God’s Faithfulness Through Singleness

FYI: The following post has been a long time coming and may not be for everyone, so if it’s not your cup of tea I’ll see you on the next post! ūüôā¬†I also feel like this post is a throw back to the old blogging days where I’m writing as a stream of consciousness and jumping all over the place with hopes of tying it up in a nice bow at the end; you’ve been warned.

. . .

The more I walk through the progression of my life and all the seasons, stories, heart breaks, confusion and joy the more I see God’s hand in it all.
I recently posted this photo and then quickly typed out the caption only to be flooded with so many emotions and memories. I really do have a binder full of letters written “to my future husband” sitting in the office with an introductory note to Eddie given to him as an engagement gift. I have some of these letters scribbled throughout one of journals that I keep next to my bed for night time thoughts that dates back to 2010 and the other night I poured through a few of them and laughed, cried, and was awed by where I currently stand in the wake of all of that struggle.


2.15.2011
My husband and my love,
One day you will get all of these letters. I’m very humbled right now in the area of love and romance. I’m humbled because I have been stupid in the past (and present) with how I treat my heart. I’ve given it away so many times that now it is truly cracked. I believe that is one of the many reasons God has not brought us together, I’m not ready.


Singleness really was a hard season for me.
I won’t get into the mess of it all, but trust me when I say it was full of lots of pain, tears, and frustration. I went through two serious relationships and definitely gave my heart away more than I ever should have.¬†The loves I had before I met Eddie were fresh, deep, unmoveable, and unshakeable,¬†or so I thought. The truth is they had their beautiful moments but for the most part were confusing, damaging, toxic, or just painful. I once explained it to one of my girlfriends many years ago that we understand love by the season we are in and the challenges we have grown though. When I dated J & S I was in two different seasons of life and as my relationships with each of them twisted and turned for years and we wove in and out of each others lives my understanding of love had changed and grew and sometimes was twisted with bitterness and anger. I truly loved them, as deeply as I could, for at those times it was the only measure of love I could compare it to, now I know much differently.

I had this idea engrained deep within my spirit that my worth was tied up in who I was with.
So I chased after the two “loves of my life”¬†with all that was within me.
I chased out J for security, I had known him since 2003 and we had walked through so much of life together, he truly was my best friend on and off for years; I thought he would be my husband.
I chased S for affirmation. He made me feel wanted, needed, sexy, and valuable, mostly in all the wrong ways. I thought he would be my husband.
I chased, and chased, and chased, and was left alone, bruised, and angry at God for not letting me get married.
I read countless singleness books (most sucked, but my favorite was sacred singleness), cried myself to sleep, felt the heaviness in my heart when cooking dinner for one in an empty house, and wondered if I would ever even have someone to love and to love me the way I dreamed of.


9.23.2014
Husband,
It is in the small moments I think of our future together. When I’m home alone, the house is quiet, and the windows are open in the fall. I pause my show and take the water off the stove to make some sleepy time tea – a cool breeze surrounds me and I think of you. Who you are, where you are, what you’re up to – if you would want a mug of sleepy time tea too. In these moments I miss you. It’s weird because I don’t know you. But it’s like I miss the promise of what is to come. I miss you – especially on the quiet nights.


I would start “talking” to a guy and then something would inevitably happen to drown it all out and I would be left either ghosted by him not responded or just realizing it wasn’t a good fit. I remember clearly sitting on my couch one evening getting a text that yet another one of my best friends was engaged and I just sat there thinking “seriously, her and not me”…talk about a bitter heart…and then just crying. I doubted God would ever answer this particular desire I had rooted deep within my soul, that I had been forgotten.

As the years went on I would have people comment on how I was “such a great catch” and that they were “so surprised I hadn’t been snatched up yet” or that they “had a friend they wanted me to meet” but would never actually set me up. I found that I had slipped into this comfortable place where I was taking care of myself without the expectation of another person. I was my own woman and had my independence with having a job, paying bills, living on my own, and just doing life. I took care of my own house, paid health insurance and house insurance, mowed my own grass in the humid Charleston heat, and took myself to the movies. I had a great group of friends and girlfriends who brought such laughter and fun to my life and the time seemed to just creep on by and the memories could be written about for years. Yet throughout it all I was battling this lie that I wasn’t worthy enough to be loved. That I would never find my person, and I was angry, frustrated, sad, and just confused. Yet through those¬†many dark nights¬†I found myself holding on to this small sliver of hope that I would meet the right person, and we would fall deeply in love, and everything would turn out perfectly.


7.3.2016
Hello Eddie, 

You sneaky fox, I love you. 


Well as you know, it did end up happening, I met Eddie and we are now married; but the story wasn’t this smooth sailing fairy tale, in fact Eddie would tell you it was the hardest season of his life to pursue me. I’m such a catch. ūüėČ Even our engagement season was full of hard thoughts.

So…after writing all of that I should probably get to the point of the title of this post; God’s faithfulness through singleness, my singleness.

I learned a lot about who I was as a woman in my singleness.
I found out what I stood for, had to make hard decisions by myself, be put in uncomfortable situations alone, how to entertain myself, how to cook meals I enjoyed, picked up hobbies, etc. I forced myself to do things I didn’t want to do in order to still live a beautiful and whole life without a mate.
Now that I’m married I still have to do¬†all of those things.
If you would have told me 5 years ago I would have married a man in the military, left my home town of 28 years where ALL of my family & friends lived and I would live in 4 different place in the first year of marriage settling in on the absolute opposite side of the country I would have laughed straight in your face. Yet here I am.
My husband is gone¬†all. the. time. and I’ve had to make new friends and figure out how to fill my time in a city where I knew no one and knew nothing. I have to deal with tough situations without having my spouse to talk to about it and make decisions that I believe we would both agree on. I still have to be independent a lot because the only other option would be to hide in our place until he comes back home and that’s not realistic.

I needed to grow into the woman I needed to be and the woman Eddie needed as a wife.
I had to learn how to stop spitting venom and word vomiting my anger in situations and begin to pause, listen, process and work through my problems. I believe those lessons were learned a lot from living with Maria for 7 years. We were the absolute OPPOSITE personalities and it was a struggle to learn to soften my verbal blows and shave off my razor sharp edges. I learned about balance, communication, and patience dealing with so many different people over the years that it prepared me to have a better understanding of healthy communication. This isn’t to say Eddie and I don’t argue, we have some disagreements, but we have literally¬†never¬†raised our voices to one another and I think that comes from growth and expectations.

I had to face my baggage.
My huge storage room of hurt, pain, abuse, and loss was overflowing and bleeding into my life. Most days I was just barely making it, let alone being able to pour joy and love into another person. I worked with a counselor for many years unwinding that coiled up pain and facing the problems to cleanse my heart and heal those wounds. Without facing that baggage I would have brought it unresolved and mostly untouched into a marriage and it would have wrecked havoc.

In the season of singleness I knew there was an end, or at least I hoped for one, but I couldn’t see God’s faithfulness in it. I only saw my heart being hurt, abandoned, or played with, I didn’t see God’s protection. Looking back with fresh and understanding eyes I see that when I felt that rise of hope it was God giving me a taste of something beautiful, when those doors shut it was God telling me to wait, and when I felt marriage would never come it was God leaning into me and pulling me closer to Himself.


I recently read “We can wear our hope or wear our hurt” and I just want to give you that challenge today.
If you’re hurting know that you have infinite value and that your pain needs to be felt, but that you can¬†choose to wear your hope instead.
I wish someone would have told me that sooner.
I think it would have influenced me to be more joyful and hopeful through my singleness and now it will help me to choose my hope over my hurt as I carry on through life.


A Lesson In Pausing

This post is back from when we were adventuring around Sequoia National Park…so excuse the time loop. ūüėČ


I’m a goer and Eddie is a soaker.
I was up making breakfast and enjoying snapping some pictures while quiet clung to the air.
The rain was coming soon that day so I knew that we needed to get a move on. Eddie however was still enjoying relaxing in the warmth of the bed; I finally decided to crawl back in to cuddle with him.
Honestly, I gave the cuddling a whole minute and patted his arm and said we’ve got to get going. He squeezed me tighter in response.
A heavy sigh escaped my chest and I sank deeper into the sheets as I allowed myself to relax; I had to remind myself that this is also why we are here – to enjoy quiet slow mornings in the mountains with one another.
You may be asking, why is Amy even sharing this random 3 minute part of her life with us, and I feel the need to explain.

I struggle, hard, with letting go.
Control runs deep in my bones and I thrive with order, and to-do lists, and schedules, and deadlines. I actually feel like Monica off of Friends when it’s time to clean, prepare for guests, schedule a trip, etc. I find some weird joy in seeing all the things accomplished and in their right place.
I find the struggle even most when I feel like I “should be” doing something. We were on vacation and we wanted to hike in the park and see all the things and laying in bed cuddling just wasn’t going to accomplish that list. I was under this mind-set of if we don’t get moving everything will be lost!

That’s kind of the story of my life.
I find myself wallowing in these fears, these worries, these thought traps of…
If I don’t get moving, I’ll loose everything.
If I don’t accomplish this then what good am I?
If I don’t make this happen then everything won’t workout.

It’s a whole lot of “I” and that isn’t how a marriage works.
In those three minutes of me choosing to crawl back into the bed to cuddle, my flesh taking over and trying to force the hand of control, and Eddie re-grounding me to relax – I was reminded of the fact that we are a pair, a team. We do life together, we grow and learn from, challenge, and encourage each other. We help to see the good in our character as well as the areas that still need refinement. I help to spur him forward and he helps to slow me down.

It’s just another reminder of how God intrinsically wove our stories together to balance each other out – to cause me to stop, pause, and soak more.
I’ve been having a lot of those reminders recently. Those years of pain, and sorrow, and struggle waiting for a husband and feeling like it would NEVER COME and now I’m paired with someone I could have never imagined. Someone who is everything¬†and abundantly more¬†than I even knew I needed. I used to hate the phrase “God’s timing is perfect” and yet here I am kind of lowering my head and reminding you of that statement’s truth. God’s timing really is perfect. It can feel like it takes forever, or like you’re being punished, or even as if it’s all wrongly timed…but it’s perfect.

Drive In Movie

When I posted about my updated 30 before 30 list I had no idea I would be able to cross off one so quickly! Just a few days after posting Eddie and I went to the Mansfield Drive-In Movie Theatre to watch Despicable Me 3 and lounge in the back of my car.
I did the best I could to make the small space comfortable with some blankets, oversized pillows, lights, and comfy clothes (and slippers!). We loaded up with some much needed movie snacks: Smart Popcorn, Larabar bites (I legit ate the ENTIRE bag!), banana chips, KIND bars, and some bottles of water to get us through the movie.
It was a chilly night full of snuggles, laughing (the movie is so cute!), and checking something off of my list!
To say I had fun would be an understatement; I’ve already decided that we are going to go back a few more times because not only is it the most amazing experience, but it’s super cheap to see a movie! ((and next time we’re going to take the truck and a blow up air mattress!))

Now, to add a little back story to the scene – because things aren’t always perfect.
The day of the movie Eddie and I were having a little tift, nothing serious and honestly it is mainly just the cycle of being a military couple; yet it set a sour tone for the start of the day. We ended up getting in the car and driving to a location that Eddie surprised me with, Historic Wickford Village Rhode Island, and walked around for a bit. We parked out butts on the edge of the shore and spent some time soaking in the sunshine and throwing rocks into the ocean. Slowly the sourness ebbed away and we were left enjoying each others company and making the best out of our time together.

By the time we got back to the house we were both sleepy and just out of it.
It had been a super long week for Eddie and I was just feeling really run down; and I was kind of dreading having to wait until 8 to go to a movie (we are so old). We ate dinner then I attempted to nap (it didn’t work) and when we got in the car to head out to the drive-in we were both kind of back in that “meh” place. It really put a damper on my emotions – I felt like I couldn’t get past the stupid funk and we not “connecting”…..it’s amazing how we blow the smallest things out of proportion within a moment. When we settled into the dusty spot, curled up with each other under a blanket, and the movie started – everything was alright again. The previous frustrations were gone and we were back to being present with one another.
So take a moment to be present today; let all of the other fluffy junk go, and just enjoy the moment.

Monday Thoughts

As I sat on my couch last week I felt myself going stir crazy.
It happens from time to time, the hair on my skin stands up, my heart races, and I feel like I’m getting boxed in.
My workout was finished, I had house cleaning I could do but didn’t feel like it, I had blog stuff I could work on but had no motivation and I had hours upon hours to kill. This was one of those situations where the few friends I’ve made here were busy or their husbands were home (and we all know how important that time is) so I was faced with either just binge watching something on netflix or just going to explore.

There is a place up here that has the most beautiful sunflower fields once a year, Buttonwood Farms, and I had not had the chance to go see the flowers. At the end of the season they let the cows roam through the fields eating up each flower to their hearts content, so my window was closing. As I walked through the towering rows of yellow I found myself incredibly overwhelmed with emotions. I was this mixture of thankfulness and sadness; a ball of joy and a bundle of numbness. It was a weird feeling. You see, I was surrounded by these¬†beautiful flowers – people drive hundreds of miles to come see these fields – and I was able to drive a short distance to catch a glimpse. I was alone, missing my husband and missing my friends; I was missing the connection of experiencing that joy with another person. It was jarring because I have been independent for so long that this feeling of dependency is taking some getting used to. ¬†I’ve told Eddie a few times that it’s still so new for me, this whole connection the two of us have, to where even though I love doing things by myself – I now have this deep yearning to experience them with him.

I started to realize that this season I’m in, where I’m forced to be alone¬†a lot, is a season that the Lord has obviously put me in.
I truly, truly believe it’s a growing season. I’ve seen¬†so many things stripped from my life before I got married and definitely since I’ve moved that I’m kind of left with just small basics. I’ve had to re-learn how to make friends, how to go out and explore, to put myself out there, to have deep conversations with new people, to share the love of Jesus in practical ways, to love someone selflessly, and to actually want to grow in a relationship with my Lord.


“Here is the¬†thing. The enemy promises water, but every time we go to the wells, they are empty. He gives us a sip of water, enough that we¬†keep believing him. We have believed the lie that our cravings will be satisfied if we are enough and if we have enough. So we chase image, answers, things, people – and we wonder all the while, Why am I still thirsty?

– Nothing To Prove, By: Jennie Allen


But the truth is…I’m not really growing in my relationship with Christ.
It’s been hard, and it’s been something I’ve been avoiding. Thankfully I’m not running away from it anymore, like actively running away from the Lords promptings; but now I’m kind of like that student who is getting by simply by listening during class and not putting in the work outside of the classroom. I soak things in, I retain some information and I’m learning and making slow progress, but it isn’t near to the level I should be at. This is an incredibly hard pill for me to swallow for many reasons. Many of you probably don’t know but I was a youth pastor for a handful of years (I actually have my BA in Youth Ministry with a minor in psychology) and I have always been the type of person who loves to spend hours with my Bible, notebooks, and study aids (commentaries, theological studies, articles, etc) sprawled out and soaking in the information like a sponge. I haven’t had that type of passion in many,¬†many, years and it has always chipped against my heart and rocked my soul. I can’t put my finger on the exact reason why I haven’t dug into the Word of God like I used to. I think it started when the church I was the youth pastor at went through a heart-breaking ending and it shattered something within; people hurt us and we often correlate that with the Lord hurting us – it’s not the same and it’s taken me many years to learn that.

Honestly friends, I didn’t think I would write all of this out.
I just sat down with a completely different thought process and here I am typing all of this and finding my palms a little sweaty thinking of hitting publish. Opening up about where you are in your spiritual journey is always vulnerable and leaves you feeling encouraged to push forward or left feeling less than. I’ve been feeling so¬†less than lately that my heart has felt like a heavy stone being dragged through the mud. I talk super negatively to myself, I beat myself down, and I haven’t been believing the truths whispered to me by Jesus and repeated by my loving husband.

So as I walked through Hobby Lobby (that store is so dangerous by the way) and my eyes wandered to the book “Nothing To Prove” by Jennie Allen while waiting to check out I knew it was the Lord. The tagline of the book is¬†“Why we can stop trying so hard”.¬† I didn’t need to read anything more, I just bought it and went home that night and cried as I read the introduction. It was like a soothing balm to my injured heart; it breathed some hope back into my frustrated heart and left me feeling like a weight was lifted.

Y’all.
All of this rambling is simply to say: You’re not alone.
Your struggles, your pain, your joys, your hopes, your sorrows – we’re all meant to walk through this together.
So, thanks for listening to my ramblings; and if you’re looking for a new book, go pick up “Nothing To Prove” and you can thank me later.

Let’s not be thirsty anymore.

 

 

Relationship Expectations

This post is for you.
All of you.
The married and the unmarried.
The ones who struggle with expectations and let-downs. The ones who leave every experience feeling defeated, frustrated, isolated, or alone. The ones who find themselves saying “but why not this way” often.
I hear you.
I am with you.
I get it.

A few weeks ago while visiting home I was sitting on the guest bed and talking to my aunt about all of the changes going on right now in my life and in my marriage. I was sharing how I felt like things weren’t “going as I though they would” and she asked me a really simple but completely profound question; “Well, why do you feel like that?”. I kind of sat there and without even realizing it was the truth said “because I feel like it¬†should be going x,y,z way” and she gently responded “and why should it go that way? It’s probably because you’ve been told it should, or read that it should, or have seen on social media that it should; but everyone is different.”

Y’all.
If you’re anything like me you read a lot of articles, books, talk to people, look at surveys, and see social media and think you should be doing options a-z to safeguard, build, protect, and enjoy your marriage (or relationship, or job, or friendship). And you know what? It just isn’t always that easy.
We are taught things wrong far too often, we are led to believe that if something isn’t going the way of the “norm” then it’s wrong and you should be concerned. I’ve read¬†so many books over my adult life on marriage and building a healthy Christ-centered foundation, and do you want to know how I feel after reading all of that right now? About thiiiiissssss small. Marriage isn’t a follow this guide and you’ll get this result; it’s about learning.

What even is “a normal marriage” anyways?
I’ve gathered from what the media puts out that that it’s being able to spend evenings and weekends with your spouse and go on these great adventures with them. You should also be having deep conversations at least 3 times a week, sex more than that, and if you’re not doing ____ well then, prepare for the struggle.

The truth is, Eddie and I have been a part a lot of the first 6 months of our marriage. With his job (Navy) and going out to sea and spending a lot of time at work he is over-stressed and exhausted and when we do get time together in the same city a lot of it is spent relaxing and just enjoying each others company – what do they say now? Netflix and chill. There is¬†nothing¬†wrong with that, in fact it’s just US and our season right now; and yet I’m feeling this “pressure” to have all of these other things happening. We SHOULD be going to the lake and kayaking, or going to eat a fancy dinner, or setting a nice picnic at a park…right? That’s what I’m being fed by instagram, blog posts, and all advice columns.

Well, let me just break this down right now, for the real and nitty-gritty of it all.
Marriage isn’t this predictable thing where you should be crossing off all of these boxes to create something perfect. It’s about enjoying the time you have, however much or little it is, with the other person and investing in them. In the last 2 months some days Eddie and I haven’t even been able to speak with each other, others we get a 5 minute phone call and coming up we will have a small window to just love on each other for a few weeks, and good Lord it will be glorious.

I’m just tired of feeling bitter.
Bitter at the wives who get to see their husbands every night and weekend, bitter at the single ladies who don’t feel the struggle to create a perfect marriage, bitter at myself for being so dang ridiculous. That isn’t the way my heart is happy and I don’t want to be that way any longer.

The truth is – I’m just rambling and I really just wanted to put it out there that if you’re struggling keeping up with expectations or perfection it’s ok to just let it fall; there is no such thing.
Perfection can be just as simple as a fancy dinner outside of the house or curling up with each other on the couch watching Wicked Tuna.
Let’s throw away these feelings of¬†not good enough and continue to invest and build up the good things in our lives.

Coming home

Being back in Charleston was interesting.
I’m a born and raised Charlestonian who grew up chasing fireflies in the humid summer air and staying on the beach until the moon came out. I never thought I would be the person to move away and see different parts of the USA – never in a million years, heck even ask my family & friends they would say the same. I really thought I would live my entire life in Charleston and die hopefully after a nice glass of sweet tea and during my sleep.
Then the love of my life came along dressed as a Sailor and off we’ve gone to explore new places.

I came home for two weeks to spend time with family and start going through things that I left in my childhood home.
One of the days I took off to just spend time with the bestie and drive around Savannah, GA and Beufort, SC (where the pics from this post are from).
All in all it was a lot to process; and by a lot I mean a lot.

I quickly realized that my attachment was no longer tied to that home.
I still love it, and pieces of my heart will always reside in that house, but I no longer feel like it’s¬†my home. A lot of my stuff is still there, my brother is living there, and it is all still so familiar to me – but the minute I walked through the door I just knew it wasn’t¬†mine anymore…does that even make sense? It was the first time I had been “home” in over five months, and it was truly a lot to just wrap my head around. I was expecting to feel like I wouldn’t be able to leave again, or overwhelmed with joy to be back in¬†my¬†house; yet I was surprised at how indifferent I felt, I wasn’t expecting that.

The definition of home had already began to re-define itself the month or so after I got married.¬†Home wasn’t in South Carolina, or Maine, or now Connecticut….home was with Eddie. Home is in the small moments that we spend investing in one another, in the adventures we go on and in the quiet evenings on the couch.
Home is beating wildly inside of my husbands chest.
Home is the look we give each other after days apart.
Home is the arms I rest in at the end of a day.
Home is slow dancing in the kitchen.
Home is having rice and eggs for dinner because we don’t feel like cooking.
Home is wherever my husband is.