I’m an Adult

Today, I feel like an adult.

The funny thing is, this doesn’t happen every day. And maybe this feeling is just because I felt like an absolute child a few days ago.

 

It started out as a beautiful Tuesday. The sun was shining and I was sitting on my bed reading my Bible enjoying the sunshine. It was peaceful. I was content. I had chicken breasts thawing on the counter waiting to be used for a great lunch I had planned for Ben and I. My heart was full. I was happy. And life seemed right.

Two seconds later, that perfect peaceful morning was flipped upside down.

Ben had gone out for a walk. I wasn’t expecting him back for a few more minutes and was hoping to finish up my reading and start on lunch before he came home.

Yeah. That didn’t happen.

He came bursting through the door.

“Something is not right!”

He startled me and I shook myself out of what I had been reading, trying to wrap my mind around what he was talking about. And then I realized he was on the floor.

I lost it.

I was instantly overwhelmed with panic. I ran out of our little house and into the base to find someone to help me figure out what to do. Luckily, our base leader Judy was a nurse before joining YWAM. At this point, neither one of us really knew what was going on, but we were both assuming appendix. He was laying on the floor right inside the door of the house, almost in tears because of the pain. He wasn’t breathing well, he was panicking, and every once and again his body would just seize up with the pain.

I was terrified and felt totally helpless.

There was absolutely nothing I could do.

We called for an ambulance and then waited the longest 10 minutes of my life. My mind was racing. On the outside, I might have looked calm. Sometimes I have a decent poker face. (Sometimes.) But on the inside… I was in chaos. It was as if all sense of reason just abandoned me and I didn’t even know what I was supposed to think about. Somehow, I pulled myself together enough to grab a few things and change out of the dress I was wearing into something more practical for waiting in a hospital. I grabbed a fresh sweater for Ben and his glasses and threw them in my purse.

The EMTs arrived and, after what felt like hours, they loaded him onto a stretcher and into the ambulance. I hopped into the front seat and we drove of to the hospital. During those 10 minutes, my mind was racing. How on earth was I supposed to handle this by myself?

I’m practically a child! I usually need my mom to help me make medical decisions! How am I supposed to decide what to do by myself?

And that’s when it started.

I cried out to God in that moment and asked for some kind of assistance. And slowly, peace began to creep into my heart. My body was still tense but my mind started to relax.

When we got to the hospital, the checked Ben’s vitals and reassessed where the pain was coming from. By this point, the doctor thought it was possibly a kidney stone. So they wheeled him out of the room and off to have an ultrasound done. I quickly called my mom which calmed me down immensely. It’s amazing what a mother’s voice can do. I went back into his room to wait for him to return. As I waited, the panic started to crawl back in. I looked around the room and just saw dollar signs. I thought about an ultrasound and saw nothing but dollar signs. And I know we have insurance but again I realized that I was just a child and I’ve never actually had to do anything with insurance.

In the midst of this worry, I began to declare God’s goodness.

I sat alone in Ben’s little curtained-off room of the ER and started mumbling under my breath. “You are always Good. You are 100% good all of the time. You are faithful. You are a provider.” I went on and on. And suddenly, the peace returned. The whole atmosphere of the room changed and seemed lighter. And in my mind, I just knew that no matter what, God was in control and everything was going to be ok.

A few minutes later, the rolled Ben back in and told us that it was in fact a kidney stone. Then all we had to do was wait for it to… pass through. And four hours after the initial shock, Ben was pain-free. He even asked to walk to get food instead of taking the bus.

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset
Even amidst my panic, God is not panicking!

Now as I think about it, it seems like it was such a small thing. But in the moment, the world stopped. It was one of those situations though that seem to transform you into an adult in minutes. You just do what you
have to do. And when you look back, you realize that it maybe wasn’t as bad as you thought it was in the moment and if you had to, you could do it again all on your own. (Obviously, I hope that doesn’t have to happen any time soon. I’m just saying if it did.)

This is why I feel like an adult today. Even if my house is messy, even if there seems to be a million things on my to-do list, I feel like an adult and I’m confident that I can handle whatever happens this week. Not just because I’m an “adult.” But because I know that God is trustworthy no matter what my circumstances say.

Daydream

Disclaimer. None of what you are about to read is real. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very real experience for me. But the following did not happen in real life. I’m thankful for the imagination God gives us and how He speaks to us through it.

 

It was a beautiful autumn afternoon. I walked along the wooded trail, orange maple leaves crunching with each step. Just off the trial was (for lack of a better word) a treehouse. It didn’t have a roof and was pretty rickety. You could tell it had been there for quite a few years. At least the log bridge connecting the treehouse to the trail had a new rope railing next to it. It made it feel safer as I walked across, the grassy hill pulling farther and farther away until I stood far above the ground, hand on the tree that supported the little fort around me. I took a deep breath and looked around, smiling at the bits of a crystal blue lake that could be seen through the thick pine forrest. If I swayed back and forth, it looked like a puddle of glitter as the sun danced across the gentle waves.

Finally. A moment of peace.

I sit on the lone bench – the only thing occupying the small platform besides me. I close my eyes for a minute and soak up the warm fall sunshine on my face and for one second feel my body completely relax. A feeling of true peace.

The tree begins to sway a bit, setting the whole treehouse in a slight rocking motion. I open my eyes and look up at the man walking across the bridge towards me. And all at once, He’s right in front of me and I’m staring into His eyes. I don’t recognize the face, but I know in my heart who it is. This is the moment I’ve been longing for. The moment when I can look into His eyes and ask the questions that burn in my heart each night. There’s a moment of silence and we just look at each other, breathing the same air. It’s a moment filled with peace and expectation. It’s the safest I’ve ever felt. The amount of love I can see in His eyes is intense and I almost look away. It’s overwhelming.

But instead of looking away, I put my hands on either side of his face and say the words that I’ve hidden in my heart for so long.

Why?

It’s almost painful to say them.

Why am I over there while You’re here? Why can’t I just be here with You? Why?

He mirrors my stance and reaches out His scarred hands to touch my face.

“I’m not stuck here.”

The response enters my heart like a whisper and the reality of what He said begins to hit me.

“I’m not just here.

But… I know that… so why does it feel like that? And why am I over there?

And just like that, a rope swing appears from the middle of nowhere. In true Tarzan fashion, He wraps an arm under both of mine and jumps onto the rope, holding me close as we swing across space together.

Suddenly we’re at the top of a mountain. I know this mountain. I’ve spent countless hours skiing, laughing and enjoying life on this mountain.

“You’re here so I can teach you how much I love you,” He says.

Tears begin to fall as I start to understand.

“My love for you is deeper than the clearest lake and higher than the tallest mountain. And you’ve only begun to realize that! I want to show you more. So that’s why I’ve asked you to be here.”

“And you’re not alone. I didn’t abandon you. I’m with you wherever you go.”

“Let me teach you how great my love is for you.”

 

I open my eyes and look around. I’m still right where I was to begin with, in the middle of a lecture at YWAM Davos in Switzerland. I smile as I look out the window and see the mountains standing outside. That’s how great, I remind myself. His love is higher than the tallest mountain. 

 

Projects

sour-dough

It’s been just over five months since Ben and I were married.

Time flies when you’re having fun, right? 🙂

It’s been fun to see the pattern we’ve started to adopt in our life together. It started pretty soon after we were married. I don’t remember who started it or why, but all of the sudden we had this idea of having “projects”. This is what I mean when I use the word projects: Most couples adopt a dog or a cat to have something to take care of and share. It gives them something to do together, something to talk about, something to love. (My friends and I would also joke that it was to keep them occupied so they didn’t feel the need to have a baby. And maybe this is true. I’ll let you decide. 😉 ) Whatever the reason, it’s a project of sorts. It might add the possibility of more work and responsibility, but that gives us as humans a sense of belonging, right? It gives our lives some strange sense of meaning.

So, like I mentioned, most couples would opt for a pet.

A normal pet. Like a dog. Or a cat. Or a fish if you’re not into commitments.

But those aren’t the projects we chose.

Apparently, we’re not normal enough for that.

It all started one day – I don’t even remember when – when Ben just decided it was time to try something new. So he decided to try baking bread. But… normal bread didn’t cut it. And so we embarked on a journey that has taken us much farther than I think either one of us realized it would.

Sourdough bread.

That’s where this all started. We just wanted to try it at first. Just see if it worked. Just see if we liked it. Well. Turns out it does work and we do, in fact, love it. So the obsession continues. Then we started to look into the health benefits of sourdough bread versus regular yeast-leavened bread. And when we learned about all of the good bacterias and probiotics in the sourdough, that was it. We were solidly hooked.

sour-dough
Benjamin’s Dutch Oven Sourdough bread made with home-milled flour

Since then, it’s morphed into so much more than just bread! We’ve recently started fermenting a ginger bug which we plan on using to make ginger beer – a homemade version of something similar to ginger ale soda. And yet, much like a sourdough starter, the obsession keeps growing bigger and bigger. Lately we’re researching kombucha and trying to figure out how to start that fermenting and brewing process. Our greatest struggle at the moment is finding containers large enough to fulfill our needs. The next issue is going to be one of storage space, but we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

It’s just interesting, if you ask me. I never thought I would turn into some strange hippie-health-nut and yet here I am. I’ll be the first to tell you that sourdough bread is way better for your gut than the normal yeast bread we always eat. And then I’ll probably end up on a tangent about probiotics and “gut health” which will lead into me talking about kombucha and how I really want to make my own and that will then lead me to tell you that we’ve settled for a ginger bug over a scoby. (Some of you may have no idea what that last word means. I won’t bore you with the details. It’s just the bacteria culture that makes kombucha kombucha.) And for some strange reason, this makes me excited.

ginger-bug
Ginger Bug – a mix of water, grated ginger, and sugar. Feed it every day for about a week until fizzy and then start making pop!

Ben and I both have been pretty baffled at why we find all of this so interesting. The conclusion we have come to is this: We’re searching for the real deal. Nowadays, food is always so processed. Sure, it’s probably a bit less processed in Europe than in the States, but either way. It’s not natural. And that’s not to say that we can’t eat that stuff, (trust me… we definitely still do!) but this hunger for real and raw food has grown inside of us. So we’ve started exploring the old traditions. Fermentation is one of the oldest forms of food preservation. Sourdough is how people made bread rise in the “olden days” before yeast was in the picture. And in that we find some sense of reality. Call it whatever you will, but for us it’s a journey to explore a natural reality and have lots of fun along the way!

Amongst this bacteria-growing frenzy, I also adopted another project. One that is by far much less maintenance.

Cacti.

ralph
Meet Ralph. He’s known as a “bunny cactus” and has grown so big!

Our house is now inhabited by four cacti and four beautiful succulents. And yes, they have names.

And no. I’m not ashamed of that. 🙂

We all have our projects! Hobbies or activities or little lives that we want to take care of. It keeps life interesting! So that begs the question,

What are your projects? 🙂

I See Jesus in You

“Let’s move all the chairs into a circle,”

The classroom erupted into momentary chaos as everyone grabbed their notebooks, Bible, water bottle and chair (all at the same time) only to then struggle to make a vaguely circular shape. There’s a sense of excitement but also slight apprehension as people settle back into their seats and try to quiet down. There’s nervous giggles and quick glances around the oval ring of chairs. Everyone wants to know what the speaker is going to do. We all know that the speaker must have a good reason for causing such a disruption. He sits and waits patiently for everyone to settle down, place their things back under their chairs and hush conversations.

“I want you guys to look around the circle and pick a person. Once you’ve picked a person, I want you to think about how you’ve seen Jesus in them this past week.”

The atmosphere changes and people realize that they’re about to be encouraged. A slight tension still lingers as they quickly realize they also have to give encouragement. For some reason we all love to be encouraged, but it’s hard to give encouragement. We feel too vulnerable in that moment. Awkward, even. We feel like we might get it “wrong” – like encouragement could be a bad thing. So there’s a long pause. No one wants to speak up first and yet everyone wants to be the first to get encouraged.

Finally, the first brave student breaks the silence. And slowly but surely, the affirmations start to make their way around the circle. People are taken aback by sincere words and the general morale of the group is lifted.

Then someone says my name.

I snap my eyes over to look into their face. I have no idea what they’re going to say and my heart is pounding like crazy. For some ridiculous reason, I’m nervous. What could they possibly say? How have they seen Jesus in me? It’s almost as if I begin to doubt that Jesus lives inside of me. A thought just about crosses my mind: there’s no way they’ve seen Jesus in you…

I have to shove down the lies that come up to take away the kind words that haven’t even been spoken yet. It’s a never ending battle. I have to coach myself to receive the encouragement this sweet girl is about to give me.

I sit there and study her face, nothing but genuine care in her eyes, as she talks about how she’s seen Jesus in me through the past week. There was no spectacular moment she mentioned; no act of great kindness or display of love that she pointed to. Instead it was a simple, “I see Jesus in you just by how you live each day. It’s like you’re walking through your day, holding God’s hand and before you do or say anything you look up at Him and ask if it’s ok. That’s how I’ve seen Jesus in you.”

I was blown away.

There is no way she could have known.

There’s no way she knew that that has been my heart’s cry for over a year. I’ve longed to have a relationship with God that is simply seen in how I walk through the house, how I speak to people, how I make decisions. There’s no way she knew about all of the hours I have spent praying and asking God to give me a heart like that. There’s no way she knew.

I had to sit in shock for a moment.

Slowly, I began to believe what she said. Could it be true? And in that moment, it all became worth it. All the struggles, all the victories, all the hours spent silently sitting with God. I felt like a little girl who had just created a finger-painted masterpiece. She runs up to her Daddy and says “Look Dad! Look at what I made!” I wanted Him to be proud of me, to show Him what I had made. But really, I know that it was all because Him inside of me. And I was so thankful and in awe of how He allowed Himself to be seen through me.

As the encouragements continued, I was just amazed by how God reveals Himself through His children. It’s just like biological kids. Some might have their Mom’s nose, another might have their Dad’s eyes. The same is for us as Children of God. We each reflect a different piece of His character. Some of us show God through how we work. Some of us show Him through how we treat others. And others show Him through their joy. I looked around the circle, realizing that we’re all unique and yet we’re all Children of God and He is seen inside of us – even in ways we might not realize.

So let this story be an encouragement to you, my friend. Keep striving to become more and more like Jesus. You may not even realize how people see Him through you!

9 Days Alone

Last week, my husband visited another YWAM base for 9 days.

9 days.

That’s the longest stretch of time we’ve been apart since December of 2015. Before that, I think the longest time we had gone without seeing each other was around 20 hours. So 9 whole days was a bit of a stretch to say the least. But it was good for both of us. We both had time to think about things we tend to ignore as well as time to simply read a book or journal. (Or paint my nails. Another one of those things that gets put off… 😉 )

It’s also amazing how much cleaner a house stays when there’s only one person living in it. But that’s beside the point.

The point is, while my husband was gone, I learned the beauty of alone time. I wouldn’t classify myself as an introvert, but I definitely need some time to myself every once and again. The usual tell-tale sign that I need to take some time alone is when I suddenly become overwhelmed with people noise. Generally it gets to the point of not being able to hear people breathe. That’s when Courtney knows it’s time. Time to withdraw and hear the sweet sound of silence. But with an empty house for 9 days, I had enough time to conduct an experiment. What would happen if I didn’t wait for the “panic” moment?

As it turns out, alone time can actually be healthy. (Who would have thought?) Especially in the “preventative” sense. Instead of waiting for the crisis, when I end up almost crashing, it was actually way more satisfying to spend at least an hour or so each day alone with my own thoughts and Jesus. No music, no TV, no podcasts, no other sounds. Just the heaters clicking every so often and the sound of my own breathing.

It was actually magical.

But I realized something.

When I take the time to come to that place, to sit in the quiet with my own thoughts, I actually start to think. I think about how my day actually was. I think about the good things that happened and the hard things. I think about the proud moments and the disappointing ones. But I don’t whine. I don’t gloat. I just think. And I pray. I talk to God about the ways I saw Him move. I ask Him why I feel so crummy after a sarcastic comment. I tell Him how much I miss my husband. But there’s an internal process that happens. Suddenly, I’m not looking for the right word to say. I’m not looking for a reaction from someone else, because they’re no one else there. I’m not worried about how my words will affect the person I’m talking to because it’s God! And let’s be real… I really can’t say anything that’s going to cause Him to turn His back on the world. He’s God and He loves us all too much for that!

But taking that time to actually think about what’s going on inside of my brain, to pray about it and process it with God, actually helps me to really know how I’m doing.  This kind of surprised me a little, to be completely honest. I’ve always said I’m an external processor. I always feel like I need to talk about things in order to really understand them and to understand what I think about them. And sometimes that’s true. Sometimes we need another person to bounce things off of. But there are also times when it’s good to just think. To talk to God about what I’m thinking and feeling. Not just run to the nearest friend to “vent” about what’s going on, but actually thinking about how I feel and taking the time to gain God’s perspective. And before I know it, I’m not actually upset about something that seemed like a big deal in the moment. Or the mountains I feel like I’m facing turn into prairies.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think it’s still important to talk to other people. Relationship is what we are created for, so by all means we should live in relationship! But I know for myself, I can get so caught up in talking about things that I never actually take the time to think about things. Do you get what I’m saying? It’s so easy to say words. But how many of us say things before we think about them? I know I do that. More often than not, if I’m honest. So my challenge to myself is to take some time to be alone. Yeah, sure. FOMO is a real thing, I guess. (For those who don’t understand Generation Z language, FOMO stands for “fear of missing out.”) But I’ll sacrifice missing out on some things so that my heart and relationship with God can remain healthy.

I Surrender

Like many people around the world, I started the new year off with a few resolutions and good intentions. Here’s to a fresh start, right? As my good friend Sarah will always say, “New year, new me!” Sounds like a good plan, right? So, of course, I covered my most practical bases. For example, I’m going to try to clean my house once a week, do my laundry more often than once every three weeks, and try to motivate myself to actually work out.

[For that one, Sarah and I actually came up with a good slogan: “Monday’s run day!” And yet, here I am on a Monday afternoon… typing out a blog and not running….]

A few weeks into the year and I have already realized: Good intentions only get us so far.

So I’ve been struggling to find a way to make these things stick. Because even if they do sound like silly New Years resolutions, I actually want to change and grow in 2017. But how can I do that when my life runs on a schedule that I can’t really change that much? Yes, I can manage my time better than I do (add that to the list of resolutions and good intentions) but sometimes the days just seem to slip away. I drag myself out of bed at six and it seems like only a few moments pass before I’m dragging myself back into bed at 10:30 that evening. I sound like my mother when I say this, but there aren’t enough hours in the day! I tell myself to prioritize, but no matter what it always seems like the things that I want to get done never actually get done and without even realizing it, it’s been a month and I still haven’t cleaned the bathroom once. (Gross.)

As I sit here typing this, I still have no good answer for how to do this better. But this idea begins to form in my mind:

If I can keep my focus on Jesus throughout the day, the things that need to get done will and the things that aren’t important… won’t. And that’s ok! But if my main priority is to glorify God in all that I do, then my priorities will line up with His. And from my experience, God is really practical. If we ask Him practical questions, I believe we will get practical answers! Even down to how to manage our time and organizing our days. (I mean, I believe He even has some good advice on what to wear today, but… maybe that’s just me… 😉 ) So maybe this should be my new resolution – to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus, to keep my ear tilted to hear his voice, and follow his leading through the day.

Lately I’ve been hooked on All Sons and Daughters’ album Poets & Saints. The second song on the album, called “I Surrender”, catches my heart every time I hear it. The bridge goes like this:

Not my will,
but Yours be done.
Not my strength,
but Yours alone.
Nothing else,
but You, oh Lord,
I find everything in You.

I find everything in You.

Everything.

I want to 2017 to be the year that I learn to live a life totally surrendered to God. Then maybe I’ll finally be able to live up to those good intentions I have. Then again, maybe not.  But that’s ok. Because if I’m busy surrendering my plans to God – giving Him my good intentions – then all I’ll be concerned with is doing what He has called me to. And in the end, that’s all that matters.

Not my will, but Yours be done.

A Note from Mrs. Pilkvist

Apparently writing blog posts is the last thing on a person’s mind during their honeymoon.

Huh. Who would have thought?

For once in my blogging career, I feel like I have a valid excuse as to why I’ve avoided posting for two months. (I guess there’s a first time for everything!) But now it’s already been a month back into “real life,” so it’s time to break the streak of silence.

Well. We got married.

On September 17, 2016 we stood on a mountain and said ‘I do.’ You could call it magical. The rain had been fighting against us all week but it decided to give us the afternoon that Saturday. It was cold and wet, but the clouds had settled amongst the mountain tops in thin grey whips. So I couldn’t even be mad. I might have froze but at least it was beautiful while I did! The whole day was pretty laid back. We weren’t a ton of people, so it made it feel like almost like a Thanksgiving celebration. At least that’s what it reminded me of. It was just a bunch of family and friends gathered together to celebrate and enjoy the day. That was probably my favorite part.

Of course, no wedding is without it’s hiccups so we had to have some as well. Benjamin lost his tie and suspenders (which was actually my fault). It took longer to get my makeup on my face than I had expected. Once we arrived at the ceremony place, we realised that everyone forgot about the speaker, which was still at the base so someone had to run back and grab it. And since it had been raining most of the week, the grass was wet and soggy. And Courtney’s shoes were sufficiently soaked after 2 steps. Oh and don’t forget about attempting to check in at the hotel that night. It was late and the automated kiosk that was supposed to give us our key didn’t work. But I think it’s those little things that make it memorable. I’ll never forget walking up and down the streets of Davos at midnight in my wedding dress!

And, naturally, the proof is in the pictures.

I could probably spend thousands and thousands of words about what the day was like, but I won’t do that to you. I’ll let you see for yourself. It may have been a relaxed event but it’s a memory that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life. I’ll never forget when Ben and I took communion together that afternoon – and not just because I bit off more dry bread that I could chew. But because that was the moment when I knew that it was all for real.

I had made my choice. And we made a covenant together and with God.

It almost felt like the beginning of a rollercoaster ride. You know, the big ones that start with a long climb. You’re sitting there, strapped into your seat, just waiting for the drop. It always takes longer than you think it should, but then as soon as you get to the top, your mind starts racing. The car slows down and it starts to teeter over the edge. Your stomach does this little flip-flop thing and thoughts run through your mind at a million miles an hour. The thoughts that wonder what’s going to happen. There’s no way to know what’s coming over the drop.

But you’re so excited because you know it’s going to be so much fun.

That’s how it felt. I know that I have no way of knowing what life is going to bring us in the next years or even the next few weeks. But I’m so excited. And I know it’s going to be fun because I get to go through life with my best friend.

So. Having said all that, enjoy these pictures. 🙂

When You’re Not Looking… pt. 4

This post is part four of a series. Here’s where you can find posts one, two and three.

 

The day we left for outreach was the day I realized I was falling hard.

We were in the airport – the five of us on our way to Bosnia for the next 14 weeks. I think everyone was a little tired and at least a bit nervous, so conversation was pretty sparse. Someone would make a remark every couple of minutes that would spark a mini conversation that quickly fizzled out into silence. Most of us picked up our phones or iPads and zoned into the world of social media. But these little conversations started to build my hope. I realized that if I said something or chimed in, Ben would look up from his iPad and listen.

Just that little bit of attention gave me hope that lasted for weeks.

And then it happened.

Two weeks into our 14 week outreach, we realized that there was actually something more than friendship on both of our ends. I remember we were sitting on the back porch of the apartment our team lived at in Sarajevo. We had spent the previous two days painting the interior of a house and the whole team was pretty exhausted. The students decided to watch a movie, but I wasn’t really feeling it. So Benjamin and I ended up sitting outside, staring at the five stars visible from our balcony while eating fancy cheese and crackers and listening to indie music. That’s when I decided what I wanted. That was when I made up my mind that we were more than friends.

We tried to ignore it as long as we could.

Both of us wanted to just do outreach and then talk about it later. But 12 weeks is a long time to pretend that feelings don’t exist. It’s like have an itchy mosquito bite. The more you think about not itching it, the more it itches.

The more you think about ignoring your heart, the louder it screams.

Halfway through the outreach, we felt like it was time. Ignoring the feelings had made it a bigger distraction than acknowledging them. We decided it was time to actually talk about things beyond the “I like you a lot” conversation that had already happened. It was time to decide if this was for real or not; if we were going to go for it or walk away.

That conversation went something like this:

“So. What are your dreams? Where do you feel like God is leading your life?” (We already knew the answer. We’d talked about it like a million times already. But we shared again anyway.)

“Do our dreams line up?” (You know… I think they do…)

“Do we want to do this? Do we want to… get married?”

Yeah. Yes. Yes we do.

“Let’s get married!”

That was our first date. We were sitting on a rock along the coast of the Adriatic Sea, the sound of the waves crashing in the background and we decided to get married. (Eating cheese and crackers, of course. That somehow became our thing. 🙂 )

Obviously since then, there have been more than a few ups and downs. Making a major life change in less than four months causes a bit of chaos – no matter how you try to avoid it. I hate to admit that I’ve cried more than I would have liked to. I’d be lying if I said I’ve never doubted if this is the right choice. But I keep coming back to what I feel like God has spoken. And I believe He’s told us to go for it. The night after Ben and I had our first little “chat,” I went to bed on an emotional high (maybe a slight understatement). I think I texted my mom for like an hour, letting my inner teenage girl freak out for a bit. And as I laid in bed, I felt like God spoke to my heart.

“Make your choice. Because once this starts, it’s going to go fast.”

It was a bit of reality amongst all of the raging emotions. But I made my choice. I chose Benjamin.

And He was right. It did go fast. Hard as we tried, we couldn’t slow it down. I think when God spoke that, He was trying to prepare me for the journey ahead. He didn’t say it was going to be easy. He asked me to make a choice.

So I did.

And I have to say, I’m happy with my choice.

In five days, I’ll walk down the aisle and say ‘I do’ to one of the biggest blessings that’s ever come into my life.

Yeah.

I’m very happy with my choice.

 

the end & yet, to be continued

 

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When You’re Not Looking… pt. 3

This post is part three of a series. Here’s where you can find parts one and two.

 

It was our last week on base before heading out on outreach. Since Ben and I were leading together, that meant lots of last-minute meetings to tie everything up. And somehow there was a switch in my mind. I can’t pin-point when it happened but I just became super curious. I just really wanted to know if Benjamin liked me. So I just started paying closer attention to how he treated me and how he treated the other girls. I probably went back and forth several times a day. Picture Courtney holding a daisy, pulling out the petals one by one, “He loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not.”

That’s how it went. Over and over. Back and forth.

I was so confused.

So I finally decided to pray about it. Sometimes I get scared to ask God these questions. It’s a silly fear and I know that. But it’s not so much that I’m afraid of asking, I’m just afraid of what the answer is. And yet the point came when I decided that hearing the answer would be better then the emotional yo-yo I was subjecting myself to. And as I prayed about it, I started feeling more peace about the friendship I had with Ben. I even felt like God was saying that it was ok for it to keep getting deeper. I didn’t really know what He meant with that, but I figured it would be ok. I mean, if God was giving me the go-ahead, I must be in an ok spot right? And I figured it meant that Benjamin didn’t really like me either. So I just accepted that. We were just friends. Weren’t we?

But then He said something else.

For about a year, I’d worn a ring on my wedding finger. I had switched it from the other hand before leaving for DTS as a promise to God. When I put it on that finger, I decided that it was a commitment to remain faithful to God and to do my best to trust that He’d tell me when to swap that ring out with an engagement one. So I’d always joke about it and say that I was married to Jesus. Because in my heart, I was. I loved the ring too. I’d had it since I was thirteen and even if you could tell by the style of it, I still loved it. There was a little heart around an opal at the center. I wore it every day, all the time. And then I woke up one morning and the opal was gone. Naturally, I freaked out. But I promised God in that moment that even if the stone was gone, I wasn’t going to take it off until He brought some guy along to replace it.

So I wore it proudly. A gaping hole in the middle of a delicate heart. But I wore it anyway because I’d made God a promise and I didn’t want to break it.

But then that last week in Switzerland before outreach, God told me to take it off.

I think in that moment I knew what that meant. I just didn’t want to admit it. I took it of pretty reluctantly. I had no idea if I was ready for this. Somewhere in my heart, I knew that taking off that ring meant that my heart was available. And I had no idea if I was ready for that.

“Do you trust me?”

It was time to put those words into practice. Saying I trusted God was one thing. But would I actually act on what He was asking me to do? That’s what trust really looks like. And if I wasn’t willing to do that, had I really come as far as I thought I had? I reminded myself of all of the times God had been faithful in the past and reminded myself that He would be faithful again. If He was asking me to take my ring off, if He was telling me that it was ok for my heart to be “on the market,” would I trust that?

So I did it.

I took off the ring and gave my heart to God.

And that’s when I realized that Ben had already found a special spot in my heart.

 

…to be continued…