In 2011, I began this blog to catalog my search for the best-version-of-myself during the year I dedicated to the Lord, beginning on my birthday, August 16th. New Year's Eve that year, I had this deep, undeniable feeling that 2012 would be the year that all of my dreams came true. I was told I was ridiculous for making such an assumption, that I shouldn't set expectations too high for myself, that I would still have to do a lot of work myself, blah, blah, blah. But I was an unemployed dreamer with hopes of an incredible year.
And hope does not disappoint.
The first week of January a couple of family members and I had the wonderful idea of starting a nonprofit organization to help spread the incredible word about the sanctity of the family, beauty in marriage, honor in responsible parenting, and wonders of love and life. It turns out, starting and running a nonprofit is a ton of work, and having no business experience was not a great place to start. I found another job 5 states away, and with the move, the new transition, and my lack of organization and sufficient funds, the nonprofit took the back burner and unfortunately remained a wonderful idea.
However, the job I accepted was a dream come true. As a woman ridiculously passionate about love, healthy relationships, chastity, virtue, and femininity/masculinity, working as a Missionary/Director of Development for Missionaries of Purity was the place for me. I was given the opportunity to further the organization and mission from the front lines to behind the desk. I spoke to middle schoolers, high schoolers, and college students about LOVE! And whether or not they listened, I was stoked to be doing what I was born to do... talk about girls and boys.
My year of awesome changes did not stop there. I was tested and pushed beyond what I thought were my limits, and sometimes I was pretty damn miserable. But the Lord knew what he was doing, breaking down my pride so I knew everything I had came from him, not from me.
I made some incredible friends, one of whom being this really cute guy from Colorado that tweeted me about a blog post I had written ages ago that he liked. Score! People like my blog! We kept in touch, and doing so was one of the best decisions I had ever made. I am convinced that God used him to slap me across the face (God slapping me figuratively) to give me a rude awakening of what I was missing out on. Here is an account this incredible specimen of a man and I co-wrote on this account:
Justine: I was encouraged to start writing a blog to share my thoughts, musings, insights, etc about womanhood, relationships, and being the best version of yourself! I love to write and it was a great way to get things out of my system, especially when there wasn't anyone around at the moment to share it with. The only means I used to promote/share the site was through Facebook, Twitter, and directly asking my friends to read it.
Joel: I was an occasional Twitter user who used the social service to get news and updates on friends and interests. One day, my cousin retweeted a blog written by Justine. I decided to read one of the blog posts and I was very impressed with Justine's writing style. I sent Justine a message informing her that I was a fan and encouraged her to keep it up!
Justine: My thought: "A fan!" He was the first person I knew of that read my blog WITHOUT me knowing him or directly asking him. I saw a very tiny picture of his face (cutie!) and thanked him for the kind words, and promptly called Jackie to thank her for inadvertently providing me with my first legit reader, who happened to be her cousin. The next few times I wrote articles I made sure to post them in a place where he could see, just in case he was still reading.
Joel: I was.
Justine: But that was the extent of our contact. Two years later, I moved to Ohio, the same week Joel moved to Denver. I followed the job to Ohio, but I wanted to follow my friends, football team, and heart to Denver. I tweeted something about wishing I was there, not knowing he just moved.
Joel: One day waiting for the train to head into work downtown I happened to see Justine's message on missing Denver. I thought, Hey! She's kind of cute and I'd like to get to know her a little more so I sent a message back....it kind of just took off from there!
Justine: Messages turned to chats, chats got longer and later, and soon I'd catch myself leaving my computer online just in case he wanted to get on and say hello. We had developed a genuine friendship even though we hadn't yet met in person or seen each other outside of pictures posted online. But every time I talked to him I just kept thinking, "No way! You too? I thought I was the only one!" or "That's what I was going to say." I looked forward to his stories, advice, jokes, and the thought of being his friend in real life. I knew right off the bat he would have a big part to play in my life, but I wasn't sure how yet.
Joel: Simply enough our chatting and conversations were happening everyday and we were super into each other. Because we were talking to each other all the time!! It seemed like the next natural step was to start a relationship. We started dating and scheduled to meet soon after that....it was the longest month of waiting in our lives but was the most amazing meeting. I met my wife!!A couple of months after we finally met, neither of us could stand the distance so we decided to move closer to my hometown. Both of us accepted new jobs fairly quickly, and Joel surprised me with an engagement ring at the end of April. We spent the next six months planning our wedding and doing our best to take a second to smell the roses. We were married November 2nd, 2013... 808 days after I surrendered everything to Jesus.
It has been a huge struggle keeping everything balanced, especially now that I have two jobs at the local elementary school and we're settling into our new marriage at home, but with the new year is a new start for me. I'm coming back to blogging.
As I have begun the next chapter in my life, I have decided to also turn the page in my blogging. I am starting a new blog (the big change I've been promising for ages) and letting a new adventure unfold! For those of you single ladies who are still interested in rock-solid camaraderie, articles, books, etc, I have a couple of other places you can go:
Pearls and a Cup of Coffee.