To the Single me looking for joy during lonely Holidays

With the Holiday's upon us I was looking at my journal entries during the holiday seasons of my single life.  I remember how I felt in the moment I wrote it. I was the girl watching my girlfriends get engaged, get married, buying their first home together with the man of their dreams, post pictures kissing the love of their life and I was stagnant.  In the moment it all made me feel like I did so much wrong, I wasn't worthy of such happiness. As I read the pages I can't help but reflect on the pain I felt that I would be alone forever. On most day's I was content with the single life, but during the holidays.... I was a hot mess and didn't hide it well.

   When I looked at the date stamp of my journal entry, it was the year where my kids all had found a love interest. So now all this romance and laughter of being in love infiltrated my "single fortress of solitude."

  Single mom's are known to be super hero's in their kids eyes, but in this journal entry of my life I read how ugly I was in my jealousy of their joy and questioning when will it be my turn, and how "I messed up and I'm sorry". Yeah it was ugly and I wish I could talk to that girl right now, give her advice and warn her. So this is my way of going back in time to talk to me.

Dear Art of Me, 
There are ten points I really need to drive home with you.
  1. When you see someone in love, be happy for them as one day it will be your turn and you will remember those who made life difficult because you moved into your happiness. Don't be that girl. And apologize to those you did hurt during your bitter seasons. 
  2. Don't settle for the next man that show's interest because your lonely. You do deserve the real deal, wait for it.
  3. When people wonder why you're so pretty and intelligent but single, say your overqualified They will laugh and you will validate how good you are as a single woman. 
  4. Being Single is a gift and it's GREAT. Stay that way until someone comes along that compliments your life in a way worthy of changing that. 
  5. While single, focus on healing from your past hurts so you don't carry them into your marriage. 
  6. Trust God in this process, you have no idea how much it will mold you, to who you will become. 
  7. Take your thoughts captive, you are your worst critic. God isn't punishing you because of your past mistakes, nor has He forgotten you. Learn to be content in all your seasons. Especially the holidays.  
  8. Comparison is the thief of joy. Your single, own it, love it, and lets face it you made it look awesome. So enjoy it while it last. 
  9. Learn that marriage isn't the end all. Idolizing marriage is a sin. God's will is the goal. 
  10. One day you will get married and your husband will not make you happy. He will compliment you and be your best friend through it all.  Marriage doesn't change who you are, so if you don't like the single you, you won't like the married you. So take the time to learn who God created you to be, because that's where you will find true joy. 
That real joy you are looking for that you thought only married life could bring you, will only come when you learn and follow the path God has for you. Marriage won't answer your problems nor take them away. Marriage is two un-perfect people traveling with baggage together. But when you wait on God's best, whether He gives it to you single or married, is an unreal joy that doesn't die in the face of adversity. That's the goal. Stay focused.  

Your single, not cursed. Your single, not unloved. Your single and that my dear comes with so much freedom. Run in your freedom. This Christmas unwrap the gift singleness. Its an amazing gift. 

The art of rejection

Ever been rejected? Its not a good feeling at all. Especially if your really into someone. But what if you're not that into them.

I was at the gym and I ran into a friend from high school. He definitely looked better than he did in High school. Back in the day, he was on the fluffy side with a bad attitude that definitely took away from what could've been boyish charm.

So here we are, adults, face to face at the gym. He is no longer the cranky chubster I remember, he is tall, stocky and handsome. Needless to say Greg's smile could stop a dental marketing rep in their tracks. He looked like he belonged on Colgate Ad and he knew it, so he smiled big. You couldn't help but smile back when he smiled at you. You could have this horrendous day and find yourself depressed but if you run into Greg you would smile and question yourself after, why were you smiling so much. His smile was contagious.

He followed me to the elliptical machine where I proceeded to my work out and tried to chit chat his way into my life. I simply leaned over and said, "Greg, I'm here to work out, can we talk later". In hopes he would forget, as this particular day I was at the gym was to release some stress and he was blocking me from my mental health. He did walk away and I jumped right into torturing my body. Every once in a while I would look up to see if he left, so I can transition to another machine, but he was there, waiting for the opportune moment. After an hour of high intense working out on the Elliptical and my legs shaking from within cause I couldn't take it anymore, I stepped off the machine and, low and behold, there he was. Maybe the timing was off, the gym was my safe haven I did not want to be hit on at the gym.

Greg, "Long time, you look great. You know I used to have a crush on you in high school"
Me "Really"
Greg, "Yup and you would make a young school boy really happy if you let me take you out?"
Me "My schedule is really busy Greg"
Greg, interrupting, "I know your single, I know you have kids, but let me take you out. Anywhere, you pick the place"
Me, while giggling, "I am late to church, I have to go".

Most men get derailed by that statement and run the other direction. But not Greg, he asked, "Can I come".

I had no idea the crush was so deeply rooted. I said no and made my way out the door. I really did have to go to church that night but I had time.

Once at church one of our fellow members approached me with, "Sister, we have a mutual friend" with a big grin on his face. I should've pieced together the smile but I didn't. Apparently Greg's dad went to the same church I did. But I didn't expect for Greg to show up. This was my safe haven, and forget about it! (in my Italian Wanna be voice). Once the elderly found out he was interested they were all over me with, "stop being picky, he's a charmer" "Your no spring chicken, settle down, he's a keeper" and then he introduced himself to my children and he had a way of charming my daughter.

But honestly I wasn't into him. I have no idea why, I just couldn't see him other than a friend. This went on for a year, him chasing, me saying no, then one day I said, "Maybe I am the problem, I can't see a good thing in front of my face. He has been trying for a year, say yes". So I did, and it was a bit frustrating, he wanted romance I just wanted to talk. I spent our time together pushing his hand off my shoulder rejecting to hold hands and I told him I didn't want to force it, to give it time. Then one day he told me that he was going away on a business trip. Two weeks passed and all I did was beat myself up for not liking him more than a friend. Then he came home.

The day he came home we went to church and he stopped me to say he was getting baptized. Here I thought he was coming to church to chase me but God really did romance the man back to HIM not me. Let me explain. In the same breath that he told me about his baptism he told me that he met someone and asked her to come to his baptism. REJECTION. I got dumped, again at church.

What infuriated me the most was that I didn't even like him enough to be so mad about it. Why was I so angry? Going to his baptism hurt like you would not believe. Right before he was dunked he was looking at her the way he used to look at me. I mean, yeah I wasn't into him, but I was investing in him in hopes that I would. Investment plummeted that season.

I'm currently reading this book by Lysa TerKeurst called "Uninvited" and it hit me like a ton of bricks, and because I don't want to be alone in the weight of holding  all these bricks I share it with you.

"Rejection steals the best of who I am by reinforcing the worst of what was said about me" In my case what I said about myself. But lets continue with this earth shattering truth. "It's not just a feeling we feel, it sends a message to the core of us. Causing us to believe the lies. That lie becomes a label and that label becomes a liability in how we interact with others, with relationships. Then we feel "unaccepted", another label, another lie. Then we hold people accountable for things they never said" 

Wow, Lysa put it in a way that I said, "Yes she gets it". (GO BUY THE BOOK)

The rejection I got from Greg in that moment  validated what I was saying about myself. Then I was just angry all the time, and no one wanted to be around me. (Looking back can't say that I blame them) Greg stepped in the places of my home church with his new found love and was accepted and I was uncomfortable and angry.

 How did I manage? Things are always easier said then done, but there was alot of biting my tongue, prayer, forgiving myself and him and time enduring. Romans 5:3 Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perserverance;" At the time can't say I took glory in it, but looking back I learned how to deal with rejection better. There is always that one time in your life where your eyes are just open to seeing the lesson. I'm grateful for the lessons, that's where I say "GLORY". 

Take a moment and feel the crazy I felt in my head, I didn't want him, but I wanted him to want me, even if he was unhappy, even if I was unhappy. Yeah, that's off. And I knew it, so I did my thing feeling wounded inside. But I learned a great deal about rejection and myself. Being self aware of the reality of the emotions is key. So when he popped into my head or the thought of rejection, I did something to take my mind and focus off the situation. I placed my mind on the things that made me happy. I fought with my thinking.  I had to disconnect too, so I didn't leave the church but I did avoid the times I knew he was there. Why subject myself to that torture. I needed to get my head right.

Rejection was an area I needed to learn how to manage. Not everyone will like me and that should be OK, and I should feel OK. All that and I wasn't into him, can you imagine if I was. What if I was in love an he had done that. Oh the scandal. Maybe that's why women sabotage relationships, to not feel the pain of being rejected. But that is another blog post. Oh yeah that's coming too.

The other woman needs healing too

Your only as sick as your secrets and I have one sick secret. Its easy to share the testimonies of the past where you are the victim, but what if you're not the victim? What if you were the one who brought forth the hurt? What if your the one that caused all the chaos and scandal in your home? Is there room for those stories in the church? Or do we all sit and focus on the victims and band together as victims.

I always turn to Romans 8 in moments where I am brought to a place where I have to revisit this place. I thought this past weekend I was going to share my testimony about my childhood trauma and how it messed me up but then I heard a story of a scandal in a church and I paused, I listened, and I was scared to share. Let me explain.

We all sat on the couch sharing pieces of our soul. Just a girls getaway and we bonded. Then one girl spoke of how in the area a church divided due to an affair the Pastor was having. Everyone spoke of all the parties involved that were victimized in the scandal. The congregation was hurt, the families were hurt and the children were hurt. They all needed healing. But no one spoke of the woman who was caught up in the affair with the Pastor.

Think about it for a moment. Do you really think she deliberately sought out the Pastor? 95% of the times these woman are broken, looking for healing and when approached by a man, a godly man at that, mentoring and shepherding his sheep she fell weak. Then he fell for her too. I don't know how long it went on but he confessed, came clean, put her business on blast, then returned to his wife and everyone is angry with her.

Now if that happened to a man without the platform of the pulpit how shameful would it really be? It would've been handled privately not publicly. The other woman would have been able to continue living her life without the scarlet letter on her chest with a spot light on it. Yes many would be hurt, but when your a Christian your held to another standard so the persecution and condemnation can be straight up fatal. Did anyone stop and think, she needs restoration too?

I never fell for a Head Pastor of a church, but I fell for a married man in the church. I hate knowing that truth about myself. He was just showing up, helping all the time being a friend and I justified it with that he was unhappy. Yeah that's not how I wanted to find love, but my heart was beyond consoling, it was out of control. In the moments it was a love story, in hindsight its a nightmare. At the time no one wanted me. I was young, single, judged heavily and with two kids. I was reminded often of my nature as a statistic, as if it gave me an identity that I wasn't worth being valued or protected. Then here comes this man "wanting me, valuing me, protecting me". I was broken and I needed love so badly I stole it. It didn't last long, he went back to his wife. It all blew up in my face and everyone focused on restoring their marriage and I was the harlot homewrecker.

What saved me? 
One person shared her story with me, then she said, "I'm sorry about how people responded. This isn't fair. But you messed up, take responsibility, lets take a look at the root issues and address them as you don't practice boundaries that protect you. Why is that? and what are we going to do moving forward?" Suddenly I had a future again. One person with one run on sentence gave me a future.

Everyone shunned me but not this woman. God poured through her and she helped me. I found healing and restoration. Was it easy? Heck NO! It was the hardest part of my life, I hated me for what I allowed, so I get why others were mad at me. I joined them in hating me. But even in the midst of being the one in the wrong, God wanted me. I felt like the adulterous woman caught and brought to the feet of Jesus. I wanted Jesus to judge me and punish me, instead He shed this undeserving grace and said, "sin no more".

I knew that God would give me a platform to share this story, but its not a good story to share. I normally take the one on one moments. When I hear of scandal, I am the one who reaches out to the other woman. I am not going to let Satan take my sisters, I won't. No one is beyond the reach of God, no one. He came for me, healed me, restored me and gave me a new identity that is validated by Him not the world. So I know some of you reading all have something to say but that's not me anymore.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

The bible says we are up against principalities- evil, we are all pawn to this sick twisted game Satan is playing. Do you think when Jesus turned to Peter and said, "Get behind me Satan" Peter took it personal, as if he was Satan himself? Or did he understand that Jesus saw what Peter didn't?

I am sure in the moments where I was called a name, that there was a principality present receiving it with a smile. They had their season. What that principality did not expect was my come back. And that makes GOD SMILES! I am not the other woman, I am a child that Christ himself died for, he found me valuable enough to protect even in my ugly seasons. In Him I found what my heart was missing. I found my identity.
That's all that matters to me.

Why do I share? In hopes you will share this with whom you call the other woman. I want to talk to her, I want to show her the grace and love Christ showed me.

I do want to address those who want to hit me while I share this because your hurt because your dealing with the other woman. I'm sorry, you are owed an apology. And if you never get it from her because she's hiding, I am saying it, I'm sorry. My life had seasons, in one point I was with you and the other I was with her. The importance of all of it is,  now that it happened, what are we going to do with it? How you react. Humanity is fallible.

Proverbs 15:1 says, "A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger" The scripture reminds us that we have a choice in how we respond. Take a deep breath of the Holy Spirit and answer gently to all parties involved. Our gentleness may be the only expression of love that another person experiences today.

Just listen

Just last night I was talking to a good friend who said something very profound. "I was always chasing relationships, chasing love, I was tired. Then I heard the Holy  Spirit say, "Chase me and you will be chased".

I wish I had the friends I have today back then. Resurrecting this blog of stories has shown me so much. How God molded me, how God saved me. God was in everything, but it wasn't till I got serious about chasing God that everything fell into place.

Here is yet another story that you need to read.

Again being the single person in the church everyone wants to play match maker. But this one was an odd one. My friend Gladys was playing cupid with her ex husband. She was divorced and had already remarried and had children with her new husband but had a friendship with her ex. I didn't think to ask why the divorce if they got along so well. Gladys and I went to the gym together like gym rats and we always talked and we both went to the same church together. We were friends and I thought if there was anything concerning, she would tell me.

The Introduction

We met at a restaurant, he was definitely older but charming. He stood up greeted me and we sat down for dinner. We joked, we laughed, and before I knew it we spent four hours in the restaurant talking. He had his own business, great work ethic. Adored his kids and provided. We even spoke of Gladys and he said nothing but kind things about her and how they both just screwed it up, but he was happy she found love and he moved on a long time ago. They were successfully co-parenting, which is unheard of in this day and age.

So then it hit me, Gladys is co-parenting, it makes perfect sense that she would play matchmaker. She has a good thing and wants to make sure that it remains a good thing. I was impressed. So then I asked the question, "what church do you go to?" he responded with, "I'm catholic, but can't say that I am practicing. Gladys told me you were a believer, and I believe I just don't... go as much as you do?"

There was hesitation on the last part of that sentence. But nonetheless he was funny, so the dating continued.

One day in his car I noticed a charm, it looked like a tool. It was hanging from his rear view mirror and oddly it bothered me every time I looked at it. So I asked, "what is that?", he said, "A good luck charm, why does it bother you" and I said, "yeah it does, I don't know why either" and we laughed it off. Then the nightmares started. Literally, nothing bad happened between Stephen and I, I was nightmares. Like sit up and scream nightmares. One time I saw Stephen chanting around a fire late at night and when I went to approach him a man with white make up and tribal wear jumped in front of me to stop me in my tracks. The nightmares would not stop.

Two months in and Stephen and I saw each other every day, but I was starting to feel like a crazy nut with all the lack of sleep. Something wasn't right. So I asked again, "Do you really believe in God". Stephen paused and asked me why I would ask him, so I told him about the dreams and he laughed and said, "They are dreams, maybe you have trust issues do to your past so your mind is self sabotaging a good thing. This is a good thing, I really like you and I don't want this to end"

I was so tired, I thought maybe he's right. But I needed God to tell me and my emotions were all over the place.

What went wrong

Day one of my fasting I waited for God to say something, and nothing. Day two, "God tell me who he is, if he is not the one, I will end it right now" and nothing. Day three I was downright starving. I was at work and there was this incredibly delicious looking orange on my desk. I was so hungry, I was going to give up right then and there and eat it. But I stopped myself, looked up at the ceiling of my office like if God was hovering over my head and said, "I'm turning in the fast. I am going to open my bible and I need you to speak to me. Then I am eating this orange". Talk about putting the pressure on God. So I played bible lottery, its when you flip through pages and wait for hit to open to where you think God is going to talk to you. So I shuffled the pages and let it fall open on my desk to Matthew 23:27 " "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean"

I had no idea what that meant so I emailed my friend Sonia who is a Yale divinity grad. I honestly wish I could put a USB in her head and download all that info. Before she could respond I picked up the orange and smelled it. It was so ripe and I could smell the orange juice so I started to peel the orange. While peeling I read, "back then the tombstones they used were beautiful, "whitewashed" but if you open it you only found death" Now that should've been clear in just reading it but like I said, I was sleep deprived and starving. Three days on just water. My orange was fully peeled so I dug my thumb into it and it burst open and a small burst of dust filled the air and the orange in my hands was black and the insides pulled apart like cobwebs. It scared me so much I jumped up and ran out the office. I couldn't leave as my purse and car keys were with the dead orange. Then it hit me like fire over my head. He's not catholic, he's something else. 

I picked up my cell phone and dialed his number. He could hear the panic in my voice and said could explain everything. "Explain? How the heck do you even know, what I am calling about?"
Well it turns out he was a Santero, he practiced Santeria. Its a form of witchcraft practiced heavily on the islands. They say they are catholic because when the Christian crusades happened centuries ago they were told to either convert or die. So they converted and disguised their practices and gods under certain Saints. He had spirits that would do what he requested. When we sat down to talk he tried to make it colorful. How they helped him make good business decisions. How he is where he is today because they guided him and he owed them so much. And then he ended with, "They don't like you, I asked them to leave you alone, but they don't like you". 

Me:"the good luck charms?" Stephen "those are tools used for calling the spirits"

I wasn't crazy after all. But I did lose it with Stephen, I told him who I was and who I believed in and how God was telling me that all of this, All of it, was going to destroy him if he didn't walk away from it. "I can't be with someone like you"

6 Months later
Stephen called and sent text but all of it was ignored. We were no longer even friends. Stephen gave his life to Christ after. He went to a church where the pastor knew of Santeria and its roots. Apparently Santero's have altars in their houses and that Pastor helped him take it down and rid of it. My interest in Stephen turned into disgust and I didn't want to hurt his feelings. As for Gladys and I, we were no longer friends either. She said she was praying for her ex to convert and that she knew with me it would happen. And in hindsight that is flattering, but at the moment she put me in a dangerous situation and I couldn't trust her as a friend.

I learned so much about Santeria aka Yaruba in its original name. It has surfaced again from time to time. I'm glad Stephen found Christ.

Every trial I went through God has molded me into his likeness, and it hurt. It did validate me though. I wondered if all my mistakes that God knew me and heard me but I wasn't a like a favorite or really a treasure, just part of the mix. But in that moment, through that situation I felt like my dad stepped in to protect me and it made me feel valued and cherished. From the beginning from the charms, to the nightmares, he was talking. I just didn't trust that it was Him. So this was a turning point, how do I fine tune my ears and eyes to see when its God speaking? Just listen....That's another blog post.

Don't discount yourself

You might think its funny but there is a lot of truth to this statement. I went to a birthday party and they had a bounce house. The bounce house was full of kids just jumping and having a great time, including all my nephew's and nieces. It was a perfect day for the adults to just chill while the kids were very distracted by this bounce house. Trust me when your a parent, this is a big deal. My kids are teenagers at this point but they know no age limit when it comes to acting like a fool in the bounce house.

So I got in line to get my food with the rest of the child free adults and then my son popped out of nowhere, "Mom, can you serve me food" Now I love my children, but they rarely eat at birthday parties when there is so much fun going on. So I needed to know what happened. Something disturbed the force, and apparently my Jedi insights were off because I didn't see it coming. But I was ready to fight for "parent peace", so I made my way to the bounce house.

On the journey I saw parents walking their children away from the bounce house like they discovered something of concern. So as I got closer I saw something through the netting in the shadows, I paused and told my son, "Stay right here, I don't know what that is". I thought it was a bear in the bounce house, but I had to be sure, then I heard a noise that sounded like grunting and thought to myself, "Oh my God an animal got in there" then the remaining kids in the bounce house came out screaming as my reaction caused them to freak out.

Now I am not that brave, but when something threatens children Rambo has nothing on me.  I ran to the bounce house as my niece was pressed up against netting in fear so I had to get in and get her out. It so difficult to walk in a bounce house so I just threw myself in head first, grabbed her leg and pulled her to the entrance and out the bounce house then looked to see what type of animal was in the bounce house and there it was. It was so gross, scary, traumatizing and scarred me for life. A couple dressed in goth with black eyeliner running down their cheeks and black nail polish and both in black trench coats in a full make out session.  I quickly withdrew and turned the machine off that inflated the bounce house. When they saw it deflate so did their crazed hormones as they panicked and made their way out of the bounce house screaming profanity at me that I could've killed them. Are you serious? I was going to have nightmares for weeks after seeing that. It was like watching two polar bears in Halloween costumes fight viciously on who was going to swallow who's tongue. Nor was it the time nor the place.

Everyone was a bit queasy  on going back into the bounce house after that so we all sat down to stare at our food at the picnic tables. My mom cracked the first joke, "Well baby if he can find someone so can you". I responded with, "Oh thank God there's hope for me still" and we all laughed. But I did go home that night wondering if there was someone for me. It had been months since anyone looked my way. My friend Sherwin from college, who I had a crush  on said, "Your like Mount Rushmore" and I gave him the look of insult and he quickly followed with, "Your the girl every man wants to conquer" and my heart was just about to melt when he said, " but they all try and fall to their death. But don't worry someone will get to the top let him work for it".

Sherwin is Persian, tall, big  brown deep drowning eyes, intelligent and funny but not at all interested in me. I wasn't Kosher enough for his family. His dad said, "I don't care how pretty she is, you can't put a Kosher sticker on pork, its just not right". Sherwin thought the world of me, but he wasn't interested in dating me. But I was the girl that he came to for counsel or simply just to hang out and laugh. Although Sherwin never stepped foot into the temple or practiced Jewish customs,he did honor his family. I had fun teasing Sherwin, I would wear t-shirts that said, "Hotter than your girlfriend" and he would say, "I am sure you're making every man in the class room wish they were single" He was good for my ego so I latched on to his friendship. He made me feel good about myself. I had no one to tell me I was pretty, or seek me out affectionately, or desire me and I wanted that desperately.

I left class that evening on a high from the attention I got from my t-shirt. But every guy in my class was either in a committed relationship or married. Then this happened, "I was lonely for so long I put myself on discount". My morals went to the wayside, I needed to be loved. So that night I went to church (after I changed my shirt) and noticed a married man staring at me. I looked up and grinned back at him. Yeah stuff like that happens everywhere. He wrote me an email that night and I woke up the following morning to it.

"I just have to get this off my chest. I have watched you for months and I am so impressed with how you handle life. It can't be easy for you doing it all alone. My children are my pride and joy and I would never abandon them. Anyway I just wanted to say I'm impressed. Beauty and brains, it rare...

The letter went on and on showing his intellect.. ooops did I say that. I should have said, The letter went on and on showing his lack of respect for his wife sending me a message and complimenting me. I am not a vulnerable girl seeking attention. But oh I was. So the emails went back and forth for weeks. Then....
His wife saw the emails. It was even brought to the attention of my Pastor who pulled us all into a room to discuss and get this issue resolved. I was humiliated and my heart was completely broken. I was called everything, the home wrecker, a fraud, an unbeliever, a weak single mother who would take any form of attention. There was a women in the room crying and  when she gained enough courage she said, "I admired you and you do this in the church? You do this to another member of the church and hurt their family, you hurt me, I don't know how I will recover from this" . And none of this from the wife, just the people involved in humiliating discovery of the emails. 

 It was then I learned one of the most valuable truths ever, your sin hurts more than just you. She left the church. All I could think of was, "All this over emails". Really that's all it was, emails with emotions. But that's an affair too. You have to call it what it is. Short lived affair and the discovery of the emails was God rescuing me from worst to come.

The women in the room with us that lashed out how they felt about me, left the church. My sin affected more than just me. Also, my Pastor did so much to try to fix it without hurting anyone. But the focus was all on me. No one yelled at the husband who sent me these love letters, no one told him he was wrong in writing the emails. No one said he took advantage of someone vulnerable. No one, it was all my fault cause I am the woman. It was so unfair but that's the reality for women. Its socially acceptable for a man to "slip" have a moment of "weakness". Its not acceptable for a woman, she is a home wrecker a whore and deserves punishment and banishment. I didn't leave the church although everything in me wanted to. Oddly in my pain of rock bottom it was the closest I had ever felt to God at that time. My heart was contrite and I needed help. This particular season in my life as painful as it was, brought me to new strengths.

My dad had this saying for his daughters that I hated, "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free". I discounted myself extremely. When you go shopping and pay top dollar for something it irritates you when people treat it with disrespect like it has no value. But when your at a tag sale and you get something for a dollar if it stains, or tears, then it's OK you got it for a dollar. I valued myself at a dollar.

The guy, his wife forgave him and he never looked my way again. They are doing well today. But they left the church too. It was too painful for them to be in the same room.

Me, it was a long journey to get past my reputation of home wrecker. The biggest gesture I received was the wife, she called me to meet. We sat at the park in tears and she apologized for her husband. She said she knew what I was going through and her husband took advantage of my vulnerability.  She said that he was wrong too. Then she prayed for me and said this, "if you think you've blown God's plans for your life, let me be the one to tell you; you are not that powerful"

The following week I started therapy under the council of the church and the woman who was counseling me matched me with other women who I had on a pedestal in my mind as godly women who would not understand. Then they told me their past and the long path to recovery.
There is so much power in "me too" and women building each other up.

You can't find that in the world. You need God to give you the strength to forgive. You need God to guide you and match you with friendships that will build you up. You need God to give you the strength to share ugly truths about yourself in just the right time to help another sister out. Hopefully this helps a sister out, I get it. You will recover.
Only God could pull me through, and He did. So I will end this with the words of the wife who obviously was filled with the Holy Spirit in confronting the women her husband lusted for.

"if you think you've blown God's plans for your life, let me be the one to tell you. You are not that powerful" 

Don't discount yourself.

You can’t start something on a lie and expect it to walk on truth

I normally post only once a week, but this came up in my time feed and I felt God pull at my heart to share. 

“Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame.”

I love that saying; I really hope my shame serves a purpose. Because this post, will be shameful.

I didn’t tell you how my first marriage ended. 

I didn’t speak on it at all. And out of respect for my grown adult children I will be scarce in the information that I share because it is their father. I will in no way disrespect or disgrace him. We married way too young. I met him in a difficult moment in my life and he poured love into me, so much so that in my young na├»ve mind I had to keep it, and do all that I could to keep it. We were teenagers, I was only 15 years old when I got pregnant with our first child. The pressure he received being so young and having to provide for a family pushed him into a corner of fear. He like many others turned to the drink to comfort himself from reality. It was too much for him, and I do forgive him for all the things he did.

But this isn’t about him, it’s about me and how I screwed things up for my family. I was eighteen years old for just a day when I gave birth to my son. Things were a mess and we were not surrounded by good friends (yup I said it) we were not. My girlfriend’s council was “dump his a….” and his friends said, “She tried to tie you up with a baby dude, she ruined your life, there is better out there for you”. There was resentment all over the place. So many horrible things happened and I was angry, all the time I was angry. His marriage proposal was under pressure. “we have kids and I have no solid commitment from you, I know you're not going to be there for me or your children”. So one day he picked me up from work on our way to get the kids and said, “Lets do it, lets get married and make things right”. Key word, “lets make things right”. We forced things that were not meant to be and we were stuck and asking God to bless it. We wanted God to sign off on our mistakes. To take this wrong and make it right and the best way was a marriage licence. 

I don’t even remember our anniversary date, but I do remember the date of our divorce August 13, 2004. Here is where I introduce to you, Juan. He was tall, nerdy and sweet. And I knew when he started to catch feelings for me.  I didn’t put him in his place either. I deserved happiness; I was miserable and I already filed for the divorce. But I wasn’t divorced yet. They say divorce is the second most traumatizing thing to experience second to death. I was coping fine because I had someone waiting for me. 

I hid it as much as I could and odd thing is that when my family found out they were excited, they felt like, “This is it! The drama ends finally she is leaving him”. Yeah there was that much drama, sadly. It was so bad my family celebrated an affair. Lets call it what it was because we were not divorced yet. The paperwork was in, but it was not final. I was cheating. I was the cheater. I just teared up writing that. But you have to take accountability and I knew better and I know better now. I was wrong. My ex was devastated when he found out, he made life even more impossible for me. Can you blame him?

Juan had just graduated from the university and he was full of promises. And I will never forget the day he pulled away from a kiss and said, “I have something to say. I know its horrible timing but I have to get it off my chest. I love you. I love you so much I want to marry you. I have never been so sure of anything in my life.” He giggled while following up with “I am going to buy you the biggest house, the house of your dreams and your kids are going to go to the best schools and we are moving out of Bridgeport”  I just laughed at his excitement then he got on one knee, “Will you make me the happiest man alive and marry me”.  In that moment I can honestly say I loved Juan. He represented my rescue. It was a love story. He was my night in shining armor and I was going to seize the moment and scream, “YES”. Oh the butterflies I had, I could barely sleep dreaming about our future. No more drama, no more alcohol abuse, no more infidelity, no more insecurities, my dreams were coming true.

What went wrong?
All the motivation was there to leave, and I did it. I am in the courtroom. I did it, I got divorced, it was no longer talk, it was all real and it killed me. I didn’t know it would hurt so badly. I was the one filing for a divorce , this was my choice and when the judge made his final call “Marriage dissolved” all the memories of everything good flooded me and took my breath away, and my ribs closed in suffocating my heart into a tight gripped cage. I couldn’t breath, literally. Fear, Regret, Consequences they all flooded me. My ex took grip of my hand and asked if I was OK and I couldn’t talk. The judge asked that my ex remove me from the court room as there were more people waiting to get divorced in line; we were done. Like I got served my deli meat or something, "get out of line... next!"There was a line up of people behind us getting divorced. 

 I cried like if he had died and he was standing in front me. Regret sunk in but there was no turning back now, it was officially, legally over. When you marry you become one, when you divorce your life is ripped apart. My kids were at camp so the next few days were all tears and dodging my family that was celebrating that it was final. I needed to mourn. Juan didn’t understand this. He stood by patiently waiting for me to run back to him but when my life was ripped apart I didn’t know who I was anymore, and I didn’t know how to be me. The “me” I loved was lost and for the life of me I couldn’t figure it out. I was scared I lost her in the divorce too. 

I tried to get it together, Juan was ready and it seemed like he had a timeline I had to meet. But my daughter was dealing with anger issues with the divorce and my son, separation anxiety.  This was bigger than me so I asked him to just be patient.

Time passed but we were not where we expected to be. Juan started a new job, he was the boss and it required long hours at the office so I barely saw him anymore but we were together. Then one day he came home and said, “we need to talk”. I knew it was not going to be good so I interrupted him with a kiss and was trying to seduce him into a romantic evening to forget all that was going on but he pushed me away then a tear fell down his face and I knew. I knew he found someone else. So I blurted it out, “who is she?”. “I work with her, I didn’t expect this to happen, you have to believe me. I was fully invested in us, you have to understand”. I wish I could say that I handled this with “I understand Juan, you are me a few months ago” but I didn’t. I was lost and my only reaction was to scream, “Get out!” while pounding on his chest pushing him towards the door. He was crying I was crying and I pushed him right out the door, out of my life.

You can’t start something on a lie and expect it to walk on truth. Can't walk on faulty foundation either.  Everything came full circle to smack me in the face. Its easier to cope when your the one hurting people. But when you hurt people you only hurt yourself in the end. I was left alone. Some would call it Karma, but I call it lesson learned. Its really important to start relationships on truth. I have yet to meet anyone who started a relationship in a lie end up happily every after. When something starts on lies, you realize, "Well this is how we started so I know he or she is capable" and the spirit of insecurity will always linger in all that you do together.

I wish I could say I got it right after that but I didn’t. There were more mistakes. You know doing it over and over again expecting different results. (insane)

But once you call it for what it is, take responsibility for it and confess it, it just doesn’t have that same type of power anymore. But you have to own your part in it. The blame game doesn't work. 
The best part about  all this looking back I can't say my ex was the only one to blame for our failed attempt at marriage, I was a mess too. I spent years justifying them by comparing them to his mistakes, but that's pride and God opposes the proud and I needed God's intervention badly. So I had to own it.  We can chalk it up to being young and stupid but the pain carries well into your years and affects every relationship after, whether you know it or not its there if it doesn't heal. 

Here is the evidence, the fruit of healing from your past. 

The New years of 2016 rolling into 2017, my beloved husband (we call him Clark- my Superman) and I spent it with our families, and it included my children's father and his new family. No drama, just love and peace. That is how the God I serve rolls. He restores all that was stolen from you if you trust Him. I trust Him. 

I can change him...

You know the saying, “can’t change a man” and that’s true, but there are times where you hold on to the thought that you just might be able to.   

We started as co-workers, ended up friends with all the laughing we did together then he asked me out on a date. How could I say no, it was like turning down the captain of the football team down, except Rick was not athletic. Actually he was cute, with olive complexion, curly black hair and probably measured about 5 feet 4 inches.  Now you know he was overly charming if a 5ft 7inch Latina was overlooking his height.  He just had a way about him, super charismatic and the life of any room. 

 At the time I met Ricky  I was teaching bible studies for the youth in my church and we were watching this video series called “The Truth Project”. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it. But there was this part in the series where they interviewed people of many different faiths  or no faith at all  asking them questions about the universe, and purpose. It was really interesting and the kids asked if we could interview an Atheist? I knew a couple, but I also knew that the couple that I did know would be rude or condescending with the kids. So, came the quest to find an atheist suitable for the interview.

I was in the office discussing my quest with a co-worker who dropped a bomb on me that Ricky was an atheist. I was disappointed to say the least. Thank goodness we hadn't had our first date. And just then and there in that moment I looked down at my phone and I was getting a text from Ricky, “Hey, how are you? Thinking of you”.  I hate to chalk things up to signs but it sure felt like one.  I also knew how Ricky felt about me so I knew he wouldn’t be rude. So I invited him to our next youth bible study.

At this point I knew it was over between Ricky and I. You might say that’s unfair, but when you have kids you think differently than the average single person. I couldn’t be with an atheist. I am on so many levels about introducing people to Christ. How does it look that the believer, the bible study teacher the evangelist is dating an atheist? The entire purpose of dating is looking for a husband. If not that's wasted time and unnecessary heart ache I don't need. 

Ricky did show up and it was a night to remember. I was so proud of the kids in the group, how they tackled each question he posed. They were supposed to be interviewing him but somehow it ended in a debate. No one was disrespectful, there were moments where we had to just laugh and so did Ricky. It was so much fun the kids invited Ricky to watch the next video session with them.  I was surprised he accepted the invite. He stayed till the end and I prayed the entire time that God would plant a seed in his heart. And I thought He did because Ricky was into the video, when I say into, he was so absorbed that he didn’t even notice me staring at him. All the kids noticed and grinned but whispered to stay quiet and we waited for Ricky’s to notice the room of ten people all staring at him watch this video. We all giggled when he looked up in surprise and noticed all the probing eyes on him. 

At the close of the video Ricky stood up and said, “that was really interesting. When we go out, I have some questions”. Now..... we had not scheduled our date. The monkey wrench… no the BOMB of him being an atheist changed my mind. But how does one say no to that, what if God placed Ricky in my life to romance him back into God’s arms! What if I was the person who would lead him to Christ. What if I could convert him and it be genuine.  I was here as the romancing tool to be use to bring Ricky to salvation. (all these thoughts lasted maybe 2 seconds) Then I blurted out,  “Are you free this Saturday?” 

Date 1- Just perfect,  he took me out to eat at a fancy restaurant and we spoke about why he didn’t believe in God and why I did.

Date 2- Perfect again, another romantic restaurant under the stars by the water and we spoke about the purpose of life and why.

Date 3- I am invited to a cook out at his gorgeous house. We had the same job I really didn’t understand how he had this amazing house, but he was single with no children. I am sure that had something to do with it.

Date 4- Ricky surprised me at church and brought his mom with him. (Pause for dramatic effect here, that's huge)  I wasn’t expecting to meet his mom but she was anxious to meet me since her son wouldn’t stop talking about me and low and behold his mom was a believer so I was an answered prayer. I just might be right about God wanting to use me in the transformation of Ricky.

Valentine’s Day
Ricky and I are just having so much fun and I am really falling for him but our conversations have steered away from who God is to focusing on us, on what we wanted to do on our next date, on what we wanted to see, explore and of course kissing. Ricky was a gentleman, he never pushed on me. I could tell he wanted to but he wanted me to be completely sure, and we even discussed it. He was willing to wait.  He respected my values and beliefs.  So on this particular valentine’s day he gave me a gift that floored me. It was a really heavy box and when I opened it, it was a copy of the 1828 Noah Webster’s Dictionary. I know that makes no sense to you but it meant everything to me.  Ricky learned about the Dictionary the first night of the youth bible study. It meant that he was really paying attention, he was really listening, and he researched it. It was Noah Webster's ministry, and if you read it you will see how politically correct we have become over time. And in this Dictionary they don't leave God out of it. It was a ministry.  It meant he was willing to support my ministry.

What went wrong?

He told me he loved me. He told me that he wanted to support me and everything that I did because it was important to me. He told me he believed in me, but he wasn’t convinced that there was a God. I felt like a case of crazies in that moment. Like I was dreaming about a God, and Ricky loved me so much he would play along with me as long as I stood by his side.
I was already divorced, I know what the heart leads to. I followed my heart the first time and love fades. I wanted what God intended for me and I knew a man who denied him wasn't it. That was hard to swallow. Things were good, I was happy, we never argued. But I knew better and I knew this wasn't what God wanted for me. 
Ricky thought I was worried about what others thought, and said, “I will tell people I believe, it’s not that big of a deal” But it was. I loved that he believed in me but I cannot meet that type of expectation. I needed him to believe in Him who would sustain us, that type of belief and hope in me was only setting me up to fail and he couldn't understand it. 
Every conversation dulled after until the phone calls stopped. Everything faded away, I don't even remember saying goodbye. He just disappeared. 

One of the most powerful lessons I learned was that its lonely waiting on God's promises. No one likes waiting, they all want to see you marry the person you have right now and if you don't something is wrong with you.  If too much time passes your labeled with names as picky, stubborn, shallow, you name it I have been called it. But I knew what God wanted for me, and I wanted it too, and I was willing to wait for it, even if it never happened. Its better to be single than soul tied to someone God didn't intend for you.

Second, only God can change someone. I walked away feeling like a failure from this relationship. I was on a mission to change him, instead it was changing me.
If this is you right now, here is my advice "That broken thing that you keep trying to put back together, is keeping  your life from that beautiful thing that's waiting to be built"

PS. I was still single a long time after Ricky, and I did troll his Facebook to see his wedding day that looked like a Pinterest fairy tale wedding. And I had the moment, "that could've been me" and I knew everyone was thinking it too.  I get it, its lonely and it sucks. But I promise every painful situation you walk away from is one step closer to God's promise and it will surpass your fantasies. The Pinterest perfect wedding will look ghetto compared to God's promises.

Catch your breath

When your single people look at you like your a charity case. That sound's worse than what I mean. I mean, people want to help you. They meet other single people and before you know it they are trying to play cupid. Once they find one interest in common between two single friends the arrows are flying. The only thing wrong with that is that I am Latin, young and a single mom, which places me in a negative statistic category, for those who meet me for the first time. Don't be alarmed, its all right, I am the one saying it. But let anyone else say it and I will punch them in the jugular, I am NOT A STATISTIC. Strangers unfamiliar with me think I am either looking for a baby daddy, or I am looking for someone to ease my financial burden. So match making is not easy. 

But then there are those who know you well and simply want you to be happy. So when they call you with a matchmaking ploy with a stranger that you might have something in common with, all my guards go up and you can see why. My wonderful beautiful cousin called me one day to tell me that a guy in her office saw my picture and thought I was beautiful. At first I was like, "thanks" moving on, but she kept talking about him and I knew where it was going. But this was my flesh and blood cousin that I grew up with like if she was my sister. She knew what I was into and not into. As kids we sat by the pool side imagining the artist of the band Menudo (the boy band that thrust Ricky Martin's career)  throwing us into the pool because in our heads they were our boyfriends. Not just one, we had the entire band for the three of us. Don't judge I was like eleven. But this is to give you an idea of how much I trusted my cousins judgement. 

"He's tall, black, cute and just a super amazing guy" So my response was, "would you date him" she was married at the time but explained under her giggle, "He is not a head turner, but he's not ugly. He is attractive and yeah... yeah... if I was single I would date him". Then the conversation on the phone quickly went from just a call with her to an introduction with Dwight. 

He was a gentleman over the phone. He quickly pointed out my reluctance in giving him my number and why I would not be disappointed. I had to admit the charm over the phone allowed me to say "what the heck" worse that could happen was that we would be friends. But I did make it clear I was not looking for romance. At this point in my life I was praying for a friend, someone who knew me, saw me as a human being not the main course to soothe his below the belt appetite. 

You really don't realize all the bonding you do over the phone. Social Media was already on the scene but not everyone was on it. Dwight was not, so I had no clue what he looked like at all. He knew what I looked like but I was going in blind. I thought to myself maybe that's what I needed and I was enjoying the friendship. He wasn't insecure at all which lead me to believe he was confident in his skin. Dwight seemed to be hey OK,  and he was easy to talk too. I wasn't feeling the pressure of romance as I wasn't looking for it so it was easy to just chat with him like I did with all my girlfriends. 

He didn't wait long to muster the courage to ask me out to a movie and I of course hesitated. I literally had to talk myself into seeing him. I was enjoying  the phone conversation. Everyday he called sounding winded after playing ball with the guys. I teased him about it often too. "You should really try to catch your breath before you call me" and he responded, "Girl, I can't help that you take the wind out of me with just your voice". I really should've caught on after that cheesy line. But I vested in the friendship. So after a few weeks of persistence, I said "I will but only as friends." 

He was coming from New York and I was in Connecticut. Again, I didn't want anyone to meet my kids so we decided on a middle ground. I chose the movie theater that had a mall because I wanted to remain in public. I knew his best foot forward self, I didn't know or trust him enough to be alone. Plus I was getting smarter with my track history of experiences. At some point you learn right? 

I was excited to finally meet my friend Dwight and I wondered if he would match any of the images that I had drawn up in my mind. I had imagined a Will Smith as he was always playing ball and "Prince of Belair" was one of my favorite shows. The mall was located close to the train station so after I parked my car I picked up my phone called Dwight and walked to the Train station to meet him. I felt like I was playing hiding go seek, running from train track to train track trying to find him. But for the life of me I couldn't find him, but in my defense I had no idea what to look for. He spotted me and teased me about it on the phone. He saw me running from track to track trying to find him, he saw my excitement in looking for him so he basked in it. It was actually fun and of course it would come to an end, no one lingers around the train station, eventually everyone leaves and it would narrow it down to who he was. And there I was looking at an empty train station and on the phone with him asking if he stood me up and was playing a cruel joke. He said no and then there he was, he stepped out from behind a concrete wall and he was..... not Will Smith. 

How do I share this with you without sounding shallow and mean? He wasn't out of breath from playing ball, he was out of breath from simply walking. The first thing I saw before his face was his belt before the rest of him caught up.  He was tall all right, but he was on the Heavy side (politely put). Now I have had crushes before on a few heavy guys, but he was beyond that. He definitely had his clothes custom made and his belly covered his knees. 

I was upset, I felt like I was catfished. He lead me to believe he was this athletic guy always on the basketball court. He lied and here is when I learned a hard truth about myself, I'm too nice. Nice to a flaw. I reached out my hand in a business way with a smile to shake his and said, "nice to meet you at last". He didn't skip a beat in suggesting we get to the movies right away or we will miss it, so we did. While walking to the theater he tried to hold my hand. Now I have a dilemma, I'm trying so hard to be nice and I specifically said I would go to the movies as his friend, but I don't hold hands with my friends unless we are praying and right now I needed prayer as I was lost inside on what to do. If I expressed my feelings I would be the shallow jerk who hurt his feelings. So I diverted and that was my tactic all night. Divert and as soon as possible abort the mission. 

While walking I found things to point too, and became the typical Hispanic who needed her hands to talk. Then once inside the theater he asked me what I wanted and I said, "A large popcorn, goobers, nachos with cheese and a large Sprite" he honestly looked at me like he had an issue with my diet. Really? 

Once sitting down I started with my nachos that were extra cheesy and messy, my only disappointment was that they were too small. So I licked every finger and was not girly about it, I left cheese on my cheek licked and slurpted the fingers so he would not want to hold my hand.  He still tried, so then it was to eat my popcorn, one kernel at a time, a LARGE popcorn. He seemed disappointed but I was OK with that. The movie started and he put his arm around my neck, and at this point I just blurted out, "Seriously, I told you just friends" and he cut me off in embarrassment as everyone in the movie theater turned around and was looking at us and then said, "Can I have some popcorn". I had to put my emotions back in the bottle that was boiling over in my stomach. 

The movie was a comedy and it was hilarious, it was the Wedding Crashers. We laughed so much we forgot the awkward tension between us. And then it ended. Time to walk to the car now.

On the way Dwight and I were laughing, we got all the way to the parking garage and he said he would walk me to my car. I parked on the sixth floor so we took the elevator. Once in the elevator we both leaned up against the wall and just giggled at the movie we just saw. As soon as the doors closed I wanted to tell Dwight that I had a good time but before I knew it his tongue was down my throat gagging me. It lasted a second as I pushed him away yelling, "what the hell Dwight, that was not code for gag me". Then he spoke, he spoke honestly.

"Look at you and look at me. Do you think anyone will agree to go out with me? Do you know how lucky I feel to have tonight with you? I'm sorry I upset you, I thought since we were laughing it was a sign that things were going well. I didn't mean to scare you, I just didn't want the night to end without kissing you, as I don't know if I will ever get this chance again. I had to sieze the moment, I'm sorry I scared you" 

I (overly nice) felt bad  for Dwight. I know it isn't easy for him. After my second child I weighed 198 pounds and no one looked my way, heck I didn't look my way. I understood where he was coming from, but that is not my responsibility to change. That is his. I will not body shame in this post, that's not my style. But its important to take care of your health. Being that heavy is not healthy, nor is it a sign of loving yourself. My choice to lose the weight was not to get a date, it was to be able to catch up to my kids playing on the field. To not have an asthma attack while cheering on my son's home runs. But I digress, Time to answer him, "Dwight you are a nice guy, and I get it. But you are violating my boundaries"

Following a deep breath, he asked if he could still walk me to my car and I said yes, then once at the car I turned to shake his hand cause I was feeling awkward and again overly nice and BOOM. ARE YOU SERIOUS! Pinned up against my car and I can't breath. Apparently bein nice is a sign for shove your tongue down her throat. But his lips were covering my nose, I was going to suffocate!  I had to put my foot down, no.... knee up! Not like it did much damage, I hit his belly. He didn't fight back but now I felt like I was in danger so I opened the door of my car and he pinned himself between me and the door, forcing my door to stay wide open.  I managed to sit down in the drivers seat, turn on the car and go in reverse forcing him back into the middle of the car garage.  I didn't want to kill him, but I needed to get away. The entire time he is yelling, "I'm so sorry". The second I drove off my cell was ringing and it was him on the caller ID. I didn't answer and just like that our friendship was over.

Once on the highway, I called my cousin on her cell and yelled, "Do you hate me?" she giggled and said he was a nice guy who deserved a nice girl. "The  guy almost ate me in the elevator!"

Always stay in a public place with every man.  But there is something to reflect on here. If a Will Smith look alike  had shown up, would I have been so protective of my boundaries? Maybe I am shallow, but in the same moment I felt like I did something I didn't normally do, I said no, I demanded that my boundaries were to be respected. This could've ended so much far worse but it didn't. Thank God! I never spoke to Dwight again after that, but when I do look back I see me pulling on an inner strength I didn't know I had. I know it sounds ridiculous to you but I struggled with boundaries. Still do but in other areas. Oddly enough I am thankful to Dwight. And I am not that naive, Dwight's approach was dangerous and sent all sorts of red flags, but be honest, if he was hot; how would you have played out the night?

Being self aware is a challenge in itself. We all need to pause, catch our breath then reflect. 

I want a Christian man

I want a Christian Man!

Well this one took me for a doozie. I really did love being single but every time I walked into church someone would say,
 "Why hasn't someone snatched you up?"
"Why are you still single" 
"God is preparing a good husband for you" 
Oh and every time I went to the altar for prayer people assumed that I was on my knees praying for a husband and they would stop me to say, "God told me to tell you he is coming sister"

Little did they know I was praying for peace when I was at the altar. Being a single mom was rough, it was no walk in the park. My daughter thought I favored my son, and my son thought I favored my daughter. Both responded to things differently which was exhausting. But at the end of the day I really wanted to raise my children to be educated, well balanced believers. I say well balanced because I have run across my fair share of super judgmental believers who walk arrogantly and prideful above the sinners. Then the other extreme where God is all love and you can sin all day and know your going to heaven believer. I'm no theologian, all I know is that no one is beyond God's reach, no one. So I wanted my children to never strip a person of their dignity. And who ever I dated needed to have the same values; I didn't want conflict in my home. I promise I will get to the juicy stuff but for all you single ladies out there, it is important to be "equally yoked" this is a prime example of it. Who I fall for is the type of man that my son believes he should strive to be, and my daughter will want that type of man as her husband. Talk about pressure! As a single mom, you see it. But as a single women with no children its just not a thought when your heart is wrapped up in your underwear.

Everything is a learning experience. The only time I felt bad about being single was when I was at church and every one made it seem like my prayers were not answered till I found a husband. So I fell into the trap and got desperate for people to see me as complete. However, I wanted a particular man, as I just explained. So I did what everyone was doing to find an eligible Christian man in this era. I went online, made a profile and shopped for a boyfriend.

I spent days looking at pictures first, then narrowed it down and started reading profiles. I did love the online sites, as it made me feel like the most beautiful woman alive. It was notification after notification but I didn't have to politely turn anyone away, or feel bad for not being interested. You had to pay to respond and I was to cheap for that. I needed to be selective as I would as selecting a bra on an online site.
I hated hurting people's feelings and sometimes being polite or nice was misinterpreted as try harder. I know this sounds arrogant but I am being honest. "God don't make ugly" is my catch phrase. Like every female I have my insecurities, especially after children... HELLO. I had stretch marks all over I can't compete with the bikini profiles some posted. There are things I would like to change about myself too, but I do know that God created each women uniquely and each have a quality that attracts men. Sadly some think its their looks.

Back to the juicy stuff. I found him. Tall, Dark, handsome, and he had pictures on obstacle courses so I knew he was brave. To me that was a big deal as I have always had a need to feel protected; still do! But there it was in BIG BOLD LETTERS! "my future wife must love God above all else" So I initiated and he quickly responded. We exchanged emails for weeks then upgraded to phone calls. Our conversations got intimate. No it wasn't phone sex. It was sharing each others goals, dreams and fears. He  called me when he needed prayer and I did the same when I needed it. It seemed perfect. He fit the mold just perfectly and my heart was vested. The only problem was that he in the military and stationed in Texas. So there were no chances of a walk in the park, or placing myself in the lions den of temptation. So we settled for emails and phone calls.

Meanwhile my friend Clark, who was a single dad, also the biggest heart breaker I knew, was at my house washing clothes one day when I was on the phone with..... Lets just call him Christian, said to me that it wasn't a real relationship. It was just a fantasy. That he could be just faking it all for the attention I provided him. He had a point but it irritated me. But he is a man and he knew more of the male species than I did so I dwelled on his words for weeks till it drove me crazy. So he convinced me to ask Christian to take this now 6-7 month virtual romance into reality. The scariest step ever quickly followed and he bought a plane ticket to visit. I did set ground rules, he couldn't meet my kids till I was completely sure this would work, and he couldn't stay at my house. Meanwhile Clark laughing in the background of my "foolish rules". Clark and I were both single parents and we shared chauffeur responsibilities to and from school, so I was grateful for his presence but at times he annoyed me with the revolving door of females that chased him and how arrogantly right  he was at times.

Christian arrived and it was not a catfish incident. It was perfect he was not as tall, but taller than me so I let that slide and it was indeed him. We only had the weekend together so everything felt rushed. I was meeting him for the first time, yet it felt like we were a couple who had not seen each other in months. He kissed me as if we had kissed before and it caught me off guard and I felt robbed of the ideal of our first kiss. I know sounds silly but I wanted that moment. You know the moment where you look into each others eyes purposely hinting "yes kiss me". It was gone, but he was here and I had to make the best of the moment we had together. He totally romanced me, flowers, dinner, words of encouragement that followed with hand holding and long talks every night up until the last night. He even prayed for me! Come on, tell me that doesn't do something for you. He prayed for me! The last night was to say goodbye, and this time he gave me my imagined first kiss. He stood there by the window of the hotel room bag in his hand with sad eyes staring at me and our eyes locked and he hugged me and said, "I don't want it to end here" and his touch, OH GOD his touch! He placed his hands on the small of my back and pulled me in for a warm embrace and I could feel his breath on my neck and when I gently pulled away to make eye contact we were in a full passionate kiss, and my body went into full surrender mode. How could it not, here was a man after God's heart, who romanced me, invested months into phone calls and emails and wanted to do everything right before God. Well except in this moment.

The desire was mutual and we ended up wrapped in the sheets of the bed of the hotel room. It wasn't romantic, it was just two kids caught up in a horny moment. We had only a few hours to get ready for the drive to the airport and I wanted to cry. I just gave this man all of me and he was leaving. I justified it with his responsibility to our country. I kept telling myself that he was going to be my husband so don't feel bad. "It will all work out, don't worry" that's what I said over and over again.

That following Monday, he called me to say he was being deployed and that his last girlfriend dumped him while on his first deployment. I assured him I was going to be loyal over the phone but he heard Clark's voice in the background. I explained he was just a friend who helped me out with the kids. He said he was cheated on before and that he didn't like Clark being around. I explained all this to Clark in hopes that Clark wouldn't linger around after he dropped off the kids. I was too vested in Christian, I had been abstinent for 2 years, I felt like I lost my virginity and my sanity. I needed to keep Christian happy, even at the cost of my friendship with Clark. Clark won't care, I was only a friend who helped bring his daughter to school. Sure enough Clark did care and said I was being stupid but he would respect my wishes and not linger around my house after dropping off the kids.

That night I prayed, "God, please give me strength, I made a mess" and  in that moment I experienced something new in my prayers. I saw an image of a man puckering to kiss me. Then I opened my bible and it was like the words jumped at me as I wasn't looking for anything in particular. It just stopped me, "Daughters of Jeruselem, I charge thee do not awaken love until it is ready to be awaken"  I didn't get it at the time. I do now.

7 months of silence, and the kiss of betrayal
Christian was overseas and I was playing the loyal wife. At this point I had found Christian's family online and we had become online friends. All of which are still amazing God fearing people. I didn't know it at the time, but they knew little of me, they thought I was just Christian's friend.
Christian did come back to the states and I waited for the call. I waited weeks, then got antsy and started trolling his families timeline then there it was. A picture of his newly found wife, they were married for 4 months and she was expecting his first child. It was the big  surprise for his family so it was shared after share after share on the timeline.  I never felt like such a fool before, and my heart had never hurt so much. That day my only revenge was to change my number and de-friend every relative close to Christian.
He did send me an email months later when he thought I had healed, that said, "I know you know, but God told me that you were going to cheat on me with Clark. I couldn't relive that again so I moved on. I didn't expect for things to happen the way it happened, it just happened" there was a lot more to it but you get the gist. Can you believe him? He cheats on me and says its because I was going to cheat on him with Clark. Little does he know I was single for 6 LONG YEARS after. I would have never cheated!  I wasn't even properly dumped, I saw it all on a Facebook post. I was livid! So I wrote back, "Your a fraud, I believed in you and trusted you and I never cheated nor would I have cheated and its not cool to use God as your cover up"

Young and stupid!
Funny to look back. It was painful but I learned so much from the experience.  For instance, we both prayed we just didn't listen. He has his side of the story too. He really did feel insecure with Clark, he didn't know how to tell me that all his prayers led him to the fact that I was not the one. He wanted me to be the one, just like I wanted him to be the one.  My prayers did the same but rejection is a hard pill to swallow, I think I would've managed that ordeal better had it been me rejecting him.  Did he do it right? HELL NO! It was wrong on so many levels. Had it been another girl she would've thought God hated. He had all the characteristics on the prayer list, and God was saying no not her. Oh the humanity! Everything blew up before my eyes and my heart set ablaze in anger. I changed my email after too. That will teach him! Never heard from him again.

 Until just recently I was in LinkedIn and saw Christians name pull up as a person who viewed my profile, while I was in bed with my husband. I laughed and leaned over in bed to Clark and said, "should I tell him?"
LOL- life is full of surprises.
And no I didn't tell him.

Revisiting the Past

Revisiting my past...

This morning I got up and was listening to one of my favorite authors, Rachel Hollis. On Chapter 14 of her new book "Girl wash your face" she said something that sparked something in me. She said she doesn't read the reviews. I instantly thought of my friend Kim who is an avid blogger and recently published her first book and told her the story of how I used to blog and my failures. All to encourage her and make sure she doesn't give up.  I told her that I was her once upon a time. I loved writing, and I loved sharing stories and I was known as the "story teller". One day  in my late twenties, I decided to reclaim my virginity and figured I  write a blog about my journey. Now I know what your thinking, that's scientifically impossible. But spiritually its totally possible.

I wrote this great blog of my journey as a Christian woman who was taking control of her life, so I thought. I was a single mom and in the dating arena it seemed that sex was expected. And it frustrated me to no end. The constant cliche, "you have kids, what are you protecting?". It was as if it was a right of passage for all women to get to the next phase; commitment.  Depending on your performance in bed and how freaky you were, would determine if you deserved the solid girlfriend/boyfriend status. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't like that for all my dating scenarios. There were the few that would wait; so they said, as they always tried.

And then there was me, who was indeed not a virgin. I knew the taste and desired it, like you would not believe. But I also knew how it left me feeling afterwards. Cold showers and long nights at the gym were my go to and I always shunned all romance movies. I also understood the science of it as well. Did you know that women produce a chemical in their brains called Oxytocin, also known as the "love hormone". Its produced in men too. I'm not a doctor so don't take this as a medical fact. This is just my take on what I learned. When women give birth to a baby they release massive amounts of it, it acts like a bonding agent. How else do you explain loving the person who just ripped your vagina in half. Women also release it when they are breastfeeding. They also release it in, you guessed it, during orgasms. Things that make you go hmmmm.

Now from a biblical perspective; God intended sex to be within the safe haven of marriage. After making all the obvious mistakes that are in direct violation of what God intended I can sincerely attest that I now see why God intended it for marriage. The physical and biblical line up perfectly and validate each other. The entire "two become one" bible phrase, to "bonding agent/Love hormone" science. Again hmmmm

So I tried to take charge of my panties. I made sure they were not going to drop anymore and to entertain myself I would blog my way through it. I would laugh and make light of my rejection to encourage myself. And I would hopefully help others making the same commitment. There was the catch, "helping others". I knew I was going to be made fun of, after all I was living this walk out loud and I was bashed. So I made the blog anonymous. My first few stories were funny to say the least. But then I saw one of my postings circulating through social media, I was shocked. It was there on my newsfeed because someone else shared it. I didn't know what to do with myself. So I clicked on it and there it was; the Comments. The death of my blog, the opinion of others, the death to all things that are good.

The comments section of my blog post put me in tears. I cried myself to sleep that night and if I am honest probably a few nights after. Who am I kidding like a week. I dragged out that suffering longer than I should have.
"She honestly thinks she can recycle her virginity"
"This is a joke, and she's a joke"
"This is downright hilarious, a retard has to be writing this"

I actually remember all of them. I'm now 41 years young and looking back thinking they probably just meant the title and didn't even read it. Also above all else, who cares. Like Rachel Hollis would say, "Someone else's opinion of you is none of your business". But back then in my late twenties into my thirties it hit me like a ton of bricks and stopped my life, let alone my writing.  I was dating this guy during this time; you will read about him in later post, who said I was being "ungodly". Really?  Again now at 41 years young looking back and revisiting my past my only regret was not being true to myself and listening to others. Needless to say in my pain and rejection of my writing I listened to three critics and deleted my blog entire blog and till today never wrote again.

Today I'm happily married because I stopped listening to the critics and started being myself. Not only did I get the man of my dreams, he came in the most unexpected way, but that's also for another blog post.
Now....I'm not where I want to be, but I am definitely not worried about being me and you will discover why in my writings.

Today I belong to various ministries but one in particular I do want to highlight its called Purity and Peace and its a ministry that helps women. All women, not teens looking to protect their purity. I'm talking all women who are looking for healing and are right where I was a few years back. Looking for healing. Healing from past relationships, breaking the bonds you made with all the wrong people. Trying to do it the right way, the way God intended. People think doing things God's way is a set of rules that we have to live by restricting our freedom but reality is that they are rules that keep us free. Free from heart ache, humiliation, and straight up PAIN. Once you slip its hard to pick yourself up. And lets be honest, who wants to be that transparent and call a friend to say, "Girl, I was horny, that's why I did it". Forgive the vulgarity of my writing, as I am sure some will state it to be,  it's honest.  I couldn't be honest with women of God. (Now I can) but back then I had to go to those who would applaud my lack of will power, it made me feel better. Then I thought what if they had a blog post to turn too? What if they could read this and not feel like they are being judged in being honest. Honestly

We want to pretend we have it together, that we have control. But reality is we need accountability partners. Someone who will remind us of what we are protecting, Purity isn't just between your legs, your protecting your purity of mind and soul. I now have that network of strong godly women, who won't judge me but help me remember there is no condemnation, and what are we going to do to fix it? Back then I did not. No fault to my network back then but even I didn't have the knowledge I have now in regards to God's grace. We all had this ah ha moment and said, "Awe man, I wish I knew this back then"

Think about it. When you mess up and take the walk of shame the next morning are you calling your friends to celebrate it? Well, I guess some do. But not me, and I know there are more girls out there that can identify with me. So I'm revisiting my past and I'm going back to reclaim what was stolen from me, my confidence! There was nothing wrong with me "recycling my virginity" or writing about it. To top it all off, the reward was worth it. Every rejected humiliating moment was worth it.  Oh... one more thing... full transparency... I didn't always get it right. I don't want you to think I took this oath of purity and did it till the day I walked down the isle to my wonderful husband.

 Nope, sadly I took the oath several times. Thank God, GOD is a God of grace.  I did however, beat myself up often for falling short of my promise not only to God but to myself. I also felt like I was abusing God's kindness. I was that girl that put herself on the shelf to please someone  I thought I loved. Oh... and here is another truth bomb I didn't expect, the many times I thought I fell in love.... scary.  I am pleased to report that looking back I didn't give up on the promise. I kept trying and there was a period of years where I was abstinent.

I am now pleased to report that I gained control of the pantie situation, but who doesn't when your married. They are always on the floor. But more importantly I looked back and smiled that even in my errors I was right to recommit my life to Christ and reclaim my purity. Like I said the reward was great!
With that said I am taking on my writing again. I have committed to rewrite my past blog post for me, you can enjoy the ride as I stroll through memory lane. I'm praying that it helps, but I warn you, its going to be raw and fully transparent. I will change names to protect the innocent. Most of the men I will speak about have grown since then. Have married and look back on their foolishness with regret as well. So I will not shame anyone. It was a process for all, and most (not all) grew from it.

I am only going to post once a week so if you subscribe I just want to set the expectation.
God bless and stay tuned.

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