human connections

my fractured fairy tale

… and they lived happily ever after. 

as long as I can remember, those words filled my eyes with hearts and my stomach with butterflies. disney movies, romantic comedies, and love songs created a foundation for what I expected from a relationship. add to that the religious teachings of purity culture and I felt like I had my fool proof plan to earn my happily ever after. I just had to put in my time, right? I had to earn it.

at 16, I found myself in my first relationship, it lasted a month or two before I felt “convicted” about the relationship distracting me from my summer missions trips and plans to spend the years after high school at a christian internship. I loved him and he made me feel so very special, but I was filled with guilt and shame because I had “kissed dating goodbye” and my body wanted more from him than my guilt and fear would let me explore. I didn’t want to mess up my chance to earn that happily ever after and I knew if I spent much more time with him I would give him more than just my first kiss. And in the moment, the guilt of wanting that as bad as I did weighed heavier than my teenage hormones and I wrote him a break up letter and left it for him at work. I think I told him I would pray for him or something terribly self righteous. I buried my heart break in bible verses and youth group meetings.

at 20, while at that christian internship, I met a boy. My eyes filled with hearts and my stomach filled with butterflies. this had to be it. i followed all the rules, did everything i was supposed to. this was it, it was time for my happily ever after. i’d earned it. Our long distance dating turned into a quick engagement. because we were so “desperately in love” (or incredibly co-dependent) we cancelled our wedding plans and eloped, less than 6 months after we met. for nearly a decade I clung to the belief that I earned my happily ever after and convinced myself (and everyone else) I was living it. and for awhile, I think I was. I thought that happily ever after was something you reached and then just kept it. I thought those hearty eyes and butterflies were permanent.

and then… at 30, I was divorced… my perfect fairy tale had been fractured and my happily ever after had shattered to pieces. I lost hope that I would ever experience that hearty eye, butterfly filled stomach kind of love again.

Since then I have dated a few different guys, allowing each one to occupy some space in my life while simultaneously suppressing that lifelong desire to find my happily (and healthily) ever after. I made one guy I dated, the pastor with that amazing voice made especially for Disney songs, promise he wouldn’t fall in love with me… we were just going to be casual because he had been heartbroken by divorce as well. of course, we connected over our heartbreak and when our feelings got too big, we ran. And the dapper fellow, with whom I shared a love of bourbon and cozy sweaters. By the time I met him I had done enough healing to be open to catching feelings for him, but due to our life circumstances we had very defined boundaries that my heart struggled to stay within so I knew it had an expiration date. But he made me feel like maybe, just maybe, hearty eyes, butterflies, and good guys could all co-exist.

I had a wonderful long term boyfriend, the viking, who was my rock throughout the hardest times of my life. He too was divorced and older and very much content with the type of relationship we had built over time. and so was I. He was safe and exactly what I needed for that season. I found him when I needed someone to protect me from myself and he was that. But little by little, I realized I wasn’t broken like I used to be. I wondered if I could ever be anything but his little broken girl in need of his fixing and protecting. We also had built a life that was intentionally separate at times and it had become increasingly difficult for me. As the realization that I wasn’t in the same place I was when we met began to stir, that desire to have a life partner that wasn’t so loosely woven into my story was growing within me. but I couldn’t be honest about any of that. Not to him and certainly not to myself. I held on to that relationship, that safety and security, for as long as my terrified soul could muster. I tried every way I knew how to convince myself (and everyone else) that I didn’t want what my heart was asking for.

“I’m not interested.”
” I just need me time.”
“Never again, it’s too much hassle when it inevitably ends”
“I’m an independent woman who don’t need no man.”

And every other reason in the book to deny the fact that I truly desire a partner to share life with. Because I was terrified of the pain… the pain of those shattered pieces of my life crumbling around me. Because I wasn’t sure I could handle another loss. I couldn’t start to get used to sharing life with someone again because when it ended, I’d become even more broken. You see, in all this … I’d chosen what I perceived to be safety. I’d chosen loyalty over my own desires. because I was terrified of change, of loss, of rejection, of abandonment. of not being chosen. and what I didn’t see was my fear of not being chosen by others was keeping me from choosing myself. because I thought I was just too broken for someone to choose.

but isn’t that where my strength blossomed and I found my warrior? in that brokenness. isn’t that where I learned to be honest with myself and those around me and embrace my imperfection? in that pain. Isn’t that where I finally found myself? In that darkness. isn’t that where I learned that happily ever after is really just a bunch of right nows stacked on top of each other? Yes. It was. and isn’t it in the midst of that brokenness that I learned what I was capable of? absolutely, it was. and so, despite my fear, instead of choosing the safe path that had become so familiar – I chose to swipe right on myself and follow my strong, independent heart down it’s own wonderful path.

and in doing so I swiped right on the greatest adventure my heart could have dreamt up.

and now, here I am… nearing 33, finding myself in the healthiest and happiest relationship of my life. it was unexpected… something neither of us were looking for (I used to hate when everyone would tell me you’d find exactly what you needed as soon as you stopped looking for it, but they apparently were right)… It was a fluke really. You see the artist was in one of the busiest seasons of his life and “didn’t really have time for something serious” and I was…. a mess, honestly. I don’t know what I was looking for… maybe I was looking for someone to who saw me as my over the top, messy, broken, and independent but needy self and didn’t try to fix me or try to come to my rescue or change me. He is one of the smartest, kindest, most thoughtful people to ever exist. He didn’t certainly didn’t try to fix me or change me. He has simply just been with me. I don’t feel like a project or someone who needs protected. I just feel like me. Our relationship is truly a give and take. see, in the past I would give and the other party would take. but not with him, he pushes me past my comfort in all the best ways.

and yes, there are hearty eyes and butterflies. and laughing until we cry. and forehead kisses. and all night long conversations that are both refreshing and uncomfortable and exciting and terrifying. and the safest, most home like home I have known. we respect and challenge each other in appropriate ways. we respect each others autonomy while collaboratively creating our beautiful little world. creating those moments of choosing each other and supporting each other and just being present with each other. he absolutely is my happily right now and has been for the last year. and I plan to continue to stack those right nows on top of one another day after day and year after year. together we will create our happily ever after by choosing to live it right now.

I thought my fairy tale was forever fractured and that happily ever after didn’t exist. I guess I just needed to learn that happily ever after isn’t just an ending to a fairy tale, it’s a choice I get to make every day. embracing my brokenness, choosing myself instead of begging others choose me, allowing people to love me where I am, loving others exactly where they are… those are choices I get to make every day. And damn, I feel so lucky to have such a wonderful partner to stand with as we both strive to get better at choosing to live our happily right now 🙂

Faith, Life Lessons

redeeming love

so a couple of weeks ago i started reading “redeeming love” by francine rivers. i couldn’t put it down. i was captivated by this story of Michael’s obedience and sensitivity to the Lord’s prompting. my heart was broken at the insecurity, fear and sense of worthlessness of the woman he takes as his wife. i was dumbfounded at how many times the woman sabotaged her own happiness because of her distorted self-view. this story left my heart wandering for several days. just like when i read the stories of God’s provision to the Isrealites in the desert and asked “how could they not see God was taking care of them? how could they complain?” and then realized i do the same thing more often then not, i realized that i can oftentimes sabotage the blessings and life God has for me because i don’t feel worthy. the horribly messy truth is that i am not worthy. i am a wretched sinner, but i have been redeemed by a loving God. It was in the last week that I had my ipod on shuffle and the song beloved by tenth avenue north came on. this lined up so perfectly with the lessons i was learning from this book.

Love of my life
Look deep in my eyes
There you will find what you need
Give me your life
Lust and the lies
The past you’re afraid I might see
You’ve been running away from me

You’re my beloved
Lover I’m yours
Death shall not part us
It’s you I died for
For better or worse
Forever we’ll be
Our Love it unites us
It binds you to me
It’s a mystery

Love of my life
Look deep in my eyes
There you will find what you need
I’am the giver of life
I’ll clothe you in whine
My immaculate bride you will be
Oh come running home to me

You’re my beloved
Lover I’m yours
Death shall not part us
It’s you I died for
For better or worse
Forever we’ll be
Our Love it unites us
It binds you to me

Well you’ve been a mistress, my wife
Chasing lovers it won’t satisfy
Won’t you let me make you my bride
You will drink of my lips
And you’ll taste new life

Cause you’re my beloved
Lover I’m yours
Death shall not part us
It’s you I died for
For better or worse
Forever we’ll be
Our Love it unites us
& it binds you to me

You’re my beloved
Forever we’ll be
Our love it unites us
And it binds you to me
It’s a mystery
It’s a mystery

so good. if anything marriage has helped me learn more about the depth of the love of God. I can be having the worst day, be emotionally unstable, feel like I look horrible and Chris will come up out of no where and say something about how he is a lucky man to have a beautiful girl like me. I feel so unworthy of that. I need to learn to see myself the way that God (and my husband) see me. I have been redeemed by the amazing love of Christ. Yet still I fill myself up with other Gods… be it tv, music, food and even the internet. I allow myself to be satisfied with things of this world, rather than hunger after God. I “know” this truth, but sometimes my soul forgets it. How is that? I forget to remind myself. I’m so thankful for a God who is patient and forgiving.

What are some lessons God is teaching you right now?

Life

change in perspective.

music has always meant a lot to me. certain songs hit me right in the heart. a lot of songs have made me cry. some make me laugh. i always tend to find myself identifying with one of the “characters” in the song. there are songs that become “anthems” of certain times in my life. some songs have no real meaning in and of themselves, but carry a memory. “my boo” by usher reminds me of my first boyfriend. “roses” by outkast and “yeah” by usher remind me of my junior prom. “save a horse ride a cowboy” reminds me of senior year military ball. “chasing cars” by snow patrol and “hey there delilah” by Plain white T’s remind me of when chris and I were dating. And of course all those girly fall in love songs…. I always was the girl searching for love. Rebecca St James “Wait for me” was a song I held on to for a long time.

Anyway, all of that to say this… Yesterday I was listening to some Taylor Swift. Her song “Fifteen” came on. Usually I find myself remembering my first day of 9th grade (and shaking my head as I remember the bright orange shirt and floor length jean skirt that I wore… and thought was cool. ugh) but this time those weren’t the first thoughts that came to my head. she sings “then you’re on your very first date and he’s got a car and you’re feelin like flyin. your mama’s waiting up…..” suddenly i wasn’t the young girl searching for love, i was the mom waiting up for her baby girl. it was my first thought. my perspective changed. i started thinking about Payton’s first date. her crushes. how to deal with her heartbreak (or how to break the legs of the guy who breaks her heart). I know she’s not even walking yet, dating is a long way off…. But it was a big deal for me to realize the characters i identified with have changed. I’ve been through a lot of heartbreak and gained a lot of wisdom. I realize now that I can try my hardest to impart that to Payton, but sometimes you do just have to learn for yourself. Watching her learn those lessons isn’t easy. Sometimes you don’t know the stove is hot until you touch it yourself. Those lessons are the ones that mean the most.

Anyway, I know I’m rambling now. You should have seen me yesterday, I was a blubbering idiot. Some days I’m thankful I’m home alone so people don’t have to see me like that. ha. so, cheers to “growing up” and thinking more mommy like.

Life Lessons

one thing i ask…

so many times we (and when I say “we” I mean “I”) enter into our prayer time with a laundry list of things we “need” from God… be it wisdom, healing, financial breakthrough, emotional breakthrough… we sit there and rattle them off sandwiched between our “dear Lord”s and “heavenly father”s. Now, there is nothing wrong with this until it becomes our only time of prayer. We “close the call” with a quick amen and are back on our way. Today I was reading through Psalm 27 and I realized that we are missing something… that I am missing something. I often have these times of revelation that humble me and make me forget I’ve been living this Christian life for a long time. I feel like such a young child, learning a lesson so simple, yet so beautiful. David puts it this way “One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4) What he asks is simple… just to be with God. Sometimes it is so easy to get caught up in life… in doing things for God… but not really spending time with him. Today my prayer is this : that I may dwell in the house of the Lord and gaze on his beauty.

Life Lessons

$48.02

So today I was out running errands and I needed a few things from the store. I saw that some of the things I wanted to get were on sale at Aldi’s so after returning some overdue library books, that’s where we headed. When we arrived a nice lady gave us her cart (For those of you who don’t know about Aldi, you have to put a quarter in to get a cart and you get that quarter back when you return the cart). I thought that was so nice! Then we went inside to get what we needed. We were having fun just wandering around the store. I got what I needed plus some. I got into the check out line and carefully laid my items on the moving belt. I was watching the cashier ring them up and got my debit card out to pay the $48.02 bill, when I experienced a complete mind blank. You see, at Aldi you can only pay with debit or cash. Brilliant idea, but in the last few months I have gotten a new debit card and PIN number and I also have been using my card as “credit” at the other stores because I supposedly get rewards from the bank for doing so. So, I haven’t used my PIN in quite sometime…. and I totally forgot it! The line was backed up and I felt like I had a million eyes on me. Of course I didn’t have the cash I needed…. So I pulled my basket to the side and told them I would figure something out…. I was terrified!! It’s so embarrassing. Its like I could feel the “pity stares” coming my way. So I ended up calling Chris who works a short ways away and he came to my rescue (always my hero). Anyway, throughout this whole petrifying experience I realized that I have often been the one giving those “pity stares” and I wondered what should I do in that situation? Am I one to try to help the situation? Or am I the first to judge? I learned a lot today in a short period of time. I’m thankful for these lessons learned, even if it wasn’t the most pleasant experience.

Life Lessons

distracted.

so here i am once again distracted from my to-do list. particularly from my massive amounts of reading for my american history and earth science classes…. i can only read so much textbook before starting to go cross eyed. So I do what any college student would do… procrastinate. and i find myself drawn to write…

i’ve been thinking about the seasons changing. profound, i know (especially considering tonight marks the official start of fall). i’ve started to see a few leaves changing here and there, although the weather could fool you into thinking we were in the middle of summer, rather than on the cusp of fall. i love the fall. i love the harvest of vegetables, the smells and snuggles. the weather cool enough for a hoodie and glass of caramel apple cider (or a PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE). There is something refreshing about fall. It is a season that passes too quickly, in my opinion. In celebration of fall (and as an attempt at healthier cooking) I’ve been experimenting with new recipes using vegetables. I made an amazing mixed vegetable bake with barbeque sauce and chicken breast last week. Today I tried my hand at butternut squash muffins, they are decent, but have a weird denseness about them. and tonight i’m going to be trying an eggplant parmesan. i like trying new things.

well, i should get back to my reading…. but Payton just woke up from a nap, so I think I’ll snuggle instead. Here’s to productivity slipping through my fingers…

Life Lessons

lessons.

i enjoy learning.
sometimes the season of learning isn’t easy.
sometimes its long. and painful.
but i can honestly look back and say i’m thankful for the lessons learned up to this point.
and i’m thankful for the lessons i’m learning now.
some are so simple, yet so profound.

i’ve been listening to the song “how he loves us” quite a bit lately.
i am completely blown away by the lyrics, and sometimes I can’t get past the first line…
HE is jealous for me.
the God of the Universe…
the vast, uncontainable, being… is jealous for me.
sometimes i think about what God thinks about me.
obviously I “know” he loves me… but i find myself in some kind of a mess and i can imagine him just looking at me, shaking his head and saying “oh, courtney…” and helping me clean up the mess.
i can relate so much to the intensity of his love, but also the desperation of his frustration.
as precious as my little girl is, there are moments when i find myself more frustrated than words can describe… and its just because of such trivial things… like sticking her hands in her mouth while i’m feeding her… or puking and pooping all over her and me…. and i see her just innocently sitting there, oblivious to the filth she has created around herself… and i’m about lose it and she innocently smiles and all of a sudden i melt. it doesn’t matter that i have to change her clothes (or my own for that matter) for the millionth time… it doesn’t matter that i smell like a dirty clothes hamper most of the day… i’m just so captivated with her big beautiful eyes and somewhat mischievous smile. what she has done or how frustrated i was doesn’t matter. i delight in her. and so i take a deep breath, smile back and say “ok, lets clean up this mess.” and this leads me to ponder upon the times i have found myself basking in my own filthy unrighteousness and i look up and see him reach out his hands to help me off… he tenderly wipes away the mess from my face and kisses my cheek and says “ok, lets clean up this mess.” what a beautiful picture of the heart of God.

but i know that i still have so much left to learn.
for right now, i see just a glimpse in the mirror so dimly

but then.

oh what hopeful words….

but then

even as i type this my spirit jumps at the thought… tears fill my eyes and my heart begins to race….

but then… we shall see him face to face.

what an overwhelmingly beautiful vision to behold.

now, i know in part… but then…. ooooh there it is again, that expectant hope… but then i shall know FULLY even as I am fully known.

oh jesus, i so look forward to that moment.
that moment when i get to see you face to face.
it is that hope that keeps me moving forward with a life that can seem so trivial at times.

thank you for your grace.
thank you for allowing me to see even a glimpse of your heart.

selah.