He Restores.

It’s been such a wild and drawn out ride, I’m sure many of my friends and family are done hearing about it. But bear with me just one more time.

In March of 2016, the love of my life officially proposed to me with a ring I had picked out while still in Nepal. Handcrafted by an artist to resemble branches, it matched our wedding bands and was my pride and joy for the summer.

Just days before the wedding, however, the ring disappeared. I had taken it off during a time of sweet blessing and prayer with some of my dearest friends, and during that time it “mysteriously vanished.”

Being the amazing man that he is, my husband stole away with my brother in the middle of an utter bridezilla meltdown in Macy’s and figured out a way to surprise me with another ring, so I would still feel like a bride (despite my diva moments) on our wedding day. This is the ring I have worn and cherished since October 28th, 2016, when the most amazing man in the world took me as his wife.

Praying that the original ring would turn up, however, we had had the second ring sized a half size too large, so that should the first one surface, the second would fit on another finger as a reminder of the devotion of my husband, and my God. However, after endless searching it never materialized.

Today, on December 27, 2017, exactly a year from the date we celebrated our marriage in California, I received in the mail my husband’s Christmas surprise for me. Over a year later, as we continue in our new life in SoCal, my husband located the artist who originally crafted the ring for us, and had her make another. Today the ring sits proudly on my finger, with the wedding band it was designed to match, and the ring signifying the faithfulness of a husband sits on the other.

I’m aware how petty this may seem, but to Jon and I it symbolizes so much.

It symbolizes the faithfulness of the Lord in our marriage.
It symbolizes the strength of choosing love when everything seems to be going wrong.
It symbolizes redemption, in every area.
It symbolizes a fresh start, just in time for the new year.

When the ring first disappeared, the Lord told me He would restore it to me. I came across verses such as Joel 2:25 on a daily basis, often multiple times a day. At the time, I had no idea how it would come about. As I sit typing this proverbial journal entry, I am so grateful for the perfect beauty of His timing and methods. This is is so much more than a ring: it is a stone of remembrance of all that He has done and will do in our lives, of His unfailing love, and all of His fulfilled promises.

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And may I just say, I have the most devoted and romantic husband a woman could have.

Until next time,
XOXO

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A Grateful Rambling

It has been a long time since I’ve published anything. This stems from a few things, one of which being the wedding, which is what we’re going to be talking about today. Roughly two months ago, I married the love of my life.

The first thing I want to mention is how grateful my husband and I are for the community around us. On our wedding day, and estimated three hundred people showed up. Each Sunday since then, folks have stopped us in the church hallway to thank us for how we opened it up to everyone, that they could come. This left us with a little something to set straight. Jonny and I are the grateful ones here. Having moved over from California just under a year ago to be a missionary here and do life with an insane half-gypsy woman who was still on her Indian escapade, Jonny was surprised just to have his immediate family able to attend. Being the insane half-gypsy, I was shocked when four of my Youth With A Mission friends were able to fly in from all over the States and Europe, as well as two of my Danish half-gypsy cousins. If only this small little band had been our witnesses, we would have been happy. But no, my god-brother came down mid-semester from Michigan to be there, and without him Jonny and I wouldn’t have been able to eat that night, things were so crazy. Friends from high school made the hour long drive. The entire church congregation, the ones who raised me and supported me, who accepted my then groom-to-be into the flock instantaneously all came and brought enough food that after we all had feasted, forty of the Miami Beach homeless community were fed full plates of it the following day. We didn’t know this until after we had returned from our honeymoon- this was all done singlehandedly and quietly by one of the wedding guests. Never have I felt more celebrated or treasured than on this day.

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Let me give you a bit of insight into how the weekend went down. It began with two fellow Southeast Asia sojourners arriving at my sister’s house for an Indian wedding blessing, given to me by a sweet sister who has run sound and discipled me for years. During this incredibly sweet time, my engagement ring went missing. While you can read the rest of that story here, suffice it to say the women around me amazed me with their compassion and grace, reminding me both that everything will be okay, because it always is, but that I was allowed to be upset and feel the loss of such a special ring.

Fast forward to the day before the wedding. Nerves and sickness finally beginning to set full sail, I was ushered into an office while close friends and family, especially Jonny’s mother and sister and my own mother’s best friend, transformed our church in the middle of the city into the garden of Lebanon. While I rested and relearned the art of breathing, they all ordered pizza and called me down only to eat, then caravanning me back into hiding, forcing me to only be a bride in the way they all knew I needed. When I did come down, the beauty of it all was overwhelming. My girlhood bridal fantasies were all tangibly in front of me, and I had nothing to do with it. Reader, I am so undeserving, but I am so grateful.

As I write this, I am struck by the image of Christ’s way with us which this paints. Once we give Him access, He comes in, takes old concrete walls in the busiest intersection of a metropolis, and transforms it to Eden.

Anyways, back to the story, because it gets better. The church is decorated, we have the rehearsal, during which time Chris, the one who very literally kept me alive when I was sick in India, is dubbed a groomsman last minute, and we head over to Soyka for a sweet rehearsal dinner. Following the dinner, the ladies headed back to David and Isabelle’s for a bridesmaid slumber party, kicking David out to my parents’ place so we could have full reign. Full of laughter, memories, righteous anger and sisterhood solidarity, it was a night I will never forget. The next morning, my father picked me up for breakfast. For years, he and I have made a point to try and have breakfast together at least once a week. This was the last one where I belonged solely to him, and we both felt it.

After breakfast, he dropped me back off at his house to get ready with the ladies, who had been carted over by David while I was eating. Celebrating with exorbitant amounts of coffee and chocolate, the get ready time was along the same lines of the previous night, this time also with the only hairdresser I trust added to the mix, as well as Heather, my mentor, boss, and today, wedding photographer. We stayed mostly in the living room, getting ready and giggling all together in one place. However, when the time came for me to get my dress on, fresh coffee was drenched down the front of it. Mind you, there had been no coffee in the room for over twenty four hours. Think what you will, but I have become familiar with demonic attacks of this kind and remain convinced that this and the ring saga were both such cases. Either way, the bridesmaids got to work while I sat in shock in a corner. First, baby wipes. One, who had just run to K-Mart to replace the tiara which had also gone missing overnight, was ready to run with me to pick up the prettiest white dress Goodwill could offer the moment I said “go.” The baby wipes were out, drenching up the cold, wet liquid. When they had done all they could, out came the baby powder, then the dry shampoo, until finally all that was left was a little spot Heather convinced me simply added to the antique feel of the dress. And we laughed. As a houseful of women, we laughed. Because at this point, it was funny, and nothing could steal the joy of this day.

I’m realizing in this season that that is one of the main lesson’s Abba is teaching me. When the small things hit, the things you felt you could control suddenly take a turn, how will you react? Will you let it overtake you, or decide simply to laugh, because in the end the spots add character and nothing is worth stealing any day’s joy.

Fast forward to the ceremony. In all the years we’ve been at this building, I have never seen the church so packed. When Jonny and I saw the amount of people who had come out to support us, it was overwhelming. Come the reception, everyone is laughing and hugging and eating, like the family we are. Because we had a potluck, everything was family-style, so Heather’s daughter stepped up to the plate serving around hors d’oeuvres and desserts. As I mentioned early, Don, my god-brother, gave me his plate of food, then waded through the sea of people to get Jonny dinner, routinely checking in on us afterwards. The words of wisdom and blessings from everyone around us kept flowing as the night went on… Reader, never in my life have I felt so loved.

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So when we hear someone is grateful they were invited, touched by how we opened it up to the congregation, know this: we are the grateful ones. We did nothing, you all did everything. In this mess of words, that is all I am hoping to somehow express. This is our thank you. Our thank you for supporting us through everything, all the crazy, all the time leading up the wedding, before our engagement was even fully known. Our thank you for how you have loved me for as long as I can remember, been the village that raised me. Our thank you for how you welcomed him into this merry band of Jesus followers. Our thank you for how you have continued to support us since the wedding. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Until next time,

XOXO

p.s. It felt so good to write again. Thanks for reading this. 

I Can Be Soft Now.

On Sunday, during the most lovely Indian blessing from my sweet, sweet friends, my engagement ring went missing. Understand, I loved that ring. I am that girl who spent her childhood dreaming of her ring, her groom, and her day. This ring was perfect. When I gazed at that stone, I saw Jonny’s love, Christ’s devotion, and my younger self’s hope gazing back. I saw the hardness I thought I needed for survival. After scouring the apartment- trashes, drains, everything- over and over again with countless sets of eyes, we determined it was lost. In my head, I thought I’d handle such a situation with my mother and fiancé’s ethereal outlook- remembering the whole earth is dying anyways and the ring is just a symbol. 

No. Yesterday, I broke. Meltdown in Macy’s, type breaking. While those same friends were being so gentle and caring (and distracting), David and Jonny devised a plan, bought a ring I had been eyeing, and surprise-proposed to me again, now with a new ring, in a new moment. The first time around, I wasn’t present fully. Sickness, in so many forms, was still lingering. I wasn’t surprised and was unable to fully treasure the moment. This time, with this ring, with the select few who were there, it was more than I had ever imagined. In this ring, I see fresh life. I see the commitment of my groom, the redemption of the Holy Spirit, and the hope and joy of pressing forward into both eternity, and maturity. I can be soft now.

Losing my ring, I realized, was one of my deepest wedding fears. Having a day-stopping meltdown affecting more than myself was another. In the moment, it felt like the world was crashing in. I didn’t know how we would afford another engagement ring. I couldn’t imagine getting married without such an important piece, knowing I had once had one. But the Lord has a way of stripping everything down to then rebuild things you didn’t know were broken. 

I will repay you for the years that the swarming locust ate, the young locust, the destroying locust, and the devouring locust—My great army that I sent against you.

Joel 2:25

Fly With Me

When most people learn I’m getting married on my twentieth birthday, the look on their faces is nearly always one of sheer disbelief. Then comes the gently (or sometimes, not so gently) poised questions of “Are you sure?” “What do your parents think?” “Why not wait a few years…?” The best part is when they find out he’s my first boyfriend, and we met over a prank call.

From the moment the Lord confirmed that Jonny was “the one,” He also showed me that our relationship was meant to show people that the Lord still works in crazy and mysterious ways.

We both know we’re young, but at the same time we’re sure, with His peace that surpasses all understanding, that this is right. We were sure from before we started dating that this was it. Now, we will have more time to grow together as a couple, spending some of our most formative years being molded as one.

“Let your fountain be blessed, and take pleasure in the wife of your youth.” ~ Proverbs 5:18

As for what our parents think, both sets are fully behind this. Trusting our discernment, and aware that we both have waited to date anyone until we knew with absolute certainty that the Lord was leading us to this person, they could not be more excited. They’ve watched our relationship grow from friendship to dating to engagement, being fully involved in every step.

And finally, the reason we’re not waiting a few years is simple. This way we have more time together as a couple, to grow and serve the Lord together as one.

Driving home from Atlanta last year, one of my dear cousins mentioned something that’s always stuck with me. He said, “we (Christians, our family, etc) weren’t meant to live an ordinary life. Ordinary is boring. I’d rather fly.” It’s a rare thing to find someone who can fly along with you, dreams and priorities matching yours. Even less common is discovering that person at an early age, getting to figure out, experience, and grow through life by their side. Jonny and I are extremely blessed in these areas, being truly brought together by the Lord for His purposes. 

So darling, let’s fly.

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