the hands of my inner circle of support through self-publishing... I'll do it.

It's part of pressing on, pushing through, believing that the passions I have matter and when I'm directing them toward the One who matters, I can't really go wrong.

There are always going to be better writers, better singers, better musicians, better comedians, better speakers, better entrepreneurs, better artists, better photographers, better chefs, better doctors, better bosses, better athletes, etc. etc. (you get the idea....and most of the time, 'better' is subjective, anyway). But it doesn't mean that we should quit. It doesn't mean that we should give up. It doesn't mean we shouldn't try.

Maybe we need to start listening to The Quiet Few in our life who remind us that what we're doing matters, and maybe we need to dive deeper in. And maybe I'm not quite as good as I wish I were, and maybe I'll never be... but maybe that's okay. Maybe it's not about fame and fortune, and maybe impacting only one or two for good can matter, too.

I guess we each get to decide for ourselves.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Growing Up

As I continue to grow my silver hairs out, I sorta get excited about getting older.
With age comes wisdom, and I can't help but think of how much more of a credible source I become when I'm no longer in my twenty-somethings attempting to pretend like I have anything figured out (because we all know, by now, that I know nothing).

But, I can't help but feel like sometimes we get tunnel-vision when we think about who we will eventually be and oftentimes feel quite discontent with who we currently are. There's this heavy weight over us that can make us feel like where we're at isn't quite good enough...and so we push on toward better (usually, anyway). We're unsatisfied with our current state.

As a new aunt, I've found myself often saying things like, "I can't wait until she can laugh!" or, "I can't wait until he can say my name!" or, "I can't wait until she can actually be excited to see me!"

Because, as cute as my niece and nephew are, I'm still this stranger to them. I find myself wishing that they were older, that they understood more, that they had a greater capacity to actually love me and not just depend on me from time-to-time (on the rare instances when their parents entrust them to me to watch for a few hours, that is).

But I also love right where they're at and I hate thinking about them getting bigger so fast. I recognize that this stage of their development will be gone too soon and before I know it, they'll be running around, screaming 'NO' and asking that I play ridiculous games with them over and over and over again. Right now I'm content to ask them what a monkey says and filled with joy when they mutter, "ooo ooo ooo ooo."

Sometimes I wonder if the Lord sees it the same way. Maybe He's excited about our growth and about who we'll eventually be and the ways we will mature and become more like Him as time passes, but in the meantime...maybe He just loves exactly who we are in this moment. Maybe He loves that all we can do is make monkey noises and He'll find so much joy in that, while simultaneously being excited about where He knows we're going to be in a few years.

Maybe there's a both/and.
And maybe, in that, we don't have to feel so unsatisfied about where we're currently at. He loves us right here, in the midst of immaturity and ignorance. He's sees the good in where we're at, He's embracing the things about us that will eventually change as we grow....perhaps even enjoying how unrefined and uneducated we are at times. There's something unique to the way we speak so rawly and openly about Him, even if it isn't always tactful or filled with grace. It's filled with passion and love. And, maybe, as we grow, those things start to become more filtered as we learn more about how different people respond to different things and how to better become all things to all people so that some might be saved.

We're constantly learning.
We're constantly growing.
And the Lord is loving us the same throughout it all. He is just as thrilled with us when we are infants as He will be when we are elderly (both physically and spiritually).

My point is that I don't want us to get lost in having to always be something different, or in becoming something greater. Sometimes these stages that we go through are vital in our development as people, as believers. Sometimes we have to learn how to crawl before we can learn how to walk, even though we want to be walking right away. Sometimes we have to be willing to drink milk before we start chomping on the meat. Sometimes things just take time.

And it's okay.
We have to trust that we're right we're at for a reason, for a purpose... and the Lord is finding just as much joy in where we are at right now as He will be when we are older, more mature, more educated, more grounded. Because we're committed to doing what we can with what we've been given, during this season.

Aspire to be great, to be more like Jesus.... absolutely.
But don't be frustrated when it feels like it's taking a while, when you're limited in your own growth. Good things are happening.
He's using you, just as you are....even through all of your flaws and imperfections, loving you all-the-while.

It's a beautiful/cool thing to me.
I hope it is to you, too.

He loves us.
No matter where we're at.
He takes great joy in us, even when we feel slow, dimwitted, and ridiculously incompetent a lot of the time.

I pray we would receive it.
That we would find hope in it.
That we would move forward, pressing on toward what lies ahead...but simultaneously being content where we are at, no matter our circumstances.
Being excited about where we are heading and who we are becoming....and excited about who we are and where the Lord has already brought us from so far.

Still imperfect, yet deeply loved.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, January 20, 2014

When Problems Disappear

I found the man of my dreams and all my problems have disappeared!
Would you believe it if I said it were true?
And, maybe if you don't fully believe it, does a small part of you kind of believe it?

That if you just found the right guy, then things in your life would get a lot better...?
You'd never be lonely. You'd never be insecure. You'd never be jealous. You'd never doubt. You'd finally have this piece of life figured out and you could focus on other things, right?

I'm happy to report that it's not true.
The movies, the books, the magazines, the Facebook timelines that depict a life of perfection once the husband and kids come along...? The problems don't disappear... they just change, they shift. Oftentimes they are even enhanced.

Let's take two sinful people and put them together for the rest of their life. They will sleep together, eat together, raise children together, sometimes even work together. Let's take two people with different upbringings, different traditions, different values, different perspectives. Let's put them together and expect there to only be happily-ever-afters. Let's forget to mention the struggle to effectively communicate (in ways that are also gentle and respectful), the struggle to constantly be selfless, the struggle to unconditionally love. Let's forget to talk about sacrifice, compromise, the altering of plans and hopes and dreams.

When I think about all of that, I truly believe it's a miracle that any marriage survives.

I feel like I've had time to process through the pros and cons of being in a marriage-type relationship. If I'm being honest, there were times in my past, while able to acknowledge all the hardships of what that type of relationship can bring, it didn't matter. All I could see was a life-long companion who I could love deeply and vice versa. My eyes were glossed over and I felt like all my problems could vanish if only I could get married. It was a chosen naivety. I wanted it so desperately sometimes that I wasn't willing to consider the negatives of the situations I was in. I wanted it so desperately that sometimes (even if brief), I was willing to consider taking anyone who might possibly want me.

All that to say, I didn't enter into my current relationship lightly. I did it, fully knowing that this wasn't the solution to my problems. This wouldn't be what saved me. In fact, in the conversation that led to us deciding to date, one of his bigger concerns involved this very issue. His past had brought him to a place of recognizing how attached the heart can become and how very crushed it can get. He, in no way, wanted to ever crush me... and he feared he could.

I remember telling him, very clearly, that I was okay. That with or without him, I was okay. That the Lord had me and that he, as my boyfriend, couldn't take responsibility for 'crushing' me. Sure, things might end in heartbreak....but that's different than devastation, a squandering of my whole being. And sure, even if things worked out, that there might be heartaches and disappointments along the way...but that's different than him ever ruining me. And even if there's joy and excitement and lots of love... it's a far cry from him ever saving me or fixing all my problems. 

I don't want anyone to ever look at my life and let this be the end of my story. "Debbie was a cool single lady, aspired after the Lord in all things, was faithful and eventually (even after tears, doubts and giving up from time to time) met the man of her dreams." That can't be the end. Because the story still goes on. My problems aren't solved. My relationship doesn't save me, it doesn't fix me. There's still junk, there's still refining, there's still learning how to live life with a man (which sometimes, honestly, sounds terrifying and exhausting....while simultaneously sounding wonderful and adventurous).

Meeting the man doesn't solve anything.
I mostly wish we'd be women who truly believe that.
That as much as we can be hopeful for the day when it happens for us, that we never let ourselves believe that we've found the answer when he comes along.

Because being single isn't the problem. It's what we become, what we do, how we think that becomes the problem when we let our singleness define us. And that stuff doesn't just disappear when we meet the guy.

He won't save you.
He won't fix all your problems.
You'll still be lonely, jealous, insecure... and then you have the added on problem of the guy who can't understand why you'd ever feel that way when he's right there.

He doesn't fill the void. He can't. He was never meant to.

I have found the man of my dreams, and I still have problems. Some things get better, some things get harder.
My story goes on.
We'll wrestle through them together because we both fervently believe that, while we can't save each other, we must look to and point each other to the One who can. It's the only way we'll survive. It's the only way it'll work.

And, it'll be a miracle when it does.
Because it's hard.
And we both have problems, we're both still sinners.

And yet, we have been saved.
I have found the man of my dreams, and I am so thankful.
But the story has hardly begun.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Numb to Jesus

The comment:
I keep listening to this song, wishing my heart wasn't so numb to Jesus.
It was a response to a post a while back.
And while I wish I didn't identify with this, I do.

Numb: deprived of the power of sensation.

We so desperately want to feel Jesus that oftentimes we believe it's necessary to continue following Him. And while, yes, I think it's a pretty powerful component in our relationship with Him...I think it can also become a crutch for us.

Here's how I see it:
We have these mountaintop experiences with the Lord where everything feels exactly the way we think it's supposed to. We love Jesus, we know He loves us... we'll do anything for Him. We'll go anywhere, we'll give up anything, we'll love whomever He asks us do. We're sold out believers. Every time we read our Bibles, we feel like He's telling us something new...We're on fire! En fuego! Nothing can or will ever stop us from this mission we are on! 

But then time passes.
The fire dims.
We're reading the Bible, but we feel nothing. In fact, it's hard to do more than just skim over the words. We're praying, but it just feels like we're speaking words into nothing. We're talking about the Lord, but mostly just saying the things that we know make us sound like we are on top of our game. Times of worship are filled with frustration.. filled with zero sensation. 

Our hearts plead, "Jesus, where are you? Why can't I feel you anymore? I know this song, this passage, this Truth, this situation should be moving me..but it's not. What's wrong with me??

And that often becomes the thing we believe over all other things: that something is wrong with us. That we aren't doing something right. That we are being punished. That the Lord has abandoned us. That we need to do more of something. That we're disconnected and it's all our fault. 

This feeling of numbness, of disconnectedness often moves us in two opposite directions. One pushes us further into various disciplines: If only I read my Bible more, if only I pray more, if only I serve more, if only I love others better... then I will feel close to Jesus again. Then I'll be on the right track. The other is when our numbness turns into apathy...and we just start to distance ourselves further from the Lord. Who cares if I read my Bible at all? Who cares if I serve or if I love well? None of it matters. And we eventually find ourselves in a place we'd never imagined we'd be: numb, apathetic, lonely and, more often than not, swallowed up in some form of darkness.

It's hard... I get it. It's hard to go from a place of truly feeling the Lord to being in a place where you feel nothing. It's hard to be at the point of tears when you're presented with the Gospel and then be in a place where it just feels like a story you've heard many times before. It's hard to not feel like something is wrong with you when that transition takes place.

But, I don't think there is anything wrong with us.
In fact, sometimes I think we can place to much power on the experiential aspect of our faith and disregard the facts of our faith.

If in the height of my most spiritual experiential encounter I can acknowledge Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I also, in the depths of numbness and apathy, should be able to acknowledge Him as the same. How I feel doesn't ever change who He is and what He has done for us.

I think that's the point the Lord wants us to be at in our relationship with Him. The point where we are going to choose Him, no matter what. The point where we are going to make our decisions (despite how we feel in the moment) in a way that honors Him and reflects Him.

The point of our faith isn't to be in a constant state of feeling close to the Lord...the point of our faith is to walk further into it, to live in such a way where we seek to know Him more, when we are obedient to the call on our lives...even when we feel numb or apathetic. My end goal can't be about achieving a closeness with the Lord based on my emotions. I'm far too emotionally unstable for that to ever be the case. My end goal has to be glorifying Him, acknowledging Him as every season, no matter where I'm at or what I'm feeling at the time. It's part of the covenant I have entered into.

I think it's normal to feel distant at times... I think it's normal to feel numb. Is it ideal? No. But, what in this life is at all times? I think it's more about what we do when we're numb, when we're apathetic, when we're feeling distant and disconnected from Jesus.

Do we let the emotions drive us?
Do we let them define us?
Or do we let the truth about who Jesus is drive us and define us?
You may not be doing anything wrong when you feel distant from the Lord, when you feel numb. But will you prove yourself faithful to Him in those times? Will you still be obedient? Will you still be willing to go anywhere, do anything, love anyone? Will you still keep your eyes focused on Him?

We can't ever read our Bibles enough or pray enough (at least I never have been able to...not to the point where I was able to say, "Okay, I'm done. That was sufficient enough.")...and I'm not convinced that those are the things that will always draw us into feeling intimacy with the Lord. It'll often happen in the most random of times when we least expect it (sometimes even when we've done nothing 'right').

It'll be He who orchestrates it all.
In the meantime, I'll do what I have been asked to matter how I feel.
Because I believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, in the highs and in the lows. It is He who loves me, saves me, heals me, reconciles me to God. Sometimes that alone will bring me to tears as I feel the power (and humility) of what that means for my life...and sometimes that'll just be a fact that I live my life by.

May we find freedom in acknowledging Jesus Christ as our Savior, no matter how we feel. May we find freedom in not always having to question what's wrong with us...but allowing ourselves to wait patiently for the Lord to bring us into those emotional moments with Him. We don't have to make them happen...they aren't the crux of our faith.

Jesus is.

Let's not make it so much about us that we forget about Him.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Monday, January 13, 2014

Being Loved

You know how people can tell you that they love you, but you don't really grasp what that means (or maybe you just don't want to...)?

Maybe people have been telling you your whole life that they love you, but you deny it. You think that they only love you because they "have" to or that they're just saying it because they think they're supposed to. But sometimes you just have these moments where you actually realize the depth of it all...and you actually believe them.

I feel like I've been having a lot of those moments lately.

Perhaps it's because I've spent a lot of my life rejecting the notion that people could ever truly love me, or perhaps it's because I've just entered into sappy, love territory... but lately I've just been overwhelmed by it. Aside from my fiancé (although I'm continually blown away by how much a man can love me and show me that he loves me when I'm so undeserving of it), I feel like other people have come out of the woodworks and just...loved me.

Or maybe it's now that I'm at a point where I finally have to let people love me and before I've been able to keep pushing it away, I've been able to deny it. I now have to recognize that a marriage cannot be successful if I'm continually telling my husband that he doesn't really love me, if I'm continually believing this lie that he never could love me. And so I have to let him love me... which means I have to actually believe that he does love me (and that he'll choose to love me forever...eek!).

Once I allow this mindset to enter in, I can't very well think that only he could love me either. And so the floodgates have opened. Even the people that have told me that they've loved me my whole life (like my family)... I feel like it's just now truly starting to register.

I wish I hadn't waited so long.
I spent a lot of my time wishing people loved me (almost desperate for it at times), yet still unwilling to receive the love that was being constantly offered to me. Still being blind to it because it seemed too hard to let in, to identify, to understand. I wish I hadn't been the constant skeptic, the girl in the denial, the one who chooses to believe it's better to trust no one than to trust and get hurt. I wish I hadn't been so worried about protecting myself, that I wasn't so quick to scoff at the words, that I didn't cast them away just as quickly as they came my way.

Because people love me.
It's weird.
It's weird because it's true.
And it's weird because, oftentimes, I've done nothing to earn their love or deserve their it's hard for me to understand why they would, why they could.

But maybe that's the point.
Maybe in my finally allowing myself to believe that others could truly love me, that there's this greater depiction of Christ's love for me in it. An allowing myself to more fully believe His love for me that runs far deeper, wider, longer than anything on this earth that I know.

Do people tell you that they love you...?
Do you believe them?
I hope that you do.
I hope that you don't scrutinize, that you don't deny, that you don't reject the love that others offer you. I hope that you spend more of your life receiving the love and then, as a direct response, giving it to others. And, I pray, that it would be a true reflection of the Greater Love of the Lord.

Because He loves you.
It's weird.
It's weird because it's true.
It's weird because we've done nothing to earn His love or deserve His it's hard for us to understand why He would, why He could.

But, He does.
They do.

I've been humbled to the point of tears as I recognize the depth of the love that is constantly given to me. All I can do is receive it with open hands of gratitude as I fall flat on my face.

Thank you. For loving me so well. For loving me so much.
Even when I mess up, when I don't give anything in return, even when I'm selfish, even when I walk away...
I am loved.

I can't get away from it.
But, for the first time in a long time, I don't want to.

Your entries will remain anonymous

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Rules of Love

The Comment:
I'm not good at crushes. It takes a lot for me to like someone, but when I do, I like them a lot. But I never know what to do with those feelings. As women, we are taught to wait to be pursued. But I overcompensate with awkwardness when I like a guy - almost to the point of ignoring him sometimes, because I'm afraid to reveal too much too soon. I'm also afraid to really like someone because what if I waste my heart and time on something that will never pan out? And what if I miss out on something great because I was too focused elsewhere?
What if...?
You could ask yourself "What if.." questions all day and it won't get you anywhere. Why? Because you don't know. You won't know. You can't know. And our desire to know comes from this innate desire that we women tend to have to control.

Once we know something, then we have an idea of how to proceed. If we know that he's never going to like us back, then we can move on with our lives. If we know that if he'll like us when we're willing to reveal more of ourselves, then the risk is worth it. If we know that if we stay in a certain place or go somewhere else that we'll meet the right guy and not "miss out" then it makes everything abundantly clear. Doesn't it?

At least, we think so. We think it helps...
And so we spend a lot of our emotional energy asking What If.
A part of me wishes I could answer those questions for you. I wish that I could offer you some peace of mind. Unfortunately, I can't.

Here's what I know, though.
It's always a risk.
It's always unknown.
There's not a right way to do any of it. There are certain things that might "help" you when you like a guy (for example, ignoring someone isn't usually the most conducive way to convince him of your attraction to him)...but, in the end, some guy might find your silence mysterious, appealing and challenging.

I guess what I'm saying is that I think we're often searching for Rules to Life. We're suckers for it. It's all over the magazines, all over articles on social media: How to do this, how to do that, 10 steps to achieve this, 24 things for this. We want what worked for someone else to work for us, too. It seems easier that way, right?  If they've figured it out and been successful in this way, then maybe there's something to it. In a sense, the people who have done what we haven't are the answer to our What Ifs...they are the "know" to our endless questions.

But a lot of things in life don't work that simply. Just because Sally lost weight by running every day doesn't mean that I'm going to. And even if I do lose weight, it certainly doesn't mean I'm going to look anything like Sally does. Because I'm different.

There aren't these Rules to Life. The how-to articles don't give us the answers that we're looking for. And there definitely aren't Rules to Love.

Be you.
Live your life fully, doing the things before you, interacting with people the way that you do... and don't over-analyze it. Please...focus elsewhere. I wholeheartedly encourage it. You're not going to miss out. You're going to live more fully when you turn your attention to things that matter significantly more than maybe meeting a romantic partner. That part will most likely happen and it won't be because you followed a series of How-Tos or turned all of your attention toward attempting to date or changed who you were in the process.

Chase after Jesus.
Let Him be your only aim, your only goal, your ultimate desire. Do whatever it takes to live your life completely for Him and don't get caught up in the What Ifs. And when romance comes along, tend to it however you need to or choose to, but don't let it sweep you away from your mission in life. Don't let it deter you from your passions, your dreams, your gifts. Don't let it be all-consuming. And certainly don't think that you have to do it the way other people have done it... because even if you do, it doesn't guarantee the same result. Because you're different. He's different. The situation is different.

So...ignore him.
Be awkward.
Reveal too much too soon.
Waste your time.
Run away and hide.
They are all things that women before you have done and there will be both "success" stories and "failure" stories for each response. Because, again, the Lord is bigger than that. He's orchestrating things that we don't even know about, despite how we act in the process. Some day, some guy might choose you even when you don't do anything "right" and even when you might even be a little "crazy"... because that's just the way it's supposed to be.

In the meantime, focus elsewhere.
You won't miss out if you're not supposed to miss out...and it won't work out if it's not supposed to (no matter how many articles you read and how much advice you get...but you'll be so thankful for that in the end).
Rest assured in that.
Rest assured that the Lord's taking care of it.
Keep doing what you do, embracing your differences from the rest of the world, not letting all the "What Ifs" interfere with doing the things that matter.

Walk confidently into that.
There's no need to fear, despite the risks and the unknowns that you're up against. You can't control it.
It'll all be okay in the end.
In fact, it'll all be exactly as it should be.

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Monday, January 6, 2014

Do you Tell Him?

The Comment:
What do you do if you realize you like someone? Not just some sort of "oh they're cute and funny" kind of thing, but "you have been friends for a while and realize you want it to be more" type of thing? Even if the guy doesn't show anything.. Do you talk about it? Tell him? Do something? I feel like these days people say it's the boys job, but is it really?? And I for sure don't want to ruin a friendship....
Great question.
It's a situation that probably most girls have found themselves in at one point or another. Unfortunately, I don't think there's an overarching "right" answer. There are pros and cons to saying something, pros and cons to not saying something. Some would most definitely say that it's the guy's "job"... I usually say it depends.

In the past, there have been situations where I've remained silent and situations where I've also chosen to say something. I think there can be wisdom in both decisions, but you have to also be honest about your motivation for saying something.

I think, why we are prone to say it's the "guy's job" is because we like the idea of the man pursuing. Maybe we even believe that's how it should be. I suppose I'm of the train of thought that a girl could be honest about her feelings toward a guy without that being considered "pursuing". Perhaps I'm that way because I think that's how it happened with my fiancé 

I felt like he pursued me in friendship quite heavily, but I didn't know what his intentions were. At the point when I recognized how intense my feelings were for him, I knew I couldn't continue on in the same fashion if we weren't on the same page. After months of communicating daily (long-distance) and developing a friendship, my heart was engaged. I cared for him and I knew that if our friendship continued to progress in the way that it had been, that it would only cause me damage. So- I brought it up. I didn't necessarily come out and say, "I like you, wanna date?"...but I did let him know that I wasn't sure if we were on the same page and I didn't know if we could continue on the road we were on (of an intimate, deep friendship) if we weren't heading in the same direction. It was a time where I was open and honest about where my heart was in all of it, and a time where a veil came off his eyes and he felt the freedom to pursue me beyond friendship in a way he hadn't felt like he could prior to that. 

My heart in bringing it up wasn't to begin a relationship... but it was a way of self-preservation. If it wasn't going the way I felt like it was going, I needed to get out. My heart couldn't handle it. 

There have been other times when I've told guy friends about my attraction to them and nothing happened. Our friendship was awkward for a bit, but in the all ended up okay. Once I was able to tell them, even if I knew that (most likely) it wasn't reciprocated, there was some freedom I found in just being able to know that it wasn't a possibility. The friendship wasn't ruined, but I was better able to love him without this constant wondering of possible other intentions. 

And then there have been times when I have remained silent. The times when I cried a lot, was confused a lot, made irrational decisions a lot. The times when I read into everything, over-analyzed constantly, the times when I was always looking for some hope that he might like me, too. Eventually you move on. When he starts dating someone else, you realize he's not into you. Or maybe your communication just changes and you go separate ways and it's okay. Or maybe during a long bout of separation you gain some perspective and realize all the ways he's not a good fit for you (and you praise the Lord that it never happened!). Or maybe you find someone else. But, the existing in the feelings of the wanting but not having can be pretty horrendous at the time. 

So I guess I'm saying: you get to decide. 
There isn't a right or wrong. 
I wouldn't recommend asking guys out on dates or trying to manipulate all these situations to be alone with him...situations that will cause your heart to go crazy. I do recommend openness and honesty- especially at the expense of your sanity. I don't, however, recommend it if you think that being open and honest with him about where you're at will be harmful to him in any way. If your motivation for telling him is purely selfish (i.e. what can I get out of this?) then perhaps it's better to examine how that conversation may be for him. You may not know...but if you undoubtedly know that it would be detrimental for any reason, don't do it. Suck it up. 

In the end, I do believe that if a guy is interested he will eventually say something. It just may take him a long, long time...and it may take even longer if you've given him any sort of reason to believe that you'd never be interested. 

I don't regret saying something when I did. It was the right time and it was in line with where our relationship already was (full of honesty and depth and a longing for a true awareness of where the other person actually was). It was scary and vulnerable and I didn't know how our relationship would look after that, but it was what needed to happen at that time for us. I think, if you're choosing to say something, that you have to go into it without any expectation of what will result from that conversation. 

I also don't regret the other times when I've said something and nothing resulted from it...or the times when I chose to remain silent. Every friendship, every relationship is different...and in the end, you don't really know what is right. But, you trust that the Lord is going to take care of you no matter what. You can't really screw it up. He's better than that. He's full of grace and abounding in love. 

Matters of the heart are messy. That's just truth of it. It's painful, risky, unknown...and the end result is usually never what you might expect. 

So, say something...and trust the Lord with your heart, no matter how it ends up.
Or stay silent...and trust the Lord as you wait, as you remain in a friendship that can sometimes be painful. 

In the end, trust that the Lord has you. You're his. Your identity is in Him. 
Find your hope in Him and in Him alone, no matter how all the relationship stuff works out. If that's your mindset, you'll be okay no matter what. 

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

All is Well

Sometimes I feel like single ladies out there are heaving a sigh of relief when they see that I'm finally getting married. "If Debbie is getting married, maybe there's hope for me, too." And sometimes I feel like there's a bit of, "Why her...and not me?"

I only say that because, in my experience, I've been on both ends of the spectrum. I remember when a cool, older (but still young-ish) lady who had discipled me for a bit got engaged past the "normal" engagement years...feeling like there was a lot of hope for me. That maybe I didn't have to get married when I was 22 or 23 and life could still be good (even though, at that time in my naivety, part of me had felt sad that she had been single for so long). I also have been in a place, especially around Christmas when it seems like everyone and their mom is announcing engagements or babies or actually tying the knot, that my cynical heart couldn't bear to rejoice with one more person. Those were the moments that I felt like the entire world was passing me by and I wondered if I was ever going to get my turn. 

I'm 29 now. While many friends my age are having baby number 1 or 2 (sometimes even 3!), I'm finally getting married. I remember in high school and college placing bets with my female friends on who we thought would get married first, or the order in which we would 'go'. I was never picked for last... but, here I am...practically last. 

My oldest brother wrote me yesterday and said: 
You've waited a long time - and now you know why.  God's always had [this man] in mind for you, and He had you in mind for [this man].  Just took longer than maybe you would have wanted. But all is well.
All is well, indeed. 
All is perfectly well.
Better than I could have ever anticipated. Take heart, my friends...and keep doing what you are meant to do during this season. Do it wholeheartedly. Do it fully. And be someone who can always rejoice with others during their time of blessing, even when they are getting the very things that you long for. We must trust that the Lord knows what He is doing in all of it, that He is truly a good God (even in our times of deepest agony, loneliness, confusion, jealousy). 

I suppose I'm getting ahead of myself...I haven't even told you about the proposal yet. So, here's Part 2 of this crazy story: 

After a week with his family, we came to hang out with my family for a week. He had been insistent on taking me out for a fancy date while we were in my hometown. There was some speculation around the event (like, why take me out for a date in a place you've never been...why wouldn't we do a fancy date in your hometown??)...but I decided to go with it. After conversations with my mom, I was convinced that he had not brought up the topic of marriage with them again (since that ridiculous phone call) prior to our date, so my expectations were low. 

It was a beautiful Saturday, even somewhat warm-ish. The frost had melted, the skies were clear. He spent a few hours that morning helping my dad outside on some stuff while I helped my mom with a few things and leisurely got ready to go. And off we went.. a late lunch/early dinner (brinner, if you will?) to Les Bourgeois Vineyards, a beautiful place to dine and get an incredible bluff-top view of the Missouri River Valley. We ate, we took pictures of ourselves with the view behind us, we walked around a bit, we bought a bottle of wine as a thank you to my parents. And then we headed home.

I'm kind of a sunset fiend, and was anxious about missing the sunset on our drive home. He assured me that we could watch it when we got back to my house. As soon as we arrived, he walked me down into the backyard and as soon as we turned the corner, I saw a set-up that was quite unusual. Tiki torches, lights, a bonfire, a little table set-up with music, a card and some wine. Could this be what I think it might be?
I got excited about the sun was after a few pictures, he led me over to the table and handed me a card. I opened the wax seal and began to try to read what was written (although I must confess it was hard to focus when I was unsure about everything that was happening). He had written some beautiful words about wanting to spend forever with me, about wanting to spend our lives together glorifying the Lord in all we do. At the the bottom was written, "Turn Over". The moment I did, he was down on one knee.

"Absolutely. Yes, of course I will marry you!"

We hugged, we kissed, we laughed, we cried, we watched the sunset together...blown away by what a perfect day it was.

The Lord is so good, was the whisper on our lips.

Several minutes later (one can't be sure how many), a friend of ours popped up out of the woods with his camera in hand. Stunned, partially because I think of him as a Texas friend and partially because it's weird to see people suddenly emerge from the woods, we engulfed him in hugs. With his family in Kansas City for the holidays, he had offered to drive the two hours to come take pictures of our special day. It was perfect...and he took some incredible pictures!

Once the sun had completely set, we headed back inside to join up with my family. At this point he had told me that from the very first phone call to my family (two weeks into our relationship) he had told my mom about his plan to propose by the pond at sunset when we were home for Christmas. He told me about how my brother and sister-in-law had helped with the set-up, how my dad had gotten the bonfire ready...about how almost everyone I knew had been in on the secret...for a long time. I was astounded. Not only did this man love me so deeply, but he had been planning and preparing for almost our entire relationship (yes, the not even three months of it)...and he had invited my family to be such an important part of this day.

More of my immediate family was waiting for me, a few hours earlier than I had anticipated. Only one brother and sister-in-law couldn't be there for the occasion! Less than an hour later, my parent's house was filled with more friends to celebrate the occasion- high school friends, college friends, family friends. We got to share with them the story of our relationship, the proposal, they got to ask him questions (since many of them were meeting him for the first time). It was intimate, personal, deep and so wonderful to have them there on such a momentous occasion in my life.

And that's the story.
He's fit into my family better than I ever could have imagined, and they have embraced him with open arms. I'm thrilled to journey through life with him by my side, but am still aware that it doesn't make any of my problems go away. He doesn't save me, but constantly points me back toward the One that does. I love that. 

I want to urge you to never give up hope, to never lose sight of the things that matter, to never stop living for more than the temporary, than the earthly satisfactions. To never stop pursuing the Lord, to never stop trusting in His timing and His ultimate goodness. Your story is different than mine...and your love story will also be different. Let it be different. Let's not compare. Maybe it will be years before you meet the person you'll spend the rest of your life with, maybe it'll be tomorrow, maybe it'll never happen.

Trust that, in the end, all is well.
The Lord is sovereign.
He is good. His plan is perfect...even when we doubt it. 
Let's live our lives accordingly...even when He blesses us with abundantly more than we could possibly deserve and even when we feel cheated out of things in this life. 

Because He has given us a truer love in Jesus Christ than we can ever find in our earthly relationships. He has given us eternal life. He has died so that we might live. He has already given us abundantly more than we could possible deserve. 

All is well, indeed. 
Let's trust that it is so.
Thanking the Lord for an earthly love that I did nothing to deserve...and praying that we might be reflections of the love of the Father in every possible way.  

Thanks for rejoicing with me.
For loving me so well.
I am truly blessed.

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Thursday, January 2, 2014

A Post-It Note Kind of Love

Life is pretty weird these days.
When people say words like fiancee, or wedding, or bride...they might actually be referring to me. It's plausible. It's surreal. And pretty awesome.

I feel like a lot of people have been asking, "Debbie- who the heck is this guy and where in the world did this come from?" It's a valid question. Unless you were walking closely with me in life, you probably only knew I had been dating someone for a few months and that it was serious. But engaged... already?!
I can only give credit to the Lord in the orchestrating of all the events.

So, here's the story (part 1, anyway):
I met a blonde, long-haired man last August (2012) a week or so before I left the camp I was working at in Texas. He was younger than me, rambunctious and about to be thousands of miles away from me. I barely gave it a second thought. I saw him again the following May (2013) during an extended stay at the camp to help out with a few things. That trip allowed for more conversations and, for whatever reason, he had officially caught my eye. The summer consisted of almost daily long-distance communication and I found myself, yet again, stuck in a place of wondering what in the world was going on. Could he like me? Could I like him? Am I just setting my heart up again for another disappointment? Sometimes I played games like: don't respond to his text message immediately or try not to talk to him for at least a few days or don't ask him any questions to see if he still responds. He always did.

By September I was in a place of needing to know if our fast-growing friendship was actually anything more than friendship. I made a surprise trip down to Texas and after some face-to-face time with him, I recognized that I was pretty head over heels. I really liked this guy and I had no idea how he felt about me or if he felt about me. The next two and a half weeks were brutal. It was that waiting time where you feel like your heart is going to pound out of your chest. Desire felt consuming, but I was stuck in a place of being able to do nothing about it. I tried to change my normal sarcasm, flippant remarks about how he might mean nothing to me and make sure he knew that he mattered, that he was a priority in my life.

When I got to go back down to Texas for a friend's wedding, it was time for a conversation. A DTR, if you will. Are we on the same page? Are we moving in the same direction? After a few hours, we decided we were. We decided to move forward and see what this could be. At this point in my life I felt like even if I didn't know if I was going to marry the guy, it was worth trying to find out. And so we did. That was October 8th.

On October 20th, he was visiting his parents and woke up and headed to brush his teeth. He often started his days by praying for us, for our relationship, for the Lord to prepare and equip him to be what he needed to be for me. This day was no different...he thought. As he brushed, he noticed the post-it note of Scriptures his mom had put up on the mirror. His eyes were drawn to Psalm 27:13-14:
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!14  Wait for the Lordbe strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! 
In that moment, he felt this overwhelming peace about our relationship. That I was who he wanted to be with forever and that I was who he would be with forever. He didn't know where it came from or why it came when it did...but that it was undeniably from the Lord.

I found out about the "revelation" a few days later. The next day, he called my mom and told her he intended on marrying me (remember how we'd only been dating about 2.5 weeks?) It was ridiculous and forward and freaked my entire family out... I mean, how could it not? They didn't even know this guy and I had only started dating him a few weeks prior and had barely even mentioned his existence in my life prior to that. It was crazy. But, he wasn't deterred. And while I was slightly caught off guard, I knew that I cared deeply for this man. I decided to go back and read my journal from October 20th (the day of the Post-It Note revelation) to see if I had written anything substantial. This is an excerpt of what I had written:
It's so hard for me to not tell him that I love him. It's the one thing I want to say that comes close to expressing all of this stuff inside of me...and I can't. Not yet, anyway. ...... I feel like the Lord just reminded me (not only about how good He is and how He lavishes His blessings on me when I don't deserve them) that I have to choose. That I get to choose. To love [this man] everyday. That there will be some days where I don't want to or am scared to...but to choose to love him selflessly and in a way that reflects Christ. That the Lord is reminding me that love is a choice, not a feeling (as wrapped up in all of the swelling emotions that I'm in right now). It's a good reminder. When the feelings ebb and flow, will I choose to walk in love? I don't know why I'm so scared, Lord. I don't know why it's hard for me to fully receive without questioning and doubting. But, I know that out of the blue, [this man] has become a vital part of my life. That he's a man that I'm quite sure I want around forever. Can you give me peace that this is okay? That he's really mine to have? That You won't take him? And that we would honor You with our lives forever?
He was spontaneously able to come to New Mexico for a few days and I had the hunch that he might tell me he loved me (I mean, we're talking marriage the big 'L' word has to be coming soon, right?). I knew that if he told me, I wanted to read him this journal entry. I felt like on that day I had asked all the questions and he had received all the answers. I was blown away because I felt like in looking back on that day, the Lord had answered my prayers....but had given the answers, the peace, the clarity to this man. He hadn't asked for it, but he woke up, was praying about us, for us... and then there it was. This crazy peace and realization that I was it for him. 

I was right. On that trip, he told me that he loved me. 
He told me what it means when he says that. That it means forever. That he's not going anywhere.. That he's in this for the long haul. That he's committed. That, to him, this is happening. I am who he wants...even in all my imperfections and insecurities. 

So... I read him the whole journal entry (there was some more to it than what's above). Choked up on tears, realizing how incredibly vulnerable it is to read your journal out loud to someone...especially as I rawly admitted my fears and and worries to a man I care deeply about. And then I told him that I loved him, too. 
Because, I do. 
I choose him. 
I haven't just 'fallen' in love. I'm making a very conscious decision in this. 
And I told him that I don't say it lightly, but I say it fearfully. Because, there's a part of me that was scared...because it's all CRAZY. And I get that. 

We sat there, facing each other, holding silence. Kind of just overwhelmed by it all. He couldn't really fathom how he had received an answer to something I prayed for on the same day I had prayed for it. And the longer we sat, the more I had this aching urge to pray with him. I wanted to say something... to ask him if it'd be okay.. but I didn't want to be the one to make it happen. So I wrestled for a while about if I should say something or not, but decided to choose silence. 
Literally less than a minute later, he broke the silence and said, "Can we do something? ...Can we start praying together? Can we start taking our relationship before the Lord together, asking Him to lead us and guide us and making sure our relationship is completely about Him?" 
Struck by disbelief and humbled completely by how the Lord had given exactly what I had wanted... I threw my arms around him and basically wept. How could the Lord be this good and kind? In that moment, I knew. With every certainty....that is it. 
He was the man I would marry. 

knew it was crazy.
knew it was sudden.
knew I didn't know everything about him yet.
But I knew and I trusted that the Lord was in it completely. That He had orchestrated all of it completely. That it wasn't anything we could have made up or made happen... 
trust that this man loves the Lord abundantly more than anything else in this world and that he'll do everything he can to live his life accordingly and to encourage me to do the same. 

I knew that as we would continue to get to know each other that there would be things we didn't necessarily like about the other. I wasn't worried about it. They weren't what defined him. I knew it wouldn't always be easy. I knew there would be times when I don't want to choose him... but I will. Every time. 

That's just the story of how we met, how we knew...
I'll get to the engagement part next (it's just too much for one post). 

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