I stood in Dillard’s on November 8th, 2017. I perused through the sale jewelry, scanning for rose gold ear rings. The final days of wedding planning were coming to an end quickly, and I was in full-speed to keep up. As popular as the rose gold trend is, finding a pair I liked was surprisingly hard. And when I did find a pair, I’d pick them up, hold them to my ear, and stare at my reflection, pretending I was already standing in that lace, ivory dress.
None of them worked. They were too dangly, too casual, too fancy. None of them worked.
I was looking through a small, rotating rack when an older, shorter woman came beside me. I couldn’t quite pinpoint where she was from, but as we talked, I could tell English wasn’t her first language. She was looking for Kate Spade, and when she realized I had already found it, she told me to take my time.
“Oh, I’m looking for my wedding jewelry. You don’t want me to take my time,” I told her, grinning and stepping away.
Her face lit up. “When is your wedding?”
“It’s next week. Friday, actually,” I told her. She raised her eyebrows and I could only imagine what she must be thinking: “Who waits until the week before their wedding to find jewelry????”
I continued, “Honestly, I’m getting married with or without these ear rings. No matter what, there will be a wedding, and it will be awesome,” I told her.
She laughed, doubled over and told me I was the funniest person she had ever met.
“You’re like my daughter,” she said. “My daughter said the same thing. She told me, ‘Mom, the wedding is one day only. After the wedding is forever. That is what matters most. That is most important. Our love and promise are most important,’” the woman explained in her accented English.
We shopped beside each other for a few minutes. She’d offer a suggestion, and I’d get her opinion on another set- although, it didn’t take us long to realize we had exhausted the options. She wished me the best of luck and happiness, and then we turned our separate ways as I left the store, deciding I’d worry with it the next day.
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That was one month ago. I was in the final days of wedding planning, and could go from feeling like everything was finished to nothing at all within seconds. I was exhausted, I was excited, I was anxious, and I was ready. The waiting was nearly over as the celebration and tasting of the fruits of my labor neared.
Two months ago I was in the thick of a workload that was too heavy to carry. I’d spend an hour commuting into Nashville, lesson plan and teach all morning into the afternoon, and then go to work at Gap all afternoon into the night. I’d get in my car to make that 45 minute drive back home at 10 PM, knowing that my bedtime app was set to wake me up just after 5 AM. There was no time with friends, and barely time to sit and eat full meals. I snapped at coworkers, and yawned throughout my entire shift. I felt distant and tired at home. I missed reading and writing. And somehow, I still found the time to tie up the loose ends on the lessons and wedding I hadn’t quite finished.
Four months ago I helped Travis move to Nashville. I cried when we left his parents’ home in the Midwest, because I realized how much they must trust me to let him leave. Watching your son leave for a girl over 300 miles away has never been an easy task, and I felt selfish asking them to do that. But, we did it. We made the trek down I-65 on the day of the Eclipse and made it to the parking lot at our apartment one minute before totality. And then we talked about perfect timing every second after that.
Five months ago I picked up my first teaching job. I met a class of 3 students in a small, outdated classroom in the lower level of an apartment complex. This was my first class on the field. I was bright eyed and bushy-tailed. I felt dreams coming true, and if this was the only class I ever got to teach, I wanted to know I had given them my all.
That class and I met daily for a few weeks, with the hopes of continuing to meet a couple days a week after that. I knew the class would only get to continue on grant-support if students continued showing interest. I also knew that at the end of the initial 4 weeks—if the class did continue– my paid 18 hours of the class would drop drastically and be replaced with only 6 because of the change in the schedule. The amount of worry and uncertainty woven in that was difficult to accept, but I did it with as much grace as I could because I had been called.
And you can’t argue with a calling if you want to get somewhere.
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At some point in my Christian walk, I learned that faithfulness isn’t always a big, grand step leading to an earth-shaking decision. More often than not, it’s small. Quiet. And it leads to other small, quiet steps.
I’m a dreamer– an impatient, eager, anxious dreamer at that. Woven in my core are big hopes, and world-changing desires that I want today. Waiting until tomorrow or the next day isn’t an option. I’m the one who wants faithfulness to look like that big, grand, earth-shaking step. I want to see it right now.
But God is wiser than that. Faithfulness would be too easy if we only had to take one big step and finish. We would glory in the work of our hands, and create messes even bigger and grander than the ones we already do.
It’s the small, quiet steps that require us to continue coming back day after day. Those are the difficult ones, because they’re the ones that require us to move slower than we want. But, it’s in those little steps that we’re transformed. It’s here—as we put one foot in front of the other, day after day– that our strength learns to depend on Him and our desires rooted in faithfulness are conformed to His. And boy, does He move and work. His plans move thick, sweet, and slow like honey from the comb. I bet I could find a Bible verse about that too.
That’s what faithfulness actually looks like: a continuation of focused, intentional decisions followed through with action. This the transforming, difficult task of showing up day in and day out.
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God, in His kindness that transcends my understanding, has allowed me to live in a season of faithfulness even when I felt unfaithful and worn thin.
Six months ago, I published my last blog post. It was about change and not knowing what’s coming next. Since we’re being transparent here, I’ll admit to you that post will remain in every season for the rest of my life. Now that I realize faithfulness comes in small, quiet, and quite frankly, often unexciting steps, I can accept change in the same way.
The last season has been busy and stressful, but still woven with a confidence that the right, good things were happening. Day after day, I looked at what had been placed in my hands and decided to do something with it. And my God, did He do miraculous things with it.
Since then, that first class I took on has grown. What started as 3 now averages at 10-12 students every class, simply because they told their friends about English class. What’s more, I’ve been offered numerous opportunities to take on tutoring-like classes that meet with students in their home. Now, I meet with 4 different families to teach them English at their kitchen table. My students are from Myanmar, Sudan, Cuba, Iraq, Nepal, Somalia, and even on the most difficult days, they are worth it. We show each other grace and fight to learn an entirely new culture, language, and land.
And wouldn’t you know, I have more paid teaching hours now than what I began with 5 months ago. Teaching has never been about the money, but realistically speaking, paid work is necessary. And I’m grateful to have been provided for. What’s sweeter is the collection of conversations and memories I have with my students, when I learned about their life as refugees and about the homes they left behind. Worry number one. Gone.
Since then I’ve also moved my entire life to center on the most kind, loving guy I’ve ever met. Travis and I spent the fall scrambling to begin paying bills, while also working to pay for a wedding. The numbers were scary, but it happened. And on November 17th, in a pair of pearl earrings my mother had given me years ago, we promised to love each other first for the rest of our days on this earth. We watched as friends and family both near and far traveled to celebrate with us at a lodge in the woods. We drank coffee together, and we worshipped with the entire congregation, giving praise to God for all He had done.
We celebrated our first week of married life hiking mountains and following trails, and when we came back home to Nashville, we were thrilled to remember we have an entire life ahead of us to build. My commutes to work and classes are about 10 minutes now, and we have an adorable Christmas tree in our home. Although we’re now in the middle of learning our routine together, we’re grateful that we have a collection of memories of our perfect wedding day in place of the planning that once overtook us.
And just like that, all the other worries subsided too.
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That lady in Dillard’s was right. The wedding day was important, but the marriage after that continues far past one day.
Taking on that first class was important, but desiring to serve my students months later continues.
Moving to Nashville was important, but building a home and building a relationship with this community continues.
Making one decision to follow that sweet, heavenly Voice was important, but walking more of these quiet, baby steps continues. Faithfulness would be cheap if it were anything less than those quiet, baby steps.