on being married 1 year (and the journey to get there…)

When I was in my early/mid 20s I bought a piece of art from an Andy Warhol exhibit. The piece said, “the idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting.”

That became my anthem as I waited for my husband to come into the picture. Waiting meant anticipation and excitement. Waiting meant I would appreciate the very thing I had been waiting for more than people who didn’t have to wait as long.

Waiting became less exciting the older I became.

Soon after turning 27, I had a breakdown in a Ugandan hut with more snot and tears than tissues could keep up with. I bawled to my mentor Rozy about how I felt let down by God (I thought He said my husband was coming but where was he); I also hated that I cared so much about being married when people around the world were suffering. “It’s selfish and small-minded,” I said with tears pouring down my cheeks. “I want to care about bigger things.”

Rozy rebuked me and said it wasn’t small minded to desire marriage, noting that often times couples can accomplish more together.

Six months later I was crying again, this in my counselor’s office. The ache for marriage was overwhelming, all-consuming, a thorn in my side. I dated guys but none of them felt right. My counselor said she thought I was a little depressed but also assured me it was normal, biological even, to desire a mate. She told me I would know when he was the one. (My response? “Fairy tales aren’t real.”)

The same day I was crying to my counselor about being single, my future husband was on a plane to Zambia. We had met 3 months prior. This fact continues to blow my mind. I already knew him!

Six months after my tear-filled counseling session, Justin asked me out. What followed was 2.5 years of on again, off again as we figured out the nuances of our relationship. Early on he was overcoming addiction. Later, I was paralyzed by fear.

Nevertheless, there was something about him that captivated me.

6 or 7 months into dating (the third time), Justin would scoop me in his arms and declare, “I’m going to marry you!” with a big smile on his face. “Oh really?” I would respond. “How can you be so sure when I don’t know if I want to marry you?”

I knew I loved him. I didn’t know if I wanted to marry him. Where was that feeling of ‘knowing’ my counselor promised?

At the end of December 2016, when I was 30 years old, I decided to stop waiting for that feeling to come and instead make a choice. I would marry him.

Cue the BEST DECISION I HAVE EVER MADE (apart from following Jesus.)

Marriage is everything I hoped, cried, prayed, and dreamed it would be. Sometimes I can’t fall asleep at night because I’m so happy. I milked my single years for what they were worth, but at the end of the day, I was made to do life with a partner.

Everything is better with Justin by my side. Grocery shopping, going to movies, traveling, lazy Saturdays, falling asleep at night, sitting in coffee shops, driving, dancing at weddings, making decisions, dreaming about the future, and all the other high, low, or in between moments life has to offer.

I’ve loved finding our rhythm together as one. Fighting doesn’t feel like fighting anymore because it’s no longer a jolt that disrupts everything; instead our fights weave in and out with ease.

Life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies, of course. The last few weeks brought some low moments – I got into a car crash, leaving my car totaled and my body bruised, followed by a bout of food poisoning that had me crying (and puking) into a trash can.

Justin was there every step of the way — showing up at the scene of the wreck, dealing with insurance, searching for another car, changing trash bags, rubbing my back, bringing me dry toast and lemon water.

In good times and bad, Justin is always there and I am forever grateful.

When I was in my early/mid 20s I thought the longer I had to wait for marriage, the more I would appreciate it.

Turns out I was right after all.

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

dreaming at 21:

I graduated from college 10 years ago today. 10 years!!

It’s amazing to look back on all I’ve experienced since then – missions, travel, friendships, falling in love (to name a few.)

In some ways I feel like I’m still 22, in other ways… not so much (aka it’s no longer fun to stay up all night “just because.”)

I wrote the following essay for one of my writing classes a few weeks before graduation. I love seeing the dreams I’ve fulfilled in the last decade and I’m excited for the ones I have yet to accomplish…

Enjoy!
________

My biggest fear is to settle for a mediocre life. I don’t want to work nine-to-five. I don’t want a husband and 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. I don’t want to retire when I’m 65 and move to Florida. I want more.

I want to travel. I’ve heard Broadway is best in New York, and lobster tastes best in Maine. Montana has good mountains, Arizona has the Grand Canyon, and Portland, Oregon has the best beer (though I don’t drink beer). For years I’ve desired to visit Mark Twain’s house in Connecticut, Norman Rockwell’s museum in Massachusetts, and the hotel where Martin Luther King Jr. was shot in Tennessee. He had a dream, and I do too. I want to sink my feet in the sands of a Fijian beach, taste the cheese in Switzerland, and swim in Italy’s Blue Grotto. I want to gaze upon King Tut’s tomb, walk through the Taj Mahal, and stand by the Great Wall of China.

I want to read. I’m curious to see if Jane Austin is as good as everyone says (maybe she can even teach me how to love). Oscar Wilde is supposed to be funny, so perhaps he is the cure for a crummy day. If I’m ever bored, Sir Arthur Connan Doyle should be stealth enough to keep me guessing, but if he isn’t, there’s always Edgar Allen Poe to make my head hurt. While I’m catching up with the classic writers, I also want to become acquainted with the modern ones. I want to appreciate poetry as much as the people who understand it do. I want to be the woman who is always found reading at the park, or coffee shop, or Taj Mahal.

I want to write. Whatever happens to me, whatever doesn’t happen, I want to put into words. The ordinary days, the odd days, the awful days, they all deserve to be documented. Microsoft Word, journals, napkins, whatever it takes. I want live with the oppressed and bring their stories of injustice to life–the child soldiers in Africa, the sex slaves in Asia, the poverty stricken all over. Being published would be nice (though I don’t want to judge the quality of my writing on such basis). A book is my dream.

I want to teach. If I do it right, my students will learn that there’s more to life than high school. They will have to sit next to someone new every day. If the weather is nice, we will go outside. Field trips will be a regular occurrence. Documentaries will be shown. Short stories, essays, and articles will be read. They will be forced to write. Every day. A five-minute free write to start each class period. A reflection on the covered material at the end of class. Their homework will be to think. Final exams will be flexible—a paper, presentation, art project—whatever they want to do to show all they have learned. Grades will be based on their attempt, not necessarily their ability. I will probably get fired.

I want to love. I want to love my family even though they’ve hurt me. I want to love mean people—the closed minded, the insulting, the ignorant, and the annoying. Perhaps no one has ever loved them before. I want to love a man. I dream of the day when my knees will crumble because of the way he looks at me from across the room after years of being together. I dream of the fights, the fun times, and the make-ups. We won’t have an average wedding—it will be inexpensive and outside. A cookout on the beach with shrimp sishcabobs and a ukulele. No shoes allowed. But then again, maybe we’ll just save ourselves the invitations and elope. I long to be a foster parent, to provide love for the children who’re lacking. I desire to give birth, to create life, to understand the connection between mother and child. I want to love like Jesus did. I want to stop pulling a Peter and actually stand up for my savior (even when I’m doubting, embarrassed, or angry at God).

I want to be happy. No matter the circumstance. People will die, misfortune will come, and life will treat me unfairly. I want to find joy in all of life (and even death). There is always something to be grateful for. Each day is a gift, yet I treat it like a burden. Monday is just as exciting as Friday. It’s a day I get to breathe, laugh, and learn. I want to defeat the routine of everyday life, the stress of to do lists, and the fear of failure. I want to stop comparing myself to others, and stop measuring my worth by success, beauty, and boys.

I want to be uncomfortable. God only knows I’m most alive when I’m being challenged. I need obstacles and setbacks and the strength to overcome them. Life should be lived dangerously enough to get hurt. Contentment is not my goal; I desire to live for more than myself.

I want a lot of things. I want to change, to be a better person than I was yesterday, yet still flawed enough to grow tomorrow. I want to live simply; to detach myself from the materialism that has already consumed me. I want to meet Johnny Depp, win an Oscar, ride in a hot air balloon, donate a kidney and encounter every person in the world. I want to wear Chucks when I’m 40. I want to be remembered.

I’m a twenty-one year old on the verge of college graduation.

I want to stop dreaming and start doing.


What are some of your dreams (whether from 10 years ago or last week)? I’d love to hear! 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

on being married 6 months:

For the first 30 years of my life, being married was always something other people experienced. The older I got, the farther away marriage felt… as if it was a balloon floating away, always out of reach.

Now I find myself 6 months married.

During the first few months Justin and I would look at each other and exclaim, “we’re married!” as if we had to remind ourselves because it didn’t feel real. I still feel like I’m playing house when I call Justin ‘my husband’ or he refers to me as ‘his wife.’

Being a married person may take some time to settle, but doing life with Justin feels like wearing a big, comfy sweater. Why would I wear anything else??

A few weeks into marriage I learned Justin is funnier than I thought; he learned I’m weirder than he thought. The thing that makes me laugh the most? When he makes fun of my weirdness. The man has made me collapse to the floor in laughter.

He’s a morning person and I’m a night owl, yet every night we go to bed together. He falls asleep with his hand on my leg while I stay up another hour or two. In the morning I text him – sometimes words, often an emoji – his cue to come upstairs and crawl back into bed with me. If I have the energy I’ll sneak out of bed to brush my teeth first.

I honestly can’t believe I found someone who loves me morning, noon, and night. Specifically the morning part… eyes half-open, hair a mess, raspy voice, grumpy, somewhat helpless. He refers to my morning self as ‘sick child from the 1800s.’

We have a tiny bathroom with pink tiles. When we get ready in the morning we bump into each other, one person reaching for toothpaste while the other is styling their hair. In order to use the mirror at the same time one of us has to stand behind the other. It’s the perfect bathroom for our first year of marriage.

Having a kitten has been fun for many reasons, one of them being a glimpse into our parenting styles. I’ve been so impressed with the way Justin has trained and taken care of Chai. When people ask Justin if he’s a cat person he always responds by saying, “I’m a Hope person.” (swoon.)

We’ve had our fair share of fights – on our honeymoon, on Valentine’s Day, this morning (but really…) There have been tears, screams, and slammed doors. One time I stormed off to our bedroom and threw myself on the bed, determined to stay there for hours. Three minutes later I was bored. I decided I would go downstairs to get a book but wouldn’t look at Justin. I barely made it to the kitchen when he cornered me, wrapping his arms around me and kissing me. I melted.

This is how all our fights end. We can’t stay mad at each other for long.

They say you fall more in love the longer you’re married, that the amount of love you feel for each other on your wedding day is just a glimpse of what’s to come. I experienced that for the first time a few weeks into marriage. I was curled up in the fetal position on our bed; Justin was gently coaxing me out of my shell. I felt my heart swell as his tenderness pierced crevices in my heart I didn’t know existed. “This… this is what they were talking about,” I thought in awe. That love has only continued to grow.

Before our honeymoon, I wondered if we would get bored or sick of each other. I had never spent that much time with only one person before. To my delight, I loved every plane ride, car ride, Airbnb, and in between moment with him. It didn’t matter if we were talking or silent for hours. Being with him made even the dull moments more colorful.

I can only imagine what the rest of my life will look like with him by my side.

IMG_2969

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

2017: a goodbye letter

Dear 2017,

I met you on the beach in Tybee Island, giddy for my first New Year’s Eve kiss with a boyfriend. I missed the countdown, though, so when fireworks started going off I was confused. Was it midnight? Justin reached for me and tried to kiss me, but I was still trying to figure out what happened.

2017, you took me by surprise.

When I think about the beginning of our relationship it feels like another lifetime. I can’t believe we’ve been through so much together. Thankfully, you’ve been kinder to me than the last few years have been.

I’d go as far to say you may have been the best year of my life.

In February you took me to the Dominican Republic for work. I knew it was likely my only work trip of the year. I was right. I didn’t mind because I knew my season was changing. It was time to start making space for other things.

E9CFF5E1-4788-4C41-BE86-E69992513BDB.jpeg

In March you took me to South America with Justin and Daniel. On the third day, Justin got down on one knee. It was weeks before it felt real.

9FAAD6E3-DAAC-4F63-9E7E-18C264FA8A92.jpeg

A few weeks later I experienced my most intense moment with God out of the whole year – it still makes me tear up thinking about it. He gave me the wedding venue of my dreams. It was so much more than the venue, though. It was that deep place in my heart he reached down and touched with his grace.

In April you whisked me away to Texas for a women’s retreat. It was amazing; I was undeserving. When they washed my feet I wept.

A week later I found my dream wedding dress and couldn’t stop smiling. This was probably my second favorite day of the year (after my wedding day.) It was just all too good to be true.

I turned 31 in May. It was rainy. Justin took me to Atlanta for the day and I had dinner with my girlfriends. A simple birthday.

Summer brought lots of work – training camps and debriefs and new hires. It wore me out more than I realized. My mom took me to Alaska at the end of July – it was there I felt the beginning of burnout.

Alaska was incredible.

FBF9DABF-D10E-4434-9B54-81B4540289C2.jpeg

August brought 2 wedding showers and a bachelorette weekend.

September. The month I got married. The week leading up to my wedding was a disaster – Hurricane Irma hit, resulting in a loss of power (and my sanity), I was on my period, and I was moving. This was easily my least favorite week of the entire year. I cried like the world was ending. God bless a fiancé who comforted me and roommates who continued to celebrate me amidst my tears.

My wedding day was as everyone says – the happiest day of my life. I always thought it would be the happiest because you are getting married, duh. After living it I know it’s because all my friends and family were together in one place. Friends from high school, college, Adventures in Missions. Family from Ohio, Boston, New York. All together to eat, drink, and dance. It was heaven on earth.

DA21138A-A8BA-4510-A005-58984F01C9BF.jpeg

Soon after getting married I felt the weight of my burnout. Getting out of bed to go to work took all my energy. I had very little drive; I didn’t feel like myself. My biggest dream in life was to sleep in and have no responsibilities.

In October I flew to New York City to see Anna. We got lost in Central Park, wandered through the Met, slurped up tasty ramen from Ippudo, saw Anastasia on Broadway, walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, and waited in line for lox bagels from Russ & Daughters. New York City always makes me feel alive.

I signed up for counseling in November and cried my way through the first half of the session. I realized the night before just how much stress I had been carrying from working at a nonprofit the last few years. My counselor told me I needed to lean into my husband, to allow him to shepherd me where I used to shepherd myself.

The next day I left for my honeymoon. Honeymooning in New Zealand had been a dream of mine since I was in high school. 15 years later, that dream was fulfilled. I’ll never forget the joy I felt when swimming with wild dolphins.

December brought my first Christmas as a married woman. I loved everything about it. At the end of the month I flew to Texas for a reunion with C squad at the Floyd’s ranch. We talked and worshiped, played games and ate good food.

26056109_10156037874969628_5150429511249726961_n.jpg

2017, you’ve outdone yourself. I started the year with a boyfriend and ended with a husband. I still can’t wrap my mind around that. I had the privilege of standing as a bridesmaid in 3 weddings. I traveled to outstanding places. I got a kitten. I could go on and on and on…

But now it’s time to say goodbye.

Please know I will never forget you – you are the year my dreams came true.

Love,
Hope.

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

on desire, disappointment, and christmas eve:

Every year since 2012 I wholeheartedly believed I would get married that year. Without a doubt, January 1st would roll around and I would be like THIS IS IT!

12 months later, I would sit through a Christmas Eve service with tears streaming down my cheeks. There I was, single, surrounded by songs of pining and rejoicing, longing and hope. I only felt the longing, though. Longing and another year of disappointment.

Somehow I was always able to bounce back by New Year’s and believe, yet again, this was going to be my year.

5 times out of 5 I was wrong.

Then 2017 happened. The clock struck midnight and for the first time in my life I knew I would be getting married.

As I write this, I’ve been married for 3 months. It still doesn’t feel real. Tomorrow I’ll sit through my first Christmas Eve service as a married woman. No more tears of disappointment and deferred hope. It will be a holy moment indeed.

I still remember the pain though. It taught me. Stretched me. Strengthened me. Waiting on the Lord is a nice idea, but it takes on an entirely different meaning when you find yourself waiting and WAITING on something your heart desires.

This much I can say: the pain makes the promise so much better.

I can only imagine what it felt like when Jesus was born after all those years of longing…

“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.”

If you are someone who finds yourself wracked with longing and desire, I pray this season strengthens you with ‘a thrill of hope.’ May your pain turn into your biggest blessing, even if you have to wait (and wait) for it.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

on being 31 and engaged:

I was 21 when my best friend’s older cousin got engaged. I remember thinking, “Wow, I’m glad it happened for her… because she’s old.”

After getting engaged this year I called that friend up and asked her how old her cousin actually was during that time. “31,” was her response.

Exactly my age now.

It’s funny, I don’t feel old, but I work with college-age students and I know I probably seem like a grandma to them. At least that’s how I viewed 30-year-olds back then.

I’ve always known I didn’t want to get married young (too much life to live!!) but as I inched closer to 30 and everyone around me was walking down the aisle & popping out kids, I started to wonder if my happily ever after might actually end with a feline instead of a fairy tale.

On one hand, I 100% believed I would get married.
On the other hand, I feared it would never happen.

Some days were fun, leaving my number on restaurant receipts and having the waiter text me later that night.

Other nights I cried myself to sleep.

The ache can’t be explained. It was always there.

I started dating Justin 2 months before my 30th birthday. It was nice to be dating someone when I turned 30, but I was so unsure about him at the time.

Marriage still felt light years away.

Our dating relationship wasn’t exactly rainbows and butterflies. One time, a few months in, I asked if we should break up. It seemed pretty obvious that we should. Justin laughed. “Of course not!” He responded like that was the silliest question in the world.

This is how he won me over. Through all our fights and all my fears, he never stopped loving me.

When he got down on one knee in March, I had already made the decision in my heart to marry him. All I had to do was say yes and BOOM. I was engaged. Closer to marriage than ever before.

The first 2 weeks of being engaged didn’t feel real. Eight days in I wrote,

Wearing a ring on my finger almost feels like I’m a little girl playing house. Getting engaged has always been something *other people* experience. It was something I hoped, dreamed, and longed for… but it was always out of reach.

Until now.

I will always remember that feeling of “who, me??” the first few weeks after getting engaged.

Soon after getting engaged I felt something I didn’t necessarily expect to feel – sadness. I felt sad for my single friends who wanted to be married. I kind of felt like I was betraying them. I know what it feels like when yet another friend gets engaged – a mixture of ‘yay I’m so happy for you’ but also like you are dying inside and forgotten by God. Like HELLO HAVE YOU HEARD ALL MY PRAYERS AND SEEN ALL MY TEARS? GUESS NOT…

{I still don’t understand why all these funny, wonderful, beautiful women remain single. I know this post will be hard for many of them to read. I’m sorry.}

I quickly learned I LOVEDDD wedding planning. For the first time in my life I was no longer just dreaming of a wedding ‘one day’ – I was actually planning my wedding. All those times I had been to weddings and thought ohhhh I like that or ehhhh not for me could actually be taken seriously.

It wasn’t stressful. It was magical.

When Justin and I visited a venue 2 weeks after getting engaged, I knew it was the one. It was the first venue we visited, but I couldn’t imagine getting married anywhere else.

I left that venue sad, frustrated and confused because we couldn’t afford it.

30 minutes later I sobbed in the parking lot of a bbq restaurant because my parents made it possible for us to book the venue. I couldn’t believe God was giving me the wedding of my dreams.

It brings tears to my eyes now, that feeling of being so tangibly touched by His grace.

For years it like God was torturing me by giving me the desire for marriage only to not fulfill it.

Little did I know the abundance he had in store.

I went wedding dress shopping a month after getting engaged. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find the dress I had in mind (and in my price range!)

I picked three dresses to try on. When I put the first one on I couldn’t stop smiling. In a blur I tried on the other two, but before I knew it I was back in the first dress, smiling like an idiot. That’s how I knew. When I said I was getting it a few ladies cheered, as they had been watching the whole thing. The dress was everything I dreamed of (and more!), in my price range, and would be ready in a few months.

That smile was stuck on my face the rest of the day.

The first 3 months of being engaged I stayed up waaaaay too late – I was giddy over Justin and Googling everything wedding related. I showed up to work with bags under my eyes, happier than I’ve ever been.

The ache had vanished.

Being engaged has made me experience what I call ‘spiritual shock.’

7 years ago I was in Kenya, heartbroken over a boy when God promised me a great man. I’ve been waiting for him ever since.

In 17 days I marry that great man at the venue of my dreams in a dress that makes me feel like a princess. My spirit is like WHATTTT ARE YOU SERIOUS!?! It happened. It happened and it’s better than I could have ever imagined. There are so many ways God has come through in this season leading up to my wedding – if I wrote about all the ways I would bore you, so instead they are tucked away in my heart, never to be forgotten.

Getting engaged at 30 and married at 31 has given me a deep, deep appreciation for what I’ve waited for.

As painful as it was all those years, I would do it all over again.

Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments

on being really, really happy:

Two years ago one of my friends made a comment about how my blogs were always about me struggling or going through a hard time.

I was offended.

But I knew he was right.

The last few years have been tough. I thought 2015 was bad, but then 2016 happened. There were times I thought the pain would swallow me whole.

Amidst my suffering I wrote, “Jesus told me I will experience the same amount of joy as pain I have felt; to the depth of pain I will feel the height of joy.”

That was August.

Less than a year later those words have come to pass – I’m currently experiencing so much joy I could drown in it. I used to cry myself to sleep, now I can’t fall asleep because I’m so happy.

Yes, it’s because I’m engaged. But it’s also so much more.

My soul has made it through the dark of night. As Streams in the Desert says, “The person who may appear to be blessed, having been untouched by sorrow, is typically not one who is strong and at peace.”

I truly believe the joy I am experiencing has come at the expense of my tear-stained journals. It is only because I have weathered the storm that I am able to bask in the warmth of morning.

It’s better than I could have ever imagined.

Everything inside me that was shaky and aching is now secure and whole. The desires that haunted me are now fulfilled and overflowing.

There is a time and season for everything indeed.

A little over a month ago I attended a small women’s conference in Texas. Upon arrival, I was given a word in a picture frame, chosen just for me.

The word?

Pasted Image 0.jpeg

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments