So here’s to a beginning. I have been wanting to write for a while but haven’t been able to pull together the words as to all that I have been feeling and learning. It has been on my heart to share some of my experiences that have truly shaped me to be the person I am. It has pressed on me to share about some of my darkest times and how I was carried through. This blog is dedicated to the Lord, the very one who carries my world.

Monday, July 31, 2017

The View Through a Different Lens

It was a cool Sunday morning in mid-March. The sun deceptively shone, its rays seen but not felt by its onlookers. Any warmth offered was all too quickly swept up by the lingering wintry breeze that persistently rustled through the leafless trees. We had just left church, and Matt suggested we go to a local vineyard. I was hungry and figured a glass of wine on top of an empty stomach wouldn’t bode well. Still, he persisted, telling me he had packed some cheese and crackers, stating, “It will be fine,” to which I conceded.
Thirty minutes or so later we pulled down a long dirt drive, taking in the rich sight of vines with newly sprouted buds, a promising sign of a nearing spring. Soon all would be in full bloom, succulent grapes and flashes of green leaves bursting in every direction. As we continued I noted a small and picturesque pond in the distance, its waters calm and tranquil. Nearby sat a small wooden bench positioned on a wooden deck adjacent to the pond. I wondered who had previously sat in that bench, imagining an older couple coming to sit and take in the view hand in hand year after year.
As we reached the top of the driveway I felt my eyes widen in taking in the majestic sight. A large and enchanting stone building stood before us with an attached trellis, vines elegantly hanging from above. I knew we had climbed considerably in terms of elevation, and as we exited the car I was suddenly aware that we could see for miles.
As we entered the rustic building we made our way across the room to purchase a bottle of wine, and Matt asked if I would like to go outside and walk around while we drink our wine. Feeling charmed by the warmth of the nearby fireplace, I hesitated. Still, I could see on his face that he was really up for a walk so I agreed, hoping it would be a short one.
As we made our way back outside I immediately began to regret my outfit choice earlier that morning. I closed my jean jacket as best I could against my tank top and began to parade my ballet-slippered feet across the grass. As we began walking I couldn’t help but note a large amount of goose feces sprinkled across the grass. I hopped this way and that as we made our way out in an effort to avoid soiling my now seemingly ridiculous shoes, each moment becoming more and more disgruntled.
It wasn’t long before the grumbling ensued. I was cold. And there was poop everywhere. And he needed to know it.
He just smiled and handed me his jacket, completely unbothered by my worsening attitude.
After a few more minutes of walking, he stopped and inquired if I would like some more wine. I agreed.
“Anything to warm me up!” I silently grumbled.
I quickly turned to give him my glass and to my surprise and shock instead of a wine bottle in his hands, he held up a small box. Suddenly aware he had unknowingly gotten down on one knee (and before I could pull a coherent thought together), I glanced at his glowing face, noting a smile ear-to-ear and heard him say, “Will you marry me?”
My eyes instantly widened with delight, and I felt myself put both hands over my mouth and jump three steps backward. Was this really happening? Was this really happening to me?
I suddenly felt like I was in a dream. More, I had prided myself on being a fairly good detective and generally aware of whereabouts of my partner when we were not together. When did he plan this? How did I not know?
Overjoyed, I accepted happily; and he went on to tell me that our families were going to be meeting us at a restaurant to celebrate the day.
I later learned he had met with my father to ask his permission, to which my dad happily agreed.
I had never felt more loved, cherished or excited as I did on that special day.
The following months flew by with excitement and great anticipation for our big day. I felt the cloud that had long followed me had cleared, and suddenly life was viewed through a different lens. One I had not previously seen through. This new lens was full of love and hope and giddy excitement. The kind of bursting emotions the rest of the world generally loosely tolerates when two people are newly in love.
The world, it seemed, was once again at my fingertips; and I was overjoyed to be living in it with my very best friend.
More, lupus was becoming but a distant memory.
There were days, yes, when I would stay in bed after having been out all day the day prior with him. I sometimes secretly wondered if I could keep up. Keep up with all the living there was to be done. I was bound to make it work somehow. To make the pieces fit as I believed they should.
He was careful with me, yes. Though still actively learning about the nuances of chronic disease.
The real sickness though, the months in pain and in bed were growing smaller and smaller in the distance. Perhaps I had paid my dues. Learned my lessons so to speak and put in my time. Was there such a thing?
I couldn’t be sure.
All I did know is that I had known a lot of bad days. And I was sure as heck going to hold on to these good ones for as long as they would stay.

Friday, July 28, 2017


The following year was marked by blissful happiness with many carefree and exciting moments. A world had opened up to me that I longingly watched as an outsider for as long as I could remember. While hesitant at first, in no time at all I found myself falling head over heels for this man who I’d known but a short while. He quickly became my very best friend and my biggest supporter, cheerleader and advocate. I was cautious at first, letting him in slowly. I needed to be sure he was going to be around if I were going to open myself up again. Really open myself up.
In time, I shared with him about the hard stuff. It had been on my heart for some time to do so, and I knew if we were going to really, really make this thing fly then I was going to need to suck it up about a thing or two.
It was Good Friday evening, and we had just left the evening service and were on our way to grab some food. My heart raced frantically within me, having been rehearsing what I would say to him through the entire service. I felt my underarms begin to sweat. I needed to not panic. I needed to simply share.
“It would be what it would be,” I told myself.
I heard myself parrot the line all girls tell their girlfriends, “If he’s for you, he’ll stick around no matter what.”
Famous last words, I knew.
Still, I knew it was now or never.
I tried to make small talk as we drove, but he could sense something was up, and I knew it. He asked if I was okay. I never could have a bad moment without him somehow sensing it. I loved that about him.
Except for now.
Now it was making me more nervous than ever.
He asked a few times what was going on. I hesitated, attempting to gather my thoughts. I knew he could tell it was big. I saw the nervous anticipation as he pulled into a nearby parking lot, quickly directing all of his focus toward me.
How could I tell him? How could I share with him about my darkest moments? My best kept secret.
I knew I was risking losing him completely. But I also knew if he was in fact from God for me then it would somehow be okay. I hoped.
More, I knew in my heart it was far better to be brave and alone than to be dishonest and together. I wanted God to be near more than anything. I wanted to honor God. Even if that meant solitude.  
I swallowed hard and choked back tears, as I began to share with him of my jaded past. He had come to know bits and pieces along the way, but there was more to tell. He knew about my history with lupus to some extent, and he also knew I had made my share of mistakes when it came to dating.
He didn’t know however the color palette I had painted wasn’t all pastels with a few small grey dots mixed in. No, there were large cracks and dark spots spattered across my palette. Spots of shame and regret. There were deep streaks of depression and fear. And as much as I loathed and dreaded the idea, it was time for my unveiling.
I began by sharing with him of my visits to the oncologist’s office for a virus I had contracted a few years prior. Horrified and embarrassed, I told him of my surgeries. I waited for him to react. To somehow play it all cool, yet subtly pull away. To somehow make an excuse not to hang out again in the near future. To say something insensitive.
I didn’t look in his direction. I just couldn’t.
I felt his eyes burning holes in me from the driver’s side. I wiped the tears from my eyes, and he leaned in giving me a hug.
To my surprise, he wasn’t put off. He didn’t run, and he didn’t condemn. His gentle words told me he accepted me, right then and there. And nothing was going to change that.
I exhaled, feeling a great weight had been lifted. How was that possible?
In that moment, I saw for the first time (in what would be many instances), the deep love of God extended to me, through him. His name, Matthew, aptly meaning “gift from God”.
He was loving me the way the Heavenly Father loved me.
And suddenly, I was free.

Thursday, July 27, 2017


A week or so later I got word of a church that held a group for college and post-college singles on Thursday evenings. I had no idea what to expect in terms of format or numbers in attendance which admittedly set me on edge. More, I knew the church was more than a few towns away. Even so, I couldn’t deny the strong pull I felt to go and check things out for myself.
The following Thursday I got in my car and drove all of fifty minutes to this new group called “Mosaic”. It had been the farthest I had ever traveled to a particular church, and my stomach turned as I considered the possibility of having to make the trek on a regular basis. Was I nuts in driving so far? I shuddered at the notion that my desperation could be driving this change. More, I couldn’t help but wonder if I was making some terrible mistake in leaving my other church. I couldn’t be sure.
As I pulled into the parking lot a distinguished brick building stood before me that nearly took my breath away. Its clean architecture revealed pristine windows and a cross that rested elegantly upon the roof. I had been told Sunday attendance was upwards of two thousand. Having always attended churches of two and three hundred, this felt new and exciting and yet also terrifying in realizing I was not here for a Sunday morning service. I knew I couldn’t just covertly blend in as I could for a Sunday morning.
As I entered the building, my heart began to pound nervously within me. What was I doing? I swallowed hard and told myself to put on a pleasant face. Having near always preferred to know the how’s, when’s and where’s to any given situation, a part of me trembled internally. Even so, I marched myself down the hall decidedly hoping for the best.
I made my way to a room with two large wooden doors swung wide open. The lighting was soft which instantly put a part of me at ease. The room was inviting with wooden bookshelves against the walls and couches and chairs scattered about. There was also a large coffee bar stationed at the opposite end of the rectangular room with several plates of homemade cookies laid out.
Slowly the room began to fill, and I found myself conversing with a friendly brown-haired girl about schools, careers and faith. Throughout the night I spoke to several others, relieved to meet so many who were in the same phase of life. Many had careers in medicine and business while others worked odd jobs to pay for graduate school.
A few hours passed, and the cool night air gently bristled against my skin as I made my way back to my car. As I got in I couldn’t help but pause for a moment, noting a clear sky filled with stars, radiant across a serene sky. As I started up the car I felt myself inwardly exhale, grateful for a good night.
I returned the following week. And the one after that. Thursday evenings soon turned into Sunday mornings too, and in no time at all this new group began to feel like home. It didn’t even matter so much that I was still alone. I was just thankful to be in the company of friends. And for the first time in as long as I could remember,
I felt like I belonged.
I wondered if that was why God had brought me here. To this place.
A few months passed, and a friend casually mentioned one of the guys in the group as a possibility for me. She told me he “didn’t attend regularly but seemed like a solid guy”. I couldn’t remember seeing him before, but I was sure I must have. A group of thirty or so, I figured I’d likely seen him, but I couldn’t place a face. Curious, I began to wonder what this person was like and why she had mentioned him as a possibility?
The following week I hastily got into my car, frustrated by the way my day had been going, knowing I was running behind. School work had been piling, and I was feeling the pressure. As I pulled onto the highway I let out a frustrated prayer, “Please God, let that stupid guy be there”. That was about all I could muster given my bungled dating history.
As I entered the building that night I scanned the room for a seat at one of the tables. All seemed to be full except for one. As I approached the table I noted two guys sitting there, one of which was the guy my friend had mentioned. I was stunned. Had God just heard my prayer? I certainly hadn’t known him to answer my prayers in this particular area.
Amused, I sat down, secretly thankful I had worn a particularly cute outfit that night. We began talking, and he introduced himself as “Matt”. We spoke about our families and our hobbies, and I quickly learned he was an avid runner and hockey player. As we talked I couldn’t help but notice his grey sweatpants and running sneakers. I wondered if he always dressed that way. I secretly hoped not.
Some time passed, and a friend came over asking if she could talk to me. I briefly said good bye, feeling entirely distracted throughout my conversation with her. What had just happened?
The following week I saw him again at a group party, only this time he talked only to me for the entire event. Was this turning into something? Not long after, he asked for my number. He called the following night to wish me good night. And the night after that. And the night after that.
I didn’t know it then, but he would go on to wish me good night for many years to come on the road ahead.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Diverging Emotions

I briskly cracked the driver’s side window open as I peeled out of the driveway on a chilly winter night. As the cool night air invaded my space I began to feel less suffocated, my thoughts less stifled. Driving had always been my sacred place to think. But things were feeling hazy now. And I couldn’t seem to reconcile my diverging emotions. For what felt like an unending lapse in time, my heart simultaneously believed it had achieved what I had been dreaming about since I was a little girl while also regrettably feeling more void and empty than I had yet experienced. It seemed the more successful I became in terms of my career, the more brightly shone the glaring light of truth that haunted the deepest part of me: I was alone.
My final semester was well underway, and I wasn’t sure where I would go from here. I had always found comfort in school. Set schedules. Lectures. Even exams. I liked knowing I could (if I really worked at it) succeed (for the most part- with the exception of a stingy or stubborn old professor here or there). But you get my point. Part of me was filled with wonder in postulating what my first job as a nurse practitioner would look like, curious if that would somehow bring the fulfillment I had been craving. I was intimidated and excited about the road ahead. Even still, there was an aching. I tried my best to cover it up. I knew well how to put on a good face. But something in me hurt. And it oddly was not alleviated by proximity to others. At times, the company of others served to only exacerbate my pain, further reminding me that after all these years I was still alone.

It followed me around as I watched friend after friend go on to become engaged and married. Was I being punished for my prior mistakes? In my heart of hearts I knew that was not the God knew, but I also knew I was no longer a nineteen-year-old girl. Time was passing, and I was starting to get nervous. Was this just not in the cards for me? Was I meant to remain single forever? I shuddered at the idea.
More, my frustration grew as my interactions with the few guys my age that did attend the church I was attending were nothing short of boring and/or rude. I certainly had not been used to that in past years. Why would God bring me here of all places?

As months passed, I began to feel more distant from the friends I had made. Something in me related less, and I couldn’t understand why. I began to feel older, more mature in some way I couldn’t put my finger on. Maybe it was that I had finally come to realize I had always been older, given the events of my past. Maybe it was just time to move on.

A quiet confusion rested on my heart as I struggled to chime in to the worship service the following Thursday evening. I had always loved Thursday night services. They were typically packed, and the worship was boisterous and exuberant. But tonight felt different. As I glanced around the room I couldn’t help but feel like somehow things had changed. And I couldn’t understand why. For the first time since I had first walked through those front doors, I began to feel like I didn’t belong.
Where was I supposed to go from here? This was supposed to be my family. I figured I would probably grow old going to this church. How could this be happening? And what was God doing? I felt in that moment I understood absolutely nothing about the way God works. Having known him since I was a young girl, he felt like a stranger. What was he doing?
I knew I could leave the church altogether. I knew I could leave my faith at the door and just get in the car and go and never look back. A few months prior I had been contacted seemingly out of the blue in the same week by two ex-boyfriends looking to rekindle relationships. It was too big of a coincidence to brush off. But the thing of it was, I hadn’t gone on a date in over a year. And during that time God had healed a lot of my brokenness. And more than that, I had remembered who I was. I was a child of God. And I was loved. And I just wasn’t willing to give that up for anything. Including the company of some guy.
I did tell each of them to come to church if they really wanted to know me and what I was about. Neither ever showed which surprisingly brought great relief and even more healing. God had made it clear that they were not for me. Not one bit. All I needed to do was trust him.
And boy, I’m glad I did.