Global Dating Part 2: She Said

The “she said” story begins with the array of circumstances preceding my trip to San Francisco in January (2013). The year 2012 was rough, but beautiful as I saw the Lord’s faithfulness displayed through some intense physical and emotional journeys. In pursuit of fresh escapades and with a passion to experience the truths I believed intellectually, I set out for my favorite city. It was crazy to be sure, but I couldn’t silence the unexplainable desire I had to go and adventure with Jesus. And adventure I did!

sailing in the SF BayThe four weeks I spent in San Francisco were a time of healing, of beauty, of repose. It was priceless. Jesus met His little princess there in the heart of San Francisco. He whispered His love to me again and again until its reality seeped deep into my very being. He provided for me. He sent dear friends to me to share more of His goodness. One of those friends was Joey.

And in case you suspect I was swept off my feet during that trip, allow me to set the record straight. No one did any falling (or catching). Joey and I did, however, have a surprisingly great time reconnecting and reminiscing about days gone by. In hindsight, the first day we hung out couldn’t have been a more perfect date. But we weren’t dating and I was quite persuaded we were nothing more than good friends.

Borel Hill

The San Francisco chapter in the story of my travels ended all too quickly. Then began the emails. More emails. And longer emails. And then another visit. This time Joey was in Atlanta for a mutual friend’s wedding. I was emphatically prepared to give the “we’re just friends” speech since I had suspicions that Joey was more interested than I was. But in an unexpected turn of events, lunch segued to coffee and I found myself lost in conversation with Joey. Somewhere between the drive rehearsing my speech and the end of the 3- or 4-hour chat I had trashed the “just friends” illusion and decided if Joey ever asked me out on a date, I would say yes.

Several weeks later Joey texted to say he would be in Atlanta over the 4th of July and if possible to “keep your schedule open.” What in the world?! I admit, I stressed over my response. Should I be sassy? Play hard to get? What if he was only coming to see family?

Surprised

My questions were put to rest a couple weeks later when Joey called and officially asked me out on a date. But he didn’t just ask for one date, he asked for the entire weekend! I was surprised and delighted. The weekend plan was impressive. And I had no idea the half of what was in store those next couple of days. Magnificent waterfalls, coffee, wonders of the sea, a family birthday event, a movie night, and a candlelight dinner (cooked by Joey himself) were all part of the whirlwind. It was a month’s worth of dates squished into 4 awesome days.

This time he did sweep me off my feet.

piedmont park

The adventures and stories continue as Joey and I date across the U.S. We are increasingly grateful for technology when we’re apart and savor every moment we get to spend together in the same time zone and in the same city. Long-distance challenges are real, but facing them together makes it worthwhile.

In the words of Agnes from Despicable Me 2, “I’M SO HAPPY!!!!”

minion party love

Extravagantly Loved by My God

A wonder-struck hush emerged as the snow steadily covered Yosemite Valley. The massive formation of El Capitan barely peaked from behind hovering clouds and the winding road became an uncharted white path. On occasion the fog would part for few seconds to reveal the grandeur of gushing waterfalls, daunting ravines, and a variety of towering evergreens.

photo

It was the epitome of a fairytale winter wonderland. Only it wasn’t a fairytale. It was infinitely better because it was real. And I was part of it.

(Can you find me in the picture below?)

can you find me

I’m told it is an anomaly in late February to have any substantial snow in the valley. But on that epic Tuesday, February 19, 2013, God displayed a glimpse of His splendor by showering Yosemite with over six inches of fresh powder. (Keep in mind snow is a rare and exquisite phenomenon for this Georgia girl!)  I have to believe the scene unfolding before my eyes that day was just a taste of the blissful, untainted beauty we will one day enjoy in heaven.

Although God’s purposes largely remain a mystery, one divine reason for this miraculous occurrence is undeniably clear in my mind. God extravagantly loves me. And He delights in revealing His capacity to demonstrate that love in tangible ways.

Snowy drive

My God not only engineered my circumstances so I could go to Yosemite (a particular desire of mine), but also performed the impossible in sending snow in an unlikely season just because it is His nature to love and to display His love.

Jesus loves me. Extravagantly.  This I know is true. Do you? Can you testify with the Apostle John “…we have known and believed the love that God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him”? (I John 4:16)

The chorus to This I Know by Jenny Simmons says it well:

Jesus, loves me, this I know
And I know it’s not because of anything I’ve done
This love is unconditional,
So at my worst or at my best,
You don’t love me less, You can’t love me more,
This I know for sure
.

When God is Silent

Earnest, desperate prayers have been brought before the throne of grace.

Yet God remains silent.

We double and triple check our motives and our requests.

Yet God remains silent.

In our feebleness we persist asking, seeking, knocking.

Yet God remains silent.

We question if God heard. We confess every known sin.

Yet God remains silent.

Could there be something more? Something bigger than we can imagine?

In response to this perplexing dilemma, I would like to share a couple excerpts from a tremendous book by Oswald Chambers titled “If You Will Ask.” The thoughts are based John 11:5-6 when Jesus waited until Lazarus was dead to visit. “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when He had heard therefore that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the same place where He was.”

“God’s silences are His answers. If we only take as answers those that are visible to our senses, we are in a very elementary condition of grace. Can it be said of us that Jesus so loved us that He stayed where He was because He knew we had a capacity to stand a bigger revelation? Has God trusted us with a silence, a silence that is absolutely big with meaning? That is His answer. The manifestation will come in a way beyond our comprehension…

“That is what prayer means – not that God may bless us. As long as we have the idea only that God will bless us in answer to prayer, He will do it, but He will never give us the grace of a silence. If He is taking us into the understanding that prayer is for the glorifying of His Father, He will give us the first sign of His intimacy – silence. The Devil calls it unanswered prayer. In the case of Martha and Mary, the Spirit of God called it a sign that He loved them, and because He loved them and knew they were fit to receive a bigger revelation than ever they dreamed of, He stayed where He was. God will give us the blessings we want if we won’t go any further, but His silence is the sign that He is bringing us into this marvelous understanding of Himself.”

Is this the case with you? Is God trusting you with silence? Then take heart, my friend! You have not been forgotten, rather, our Father is inviting you to experience Himself in a deeper, fuller way. Embrace God’s silence.

Confessions of a Planaholic

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who loved to plan. It began harmless enough as she inquired about plans for school, lunch, and playtime. But this desire to know what was happening, when, and why, steadily morphed into what some might classify as an obsession. Instead of a series of moments lived, life became a ferris wheel of calculated plans and regimented actions.

Perhaps you can relate. Is your life a scripted sequence of events with the vague promise of security and success? Or is it a mathematical equation where event[a] added to event[b] equals presumed happiness? Sadly, this was my life.

Through several job changes, a mission trip, a severe extended illness, and unrealized ambitions, God engineered my circumstances to obliterate my carefully crafted plans. Without a doubt it was an excruciating process. I was a control freak and I didn’t want to admit it. The only guaranteed path to success that I knew was snatched away and I was no longer in control. In hindsight, it seems evident that one of God’s divine purposes in this upheaval of my life was to teach me to trust Him.

Trust, not just a passing thought or a clever cliché, but real trust in a real God through real situations. Each event was like Jesus asking me, “Will you trust Me now?” I am ashamed to say, too often trust was my last recourse. As a natural-born planner, I had Plan A, B, C, D, and E readily available. Trust was Plan Z. Having exhausted my plans and finding myself in a state of desperation, I collapsed in the Lord’s ever-present arms. I discovered that all the while He was ready and willing to prove His faithfulness to me. He was simply waiting for me to wait on Him. To trust Him fully. To rest in His supremacy. To relinquish my plans in exchange for His perfect plans.

Trusting God is scary. Not because God is in any way inept or insufficient, but because the path is unknown to us. According to common sense, the unexpected is risky. But, this is not true when the unexpected comes from our omniscient God. “Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” (Corrie Ten Boom) Trust is a daily, intentional act that requires courage. Although it still freaks me out to surrender my plans, I’m learning that Jesus is always trustworthy. Only through trusting Him can I find the authentic peace and security I crave.

 

The words to this old hymn by Frances Ridley Havergal say it best:

 

Every joy or trial falleth from above

Traced upon our dial by the Sun of Love.

We may trust Him fully, all for us to do:

They who trust Him wholly, find Him wholly true.

Stayed upon Jehovah, hearts are fully blest

Finding as He promised, perfect peace and rest.