Will the Real Gentlemen Please Stand Up?

We all want to be a part of an epic love story, to play an irreplaceable role in a grand romance. But in our day and age, our society has tried to inform us that this is nothing but a fairytale stored in old, dusty books- real life is different. 

They tell us to to make it easier on the guys by becoming "easy" ourselves. Drop the virtue, drop the purity and drop your clothes. Only then will you be valuable to a man. This world would have us believe that chivalry is dead. After all, if the enemy can take away the hope you see with your heart, then you're more likely to settle for what you see with your eyes. 

But I would challenge you that chivalry is not dead, your heart has value and you are worth pursuing. 

I didn't understand this for the longest time. I was brought up Christian, didn't do anything too drastic, but somehow, doubt started to creep into my heart. "Maybe I'm being a little old fashioned. Maybe the bible is a bit outdated. Maybe I just need to lower my standards a bit. After all, I don't want to be single forever!" 

I didn't have my first boyfriend till a few weeks after graduating High School and to be honest, I think I dated him just because he seemed interested in me. I thought that's what you do- when a guy seems interested in you, that's the guy you date. I was afraid that if I made things too hard on him, then he might not think I'm worth all the trouble and change his mind. Thus began the horrible cycle of dating. 

Now, I'm NOT against dating. But I do believe your motives and the condition of your heart are vital to whether or not a relationship is right for you. My motives were horrible and my heart was hurting, not ready to be handed over to a guy who didn't know what he was doing with it. I would be fairly close to God when a guy would pop up and I would subconsciously shut God out of that part of my life. I think I was afraid I would hear him say no. But if I didn't hear it, then I wasn't responsible for it. Or so I thought... 

There's that saying, "What you compromise to gain, you will eventually lose." And I found this to be true every time. I mean EVERY time. Just when I thought things would be fine, BAM.. end of relationship. I spent countless nights crying over guys that I wasn't sure I even liked to begin with. I don't think it was as much the guy as it was the understanding that someone thought I was worth hurting, someone thought I wasn't enough.. or too much! 

But no matter how many times I had walked away from His wisdom, God would always be there to hold me through the night, wipe my tears and show me the right way to start walking again. 

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
— Proverbs 4:23 NLT

I had forgotten what it meant to guard my own heart. 

I finally reached a point that I feel we all eventually come to where I was willing to trust Him with who I should be with. That meant spending time with Him even when it was uncomfortable, praying through things I wasn't sure how to talk about, and even saying no to guys when I knew it wasn't right. 

I was no longer dating in order to not be single but I was just resting in Him, knowing He had my back. 

No matter where you're at in the relationship world, never forget to guard your own heart. That doesn't mean never opening up to anyone or staying hidden in your own shell, but it does mean that not everyone will have access to it. Your heart is a treasure and when the right guy comes along, he'll see it that way and move mountains to prove he's worthy of it. 

If I could leave you with this... 

Chivalry is not dead. Gentlemen do exist. And one is waiting for you. 

But remember, if your looking for a prince, he'll be looking for a princess. Know who you are in Christ and cling to it with all your heart. I honestly don't think I believed gentlemen still existed till I met Jeff. He surprised me in every way and made me believe that I was worth everything he went through to win me over. 

Is he perfect? HECK NO! And he would say the same thing about me. It's not about who you can appear to be to the other person, but it's about what the other person means to you. Trust God with your heart, guard it from the robbers and thieves in this world, and be ready when God finally tells you, "It's okay. You can trust him. I've got his back." 

xxo, 

Jess 

Pennies and Fondue: How We Celebrated One Year

"Where the heck are you taking me?"

As our sonic blue Chevy drove us closer to the mountains and away from where I was so sure he was taking me, a sly smile crept across the corners of his mouth. He had successfully confused me. I had no idea where the night was headed. 

With our hands interlocked, we walked down the softly lit streets of Manitou, with me going on about something I wasn't at all paying attention to, noticing every restaurant we were passing by and mentally checking it off my list. It wasn't until we passed the charming and, dare I say romantic, fine-fondue eatery knows as The Mona Lisa that my heart sank just a bit. I would be lying if I said I hadn't always wanted to enter into that elegant doorway and spend the night in a world of fine cheese and chocolate. That is, until yet another mischievous look took over his face and, instantly whirling me around, we walked straight into that place like the adults we sometimes pretend we are. 

Dinner that night was filled with four of the most delicious courses I have ever had, sparkling wine, fondue stick fighting, lots of eye gazing, and the occasional eye rolling, sharing memories, laughing hysterically, older couples sneering at us when we're being too flirty, holding up our wine glasses, and in our best rich-snobby accents, replying, "hmm hmm hmm the economy..." (shout out to all my Parks and Rec fans!)

After a dinner of exquisite perfection, we took a stroll through the small mountain town, drenched in late summer twilight. Tourists from Kansas were packing the kids into the mini van as the night crawlers took their place in every pub and coffee lounge that lined the street. Manitou was waking with a slightly different crowd. 

It wasn't long before we found ourselves in one of our favorite places, surrounded by what is called the Penny Arcade. At first, we were just browsing, but before long, I was digging through my purse, rounding up all the pennies, nickels, and dimes that I could find. Pin ball, love doctors, grip tests... the possibilities go on in a world where a few cents can bring you endless fun. The stress from work, deadlines, and of course planning a wedding all seemed somewhere far, far away. All that seemed to matter that night was the he found her, she found him, and oh how perfectly her hand seemed to fit in his. 

The night was perfect and so was this last year, but not because everything went perfectly. Giving up on perfection, and the way you perceive how life should happen, is usually the first step towards pure happiness. As Joseph Campbell puts it, "You must give up the life you planned in order to live the life that is waiting for you." In a world filled with duties, demands, and deadlines, it's so important to stop and be present, live the life in front of you, write the story before you. One day you'll turn around and say, "wow, that was well written." 

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All You Need Is Love

They say that falling in love is risky; that it takes some amount of courage and bravery to open yourself up to the possibility of rejection. But I think that part of the risk involved is in the idea that it might actually work out. And when it does, you realize that you can't love someone on your own, but you have to open up to someone you can't see or touch. By faith, we receive the love God has for us, and from that, we trust Him to love the people in our lives through us. 

Whenever something is out of my control, it makes me uncomfortable. But one of the definitions of faith could be to believe in something you can't control. The power of love is bigger than all of us, and so it takes someone much bigger than us to guide us in how to love. 

One of the most important things I have learned throughout my relationship is that I am powerless to love someone the way they deserve to be loved, but the good news is I'm never alone. When I feel weak in my own ability, God's strength is made perfect in me. I don't know how He does it, but He always manages to save the day. I guess that's just part of being a Savior and all. 

"Some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious ambiguity..."

-Gilda Radner

Life truly is about the journey and taking in every moment until it grows you into the person you only dreamed of becoming. To be honest, nothing in my life has turned out the way I originally thought it would and I'm so thankful. This life is more beautiful, loving, complicated, unexpected, adventurous, and fulfilling than I could ever have hoped for. God knows the story you were meant to live and He'll write it beautifully if you'll let Him. All you need is love, and He's got plenty of it. 

Also, it's officially 5 months till the wedding! I just had to throw that in there :) 

Our jam walking the trails... Happy Sunday!