About the ring… (more proposal pics!!)

As most of you know, on September 2nd, 2017 Isaac asked me for forever… and then I tackled him (that means yes when you’re happy). Even after 2 1/2 years he surprised the heck out of me. It was the happiest moment of our lives.

Ever since then I’ve had this super shiny thing on my left hand. To be honest, I’m not a big jewelry person, at least not to wear every day. Jewelry usually just gets in the way of stuff, especially when I’m with the horses. It was SO weird to me to all of a sudden have this thing on my finger 24/7. I would wake up and immediately pull my hand out of the covers because I thought there was something stuck to it… no joke I did that for like 2 weeks. Every time I tacked the horse up I would look at it ever 5 seconds to make sure it didn’t get messed up or dirty. I was so nervous about it!

Despite my efforts, the poor ring got a full dose of dirt, alfalfa, horse hair and life very quickly. I thought it would be hard for me trying to care for something so precious in the midsts of my crazy life. Then one day as I was driving, staring at my ring propped up on the steering wheel, God made it very clear to me. This ring is not a piece of jewelry. It’s not to be admired because it’s shiny or expensive. It’s to be admired because it’s to be a representation of our relationship. It’s to be cared for because it stands for our commitment to each other. I don’t want to show people my ring and say hey look how fancy. I want to show it to people and say hey look what God has done in our lives. Look at where He has brought us. This ring reminds me every day to consider how the things I do and the decisions I make will affect our relationship. It’s priceless to me the things that God has made our relationship into and I absolutely adore having the proof on my finger every day of all that He has done.

Processed with VSCO with g3 preset

I love this ring.  I love that Isaac picked it out himself and poured so much love, time and work in to getting it. It’s BEAUTIFUL. Mostly though I love the story behind it. It’s our story in the most real, true and pure form written with all the beauty of the hand of God. In this sweet sweet season of our lives I’m blessed to have this reminder on my finger, this man that I love fervently beside me, family and friends that are family to pour into and support us and a great big God who keeps surprising us.

Here’s to a love story without end <3

17September02_untitled_17817September02_untitled_184

My History of “Different”

Ever since I was little I wanted to be different. It always bugged me when people did the same thing, or had the same opinion, or wore the same style clothing. I never understood why people wanted to be just like other people. 

My parents always nurtured the idea of me not wanting to follow trends and began teaching me at a young age how to be independent. My dad and my grandfather both had their own businesses. They never had to do things because a boss told them to. For years I watched how my momma and daddy were able to make decisions through thorough prayer and discussion. I learned that sometimes even the hardest decisions can be a blessing just because you have the freedom to make them as you see fit.

My first passion in life was horses. Even though I was young in my relationship with Christ, I knew without a doubt that the Lord almighty had laid that passion on my heart. My parents taught me how to work for it. I started out wanting their help with everything, asking them to make calls every night on various horse sale adds, and wanting them to take me anywhere I could get more experience. Usually they were happy to accommodate, but I remember the day daddy told me I could be making those calls myself. He gave me a yellow legal pad and a headset for the phone. He had a lot more confidence in me than I did at the time, but I trusted his judgement.

I learned quickly that the game of making calls to people selling horses was for them not to realize that I was 9… that’s where I would usually lose them. I was all business though. That is where I believe it all started with me doing things in life younger than normal. I absolutely loved the feeling. I was starting to feel like my dad and my grandpa – independent in pursuing my passion.

As I grew, so did my relationship with Christ. I learned to call Him my friend as He began walking and talking with me daily. I was never “alone” in middle school or high school as many often feel they are because I had already learned to lean on Him for comfort and acceptance. Not everyone thought I was cool for it, but I would just tell myself I was different, that’s how I wanted to be, that’s who God wants me to be, and that’s ok. By His grace alone He became my sifter that I put potential friends and relationships through to determine who to invest my time in the most.

I made many friends that I still love so much, but in freshman year I met Isaac. God just kind of threw him into my life in one big explosion of Isaacness. What I mean but that is, I went from never having laid eyes on him before to seeing him almost every day between church and school. We were pretty fast friends I guess. I had never met anyone before who I could talk to freely and have everything make total sense to them. We had a lot in common… I didn’t really know what to do with that. We both still had a lot of growing in ourselves and in our relationships with Christ to do. There was always something special about his heart to me though.

One of the biggest things God was teaching me then was how to listen to Him. When you’re a teenager you’re always wondering what your future holds. He knew exactly what He wanted me to do, but I still had a lot of childlike fear and stubbornness to get over. I’ve always had a hard time with decisions, but as bigger decisions started to come up in my life God began to give me peace about them. I had never known that kind of peace before. I know it was hard for my parents seeing me grow up so quickly and move into making big decisions by myself, but I hope that they could see God’s peace in all of it. They had raised me to always pray any situation out seeking God’s will. Now He was slowly but surely showing it to me in vibrant detail.

The year I graduated high school was the year I really learned about faith. My life was getting progressively busier and I was so ready to just run with it. It’s never that simple though, and thank God it’s not. After a lot of back and forth between me and God, I faced the fear that I knew was coming. He moved my heart back to Isaac. I was terrified, I was excited, I was unsure of the timing, but God’s call this time was one of the clearest and simplest I’ve heard. We had our first date in June, made it official in July, and it was my delight to learn that he was as different as I was. He had dreams and passions too that God was constantly teaching him more about. Nothing was terrifying anymore, God’s plan was all starting to make sense.

It was a dynamic duo kind of thing. We were just better together. We realized quickly through studying God together that He had so much He wanted to teach us both. I knew we were where God wanted us because my relationship with Christ had never been stronger. We actually started praying for hard times too because we learned that they made us stronger in Christ… He gave us plenty of them.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 – “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.”

Crazy faith kind of became our motto. God would put these big ideas on our hearts and basically just say “Go”. Try explaining to your parents that God wants you and your boyfriend to move to an island. It doesn’t make sense. Especially not when you’re 18. We wanted so badly to practice that crazy faith He was calling us to though, so we put ourselves in an open position for Him to work. That was literally it. God did everything else. He worked out the horses, the jobs, two separate places to live, and a church family like you wouldn’t believe. It was so obvious that He wanted us there that no one could doubt it. He wanted us to be different… and thank God my parents supported it. Both of ours did!

James 1:5 – “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Fast forward a year and a half and we’ve been through more trials than I can count. However, things that would usually stress us out God has taught us how to just have more faith in. The money hasn’t always been there, yet it’s never been an issue. We both learned to give it to God and He’s blessed us in it. We haven’t always pleased everyone either. That one is particularly hard for me because I care deeply about people’s feelings. I have learned though how much sweeter it is when you worry solely about God’s opinion and stop worrying about offending everyone else. His way will always be the right way. (That’s not relevant to current events at all is it?)

Luke 9:23 – “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.’ 

Our life seems to move on a different time table than our friends. I’ve already moved multiple times and plan on doing it a few more. I love being back in Virginia with my family. They’re funny and smart and fun to be around and I love them like crazy. I know God is already tugging on Isaac and I’s hearts though for what He wants to do with us next. I know a lot of people would rather us stay here longer, save more money, have steadier jobs and not be so busy all the time. I hope this doesn’t sound mean, but there’s something so comforting in knowing that it’s not up to those people. It’s not up to me. It’s not up to Isaac. My life is the Lord’s and I aspire to go, move , stay, do, be, live and decide in accordance to His will.

I like different, and I think God likes it too.

riley1

Why Life Coaching? Get excited.

IMG_4752.JPG

Why life coaching? Because God said so.

Sitting in church this past Sunday our pastor began to talk about Christians using their gifts for God’s glory. This is an idea that I’ve always known, always loved and always been happy to promote. As many of you know, recently I have become certified as a professional life coach. Throughout the certification process I learned how to help people evaluate their lives. I learned how to help them discover their dreams, gifts and passions. I learned how to guide them through realistic ways to reach those goals however crazy they may be. I learned how to get excited with them about their own lives, which is a concept that has gotten so lost in our world today – actually loving your life and what you do.

God made it very evident in the time that I was becoming certified that it was going to be a huge platform for His name to be proclaimed. THAT is what excites me the most. My. First. Day. I was asked straight up what I believe. That’s one thing that is so wonderful about life coaching! It makes you think long and hard about your purpose. Every talent, passion, goal, and dream that we have is God-given. He purposefully instilled those in each and every one of us SO we can reach the nations, SO we can resonate with people that others can’t. YOU are so crazy fearfully and wonderfully made you shouldn’t even know how to wrap your finite little mind around the possibilities of what God can use you for. That is exciting!!! THAT is why I want to life coach. My specialty is in the equestrian field because that is my passion and that is what I resonate with. However, I am not limiting myself to that field because I want everyone to get pumped about this. Can you tell I am excited? Can you tell God has laid this on my heart? If you see a way that I could expand this or want to provide feedback I welcome it wholeheartedly.

I want to do a series on my blog that walks through the life coaching process, but instead of focusing on one person’s life specifically it would focus on a life for Christ in general. I am writing about this because of that Sunday. God showed me that this is something that we could all use a little motivation for. A LOT of motivation for. And THIS is something I am really excited to dive into.

 

“I long to feel compassion
For a world that needs Your grace
Take my heart
I want to give it all away.”

Sidewalk Prophets – “Give It All Away”

 

riley1

 

I made a decision: Hatteras Part 3

I understand that it’s been a while since I last posted. It has partially been because I have been exhausted from working, riding, and travelling back home, but also partially because I have been thinking. Anyone who knows me should know this about me: I hate decisions. Big or small, I just want what’s best for everyone and so that usually leaves me asking everyone else to make whatever decision is at hand. This causes my life to involve a great deal of thinking, brainstorming, and dreaming so I can attempt to prepare myself for whatever big decisions might potentially lie ahead. Lately I have been thinking about my next move, where to go from here, what to do after this, and how to make my life different than what it was before I came to live on the island.

After the time I have spent here, I would be a coward not to live a drastically different life. I came here seeking a closer relationship with the Lord, a revelation of what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and a healthier lifestyle. So far my experience has far exceeded that. When I first began this massive thinking, I started to worry. I worried about my family at home. I worried about how I was going to make money after this, and how I was going to not settle for my old routine. Then I went to church one Wednesday night. I went the same as I always do and I was tired like I always seem to be. On this night however, our pastor began to talk about money. He brought up Paul and how Paul had much at some points and he had little at others, but always learned to be satisfied. That really struck me. It didn’t matter what Paul was doing; he always in his heart loved whatever he did and wherever he was because he was wholeheartedly living for the Lord. That just painted such a beautiful picture for me of what a life for the Lord should look like. God has equipped each of us with unique gifts that only we can use to further His kingdom. Use them! Use them for Him! You don’t even have to think about making money with them, just glorify the Lord through whatever He has blessed you with and you will be happy. Simple as that. Even when things aren’t easy, if you abide in Him your life will be filled with joy. Picture that. A life for the Lord should visibly look like JOY. If He chooses to bless you with money = JOY. If He asks you to be content with little = JOY. If everyone on earth lived like that imagine how much differently the earth would look. This whole idea just takes the stress out of it all. So much hatred, bitterness, hostility, and pain have been caused by even the simplest things involving money when so much of it could have been counted as joy.

Money is a manmade thing. Do we really need it? Can we drink it like water, eat it like food, or breathe it like air? No. Christ however is necessary for life. A never hungry, never thirsty, contented, peaceful, all around joyful life. Why in the world would anyone not want that? Pain is inevitable, life is never easy, in fact, it’s often harder when you stand for the Lord, but my goodness gracious you can’t miss the joy.

So I decided. I decided on the rest of my life. I decided on Joy.

riley1

 

Living Purpose: Hatteras Part 2

FullSizeRenderI mentioned in my last post that I felt like I was living God’s purpose for my life for the first time. Let me elaborate on that. Purpose is a very strong word for me. Technically defined purpose is the reason for which something exists, determination, or a practical result. Yes, it is all these things, but as a Christian I believe the word goes so much deeper.

To be honest, I had never really noticed or appreciated the depth of this word until I was searching so hard for purpose that it hit me in the face. It was those few months before me and Isaac moved here that God began to teach us all about purpose. We had been praying that we would find God’s specific purpose for us not really knowing what that meant. The very next Sunday guess what the sermon was on? Yup. Throughout the sermon our Pastor talked about Saul and how Jesus got his attention, changed his direction, and specifically purposed him to impact others and bring others in to partner with his purpose. Saul didn’t just discover a life in Jesus. He discovered purpose. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I cried through that sermon. I remember looking up at Isaac and he too was speechless. Maybe it’s not the most profound idea, but God let it hit our hearts just right to move us. As the pastor continued to talk, he unknowingly answered question after question that we had in our minds.

Following this Sunday we got a devotional to do together called Faith for the Journey by Charles Swindoll (LOVE this book) and the chapters seemed to speak directly to the purpose God was calling us to. As you all know, this, Hatteras Island, is where that purpose led us. However, our purpose didn’t end when we got here, it was really just beginning. This is what I have learned about purpose since I’ve been here – there is the big picture of purpose and then there are also countless little “purposes” that we have every day. A life for the Lord is the big purpose, the ultimate purpose and the reason we all live and breathe. What I am learning is that each day and each moment that we breathe is to have purpose. We should be striving to be so focused, devoted and sold out to the Lord that every step has direction, every word is counseled by the Holy Spirit, every action is with grace and stewardship, and every moment of silence is with prayer and supplication. That is what I want my life to look like.

The catch though is that it gets hard. The thing about light is that the darkness hates it, and the thing about darkness is that it’s so much easier to fall into. Get this though – I learned in one of my Bible study classes that the devil can change the appearance of a situation God has you in, but he can never change the purpose God has for you. I’ll be the first to tell you, when you commit yourself to God’s purpose He will move. That Sunday in church was not the last time I cried tears of overwhelming joy, because it still gets me every time God chooses me to move for His purpose. His mercies baffle me and Isaac both continually and I hope and pray we never get over it.

riley1

 

Not Just a Dream Job: Hatteras Part 1

aaaaaPicTapGo-ImageIt was probably three or four months ago that God really started changing the life that I was so comfortable with. Plans were falling through and I was terrified about decisions that were to be made. It’s funny how you grow up learning about God and His attributes, but when He really shows them to you you’re humbled like a child all over again. Mountain moving faith was a concept that sounded very good on paper, but in reality… really didn’t seem “realistic.” Thankfully however, Isaac has a funny kind of knack for being unrealistic. So, we faced fear and started to pray – big and long and hard prayers for days on weeks. We knew that God had something bigger planned for us than just what our minds would deem Him capable for.

Over sundaes at Shoney’s one night (because you can’t have a good idea without chocolate) the thought hit us. Hatteras. The place of horseback riding on the beach and unlimited fishing… hmmmm. A lot more prayer, some research and some phone calls proved to be the only real things we would have to do from that point on. God truly took care of the rest. I’ll admit that I was very skeptical though. In my mind it was too easy. Didn’t God want to use us for something harder or more important? I know we would both be living our dreams, but were we both pursuing this because we wanted to or because it was what God wanted us to do? When it came time to make a final decision on weather we were going or not there was not a doubt left in my mind that this was where God wanted us. Although I still didn’t know what He was trying to do, that crazy faith that Isaac and I had prayed about pushed us to trust Him. All of the doors were opened, we just had to walk through them.

The moving process soon began, but proved to be trickier than I had anticipated. Not everybody got the fact that we were living in separate apartments. That really bugged me that I couldn’t make that clear to everyone and couldn’t make everyone happy with my decision. That’s just another lesson God needed to teach me though. My wonderful parents helped me move down here, got me settled, and then I was on my own. A new state, new people, new grocery store, new job, new church, etc.

Isaac had already started working full time by the time I got down here and was already settled in his new place and at the marina all the time. I had about a week before I started my new job. I have never had a week of free time before in my life. Oh my goodness gracious though if you haven’t before either I strongly recommend it. I’ve always lived my life busy. Multiple jobs, multiple plans with friends, or something that would make any second of my day somewhat productive. I learned within the first couple of days that when you give yourself time you give God a chance to work in you. Every morning I started sitting down with my coffee and just listening to Him speak. I would go to the beach in the afternoons and walk and listen to Him speak some more. I’ve always loved to listen with people, but why did I always feel like with God I always had to talk? I learned how empty my full life had been when I was missing out on such lengthy and undisturbed time with Him.

Another big thing about moving for me and Isaac was finding a new church, and even more so, finding a good fellowship of Christian friends. Again, God, holding us in His hands, gave us that too. The first Sunday we were here a friend of mine from work invited us to her church. One Monday night Bible study later and we were so overwhelmed with God’s blessings and faithfulness that I wanted to cry.

One month later and life in Hatteras is so much more than just a dream job. Yes, I love every minute of my work getting to talk to the customers and riding on the beach. I love knowing during the day that Isaac is loving what He does too. Mainly though, I love the fact that this is a new mission field with so many new possibilities and that for the first time in my life I feel like I’m living God’s purpose for me. Isaac and I know that our lives aren’t conventional and that our relationship culturally isn’t normal. We thank God every day though that He uses imperfect people like us.

riley1