Category Archives: singleness / dating

exciting news!!

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Ted Riley and I were matched on e-harmony August 28, 2009 (which also happens to be his birthday). We went on our first date a few weeks later, on September 13th. It was about as close to love-at-first-sight as I think any relationship could be. Ted said later that he knew by the second date he would never find someone else like me again (haha… he was right on that one… such discernment.) :)

Well we hit the ground running in September and haven’t looked back since. He met my parents two weeks later, and I met his family about a month later, when they came to town to visit (they currently live in MS). He helped me move my piano (that’s when I knew he was a keeper!), took time off work to take care of me when I was sick, camped outside Target, in the cold, for 4 hours the day after Thanksgiving so I could buy DVDs for next to nothing… over the past 5 months, he has constantly sacrificed over and over… whether it was money or time or just effort he’s given to encourage and help me. I have grown to love this man in a way I never knew was possible.

Over the past few months, we’ve talked about wanting to be married to each other. Financially, I didn’t think it would happen any time soon, since his car died (aka committed suicide by throwing a rod through the engine) shortly after we met. I’ve spent many nights learning to trust God with the timing when everything in me wanted to push (ok, there were also many times i dropped not-so-subtle hints too). :) Knowing my lease was up this coming summer was a source of struggle for me… Where would I go? What do I do then? I’m a planner by profession, i wanted to plan the next few months and years… and I couldn’t. I just had to trust that this WAS in fact going somewhere and it’d all be okay.

Well, enough blabbing… on to the real reason ya’ll are reading this… the STORY! :)

For Valentines day, Ted told me he had an entire day of surprises planned. He mentioned he’d pick me up before lunch and I would need a dressy change of clothes for dinner. He seemed a bit nervous about the whole day but I figured that was simply because it was our first Valentines day together and i know he had planned so many details (being the sappy romantic that he is) that he just wanted it to be perfect. I was also wanting the day to be perfect… and was kind of struggling with that… Ted was very helpful in reminding me that its not all about the hoop-la of the holiday, its about us enjoying each other and enjoying the time we got to spent together. That was such a helpful stress reliever and I was really just able to relax and enjoy the day with no expectations other than enjoying the day with my sweetie. Being the romantic that he is, he planned the day as a “trip down memory lane” … complete with little gifts and cards throughout the day. He came to pick me up and had flowers (really BEAUTIFUL ones) and a card. To anyone who can’t handle “sappy” you might want to stop reading now… its gonna get a little (or a LOT) mushy!

Each “surprise” was introduced with a card and a poem. This was the first poem that was in the card which came with the flowers:
1. “And now… we’ll start the day of Valentine’s
with flowers and a kiss from me
and then a walk down memory lane
with a trip for lunch to Rafferty’s.”

We first met at Rafferty’s on September 13th, exactly 5 months prior to the day. So, we sat there at lunch and just laughed about how nervous we both were that first date and how we both over-analyzed everything… from what we wore to what we said… to how many times I had to get up and pee because I was so nervous (but anyone who knows me knows that this had nothing to do with me being nervous) :) sigh.

On the way to Rafferty’s he gave me another “clue” card and a gift bag:
2. “And for the ride, you may enjoy
A song or two that rings out true.
And if you listen carefully,
You’ll hear the hope that lies in you.”

The CD is called “the hope that lies in you” by the Glorious Unseen. It was one that I had wanted to get for a while. So, we listened to that in the car as we drove around town for the rest of the day.

After lunch, another card, which read:
3. “And now that we have reminisced
And shared a meal and memories
The next location is your guess
And what you guess I want to see :)
To aid you in your figuring
I’ll offer you a simple clue:
I’d love to see you choosing stripes
But solids seem to be your due.”

We then headed to Bailey’s (where we had our second date) for a few rounds of pool, where Ted once again consistently won every game (except for the one where I cheated!) On the way there, though, came another gift:

4. “And on the way I have a gift,
Another sliver of my plan.
I hope you have a pleasant “knight”
When next you journey to Catan.”

The gift was the game “Cities and Knights” an expansion kit to Settlers of Catan (one of our favorites games). I read the instructions in the car when we were on the way to Baileys for the pool I mentioned above.

After pool (where Ted wiped the floor with me), came card #5:
5. “By now you no doubt know my plan
And what is next you clearly see
But join me if you will, my dear,
For a cup of Underground Coffee.”

On our second date, after Baileys, we went to Coffee Underground and sat there and chatted for a while. We “recreated” that date this day, except I got coffee instead of tea :)

After coffee, came card #6… and another note that had no card:
6. “Another gift I have for you
As we are heading place to place.
This gift will hang from both your lobes,
And frame your pretty, smiling face.”

The gift was a pair of silver and pearl lotus flower dangly earrings. The next note read as follows:
6b. “Another card I do not have
But somewhere else I’d like to go
But first let’s change and freshen up
Then see a bell tower lined with snow.”

So, we went back to his house to change and get dressed up for dinner. After getting changed, we headed out to Furman for a nice (albeit cold) walk around the lake. He brought the final 2 cards and one gift bags with him for our little stroll. Card #7 reads:
7. “To end the journey of today
The final stop is just ahead
If you can guess the restaurant
Then be you proud, and be well fed
The choices there are plentiful –
Exotic meats and fish and fowl
A glass of wine would go well too
So guess the place, we’ll head there now.”

Dinner was at Saskatoon, an exotic game restauraunt. Before we headed there though, he had one last gift. I opened the bag and there was nothing but a big red bow inside. With a goofy grin, he put it on his head, and then told me to open the last card:
8. “And now the day is nearly through
With only one gift left to see.
I’ve saved the best for last, of course,
And want to offer simply …ME!”

While I was looking at that and just laughing at the goofiness of Ted standing there with a bow on his head he said something to the effect of “I meant that… I really want to offer you all of me. And there’s another part to that gift.” He then got down on a knee, and at the same time, my jaw hit the pavement. I was like “what are you doing… you don’t even have money for the ring yet… where’d that come from… ??” (there were multiple thoughts going through my head all at the same time.) I mean, i KNEW what he was doing, but i just didn’t believe it! I had really convinced myself that it wouldn’t be for several more months, and was just blown away by him keeping it a secret so well (but looking back, WAKE UP EMILY… ALL THE CLUES WERE THERE!!!!) :)

He said that though he had planned the entire day, he didn’t plan what to say at this point. Being that my mind was a pile of happy mush at this point, I don’t exactly remember what he said… but I think somewhere in there was “will you marry me?” I started bawling like a fool, still in shock that he was actually proposing to me! (again, probably not a surprise that Emily started crying at a moment like this… note to self, buy a wedding dress with pockets for tissues) :) I’m assuming I said yes, being that I have a sparkly ring on my finger now. :)

We ate dinner at Saskatoon, but to me it felt more like a cloud. I am honored and humbled to have his affection and love. I look forward to soon becoming Mrs. Edward Riley and beginning our lives together as husband and wife. Stay tuned for wedding updates… :)

a look back

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thanks for your patience with me as i’ve been noticeably absent the last month or so.  i hate that my blog has taken a back seat so drastically, because if for no other reason, it is always encouraging for me to go back and look over what God has done in my life.  I was especially encouraged a few weeks ago to look back and see an overview of what God did in the past few years.

So, keeping up with the tradition, here is a brief overview of 2009…

The year started off on a very low note – with me working through some very difficult issues from my past and having to face some personal heartache that I would have much rather left buried.  Thanks to the help of Matt and Julie and many others from my church, I continued to learn what forgiveness looked like, but not without many tears.

That struggle began several months of discouragement and at times hopelessness.  Looking back now, I am so grateful for my friends who stuck with me, upheld me, and encouraged me each step of the way… and at times, did everything necessary to turn my gaze off myself and back to the hope found in the cross.

I learned through that time, that my safety and comfort must be found in Jesus alone.  That though others disappoint, and at times cause severe hurt and pain, that Jesus never fails.  I learned that like Eustace, in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, that at times God strips away ourselves, but it is always done with a hand of love and mercy.

2009 also was a year in which I started to see my health improve.  This year brought for the first time in years the first consistent season of sleeping normally and the first period of weeks with no migraines.  I’m grateful to God for the help of the doctors and others, but ultimately, for His hand guiding my health and my life.

then began a season of questions… should i remain at my job? where should I live? should I pursue moving to another state?  if so, where?  i began pursuing a long-standing desire… to move to the Washington DC area… for months, I investigated, prayed and talked with people.  By late spring, I felt a peace about pursuing it and by mid summer I was convinced I was moving… as soon as God provided a job.  I spent 10 days in the DC area on a fact finding mission, found a place to live, spent hours driving in traffic and was excited about the pending change.  Then God closed the door.  It was clear to me that the door was closed tight and that I was not to pursue any further.  Yet it was also abundantly clear that this change was for my good and was given to me by a God who knows what is best for me.  So, my roots are in Greenville.  But my hope in God grew through that time, and though the “move” was unsuccessful, the lessons learned were well worth the months of questioning.

This fall brought changes once again to my life.  September 13th was my first date with Ted Riley, a man whom I have since grown to love.  We met in August via e-harmony and i am grateful for how God (not merely 29 dimensions of compatibility) brought the two of us together.  I could not imagine a better fit for me and look forward to seeing what God does with our relationship.

The past 4 months have been times of continuing improved health (despite the doctors telling me in August that they thought I could have pancreatic cancer) and new areas of learning to trust God.  Contentment looks different in this season (not “is there even possibly a good guy out there who would like me?” but “when will I get married / when will I have kids / when does the next “season” start?”) but the struggle remains the same… so I keep learning that no matter the circumstance, that my confidence and hope must be in the only One who remains unchanging.

In October, I began writing weekly online devotionals for Devotional Christian.  It has been an encouraging and challenging step for me… in learning to be more thoughful about what I write and growing in being more theologically informed.

I’ve seen reconciliation in relationships this year.  I’ve seen improvement in health.  I’ve seen new changes.  But through it all, I’ve learned more of the faithfulness of our God.  Through every change, He has remained true to me.  And through every time I haven’t remained true to Him, He lovingly corrects and draws me back.

What a God we serve.  I look forward to the challenges and blessings of 2010, confident that through every step, He will be by my side.

He never will leave

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I have been greatly comforted lately by the promise and hope that my God will never leave, never forsake, never dissapoint and never abandon me. 

Several months ago, I began dating a wonderful man of God and have been greatly blessed and encouraged by his deep love for God and his tender care for me.  But there have been times already where we’ve disagreed.  There have been moments where i’ve done something sinfully to make him angry and I’m sure he could have found it easier to simply walk away.  and vice versa. 

we were talking last night and I was crying and my heart was struggling with being full of fear… i am so grateful for the gift he is to me and am scared of the thought of losing him.  i’m very aware that God knows the end result and though we plan our steps that His plan may not be for the two of us to be together… or that if we end up together that one of us could die and that life may not end up looking like what we hope and plan at this point.  I hope and pray that is not the case.  well, last night, I was really struggling with trusting God and was fearing that God would maliciously or vindictively take Ted away from me to simply teach me a lesson or punish me somehow. 

Ted graciously reminded me that our God is not vindictive or harsh.  He does not hold our sins over us and his desire is for good for His children.  And as His child, that means His desire is for good for me. 

But sometimes that’s hard to believe because life doesn’t feel that way.  Yesterday was one of those days… I spent most of the day with a heavy cloud over my head and with a fear of God’s judgment or vengence.  I was yet again, more aware of my sin than of God’s grace as displayed through the cross of Christ. 

I’m grateful for the reminders God gives us in our weakness.  Yesterday, He reminded me that He is good, His mercy is everlasting and His goodness and truth endure through all generations. 

I don’t need to fear the unknown future.  I don’t need to worry about “what-ifs”.  My God has promised never to leave.  Even if all around gives way, He is the confident Rock on which I stand.  And I know that even if He were to take me down another undesired path, just like He upheld me through every path I’ve faced thus far, He will do so again.

So, I was able to sleep last night, resting in that promise.  Resting in knowing that my God will always be by my side as my friend, underneath as my support, ahead as my guide and behind as my protection.  And how grateful I am that those are truths that will never ever change.

the answer for sorrow, regret, and pain

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there are many feelings going through my head right now. feelings of loss. feelings of regret. feelings of deep and unexplanable sadness.

today is not a special day. its not an anniversary of some sad event. it’s nothing really. its just merely another day.

but my heart is heavy.

my heart is grieved at the sin in the world and at the suffering we experience here as a result. i heard of a friend of a friend who just began suffering with severe migraines. i hate that there’s another one added to our little “club.” i found out today of a new friend of mine who lost a son a few years back and left behind 2 sweet girls. my heart breaks for their loss. i know of another dear child of God who was sexually abused and my emotions oscillate from extreme anger to deep sorrow. i know of countless unemployed. countless unhealthy and sick. countless discouraged folks feeling lost and like life is on hold.

and in my heart, i just want to cry. cry for the hurt in the world. cry for the hopeless state of God’s creation. cry that the power of sin is so rapant and pervasive in what was once a beautiful and holy place.

i wonder if this is how the writer of Lamentations felt as he looked and saw the destruction of Jerusalem.

“for your ruin is as vast as the sea… who can heal you?”

Who can heal the effect of sin? Who can heal sorrow? Who can heal loneliness and broken hearts and confusion and pain and despair?

When viewing the magnitude of sin and sorrow, it almost seems trite to say “look to Jesus.” it seems like there should be another answer.

But that IS the answer. Jesus is the answer. His steadfast love and faithfulness carry the sorrowful mother through yet another miscarriage. His compassion and tenderness comfort the grieving widow, spouse, father, mother, child and friend. This friend of sorrows understands the cry of the barren or single who simply longs for a home and a family. His mercies truly never do come to an end. His goodness is true. Look to Jesus… He’s the One who paid for your sin. Look to Jesus… He is the great Physiciain. Look to Jesus… He is acquainted with grief and sorrow and is near to you in your need.

“I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit; you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’ You came near when I called on you; you said ‘Do not fear!’ You have taken up my cause, O Lord, you have redeemed my life. You have seen the wrong done to me, O Lord, judge my cause.”

where i’ve been…

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sorry the blog has been so quiet lately.  my life seems to have chaged quite drastically over the past few weeks.  and the changes have been good and very exciting and faith building and tiring all at the same time.

about a month ago, God answered a very specific prayer of mine… a prayer that I have prayed for years.  I’ve prayed that I would meet a man who might one day become my husband… a man who loves God and cherishes that relationship above all else, a man who will love and care for me with patience and tenderness, a man who will lead and guide me humbly as he follows Christ.  Well on August 28th, God answered that prayer.  Now, I have NO clue at all where this will end… but we are both praying for and pursuing the possiblity of marriage.  God knows the end… we are currently in the process of taking the steps He’s called us to for now and trusting Him to make clear the end result of this path. 

In so many ways, Ted is far beyond what I’ve asked for in a man.  I am one very lucky girl to have his affection and care.  And yet somehow, he feels the same way about me… that he’s the lucky one.  Yet like I said, God knows the end result… but either way… even if for some unforseen reason, God takes Ted just as quickly as He brought him into my life, (oh I sure do hope and pray that’s not the case),  I have grown in my faith and trust in God through this process. 

Well, that, i’m sure as you can imagine, has taken a good bit of time lately.  We’ve spent a LOT of time together just getting to know each other… asking questions, laughing, talking, praying, etc.  I’ve enjoyed every moment.  Which has resulted in a lack of discipline when it comes to posting on the blog regularly.  I apologize for that. 

Another thing that has come up is my health.  The last 2 months or so have been some of the best physically I can remember.  I’ve started working out with a personal trainer to increase my strength and to help my body be able to fight illness better.  We’re monitoring what I’m eating and so far have lost 17 lbs!  I’m grateful to God for the ability to be able to do this.

Also, something else that has been on my heart lately is writing…  which is kind of funny considering that I’ve written significantly less in the past few weeks.  Well, an opportunity has come up for me to possibly do some devotional writings for a website online.  I’m very excited about the opportunity and am humbled to think that God might use me in this way.  I should know something within the next week or so… 

i seem to be in a season which is new for me… my cup overflows.  Now, I know God’s goodness and mercy always are with me and that no matter the circumstances, that spiritually my cup always overflows.  But right now, physically and practically, I seem to be in a season where things are better than I could have imagined. 

I would appreciate prayer that God would help me realize that even now, even when things are “good” that I am just as helpless and needy for grace as I am on a day when I can barely get out of bed without pain.  I will try to be more consistent with my blog posts as well …  :)