It was fall of 2016, the last time I wrote here. I had completed five semesters at Baylor, graduated from nursing school in Houston and taken a leap of faith, coming back to this little town where I grew up. I had no professional job lined up, and I “knew” I’d never meet my husband here, so by all accounts the move seemed like the WRONG decision. I was 23 years old with no concept of how my life was going to turn out.
I moved back, anyway. I wanted the freedom of the wilderness, the comfort of being known by people. And, the uncertainty of what would happen next was exciting.
I worked part time at a bike shop and played all summer long. I lived in a corner of my parents’ house and spent more time sleeping outside than sleeping in a bed. I had almost no responsibilities, no bills, and I spent every paycheck on some new expensive piece of gear. A mountain bike. A backcountry ski setup. Whitewater stuff.
I also felt strongly that I needed to invest time into the youth of this town, the way young adults invested in me while I was growing up. I met with the youth pastor of the church that “raised me,” and he brought me on the team. He took me out to coffee one day and said, “so I know you said you’re here because you want to disciple girls, but there’s this guy named Ben...”
I laughed audibly. “I’m not here to date guys. I plan to go to the big city for that. I know all the guys here. I grew up with them. Not one them is going to be my husband.” I looked up “Ben Pope” on Facebook and laughed harder. “NO.”
A few weeks later, I was sitting on a yellow school bus surrounded by high schoolers. We were getting ready to leave for our youth group’s annual multi-day raft trip. Onto the bus walked a man who made me stop talking. Tall, jet black hair. Black aviators, a green Marmot shell, and an orange pack. I caught my breath and asked Jared who the HECK that was. “Ben Pope,” he said.
I spent the next 4 days doing everything possible to get Ben’s attention. I only rode on his raft. I said I wanted him to “teach me how to guide.” (hah) I strung my hammock next to his. I kept asking him for help with this or that. He hardly noticed. All the kids kept telling me “HE HAS A GIRLFRIEND,” but I was smitten.
Days turned to weeks, and I invited Ben on every possible group trip. We went rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking. Always in groups. Until one day, as we were leaving for a kayaking trip, I noticed he looked sad. “What’s wrong?” I asked. He told me he and his girlfriend had broken up. Their lives were diverging. She was going to go to Nashville to sing. He wanted to stay and be a firefighter. I lied to him and told him how sorry I was.
That night, as he was playing the guitar around the campfire for us all, I reached up and held his hand.
We spent the rest of the summer flitting about like shooting stars. We drove all around the state of Oregon, finding the most stunning secret spots. We hardly slept. We were madly in love.
In October, we told “everyone” we were dating. By then, I was working as a barista at our local coffee shop. I’d get off at noon, and we’d hit the slopes. We skied all winter and did road trips all spring. I had moved into the basement of a local family’s house, and we spent every waking moment together. He’d kiss me goodnight, and when he reached the door, I’d always ask for just one more. I’d listen for his Jeep to turn over and then wait for his text that he made it home.
He tells me now those were long, cold drives. ;)
He was living as a student in the fire station. He had a twin sized bed and a little room. Sometimes I’d drive out there and knock on his window to sneak a kiss in the middle of the night.
Eventually, I needed to get a job as a nurse. I was paralyzed by nervousness and couldn’t bring myself to drive to meet managers and drop off resumes. So, Ben drove me. He drove me around and around and around until I got called for an interview.
By the end of June, we were engaged. How we finally got there is a very long story for another time.
We were engaged for two months and married in September. By December, I was pregnant with our Daisy Grace.
It feels like the whirlwind that is “us” hasn’t stopped or slowed down since. But I think that’s just life. We live pretty simply and without a lot of commitments outside our home. But we are project people, so we’re always working on something.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in all this, it’s that God really does give us the desires of our heart when they are aligned with His will. I always kept a list of the character traits I wanted in my husband. I dated a lot of guys who didn't have them all. A lot of people suggested I revise my list or learn to settle. "It's a bit long," they'd say. I sometimes wondered if maybe they were right.
Now, I'm glad I didn't listen.
I should find that list, tucked away in an old journal somewhere. I don't remember each detail of it, but I know Ben Pope checked every box.
I’m grateful to God for the gift of him.
There are varying degrees to which Christians are called to engage in the political sphere. I can’t see, Scripturally, that any of us are called to disengage completely, because politicians make POLICIES, and policies affect PEOPLE. The body of Christ is called to care about people. So, I believe we must then care about the policies which affect them AND the politicians who create those policies. And, because God’s hand touches every sphere of human life, I believe God cares about politics, too.
That being said: to varying degrees.
Some of us are called to be influential on our local school boards or city councils. Some are called to run for state congress. Some to work in the halls of the White House. Some, even, to the office of President.
And some of us are simply called to vote for the politicians with the policies that align most closely with what God says is best for humans. He does know what’s best, because He created us, so we need to vote from a Biblical worldview.
BUT THEN. What happens after we vote? After we’ve educated ourselves, our families, our friends and been faithful to our duty as citizens of the country in which God has placed us? What’s our next course of action?
Some of us will be called to further engage. To run for office or help those who do.
But most of us will be called to the walls of our homes, for our domain of control lies predominantly within them. Our duty, now as always, is first to God and then to our families. To our churches. To our personal friends. Most of us are not called to continue to spend exhaustive amounts of time engaging with what is happening in Washington, DC. The chips will fall where they may. But WE have a clear Biblical duty to teach the Gospel to our children, to raise them up in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and to love our spouses well. To honor our parents, to serve the body of Christ, to care for the widow and the orphan, to counter injustice where we see it in our day-to-day lives.
These are our mandates, and they DO NOT CHANGE based on the outcome of any election or political contest. They are the same for every Christian, in every country in the world.
Of course, we want the promises of God to be fulfilled. We want to SEE THEM come to fruition! But as I read Hebrews this morning, I was reminded that even the great heroes of our faith did not always see promises fulfilled in their lifetimes.
“These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth...
While waiting for the promises of God, the heroes of the faith went to work! They busied themselves with the things of God, and they worked heartily as unto the Lord.
This is our duty, as it was theirs.
If you are not being called to take stands in your local politics or in the halls of D.C., TAKE HEART that your calling is within the walls of your own home, within the confines of your own life. Shrink your circle and turn off the Noise. Most of us aren’t being Asked to engage constantly, to scroll fervently, or to keep continual tabs on “what’s going on.”
Instead, I know that I’m being Asked to keep tabs on the people within the walls my home, and to offer the hope of Jesus Christ to those with whom I come into contact as I go about my days.
Keep your eyes heavenward, and keep your attention focused. The people right in front of you need you to offer them the Fruits of the Spirit that you’ve been given.
Do that work. It is good, and it is enough.
hey, i'm jordan.
i write here because i think our words are worth sharing.