I don’t know about you, but I love when the Lord connects numbers for me. Now, that may sound ridiculous or you may have no clue what I’m talking about, but don’t worry, I’ll do my best to explain myself.
Today I have 40 days until my wedding.
40 is a big number. If you look in the Bible, the number 40 pops up A LOT! It rained on Noah and the Ark for 40 days and nights when God flooded the earth. Moses and the Israelites had to wander the desert for 40 years after they were freed from Egypt. After Jesus was baptized, He went into the wilderness and fasted for 40 days, during which time He was also tempted before He started His ministry. Jesus also appeared to His disciples and other people for 40 days after His resurrection.
Those are all that I can think of off the top of my head right now, but there are more.
The number 40 is typically linked to a time when someone or a group of people are going through a test or trial. It’s used during Lent, the 40 days before Easter, as a time of fasting and prayer as well. But my interest is not in numerology. I just like the idea that the Lord has used 40 multiple times in His Word, which I think means that 40 is an important time frame.
I think these last 40 days before our wedding are going to hold many things for Brandon and me. There will definitely be tests and trials galore, but I also think that there will be blessings galore as well. Besides, James said that we should “consider it pure joy when [we] face trials of many kinds because [we] know that the testing of [our] faith produces perseverance” (James 1:1). So any trials we face during this time will not only be used to help build our faith and perseverance, but also to mold us into the man and woman that God has created us to be so that we can do the things that He has created us to do.
I’m going to use these last 40 days as a specific time of prayer over our entire marriage. Not just the wedding day and all of the things surrounding that. I’m praying for our marriage. The thing that lasts long after the flowers die and flower girls grow up. I’m praying over the life we will have together and the years we will share with one another. I’m praying over the trials we have not yet faced and the joys we do not yet know. I’m praying over the people we influence and the people we allow to influence us. I’m praying over the gifts and talents the Lord has blessed us with and will grow or develop within us as His perfect timing works itself out. I’m praying over the love that we share and the lives that we impact with that love, given by the Lord. And so much more.
* * * * *
As much as I like the 40 days until our wedding, there’s another number related thing I’ve been thinking about a lot lately too: When Brandon and I get married, we will have been together for almost 6 whole years.
Now I know that 6 isn’t really a big deal in the Bible, but I like to think of it in relation to when God created the heavens and the earth. He worked and created for 6 days, but on the 7th day, He rested.
That’s how I see my relationship with Brandon. We have been working for almost 6 whole years. We’ve been living life apart and dealing with a long distance relationship for a long time now. We have and still are putting in a lot of work, cultivating our relationship and helping it to grow over all of this time.
But praise the Lord, this time of separation and distance is close to an end! The 6 years are almost over! The work that we have been putting in is not necessarily about to end, because marriages take work, but it will definitely change. This season of our lives is ending after 6 years. And what is to come?
The 7th year. Rest.
During our 7th year together, we will finally be able to live together and be a part of each other’s every day life, rather than spending a weekend together once a month. All of the work that we have put in the past 6 years will be completed and we will no longer be working towards marriage. We will finally be able to rest in our marriage. We will be able to rest in our union and covenant. We will no longer be two separates striving toward each other, rather, we will finally be one and we can rest in that unity.
Oh how I look forward to that rest…
Oh how I pray that we rejoice and revel in that rest, rather than allowing the difficulty and negativity to pull our joy and rest away from us.
Many people say that the first year of marriage is the hardest. I believe them. Wholeheartedly. It won’t be easy. It won’t be pretty. It will be chaotic and hectic and we won’t have anything figured out. It will be absolute insanity and we will likely drive each other crazy with the little things we used to think were cute and indeering. Words will be said and understood in ways they weren’t intended. Feelings will be hurt and balloons will burst. Negativity and frustration will likely win out over joy and peace some days. Days will grow long and tempers will grow short.
But at the end of the day, when all is said and done, I will be there for Brandon and he will be there for me. We will be a united front against the enemy’s schemes to steal our joy and rob us of peace. We will be an unbreakable team forged in the refining fires of the Almighty’s Hand.
It certainly won’t be perfect, but we will be together. Finally.
So here’s to 40 more days and a 7th year of rest amidst the chaos.
You know how sometimes you just break?
You’re sitting there in life, minding your own business, and then out of nowhere everything is suddenly crashing down all around you. It’s crazy!
If you had asked me thirty minutes ago how I was, I would have said, “I’m okay.” I’m not great right now if I’m being honest; I have a ton of stuff going on, but I’m still okay. Nothing is wrong. I am not overwhelmed. I am simply okay and content where I am.
Or at least I was…
Literally not even ten minutes ago I broke…
Today hasn’t been an overly stressful day or anything, it’s just that so many different things have been brought up throughout the day that the combination of thinking of all of it at the same time overwhelmed me to the point of a breakdown. Yes. A sobbing, uncontrollable breakdown. Complete will mascara streams and snot bubbles.
Why the heck did I decide to go from “okay” to “broken”? Well, my friend, it wasn’t my decision. It just happened.
Throughout the day, many things have been brought to my immediate attention. Not in a way that lends itself to expressing a thought or idea and then dismissing it and moving on. It’s one of those things where as soon as you say it, you realize how real that thing is and you start to think on it even more. Here are some of the things that have been brought to my immediate attention just within the past 14 hours:
- My fiancé still lives four hours away and we still have a 5 week break between our trips in March.
- My wedding is only 94 days away. (So far, right? Wrong! IT’S SO CLOSE!! AAAAHHHHH!!!!)
- I still have a lot to pay for in different areas for my wedding (and I’m trusting the Lord to work all of that out for me, because otherwise I don’t got this…)
- I graduate in 72 days. (Hallelujah!)
- I still have a lot of stuff to do just to be ready to graduate (such as paperwork, a potential teaching certificate, documentation in order, reviews and surveys completed, and so many other things my mind just doesn’t even want to consider right now).
- I still don’t have a job…. (some of you may think, “That’s completely normal, you won’t graduate until May and everything will change by then. There’s plenty of time.” ………… May I just say to you, that I completely agreed with you until 15 minutes ago…. And now all of a sudden I’m freaking out over something that is still months away… Lord, help me!)
- Because I’m getting married, that also means that I am moving. Four hours away.
- There are no openings for jobs in the area I am looking. As in none. Not a single pediatric setting. At all….
- That means that everywhere I am applying to is foreign to me since I don’t have any connections in that area. (I know people do this all the time, but this is new to me)
- This also means that my fiancé and I are looking at apartments/homes. (if that isn’t enough to stress someone out to the max on it’s own, I don’t know what is)
And do you know what just tops it all off? Finances. It’s always the finances! If I don’t have a job secured before I graduate and get married, then we won’t have any way of knowing where we need to live or how much we can/need to spend on a home. If I don’t have a job, what in the world am I going to do with my days? If we don’t have my income, how are we going to pay all of the bills? I mean, I have a full-time job right now and all, but that is going to end the week before my wedding because I am moving four hours away and I won’t be able to make that kind of commute every day….
All of these things, and many others as well, have been brought to the forefront today. Yes, they have been living in the back of my mind for a long time now and it’s not like any of this stuff is new, but it was like it all decided to jump me at the exact same time and I just couldn’t handle it! So I broke.
Thirty minutes ago, all of these things were still there. Nothing about my circumstances changed. What changed was my perspective of them.
You see, thirty minutes ago the Lord was holding everything in His Almighty, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Capable, Sovereign Hands and I was contentedly trusting Him to handle each of my issues. Ten minutes ago, I decided to try to hold all of that in my minuscule, incapable, weak hands. My perspective changed from “I have a lot that needs to happen and I have too much for me to worry about, so I am going to continually give it to the Lord and allow Him to direct my steps and lead me where I need to be, when I need to be there” to “Holy crap I can’t do all of this stuff! There’s no time! I don’t make enough money! I’ll never get a job! How in the world am I going to do all of this stuff with life still happening all around me?”
Like I said, nothing about my circumstances changed. What changed was my perspective.
That shift in how I perceived my circumstances took me from being peacefully content and relying on the Lord to take care of each of those things, to me worrying about stuff I could never change or impact at all by letting it overwhelm me.
My sanity and peace were gone for 10 whole minutes. My worry shot through the roof and my anxiety skyrocketed. My peace disappeared and my assurance melted away in an instant. My contentedness flew out the window and waved goodbye as my faith alone sat rooted to the foundation of my being.
That’s when I found it.
In the middle of the chaos and turmoil within my spirit, I cried out to the Lord for help. “I believe! Help me with my unbelief! Please! Help me! Help me with my unbelief! Help me believe again! Give me a home. Give me a job. Please! Help my unbelief.”
In the middle of that storm of emotions that shook my very being, faith remained rooted to the firm foundation of God’s Spirit within me and the Lord used that faith to draw me back to Him. Even with everything raging out of control, that prayer was heard: “Help me with my unbelief.” Because even in that turmoil, I believed. Even though I couldn’t quite find that peace that surpassed all understanding, I knew it would be there on the other side. Even in the midst of every anxious thought and fearful dread, I had that faith. I knew that the Lord was still there and all I had to do was surrender the insanity to the Lord and He would turn it into a journey with Him that would teach me wisdom, build my character, help me persevere/endure, and strengthen my faith.
I let my shield of faith fall for a moment, but the Lord helped me tighten my armor and pull my shield back up. He helped me surrender my cares and worries and dreams and desires into His hands so that He can orchestrate them in a way that glorifies Him and grows me. He took my scattered, broken pieces and put me back together again in a matter of minutes.
If you asked me thirty minutes ago how I was, I would have said “I’m okay.”
If you would have asked me ten minutes ago how I was, I would have said, “I’m broken.”
If you were to ask me now how I am, I would say, “I am blessed and content.” Still broken. But blessed and content just the same.
So tell me, friend, how are you?
I look at my watch. Again. Five minutes. I only have five more minutes until he has to leave. Again…
This happens every single time. He comes to visit for a weekend and it’s absolutely wonderful. But at some point the weekend ends. At some point our time runs out. At some point he has to leave. Again…
I wrap my arms around his waist and lean close into his chest. I’ve learned that if I grit my teeth and look away, I’m less likely to cry… He wraps his arms around my back and leans his cheek against the top of my head. I grit my teeth harder and will the tears farther back.
This is how it always ends.
This is how every goodbye begins.
Standing beside his car, still trying not to cry, I decide that talking might help me change my pattern of thinking. If I can get my mind off of the inevitable goodbye, off of the negative time between, and onto the next visit, the next time I’ll see him, maybe I can get through this with a little more grace than I typically do.
“It’s only three weeks this time until I get to see you again!” I say in what I hope is a light, happy tone. Of course, in my head I’m thinking, Three weeks. Three weeks of long distance. Three weeks of feeling like half of me is missing. Three weeks… “That’s only 21 days and that’s shorter than our normal four weeks apart.” Sigh. 21 days is so short until it’s the 21 days he’s not here…
“I know,” he responds as he hugs me tighter.
He’s always so much more positive than I am. It’s like I have this root of negativity in my mind that pops up whenever it pleases, which is often. I’ve been praying about it…
“I’m gonna miss you, Brandon. A whole heck of a lot.” There they are. I feel the tears stinging the backs of my eyes, begging to be loosed. Deep breath.
“I’m gonna miss you too. A whole, whole heck of a lot.” He pulls away and looks at me. He’s so serious, but a smile is playing at the corners of his mouth.
I smile up at him as a tear finally falls down my cheek. How swiftly he wipes it away and another follows. Dang it. I was going to be good this time. I wasn’t going to cry! I think to myself. Granted, I think those things to myself every time. It only rarely works.
“I love you,” I say, trying to smile and keep the wobble out of my voice.
The answering gleam in his eyes is enough to pull me over the edge. I tuck my head back into his shoulder and squeeze tight. “I’ll see you in three weeks. Not long at all. You’ll be back before we know it.” Even I’m not convinced… The wobble in my voice gives me away even when my face is hidden.
I look at my watch. Again. Two minutes…
“You need to go,” I say against his chest.
“I don’t want to leave.” He squeezes tighter again.
“I know. I don’t want you to leave either but we’ll be together again soon. And one day I’m not gonna have to miss you so much. One day you won’t have to leave me and I won’t have to leave you.” Please let that day come soon, I silently pray.
He pulls my chin up and forces me to look at him as he says, “236 days.”
“236 days,” I echo. “Then I’ll be your wife. Then I’ll be able to see you everyday. Then when we say ‘goodbye’ it’ll just mean that I’ll see you later that day. I can’t wait to marry you. 236 days.” So. Far. Away…
“I can’t wait to marry you either,” he says as he puts a hand on my cheek and wipes away the tears that are quickly replaced by new ones. “I have to go.” His words are so at odds with what I can see so plainly in his eyes: I want to stay. He kisses me one last time and pulls away. “I love you.”
It’s strange. The moment he pulls away it truly feels as if a piece of me is left there, with him. “I love you too,” I whisper as he turns away for the millionth time to get into his car to drive away for the millionth time. I wipe at my tears.
I’ve endured five years of this. Five years of waiting a month to see him for a weekend. Five years of making the most of the time we have together and trying not to fall to pieces when we’re apart. Five years filled with so many goodbyes…
I hate goodbyes. Hate them. Especially when they happen so often. Especially when they are filled with so much emotion that you can’t even think straight. Especially when they mean so much.
He turns his car on, rolls his window down, and tells me again that he loves me and will see me soon. I return the sentiment and give him one last kiss before he pulls out of the driveway.
I stand on the porch, tears streaming down my face, as I watch him back away. Just before he leaves, he holds up the “I love you” sign and smiles through his window. I sign and smile back through my tears as he drives forward… Away from me… Again…
Every single time he leaves, I watch until I can’t see him anymore. Until he rounds a corner or gets too far for me to see. Sometimes I wait there for a while. Sometimes minutes, sometimes longer. Most times there are tears. Most times the tears come more quickly and forcefully after he is out of sight… But there’s something about watching him leave me. Again. And again. And again…
Sometimes I catch myself thinking, This isn’t fair! What did I do wrong? Why does everyone around me get to enjoy their relationship all the time and I only get monthly visits? Why do we have to suffer this over and over again? For years! Why didn’t my friends have to wait this long? Why do they get to love each other so easily while we suffer again and again?
No! I would NEVER wish this on anyone. It sucks. A lot. Knowing that someone is your husband and knowing that you have to keep waiting and keep being apart is awful. I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to go through this. I’m thrilled my friends didn’t have to wait 6 years like I will. I’m so happy that they are able to love their people as often as they can. And I know that I also have friends who haven’t yet found their person and I know that is extremely difficult: to watch everyone else experience what you are dreaming or praying or hoping for while you still can’t or aren’t. And I know that there are so many other people out there waiting longer and traveling farther. No, it isn’t fair, but as a wise woman once told me, “Life isn’t fair. Fair only comes once a year.”
No one’s life is easy. No one’s life is perfect. If you think that it is, you’re either wrong or blind to the imperfections in your own life. Sometimes it’s just harder than others…
I have to remind myself each time Brandon leaves that God has a plan for us. And not only does God have a plan for us, but that this is His plan for US, not other people. That God wants us to be in this exact situation at this exact moment for this exact amount of time. I have to remind myself that the Lord is the only one who can help me get through the negativity, and the depression that comes with it if I don’t surrender my negativity to the Lord, when we are apart. That may sound dramatic, but it’s the honest truth. When we are apart, Satan uses any bit of negativity and turns it into something I fixate on if I am not careful to keep my eyes on God. It is in those moments that I have to remember that regardless of what I want or think I need, God knows best and He has it all under control.
So, here’s to 230 days until our monthly goodbyes become a thing of the past and something we thank the Lord for teaching and guiding us through. Here’s to 230 more days of learning through the distance and loving across the miles.
Remember that post I just did on surrender? If you don’t, you can read it here. Basically, it was about me struggle bussing to surrender my plans and desires and life to the Lord even though I know that He is definitely the one who should be directing my life. Not me.
Well, yesterday the Lord blew me away.
Not only did He heal my shoulder miraculously, he also provided something I have been praying a very long time for.
Let’s start with the shoulder.
I have had pain in my right arm/shoulder for eleven weeks now. Yes. Eleven. That’s almost three months. I can’t tell you what in the world happened to injure it, especially to injure it for a full eleven weeks and counting; I just woke up one morning with sharp pain in my neck (which is nothing new to me considering that neck pain is a chronic, daily reminder of my life with VEDS) as well as my shoulder, which was very new. The strangest part was the decreased range of motion in my right arm/shoulder. I couldn’t lift my arm to the side past a 45 degree angle and I really couldn’t shrug my right shoulder either.
This pain and reduced range of motion, as well as some surging/traveling pain down the entirety of my right arm, have been consistent for eleven weeks now. The surging comes and goes, but the limitation of movement and pain has been a consistent companion. Many people had mentioned that it sounded like a rotator cuff injury, so after putting it off for so long, I made an appointment with my doctor. He did some x-rays and decided that he thinks it is a problem with the vertebrae in my neck, not my shoulder. So, an MRI of my neck was ordered and I am still waiting for them to contact me to schedule it.
That night, I went to the Monday night prayer meeting at my church, like I always do. I told the ladies about the persistent pain and what the doctor had said. This isn’t the first time that I’ve brought physical pain to prayer. In fact, I bring that with me almost every week. Those ladies are always faithful to pray for whatever new pain exists or the lingering pains that cling to my muscles or joints and refuse to be released. They prayed for me, as they had done many times before, and we all went home.
That night I couldn’t sleep. My whole body ached all night and when I woke up yesterday morning, my neck was so tight that my right shoulder was one to two inches higher than my left shoulder at rest.
I tested out my arm to see how badly the neck pain and tension was affecting it.
It went passed the 45 degree mark all the way above my head. I tried it again. And again. I just did it again now. It still pops and my neck hurts some, but my range of motion is back!
I shrugged my shoulders to test the movement there. It went passed the typical stopping point. Although my neck still hurts and I don’t have full range of motion back, it is definitely a God thing!
You can’t look me in the face and tell me that going to the doctor and getting proof of an injury and then waking up the next day with the evidence almost completely gone is just a coincidence. That, my friends, is some divine healing! A touch from the Lord’s hand! Can I get a hallelujah!?
So, needless to say, yesterday was already shaping up to be a phenomenal day. However, that was just the beginning.
Yesterday I also received a letter containing a check that pretty much covers the rest of my graduate school tuition. Read that again. And again. Now, that may not be impressive to some people, but that is a direct answer to my prayers followed by an overflow of blessing on top.
I have been praying fiercely that the Lord would provide the money that I need for my tuition each semester, which is no small sum. I asked Him to surprise me and I have have no doubt in my mind that He would provide in one way or another. The past three semesters, God has provided my tuition in a myriad of ways and on a timeline that I could never understand, but He has never delayed and He has never let me down. He has been more than just faithful. He has been… Wow. There aren’t words. There is no way that I could contain how good and perfect and absolutely, miraculously, indescribably incredible the Lord has been to me. There just aren’t words. He cannot be contained in a paragraph or a phrase. He cannot be described with the meager words of my unremarkable language. He has certainly surprised me more than once just in how He has provided for this one particular area of need and I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will continue to surprise me and He will continue to be the Almighty, Sovereign God that I know Him to be. I know that He will continue to defy the odds and do the impossible. He is good. All the time. And all the time. God IS good.
So. Yesterday was an absolutely phenomenal day. I saw the Lord answer not one, but two major prayers in my life right now. I had been praying for another $4,000 just to get through the coming Fall semester. The Lord did one better and provided enough for this semester and the next! Thank You, Lord! Thank You, Lord! Thank You, Lord!
And thank YOU! Thank you to everyone who has prayed for me and with me. Thank you for believing and trusting that the Lord would answer. Thank you for encouraging me in prayer and in person. Y’all are awesome and I pray the Lord blesses your socks off and reveals Himself to you in new and awe-inspiring ways.
God is good! Can I get an Amen!?
Surrender: (sur·ren·der / səˈrendər). verb. 1) Cease resistance to an enemy or opponent and submit to their authority. 2) Give up or hand over (a person, right, or possession), typically on compulsion or demand. 3) Abandon oneself entirely to (a powerful emotion or influence); give in to.
Definition credit: Google search engine.
If you ask 20 different people what surrender means to them specifically, you will probably get 20 different answers. For instance, if I were to ask you to define a moment in your life in which you felt as though you had surrendered or were surrendering something or someone, your answer would differ from mine.
That, my friends, is called perspective.
I have a totally different perspective on the verb “surrender” than you probably do. And in all honesty, I’m sure that my viewpoint on that ever so complex word will likely change within the next year. Why? Because I am going to face a magnificent moment of surrender sooner rather than later.
Allow me to explain.
This word, surrender, has been coming up frequently in my life. It was the topic of a weekend camp that I attended and since then it has refused to leave. In fact, it has decided to swirl amongst the inner workings of my mind and drive me mad. Or, more likely, the madness I am currently experiencing secondary to the swirling surrender will draw me out of the bondage within me that holds me prisoner and will free me to be a much better me. I’m hoping for the latter of the two.
You see, the word “surrender” isn’t really a pleasant one. It entails leaving something behind or giving something up, usually for good. As in, when you surrender it, you don’t get it back. Ever.
Well, sometimes we do get surrendered things back. And sometimes when we get them back, they are better than before; or maybe we are just better than before. Maybe we had to go through the time of surrender to better understand what we had so that we could appreciate it all the more once it was given back to us again. Or maybe, just maybe, we have to surrender something that we perceive as being the best for us so that we have open hands to receive what truly is the best for us.
The problem is: when you surrender something, you can’t just expect to get it back. That’s not the point. The point of surrendering something, especially when you are surrendering something to the Lord, is to humble yourself enough to say, “I don’t have control over this anymore; it’s all Yours.”
Easier said than done, right?
My Sunday school teacher has a lovely saying: “The problem with living sacrifices is they keep crawling off the altar.”
Can I get an Amen??
I mean, seriously. We sit there and say, “Oh, Lord, You are so good! You created all things and You know all things. You are working everything out for good and I know that You are sovereign and You are in control. I am relinquishing control of (*insert whatever you are surrendering here*) to You. Thank You for taking my burdens and giving me Your peace that surpasses all understanding.” Then what do we do? We pick up the thing we just laid down in surrender and we walk away carrying it as if we know better than God! I know I do it. I lay down my worries and anxieties and then I come back later that day and pick them up again! It’s a never ending cycle. I’m just thankful that the Lord puts up with me and loves me and gives me more grace than I could ever deserve!
How do I surrender? How do I take my life and every single thing in it and give it up? How do I take my worries about the future and lay them on the altar of sacrifice? How do I take my plans and desires and relinquish control of them? How do I surrender all that I am and all that I have?
It should be easy, right? My mind should be able to grasp the concept that God is more than able to handle my life and all of its relatively minuscule facets. I should be able to accept the fact (not theory or assumption, but fact) that God is far more qualified to run my life than I am.
Let me try to use an example: Me trying to control my own life and refusing to surrender it is like me trying to fly an airplane or spaceship with no prior knowledge on the subject. I look at the innumerable controls that I know nothing about and think that I’m qualified to not only operate but control it all. In the meantime, I am refusing the help of the wise and knowing pilot who is sitting back, just waiting for me to ask him for help (the Lord is our pilot, He is the one who directs our paths and teaches us where to go). I am also refusing to even attempt to read the manual that tells me how to fly the aircraft (the Bible, which is like our manual for life) because I can totally do it on my own. Oh yeah, and I have no clue where in the world I am supposed to be flying the plane or spaceship, so I’m basically just wandering around and acting like I have it all under control and I know what’s best for me… All the while, I am gracelessly flying myself into oblivion; ignoring every warning sign that passes me by; ignoring every flashing light warning me of my imminent demise… And the worst part is, I think I’m better off like that. I think I’m better off with me in control, rather than removing myself from the driver’s seat and surrendering control to the pilot, who knows where we are going and knows the best route to get us there with the least amount of turbulence…
One day I hope I learn how to keep myself on that altar. I pray that the Lord helps me to be a living sacrifice, completely surrender. I pray that I obediently go where He leads me and surrender the things that I need to relinquish control of. I pray that God teaches me how to walk away from the altar without picking everything back up. I pray that I humble myself enough to walk in obedience and servitude all the days of my life.
He’s getting me there. One day at a time. Very slowly, but surely, He is getting me there.
So here’s to tomorrow: a fresh start and a new day. A new opportunity to surrender what needs to be released and leave it there. I’m willing to try. Are you?
Have you ever had someone look you in the eyes and say, “Dream bigger! Your dreams just aren’t good enough.”?
Well, me either. Not really. It wasn’t so much a person as the Lord’s voice in my head one day as I was praying. He was very clear, though; my dreams were not up to His standards. So I upped my game.
First, I brought Him all of the dreams I did have: a house, family, good job, blah, blah, blah. Basically, all of the typical girl dreams, including a nice guy with a ring and a wedding eventually. Yeah… I’m pretty basic.
Then, I gave up my dreams and asked God what it was that He wanted me to be dreaming of. (That is an absolutely terrifying question to ask Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent God… Do it. I dare you.)
His answer wasn’t what I was expecting. Actually, He rather surprised me.
It was as if my dreams were pieces of clay that I had molded and spent so much time perfecting myself. They were well thought out and I had taken pieces of each of my dreams from different places: a detail from my best friends dream wedding, a characteristic from the storybook prince, a spark of life from my past experiences. But all of my hard work wasn’t good enough…
The thing is, God didn’t just waltz in, snatch up my dreams, and throw them by the wayside. Instead, He asked. He requested that I willingly surrender the things I had worked so hard on, but He also promised something better. So I did. I gave them all up. And what He offered me was so much better than I ever could have imagined.
I gave Him my dream of a house in the country with a wraparound porch and a swing. He gave me a massive house ready to hold friends and family from near and far, ready to serve anyone who walked across the threshold. He gave me a home filled with love and joy that echoed off of every wall. He gave me a wraparound porch for all of the kids I love and teach to run in circles throughout the day. He gave me a swing to sit with friends and family and converse about life and to sing to the kids around me as we swing away from the worries surrounding our lives.
I gave Him my dream of a family which had been shattered by the diagnosis of VEDS. He gave me a home filled with kids from all over the world. He gave me a family of adopted kids better than anything I ever could have imagined on my own. He gave me a church family bigger than any biological family I could ever have.
I gave Him my dream of a good job with good pay. He gave me a better job than I ever could have found on my own. He gave me experiences I didn’t know I needed. He gave me coworkers who would support me in Christ. He gave me my mission field in the midst of my work life. He gave me everything I would ever need, provided by His hand, not mine.
I gave Him my dream of a nice guy, of prince charming or whomever else girls dream about. He gave me a man to stand by my side when no one else could. He gave me a man wiling and able to support me when I forget to support myself. He gave me a man better than any prince charming, shadowhunter, Mr. Darcy, or superhero could ever be. He gave me a man who kneels in prayer with me and worships beside me. He gave me a man who would never run away, no matter how bad life gets.
Then, He gave me a new dream: to travel. To see the world He had so deftly created and continues to create and renew each and every day. But He didn’t just give me the desire to see it on a TV or computer screen. No. He gave me beauty beyond my wildest dreams and joys I never knew I could behold, all with my own eyes. Adventure. Journey. Explore. Travel. To see it all for myself and enjoy every step of the journey, every moment of the adventure that takes me wherever He leads.
The Lord didn’t take my dreams and toss them in the trash. He transformed them. He remolded them into something more beautiful than I could have imagined, something I never knew I wanted.
So go ahead. Dream bigger. I dare you.
After I got diagnosed with VEDS, my relationship with Brandon took a negative turn. If you want to read the beginning of our story, you can find that here.
A few days after I was diagnosed, as I was driving to work, I prayed that the Lord would give me something to hold onto while I grappled with living with VEDS on top of every other thing I was dealing with.
So He did.
I was sitting in my car with tears streaming down my face. I was praying. Asking God to give me something, anything to hold onto. I felt like I was drowning. I felt like this new knowledge that I did in fact have Vascular Ehlers Danlos Syndrome was going to send me into the darkest pit of despair. I needed something to cling to; to keep me from falling into the pit that threatened to ruin my life and steal every ounce of joy I had ever known.
So I pleaded with the Lord to give me something. Anything.
And then it happened. In my little two door car, trying to see past the tears that filled my eyes, hearing the cracks in my voice as I cried out for help. I saw it.
It was about five years into the future. Brandon and I were married and we were in our room getting ready to go to sleep. We walked over to the bed and he reached out his hand to me. I took his hand and we knelt down beside our bed with our clasped hands between us on the quilt. We closed our eyes and started to pray. Just like we did every night. When I opened my eyes, our clasped hands were old and wrinkled. We had the hardest time getting off of the floor with our old knees. But we still knelt beside our bed and prayed together every night. Just like we always had.
I was frozen.
That was it. That was my hope. That was my promise. That was the thing that I could cling to for the rest of my life. When my world started to crumble again, I could remember that promise that came straight from Heaven.
I had been given visions before and I’d had dreams that I knew were from the Lord, but nothing had ever compared to this. It was so vivid and I knew it was just for me in answer to my prayers. I had asked God for hope. I had asked Him to give me something to cling to; to keep me from slipping into the darkness. And He answered me. He is so good.
He gave me hope. But not just a fleeting hope. This vision that He gave me filled me with joy and hope and peace. It has continued to fill me with joy and hope and peace. Through every trial and every temptation to give up and sink into despair, this vision has been a reminder of God’s plan for me.
Just because a doctor says that my median life span is 48 years doesn’t mean that I can’t live to grow old and kneel with my husband in prayer every night. Just because a doctor says that I’m at an incredibly high risk of rupturing anything in my body at any moment doesn’t mean that I can’t live a full life. Just because a doctor says that it’s really risky for me to have kids doesn’t mean that I can’t adopt the sweet kiddos that need someone to love them. Just because a doctor says something doesn’t mean that God can’t turn what he says into a new dream, a new blessing.
Just because I have VEDS doesn’t mean that I can’t live a long life with the man of my dreams. It doesn’t mean that I have to live in fear. It doesn’t mean that God has turned His back on me and I have to walk this road alone. Actually, it means the opposite.
Being diagnosed with VEDS has opened my eyes to just how near God is every single moment of every day. The vision He gave me has reminded me of that more times than I care to count. Chronic pain and a different issue every day makes life a little more insane. But it also makes me a little more thankful for each day I see and each moment I get to live. It makes me realize how incredibly blessed I am to have a man like Brandon who is more than just willing to walk through this insane life with me. He wants it. He is actively choosing me, with all of the crazy complications that come with a life entangled by VEDS.
He chooses to stay with me instead of walking away like most rational people would. He chooses to help me through the nights that I’m plagued with negativity. He chooses to hold me when the tears overwhelm my joy. He chooses to pray for me when I don’t know how to pray for myself anymore. He chooses to pray with me and help me to see the good all around me. He chooses to point out the positives and remind me of all of the blessings the Lord has given me. He chooses to walk with me through each of the painful moments, letting the Lord lead us on this crazy path that we call life. He chooses to love me, in the rare good moments and the frequent bad ones.
So, Brandon, it means the world to me that you actively and presently choose me, regardless of every problem we have faced and all of the craziness I’m sure we will face. You are my sunshine. Truly. When skies are gray and all I can see is the negativity, you help me to see the sun hiding just behind the clouds. You remind me that the Lord is still there and He is ready and willing to carry my burden and give me joy. You’ll never know, dear, how much I love you. And I pray the Lord never takes you from me.