Joy Comes In The Morning

7:16 am (Eastern Time).

I’d been awake for 17 hours, eyes falling shut as I hurried home on the cracked sidewalks, stopping only for traffic lights and the occasional garbage truck on it’s morning route.

The cool morning mist surrounded me, a sort of ethereal fog blanketing the quiet streets, muffling the sounds of the traffic, the crispness of the morning making itself known as my breath formed a frozen cloud in front of me.

Passing by several blocks of brick-framed houses and doors with chipped paint, navigating puddles and hearing the occasional crunch of some leftover snow beneath my feet, I crossed the second-last street before home, entering the park, knowing my destination was close.

And all of a sudden, as I entered that park, my awareness of my surroundings began to shift.

The cool air, the mist, the hazy fog remained.

But suddenly these were joined by a canopy of empty branches, tall trees reaching for the sky, housing birds that sang and chirped and crowed, filling my ears with their morning chorus.

My feet, before hurried and occasionally stumbling, began to slow.

My eyes, before drooping and fatigued, began to open.

My heart, before tired and worn out, began to lift.

I stopped on the sidewalk, taking it all in.

And as that glorious chorus of bird song filled my ears, and the fog wrapped around me like a comforting blanket, I smiled.

The morning was here. He was here.

The song that had been in my head all week ran through again; pieces of lyrics and truth swirling in my brain;

…And when I cannot stand, I’ll fall on You…

I stood in wonder, amazed at the beauty of the morning and it’s Creator.

And as I pondered, I thought of those times when I’d experienced similar feelings, been in similar awe of the beauty of our world, laid before me like a glorious canvas.

That time in Cambodia, at the top of the highest mountain, surrounded by green grass and fog and massive rock, and tips of mountains peeking through in between.
That time in Hawaii, at the edge of the ocean looking out across the vast horizon of water and sky, surrounded by glorious colour and cloud and the beauty of a sunset like I’d never seen before.
Those times in the Beatton Valley, close to home, seated on the tip of one of my favourite hilly ridges, surrounded by the sound of the rushing river and the wind filling my ears, looking out at the vivid green trees and hills, contrasting against the stark blue sky or the starry night or the rippling clouds or the fading sunset. I’d been there so many times, and each felt just as new and just as beautiful.
That time in Tumbler Ridge, as we crested the tip of a ridge deep in the alpine, and were greeted with blue-hazed mountains and valleys and lakes, endless vistas stretching to the edges of the horizon in all directions, so still you could hear yourself breathe.
That time in northern Alberta where on a drive home we were brought to a stop by the sight of the black skies suddenly breaking out with dancing green aurora, flitting across the sky like ballerinas across a stage, oscillating and curving and stretching and lighting up the sky in a light show unmatched by any created by man.

The list goes on and on.
Cambodia. Hawaii. The Beatton Valley. Tumbler Ridge. Northern Alberta.
and now Ontario.

I was reminded, not for the first time, that 

whether I sit or stand,
whether I rise or fall,
if I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there His hand will guide me.
even there His strength will support me.

He is with me.
Through all my life, through all my travels, in all the places I call home.
He is faithful.
Through all the ups and downs, through all the uncertainties, in all my doubts and fears.
He is good.
For though weeping may last through the night, joy comes in the morning.
He makes all things work together for my good.
Through all the long nights and joys and tears and adventures and deep breaths and new steps.

He knows me. He is right there with me.
He goes before me and behind me, hemming me in on all sides.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

And just like David’s response after God had brought him across miles and years of journey, and so clearly revealed His love to him day after day, making and fulfilling promises all along the way,
I remain amazed.

Who am I, Sovereign Lord, that you have brought me this far?
What more can I say?

For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. For the sake of your word and according to Your will, You have done such great things and made them known to Your servant.
How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears…

No matter where I go,
No matter what I do,

I am so thankful.

For He is with me.
And He is faithful.
And He is good.
And He makes all things work together for my good.

Oh, how I need Him.
And I am so thankful that He reaches down to me.

I love the Lord, for He hears my voice.
Because He bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!

And I have no doubts that this is not the last time I will stand amazed in His presence.
For He is good, and His love endures forever.

<3

I see Your face in every sunrise
The colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
You’re beautiful

I see Your power in the moonlit night
Where planets are in motion and galaxies are bright
We are amazed in the light of the stars
It’s all proclaiming who You are
You’re beautiful

I see You there hanging on a tree
You bled and then you died and then you rose again for me
Now You are sitting on Your heavenly throne
Soon we will be coming home
You’re beautiful

When we arrive at eternity’s shore
Where death is just a memory and tears are no more
We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring
Your bride will come together and we’ll sing
You’re beautiful

I see Your face, I see Your face
I see Your face, You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful
You’re beautiful

.::.

References: 2 Samuel 7, Psalm 30:5, Psalm 116:1-2, Psalm 139
and “Lord I Need You” by Matt Maher

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The Day That Life Changed

Spoiler alert! Don’t read this unless you already know we got engaged!
Oh wait.
You either knew that from somewhere in between August 7, 2014 and now… or else you just found out.
Sorry… not sorry :)

Today marks 30 days until our wedding! Just one month!!
And in honour of that… Here begins the long-awaited story.
Undoubtedly my favourite engagement story so far… because it’s ours.

<3

Here unfolds the events of August 7th, 2014, a day that started out so ordinary and became so absolutely special. It began early. Perhaps too early. I was staying over at Burkhart’s place and my alarm clock rang at 6:30 am, and I got up, dressed, washed my face and brushed my teeth, hopped in my car with Jordan, and we drove off to Sexsmith for breakfast at the Diamond Willow with the rest of his family. We ordered breakfast and were waiting for it to arrive, and I was feeling really chilly, even with a long-sleeved shirt, a cardigan, and a scarf. Jordan, wearing a long-sleeved shirt under his jacket, was feeling warm. As he took off his jacket, I asked him if I could borrow it, since he didn’t need it. As he held it in his hand and looked at me, he hesitated, but then after a moment handed it over. That’s odd, I remember thinking, because he had never hesitated before, usually such a gentleman and offering me his jacket before I ask. I shrugged it on. And as I pulled it closed, I felt something.

There was a box.

A box similar in size and shape to a ring box in the pocket of his jacket.

I froze for a moment, and my mind started going crazy.

THERE’S A BOX! A RING BOX! IT’S RIGHT HERE! IN HIS POCKET!

And as that happened, I looked at Jordan, and there was a million emotions written all over his face as he looked from my eyes to the pocket and back to my eyes.

He knew. And I knew. He knew I knew.

Due to some previous events, I’d known there was a ring, and had a hunch it would be soon, but past that, I didn’t know much of the details of ring or planned engagement and preferred to leave that one up to him.

So I let it go; shrugged it off, although it was more than a little distracting to feel that little box in the pocket over breakfast.
After all, maybe the ring had been there the whole week he’d been home, and I just hadn’t noticed. Maybe that’s where he kept it all the time, or maybe he planned to propose today. Either way, I tried to ignore it as breakfast went on. Eventually I warmed up, and handed Jordan back his jacket at the end of the morning, and he seemed uncharacteristically relieved to get it back.

We drove into Grande Prairie in my car, just the two of us, as Jordan had a psychology exam and we also had some errands to run. Over the course of the morning, we ended up at a variety of different places… a toy story, Peavey Mart, the licensing center (where we joked about marriage licenses but really were just there for a drivers’ renewal), Canadian Tire, and when eventually hungry and ready for some good food, Famoso Pizza. We had plans to go out to Camp Wapiti after lunch to hang out there for the afternoon, and I’d heard that the ideal time for that would be around 3. I wasn’t worried about timelines as I knew we’d be finished lunch around 3 and would be able to make it down to camp for a few hours to visit before returning to Webster for soccer that evening.

As lunch was winding down, I was finishing my drink, which I had about half left. All of a sudden, while I was mid-sentence, Jordan checked the time and said “Well, we need to go!” and went to stand up and leave. I was a tiny bit shocked, as my usually patient boyfriend had never done something like that before, and a little sheepishly he sat back down and said he really just wanted to get to camp.

Soon enough we finished up in the restaurant, and off to camp we went, after only a short delay of my looking up some nursing stuff in the parking lot, thanks to some new textbooks I had gotten. (In hindsight… sorry for slowing us down, Jordan. Curiosity got the best of me. If I would’ve known… ;) )

As we pulled up to camp nothing seemed too out of the ordinary. Camp was in full swing; elementary kids were sitting by the craft shack, or playing tetherball or the new Gladiator ball by the dining hall, as Daryn’s cabin of elementary girls were. As we pulled up we saw Connie sitting on the deck and Esther filling up a kiddie pool of water for a water fight and pool party for the winners from the points auction the night before. We spent a few minutes talking with Connie, and once Jordan saw Dylan by the new nature shack, he walked over to say hi. I continued to talk with Connie, and Esther stood by as well, finishing up the filling of the kiddie pools. It was a perfect day: the sun was shining, it was nice and warm, the birds were singing…

And then the stillness was broken.

All of a sudden, to my surprise, a flannel Smurf pillowcase was over my head and Connie and Daryn wrapped me in a big bear hug as a horde of elementary girls began to surround me and wrap rope around me. Startled, I started to scream for help and wriggle and attempt to get out of their grasp. I shouted for help from Jordan, but the girls quickly got smart and tried to cover my mouth. A process quickly ensued where they would tie me, I would get out of it, they would tie me… and so on until Connie and Daryn decided enough was enough. Connie was for some reason especially insistent that I get tied up, as she wrapped her 7-month-pregnant body around me and threatened me with “don’t make me throw you in the water!” and “Don’t make me get you all dirty and covered in pine needles!” and I remember thinking she was being especially violent in her condition. But, I hate being tied up and I especially hate being suffocated so it wasn’t long before I threw off the pillowcase and continued to resist. Eventually Connie and Daryn and the girls, much to their delight, threw me in the kiddie pool and I became soaking wet. After this they enlisted the help of some older guys who held me down as the girls tied me up. By this time, Esther had stolen my phone and was enjoying documenting the whole event with photos. I’m ever so glad that she did :)
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At one point one of them suggested they put war paint on me, and Dylan, who had showed up at some point, said quietly, “I don’t know if Jordan…” which I heard but all I could think of was “Where is Jordan, anyway?! And why isn’t he helping me?!”

Little did I know that Jordan had actually coordinated with Connie (camp director) and her husband Dylan (also one of his best friends) to have me kidnapped and brought to the upper campfire so he could propose. If I would have known… I might have fought a little less ;)

With the guys help, the girls eventually got me tied up enough so that I couldn’t get free anymore, and then Dylan showed up with the camp’s John Deere Gator, backed up, and he and two other guys wrangled me into the box of the Gator and shut the tailgate. Dustin sat with me as Dylan and Nic got into the front and started to drive. Dylan tied me down with a tie down strap, and the three of them started talking about trucks and engines as we drove out of camp up the trail. They seemed pleased with themselves; accomplished, satisfied, and ever-so-nicely avoiding the topic of why in the world they were kidnapping me, anyway.

It was on that drive up that hill that all of a sudden I started putting the pieces of the day together.

The ring box in the jacket.

The conversation about marriage licenses at the licensing centre.

 The “we need to leave now!” at Famoso.

The sudden and convenient disappearance at camp.

The fact that we were heading for the upper campfire, a special place for both of us.

 …

 It suddenly dawned on me that I was going to get proposed to up there.

And I thought, “Oh. Okay. Well then I suppose I’ll behave and play along.”

The guys stopped the Gator just above the upper campfire, and Dylan led me by the rope that was tied around me down to the upper campfire. I was barefoot, having lost my flip flops long, long ago in the whole foray, and attempted a tiny run away just for fun (and to keep the act up for the cabin of girls coming over the hill), but Dylan quickly grabbed me and made me sit on a bench by one of the trees on the east side. The bench was backed up against a tree, and the guys placed some cardboard behind my back (how kind) and proceeded to tie me up to the tree with more secure 1” rope. First they tied my torso, leaving just my hands free, then my feet back to the tree and knotted the rope securely, making escape quite impossible.

But, by this time, I was much more willing to be kidnapped, and as Daryn’s cabin of girls re-appeared over the hill, they all sat in front of me on the benches of the upper campfire and asked me to tell them a story. It was then I proceeded to tell them the grand tale about Daryn the very hairy bear who was ran off from the camp of igloos by all of her hairless friends who made fun of her hair, and then was headed for a place called Camp Wapiti when she ran into a pink flamingo hairdresser named Kevin, with a British accent. (No idea where those ideas came from… my brain was a little distracted at this point ;) )

At about this point, suddenly a herd of elementary boys covered in war paint and being led by a war-painted Justin (their cabin leader) and a war-painted Jordan came over the hill, hollering, screaming, and looking actually sort of ferocious, for a cabin of elementary boys with war paint and sticks.

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    (Jordan looking like he’s up to something…)

The girl’s cabin and Daryn ran over the hill to the west, most of the boys following with Justin. Jordan stuck around the campfire, and so did one little face-painted boy who shouted “I’ll save you!” and began to untie me at the tree. Jordan quickly assured the boy that he would take care of it and the boy should go help capture the girls, and so he joined his cabinmates and rushed to carry out the rest of the kidnapping plan. (I learned later that Daryn ended up tied to the sand swing and she herself got dunked in the kiddie pool as well. Oops.).

One boy came back over the hill again to “save me” but Jordan waved him off as well and then it was just him and me at the upper campfire. Up until this point, Jordan hadn’t made any eye contact with me, but now smiled, and came and sat next to me on the bench, to my right.

“How are you doing?” he asked, amused and looking at the rope that still held me quite securely to the tree.

“Oh, you know, not bad.” I said playfully, and then proceeded to ramble on about everything that had just happened, including the kidnapping, the Gator ride, the story about Daryn the very hairy bear, and the girls and their attack….

He nodded and smiled through it all (and later told me he didn’t remember a thing) and all of a sudden interrupted me. “So I have something for you.” He says, his eyes amused.

“Oh?” I ask, quite innocently.

“Here’s…..” (reaches into his back pocket) “your phone.” Even more amused, and proud of himself, he laughingly hands me my phone.

“Oh really.” I say, a little disappointed but just as amused as him. With what arm reach I had, I took my phone, turned it to the camera, and said “Here, why don’t you take a picture?”

He takes my phone, puts it out in front of us to my left, and as he moves in front of me he begins to take some pictures of us, making faces at the camera.

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 (Please note the rope to the bottom right, securely fastening me to the tree!)

He begins to bring his right hand down, with phone in hand, and as I turn back to him, he is kneeling in front of me, holding up THE ring between us, which he had managed to wriggle out of his pocket while taking photos.
All I see are his shining, gorgeous eyes looking at me, his crooked smile emphasized by the black smears of war paint on his face.
His heart is written all over his face.
He grins, and doesn’t even breathe before he asks, all at once confident and satisfied that his plan had worked.

“Will you marry me?”

Heart racing, smile growing, I said the first thing that came to my mind.

“Will you untie me?”

He laughs, so full of joy.

“Yes.”

A heartbeat doesn’t even pass as I say the answer that I’ve had waiting for months.

“Yes.”

We couldn’t stop smiling as he looked down and said “Okay, which hand?” and took my left hand and placed the ring on my finger.

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 For a moment we just admired it and stared at each other in joy, and then in between my excited squeals (“EEEEEE! We’re engaged!!”) I got to admire the ring as Jordan set to work untying me and undoing Dylan and Dustin’s handiwork, which all in all took about twenty minutes.

I guess they weren’t taking any chances on me getting away.

Now that it’s all said and done, I can’t say I mind. ;)

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 (“THE” tree! Every time I look at this I’m amazed at all the rope they used,. Ha. Oh my.)

It was somewhere around this point that I realized what a mess I was. Somewhere early in the foray I’d lost my shoes, was soaking wet thanks to being thrown in the pool, my mascara was running, my hair was coming loose, and my feet were definitely filthy, covered in camp sand and little leaves and woodland bits.

But somehow, I’d never felt more beautiful.

In between there was some hiking through sand, some telling people our news, some further searching for the elusive grain shovel at Peavey Mart… and then fast track to driving back to Webster later that evening, when Jordan took my hand and said “Well, this has been a productive day. Wrote a psych exam, got my driver’s license, got engaged, went to Peavey Mart…”

I laughed. A productive day, indeed.

And now I cannot wait to keep adding to this story; to add to the adventures and memories and moments with Jordan, for the rest of my days.

The story continues every day, but a whole new chapter begins December 20, 2014, when I get to marry the most amazing man I’ve ever known.

My cup overflows.
<3

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