I know better than to feel the need to explain myself or clarify circumstances, but this is my story and my one [long] comment from the last 3 years.
I am so happy right now and I am truly living my dream. I married the most godly and loving man, I moved to my absolute favorite state, I landed my dream job leading worship at the most wonderful church, and I am expecting my first of hopefully many little miracles. (I want so many kiddos). We are about to move into our own home on acres of land in the country with a beautiful old barn. I am blessed and trust me, I see that. But this is not what I pictured my life would be in my short 21 years. Nothing was, but I know plans change. So this is my story:
I left for college at Trinity Christian College in the fall of 2014. I was looking for a fresh start and a get-away-from-Quincy opportunity. 5 hours away in the suburbs of Chicago on this beautiful campus was exactly what I was looking for. I went in with some health issues that made it a little bit of a rocky start, but I started with a group of awesome people to call friends and got myself as involved as I could. Come October, things got harder. I learned a lot more about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit- more than I ever knew I could learn. I had some crazy experiences and was exposed to things I’m glad I learned of but was glad to get away from. I was miraculously healed of my 14 year-long health problem and was freed from demonic oppression. It was a very overwhelming first semester of my college career, but I was learning so much about myself and about my creator- and loving every minute of it. My now husband, Joshua, finds himself entering my life around November of that year. He had always been fond of me, but I had no idea who he was, nor was I interested in anyone at this time. We wound up in the same group of friends after I found myself struggling to find any at all now. This group of Juniors and Seniors took me in so quickly and only continued to help me grow in my walk with the Lord. God’s crazy timing had Joshua and I together in February and our love for one another only grew through our morning bible studies, late night conversations, prayer time, and service trip. I knew very quickly that I wanted to marry this 24-year-old man, but I was scared of that at 18 and had a reason to put it off 3 more years like “normal” people do.
Much to my surprise, I got sick with a new health issue in April. I had formed a massive infection on my leg after a hiking day with Joshua and it only grew bigger as the days went on. By the time it was as big as a softball, my friends and I decided it was time to go to the ER. From there, I was given a very powerful antibiotic and after 3 days of taking it, began having a very severe allergic reaction. I won’t get into all of that, but I was lucky. I was thru that after several weeks, but had missed so much school by then. I was weak when I returned to campus the week before final exams, but I made it and I passed.
Months went by and I continued to recover from the damage done to my body. I spent my days aspirating, coughing, choking, wheezing, and vomiting with little to no breaks and little to no sleep. My summer was spent working with many doctors to figure out what was going on and how to fix it. Of course, come time for classes to begin again, nothing was solved. I headed back to school to return home nearly every weekend for more doctor visits and tests to be run. Joshua was so supportive at this time, even in the long distance, as he had graduated in the spring. I had few friends since most of mine had graduated and most people don’t want to be around the sick person. Most of my days I was locked away in my room just trying to focus on my school and on my future.
I knew by now I wanted to work with high school girls and do life with them like I wished so desperately someone would have done for me. I also wanted to be a worship leader, but with being unable to sing anymore, I didn’t know if it would be possible. (But I tried)! I continued to participate in our campus student worship ministry, and I was seeking a future at a nearby church I had come to enjoy. I was tired, but I was determined. In God’s great and perfect timing yet again, I missed my first week on the worship team at this new church. Are you surprised? This was the week that I had another test done that made me so sick and took me another 2 weeks to recover from. By this point, I had missed too much school to be able to pass the semester. Majority of my classes were discussion-based, and you really can’t make those hours up…So after talking with the school and my professors, we decided a withdrawal until the spring would be the best solution.
Oh, did I mention that was also the week after I got engaged?
So now I am stuck back in Quincy, sick as a dog, engaged, and hopeful to return to school as soon as possible. Within 2 weeks, I learned that would be never.
The medical bills and complications with student loans combined had me rejected from returning to my beloved campus unless the impossible were done. (In case you were wondering, it wasn’t). I was now unable to return, bitter, angry, sick as a dog, and engaged. May as well get married in June, right?! (We were already planning that time-line and had been searching for apartments close by my school) But hey! Now I can use all this new free-time to plan my own wedding.
Oh, and I got sick again and spent New Years in the hospital with another infection on my face. We learned it was actually MRSA and once again, I was LUCKY. The damage could have been so awful, but God had His hand on me.
I was depressed. I was angry. I was in pain. I was confused. I was hurt. I felt alone and I continued to lose friends as the days went by. Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my family and Quincy is a neat place to live…however, I needed to get OUT of there. Too much negative and heartbreak had taken place in what seemed like every corner of that town. I needed a clean break and I took one. I moved to Sterling, IL where Joshua lived in February of 2016 and moved into an apartment alone until we were married in June. Thankfully it was just down the street from his home and he spent all of his time outside of work with me. I started going to his AMAZING church and met some of the most incredible people I have ever known. This was the start of my healing process. Instead of blaming God for all the bad that was happening to me, I was shown how to view all these drastic life changes as the protection of God over my life and my journey. I won’t get into all of that, but man oh man do I see it now.
Come January 2017, we knew we would be moving at some point out of Illinois and down to Tennessee. I was hoping to have another year (at least) in Sterling surrounded by these people and having just one year of stability. God had other plans, I guess. We moved 2 months later.
I took it pretty hard. I really loved my job and our church. I wanted to grow and learn more with these amazing people. I wanted to start our family that we prayed so heavily for, surrounded by the love and encouragement they continued to show. I didn’t want to move that soon, but God had a plan. He did through every single let down and heartache.
We arrived to Vonore, TN at the end of March and it has been everything BUT what we had planned. Everything is taking so much longer to get done and settled except probably the most important thing….We found a church within 4 weeks and we knew without a doubt this was where God was calling us to be. Now we see why and we can continue to share that awesome journey with you as time goes on.
In short, I just have to address the fact that I never planned on leaving college, getting married or preparing to have a baby by the time I was 21. I had such a different and more “normalized” plan for myself. But God has continued to show me and reveal to me that His plan isn’t “normal” at all. He is bigger than what other people have to say and think. He created everyone for crying out loud. So as I have encountered many painful losses of friendships, harsh judgement and belittling from so many people I once held so dear to my heart (too young, too early, you’re ruining your life, inexperienced…the list goes on), God has shown me healing. He has shown me HIS consistency. He has shown me His love and guidance. He has shown me to just give up all control and trust Him, no matter how terrifying and frustrating that may be. And trust me, He will only keep showing me. I already know some of the many more things He’s telling me to just let go of, but I am so thankful to have been through the crazy and chaotic life I have. Because of it all and God’s great plan, I know how real He is and how small I really am. Everything on this earth is meaningless. That is so clear and true in the Bible, especially Ecclesiastes. So while I’m on this earth, I’m going to care so little of what everyone else has to say, and focus on what God says.
I am proud of the things I have overcome, the growth I have graciously experienced, and all the “adulting” I’ve had to do the last 3 years. For the first time ever, I am proud that I am only 21 and have experienced and do the things that I have, many of which I haven’t even shared. God has equipped me in some of the most amazing and mighty ways do to the things I am called to do that serve and glorify Him. I don’t need to purposefully never say how young I am and let everyone assume I’m as old as my husband. I am who I am because of Christ and my age does not define the MANY things the Lord has taught me. Age does not define maturity. God calls those that He calls and He equips them to do the things He asks of them. That is what matters, and that alone.
I love my life. I love and am so proud of my hard-working husband. I am so thankful that we have a healthy baby boy on the way after a year of marriage. (We really wanted him, by the way). I love my home. I love my church. I love my family. I love my God and I will only follow His Word and His Truth, no matter what anyone else has to say.
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
Proverbs 16:9 NIV
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
1 Timothy 4:12 NIV
“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”
Romans 5:3-5 NIV
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Ephesians 6:10-12 NIV
Ecclesiastes Chapters 3-5