The Wait: My Love Story

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Top: Lazy Oaf Stripe Tee | Jeans: ASOS | Booties: ASOS | Lip Color: Anastasia Beverly Hills (Barbie Pink) | Watch: Daniel Wellington (take 15% off your purchase with code SHEPPARD)


I’ve always been an “anything is possible” dreamer. Whether it’s “what I want to be when I grow up,” or where I want to go on my next vacation, my dreaming speed is all or nothing. Many may consider it unrealistic, or abnormal, but I was just raised to think that with God's help I could do absolutely anything I set my heart and mind to.

I have a bucket list that grows every year, goals I set and things I hope to accomplish in my lifetime…but my biggest dream and greatest desire is for God to write a miraculous love story through me and my one-in-a-million guy. I want to tell the story of God’s faithfulness every day of my life. It will be a story to tell. And if He can do it for me, He can do it for you.

He’s a faithful father. He cares about the tiniest details of our lives and hears every cry of your heart, whether you’ve verbalized it to Him or not. And He enjoys nothing more than giving one of His children something they’ve asked for.

As early as five years old, I could picture it, envision it, see it…all too clearly. I’d practice my wedding dress sketches and scribble various last names in the margin, just to see how they’d look with my first name. I’d write him letters and hide them away for a later date. My dream husband list was made known to God and He’s received countless prayers, asks, reminders, and oftentimes pleas since then.

I attended a True Love Waits event (around age eleven) that Rebecca St. James hosted. She is a Christian singer/songwriter/author I admired who was largely known for her openness about virginity. I felt the Lord speak to me to not only save my body for my husband, but also my heart. As a result, I chose not to consider dating relationships until I was at an age to consider marriage. Although this is a unique calling, God’s grace is written on every page and I’m keenly aware that He wants to write the story of His faithfulness through my life. Every day is a step of faith, and a step closer to dots connecting and paths crossing.

This has become the most impactful decision in my entire life, next to asking Jesus to be my Lord and Savior. Even though Rebecca didn’t have a direct effect on a personal level, she planted a seed by the way she shared her life through her platform of influence.

God has always been faithful to me and I confidently stand on the fact that He’ll continue to be so. (You can read more on my upbringing here). I’m certainly not perfect, but I have surrendered my life to God’s ways and do my best to honor Him in everything. With each decision I make to do so, He seems to light up the next step in life at just the right time…never late, never early. Even while I know from the depths of my soul that He’s never late, it sure does feel like He leaves me hanging sometimes.

I thought I’d get married at a young age, but high school and college passed me by… *crickets* It seemed my girlfriends found their husbands so easily! Wedding showers, followed by baby news, gender reveal parties and baby showers. As genuinely happy as I was and still am to celebrate meaningful life events with my friends, here I am…one of the last standing. “God, don’t You remember? I’ve done my best to honor You in my decisions…You know my heart’s desires. You made me! Out of anyone on this earth, You know more than anyone how deeply I hope for my man to arrive. So I know You know…but don’t forget about me, Lord.”

Meanwhile as a single adult, life is amazing! I couldn’t ask for anything better. I’m cherishing the time I have with my parents (we realize it won’t last forever), traveling as often as possible (staying in a treehouse, a train caboose, an Airstream trailer and a yurt--all within three months' time--just because), investing in ministry and leadership opportunities (currently serving as an Associate Worship Pastor at Gateway Church), working hard, and growing my photography business and style blog. I’m “taking advantage of the season” and going after everything that’s in my heart to do. Life is full and fulfilling.

As for the blog specifically, I’ve always hoped to share my story with you… Valentine’s Day seemed like the perfect opportunity to open my heart in a new way to my readers. I’m excited for us to watch together as the story unfolds and the Lord’s perfect plan surprises us in a miraculous way.

The closer it came time to sharing my story, though, the more I procrastinated putting pen to paper. I didn’t have my thoughts or words collected, so I thought maybe this isn’t the best time to share my story. I continued anyway by organizing the photos from the shoot I’d wanted to share with this particular post. Great, I thought. Now I need words…

I then started in another direction by writing about my weekend of church services at Gateway: “As mentioned, I serve as an Associate Worship Pastor, so on the weekends that looks like music directing and playing piano for 5 services! We welcomed Kari Jobe (Carnes) back ‘home’ to celebrate the release of her new album! Her husband Cody and she led worship, then shared ‘The Garden,’ the title song of the record. Gateway is where she and I both grew up (and where she met Cody).

As a 14-year-old, I remember what Kari was wearing the first time we met…proof that first impressions are important! :) A GAP blazer…eggplant, corduroy and coated in little pink flowers with a choker that had a little 'K' on the front of it. Kari’s played a significant role in my life, weaving in and out of various seasons at just the right time." (Side note trivia: I actually took the cover photo of “Where I Find You!”)

I Googled lyrics to “The Garden” and her YouTube song story video popped up. I hadn’t seen it yet, so I clicked on it. If you watch the video, you’ll see that Kari’s new songs were birthed out of a season of extreme heartache with the loss of her baby niece. I’ve not experienced the same kind of heartbreak…I simply cannot fathom. However, I have experienced disappointment.

The concept of “The Garden” is that God has gone before us planting seeds. It may take years before you ever see the fruit of a garden, but when it comes forth, it’s lush—full of life. God is always up to the most beautiful things if we’ll open our eyes to see them. It’s going to look different than we want sometimes, but He meets us where we are.

Wow, I thought…that really speaks to where I am in waiting for my husband.

As I reviewed the notes I already had jotted down, I realized I referred to Rebecca as having “planted a seed” in my heart by the way she shared her platform of influence. It was open, honest and vulnerable to share her story with the world. A complete stranger impacted one of the most important decisions of my life.

Just as soon as it hit me that Rebecca “planted a seed,” here I am holding a flower in my pictures. Okay, God…I get it! I guess He knew I'd need several gentle nudges to continue with the plan to share my story…right here, right now. He is truly involved in the details of our lives (Psalm 37:23).

As the Lord continues to write the story through my life, I hope it inspires you to keep your standards high, make purity a priority, trust God in all things, give your talents to Him, and dream big, because He’ll do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or think (Ephesians 3:20). He has planted a garden in your heart, no matter what your dream or desire may be. With watering, it will surely bloom…for He makes everything beautiful in its time (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

Much love and Happy Valentine's Day,

Jess


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Faith, FashionJessica Sheppard