Finding Love in an Unexpected Place | Journal

“Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail.” Proverbs 19:20-21

I would categorize myself as a hopeless romantic – one who believed that someday my prince would come. I know I sound like a Disney princess movie, but that was my view. Those movies had a very large impact on my life, okay? Yet reality is so much different than a fairytale. Throughout the years of never having a boyfriend or never holding someone’s hand in a romantic way it had an effect on me. Every single Christian girl can vouch for me when I say I’ve heard all the remarks from older generations on marriage and “the one” and I was sick of it. I was immensely tired of hearing that my time will come, or that there are plenty of fish in the sea, or something along those lines. Well, he wasn’t really coming in my timeline at all. I was supposed to be married three years ago with at least a little one on the way by now. Reality had a cruel way of showing you that life isn’t a movie, and social media also has a way of letting people pretend that they’re perfect and happy, giving you the feeling of loneliness that amplifies into untruths. I have a love-hate relationship with social media.

I wanted a relationship so bad for so long, I eventually gave up hope if I’m being completely honest. In January of 2017, I threw in the towel and wrote a letter to my future husband and to God, saying that I was done looking. I was fed up with my own failed timeline creating doubt and disappointment. I was finished with feeling sorry for myself and painting false ideas on myself that I wasn’t pretty enough, or outgoing enough, or just plain likable. If I claimed to be a child of God, it was time for me to start acting like one.

I did a lot of soul searching, and found that I was not ready for a relationship with someone when I wasn’t strong in my relationship with God or myself. I leaned on what God said I was, and started to finally place my worth in what He said versus what the world said a young twenty-something girl should be. (I could go on about how social media is a blessing and a curse to society, but that’s another soap box that I need to not step on, otherwise I could go on forever.) Let me tell you, it’s hard changing your mindset. The beauty of serving a mighty God is that it didn’t take very long for me to be free of those untruths. It starts with talking to God and telling him your fears, your concerns, your failures, and just giving them up. It also means finally being okay with HIS timeline.

I wrote a post on here a few years ago proclaiming that I was done with dating (I’ll link it here if you’d like) and while for the most part I stuck to this, words are easier said than done, because after that I still struggled. Just being completely honest. Yet who knew that I would meet my husband eight months after truly declaring, by myself at night in my room, that I was handing it to the Lord. Also, who knew that the internet/social media was the way I would meet him. I know, I just went on a little tangent about social media, but remember I said I have a love/hate relationship with it? Well I found him on none other than ChristianMingle. Yes, you read that right. At first, I was skeptical of trying it. I thought and prayed hard before I started and during the whole process. I kept my mindset pure and on God. At first, I felt like it wasn’t right for me to give my dating life to God and then turn around a few months later and look for him myself on an internet dating site of all places. However, I prayed a simple prayer, “I’m going to try this for a little while, and if it’s not what you have for me, God, then shut the door.” Surprisingly, he didn’t shut it.

I want let this phrase sink in, because it is so true: God’s timing is PERFECT. All those years of wishing and crying and wanting someone taught me to trust in God’s plan. If I didn’t, I would have never met my husband, because all this time he was 1,000 miles away from me until he moved to Michigan in June of that same year I gave it all up to God. In August, we had our first date and talked for hours. By our third date, we both knew that this was it. We had found our soulmates. In December, he asked me to marry him, and I said yes. In August of the next year (two months ago) we made the most important covenant between a man and a woman official. I’m telling you, when God is in the mix, things just happen. I look back at all those “wasted” years of being single as a lesson. I put the word “wasted” in quotations because they were not wasted at all. All those years of saving myself and growing into the person God wanted me to be paid off. We each other’s firsts in everything. And that is something truly special that I thank God every day for. When we do relationships and marriage God’s way, it is truly beautiful and the most romantic love story of all.

I want to say this as a sort of disclaimer – God’s timeline for everyone is different. I know I would read these types of posts and say to myself, “Okay, if that’s how it worked for them, I’ll try the same things and see if they work for me!” It never did. If you’re struggling with singleness and all the other issues that come with that, I understand your pain. I was right there with you for many years. Remember this: a girl should be so lost in God that a guy needs to seek him to find her. That way the struggle is easier, and the waiting doesn’t seem like an eternity. I hope my story resonates with someone, and if it does, then my goal is made. I will see you next week with another blog post (I’m determined to keep this thing going)!

With love,

Emily

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What I’ve Been Up to….

Well hello there! Let me dust off the cobwebs and find you a better seat. I know it’s been a while – I don’t even know who keeps up with this blog anymore, but if you still do, bless you. Life has been so busy as of late, mainly because I got a boyfriend, got engaged, and got married within a year. I know, I know. That’s a lot, right? I have so much to catch you up on, so many posts to sit down and write, so many ideas in my head for new reviews, new outfits, new discussions about life and my walk with God, and new habits to talk about that are changing my life. So don’t worry, I have a goal this month to be consistent with this little blog, and one of my new found habits is helping with that. To give you a little hint, it has to do with waking up early. However, that is for a separate post I want to write. I’ll keep this one short for now, but I am so excited to get back into this. I will see you this Thursday with a post about meeting my husband and hopefully encourage someone out there who is struggling with loneliness and aching for their soulmate. Well, time to get writing and taking/editing pictures for this blog – see you soon!

Emily

Mackinac Island | Travel With Me

Mackinac (Mack-in-aw) Island is one of the most beautiful places in Michigan. I have not been to the island since I was a young girl, so reliving everything again was breathtaking (even in the frigid, rainy temperatures). There are no cars or any motorized transportation on the island, so the only way to get anywhere is by a bicycle or by horse. With there being no cars allowed, you have to take a ferry to get onto the island, which makes the experience more memorable.

Though I have biked around the island many times, this was the first time I experienced riding in the horse-drawn carriage. Even though it’s pricey, I highly recommend the private tour if you take a carriage. The private tour takes you around all of the private cottages on the island, plus you get to see the governor’s summer home.  I felt like I was in Pride and Prejudice. One of the benefits to biking around the island is seeing the beautiful views around the island, which is only eight (approx. 8.2) miles around.

Besides bikes and horses, Mackinac is known for its decadent fudge. There are at least three fudge shops to choose from. Plus, they give you as many free samples as you want! The restaurant I would recommend is Millie’s for their kid-friendly meal selection and great selection of options for adults as well. The truffle oil fries with blue cheese appetizer is one to definitely try. Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture of my food, but I got an olive burger with swiss cheese and Millie’s olive spread. It was a pretty good burger, even though it was messy.

If you have never been to the UP (Upper Peninsula), or at least at the top of the mitten, I would put it on your bucket list. Michigan is a beautiful place, and I’m glad I get to call it my home.

(Click on any image to enlarge)

Stratford, Ontario | Travel With Me

“When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”

-excerpt from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

I have been to Stratford many times on school trips to see a play, usually from Shakespeare, for my English class. It has been a while (six years to be exact – yikes) since I had been to Canada and Romeo and Juliet was playing this season. I had always wanted to see Romeo and Juliet live so I begged my mom to come with me. Soon we told my sister and it turned into a birthday excursion for my sister.

We had the most wonderful time there, myself in particular. I strolled through the streets, soaking in everything I remembered as a young teen. We ate at Downie Street Burgers for lunch (you can see the pic of my meal below) and it was delicious. They have many other options to choose from if you’re not into burgers per say, but I highly recommend this place. It is a little pricey, but with the exchange rate it is less in the long run for Americans. For dessert I chose a lemon tart, which was amazing, from a little coffee shop I used to go to every time when I went in school.

If you are interested in plays and love little towns, then this place is one to check off the bucket list. It is not far from Toronto, so if you are ever around there you should definitely make a little day trip and go see a play, explore the little boutiques, take a walk by the river, and eat some delicious food.

(Click on any picture to enlarge)

 

Busyness: a New Disease | Journal

I usually like to write about what I am going through at a particular moment in my life. I am going to school (yes I am almost twenty-four and still in college – that’s a testimony for a later post lol) and working full time. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love my job and I love being back in school and getting a higher education. I will say, though, it comes at a cost.

I have found that I hardly have time for anything anymore. I get up early, go to work, come home, and go to bed. On school days I get up early, go to school all day, go to a coffee shop to get my homework done, go home, and go to bed. That is my routine five days a week. I forgot to mention: I also have photo sessions on the weekend. I have no time for a social life, and I feel that I have no time for me. Yet I feel that I have no choice – I have to have so many classes in order to not be in school forever, and I have to work so many hours to pay my bills and stay afloat.

Remember when you were a kid and could not WAIT to be an adult and make your own decisions and have your own car (insert anything you wanted as a kid, but could not have)? Yeah, it is not what it is cracked up to be. In fact, it is downright awful.

The more freedom you have, the more responsibility you have. That also pertains to your spiritual walk with God. No one holds your hand anymore. Your parents do not make you go to church anymore. YOU are your own responsibility. It has to be YOUR choice to shimmy in some time with God, no matter how “busy” you are.

I am not afraid to acknowledge that I have been lacking in my spiritual walk. I really detest the “holier-than-thou” attitude, so I will not be one of those people. Every one has ups and downs in his or her spiritual walk. I believe we should not be afraid to admit our faults for fear of judgement, rather confess our weaknesses to seek support and help. Yet busyness is a dangerous place to be in your life; I am learning this right now.

What happens when you do not have time for God?

Confessions of a Maid of Honor: Five Tips to Rock the Job

Recently I was given the “honor” (see what I did there?) to be my best friend’s maid of honor at her wedding. I was absolutely ecstatic! We have been friend’s our entire lives, so this is one of our daydreams coming true. Little did I know everything that a maid of honor entails. There’s so much more to being a maid of honor than giving a little heart-warming speech at the reception. Coming from a now experienced mindset, here are five tips that I’ve come up with to help those new maid of honor’s who are saying, “What did I get myself into?”

  1. Plan Everything Ahead of Time

I can’t stress enough how vital it is to plan everything ahead of time. You are there to make the bride’s life easier – especially when it comes to planning. Your duties are the bachelorette party and the wedding shower (before the wedding – shower is optional depending on the bride). Coming from a true procrastinator, it will make your life so much easier if you plan on a theme and games and prizes ahead of time – and that means more than two weeks prior to the event. Even if you’re not a list person, they help tremendously! Lists make things more manageable and you can focus on one thing at a time, as opposed to looking at everything you have to do and become a huge stress ball. Another suggestion is to enlist the help of your fellow bridesmaids – they are there to help you and can come in handy! If your all far away and can’t get together as often, enlist the help of a close friend. Remember, you don’t have to do everything on your own!

2. Give Options, Not a Million Questions

Your bride to be is already stressed out with a million wedding details; not to mention everything else she has to worry about like the honeymoon, where they’re going to live, etc. Instead of attacking your bride with a million questions as regards to her taste and wants, give her options. She picked you for this special position for a reason, so obviously you know somewhat of what her taste and style is. Instead of asking, “What centerpieces would you like for the shower tables?” Try asking, “I’ve looked at a couple options for a centerpiece for your wedding shower tables. Which one do you like best?” Get planning and researching as soon as you can, because it comes up faster than you can blink. If a plan falls short or something needs to be changed, have backup options. One thing I’ve learned is that sometimes you don’t get everything you want or planned – things happen. Be prepared with options she will love, ask for the go ahead, and get going!

3. Calm and Collected are Your New Names

With everything that’s going on, you are the solid rock your bride is leaning on. Don’t forget that you are there to be for her, but not just for the wedding details. Everyone else is bombarding her with those questions. Make sure you ask how she’s feeling and try to take her mind off of things once in a while. Bring her back to reality and when things were a lot less hectic. Let her vent, cry, laugh, or get out whatever she’s feeling at the moment. If you’re a person that can’t handle stress well, remember this: this too shall pass. The months leading up to the wedding won’t last forever. Word of advice, the last two weeks leading up to the wedding are the most stressful weeks of her pre-wed life – so that’s a good time for getting her mind off of things.

4. Tips for a Clean Bachelorette Party

As a Christian, bachelorette parties are very tricky these days. I had next to no luck searching for clean bachelorette party ideas on Pinterest. So I basically had to make up a theme, find classy decorations, and come up with clean games. With the enlistment of my fellow bridesmaids and a close friend who is a great host, I came up with a spa themed party; complete with facials and mani pedis. Party City has pretty nice bachelorette party decorations if you’re in need of a place to shop (I don’t know if they’re everywhere in the US, I’m from the midwest). There are a ton of games that you can turn into a clean game. Just swap out dirty questions for clean versions, or trade out alcohol for something else. One of the biggest hits was a game called how well do you know the groom, where the bride has to answer questions about the groom and when she gets a question wrong, instead of taking a shot of tequila, she puts a marshmallow in her mouth and keeps it there until the end of the game. It was a hilariously funny game – especially when she turns into a chipmunk and is trying to get out the answer as clearly as she can. A clean bachelorette party is more work planning-wise, but totally worth it and is just as fun!

5. Wedding Day Duties

Ah, the wedding day. What all the months of planning and preparing was for. This day is the most crucial for a maid of honor. You have to help your bride get ready, keep her from having a panic attack, have everything she would need, hold her bouquet, make sure her train looks good on the stage, remember how to tie the bustle, keep everyone in check for pictures, sign the marriage license, remember your speech for the reception, and remember to breathe. It is a very stressful day for you, but your duty is to make sure the bride has as carefree a day and you can manage. You want to make sure she remembers this day as the happiest day of her life. It’s a long list, but it goes so much faster that you’d think. Remember: you’ll have time to relax after your speech. Then it’s time to party! I would suggest you bring some Tylenol for your head and aching feet. Don’t forget to drink water and eat something prior to the reception meal – it wouldn’t be ideal if you pass out before then. I know because of the adrenaline you don’t feel hungry or thirsty, but trust me. Once the adrenaline is gone, you won’t feel so hot. Make sure the bride is hydrated as well! When you look back at the day, if the bride is happy, that means you did well. :]

Photo: Pinterest

A Time for Everything | Journal

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

There has been so many significant events this year. Some exciting, some heartbreaking. I’ve witnessed three marriages (with one more this year) and two deaths. I’ve seen couples welcome bundles of joy into the world, and I’ve grieved with friends who have had devastating news. There is a season for everything – this year being a pinnacle of whiplashing happiness and sadness.

It’s so easy to question God’s motives and timing. It’s even easier to doubt and make our own timeline for our lives. Yet that can lead to despair and rebellion in the hard times. I’ve had my own season of questions this year. I’ve moved recently (a year ago in August) and I found myself lost as to finding a home church. I’ve been with the same church family for twenty-one years. I visited many churches and had only negatives to say because the “worship wasn’t the same as my old church,” or, “It just didn’t feel like home.”  I began to go to a place of complacency that I’ve never experienced before. It was like I’ve given up hope in finding a church home; given up on finding my fit to where I could lead worship again; given up of God to show me where to go because it wasn’t in my time line. It was a hard time in my life.

It took a while to realize that God had put me through this season of hardship for a reason. There was a lesson to be learned – although we face problems or situations that contradict God’s plan, we should use them as opportunities. Without God, there can be no solution. If we face them alone, we will only sink deeper and deeper. The secret to peace in troubled times is accepting God’s perfect timing. Surrendering myself and my doubts and concerns was hard. It means trusting God completely no matter what happens; giving God the reigns to you life. Yet it was so worth it – not worrying and having a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It doesn’t mean I’ve found my “home church” yet, but I’m going with a positive outlook and an open heart.

There is a time for every season. We just have to learn to trust and accept God’s perfect timing for everything. What seasons have you been going through? Joyful, trying, or something else? Leave a comment below. :]

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a hope and a future. In those days when you pray I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.” Jeremiah 29:11-13

Dealing with Anxiety | Journal

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 NIV

Being a Christian and dealing with anxiety attacks can be difficult. It’s like your body is doing one thing while your brain is telling you otherwise. Let me explain to you what I’m talking about (for those who have no idea what an anxiety attack is).

For me, when I get nervous about a situation or an event that I’m not entirely confident with, I will start to have anxiety and dread it. My heart will pound really fast and there will be a sick feeling in my stomach that won’t go away. My body will literally shut down and I can’t think of anything or talk to anyone while this is happening. I usually have to calm myself down in my head and try to distract myself with doing things like watching TV or that require me to think about something else entirely.

I wish I didn’t have anxiety about certain things. I hate it.

It prevents me from doing things that I love because my mind can’t handle it emotionally and my body physically. It stinks. Also, it’s not something that you can make “go away,” either. I can’t force myself to not be nervous (I’ve tried, it only makes it worse if you push it down). Another thing about anxiety is that you fear having another attack and avoid places that can trigger an attack. For example, I am on the worship team for my church and I had stage fright – so much so that I got off stage and threw up. Ever since then, every Sunday morning my body woke me up at an unreasonably early hour and I would be nauseous all morning and dread going on stage because I feared I would have another anxiety attack and throw up. It lasted until church was over.

I didn’t know what to do. They became more frequent until I couldn’t handle it anymore and finally cried out to God. I know, you’re probably saying, “Well that’s what you should’ve done in the first place!” And you’re right. I should have. Yet I’m human and I thought, even though being a Christian, that I could handle this and control it on my own. Without God, though, it’s next to impossible to handle on my own, and I learned that the hard way.

I don’t think I’ll ever not have anxiety. I’ve accepted that. Yet I do know that whenever I feel anxious about anything, I go to God. Of course, I’m not perfect and I let my fears get the best of me; which happened recently and that’s what triggered me to write about it. This is a reminder to myself and to anyone reading this that God is bigger than anything we worry about. He understands everything and takes care of us. Every time I talk to God, about anything really, I get this comfort that no human could ever give. My spirit is calm, my heart isn’t palpitating out of my chest, and I know that everything is going to be okay. I encourage you – anyone who is dealing/has dealt with anxiety –  acknowledge that you have worries and fears. Crack open your Bible and start reading it. Memorize scriptures and recite them. Talk to God – He’s always there and will help you through anything. I can tell you right now that He’s better than any therapist or doctor or medication.

Anyway, there’s my little rant. I’m sorry I haven’t blogged anything in a long time. I’ll try and get better.

Em

The Dating Game – Why I Don’t Play | Journal

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Ahhh…dating. Relationships. Boyfriends. It’s what every young adult Christian girl has on her mind. It’s been on my mind too many times to count. I constantly dream about my future wedding and what color my flowers and napkins are going to be. I imagine what my future husband is going to look like, or what he’s actually doing right now as I’m writing this. God created us for relationships; it’s why He created a companion for Adam. We are alive so we can be in a relationship with our Creator. I believe that’s why He thought of marriage, because it is symbolic to our relationship with Jesus. The church is His bride, and He is the bridegroom. Yet in order to get married, you have to find a husband first (for us girls, of course). That’s where dating comes in.

I’ve heard both sides of the spectrum when it comes to being a Christian and dating. “If you really trust in God, you will know that He will bring the right guy to you,” or, “How do you know if he’s ‘the one’ if you’ve haven’t figured out what you like and dislike yet?” I’ve literally heard it all. Some of my friends have dated multiple guys, and some have dated one and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this particular guy is in fact “the one”. Everyone has their opinion on the matter, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, but this one is mine.

I will admit I did actually go on a few dates with a guy and I knew from the get-go that he wasn’t for me. I was tired of waiting for the one God had for me, he liked me, I thought he was a cutie, so I said, “Why not?” I was tired of being twenty and never being on a date with a guy. Everyone (and by everyone I mean mostly) my age was either in a relationship or engaged or getting married or having kids already. My heart sinks a little every time I see a Facebook post saying someone is in a relationship or is engaged. I felt that I was missing out. So I just did it. I started dating a guy for the wrong reasons. I kept telling myself I’ll never know what I like or dislike if I never date anyone. Just going on a few dates or having a boyfriend or two never harmed anyone, right?

After a month and a half, I broke up with him. I knew I wasn’t going to marry him, so I felt that it wasn’t fair to him for me to keep having him pay for all of my delicious dinners (or my Starbucks). After that whole experience, I want to wait and not date until my future hubby comes into my life. I want to save myself for him, and by myself I mean everything. I’m twenty-one and I haven’t even kissed a boy or even held a boy’s hand romantically. I’m okay with being the rare unicorn as my friends call me. I know that when I share those moments with the one God has intended for me, it will be the most magical and sacred moments of my life. I know this is 2014 and it’s normal for a girl to have kissed multiple boys or do other things. I don’t believe in that. If I lasted twenty-one years without even holding a guy’s hand (and before you ask, I didn’t do anything with the guy I dated – I put my head on his shoulder and he put his arm around my shoulders for less than fifteen seconds and that was it) I think I can hold out a little longer for my future husband. Also, I don’t believe you have to date around to know whether or not you’ve found “the one”. When you’re seeking God with everything you have, He will bring him to you just in the nick of time, and you’ll know. Even though I’ve heard that phrase a million times, I never understood it until I experienced dating. It’s so important that you don’t give yourself (and not just sex) to every guy willy-nilly. Maybe you’ll have to experience dating a few guys for you to finally understand, and that’s okay. To each their own.

The whole point of this is that you need to guard your heart and keep yourself pure. Even if you’ve messed up, God will give you a clean slate and you can start now and be pure until your husband comes into the picture. These are my opinions on dating. And although I should be in a museum in a glass box, I know it’ll be worth it. Remember – a girl should be so lost in God that a guy has to seek Him to find her. To be so lost in God that you don’t have time for a man. The waiting game; however, is for another post.

Em.

Malachi 1:6-14 | Journal

Malachi 1:6-14 “…Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations.” ESV

In the Old Testament, God required His people to offer a sacrifice to Him; His requirements being a perfect and faultless animal. Malachi is talking about how the people became lazy and would just offer any animal, even though it was sick or lame. The people are going back and forth with God because He’s accusing them of cheating Him and profaning His table with unworthy offerings. These people; however, have been doing this for a long time and don’t understand how they are making God angry – just because they are becoming a little lax in their offerings.

Here’s the point – God wants the best from us. He requires the best. He is the Kings among nations and he deserves the best from us! We cannot become apathetic in our worship, or anything for that matter, towards Him. Being a Christian for a long time can blind us to become watered-down and just go through the motions, slowly giving less and less of our best. I mean, thank goodness we don’t have to slaughter a perfect little baby lamb anymore because Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice and now we only have to ask Him into our hearts to be saved, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to do anything else for the rest of our lives. We have to continually pursue Him and strive to be like Him in everything we do.

Trust me – I know it’s hard. With everything from Facebook to our favorite T.V. shows, it’s difficult to make time. With being a future college student on top of having two jobs and being a young adult leader for our youth in the church, I know I have to set a good example for our kids. Add on being a church kid for twenty-one years. It’s so easy for me to become stagnant because I know all about this. I’ve heard every version of this message preached hundreds of times from sixth grade to now. Does that give me an excuse? No. Does that mean I get a free pass because I go to church every week? No. Does that mean I get a free pass because I have Jesus in my heart? No. This was a great message from my youth pastor this past Wednesday. Point of the day: God deserves our best. Don’t be an apathetic Christian just going through the motions. Pray to be constantly on fire for Him. He gave us life – He gave us everything we have. The least we can do is serve Him passionately.

Em.