Make sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 before reading if you haven't already caught up on our love story!
So many emotions ran through my heart as Jaymes walked up. How do you greet someone you feel you fully know and yet barely know? Someone who you've been dating for the past few months and yet have never seen in person? I truly didn't know what to think, or feel, or even say. I'm pretty sure all I did was squeal a "Hiiiiiii!!!" and run into his arms as he walked into the house. He pulled me in and before he said anything, he kissed me. It wasn't a crazy passionate kiss, but it was the most surreal kiss I have ever been given! Everything from the past four months of getting to know this man crashed into my heart and my head spun as I tried to wrap my heart around this situation. He stepped back and said, "Hi!" and all I could say was "You're so tall!" I know, so romantic!
That evening was filled with much talking, making out, and stopping to just watch the other one, realizing we were finally in the same room after four months of messages, phone calls, and FaceTime dates. It was the best night and I don't think I have ever felt so happy, confident, or in love in my whole life. This man was even more amazing in person and being able to finally be in his arms was a feeling I didn't even know existed.
As a little girl, I fully believed in true love. I believed in romance. I believed in soul mates. But, as I grew up and watched relationships around me struggle and fall apart, I began to lose faith that those beliefs, weren't real. I wanted so badly to believe they were real, but my heart was too guarded to allow those thoughts in... until Jaymes. I have never had anyone in my life complete me like he does. Someone whose strengths compliment my weaknesses and visa versa. I KNEW when I decided to move that he was my person and I was going to do everything in my power to get to him, if that isn't a sign of true love, I don't know what is! The more time I spend with Jaymes, the more those beliefs of a little girl are coming back into focus. I firmly believe God has perfectly designed people for one another and when those people meet, there is a connection like none other.
I have now been in North Carolina for the past eight months and even though I miss Montana very much, I am more grateful now than I have been in years. My heart feels at home with Jaymes and these last eight months feel like a dream. We have spent hours talking and cooking together. We have gone on hikes and countless runs to the grocery store. We have watched many movies and shows and have been able to do life together... finally. For four months, I dreamt of what doing life with this man would be like. All I wanted when I decided to move to NC was to be present with him. To do the day to day activities side by side and that is exactly what we have been able to do.
We got into our first fight back in the fall and I learned then what an incredibly patient and gentle man Jaymes truly is. It was over a movie we had watched and I was very passionate about my stance on the movie when it finished. I was talking so much, I wasn't listening, and Jaymes never once raised his voice at me or got in my face about it. When he finally spoke to me, it was with so much control and firmness, but also with so much grace. I had never had a significant other handle an argument this way and it truly caught me off guard. I knew then this man could handle all of me, but I also knew then that this was a man I was going to willing work very hard to be an amazing woman for. I grew up being taught "Don't look for the right man, become the right woman" and I don't believe that stops when you finally do meet the "right" man. I long to be the best version of myself for him every day. To show in our relationship ready to serve and love him with all my heart.
Over Christmas, Jaymes was able to go on leave for a few weeks and it gave us so much more time together than just weekends. It was wonderful and I loved every second of it! During these weeks, something had come up that set me off (it had nothing to do with Jaymes). I was so angry and defensive when I got off the phone from this conversation that had gotten me worked up. I came out into the living room where Jaymes was and was venting and my fists were clenched and I know I probably wasn't making much sense. Jaymes tried to talk me down, but it wasn't really working (I am a very emotional person if you haven't already figured that out :P). So, instead of continuing to try and talk me down, he very gently came over to me, wrapped me in his arms and began to slow dance with me to the Frank Sinatra song that was playing. We slow danced for a few moments and then he kissed my head. I looked up at him and he kissed me and said, "Feel better now?" (swoon) Ummmm, YES I feel better! It truly was a moment that will forever be locked in my heart and a moment that showed just how much this man loves me and understands me better than I know myself.
This new year has been interesting with new challenges being handed to us. So far this year, I have seen Jaymes for two weekends and that's it. There have been trainings and classes he's had to go to for the Army and they take away from our time together. But, this time apart has only strengthened my love for this incredible man. When he comes home, I am always more in love with him than when he left. I am so thankful for starting our relationship through communication because it gave us such a good foundation for weeks and months like these. If you haven't already gathered from this very emotional post, I am in awe of God's hand in our relationship. I could never have dreamed up a man like Jaymes. He is so many things I was looking for and so many things I didn't know I needed.
We celebrated one year together this month and I truly cannot wait for the months and years to come. God is so sweet to us and He 10000% wants what is best for us. I know this first hand and am living proof that when we surrender our whole lives to Him with open hands, He will bless us above and beyond what we could ever think or imagine! This might be the end of this little Love Story series on my blog, but it is just the beginning of our true love story and I cannot wait to see what is written next.
Thank you for joining us on this adventure and, as I conclude, I'd ask that you'd pray for us as we walk into the future together. Life is full of unknowns, but knowing I have all of you with me and knowing I'm in the hands of the One who knows all, gives me confidence that we will not only survive life together, but thrive as a couple.
All my love to all of you!
Your Fearless Wanderer
Make sure to check out Part 1 to be caught up on our love story!
My heart seized inside my chest as I heard the phone click off. I sat there in shock for a few seconds at what I had just heard from the other side of the phone, but as that faded, I was filled with resolve. I was going to move. I picked up my phone and immediately called my mom. "I'm moving." I told her, to which she replied, "I know, sweetie." I had been talking about moving at the end of summer or beginning of fall and this is what she thought I was talking about. "No, I am moving now." I told her the phone call I had just had and that if I was going to actually meet this guy in person and get to know him face to face, I was going to have to move. My mom didn't even skip a beat, "Well, ok then!" I love my mom! Y'all, I cannot even begin to explain the peace I had in this decision. Looking back, it can seem like a split second decision (and it was!) that didn't have any merit to it, but I knew in the deepest part of my heart this was exactly what my next step was supposed to be for my relationship with Jaymes.
I will stop here and tell you all that the deployment never actually followed through. They packed up and waited for a few days, but never got sent out. But even when he called me and told me they weren't going, I still knew moving was my next step.
I didn't waste any time. I contacted my sister living in North Carolina near post and asked her about possible job opportunities. She got me connected with a friend of hers who got me connected to a moms group in the area where I was looking to move. I reached out to the group and told them I was moving to the area in July (there were no grounds for this date, I just decided it would be July and moved forward with it) and that I was looking for a full-time nanny position. At the time, I wasn't CPR certified and I knew that if I was going to get a good nanny job, I needed to be certified. So not a week into deciding I was going to move, I prayed that the Lord would show me the fastest way to get CPR certified. The next day after this prayer, I walked into the office at the ranch and our head wrangler was talking to our GM about this CPR course the ranch was hosting the very next week. I couldn't believe it! I piped up and said, "Can more people join or is it full already?" Marce (the head wrangler) said there was still an opening and he'd be happy to have me join! I was so excited! And to top this all off, the ranch paid for it. This was the first tangible sign that I knew God had placed the desire to move in my heart and He was going to guide each step along the way.
I didn't want to stress Jaymes out with the news I was moving, so I waited a few days to get my ducks sort of in a row before I told him. He was excited but apprehensive at the news and made sure I was doing this for me and not him. I assured him that I was doing this for me and that I knew that me moving wasn't guarantying we would work out. I told him the only reason I was moving was so that I could actually see him face to face and date him in person. At the time of my moving, I had my sister and her family here and my grandparents as well. If he and I didn't work out, I had family near by. Jaymes knew traveling for him was extremely difficult with being in the army and Covid restrictions and that my moving would allow us to take the next step in our relationship - which was to actually date.
Now that Jaymes knew and I was CPR certified, I began to aggressively search for a job. I had a connection with a landlord already through my sister and he and I were already working on a rental property for me, but I couldn't move forward with anything he sent me till had a job secured. The mom group seemed promising at first with the few replies I received, but when those fell through, no more came. I decided to try CARE.com and made a quick profile. It was now about two weeks after deciding to move and my job at the ranch knew I was leaving. I had about three more weeks till I had decided I was going to leave (July 7th) and I had nothing lined up. Why July 7th? I have no idea, it was just the date I gave myself as the finish line so that I would be able to push myself to get everything lined up.
Sign number two from Jesus... My mom had recently moved to the ranch to work with me. I loved having her there and I was so excited about working together all summer. I was so sad to only have one month with her, but Jesus knew that her coming was exactly what I needed. I was able to train her and hand over my job title to her when I left. It was such a smooth transition and the ranch was getting someone who I fully believed would take great care of the front desk team. I was also able to give her my cabin on ranch. I had talked to the GM when I decided I was moving and asked her if I could train my mom for my position and with her taking on more responsibility, if she could also have my cabin. She absolutely agreed and it was the peace of mind I needed leaving my mom out in Montana all by herself. I had no idea I would be moving at the beginning of the summer and just a month after she arrived, but Jesus knew and He knew exactly what He was doing bringing her out there!
Ok, job on the ranch was taken care of. Landlord was searching for homes for me. And, I was receiving several wonderful messages through CARE.com about families looking for a full-time nanny. Now, at this point in our love story, I haven't talked much about Jaymes. We were still talking every day and face timing when we could, but honestly, I was so focused on getting everything lined up, I don't remember much from our conversations in June of 2020. He stayed supportive and encouraging and as the weeks went by, we both were getting very anxious about finally meeting in person.
On June 28th, 2020 I received the email saying the family I had been chatting with and had interviewed with had hired me to be their full-time nanny. I was ecstatic! My landlord had a property on hold for me and all he needed was the contract from the family to seal the deal. I emailed him immediately and we began the process of finalizing my rental. Now, remember my July 7th date? Well, that was literally just a random date I pulled from thin air the day I got the call from Jaymes. It was less than a month from the call to the contract for my job and the rental was finalized within that last week of June. Guys, I have to stop here again and just say, if God has laid something on your heart that you know deep in your soul is your next step, lean into it! I had no answers to everyones questions until a week before I left the ranch. I had no idea if anything with Jaymes would even work out on the other end of this decision. All I knew was that when I got that call from him in the beginning of June, I was supposed to move. That was it. God handled the rest.
I ended up leaving the ranch on July 8th, 2020. I had done it. In just five weeks, I had gotten everything with my job and my cabin wrapped up at the ranch. I had gotten a job lined up and contracted in North Carolina, and a house lined up and signed for. I was moving across the United States for a man I had only ever talked to on the phone and who I had only known for four months. Yes, I was crazy, but I was also 1000% sure about my decision. Never once over those five weeks did I ever doubt what I was supposed to do. It took me three days to drive from Montana to North Carolina and I arrived on July 10th, 2020, exactly four months to the day from the day I first messaged Jaymes.
I arrived in the late afternoon and my sister helped me move everything into my adorable little round house. I remember pulling up with my little Honda Accord packed to the rim with all of my belongings and thinking, I'm here. I'm actually here. It had been a whirlwind getting here and the journey was only just beginning. Once everything was in my house, my sister went back to her home and I began to up pack the very few belongings I had. Jaymes was to arrive around 7pm and I was getting so anxious. I unpacked what I could with the brain power I had and then I took a cold shower because the South in July is beyond hot and I was already missing the Montana air. I changed into a white tank top and a pair of floral summer pants to try and stay cool and I waited for 7pm. I heard his truck pull up and my heart began to race out of my chest. I walked to the front door as I heard him walk up the deck...
To be continued...
Years ago I sat in my dear friends living room pouring my heart out to her. I had just come out of a four year relationship that was incredibly damaging and I was broken beyond anything I had ever known. I was hurt, angry, lost, confused, but mostly, I felt unlovable. These evenings on her couch continued for three months. Every week I would go and sit with her while she prayed with me, spoke truth back into my heart, and reminded me of my worth in Jesus Christ. As my heart began to heal, I asked her how long would I have to wait for the man God has for me. She told me, “sometimes we have to wait a while because the man God has for us isn’t ready for us just yet.” So I resolved to wait.
Looking back over the last 5 years I can see just how little “waiting” I actually did. Once I figured my heart was healed enough, I set out to find myself again. This launched me into a season of searching. Not waiting. Searching for what I wanted in my future spouse. Searching for who God really is to me. Searching for my purpose here on earth. I fought against my upbringing. I wrestled with the church. I tested scripture. I got angry. I shared beautiful moments with friends. I cried. I laughed. I messed up and I learned.
Then I met Jaymes and everything began to make sense. It wasn’t him who I was supposed to wait on. It was me. I wasn’t ready. I needed time to become who I always knew I was supposed to be. Sure, I may have been able to do that alongside him had we met years ago, but I am so thankful we didn’t. I am so thankful God had Jaymes wait for me. It’s been a long time running and searching and doubting and it feels good to stop. To breathe. To see God’s plan unfolding right before my eyes.
No, there is no ring on my finger and I can’t fully claim him as mine just yet, but there is something about this man that feels like home. He feels like peace and purpose and security all wrapped into one. Yes, waiting is hard, but I urge you to continue to wait, because somewhere out there is a girl or guy who is searching and learning and becoming the man or woman God has always longed for them to be. And you may never see all they went through to get to you, but trust me when I say, they will be eternally gratefully you waited. I know I am.
Thank you for waiting, my Love! I am eternally grateful and I love you so very much!
As promised in my last post, here is the beginning of the story of why I am now living in North Carolina. This is not your typical love story by any stretch of the imagination. We didn’t meet years ago. We haven’t been friends for a while and just now realized we had feelings. He didn’t come to my house and pick me up for dates in the early months of dating. We weren’t even in the same country when we got introduced, but that’s getting ahead of myself. To really do this story justice, we have to go back almost two years ago.
I was busy pursuing my own life and had broken up with my ex, but hadn’t really gotten over the relationship or given myself space to have closure. It was in this season of life that my sister, Megan, and my brother in law, Jared, tried to set me up with one of Jared’s friends from the army post he was stationed at. I didn’t even give this poor guy a shot. I didn’t look at any photos of him and immediately said, “No thanks! I am good for now and I like being single.” Well, a year later (March of 2020), they tried again. It was at this time that I found out they had asked him also a year prior and he also shut it down real quick. When Megan came to me again about this guy, I still wasn’t super into it and both Jared and this guy where serving overseas on a deployment. I was living in Montana and was so very happy with my life there. I had finally gotten closure with my past relationship and was feeling so alive and free and great about my future.
Megan and Jared began to push both Jaymes (that’s his name J) and me to at least write to each other. Covid had just shut down the nation and the boys weren’t really doing anything in the Middle East. Both Jaymes and I had time to kill, so we agreed to friend each other on Facebook. We didn’t write or make any other moves. A few days after we friended each other, Megan asked me if he had written. I said no and she looked at me and said “It’s the 21st century! You write HIM!” She is a little pushy sometimes. But I agreed and wrote this to him…
“Hey!! Just wanted to introduce myself since who knows what my sister and brother in law have been telling you. I’m currently living in Montana and working at a guest ranch! It’s amazing out here! I love to travel, I love children, I love new places and new people, and I love good food!
Anyway, just wanted to say hello! I hope training or whatever you’re doing today goes well! I know you all would much rather be home so I’m praying answers for a return date come soon!”
Ok, quick disclaimer before you remark on all of my !!!!!! … I always end sentences with ! when I am typing on my phone. I am an overly enthusiastic person who loves to talk loud and has lots of emotions. Now… back to the story.
I wrote and sent this message with very little hope he would respond quickly or with much to say in his response. But, much to my surprise (and this would be the first of many surprises over the next year) he wrote me back less than an hour later. And, not only that, with a longer message than mine and with questions for me! I was shocked. I let my sister know he had written and that began a series of messages that would be sent back and forth over the next four months. Yes, four months. Like I said, not your typical love story. He was in the Middle East for the first three months of our talking and then one month in North Carolina before we ever saw each other in person.
Covid had all but shut down the ranch I was working at and I had loads of time on my hands. Jaymes was just waiting around for orders to finally come home, so he had plenty of time. Even though we had all this free time, our days where nine hours different from each other. My day was his night and visa versa. For this reason, the first month or so was just messages. No phone calls. No Facetime. But I didn’t mind. Not having any sort of physical distraction allowed us to open up quickly with each other and dive in deep to conversations that in person may have been a bit more difficult to navigate. We would send novels to each other and stayed up way to late to be able to have real time conversations over messenger. Oh, have I mentioned that for the first several weeks of us chatting, I had only one photo of him. This one…
That’s it. That’s all I had to go off of. He didn’t have anything on his Instagram account and his Facebook had only very old photos of him. So that photo was the only recent photo I had of what this man looked like. Of course, I had a million photos on both Instagram and Facebook so he had many to look through of me.
I will never forget our first phone call. We would always call either late at night or super early morning for me, so I was usually really tired sounding and kind of out of it for the first few minutes of the conversation. Our first phone call was some time in the middle of the night for me. I remember hearing his voice for the first time and my heart skipped a beat. I loved it. I loved everything about it. He sounded kind and funny and strong. We talked for over an hour that first call with no awkwardness or hesitation in conversation. It felt so natural and easy and wonderful. After that first call, we called once almost every day. We had sent a few selfies to each other by this point and I had heard his voice… now I wanted facetime. We were now about a month into this relationship and I told him I would like to facetime. It was super early for me, so I set an alarm so I wouldn’t miss him. I was in my pajamas, with no make up on, and my hair half slept on, but he didn’t seem to mind. When I answered and saw his face for the first time (outside of photos that is) I couldn’t help but become a smiling fool. I remember saying “Oh my goodness! You’re so cute!” And he was! Big smile. Bright and kind eyes. And a voice that I melted for.
These phone dates would continue over the next several weeks and months. Very little sleep was had. Many moments of laughter and joy were shared. More selfies were sent as well as an occasional video of me dancing in my kitchen while doing dishes. He had asked me to be his girlfriend by now and I knew I was falling hard for him. I wanted so badly to finally see him in person. He was now back home in the states and out of quarantine. I began looking for flights and dates and we had talked about me coming to see him. Megan and Jared lived near post and so I could stay with them when I came. I had most everything figured out.
Covid up until this point had been a blessing. It gave us both so much extra free time to pour into this growing relationship. But now that he was stateside again, all of the covid restrictions for travel and the army restrictions for covid began to put a halt to us seeing each other. I was determined to make something work. I found dates that would work for him and myself. I found a flight. And I was just about to purchase it. It was the beginning of June at this point and the Black Lives Matter movement had begun to get out of control. The riots had worsened and city after city were being looted. I was at work one June morning and had the tickets pulled up. I texted Jaymes the dates one last time and I got a text back, “Don’t buy them just yet. Things might be changing on my end. Not sure yet.” Disheartened I wrote back, “Ok, just let me know when you know!” Later that day, he called me at work (which he never did). I didn’t answer but texted, “At work. I’ll call when I’m off.” No response from him. As soon as I got off work I called him. “Hey what’s up!” I sounded chipper but a little worried also. “Hey. We are getting deployed again. Not sure where we are going. Don’t know how long we will be gone. I cannot take my cell phone and I have to be at company in five minutes. I’ll talk to you when I can. Bye babe.” I barely had time to say, “Ok, be safe! Bye babe.” Before I heard the click on the other end…
To be continued!
I have recently moved from Montana to North Carolina. And yes, before you say it, I know I’m a fool for moving away from such a magnificent state. I miss it. A lot. BUT, that is beside the point and the reason for my leaving will be explained in an upcoming blog post. Back to the story… Like I said, I have recently moved to North Carolina and my adorable little round house is partially surrounded by water. I love it here. My boyfriend, whom I will talk about in the next post, brought over his kayak recently and I have been thoroughly enjoying it since it arrived.
Where I live, there used to be a lake. About three years ago, a massive hurricane swept through this area and took out the dam that held the lake. It was devastating. My grandparents live on this lake and we would come here as children every summer for our family reunions. Many memories were made in these waters. And now, as an adult, I am living here at this wonderful lake, although now it is just a series of swampy streams that weave and wind around overgrown brush and boats that washed ashore when the water went down.
The other day, I decided to go out for a short spin around the stream that runs by my house. As I headed out, the sun began to set and the air began to turn chilly. Fog started to roll in over the water and the sky turned vibrantly yellow and orange and navy as the sun sank behind the trees. I headed toward a bridge and, in heading that direction, began to head up stream. As I fought against the current, my heart started to stir with this idea…
All my life I have been told to follow God’s will. I have been told to listen to Him and He will direct my steps. But doing that requires stopping and listening to Him, which, I will confess, I am not very good at. Every time something didn’t pan out like I thought it should, I would make a major change in my life. I thought surely I had misheard the Lord and now needed to change everything. Well, in that kayak, paddling vigorously to go a mere two feet, I decided to stop paddling. My kayak immediately started to go backwards and then, all on it’s own, began to turn around. It was in that moment I realized; maybe all I have ever needed to do was stop. Not change everything around, but rather to stop and finally feel His current beneath me and realize I was in the right boat, and I was even in the water like He said I should be, but I was just fighting so hard to go in the wrong direction.
The fog began to thicken as all of this was coming over me, which added another layer to this lesson. When there is fog, all you can see is a few feet or maybe yards in front of you and the only way to see more is to move forward in that direction. God only shows us a few feet ahead of us for a reason. He wants us to trust that He knows where we are headed and He will keep us safe. The only problem with this is if you are a person who is going non-stop, constantly has her plate full, and no time to breathe, you may think you are doing it all as He has asked. You are in the kayak, like He asked. You are in the water, like He asked. And you are paddling, like He asked. The only thing you can’t know for certain, is the big picture. So why then does it seem like you are continually feeling you get hardly anywhere with all this work you are putting in. How come if you stop for even a second, you begin to go backwards and now you have to work double time to make up for lost distance. What if, your going backwards isn’t going backwards at all, but rather going in the right direction just facing the wrong way? What if all God wants is for you to actually stop for a minute. To feel yourself going backwards and to wait and see if the current of God’s plan will begin to turn you around.
He doesn’t want you to continue to fight every day to only go a few feet. He wants to see you turn around and begin to go with His current because it is in that moment that you will go so much further with very little effort. You will find yourself going miles in the amount of time it took you to go a few feet before. I don’t know where this lands with you today, but for me, this hit hard. For years, I feel like I have been fighting against God’s current. I have tried to make things work over and over again, only to have them fall apart in the end. Does this mean, now that I feel myself heading in the right direction, my life is smooth sailing now? Definitely not! But, I can tell you that in this last year I have had more peace and gone so much further in my walk with the Lord than I have in years. I have had story after story this year of circumstances that literally just worked out. Sure, I put some work in, but not much at all and everything fell into place beautifully with very little effort from me.
I don’t know what your story is, but if you feel like all you do is fight to keep moving forward, maybe God just wants you to stop. To breathe. To listen. To feel the current beneath you. Maybe you have most of your story aligned correctly with God’s will, all He’s asking for you to do is turn around. That’s it. This simple concept was major for my heart and I have felt and seen it played out in real time in my life over this last year. Life will have its ups and downs, but God’s desire for His children is for them to be at peace with Him and not feel like they are constantly fighting to keep up.
So today... Stop. Breathe. Feel the current.
I love you all so dearly!
We serve a perfect and wonderful God. His timing is perfect. Does His timing always feel like the right time? No. Definitely not. Does His timing sometimes feel like the most imperfect time ever? Yes. Absolutely. It is in these times when it feels like the worst timing ever that I feel I see more clearly His plan for my life. I see the ‘why’ behind the waiting. I see the beauty in the patience. And in these moments, I am grateful. Grateful for the long nights. Grateful for the hard conversations. Grateful for the heartache. Grateful for the anger and sadness. Grateful for the joy and the laughter. Grateful for the journey I have been on up until this moment.
But, how often after one of these moments, do we long for the next thing on our list that He has not given an answer on yet? How quickly we forget how amazing it is when we wait for His perfect timing. I am in such a season right now. I feel so unbelievably blessed to be where I am in life. I love the adventure I am on relationally and spiritually and physically, and yet I still long for the next thing. The next step.
I will turn 30 this summer. 30!! Oh goodness… how did I get here so quickly? As I look back over the almost 30 years of my life, I see so many moments where I rushed God’s timing and moments where I waited. All of those moments brought me to where I am today and I could not be more grateful. As I enter into this summer with my 320 Ranch family and prepare for entering into another decade, I am reminded of how precious time is. Many prayers for patience in this season of wishing for what I do not yet have and gratitude for what I DO have.
I did not get this far in life on my own. It is only be God’s grace that I am where I am today and that I am the woman I am today. To turn 30 in the majestic mountains of Montana surrounded by incredible people is something I could not have imagined even a year ago. Tomorrow is not guaranteed and this moment will soon be a memory. I pray that I continue to reach for new adventures and never let the longing for time to pass more quickly distract me from living right here… in the moment.
“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.”
Don’t let life pass you by while you sit there wishing for God to speed up or slow down. Our life is short… make the most of it!
I love you all so dearly!
Your Fearless Wanderer
Have you ever had a dream that was so big, others looked at you like you were crazy? No? Well me neither, not till recently anyway. But, I have always wanted one. I have always wanted to be apart of a movement bigger than myself. In college, I did quite a bit of research about the suffrage movement. I longed to have been born right before that so that I would have been in my early twenties during that era. I wanted to stand up for equal rights. I wanted to stand up for women. I wanted to believe in something so much that no matter what was thrown at me, I was not going to back down.
I have believed in Jesus my whole life. I grew up in church and my father was the worship pastor at our church for most of my growing up. We basically lived at church. Once I got into college, I was faced with making my faith my own. Choosing to believe all I had been taught growing up or choosing to believe something different. I chose to believe everything I had been taught and even though I struggled, I never lost faith in who God is, what Jesus came to do, or that the Holy Spirit was living inside me. After college, my faith was rocked when I finally began to acknowledge these feelings inside me for girls. I knew what I had been taught and therefore I began to beat myself up every time these feelings began to rise in me. I felt so ashamed and so dirty. When I acted on these feelings, I was confused. I felt right and wrong all at the same time, and my childhood teachings told me it was because I had natural sexual desires, I was just looking for them in the wrong place. So, I tried dating guys. That didn’t last too long. Even though I do believe I have attractions to both sexes, I couldn’t shake this feeling that I was supposed to be dating a girl. Marry one, I didn’t know, but date one, yes!
About three years ago, I began to date a girl and once again, these warring feelings rose up in me. But this time I wasn’t going to push them aside I was going to face them head on. I fought for over two years to try and figure this out, but failed. I broke up with my girl and told her I was supposed to marry a man. I had come to the think that being gay can’t be wrong, but I didn’t know how to put these thoughts into beliefs or how to voice what I was thinking. I moved to Montana a few months after breaking up and for the first time, I saw it all so clearly. I finally felt like I was beginning to dream one of those dreams that people look at and think “Are you crazy?”.
After being here in Montana for a few months, away from everything and everyone I knew, it clicked. Being gay is not a choice and God does not make mistakes. Was being gay or same-sex attractions part of God’s original design for humanity? No. But neither were a lot of things that mess with the DNA and chromosomal structure of the human body and brain. And believing that you are flawed in God’s eyes because of how you believe were made, is wrong. You are not flawed! You are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. Just. As. You. Are. Just like a lot of things that this broken world has messed up, we are able to use them for His honor and glory. I believe being gay is a challenging gift from God that, if used for Him alone, can be so beautiful.
Back in college, I wanted to be part of the suffrage movement. I wanted to fight for equal rights for women. I thought my chance at fighting for the equality of mankind had passed me by, but God knew that seed that was planted in college would grow years later into a passion. A passion for all mankind. A passion for everyone to be loved and seen and heard no matter what. I didn’t have someone speaking this truth into my soul when I was struggling and I pray that this message of God’s AMAZING and UNCONDITIONAL love would spread across our nation and world so that all men and women might know God loves them, He wants them in His family, and He is fighting for them.
If the church has shown you a different God, I am sorry. The church and Christianity are not God. He is so much bigger than that and His love is so much wider than that. You, the gay community, you are my heart. And I long for nothing more than to hold you close and tell you, you are loved by an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God and His Son, Jesus, came and lived and died for you! Jesus came to love and heal and save the lost, and if you feel lost, you are exactly who He is looking for! As we enter into a new decade, may this be the decade where Love truly conquers all and where all men and women are once and for all equal. God doesn’t see any of us differently, so why should we? May we open our eyes and ask God for 2020 vision this year for His people and His plan for mankind.
"I am here, I am here
I've already seen the bottom, so there's nothing to fear
I know that I'll be ready when the devil is near"
- P!nk, I Am Here
Last night as I was drifting off to sleep, this paralyzing fear came over me that I am wasting away my life... That somehow I've missed the boat on my dreams and desires. I fell asleep with this on my mind and woke up today ready to change that mindset. As I have spent time in the Word today and in prayer with my Jesus, I reflected on how much life I have LIVED over the past 29 years! I reflected on all of the joys and sorrows, all of the lessons learned, all of the heartache as well as all of the love. Satan loves to get under my skin with my singleness and my seemingly directionless life and at times it works, but I will not let it knock me down. I am here!
God has been unbelievably evident in my life over the course of my life and all I have to do is sit quiet for a moment and He beings to show me His presence over and over again! As a child, I grew up with incredible parents who loved Jesus and pointed me in His direction. As a middle schooler and high schooler, Jesus gave me my dear friend, Emily, who would continually point me back to Him even when I didn't always see it that way. In college, I had the incredible blessing of attending several different universities in order to gain my degree. Being able to visit and jump around gave me a much more well rounded view of my college years and gave me the opportunity to meet and become friends with so many different groups and people! College also allowed me the choice to choose Jesus for the first time all on my own. To finally decide I am His and He is mine. Did I always choose Him, not at all. I failed over and over again, but even in the years of choosing my own path over His, He never left my side and it made choosing Him again that much more sweet. After college, my life became a crazy adventure of job after job after job. Every single job I have had since graduating college has given me amazing opportunities to educate, inspire, and encourage others. Every job laid the foundation for the next job. And every job gave me connections I would have otherwise never had had I never said goodbye to one and yes to other! I can get bogged down with all of the directional changes my life has taken over the last six years of adulthood, but I know He has me exactly where He wants me and there are many more changes ahead!
As an adult, I have been given the chance to know love and give love in return. I have been able to know what it feels like to love someone so much it hurts and to know the hurt that comes from knowing they aren't who Jesus called me to be with the rest of my life. Singleness can feel like a jail cell at times... a cell I have locked myself in due to decisions I have made... and this is exactly how Satan wants me to feel. Trapped, locked up, and unknown. But, this is not how God sees me! He knows the choices I have made and He knows where my heart was at when I made those decisions and He continually wraps His arms around me and reminds me I AM FREE! I am free in Him! I am HERE! Adulthood has been full of ups and downs and unknowns and moments of anger and freedom and loss... but above all, I have been here for all of it. I walked through all of it, I felt all of it, I acknowledge all of it, and I am not alone in any of it.
So, when the devil is near and wants to tear you down and make you feel unknown and washed up, remember YOU ARE HERE! You are not dead, but very much ALIVE! And if you call Jesus your Savior, you are very much ALIVE IN HIM! What a place to be! How I needed this reminder today!
My fearless wanderers, you are HERE! And if for some reason you feel lost, remember that it won't ever be 'fixed' but it can be changed by changing the direction you are headed. I believe in you and Jesus believes in you and loves you so very much!!
All my love,
Your Fearless Wanderer
So much can happen in the span of a few months. Since my last post in April, here is a quick run down of what has happened-
YIKES! I can't believe all of those major changes have happened in the last three months! I knew Chick-fil-A was coming to a close, but I had no idea where life was taking me after I said good-bye. While working in Portland, I applied to 320 Ranch just to see if anything would come of it. I didn't hear anything for a little over two weeks, so I emailed the front desk manager and the general manager just to see if they had seen my application. Amber, the GM, wrote me back the next day letting me know the ranch didn't need any more wranglers, but she would check with the other departments. The very next day (Wednesday of my final week in Oregon- my final week of guaranteed work), Vera, their Guest Relations manager, emailed me letting me know she needed another employee and would love to chat if I had time. Of course I had time!! I emailed her right back and we set up an interview for the following day. The first interview went super well and she arranged for a second interview to happen the next day, Friday (at this point I only have two more days of work and nothing guaranteed after that!!). Friday's interview went super well and they let me know that I would hear back from them within 24 hours. 24 hours passed and I hadn't heard anything. I figured they were super busy and just hadn't had a chance to email me, so I waited. I finished my very final day with Chick-fil-A, clocked out, packed, and got on a plane headed back to Georgia all the while having no idea really where I was headed once I got back.
Let me back up a little for a second, just a week earlier than all of these happenings, I had journaled a prayer boldly asking the Lord to give me an answer about the ranch before I got back to Georgia. I knew I didn't necessarily have a back up plan, but I was so hopeful this job would work out. My word for this season of life is - TRUST - so, I guess that's what I was practicing by asking the Lord and then patiently waiting.
Ok, back to the story.
I got on the plane Sunday morning with still no answer from the ranch. I journaled and prayed while I was in the air and felt this peace that it would all be alright! As soon as I landed, I pulled out my phone to check my email... there it was. An email from the ranch with a subject line that could have gone both ways. Before I opened it, I prayed and asked the Lord to be over my heart and no matter the answer, I knew He had a plan for me! I opened the email and, as you already know, the answer was YES! I was now employed on the other side of the country and my date to begin... Sunday. One week away.
One week. One week to say good-bye, pack, fix a recall on my car, and drive - yes DRIVE - to Montana. I took Monday thru Wednesday to get everything done in Athens and then Thursday thru Saturday to drive across the country by myself to my new home. I still can't believe I did it! I know people have done harder and more crazy things, but this was a big deal to me and I was so proud of myself! Oh, the total cost for everything - food, fuel, + lodging - was $330!! I couldn't have purchased a plane ticket for that little! And, now I have my car here, which is actually a huge blessing!
It's been a crazy couple of months, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. It was absolutely difficult to say good-bye to Georgia, more specifically the people in Georgia, but I knew I was headed to something great. The first morning waking up here in this incredible place, my heart felt calm for the first time in months. It felt a peace and quietness it hasn't known for some time now. Life had become this constant pace to keep up, to show up, to do and be and say all the things all the time, and my soul was exhausted. I knew life was meant to be lived, but I felt most days like I was just surviving. I didn't know how to slow down, but I so desperately wanted to. Being here has shown me that life can be full. Life can have a lot of work in it that needs to get done. But, life also can slow down. Life doesn't have to be speeding by in order to get it all done. Taking time to walk, breathe, read, and be quiet has been exactly what my heart and soul have longed for for way too long. I fully believe Jesus brought me here to slow me down. To quiet my soul. And to have all of me for Himself with no distractions. I know distractions will come, but starting over with good habits and making time for Him each day will help keep me focused when those distractions do show up or when the business of life begins to creep back in.
I can't thank Jesus enough for bringing me here. It is only because of Him that I am living and working in Montana!! I have no idea how long I will be here, but even if it's only a few short months, I know it is exactly where I am supposed to be at this moment in life!
As always, live fearlessly my darlings, but also, live with TRUST! The only way I can live without fear is if I am trusting that He has me in His arms and that nothing will harm me there!
All my love,
Your Fearless Wanderer
I’m terrified to write this post. I know that parts of what I will say in this post will not sit well with some, will probably make others sad, and may even tick off a few people. But, this post has been a long time coming and yesterday at church, Jesus spoke so clearly and sweetly to me and it gave me the courage to finally write this out. My prayer as you read this is this, please have an open heart and if this post makes you question me and who you believe me to be, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I would love to chat with you and answer any questions you may have.
Growing up, my family basically lived at church. My dad was a worship pastor for over 20 years and, until I was in high school, my family all but slept at church. I loved church. I loved being around people all the time and the feeling of community that comes from a church family. As I grew up and went off to college, I first attended Bob Jones University. Now, if you know nothing about this school, it is an incredible institution for an education, but it is extremely conservative. I had to wear skirts every day to class that went below my knees. I wasn’t allowed to listen to anything that wasn’t classical or hymns. I wasn’t allowed to hold hands with boys. The swimming pool had girl times and boy times. I know this is crazy if you didn’t grow up in this kind of community, but the second semester I was there, I was able to look beyond all the rules and truly did love that semester.
After one year at BJU, I came back home because we could no longer afford a private Christian university. I ended up at a community college where I studied for two and a half years before gaining enough credits to transfer to the University of Georgia, where I would ultimately graduate from in 2013. College took me five and half years to complete and it truly was a season of change and growth for me. I would meet someone in 2011 that would put a fire and a question in my soul that would linger until it finally exploded out of me in 2017. But, before we get there, let's see where my heart was in 2011.
Mother’s Day 2011, all six children were surrounding a hospital bed where our mother sat. She had experienced a minor stroke and it was the first time in my life that I felt the reality that my parents won’t always be around. It was a terrifying moment for us kids and one I will never forget. Around this same time, my sister who is closest in age to me (and closest in friendship also) had begun to seriously date her now husband. She and I had always been two peas in a pod and for the first time, I felt the loss of her presence. That summer I worked at a camp up north where my life would change forever. I didn’t realize the impact of that summer till years later, but I entered that summer feeling lonelier than I had felt in my life and all I wanted was to be seen, held, and loved. I worked with a girl up there and by the end of the summer, we were inseparable. What started out as a summer friendship, turned into a four year relationship that would wreck my heart in more ways than I wish to recall and would put a fear and hatred in my heart I didn’t know it could hold.
When those four years came to a close, I was left hating lesbians. We never said we were in a relationship like that, but looking back, that’s exactly what it was and my heart knew it. I didn’t know how to recover or how to forgive myself. I sought counsel which breathed new life back into my soul and for the first time in years, I felt my Heavenly Father wrap His arms around me and tell me I was beautiful and so deeply loved.
But despite the counseling, over the next few years I would walk around with this deep-rooted hatred towards lesbians. It would physically make me ill if I saw any sort of relationship that even remotely resembled a lesbian relationship. And yet, deep down I knew that what I felt with a girl was nothing like I had ever felt with a guy. I tried dating boys to try and get my mind off of girls or to try and prove to myself that I had zero attraction to females. This sort of worked because I am still attracted to men, but my soul was not healed and therefore I could not see beyond my own cuts and bruises to even try and see potential.
And then, in spring of 2017, I met a girl.
This girl. She is amazing; a true gift from the Lord when my heart needed it the most. I had zero intention of pursuing even a friendship with her when I met her, but like most things in my life, my plans didn’t go as planned. We began talking and what started out as playful flirting turned into deeper feelings. She helped me walk through some deep wounds, which allowed me to finally and once and for all acknowledge them and allow them to heal. They were so raw in the beginning of our relationship that one off handed comment would put me into uncontrollable tears. I knew my wounds ran deep, but I had no idea how deep until I truly started to acknowledge them.
You want to know the most beautiful part about this whole story? What Satan tried to use for evil, to keep me angry for years, God turned it around and used it to cause me to search out a relationship with Him like I have ever had before.
Like I mentioned in the beginning, I grew up in church where they give you all the answers, but at some point in your walk with the Lord, something is going to come up that is going to cause you to question those answers and when that happened for me, I questioned everything. Sought my own faith. Ran after my own, personal relationship with Jesus!
This last Sunday was Palm Sunday and the pastor gave us a time to just sit quietly with the Lord and give up to Him any areas of our lives that we were holding tightly in closed fists. At first I couldn’t think of anything, but as I sat there I realized I was holding something SO tightly that I didn’t even recognize it. Since dating this girl (and we have been off and on over the last two years), I have struggled with being open about it. Not because I am ashamed about it, because I have come to believe that same sex relationships are not a sin, but because I don’t want to be known as a bi-sexual who loves Jesus. I want to be known as a daughter of the King who loves all people. So, in my fear of being open about this, I had held it close to my heart and not let even the King of the universe have it. I know I held it because I was afraid He might take her from me. But, in that quiet moment on Sunday, I fearfully opened my palms face up on my lap and admitted to the Lord that I feared losing my girl, but that I wanted Him to hold us once and for all. For a moment, all I heard was a very loud brain full of many thoughts, but then it hushed and so peacefully I heard “Let Me love you”. No judgment. No condemnation. Just pure and gentle love. My soul sighed with relief and I leaned into His love in that moment.
You know, one of the bravest things we as humans will ever do, is allow others to love us back and more than anyone else in this life, let Jesus love you back! Open your palms face up and fearfully admit that you don’t trust Him and then let Him have what you have been holding. I know it’s only been a day, but knowing that He is holding me and my relationships is so much more comforting than trying to hold them all by myself.
It's ok to be fearful my fearless wanderers! But be courageous enough to acknowledge the fear and approach anyway. His love will ALWAYS out way our fear!
With open palms,
Your fearless wanderer