What Happens When Prince Charming Finally Arrives?

I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read on “Why This Guy isn’t Right for You” or “10 Guys to Never Date” or “How to Avoid the Wrong Guy.” It’s a topic that we all want to know more about because we all want to avoid THAT guy- the one that’s so wrong for you in every way but you’re afraid you’ll date him regardless. We write break-up songs about those guys, recount the stories of those guys and sometimes even base our identity on those guys. But what happens when the right guy finally comes
 

I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read on “Why This Guy isn’t Right for You” or “10 Guys to Never Date” or “How to Avoid the Wrong Guy.” It’s a topic that we all want to know more about because we all want to avoid THAT guy- the one that’s so wrong for you in every way but you’re afraid you’ll date him regardless. We write break-up songs about those guys, recount the stories of those guys and sometimes even base our identity on those guys. But what happens when the right guy finally comes along? When our dreams get handed to us, will we even know what to do with them?

I always thought I would just know when I met the right guy; I thought it would be obvious. And when I did, I imagined myself handing over my whole heart, exposing my very soul, and walking into a marriage where I didn’t fear anything. After all, he was finally here right? 

What I didn’t realize was that the wounds and hurts from my past wouldn’t just vanish once the right guy came along. Even after Jeff FINALLY approached me about dating, and I knew I wanted to be with him, I still struggled with feeling unworthy of such an incredible guy.

I remember driving up to my parents house in the mountains that weekend, crying and talking to God about Jeff and what I was supposed to do. He made it very clear how he felt and I knew I felt the same, but something icky inside me was trying to keep me down and keep me afraid to make a decision—one of the greatest decisions of my life. As I was driving down the back roads towards Boulder, the sun setting behind the Rockies beside me, I felt God whisper to me, “You believe I think you are worth pursuing, right?” I was able to answer yes with a bit of confusion as to the point He was making. Then He whispered something to my bruised soul I will never forget, “Then why can’t you believe that Jeff thinks you are worth pursuing too?”

Oh… I guess I really hadn’t thought about that too much.

I mean, I knew Jeff thought he wanted to be with me and I knew Jeff thought that I was worth pursuing, but that’s how every guy seems until they decide that it’s not worth it anymore. I realized that I had taken the hurtful qualities of all the wrong guys and put them on Jeff so that if things didn’t work out, I would be able to put him in that “wrong guy” category just like all the rest. But now, as it turns out, he was the RIGHT GUY! (And all the Angels shouted “PLOT TWIST!”)

All of the walls I had built around my heart to protect myself, were finally being asked to come down, and by God of all people! It felt like a lot of trust and I wasn’t sure how to navigate the road I was now on. It’s a good thing my crazy heart isn’t ever a surprise to God. He said to me, “You can trust Jeff because you can trust Me.”

Trusting someone with your heart doesn’t mean that they will never let you down or hurt you, but it does mean that you are trusting God with the process of not only your transformation but of Mr. Charming’s as well. I used to put my faith in guys to make me happy and feel wanted. That’s an impossible task even for the bravest of gentlemen. Taking that responsibility off of him and giving it to God was the greatest thing I could have done for our relationship and it helped me to see Jeff through God’s eyes. When we have His perspective, then we don’t have to worry about falling for Mr. Wrong and we also don’t have to worry about screwing everything up with Mr. Right. We can just walk and trust and move forward into the plans He has for us.

If you haven’t found Prince Charming yet, don’t worry, he’s out there. But you don’t have to fret about how it will happen or if you miss him. Just keep your eyes on Jesus and He will lead you down the road that has good things ahead for you. He’ll guide you, direct you, and when necessary, whisper secrets into your worried heart that will calm your fears and give you strength and courage.

Write this chapter well :)

xxo,
Jess 

When Your Problems Seem Too Big

So lately, there’s been this icky feeling that tries to creep up on me when I’m exhausted and vulnerable from the day. It’s the feeling that whatever my day, week or month is bringing me, I’m not strong enough, creative enough, or smart enough to handle it. Can you relate?

It’s as if everything in my life that should be inspiring and propelling me forward is instead bringing my heart to a screeching halt as it looks at the challenges as “too big” for me to handle. My mind runs away with thoughts like “no way I can handle this interview” or “I have too many deadlines. I know I’m going to fail” or my least favorite “I’m not cut out for this after all. Maybe I should just give up…”

The battle in our minds is a constant and brutal attack on the very strength of our hearts. What we believe about ourselves determines where we will choose to draw our strength from and when we look to ourselves as our source, then we will ALWAYS come up short. It’s only when we turn to Jesus to be our strength, our creativity, and our wisdom will we experience victory over all of our shortcomings.

But we know this, right? So WHY is it so dang hard?

I believe that when we’re younger, for those of use who were blessed to be saved at an early age, we developed this cookie-cutter, storybook image of Jesus that feeds our little hearts well but doesn’t translate into out adult world with our adult problems. After all, that cartoon Jesus that I see in my old Precious Moments bible doesn’t look like he could handle the storms in my life today. Subconsciously, he becomes more of a memory and less of a reality in our lives.

But then I came across this little passage in the 3rd installment of The Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian and I began to realize something I had forgotten.

And then—oh joy! For he was there: the huge Lion, shining white in the moonlight, with his huge black shadow underneath him.
 But for the movement of his tail he might have been a stone lion, but Lucy never thought of that. She never stopped to think whether he was a friendly lion or not. She rushed to him. She felt her heart would burst if she lost a moment. And the next thing she knew was that she was kissing him and putting her arms as far round his neck as she could and burying her face in the beautiful rich silkiness of his mane.
 “Aslan, Aslan. Dear Aslan,” sobbed Lucy. “At last.”
 The great beast rolled over on his side so that Lucy fell, half sitting and half lying between his front paws. He bent forward and just touched her nose with his tongue. His warm breath came all round her. She gazed up into the large wise face.
 “Welcome, child,” he said.
 “Aslan, said Lucy, “you’re bigger.”
 “That is because you are older, little one,” answered he.
 “Not because you are?”
 “I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.”

This is such a beautiful picture of both how tenderly Jesus loves us and how big he truly is in our lives. “Every year you grow, you will find me bigger.” The Jesus who met you in the Sunday school classroom is the same Jesus who can handle your broken heart, your broken family and your broken life. I don’t believe that Jesus physically gets bigger and stronger as you grow older, but your realization of him—his power, strength, might and glory—gets bigger and bigger.

Your drinking problem… He’s bigger

Your broken family… He’s bigger

Your screwed up love life… He’s bigger

Your cutting problem… He’s bigger

Your failed career… He’s bigger

Your shame and condemnation… He’s bigger

And guess what else… HE CARES!

Just like Aslan is with little Lucy, Jesus longs to take you in his arms, set you down in a wide open space, and say, “I’m here. Tell me what’s wrong. Because no matter what it is, I’m bigger.” He longs to know your heart and wants you to share everything your uncertain or scared about and then trust him enough to place it in his hands, knowing it’s the safest place it could be.

The struggles we face in our life, the challenges that seem too daunting for us to handle, were meant to draw us to the One who has all the strength we need to handle it, and to handle it well. Your problems are not too big (or too small) for Jesus to take care of. And the more steps we take in faith to put our trust in what He can do, the more we will see him for who he is—the mighty King who conquered ALL. And he’ll never stop growing bigger and bigger in our lives. 

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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The Courage to Be Seen

The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.
— Neil Gaiman

One of the most challenging things that I have ever had to face, that we all eventually have to face, is vulnerability... my vulnerability. Locked behind bars of shame, hinging on fear, I've learned to hide this vulnerable piece of my heart out of sight, up in the tallest tower, where no one would consider the quest for a daring rescue worth all the trouble. But there is quite a large problem with this method of survival; over time, it becomes harder and harder to break down the fortress that guards your soul from the rest of the world. And this world desperately needs your soul fully alive and able to offer what only it can bring to the table. 

God Himself is a mysterious God, Who takes great delight in giving us a life full of beauty, love, adventure, daring quests, and of course, mystery. Each of us holds within us a piece of that mystery. But when we hide behind our fears, insecurities, and pride, we are selfishly diminishing the mystery within us. What's inside you is greater than what you feel and it should be deemed more important. 

As C.S. Lewis puts it, "There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind." And I say it's time to leave behind the worry, fear, and insecurity and embrace the uncertain future, for only there can we experience true freedom. Fear doesn't change based on circumstances or emotions, but on the determination of the heart. And when we decide that we will not live through fear, then fear itself becomes obsolete, meaningless. But the decision must come first.

Sure people will see the flaws, but they will also see what God has gifted only you to reveal. Being brave isn't an emotion, but rather a decision in the midst of terrifying emotions. And being brave is exactly who we were created to be. 

Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; He won’t leave you
— Deuteronomy 31:6 The Message

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!