This morning, I re-read a letter that was written to me when I graduated high school. Though I knew exactly what it said, I still smiled when I got to the final five words that have impacted my life so greatly.

The letter is from my old piano teacher. Old as in, I took lessons when I was only ten, but also old as in, she was in her mid-eighties when she started teaching me. I adored her. In fact, the only reason I kept up with piano for so long was because I wanted an excuse to see her.

So there I was, reading this letter that detailed her memories of what a joy it was to teach me (even though I must have been the most unskilled student she ever had). In the letter, she talks about her life and how much God has blessed her. It’s one of those letters you would expect to end with the words “God has been so good.” But it’s a different five words that flowed from Alberta’s pen.

Jesus has been so real.

I’ve let those words carry me through the times that Jesus felt distant. The times that I’ve found it difficult to see what God was doing. And I’ve let them sing to my spirit in the times that I stand in awe and wonder of the greatness of my God. And I hope that when I’ve lived ninety plus years, they’ll be the first words that come to mind when I think back over my life.

Jesus is real. Wonderfully, powerfully, inexplicably, you-wouldn’t-believe-it  real.

And I don’t know where Alberta is now – whether she’s a ninety-five-year-old woman bouncing around a nursing home or if she’s dancing with that very real God of hers – but I know that her words live on in my heart as I pray they’ll live in yours.

May you be reminded of just how real Jesus is today.

Before You Make Him Mine

It has been over ten months since I’ve prayed a heartfelt, in-depth prayer for my future husband. That may seem crazy to you as it does seem to go against every book you’ll find on waiting for Prince Charming. I thought I was crazy myself, at first. But it can’t be any more crazy than how crazy I felt back when I was faithfully praying for my knight in shining armor. I didn’t stop praying because I got the impression that the man I will one day marry is above falling, but because I know how prone I am to fall myself. When I was consistently praying for my future husband, I was constantly thinking about him. And because I thought of him so often, I got to a point where I wasn’t content with living without him. That’s why I dropped the specific prayers. That’s why I shredded the list of things I wanted in a husband. Maybe it’s the novelist in me, but when I write a guy out on paper, he becomes real and eventually becomes all I think about. But he shouldn’t be all I think about during this stage of my life.  That’s why when it comes to this delicate subject of waiting, I decided to, well, stop waiting. If I’m going to live in this moment here and now, I can’t be dwelling on a future with him.

I told my mom that she is simply going to have to pray twice as hard because I can’t offer those deep, intercessory prayers that I’ve been advised to pray. I find them to be detrimental to my emotional health. Yes, I have those moments like the one I had ten months ago. Sometimes I get the compelling urge to pour my heart out in prayer for this man I have yet to know. I don’t ignore those urges. In those types of moments, I pray long and hard. But as far as the daily moments when I find my mind turning to thoughts of Prince Charming, I offer this simple prayer: “God, make him the man You want him to be before You make him mine.”

That’s it. I think it pretty much covers all of the basics. God knows the heart behind that simple prayer. He knows what it truly means. He knows that it is so much more than that simple statement. He knows that, truly, it’s a repeat of the much longer, specific prayer I prayed ten months ago. When I whisper that one simple line, I believe God hears the 28 other lines I had penned leading up to that closing statement. And because I know He hears the words I choose to leave unspoken, the thought of “happily ever after” drifts from my mind as quickly as it came and I am free to embrace the moment that has been handed to me here and now.

This is how I’ve been able to dance through the moments of my life as a single girl. It works for me. And it may work for you. Then again, it may not. After all, dreaming up a list of who I thought my future husband should be certainly didn’t work for me. But if you’re really struggling with the fantasy playing on repeat in your mind, I’d encourage you to give it a try. Shred your list, quiet your mind, and whisper these words:

“God, make him the man You want him to be before You make him mine.”