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Wednesday, June 8, 2016

8 months later, and finally breathing

I stumbled across these words today. I penned these words 8 months ago, the day after I ended up with a stress fraction in my foot, and could barely walk. The same season of when I went 55 weeks without a steady paycheck, hoping babysitting and dogsitting jobs would keep me afloat, maybe. The same month when I heard another "no" after sending countless emails and resumes, and going on dozens of interviews. The same time when my car died, and I had to rely on others to go anywhere and everywhere. The same month that I still was church less, community less, and ministry less. I was so lonely, begging God to send me a helper to love me well and carry some of this burden of life. 

I knew exactly what I wanted to do. "Love people, do good, share Jesus, and be a voice." with or without a paycheck. 

Fast forward 8 months, and now I have a church home, a car that runs, an incredible tribe, my dream job, and I'm marrying my Prince Charming in less than 3 months! 

Seriously. If you're in a season of darkness, a time of waiting, and you feel stuck in the wilderness, KEEP HOLDING ON!! 

Keep dreaming! Keep hoping! Keep getting out of bed in the morning! Keep being faithful in the little! Keep pressing through today! 

I promise, He is working in the unseen. He is for you. He is still good. He is still faithful. He is still sovereign. He is still provider. Even when none of that feels true. Even when none of it makes sense. 

I am so thankful for this part of my story, even when it was so dark and ugly. 





"October 2015-

I'm just struggling. This season is long, and it's lonely. I don't have a job, I don't have a church, I don't have a place to serve, I don't have a car, I don't have a man, I don't have real community, and I don't have purpose. 

Honestly. I'm struggling to believe He has my best interest at heart. Honestly. I don't want to dream or hope, I'm scared of everything falling apart again. Honestly. I don't know how much more my little heart can handle. Honestly. I want to wrap myself in a little cocoon, and distance myself from everyone. 

I'm hurt, and discouraged. For the girl that rarely gets upset, I'm angry with God. I know He is good, and faithful, and provider, but it just doesn't feel like that right now. And I know I can't trust my feelings, because they fluctuate, and He is constant, but it still feels overwhelming. 

This week I haven't even known how to pray. "Jesus, I know you work all things for good for those that love you, and I love you, but this really sucks right now, I'm falling apart, and feeling like a failure all over again, could you please just show up?!" 

So I cry myself to sleep, and beg God to move. 

Life is messy over here. It's raw, honest, ugly, and broken. 

I officially have no life plans. The future is wide open."

M. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

what I didn't know about planning a wedding

So. I've been a bridesmaid almost a dozen times. (I think 10 or 11?) And I have helped plan/decorate for/coordinate dozens and dozens of other weddings, while attending countless more. 


So I just assumed that I had a pretty good handle on this whole "being engaged/planning a wedding" deal. 

And in some regards, I was right. 

Because I have been around the wedding world so much over the last decade, I have formed pretty strong opinions on things. I know what I like. 

Before I got engaged, I knew I loved a simple dress, no beading, no sequins, and no tulle. When I went in to my first dress appointement, I told the consultant 3 things, and the dress I purchased has all 3 things. I knew exactly what I wanted.



 
 

But it has also been a huge learning experience as well. 

•Weddings cost money. And I'm the biggest cheapskate. I don't want people to spend buckets of money. I don't want to spend buckets of money. This is something I am working through. Cutting corners where I can, and changing my heart attitude towards gratitude has been HUGE. 

•Just because most bridesmaid dresses cost in the neighborhood of $200 (looking at you, David's Bridal), doesn't mean I'm going to make my girls spend that. I found a simple black maxi dress at Old Navy that I loved. It came in tall, regular, and petite sizes. I also found a coupon code, so my girls only paid $21, with free shipping. You don't have to be bullied by the wedding industry. 

•The wedding is a constantly changing beast. I have learned to be flexible. Just because I wanted one thing doesn't mean it's what is best. (Hello parking fees, tiny parking lots, porta potties, and no rain back up plan) Letting go is okay, and could bring less stress in the long run. 



•But also. I'm the bride. This is my day. So learning to stand up for myself and my special day has been important. And has certainly caused some friction. But I refuse to feel guilty for wanting some things for my wedding. It's my wedding. It's my turn. 

•I didn't realize I would feel SO WEIRD all of the time. I have ALWAYS been the bridesmaid. My opinion has never really mattered. And all of the sudden, the focus is on me. I'm being asked what linens I prefer. It's soooo bizarre. And I just can't get over that it's actually my turn. 

•Honest talk. 95% of all our fights are about the wedding. Bless Steve's heart. That man is a saint. And I'm borderline Bridezilla some nights. Weddings are stressful. Normally the bride and groom have different opinions. But because we are so vastly different culturely and style wise, (Hello Baghdad, Iraq. Meet The City of the Village of Clarkston, MI, USA.) it has only fanned the flame of wedding stress. 

•Learning to fight fair has been HUGE. Learning my triggers, calmly talking things out, and being prepared to make a compromise has been life giving. Steve has really been amazing as we work through wedding expectations. I am learning to be amazing. It's hard work some days. 

•I have or will offend most people I know. And I hate every second of it. Because I do live my life so openly, and so publicly, it complicates things a bit. I love people. Wherever I go, I make friends. But I cannot invite 2,000 of my closest friends to the wedding. And I can't have 25 bridesmaids. Scaling back a bit (a lot) has been soooo hard. 

•Every time I cut the guest list, I cry. This is probably the worst part of planning a wedding. Argh. The worst. 

•My sister is amazing. She is soooo good at managing all of the details, and she thinks of everything. She has been my saving grace in all of this. I am so thankful for her. 

•It's wayyyyyyy more fun than I expected. It's really my turn. I really get to put on that beautiful white dress, with flowers in my hair, and get married to my Prince Charming. For the love. It's the best. 

•Pinterest is my best frenemy. I have gathered sooo many ideas, but I also sleep a lot less now too. 

•Wedding nightmares are a real thing. And I hate them. Spilling a pot of pasta sauce down my dress two minutes before walking down the aisle is a reaccuring one. I don't even know man. 

•People want to celebrate us. And it's wicked cool. 

•Registering for gifts is potentially one of the most fun parts of being engaged. Stores no longer give you a scanning gun. There is now an app for that. Which may make it a bit more dangerous. I think within 4 days last week, I went to Target 7 times. It's like fun shopping, without spending a penny. It was really fun to go with Steve. We learned so much about each other, our styles, what is important to each of us, and the way we compromise. My favorite thing on the registry is the Pioneer Woman floral dishes at Walmart. I have wanted them for almost a year. Steve really wants a nice tv from Target. #priorities #putitontheregistry





•I put Oreos on the registry, because I'm certain at some point, I'm going to need a snack. #idowhatiwant #allthesnacks

•Real talk. That whole "this is the man I love, and we're getting married" junk realllllllllly gets those hormones flying. We really limit our time alone alone, especially at night. There's so much to say here. But I don't want to be weird. I'll save that for a different post. But seriously. It's a thing. And we just want to honor Jesus. Which feels almost impossible some times. So I'm thankful that we live an hour away from each other. #letsgetmarried #letshavebabies 

•Starting a new job in the midst of being newly engaged and wedding planning has been interesting. I can't believe every piece has fallen into place. Dream job and dream man. It's incredible. But there's been a couple moments of being completely overwhelmed. Trying to divide time wisely isn't my strong suit. 

•I have been struggling to eat right and to exercise consistently. Last year I completed a half marathon. And I'm supposed to be training for my second right now. But.... #wahwah I don't know what my deal is. Maybe being busier? Maybe being happy and content? Maybe tired? I don't know. But I need SERIOUS motivation. 

•SELF CARE. SELF CARE. If I'm not taking time for myself, I'm useless to everyone else. So I have implemented phone free hours in my day. I take weekly bubble baths. I wander Target alone. I drive in rush hour, singing along to Taylor Swift, with full dance moves. I read books for fun. I try to sleep enough. Because I want to be the best version of me. And sometimes that means powering down for an hour to recharge. And that's okay. And I'm glad I'm learning that. 

•Wedding life can easily take over real life, if I'm not careful. Constantly looking at our registries, looking up outfit ideas for engagement pictures (seriously. What do we wear?!), trying to find a good deal on a honeymoon, searching for the right black skinny tie for the groomsmen, calculating every cost "in theory", reading wedding blogs until 1am, among a thousand other things can easily replace quality time with Jesus and Steve. I don't just want to plan for a wedding, I want to plan for a marriage. But it's so easy to get caught up in all the fun details. 

•We heard a statistic that 80% (or something close to that) of couples that go through premarital counseling have happy and successful marriages. So naturally, we're doing double the premarital counseling. Because I want to go into marriage with eyes wide open. and I want us to be happy and successful. I've never done this before. Neither has Steve. And we want to do it well, with Jesus at the center. So we're doubling it up. 

•In theory I should've booked everything last year. But I didn't even know Steve last year. So that's been pretty funny to tell people in the wedding industry. (also, we're waiting til we're married to have sex, we aren't having alcohol at the wedding, we want the first thing we do as a married couple is to worship Jesus, I want to be barefoot, etc...) I know I'm not the average bride. And I probably get too much joy out of seeing the facial expressions as I say all of that to people. 

•People have loud opinions about everything. And that's okay. But at the end of the day (and at the beginning) it's our lives. He's taking my last name, I want to eat fried chicken at our wedding, and I have 13 bridesmaids. It's all good. It's my turn. 

•He is moving in with me after the wedding. And it has brought up a lot of feelings. Most of them good. (I don't have to take the trash out alone anymore) I have cleared out a closet for him, and lay awake thinking how to rearrange the furniture to best fit two of us. I am excited to play house, for real. And have someone to snuggle up with every night. But it's also bringing up a bit of an inner struggle. I've been stubborn and independent for so many years. A man in my house means letting go of some of that responsibility. Which of course sounds great, but is also just overwhelmingly unfamiliar. Jesus is kind to me, and is helping work that junk out. 

•I really do have an amazing tribe. One if my dear friends is organizing church ladies to bake all of my favorite pies for dessert at the reception. I'm giddy. My family had been incredible. They even tolerated my need for a run through at the new ceremony location. My bridesmaids are always sending me articles and pins. It's a good life. 

•I love this man more and more every day. He really is wonderful. He's every thing I've prayed for. And nothing that I expected. And I am so excited to marry him. 

I'm getting married y'all. 

This is my real life. For the love. 

M. 


 






 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday, March 18, 2016

A perfectly #puremichelle proposal 💛

OH. MY. GOODNESS. 

So here is the story of when I said YES! 



So I knew a big question was coming. We have been dating with intention the entire time. Marriage has been discussed since the first hello. We didn't want to waste each other's time or emotions. We didn't want to play games. We have been ring shopping together. 

I knew it was just a matter of time. 


So Tuesday. 

I was CLUELESS. 

I met with my cousin in the morning for coffee. We talked about marriage, babies, life, and everything in between. 

I was supposed to be meeting Steve around 10:00 am. But I was distracted, talking to my cousin, and didn't realize how late it was. So I didn't get to Steve until noonish. #alwayslate

I met him at Target, because I needed to buy deoderant. How romantic. #smellyshelly

He looked sooooooooooo handsome. I instantly thought, "THIS IS IT. ITS GOING DOWN RIGHT NOW, AT TARGET." 



But he reminded me that he had a job interview that afternoon, and I felt like a nerd for even thinking he was going to propose that day. Clearly my mind was on sparkly things. 

So we went to lunch at Jimmy Johns. We only had an hour and a half together because I showed up two hours late. But he was kind and compassionate, as always. We sat and ate, while talking comfortably about our future. 




I told him on the For The Love group page, we were discussing, and taking bets on when he would propose. I read him a few comments, and then he asked me when I thought it was going to be. I was ABSOLUTELY convinced that it would be Thursday. We had already discussed having a nice dinner Thursday evening, and I had already picked out what dress I wanted to wear. His facial expressions were hard to read, but I could tell he was thinking a lot. But he asked a few times about the FTL girls discussing the proposal. I didn't think anything of it. 




After lunch, we sat and discussed a book we have been reading together. We talked about the importance of knowing that love is more than a feeling. It requires action and commitment. It was so good, and I am so thankful we have been reading "The Right One" together. It has really help shape a lot of our intentional conversations, in preparation for marriage. 



So after lunch, he took me back to my car. We sat and prayed for a few minutes, and he was off to his interview. 

I went to Target with my best friend, Sierra, and then went to my counselor training at the crisis pregnancy center. 

After leaving my training, I called one of my best FTL girls, Kimberly. We talked and talked about Steve, the proposal, and I told her that I had a suspicion that he was going to do a cheesy video, because I accidentally saw a text on his phone the other day. She acted clueless, and I got off the phone, wandered Bath and Body Works, smelling everything. 

I then talked to my girlfriend, Shawna, and *whined* how I wished she could join us for street ministry that night. I hadn't seen her in a while, and just missed her. But she told me that there was no way she would make it to Pontiac in time. 

I then talked to Steve. And that man was so distracted. "Yes babe, I love you too... Hmmm... Yes, I'm listening. Okay. Actually, you know what? I'm helping a friend, and have to let you go. I can't focus. Okay. Call me after street ministry, praying you have an amazing night. Love you..." 

So I went to Target. (Third time that day) And I picked up a case of water for street ministry, and then headed into Pontiac. 

On my way there, my heart began to race, and I had the smallest thought that he might actually be lying, and jump out of a bush with a ring, while I was sharing Jesus. But then I remembered that he was helping a friend, and his sister was having a baby. Plus, I just KNEW he wasn't going to ask until Thursday. 

So I met up with my team. We sat in the car, chatted for a few, and prayed before we hit the streets. 

We have been going out every Tuesday night for 8 months. Our heart is for the prostitue, the homeless, the forgotten, the abandoned, the convict, the addict, the lost, the weary, and the unloved. We bring sandwiches, and the hope that is only found in Jesus. We believe in consistency, and we believe in the power of the Gospel. 

So we hit the streets. We went to our normal spots, and after hitting the library, I assumed we were going to the bus stop. But we didn't turn. David pulled into a parking spot, and Cheryl told us to get out, and we started walking. 

MY HEART WAS RACING. 

This was completely out of the ordinary. 

As we walked, Cheryl pushed me ahead, and told me to keep walking. 




And so as I walked, serving Jesus, and loving people, I walked right into the most beautiful love story, and directly into my proposal. 

It couldn't have been more #puremichelle 

I walked into a courtyard. It had twinkling lights, sunflowers, candles, marquee letters, beautiful table cloths, and a computer set up, with a sign to press play. 



He had set it up so beautifully. 





So I sat in the chair. And pushed play. And then pushed pause. I couldn't believe this was really happening to me. It was my turn!!! I wanted to soak up every second. 

So I pushed play again. 


Pictures of our first date scrolled by. And then pictures from the night he told me he was falling in love with me, when I told him that I loved him, showing him my name in the FTL book, showing up to lunch in matching flannels, and all of our memories. 

AND THEN 

My dearest friend Kimberly (that I had JUST spoken with) showed up on the video, and encouraged me to "just say yes" to Steve. 




I could not believe it. 

He had been scheming with my 500 for the love sisters, and had gathered videos of them, from all over the country, just to be apart of my big night. He knew how precious they are to me, and wanted to include them. #allthefeels 

So they all knew! And had been tricking me for days!!!! AHHH! 

The video went on for 9 minutes, and the whole time I screamed "SERIOULSY! You got Kate Clark?!" "WHAT?!? It's Corie! And Auntie M!!" "IS THIS FOR REAL?!" 



He then came over to me, grabbed my hand, and led me to the center of some candles. 



I hugged him, and whispered, "Hey babe!" In his ear. 

He then started to go down on one knee, and I pulled him up, and told him I wasn't ready. 

I just wanted to soak in the moment, and I didn't want to forget anything. #leslieknopes 

I then told him I was ready. 



I don't remember exactly what was said. But I believe it was something short and sweet like, "I love you, Michelle Robinson. Will you marry me?" 



To which I said, "YES!" 



I then realized someone had been taking pictures. It was my best girlfriend, Shawna. (The one I had called earlier about wanting to see!) 







About that same time, I heard cheering. I was so confused. It was two of my best girls, Si and Meg!! SERIOUSLY. I can't believe he had been planning everything with my friends, and I had no idea. 








It meant the world to me that they got to be apart of my big moment. 



And I love how he incorporated my favorite people, my favorite things, and my heart for Pontiac. He is an absolute treasure. 

He had been in cahoots with my ministry partners, David and Cheryl, to plan out Tuesday night. I just love every bit of that. 



An Oakland County Sherrif was patrolling in the area, and stopped by to see all the hullabaloo, and was able to join the celebration! He even gave us our first engagement gift. He owns a photography studio in downtown Pontiac, and is letting us use it for free for our engagement photos! 




We then took a few photos, because for the first time in my entire life, a sparkly ring was on my finger, and a man who loved me was by my side. 









I then called my Dad, and shared with him our exciting news. 

I didn't call or text anyone else for a while, because I didn't remember any one else's numbers. My phone was in the car, since I don't normally carry it when we are on the streets. So after the excitement died down, I got my phone, and I called my mom, sisters, brother, and best friend Collin. 

We then sat in the car for a little bit, looking at each other googly eyed, and grinning like fools. #isthisreallife 

I can't believe how well this man knows my soul. 

I then texted and called some of my best friends and family. And then my phone died. 

I was so hungry at that point, so I asked him if we could grab a bite to eat. 

He suggested Taco Bell. #howromantic His sister had JUST delivered the baby, and he wanted to get to the hospital as quickly as possible. 

So we ended up at Panera Bread for a quick meal. 


After that, we sat in his car and watched the video again, and he shared how over the last few days he had been in contact with my best girls. It just made my heart burst. 

This man. Oh my golly. 

I sure am a lucky girl. 

Every thing about that evening was perfect. It was so #puremichelle. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way. 

Jeans. Tee shirt. Messy hair. Sandals. 

Pontiac. Best friends. For The Love Sisterhood. Sunflowers. Twinkle lights. His mom's table cloths. Candles. 

He did reallllllly good. 



I was just serving Jesus, and loving people, and then BAM. #gamechanger

Jesus is so faithful. I am overwhelmed. 

The Princess of Clarkston has officially found her Prince Charming. #lettheweddingbellsring #offthemarket 

Also. Look at how precious Steve's nephew is!! (Born at the same time we got engaged!!!) 



We are thinking a six month engagement, and a fall wedding sound pretty nice. 

I have already tried on wedding dresses. #mamabearisEXCITED And I just cannot believe it is actually my turn. After being a bridesmaid 10 times, and planning a couple dozen other weddings, it's my turn. I'm not sure when that will sink it, but it's currently surreal. 


#iwokeuplikethis #ENGAGED #helikeditsoheputaringonit 



I am completely overwhelmed by how good our God is. This story He is writing is more beautiful than I ever could've imagined. The details (which one day I will share more of) are so intricate that no one could ever say they were coincidences. 

I am so thankful I waited. Even when it was hard, and lonely, and felt like it would never end. I am thankful for the grace that kept me going, and helped me be obedient. I am thankful I saved my kisses and my secrets for him. 

I am so in love with this man. He points me to Jesus every day. He encourages my soul, he studies the Bible with me, he prays for me, and with me. He opens car doors for me, he plans the best dates, and he makes me laugh. He shows up with flowers and hand written notes. He tells me every day that I am amazing, beautiful, kind hearted, lovely, brave, strong, and capable. He celebrates all the strength, sass, feminity, quirks, and whimsy found in me. He challenges me. He slow dances with me in the driveway. He brings out the best in me. 

On our very first date, he told me, "Michelle, I see you as a daughter of the King, and I will treat you as such. You are a princess." He absolutely has kept his word. 

This girl is getting married. Eeeeeeeeeek!!! 

#steveandchelle 
#fortheloveofsteveandchelle

M. 














Sunday, March 13, 2016

I was praying for my sweet man, before I knew his name.

The following words have never seen the light of day, or ever been read by anyone. 

They can be found in an old journal that sits in my nightstand drawer. It is full of prayers and ramblings from the deepest part of my heart. 

This morning I stumbled upon it, and turned to the "pray for my husband" section I have written in over the last handful of years. And I sat and wept. 

For years I have been praying for this sweet man. I am so thankful I wrote some of my rambling prayers down, because it just shows even more how God answered my them in this amazing and dear man, Steve. 

Here's a peek into the depths of my heart. 

Oh what a good Father. 





10-6-13 

Dear Lord. I am feeling impatient, and that You have forgotten my cry. Please send me my man. A man that loves You, and has a desire to honor You in all that he does. A man with integrity and convictions. A man who is willing to leave it all to follow You. A man who will lead, and I can submit under. Please send a man that just lives for You, and will encourage me to live for You, and love people. Please send me "my Adam" and seriously Lord, send him right to me. I want people to know that You sent him, it was nothing I did on my own. Help me to be patient while You hide him from me, help me to be obedient while I wait, and please remind me of Your faithfulness. Lord, I'm tired. Renew me as I wait. And please, send him soon. I can't wait to meet him. 

10-8-13 

Dear Lord, please strengthen and encourage my man. Remind him that You are faithful. Give him good friends that point him back to You and Your Word. Let hope bubble up in his soul. And Lord, let our time, our day, our moment, not be too far off. Send him quickly. I am longing to meet him. Continue to prepare my heart, and his too, for what You have in store for us. Keep him safe, renew his mind, strengthen his foundation on You. And keep his lips just for me, as I wait just for him. 

11-10-13

Dear Jesus. Tonight I feel content where You have me. I know You are using me here and now. Please help me continue to develop characteristics to become more like You, and to be a good wife. Continue to mold my husband, even now, so he is more like You. Help him to be content in the here and now, while he waits for me. Use him in mighty ways to love people and make an impact for Your kingdom. And please. Keep that boy safe. I am tired. I want to sleep through the night without waking up with his safety on my heart, and in my prayers. Give us both peace and understanding as we wait on Your perfect timing. Amen. 

5-4-14 

Give me faith not to doubt Your plan. And help me to continue to trust in You. I know You have a man out there for me. I believe that. So please show up in a such a way that it's so clear. 

I just don't want to be waiting without purpose, Lord. I don't want to feel feelings, or think thoughts, or pray prayers for a man that isn't mine. I don't want to create any bonds to anyone who isn't my husband. So please make it very clear. 

Thanks for being sovereign through it all. Thank you, Daddy, for having my best interests at heart. 





This man is everything I have prayed for, and not one thing I ever expected. I am so thankful for him. And so grateful I have a God that cares enough about me to write an incredible love story with such complex, intricate details, that bring Him honor and fame, while I find the love of my life. Ah. It's just all so good. 

I can't believe this gets to be MY life. 

M.