Six Days

In six days you have wrecked my worldview. In six days you have destroyed thoughts that I have had for too many years to count. In six days you have shattered any stereotypes that I had about guys in my head. In six days we have been though mountains and valleys of emotions. In six days I have never felt so wanted and cared for. In six days I have never felt so cherished.

Six days. It isn’t a very long time, but it seems like it has been forever. I can’t remember what seven days ago felt like. I can’t remember how it felt not telling you everything I was thinking. I can’t remember what it was like not missing you. I can’t remember not feeling secure. I can’t remember what it felt like not to hug you or hold your hand, or feel your hand on my neck.

In six days I have changed more and been more confused and at peace then ever before. In six days my life now makes perfect sense and doesn’t make any sense at all. In six days I have never seen God work as much as He has this week.

In six days I have fallen for you. In six days I feel like I see my future for the first time ever, and it is a future with you, with your assurance, with your wisdom, with your prayers, with your touch. In six days I have told you more than any other person ever. In six days I have been more vulnerable, more insecure and more peaceful than ever before.

In six days I have seen more patience, kindness and compassion from you than I have ever seen in anyone. In six days I have seen your eyes change when you look at me and have seen them begging me to see myself how you see me.

In six days everything that I knew about myself has changed. You have changed my life.

In the past six days I have had countless people tell me that I am in love. In six days I have started to believe them.

You Said We

You Said We.

We were talking about the wedding and you said, “I figured we could go and you could dance and then we could leave and go to LA.” We. We could leave. Together was implied. You said we could leave together.

It was a big deal, because you were talking about a family event, one that WE would attend together if possible. A FAMILY EVENT!

I have to tell you that it took my breath away. I have been so hoping that you were on the same page as me and with that WE I knew that we may be on the same page. If you would have seen me you would have seen my eyes get big, my hand go to my mouth and me mouthing, “He said we could leave, WE.”

It surprised me but honestly, I am hoping for a lot more we’s in the days and months ahead.

The Things I Would Say to You

There is so much to say, so much I can’t say because of timing and opportunity.

I guess I can start here: I like you. I don’t admit that often because after years of heartbreak and sadness not admitting it is easier than admitting it when it all crashes down and my heart is broken.

I am so scared. Not because you are scary but because you could break my heart and my heart is tired of being broken. I am also afraid that you don’t like me back and that I have misread all of the signs.

I am so hopeful. I am hopeful that you feel somewhat the same to what I feel. I am hopeful that I haven’t read you wrong and that you are hopeful that you haven’t read me wrong.

I am holding back. I honestly want to tell you everything every time I see you but I know it isn’t appropriate.

I get butterflies every time you compliment me. I am not used to being complimented by guys. I usually ignore it but when you compliment me I read it time and time again. I kind of believe you too.

I trust you. I know that you are thinking. I know that you are logical. I know that you probably have a plan and although I don’t know what it is I trust you.

You surprised me. I wasn’t expecting you and I didn’t plan on every having feelings for you.

I tried to pray you away. For weeks I have been praying that my feelings would go away. They haven’t. I got mad at God about that, but they haven’t left.

I used to think that we were too similar to date. Honestly, now I feel that we compliment each other so well due to our similarities.

I care about the little things. I care about where you have been, what you have been doing and what you are thinking about.

I think about you a lot and wish I was with you even more. Walking around the mall, shopping for groceries, I just wish that I was with you. It would make it better.

I wish you would text me “Night Nicole” every night. It is a nice way to fall asleep.

I am praying for you. I know that a lot of the responsibility of this is falling on your shoulders. I am praying that you would be wise and that God would show you the right timing for whatever will happen.

I care about you…probably more than I should, but that is part of who I am. I give my whole self to people whether or not they ask for it and in return I care about them.

My favorite times with you are in kitchens. Whether it is cleaning up after Easter or hanging out in my kitchen after Brooke’s party, kitchens hold my favorite memories of you so far.

I was so nervous to meet your parents. I was so pleasantly surprised when they were so similar to you and I was immediately comfortable with them.

I appreciate you. Thank you for making me this happy, even if my heart breaks I have loved being this happy. I think you are a big part of why I am so happy and I thank you for that.

Finally, thank you. Thank you for showing me that there are quality guys still left in the world and I won’t have to have someone that treats me poorly.

You are amazing.

I got a text today from a guy friend. This isn’t abnormal, we actually text every day or so about all sorts of different things. Yesterday we hosted an Easter dinner together for other Easter orphans that didn’t have a place to go to celebrate the Lord’s resurrection.

Today I got a text that said, “Thanks for all your help with the Easter dinner. You are amazing.”

The minute I got it my stomach dropped a bit. Immediately I knew that I would never delete the text. I pretended that the amazing part of the text didn’t happen and sent him a text back but my brain kept thinking about it all day long.

Did he mean it?

Did he mean to use a different word?

Does his definition of amazing and mine match?

I found myself wishing that he used the word awesome. I don’t think that I would have thought twice about the word awesome if he used it, but I have been thinking about the word amazing since I got the text.

Part of me is wishing he meant it and part of me is wishing that he didn’t mean it. If I said it to him I would mean it. He is amazing and I love being around him. But I wish I could have seen his face as he typed it, did he mean amazing or did he mean awesome or great?

I am not one to receive compliments. I have been damaged by guys saying really hurtful things to me over and over. I think the thing that strikes me is that I don’t believe that I have ever been called amazing before and definitely not from someone that I would want to think of me as amazing.

I have been called every name in the book, I have been embarrassed and have had my heart broken more times than I can count. I have no trouble believing that I am worthless or not pretty. I do have trouble believing that someone could find me amazing. I wish for it but it has never happened so I don’t believe in it happening even though I want it to.

I wish he could know that he messed with my head with one word today, but the truth is, he will never find out unless he did mean the word. Amazing. One word that messed up my thoughts for today. One word that if it was actually meant could change my life.

But for now, I will do my best to forget that it was said (aside from keeping the text) and continue praying that God would keep my mind pure towards this guy and that I would view him as a brother and not a potential husband. That has proved through time to be easier said than done.

UPDATE: Turns out he meant the word. That is why this is posted, more posts to come.

Two Sermons

The last two Sundays have been surprisingly hard on me. I wasn’t anticipating it but both left me in tears. Todd Nighswonger has been preaching on the roles of husbands and wives. We have been going through the book of Ephesians and are in 5:22-33. Last week I sat there, listened and took notes on the sermon on wives. I found myself thinking, “I want to be a wife so badly. I want to do all these things so much.” During the message I wanted to shout out to the women in the room, “Don’t you realize how lucky you are? You get to do the things mentioned in this sermon. You get a husband.” After church I went out with two married friends. While talking about a different subject I brought up the sermon. As tears formed in my eyes I told them just how hard it was for me to listen to the sermon. It physically hurt, like a dull pain in the pit of my stomach.

The dull pain didn’t really go away this week. I still wished that I could be that wife.

Today I walked into church nervously. I did think about not going, I figured God would be okay with it. I knew what today would be all about and yet I still went. Afterall, God can still show up even in a message that isn’t geared towards me.

The musical worship started and each song was so carefully selected. They drew our attention to Jesus and His love for us, foreshadowing the sermon of husbands loving their wives as Jesus loves the church. By the third song I had tears in my eyes reflecting on Jesus’ love for me as a member of His church. I also knew what was coming and I was literally crying out to Jesus to meet me where I was.

Todd got on stage and right away I felt the dull pain start and tears coming to my eyes. I got teary on and off through the entire sermon, which painted a beautiful picture of husbands and how they are to love their wives.

On my way out of church a greeter my dad’s age who always gives me hugs came over and gave me a hug. He told me that I looked nice and we talked briefly. He paused, looked at me and said, “I pray for your husband as I am sure that you do.” I looked back at him with tears in my eyes again and thanked him. He then said, “you will make a great wife someday.” I looked back and said, “Thank you and I sure hope so.” That is why I was at church this morning. I needed the body and I needed Greg to tell me that he was praying for a husband for me. I am not the only one praying, God’s people also pray for me.

I left and went on a long drive. I kept asking God why it hurts so much that I am not married. He reminded me that having the desire to be married is good and the pain that I have been experiencing is because I still have that desire and He knows it. It isn’t lost on Him that I desire to be married. While I wait, it is my responsibility to know that God knows me, that He knows my desires and hasn’t forgotten them or me. It is my job to serve Him in the waiting and not let the waiting paralyze me.

Trusting God.

It has been one day since God whispered to me asking if I trusted Him. Yesterday and today have been filled with him whispering to me over and over again. I exhale every time He asks me if I trust Him. I think that exhale is me surrendering over my control to Him again, telling Him that I do trust Him, I trust His heart. I am seeking after Him and will continue to do so.

I have been teaching through the lies that we believe to a group of College girls. Since I started teaching through it I have been inundated with lies. I feel like I am fighting a losing battle each and every day. Since starting to go through this topic I have been so tired emotionally. I feel exhausted all the time and my thoughts have been raging out of control. I have prayed time and time again for God to help me think on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, excellent and worthy of praise. I have still felt like I was losing the battle and felt so defeated. Until I heard those words, “Do you trust me?”

Since yesterday I have had nothing but peace. Since yesterday I have complete hope in God knowing that He is in control of my life and my thoughts and that I can trust Him and Him alone. He has me. I am His. He knows my life and what He has for me in the future, and I don’t need to know right now. Psalms 23:1- The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want.

I am resting in that truth tonight and trusting God with my life.

Hope. Do I trust God?

Hope in essence is good, it gives us so much. I love the passage in Romans 3: 3-6 that says, “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

I recently had hope. Not a biblical hope, but hope in circumstances. True hope does not disappoint us, it does not let us down. True hope in God alone gives us so much more than we deserve. It gives us a peace and a trust in God’s love.

But I put my hope in circumstances. I let people convince me that the circumstance that I was in would produce a certain outcome. I put my hope in that circumstance and built dreams on that circumstance, but the circumstance changed. It didn’t have the predicted outcome that people said it would and that I hoped in.

Of course I was crushed and I got mad at hope. I got mad because hope made me dream and think things that I shouldn’t have thought about my life and the circumstances of it. I was frustrated and wanted just to be alone and dwell on my sadness.

Instead, God chose to remind me of Himself and that He is the one that I should place my hope in, not circumstances. I was driving to church this morning and was stopped at a red light, the entire drive I had been thinking of the situation and how I felt that the hope that I had had betrayed me. (In essence I was also mad at God for how the circumstances changed.). In the stillness of waiting at a red light, I heard God’s still small voice. He asked me “Do you trust me?” The minute I heard it I exhaled a deep breath.

The truth is that I do trust God with my life. I do trust Him with what He has planned for my life. I do trust His willingness to work in my life. But in the extinguishing of my hope in circumstances I forgot who was in charge. I forgot that I trust someone with my whole life and heart and that trust in Him is what I should rely on at all times.

I forgot that He knows me better than I know myself. I forgot that He loves me more than anyone else. Throughout the whole church service I heard the small voice, “Do you trust me?” I heard it over and over again and I exhaled a deep breath every time. I do believe it. I do trust God and that He has my whole life in His plan. Now I just need to remember to trust Him as He guides me.

The Ring …Maturity?

So, I used to wear rings all the time. Then I had a guy friend tell me that single girls shouldn’t wear rings because guys aren’t smart enough to figure out what finger it is on and if they are married or not. After that day, out of fear, I stopped wearing rings. I had always worn a purity ring on my ring finger and I took it off. You see, I didn’t want any of the single guys thinking I was married because I was wearing a purity ring. I figured that it was just a ring and I still had my purity, so it is okay to just take it off for the sake of helping out the single guys.

I still love rings and found an old one the other day and decided to wear it. After work and on my way to a meeting I switched the ring to my wedding finger (don’t worry there were no single guys around). The minute that I put it on my ring finger I felt instantly more mature.

What is with that me feeling more mature? Like somehow I can’t be mature and complete without being married. Married=maturity. For some reason, I have bought into the lie that you can’t be fully mature or complete without being married.

Paul says it best in 1 Corinthians 7 when he talks to us single folks and tells us that it is better to be single because you are only concerned with the things of the Lord and not with pleasing your spouse. He says this to the singles in 7:35 “I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” I love that, undivided devotion to the Lord. That ring was a distraction and I quickly took it off. My prayer is that in this time of singleness (whether I just am single for this week or the rest of my life) that God would help me to have undivided devotion to the Lord.

Jesus didn’t come to teach and grow only married people, he came to teach and grow people who loved him and His father and desired to do their will. This is not just for certain people. It is for all of us, even those of us without rings. I think sometimes in our churches we feel left behind as unmarried people, we feel like we don’t measure up or are missing out on something; we don’t always know what that something is, but it causes us a lot of pain and we fill in the blanks with all sorts of things: companionship, friendship, sex, kids, cuddle time, kisses, etc.

I guess my encouragement tonight is that Jesus didn’t come only for the married people (I mean after all HE was single), Jesus came for all of us and I, as a single person, love that the gospel is the same for my married friends that it is for me. I love Deuteronomy 4:29 “But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.” That my friends should be our desire regardless of where we are in life. Seek God, Seek His Kingdom, Search after God with all your Heart. That is where completeness and maturity comes from, seeking our Savior, not wearing a wedding ring.

God is Good.

My life recently has been hard. Hard in a way the requires me to fully depend on the Lord, hard in the way that I feel more attacked by Satan then I have recently, hard because I am so not in control of my life, hard because I don’t know the future and that is scary, hard because a huge sin in my life has been revealed to me. The sin? I don’t trust God or His heart for me, and overall I don’t believe in His goodness.

A few years ago, Francis was doing a message where he was talking about the goodness of God. The message really touched me and I went straight to the scrapbooking store in town and used their die cut machine and some fun paper to cut out the letters, “GOD IS GOOD.” I added the period because I didn’t want to add any conjunction like, God is good but or God is good when or God is good because, I just wanted it to read “GOD IS GOOD.” Period, the period was the most important part for me. God is good, period.

I posted the sign in my office wall as a reminder. I loved looking at it and examining the period. God is Good. A couple years ago, I got a new desk. The desk was a bit different than my old one and I had to move the sign. At some point, the sign feel back behind my new desk. I can’t remember if I knew it fell or noticed that it was gone, but it wasn’t there anymore. I did not have the reminder that God is good (period) to look at each day. Also, at some point along the line, I forgot about God’s goodness.

My life looks a lot different than what I thought it would look like at this point. I am not married. I am 30. My last boyfriend was when I was a sophomore in High School (14 years ago). I haven’t been out on a date in over a year and a half. With that said, I am actually content with where I am in the Lord, I love my job, I do love being single (although I would like to be married someday) and I have an amazing ministry with the girls that I live with. However, I believe that Satan has used my singleness to drive a wedge between God and I. Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” I believe that my heart has been sick.

Although I am content in my singleness and am working to serve the Lord with my whole life while being single, I believe that Satan has used my singleness to drive a wedge between myself and God. The tricky thing is that I didn’t even notice it until the last few weeks.

In the beginning of January Todd preached on Ephesians 3:20-21 and afterward I was telling him that I understand (in my head) that God can do abundantly beyond everything that we can ask or imagine, but that I didn’t believe it in my heart. I didn’t believe that God could do that. Instantaneously I knew that was because I didn’t have a husband. I had believed something that Satan has reaffirmed for all these years: I was shafted by God, God forgot me and is actively choosing not to answer my prayers for marriage.

The results of believing this have been crazy. I don’t trust God, I don’t view Him as a loving father, I feel like I am isolated from the rest of the world and doing life by myself, I am ungrateful when I do receive gifts from the Lord. I am discontent with His calling for my life. There are many more things that I am realizing, but in that realization, I am making a choice. I am choosing to leave the lies behind. I am choosing to believe that I am God’s daughter adopted into his family by Jesus’ death on the cross.

In that choice, I am changing. I am believing less lies and thinking on truth. God answers prayers, God is worthy of praise, God is not far from us even when we struggle, God is still actively involved in my life, guiding and leading me. In believing that truth I am beginning to see HUGE things that God is calling me to pray for Him to do. I am praying with the belief that He will answer my prayer and I am crying out to God in my weakness, praying that He makes me strong. I am again believing that God is Good.

Today I crawled under my desk and found my sign. I applied new tape to the back of it and hung it up again. God is good.

Memorial Box Monday- The Key

So, I am writing a Memorial Box Monday post from Linny over at A Place Called Simplicity. She encourages us to remember God’s faithfulness by writing down what God has done in our lives.

This story starts almost a year ago. I was living with my best friend Caitlin and her husband Mark. I had been living with them and their first born Hayden since September of 2008. In December of 2009 Caitlin was about 3 weeks from giving birth to their second child, Hannah. In my times with the Lord I felt him whispering that I needed to move out of Mark and Caitlin’s house. The idea scared me because I wasn’t sure what the Lord wanted me to do next or where I would live (it is too expensive for me to live on my own). I didn’t tell anyone what I felt the Lord was calling me to do. I didn’t know how to tell my pregnant best friend that I felt like I was supposed to move out. I just kept praying about it and hoping that the Lord would reveal it to me in a loud and clear way.

Well, on January 11th my boss called me into his office (I work at a small Bible College, he is not only my boss, but my friend and someone that I consider a pastor to me). He told me that he had been talking to the Academic Dean and that they thought that I needed to move out. I was shocked. I told him that the Lord had been impressing it on my heart to move out as well. He said he saw two options, one was to move into a house with another couple and the second was to start a house with the college girls that I minister to. I prayed about both options and finally two weeks later after more prayer I told Mark and Caitlin. (They were both great about it and supportive.

I knew that if I was called to do a discipleship house it would be right before the semester began the following semester (August of 2010). I prayed through each option that came up. I felt God calling me (and it was confirmed by Josh, my boss) that I should do the discipleship house. It seemed like what God was calling me to.

I started to talk to some of the college girls, and kept hitting walls; either they already had a place or they didn’t feel that being in this house was what God wanted them to do. I was discouraged but knew that God was going to work it out if it was his will.

Our God does not work on my schedule. =) He only works on His perfect schedule. He did not do this in my time but slowly I got two girls new to EBC who wanted to live in this house. They would both be moving to EBC. In July, I confirmed four more girls. We finally had the girls to fill a house. But, we didn’t have a house.

I prayed and prayed. The girls prayed. I toured houses every day only to be discouraged by no one being willing to rent their house to us or making it difficult. I asked God to make a way for us and to help us find a place. Every place that I went to many people were also touring the house. I knew that God wanted to do this but I needed him to have someone find favor in me.

On one of the many days of searching (probably on and off for one week) I pulled up to this house. I met the realtor and went in. The minute I stepped in I felt that this was our house. I started praying that the realtor would find favor in us (and me). I started to tell her that I worked at a Bible College and that I wanted to do a discipleship house with a group of girls, that we were all nice girls and Christians. She then said it, “Oh, I am a Christian too!”

From there I asked about the process and how to begin. It was still another couple of weeks (and the ups and downs of trying to sign a lease, getting credit checks etc), but the lease was signed and we were given the keys. So I have placed a key in my memorial box to remind myself of how God allowed our realtor and the landlord to find favor in us.

PS. A side story is about the keys. It took so long to find the girls, the house, to sign the lease and to actually get the keys, I felt like God was trying to test my patience and trust in Him. When the realtor came with the keys she started laughing. I asked her what was so funny. She said well here are your house keys. She then handed me these:

It was the most keys I had ever seen for one house. They aren’t copies, they actually all open different locks. I couldn’t help but laugh as I felt this process was long and hard and then God gives me all these keys to deal with. I felt like we were laughing together. Our God does have a sense of humor!