The Angry and Ungrateful Escalator at the Westin Peachtree Plaza

The_Angry_and_Ungrateful_Escalator_at_the_Westin_Peachtree_PlazaIn the winter of 1976, the Peachtree Plaza Hotel opened in Atlanta and I was only three and half years old. You may wonder what the Peachtree Plaza opening and my age have to do with one another.

When I went to write this story down, I researched the opening of the hotel in order to be able to accurately record my age at the time. I guessed that I was six. But with the hotel opening in February 1976, I found it interesting to realize that this story could be one of my very first memories.

In February 1976, the opening of the Peachtree Plaza Hotel was the buzz around Atlanta. At the time, it was the tallest hotel in the world, and was Atlanta’s tallest building until 1987. As part of the celebration, the Peachtree Plaza invited citizens to check out this gem of architecture and to ride the scenic glass elevators running up and down the outside of the building.

My family loved an outing to Atlanta, and therefore, we jumbled together into our green Pontiac station wagon on a cold Saturday night and set off for fun in the city.

When we arrived at the hotel, the place was swarming with gawkers like us, taking pictures, packing the escalators side to side and top to bottom and standing in line for the elevators. It was an exhilarating event, and everyone was in a happy, festive mood.

After combing around the building for about an hour, we prepared to leave and made our way through the crowd to the down escalators that led to the lobby. Ever enthusiastic, I jumped on the escalator step in front of my brothers, with mom and dad on a third step behind. I stood to the edge to allow room for the people standing beside me.

As I barely peeked over the railing, out at the fresh, sparkling interior design, I felt a pull on my right leg. As the baby of the family, I was accustomed to my brothers roughhousing and teasing me. So, I turned my head sideways and yelled: “Tim, stop!” “I’m not doing anything!” he yelled back. But the pull continued. I yelled again: “Tim, STOP!” And then this noise emerged, this squeaking, then I felt my toes getting smooshed, and maybe a little smell of burnt rubber. My brother was no longer the suspect in whatever was yanking my foot farther and farther down.

In the instant I registered that something was wrong, so did my dad. From over the top of my brothers came his long, strong arms—hands gripping tightly under my arms from behind and then straight up!

My dad was calm as he pulled me and my foot out from between the escalator step and the metal siding. He bent his arms and pulled me to his chest to carry me the rest of the way off of the escalator.

At this point, my mom could catch glimpses of the ripped and nearly torn off shoe as my legs dangled around and beside dad. She was imagining mangled toes, crushed limbs, and a lifelong limp. But when we stepped aside, took off the shoe and inspected my cute little three-year-old foot, there wasn’t a hint of damage. The shoe? Shredded. My foot? Untouched. And I still have that torn-up shoe. A Flintstones, Keds-style shoe. They were my favorite.

My dad was strong, so there’s no doubt that I know he was capable of solely lifting me free . . . from a force pulling me down . . . from two steps up and behind me . . . over my brothers . . . on an overcrowded escalator. But I also know that there are angels who attend us, who alert us, who help us have the strength, who clear the way, who work the seemingly insurmountable physics in our favor. They attended me and my dad that night, riding an escalator in the world’s tallest hotel. I have the scarless foot and shredded shoe to prove it.

 ©2015 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.

So, You’ve Had A Dream About A Future Spouse . . .

So_Youve_Had_A_Dream_About_Your_Future_SpouseI’ve heard from some of you that you’ve had a similar experience to mine, where God revealed your future husband in a dream.

And some of you want to know if it’s actually possible for God to reveal a husband in a dream.

I’m not a pastor, or counselor or therapist. I’m a Christian who asked for a dream, and—by God’s mercy—He gave one to me. Your experience is going to be different, and your dream may not reveal what you think it does.

Personally, I believe that God can and does use dreams to reveal Himself and His plans to us. Throughout Scripture, God uses dreams and dream interpreters to speak with His people. The use of dreams as one of God’s communication tools is scriptural.

As I mentioned above, I’m not a pastor or counselor or relationship expert, but there are a few things that I became aware of and grew to understand.

  • Be in prayer with God about your dream every day. If you can, spend 15 to 30 minutes praying to God about everything. I use a daily devotion called “Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Intimate Worship” by Ken Boa.
  • Be willing to be wrong about your dream. Did the dream fill you with hope? Did the dream bring you closer to God? Did the dream feel like a promise that God has everything under control? Then anchor yourself to that and not the specifics of the dream. A lady once told me that the man in my dream was most likely God Himself telling me that He’s providing my every need. So, if that’s the truth of your dream, then trust that and stand firm on that. Let God work out the details.
  • Ask God what the dream means. Ask Him to reveal the purpose of the dream. Perhaps you know someone in your church who is familiar with biblical interpretation of dreams—not the “new age” dream interpretation. But someone with the gift of prophecy. If you know someone, consider talking to them about the dream, asking them to pray over the dream as well.
  • Pray for your future husband. Pray that God is developing him—whoever he is—to be a man after God’s own heart.
  • Pray to break the bonds with your ex or exes. Exes have a way of keeping ties to us emotionally and psychologically. Even when someone is gone for good, there are still emotional ties and emotional buttons that can be triggered. Pray that God would break those bonds. A book that changed the way I view prayer is called “Walking With God” by John Eldredge. In the book, Eldredge wrote out a prayer he used to break the bonds between him and a bad work situation. I rewrote that prayer and applied it to my ex. And God has “deactivated” those links to my ex.
  • Live your life. Follow God. Date people. Have fun. Travel. Volunteer. Do whatever it is that makes you happy and brings you life and joy. The right man will come alongside a woman who is doing her thing. And this is to also say, don’t sit around at home waiting for your dream to be fulfilled. Get out and live, resting on the confidence of God’s promises—that He provides for you and has promised to take care of you and give you your heart’s desires.

I pray that God richly blesses you as you seek Him about the dreams He plants in your heart.

Read our story from the beginning:
how we met
a dream about my husband
between the dream and dating
meeting my husband again
we tried to date but didn’t
a year of silence
how we became friends again
we started dating . . . for real this time
we got married!

©2015 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.

Then Comes Marriage

Then_Comes_MarriageWith the promised ring on my finger, you’d think that I’d be comfortable in the engagement phase to tell Nathan about the dream. But I wasn’t and didn’t want any added pressure to the betrothed stage of our relationship.

Though we set a date six months away, I had everything planned in four. We knew our wedding would be cost-effective and casual, so the planning was minimum and as representative as possible of our personality.

Our friend Becky and Jarrett graciously allowed us to use their backyard as our wedding location. A swath of trees separated their house from a gorgeous green lawn that grew right down to the waters edge of a large pond—complete with dock and gazebo. A stone patio with pergola and fire pit and a bridge over a stone lined creek amongst the trees set off the scene and gave us a beautiful backdrop for games, live music and grilling burgers.

Scattered throughout the wedding were small little touches I incorporated to bring in a little meaning. I’m nostalgic and love to use family heirlooms or trinkets to represent moments, family members, or intentions. For instance, my bouquet was made from mostly heirloom brooches I’d inherited from my mother and grandmother, along with a brooch I borrowed from my sister-in-law. A few new brooches rounded out the bouquet and made it more full and vibrant.

My bouquet was wrapped in antique ribbon that my husband bought for me, and I held my mother’s handkerchief in my hand as a tear catcher.

Throughout the food tables, I’d placed antique bird paperweights to represent my mom and her love of birds. My wedding cake was chocolate with chocolate—in there any other way to do it?—my husband’s “cake” was apple pie. Our cake/pie servers were hand-stamped with our wedding dates and quotes like “You’re the apple of my eye.” And the glasses we drank our toast from were filled with Dr. Pepper and made by Nathan and me at Janke glass studio. All just little things that meant a lot.

Our wedding day was a fun day filled with wonderful friends, family and beautiful scenery.

After it was all over, Nathan and I headed to a “secret” location—secret to me, but I figured it out as soon as we took a left out of driveway of the wedding location. (Smiley face.) Because we’d already secured a cruise vacation a week later, we took just an overnight trip to Callaway Gardens south of Atlanta.

When we arrived, we changed our clothes and started walking around the resort. We sat across from one of the large landscaped waterfalls and talked over the day—what he’d done all morning (finished up last minute touches for the wedding), what I’d done all morning (shopped and ate Waffle House), how good it was to see so-and-so and a bunch of “did you notice when I did such-and-such?”

So, in the midst of this conversation, I wasn’t planning to blurt out that I’d known since 2006 that he was going to be my husband . . . and why did he take so long? (Winky face.) But I did tell him, and because I often feel the need to preface everything, I gave the “I have something to tell you” speech, along with the “you’re going to think I’m crazy but there’s nothing you can do about it now . . . we’re married” fine print. (Another winky face.)

So, I launched into it. I reminded him of my ex and how hard things were through the process of breaking up, and how I prayed for God to give me a dream and He did. And I told him about the dream and about how God had set Nathan apart for me. And I told him that the dream was the reason I’d had such a hard time when we stopped seeing each other in 2009—because I’d had a dream! And I didn’t tell him about the dream before because I didn’t want him to think I was crazier than I already am—Nathan knows my crazy, friends. And I told him that I didn’t mean to tell him about the dream now, but it just sort of came out.

And he said: “I don’t think you’re crazy. You’re the love of my life, and I don’t think God giving you that dream is crazy.” Whew. Awkward annulment proceedings avoided! Haha!

The next day, we slept late, ate breakfast and walked around Callaway. It was a beautiful day and we ended up on a deck overlooking a pond complete with lily pads and ducks. We sat together, perfectly content . . . and updated our Facebook accounts, making our new relationship status “Facebook official.”

So, now you know . . . we’re married, and we’re ridiculously happy. There isn’t a day that goes by that we’re not grateful to God for bringing us together, and there’s not a day that goes by that we don’t attribute the blessing of our relationship to Him. He’s a good God. And He loves Nathan and me ridiculously much.

Read our story from the beginning:
how we met
a dream about my husband
between the dream and dating
meeting my husband again
we tried to date but didn’t
a year of silence
how we became friends again
we started dating . . . for real this time
we got married!

©2015 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.

Dating The Man Of My Dream

Dating_The_Man_Of_My_DreamFrom the moment Nathan told me that he wanted to date me, he switched into another gear. I never knew that dating and falling in love could feel so safe, so good and so intentional. With every day that went by, he methodically and gently pursued my heart. Never rushing anything, never putting pressure on any situation.

And for the first time, I realized I wasn’t leading the relationship. I wasn’t emotionally ahead of the man I was dating. Instead, I was alongside, at the same pace, moving with someone toward the same awesome, exciting thing.

On some level, I knew that Nathan wouldn’t have asked me to date him if he wasn’t already thinking about marriage. I knew that, as friends, I had come to mean a lot to him, and to risk that arbitrarily wasn’t something Nathan was willing to do.

With all the joy and love and excitement I was feeling, it would’ve been easy to rush things and let my heart take off with all the possibilities that now seemed to be coming to fruition. But during the year of silence and during the year of friendship, I learned to hide my heart in Christ—in His plan, in His timing, in His care. I didn’t learn this absolutely, but I learned it well enough to be able to practice it as I stepped back and God unfolded the relationship for me.

For six months, Nathan and I dated and never once did I mention marriage. We talked generally of the future and what sort of houses we liked or how many children we wanted. We talked about perspectives on the parts of life we found most valuable—things like, if either of us had children they would have to love the Georgia Bulldogs and listen to Coldplay. We talked about what-ifs and why-nots. But never once about our (inevitable) wedding. I never left a hint. I didn’t look at rings. I didn’t talk about weddings. And I did this on purpose.

Until I heard from Nathan on any subject about our future, I didn’t let myself wander there. I stayed in the moment, in the now—hoping, for sure, but still—enjoying every sweet, thoughtful, microscopically meaningful—to me—moment . . . something I didn’t know how to do before. In this, I found God’s peace and safety, and I basked in the warmth of knowing—and feeling to the deepest core of what I wasn’t yet—that I was exactly in the point in time that God carefully and strategically designed for me and only me. I felt, more than any other time in life, that I was in the flow of God’s will for my life. To be in tune with the Lord is something most precious and only a small glimmer of what being fully restored in Him will feel like some day.

Because I was so in the moment, I didn’t see it coming when he asked me to marry him. Not even a little bit.

At the least, I figured Nathan and I would date for a year before we would talk about marriage. So, on March 15, 2012, not even six months after beginning our courtship, I was oblivious to his creation of a ruse in the form of a portrait sitting—with his sister as the photographer—at our favorite hiking spot.

Earlier that day, when my coworker, Ryan, asked what I was doing that evening, I told him that Nathan had called to ask if his sister could practice her photography on us at the waterfalls near the covered bridge on Concord Road. Upon hearing this, Ryan said, “He’s going to ask you to marry him.” To which I scoffed and said: “No, way. We’re a long way from that. It’ll probably be another six months before we talk about that.” And with that, I literally put it out of my mind. No joke, no exaggeration. I didn’t think about it again.

When I arrived at Nathan’s house, his sister was already there and was helping him find a shirt to wear. Soon enough, we loaded in my car and drove to a parking lot near the covered bridge and waterfalls. We walked down the trail, then trudged through the woods and undergrowth to find a way to the beautiful rocks around the waterfalls.

As Nathan and I got into position to begin the photography session, he insisted that I be on a rock that placed me higher than him. And I absolutely didn’t want to do it. I told him it would look weird and disproportionate and it wouldn’t make a good picture and all of the other things I said in order to prove my rightness and get my way. But he would have none of it. I think I recall he literally lifted me up on the rock. And as I protested, he started to step back. Still completely unaware of what was happening, I asked him where he was going and what he was doing . . . when I caught the movement of his hand reaching into his pocket.

I don’t remember precisely what he said as he pulled out a shiny bursting-with-meaning adornment. Something about so happy, spend the rest of our lives . . . and that’s when the graceful, beautiful, dainty, delicate-as-a-flower Jen came out and shouted: “HOLY $#!^! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?” Hands over the face, shouting, incredulous, looking at his sister, looking at him laughing at me, the ring he held out, and me shouting, “HOLY $#!^!”

I’m sorry. I know that was disgraceful. One, for using the word holy, and two, for pairing it with a curse word. But I’m just being for real here. Getting engaged on Thursday, March—beware the ides—15 was about the fourth from the last thing I ever expected. And the surprise and shock of it all brought out probably my truest, most human self.

It was maybe thirty seconds before I realized that I hadn’t said “Yes” and the Bauble Of Tremendous Meaning wasn’t yet on my finger. So, I said my most favorite “yes” to that point in my life and held out my hand. The ring went on, the kiss happened and then the most fun pictures commenced.

It was a good day. A day full of beautiful and joyful things. Another day showcasing God’s mercy, love and faithfulness.

Read our story from the beginning:
how we met
a dream about my husband
between the dream and dating
meeting my husband again
we tried to date but didn’t
a year of silence
how we became friends again
we started dating . . . for real this time
we got married!

©2015 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.

How My Husband And I Became Friends

How_My_Husband_And_I_Became_FriendsA week into my renewed friendship with Nathan and I was in deep trouble.

After a year of silence between us, we’d gone to a Georgia Bulldogs’ football game together where we laughed and talked and were extraordinarily comfortable with one another.

All the cells in my heart and mind were screaming: WE SHOULD BE DATING! The cells in my tummy and elsewhere were screaming: CHOCOLATE! Which is what they always scream.

And I told him that about a week later—about the dating, not the chocolate.

He explained and repeated that he didn’t. want. a girlfriend. And really, we could’ve skipped all of that part anyway. Let’s just go straight to marriage! No, I wasn’t that crazy. I did not say that to him.

So, weeks turned into months, and our friendship became rather solid. We saw each other about once a week, talked three or four times a week and had some great conversations. Sounds like dating, doesn’t it? It might. But the key difference was that Nathan was very conscientious and intentional about guarding my heart.

I made it no secret that I wanted to date him. Many lesser men could’ve taken advantage of that in part or in whole in order to feed their own self-esteem. Nathan didn’t. He said nothing and did nothing to appeal to my heart, to lead me on or make me think that something was happening besides what was really happening: friendship. He treated me with the utmost respect at all times, as any man should treat a woman.

Around the middle of June 2011, I peeked out from under the scales on my eyes and began truly believing that friendship is all there would ever be between us. And because I still ever-so-much wanted to get married, I decided to jump into the online dating pool with a cannonball as my opening dive.

Profiles were filled out, free trials were exhausted, and the rubber met the road as I pulled out my debit card to sign up . . . for real . . . but only for the cheap three-month packages. I made myself a rule that I would go on at least two dates with anyone who asked before making any ultimate judgements on compatibility.

Fortunately, two or three guys did want to go on more than one date with me and even one guy took me on three dates! And throughout all of this dating, I still maintained a friendship with Nathan, though I spared him stories from my dating drama.

As the summer of 2011 began to wind down, I planned for one big jam-packed, over the top, blow your socks off, birthday extravaganza for Nathan. In a way, I could see our time hanging out was coming to a close. Of course, we’d always be friends, but I could tell that something was shifting. I was giving up on Nathan being the man of my dreams. I’d come to consider that the dream I’d had, which I believed revealed him as my future husband, may have been a dream about God and how He has every. single. thing. in my life taken care of—that I was to rest in faith knowing that God had a plan. And with that new perspective on my dream came abiding joy and peace. It was not a resignation. It was not a demotion. It wasn’t a change of plans. It wasn’t a rationalization to ease the loss of the idea of Nathan as my husband. Rather, it was the lightest, most hopeful perspective I’d had in a long time. I became unshakably assured that there was life after the dream.

I didn’t know it at the time, but things were shifting for Nathan as well. A few weeks after the Spectacular Spectacular birthday extravaganza, something about Nathan’s words and actions became more. There seemed to be a different kind of energy building, but I wasn’t sure what it was or why—and I didn’t ask.

Now, Nathan and I are both exuberant Coldplay fans. We’ve seen them several times, have their songs as our ringtones, and generally geek out over anything they release. On September 24, 2011, Coldplay was headlining the Saturday of the three-day event, Mid Town Music Festival in Piedmont Park. Nathan and I had tickets.

As per usual when we hung out in Atlanta, I drove down from my house—because I lived far north of the city—to his house which was about 20 minutes from any events we’d ever want to go to in Atlanta.

When I arrived at his house, he was sitting on the couch watching TV. He was clearly not ready to go. He motioned for me to come in, I did and eased down onto the sofa. We chatted for a second and I just kept wondering: Why aren’t you getting ready? It was then that he turned off the TV, placed the remote control on the coffee table and turned to me.

“I’ve been thinking about this a lot,” he said. “I mean, really a lot. . . . And I . . . would like . . . to date.”

In the nanosecond between his words and their registration in the auditory cortex of my temporal lobe, I squashed any hope, any assumption, even any registration of emotion and told myself: “He’s not talking about you. He’s ready to get out there and date and he’s letting you know because he knows how you feel about him. Be cool. You’re okay with this. You’re dating around too.”

And on the tail end of that lengthy internal monologue, I said—as unaffected as possible—”Oh, that’s great,” and smiled. To which he urgently responded, “You. I would like to date you.” To which I responded: “OH! That’s great! Okay!”

And so, that’s how we came to build a friendship, how I gave up on the dream, and how we had our second first date of our relationship at a Coldplay concert.

Read our story from the beginning:
how we met
a dream about my husband
between the dream and dating
meeting my husband again
we tried to date but didn’t
a year of silence
how we became friends again
we started dating . . . for real this time
we got married!

©2015 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.

A Year Of Silence Between Us

177233425So, what do you do when the guy your dream revealed would one day be your husband, and who you were actually seeing—on the verge of dating, even—tells you that he doesn’t like you like that?

After Nathan and I stopped seeing each other at the end of July 2009, I knew that I needed to completely block him out. I needed to completely regroup. I’d had a DREAM. A very specific, very important, very life-defining dream that God gave to me. And now, it looked like I had been very, very wrong. I was afraid I was crazy. I was afraid I didn’t know the voice of God. I was afraid I’d made it up. I was afraid it would never come true. I was afraid I’d never get married.

I leaned in to my relationship with God more than ever. I worshiped for hours each week, read Scripture every day, journaled until my hands were cramped, attended Bible studies each week, went on retreats. And prayed. And prayed. And prayed. And I heard from God, and my relationship with God grew, and He ultimately healed my heart. He restored my hope, calmed my fears, worked through me in spite of myself, and renewed a steadfast spirit within me. I prayed for the renewal of my mind, and He gave it to me. Even now, tears come to my eyes when I think about all the things God gave me over the course of that year—how He poured into me every single thing I asked for: peace, mercy, hope, love, joy, courage, strength, comfort, grace, and so much more. There was no good thing that God withheld from me; His generosity was, and still is, overwhelming.

Though I prayed to move on, deep in my heart I stubbornly held on to the dream God had given me years before. I just knew there had to be a way for it to work out.

And during this year of leaning into God, reordering my heart and renewing my mind, I kept an eye on Nathan from afar. Yes . . . I Facebook-stalked him. He knows this. And even when I was doing it, he knew it.

For a long time, I would check Nathan’s page three, four, okay, fifteen times a day. But as the year wore on, I checked it less and less. Until I finally stopped focusing on what didn’t happen, what I didn’t have, and what I wasn’t.

That year of silence between Nathan and I has been one of the most important years of my life in terms of spiritual growth. And even for all of the pain I felt at the time, I wouldn’t trade it. That was the year that God built a faith in me and a strength in me that could come about no other way. And I’m grateful.

The year of silence between us ended by my own hand.

First, you have to know that I’m a devout and loyal Georgia Bulldogs fan. Go DAWGS! And a friend of mine had tickets to a Georgia game in Athens, Georgia, for a game only two days away. I just had to go, but I didn’t have anyone to go with. I could’ve gone alone, but I was nervous to do so for an event so far from my home.

I called my dad. He couldn’t go because he was out of town. I called my girlfriends. None of them could go. I called my best guy friends, none of them could go. I called thirteen of my most important people over the course of Thursday and Friday night. And no one could go.

Friday evening, around 7:30 p.m. (the game was at 12:30 p.m. the next day), I asked myself if it was possible for me to hang out with Nathan again and only be friends. I quickly decided that it was possible. So, I texted him this: “Random question: would you be interested in going to the Georgia game with me tomorrow? It’s a free ticket.”

Not five minutes later, he called me. Yikes! Cue the nerves and the hands shaking and the awkward pacing around the house as I answered the phone and tried to sound aloof, cool . . . unaffected. He said, yes, he wanted to go, but had to get his dives covered at the Georgia Aquarium for the next day (Nathan is a volunteer diver at the Georgia Aquarium. How cool is that, right?), and he would let me know. A short time later, he called and said that he’d gotten his dives taken care of and that he’d pick me up in the morning to drive to Athens.

Awesome! A new attempt at being “just friends” with Nathan. Except, when I saw him standing in my doorway the next morning, my heart revealed that my interest in him would not be confined to friendship. The reality was, nothing had changed for him—he still only wanted a friendship. Would I be able to set my feelings aside, even remove them completely, and move on? Yes . . . and no.

Read our story from the beginning:
how we met
a dream about my husband
between the dream and dating
meeting my husband again
we tried to date but didn’t
a year of silence
how we became friends again
we started dating . . . for real this time
we got married!

©2015 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.

How To Break Up Before You Start Dating

How-To-Break-Up-Before-You-Start-DatingMy whirlwind romance with Nathan was supposed to begin immediately following our reunion at Kim’s house—Nathan’s cousin, and one of my bestest friends (she’s got dirt on me and said I could use her name in this story. Thanks, Kim!). I mean, we knew each other fifteen years ago, I’d had a dream where God had revealed Nathan would be my husband, and now—through the miracle of Facebook—I was reunited with him and his cousins. Happy day!

But . . . crickets.

Maybe I was hoping that Nathan would ask for my number at family lunch (yeah, right) or that he would at least ask Kim to get my number for him. But that didn’t happen. In hindsight, a healthy evaluation of expectations would’ve come in handy.

Instead, I spent months talking about him, wondering about him, scheming about him, and praying about him, wondering how I could put myself in his path so he could—of course—fall head over heels in love with me and ask me to marry him. God told me it was gonna happen!

Alas, after months, I finally was encouraged—to the point of beatings if I didn’t—by some friends to ask him out. So, I did. Via email. Because I was super confident and sophisticated and not at all scared out of my mind to talk to him on the phone and be faced with possible rejection.

I sent the email. I waited. I checked email. I saw his name. I closed email.

It had actually happened. I sent him an email. He read it. And sent an email in response. After freaking out for a few minutes, I opened my email again, clicked on his name to open his email, and with one eye closed I read his response: “Sure, that sounds like fun.”

Details were established, times set, wardrobe shopping commenced.

Our very first date was to a Jason Mraz concert at The Tabernacle in Atlanta on November 29, 2008, with dinner prior at Ted’s Montana Grill across the street.

Everything about that night was awesome and comfortable and easy and so very significant. And when we parted ways, he said: “That was fun; we should hang out again.” To which I confidently, excitedly and maybe a little too quickly said: “YesI’dlikethatlet’sdoit.”

And then I didn’t hear from him until Christmas Eve at which time I received a “Merry Christmas” text. I texted back, of course. And that was all there was.

Thankfully, Kim was well aware of my crush on Nathan and helped me along as she could, including inviting me to family gatherings around the holidays where he was required by family law to be. One of those events was a Christmas party to which I brought Paula Deen’s Three Cheese Hot Artichoke Dip, and where he sang Jason Mraz’s “I’m Yours” to me and told me he had memorized the whole song. Swoon and faint and swoon and faint!

As we left that family party, because I’m totally patient and willing to let things unfold naturally, I asked him out again. In person, like adults do. To Cirque Du Soleil at Atlantic Station the following week. He said YES!

Details were established, times set, wardrobe shopping commenced.

And to my surprise and delight—which was, by the way, way before that phrase became a marketing cliché—Nathan called the next day and lined up another outing together.

And from January through April, 2009, Nathan and I traded back and forth, the setting up of “dates” between friends who flirted and sometimes held hands.

Ladies, please know that, yes, I was all kinds of confused and knotted up mentally over these goings-ons. Nathan and I had a great friendship and I believed a chemistry and attraction for one another, but there were no moves made on either side to take us to the next level—where kissing would happen.

That is, until May 2, 2009, when sitting on his couch in the afternoon, watching a movie and about to head out to dinner he sat forward, leaned around and gave me a big ole smooch! To which I thought: This is it! This is it! The dream is coming true! How awesome! Let’s get married! My weekends in June are clear!

But things weren’t exactly smooth. I was probably acting a lot weird because I knew many important and gargantuan things about our future that he didn’t know, and we didn’t communicate well, and sometimes we went for weeks without talking to each other. And finally, in July, 2009, whatever it was that we were doing—dating, hanging out, seeing each other, whatever it was—came to a screeching halt.

See, Nathan was at a point when he wasn’t actually interested in having a girlfriend—not even one that was God-ordained, apparently. And it wasn’t even that Nathan didn’t want to see me anymore. He did want to see me, but just as friends. Then and now, I realize that he let me down sweetly and gently . . . but it hurt as badly as one thousand cardboard paper cuts—not only on your finger, but on your hopes and dreams as well.

Because, see, I’d been given this thing, this vision—a DREAM that God had set Nathan aside just for me. For me. And I had all this hope and all this expectation and all this love ready to give, and it came to an end. And I couldn’t be wrong about this. I just couldn’t. It was from God, wasn’t it? How could we break up before we even started dating?

Read our story from the beginning:
how we met
a dream about my husband
between the dream and dating
meeting my husband again
we tried to date but didn’t
a year of silence
how we became friends again
we started dating . . . for real this time
we got married!

©2015 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.

Meeting My Husband For The Second Time

meeting-my-husband-for-the-second-timeBy now, I’ve written about how I met Nathan, how I had a dream about my future husband, and what happened in the years between the dream and reuniting with him.

When I learned that Nathan was single, I was thrilled, but tried to act normal as I spoke with his cousin. I’m sure the pitch of my voice jumped into first soprano register as I said, “Oh, really?”

As I tried to figure out how to get reunited with Nathan—because I thought I could and should be in control of making this important thing happen—I heard my friend inviting me to family dinner on Saturday . . . where Nathan would be in attendance.

What to wear?

We all know that’s one of the main things to obsess over when meeting the man of, literally, your dreams. That, and wondering what’s the best liquid diet to abuse for the next week to drop some pounds before the Big Meeting.

But relax, I didn’t throw my physical health into jeopardy. My self-confidence was in place. I didn’t even buy anything new to wear. What I did do was pray. In fact, I came closer to adhering to the biblical instruction of “pray continuously” than any other time in my life! Reuniting with Nathan again and having a dream tucked in my heart was a large burden to bear. I told my coworkers, “I feel like I know something about him that no one else knows.” It was a strange feeling.

Finally, the day of the family meal arrived. When I pulled up in my 10-year-old, paint-peeling-off-of-it, no-wheel-covers, PAID-FOR Sentra, I scanned the cars in the driveway and tried to ascertain which one he might drive. The only car that even looked remotely his teenage-style (because surely he still wore steel-toed boots and baseball caps) was an SUV. But it was a wimpy SUV so that caused me to question who he might’ve become—all of this based on a car that maybe he drove. I walked to the door, rang the bell, was greeted by his cousin, walked in and . . . he wasn’t there yet.

For an introvert, this is great. This way, I could establish comfort with my surroundings without his witness. I could catch up with everyone and establish security so that it would be easier and faster to establish stability and security with him when he arrived.

And then he arrived. Nathan the man, not the kid, and not the teenager I last saw. This was Nathan, the bearded, tall, broad, handsome, strong, talented (he brought baked nachos to the meal) man. Whew! The first sighting was over. The “Hi’s” exchanged. The awkward side hug—oh, but I fit just perfect there! And the bobbing and nodding of heads as “How are yous” and “Goods” were exchanged.

And then I moved away from him. Because nerves. And catch my breath. And calm down!

Then he sat next to me with his plate of food, and though I can’t remember now what he said, he clearly, and cleverly zinged me. And it began, flirting by way of poking fun at each other. The only seventh-grade thing we didn’t do was hit each other.

We talked for a good while, even after most of his family had gone. His cousin, obviously aware of how I felt about Nathan when we were teens and now seeing our interaction, did her best to persuade Nathan to go to the movies with her, her husband and me. He was unable to, due to prior commitments.

I was disappointed. After all, I’d had a very vivid, precise dream. He was supposed to fall for me today. Our romance was supposed to just . . . start. I write those last couple of sentences tongue-in-cheek. I wasn’t forward-thinking enough at the time to truly set expectations for myself and for our first meeting in 15 years. I didn’t think I had any, but, based on my disappointment and my nervousness over how to make this love affair a reality, I did. It would’ve saved me some worry and wrestling with God if I had written down my expectations for that first meeting and for pretty much all the interactions I had with him for nearly the next year.

Read our story from the beginning:
how we met
a dream about my husband
between the dream and dating
meeting my husband again
we tried to date but didn’t
a year of silence
how we became friends again
we started dating . . . for real this time
we got married!

©2015 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.

Weight Loss Won’t Solve the Problem That Plagues You

Weight Loss Won't Solve the Problem That Plagues You

In 2008, I weighed 100 pounds more than what my BMI said I should. Disruptive and difficult things were happening in late 2007 and into 2008, and I slowly began losing weight.

After losing about 15 pounds, I plateaued for about a year. Plateaued is a nice word for stopped-trying-and-luckily-didn’t-gain-weight. But in 2008, I knew I had to change if I was going to have the future I always envisioned.

So, I flipped the switch in my brain and wanted health more than I wanted anything else. Without saying it audibly, I told myself, This, That, and The Other will all be solved when I lose the weight.

It’s taken six years for me to lose 70 pounds and maintain it. That’s a turtle-race kind of timeframe—that’s not even 12 pounds a year.

In reality, it’s a good thing it took that long. For one, research says that taking weight off slowly means you’ll actually keep it off. And that’s been true—except for the first year of marriage when I put on the newlywed 15. But I digress.

Additionally, taking the weight off slowly allowed me to manage expectations over time, and the struggle to maintain consistency matured me and taught me how to manage my thoughts and perspectives. Did I want to lose 70 pounds in six months? Absolutely. I see it as a blessing that I didn’t. I probably would’ve crashed and burned, and would’ve gained it back the following six months.

So, when I arrived at the 70-pound loss, I realized that This, That, and The Other didn’t get solved for a while. And it was frustrating. Weren’t girls this new-to-me size supposed to have boyfriends, better attitudes, be happier, have better cars, nicer clothes and less worries?

After grumbling through this in my brain for a while, I had to change my perspective—to accept that not all of my problems would disappear with the weight. Rather, I’d need to unravel what I thought about myself, my worth and my appearance. And fortunately, this time—I attribute this to age—I didn’t navel gaze. I accepted that what I thought was going to happen didn’t happen, and I determined how to move forward and to get out of life what I wanted.

I’ve heard of others who were not as fortunate to bounce back from the disappointment of unsolved problems that weight loss was supposed to solve. They lost significant amounts of weight in short amounts of time and lost themselves. What they thought weight loss was going to solve, didn’t get solved, and they were wrecked to learn that they had internal work to do.

I didn’t lose weight slowly on purpose. But in hindsight, I’m glad it happened that way. Weight loss didn’t solve the problems that plagued me. But the struggle, the renewal of my mind, the persistence and the gradual results appropriately paced a total transformation. And suddenly those plaguing problems didn’t bother me anymore.

Has there been anything in your life you’ve changed because you thought it would solve all your problems? What happened? What did you learn?

©2014 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.

Running Lessons in Self-Esteem and Vulnerability

Running Lessons in Self-Esteem and VulnerabilityYou could say I’m into social media. I have accounts on all of the main share-my-life portals and even on some of the not-so-main ones. Based on my social media presence, you might think that my life is an open book. And that’s what many on social media like for others to think. Many of us, however, are very precise about what of our lives we share and what we guard. Mostly, for me, I guard stuff of which I’m self-conscious.

For instance, you may have seen that I post about running. Though you could probably dig into my online profiles a little bit to find out how fast of a runner I am, or how far I’m able to run, I try not to publish that information directly to social media. I’m still a running-work-in-progress. So, when I hit the goal I’m seeking, then I’ll post it to all of social media!

One of the not-so-main social media apps I use is called Strava. It maps my runs, and tells me what my times are for various distances, what the elevations are, and what my pace is. It also keeps track of the races I run. I can save running routes and track my pace progress as I run those routes.

People who have the app can follow other users of the app. Currently, I follow only two or three people. And typically on these apps, I keep my profile private so that others can’t follow me unless I approve their follow request. With Strava, I decided to be somewhat bold and keep my profile public for other registered users of the app. I didn’t know of any friends who used the app, so I thought that my public profile would be somewhat private since only registered users could access profiles.

A few months ago, I was faced with the reality of this running insecurity when a friend started following me on Strava. This is someone who I am inspired by, who I’ve always held in high regard—she was now going to be able to see a vulnerable part of me. At my age, you’d think insecurities would be a thing of the past—in a lot of ways, they are. But my current running achievements are not something I’m proud of. For instance, I feel like I’m lying if I tell someone I ran a half-marathon. In truth, I completed a half-marathon by walking approximately three of the thirteen miles. So, I didn’t run it completely—I’ve bought into the lie that it’s less of an achievement if I didn’t run the whole thing.

It’s a small thing, right? My contribution to running as a sport won’t likely be consequential. This realization makes me wonder: Is that what I’m doing it for? To make some sort of mark?

In short, no, I’m not looking to make a mark.

Having a friend follow me on Strava has challenged my insecurities and has helped me realize that it’s not running I’m trying to conquer. Rather, I use running as a tool to conquer things within me. I’m slow, yes. Sometimes I have to walk. Often, I want to quit. Lately, I haven’t run at all. But when I run, I say things to myself that I don’t say enough to myself: “I’ve got this;” “Keep going;” “I’m strong;” “I’m in charge of my body;” and other self-affirming mantras. And when I meet whatever daily or weekly running goal, there isn’t another feeling like it—because somewhere in the middle of that run or that training schedule, I thought I wasn’t going to make it. But I did.

©2014 Jennifer Wilder. All rights reserved. For permission to reprint or publish this content elsewhere, please contact me through this blog.