A Beautiful Start

“For it is possible that the earth was Art-made to whisper hymns over us while we sleep. And it is possible that we were made with the capacity to listen.”
Annie Dillard

Currently…
I’m writing from a little corner booth at a local Starbucks and listening to some music as I warm my hands on my cup of cafe mocha. The band playing in my ears is the same band that opened for Josh Garrells when Andrew and I went to his show in a tiny little theatre in downtown Charlotte this summer, and though I’m facing a busy street with colorful lights and bright signs in Hangul lettering that I can’t read, in my mind, I’m back to warm Carolina summer days. Watching rainstorms and lightning and splashing in the puddles that covered our entire front yard. Washing dishes after dinner, the warm, soapy water up to my elbows, and singing along to the beautiful lyrics. Riding the hills between the greenway where I worked in the car that had no air conditioning, leaving me sticky and slightly miserable, and blaring the banjo tunes as I showered off the dirt of the day. I haven’t been transported back to my Carolina home in such a powerful way in a really long time. It’s chilly in this Starbucks, and it’s busy and loud. I can hear the chatter of a language I don’t know even through my headphones, and I’m really, really far away from those warm summer days in the southern USA.
But it’s ok. Life in Korea, although slightly more chilly and at the moment a little stressful, has still been full of the same beauty and goodness that has always been here.
I’m still learning to live alone, while being intentional with the community around me.
I’m learning how to steward my money better, and how to be creative with giving.
I don’t think I’ll ever be a good teacher, but Lord knows I’m learning how to be more organized, structured, firm, and diligent.
I’m learning how to be content in a new and more difficult semester of school, content as I near the half-way point of my time in Korea, content as I navigate the unknowns of a new year and content as I face even more unknowns once I return back home. 2014 was a year marked by incredible changes, the biggest steps of faith I’ve ever walked, and God’s grace all over each endeavor. I am anxious about many things, but I have no reason not to believe that 2015 will be full of the riches of His grace, whether they come in the form of hardship or ease.
Since the last time I posted, so many things have happened! A sweet christmas season came to a close with cherished memories made on the coast of Korea- one I’ll not soon forget. I was able to enjoy a nice loooong holiday because my school was renovating the building. I started some new books. Made some new friends and deepened my existing relationships.

Oh…

 

 

and the boy I love flew across the globe and asked me to marry him!

 

Andrew’s visit to Korea was over too soon, as all good things seem to be. Seeing him walk through the doors at Terminal C in the airport was a moment swelling with joy, and pretty much a blur (don’t ask me about the 3 hours I spent wandering the Incheon Airport and literally pacing in front of the terminal doors waiting for him to arrive….). All I remember was running towards him and hearing him say, “Finally!” as we hugged for the first time in 4 months. I wish we could bottle up moments like these. I’d replay that one always if I could…
We had an amazing time wandering around Seoul on New Year’s weekend, watching K-pop on TV with our hosts in their apartment where we stayed, climbing a mountain to watch the first sunrise of the year with a very kind group of Korean couples, eating kimchi and rice cake soup for breakfast, getting lost in Gangnam, takine selfies on the subway, experiencing the Seoul tower, being followed around a museum by two little girls who wanted to practice english, and riding the KTX and watching the sunset over the mountains. After 3 nights in Seoul, we headed back to Changwon for the last few days of Andrew’s stay. We went on a sushi date, I got food poisoning, was sick all night, and Andrew stayed by my side and got up each time I threw up to hand me paper towels and make sure I wasn’t dying, (which I was sure I was). The next morning, he put on my pink bathroom slippers (every bathroom in Korea has little slip-on plastic slides since floors are typically always wet)… and I found him scrubbing my bathroom spotless- grout and all. Over twenty-one months of dating, I’ve watched him love me in many different ways, and I’ve found myself thinking in those moments many times, “I could marry this man…” After this long, rough night, and after all the ways he took care of me while I was sick, I found myself thinking the next day- in a more certain, sure way than I normally have thought: “Andrew’s going to be a great husband.”
God knew, but I sure had no clue, that even as I thought that, Andrew had a ring hidden in his suitcase, and he was planning to ask me to be his wife the next day. Sure enough, on Sunday, January 4th, we’re climbing up stairs that lead to a huge bell inside a pagoda on top of a hill overlooking the city and the mountains, and he jokingly comments on how many stairs we’ve climbed this week and he starts singing U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” and then the next thing I know, he’s on his knee and he’s saying he’s found what he’s looking for and I’d never seen him smile so big.
My friend Caroline asked me the other day how it feels to be engaged, and it’s a completely different feeling than I thought it would be. I wasn’t expecting to feel too different, or to look at Andrew through different eyes, or to sense that our relationship has taken on a different feel, but it has, and I have to say, I love it. As the reality of what we’re committing ourselves to started sinking in, and as new thoughts and feelings began to surface, all I can say is that saying “Yes” to Andrew 21 months ago when this journey first began, and saying “Yes” to being his wife, and all along, continually saying “Yes” to whatever the Lord has planned for us has all been nothing but an undeserved, unmeasurable, beautiful gift. Andrew and I had a conversation shortly after the proposal about how God gifts good and perfect gifts. Even if we didn’t have each other, it would still be absolutely true of God that He is good and His gifts are perfect.
The day we got engaged was a Sunday, and we went to church together that evening. The sermon couldn’t have been more perfect for such a significant day in our lives, for it was a reminder of sanctification, of giving our salvation flesh and bones. It was a reminder that the call of Christ is to be changed, and how that change takes diligent work because it is uprooting sin that doesn’t die easily and it is laboring for a fruit that is life eternal. Yet all along, we will look back and discover that God has been working to do these things in us that we could never do alone. All is done by God in us, and all is done in community, with fellow sojourners on the same journey.
I don’t know much about marriage, you know. But to hear these words spoken over us after only a few hours after agreeing to spend our lives next to each other was not just fitting and encouraging, it breathed anew the flame inside my heart to live even more for the glory of Jesus, by the work of His spirit, to be sanctified each day I breathe– and now, alongside a man who holds steadfast to believing the goodness of a faithful God.
Together.
I’m so excited to step into the beginnings of a brand new year with this challenge before me, and with the hope and promise of getting to marry Andrew Peter. I’ve walked the first few weeks of January with new goals in mind, different areas where I want to see my faith deepened, and many areas I know God is breaking and re-building in my heart in order to do the hard work of sanctification, in order to make me more like Jesus.
With all of this, I am humbled and grateful that we don’t walk alone. God has enriched my life in abundant ways by giving me an incredible community here in Korea. I begged like a child for friends and relationships in my city before moving here, and week in and week out God reveals those answered prayers by the lives of His people here. Bright, brilliant, creative, intentional friends who teach me and challenge my life on a regular basis, and a solid church family who love Jesus so, so much. I’m learning so much about our innate human need for community, and better, how much the Lord delights to bless us with one another. Another one of His good and perfect gifts, undeserved, but oh how we need people and relationships!
I could say so much more about what the past  weeks have unfolded before me, and of how much I have seen the Lord just pour out His grace all over my life. I think I’ll leave it here, with thanks from the deepest part of my being to a Master Story-teller who keeps calling us all to new chapters filled with more beauty than our hearts can contain.
Happy New Year, sweet friends!
Let’s keep seeking truth, goodness, and beauty in the year to come. 
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