Our Engagement Story

On September 30, 2014, the love of my life asked me to marry him. Here’s the story!

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A bit of backstory: Bobby and I met in 2011 through church and became acquaintances and Facebook friends. After a series of events, each of them followed by me moving far away it seemed, Bobby decided to start pursuing me. After a few months of texting and a few visits to see each other, we decided it wasn’t going to work. But it didn’t take more than 24 hours to realize that, while long distance would be really hard, we couldn’t be satisfied with just staying friends. We became an official couple on January 27, 2014. I had recently moved to Iowa for a new job and he was (is) still in Maryland. We have visited each other twice since becoming a couple. He flew here once and I flew there once. After a lot of discussion (and nagging on my part), Bobby planned a trip to drive out here for a few days in late September.

Okay, now for the engagement story. Bobby arrived at my apartment on a Monday night. He had driven all day that day and most of the day before. His pit stop on the way to see me was at my brother’s house. What I didn’t know was he also made a pit stop to my father’s house to ask permission to marry me.

The first night of a reunited long distance couple is always wonderful. We just hung out, talked, cuddled, all the normal couple stuff we don’t ever get to do. Bobby was exhausted so we weren’t up late. The next morning I reluctantly got ready for work and kissed him good-bye.

When I came home for lunch, Bobby was stressing out about his drive home. He said that’s why he wasn’t hungry. This stood out to me because Bobby will always eat. He also mentioned that he was going to Wal-Mart that afternoon to get his snacks for the drive home. I remember thinking how odd it was that he was so focused on this, especially considering he had just gotten here and wasn’t leaving until Friday.

I went back to work thinking about all these things and started wondering if he was going to propose. I even thought of texting him at the end of the day just to let him know I was coming home so I could give him a warning in case he was planning something. About an hour later I got a text from Bobby saying, “Hey can you do me a favor and let me know when you’re on your way home?”

That’s when the butterflies started.

I nervously finished my work and texted Bobby as promised. I pulled into my apartment complex and looked up at my apartment but didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. I got my mail and walked up the steps, lugging my purse, work bag, and a grocery bag with dirty dishes from work. I put my key in the knob and opened the door.

The first thing I saw was a row of candles lit on my dining room table. The lights were off and there was soft music playing. Oh my gosh I was right! As I was processing what was happening, I gingerly and quietly unloaded all my bags and mail, took off my work badge, took off my shoes, and started walking towards the living room. I immediately saw my coffee table had candles on it that spelled “WILL YOU” and I think it was at that moment I put my hands up to my face (it’s so cliche but it was totally involuntary!) I peaked around the corner…

IMG_2265And there was Bobby, on his knee, holding out the ring. There was no speech, he simply asked, “Will you marry me?” I think my eyes were as big as saucers. I just looked at him and the ring for a few seconds and then said, “Yes!” in a tone as if saying, “of course!” He stood up and put the ring on my finger (we were both shaking) and then we hugged so tight! And kissed. A few times… And then we prayed.

We had already had the marriage discussion, so the mood was more giddy and exciting than take-your-breath-away shock and awe. The moment had finally come. And Bobby did it his own way, which I loved. It was so him.

The ring is a sapphire set in white gold. It’s exactly what I wanted!

Ever since then it’s been a whirlwind of talking to family, keeping up with social media, planning the wedding, and continuing to grow in our relationship together. Bobby had to leave that Friday to go back to the real world Maryland, but we did get to spend some really great quality time together while he was here.

Just goes to show – long distance is really hard, but it’s doable. If we can do it, anybody can do it!

I love you so much Bobby! You are my moon and my love forever!

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Finding Faith in the Seasons of Mundanity

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I’m reading in Genesis right now, smack dab in the middle of the story of Joseph. What a crazy life. Born a favorite, naively arrogant to his brothers, betrayed and sold, escalated to the highest serving position in every single circumstance he found himself in, ran Egypt, and eventually forgave his brothers and reunited with his father.

Pretty exciting events in there. But what struck me was the amount of time Joseph spent in each season. It’s not absolutely clear in the Bible, but let’s assume Joseph was 17 when his brothers sold him to the Ishmaelites. He was 30 years old when he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream. 13 years in between. Think about 13 years ago for you. I was a freshman in college. 9/11 happened. Think of all that’s happened to you since then.

We know Joseph was in prison for 2 years, so we can assume he served Potiphar for 11 years. How in the world did Joseph get through those long stretches of time?

Everyone has a plan for their life. What was Joseph’s? Did he try to figure out a way to escape Potiphar and get back to Canaan in the early years and then finally succumb to his lot and accept being a servant? Did he try to find the positive aspects of the situation and serve joyfully? Did he ever get to the point of despair while in prison? How did he keep his faith in God through those times?

It’s easy to praise God in the really exciting happy moments – the birth of a child, the marriage of two people, the achievement of a degree or passing a test, reaching a long, sought after goal. And it’s easy to cling to God in the dark moments – the death of a loved one, loss of a relationship, job, or identity. But what about the other 99% of life? The day after day after day after day after day? Sometimes I feel like I’m trudging.

My answer is I don’t know. Or maybe it’s one of those things that is simple and hard at the same time. The truth is, it’s not glamorous. It’s getting up 15 minutes early to read a passage of scripture you don’t understand half the time. It’s trying to keep your thoughts from distraction during silent prayer. It’s saying, “Oh Lord” every morning when you get in your car to go to work. It’s extending grace and forgiveness time and time again to those around you – and yourself. It’s serving at your church every other week, making dessert for this or that event, tucking in your kids every night with “Jesus Loves Me.”

Strong faith comes from incremental decisions. Disciplined effort. Non Instagram-worthy moments. Obviously, there are amazing times of clarity or insight, and of course it’s all worth it. There is an end goal. Reading scripture in the morning will set your priorities for the day and detox your soul. Prayer will keep the world in perspective and God in control. You just may not see it everyday.

Whether you are exactly where you want to be in life, or feel like you’ll never get there, continue to seek God in the mundanity, wherever you are. After all, loving you is never mundane to God.

Grace and Forgiveness

When the person behind you is riding your tail.
Grace and forgiveness.

When someone dismisses your heartfelt compliment.
Grace and forgiveness.

When you find yourself being hypocritical.
Grace and forgiveness.

When someone cuts you off when you’re talking.
Grace and forgiveness.

When you’re accidentally left out.
Grace and forgiveness.

When you’re intentionally left out.
Grace and forgiveness.

When someone spoils a movie you haven’t seen.
Grace and forgiveness.

When someone ate the last cookie and you didn’t get one.

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Grace and forgiveness.

 

 
When you smile but don’t get one back.
Grace and forgiveness.

When you work hard and someone else gets the credit.
Grace and forgiveness.

As you start your day.

As your live your day.

As you end your day.

Grace

And forgiveness.

Colossians 3:13 – Bear with each other {grace} and and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Freedom Run

I know I’ve plastered stuff all over social media about finishing my Couch to 5K program, but I’m not ashamed to write a post about it! It was SO HARD and I am proud of myself for completing it. I kept myself accountable by choosing to link the app to my Twitter account. I tried to have fun with those tweets… (keep reading after the pics)

Picture 1Picture 2Picture 3Picture 4It did not escape me that I finished the workout plan on the 4th of July. I was thinking about how lucky I am to have this freedom. Meaning – I acknowledge the fact that I:

  1. Have a good paying 40 hour a week job, backed by labor laws, in which I can have a day off
  2. Can run outside alone on safe, well-paved road without the fear of being kidnapped, killed, or harassed (except for a few harmless catcalls)
  3. Have the independence of a single woman to do as I please and not have to live under governmental or cultural male dominance
  4. Can afford really nice workout clothes, socks, and shoes and ways to pull back my hair
  5. Can afford sunglasses, nice headphones, an iPhone with ways to charge it and plenty of music to download to accompany my run
  6. Have unlimited access to CLEAN WATER
  7. Have unlimited access to hospitals, doctors, therapists, trainers, medicine, and medical supplies, if needed
  8. Can afford food to replenish my calories

That’s a lot to be thankful for. While I was struggling to run for 30 minutes straight, other women my age are working in hard labor, or are being trafficked for sex, or are living in poverty with children to feed.

It’s convicting. I need to do more to help those who are less fortunate. That is Jesus’ whole ministry. Let’s come together and do great things for God’s kingdom. It’s okay to focus on doing good things for yourself, like running to stay in shape. But if that’s all we focus on, then we’re keeping ourselves from doing greater things for the Kingdom.

Let’s go.

{Thank You}

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We made it through June! We did it!

In the beginning I wrote that June was going to be a hard month for me, personally and professionally. And I was right. That is the reason for my writing devotions for a month. I didn’t want to (fully) medicate myself on Netflix and shopping and other things that simply suppress the difficult emotions. This medication happened a little bit, but I found that the devotions kept me focused on something more worthwhile, and most importantly, focused on God.

Thanks for going on this journey with me! You can always go back and read your favorites…(I know Bobby’s were your favorites).

Time now to take a break. Enjoy the summer!

-Sarah

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Devotions for June, Entry 30 {love never fails}

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

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In the kids musical I mentioned in an earlier post, “Agapeopolis,” in which a boy travels to find love and fill his suitcases with it, he discovers love isn’t a tangible thing, it’s who you are. The last song in the show is called “Love Never Gives Up.” I almost like that translation better, because not failing is a really high standard.

This is a hefty list of attributes to live up to. It’s just as daunting as the Proverbs 31 woman or the fruit of the Spirit. And to end it with a ‘never’ after a bunch of ‘always’s makes it even more overwhelming. It’s impossible to never fail. It’s a little less impossible to never give up.

There are several areas in life where we all would never give up. Parenting. Keeping relationships going with our friends, parents, siblings, coworkers. Working hard at our jobs. Not giving up is an expectation of human existence. The difference between the two phrases is perspective. They’re both right – but one perspective is the reassurance of love’s power and the other is the promise of love’s persistence.

When we love others, we will undoubtedly fail. We don’t have the gift of being perfect like God (sorry to break it to you). But despite our failures, we can be persistent in our love. The good news is that God’s perfect love carries our imperfect love.

The attributes of love don’t just appear. You can’t think about them too hard or they won’t come about naturally. Just like with the fruit of the Spirit, you don’t try to accumulate those qualities on your own – you tap into the Spirit and they organically grow within you. Same with the characteristics of love. You just worry about the love part, and God will bring these qualities through you. You won’t even notice!

Love never fails. Love never gives up.

p.s. Yes, the song from Agapeopolis is stuck in my head right now.

Devotions for June, Entry 29 {perseverance}

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:7

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the yes, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

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This past week has been rough on me, or rather, my sleep schedule. My job as director of summer camp has started and I feel like I’m pulling the weight of two. It seems strange (as summer camp is full time hours, but my hours are heavily limited throughout the year), that my full time schedule is so exhausting, considering I’ve been on a ten year journey to find just that – full time work – within Youth Ministry. (Full time work in general even.) All of this to say, I really couldn’t understand why I was putting so much effort into a job that I had declared I was walking away from come the end of summer. Maybe it’s been the stress of my applying for jobs all over and either hearing absolutely nothing back, or getting rejections time after time.

Although this seems rather depressing to hear at first, I’ve been confident that God will open a door and provide for me – I’ve felt convicted of it! It’s just seemed so far off and under all of the stress of work, it’s seemed like I’ve been in a pipe dream, never to reach the end. But that’s the very beauty of God.

While it may seem like a rough road and one that no one wants to walk down, God has lessons within those paths and roads He leads you down. I can honestly say that my last two jobs have taught me so much about myself and my ability to handle circumstances than what I had known before. It’s this very adventure I’ve been on that has made me who I am today.

But there’s a glimmer… For the first time in a long time, I finally have an interview for a full time job working at a private Christian School. Nothing is set in stone, but could be by July.

I feel like leaving people with encouragement to persevere where you are and take heart! God has a plan for each of us, and sometimes we just can’t see where the paths are taking us. But His plan is far better than our own!

p.s. Pray for Bobby and his interview Monday morning!