Crickets….

I shared with a few of my girlfriends that one of my prayers entering the dating scene was that I’d rather hear “crickets” than have another broken heart. But, I see now, that it’s  been in the broken hearts and relationships that I’ve learned the most about myself, what I need, what I can give, and what real love is and is not.

I don’t think dating has ever been easy for me, but with social media, texting, dating sites, kids, and the divorced baggage, dating is HARD! As much as I wanted to remarry one day, I got to the point that I was willing to skip it altogether if it led to more pain, confusion, betrayal, or mistreatment. I wanted the girls to see healthy and if that meant mommy stayed single for the rest of my days, so be it.

It’s not what I wanted, I got very lonely. I wanted to be held by physical arms. I cried out in this loneliness, similar to how I did in the loneliness of my marriage but this time without a ring or any potential prospects. The prospects that did come along left more of the same. No lasting connection or commitment. I believed their words, but they fell flat, unable to truly love through good and bad. Once again, try, split, work on forgiveness, and try again. Or should I?

I craved companionship, intimacy, honesty, and reciprocal love. But, this time it wasn’t just about what I wanted, it’s about what the girls and I needed and the example I wanted to set as their mom for their upcoming dating years. I needed a man to set a good example as their stepdad. This definitely raised the ante.

I couldn’t risk falling for just anyone. Even though I still did in the process. God knows I’m prone to fall……..

We needed a patient man. A gentle man. A family man. A man who knows the meaning of and Supplier of biblical love. A man ready to love us all. For the long haul. Through thick and then. These would all take a strong man. If these characteristics weren’t there, then we would be healthier and better off without. And, ultimately, I’d wish the same for them when they consider a husband. So, I asked God to remove if he didn’t fit these qualities.

Crickets.

Hearing crickets on the dating scene isn’t easy. It feels like a big bucket of rejection, but that’s where my faith was tested. I bravely asked God to get all up in my business, so I trust that He did. Even when it hurt. Even when I didn’t like it. Even when the text wasn’t replied to. Even when they didn’t call. Even when the ones I was warned about wouldn’t stop texting or calling. Even when and even then.

I prayed for strength to endure the loneliness and what seemed to be a lack of interest or undesired interest. I reached out to my friends, I asked for prayer, I asked advice, I talked to my kids, I cried, and I learned each time. Deep down I trusted that God had my very best interests at heart. Because I only desired His will.

It never came naturally to me in any way, shape, or form to date casually. My heart is programmed to love and that makes dating (to figure it out) even more difficult….I asked God to guard my heart during the process. Keeping an open and guarded heart is a tough balance.

As I type this article, I’m looking down at a beautiful ring on the fourth finger of my left hand. Engaged to a man that I’m thrilled to have around my girls. A man that I know is super hard to come by in today’s world.

I get to be a wife again. I loved being a wife. But, this time, it’s to my best friend. A man who I can talk about anything with and he does the same. A man with similar interests which is wonderful, but most of all, is sacrificial. He wants to love me all the days of his life. He sees that as a gift. And that makes him the best gift for us! This is how I’d want my girls loved.

Thank you, Jesus, for the crickets. It was then, in the silence and wonder, that I learned the most about You, who I am to You, and who You want for us.

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He is BIGGER…

Jesus is bigger. He’s bigger than the church pew you just sat in. He’s bigger than the separation with our kids. He’s bigger than the guilt we carry.

He’s bigger than your divorce. He’s bigger than the sermon you just listened to. He’s bigger than the quote you just shared. He’s bigger than the diagnosis you just received. He’s bigger than differences in theology. He’s bigger than the school you attend. He’s bigger than our mistakes.

He’s bigger than the foods we eat. He’s bigger than the feelings we have. He’s bigger than the words that we write or say. He’s bigger than our intentions. He’s bigger than our fears. He’s bigger than the devil.

Claiming the Name of Jesus is the biggest thing we can do and best choice we can make. When we are overcome with joy, in the depths of despair, when sadness washes over us, when misunderstandings run rampant. Claim His Name.

If there’s TWO things I pray my girls see and remember in me, it’s the grace and love of Jesus. What more can I give?

More of You, Jesus. Less of me.

For YOU know better than I….

 

The Nail Salon…

This is a story that bears repeating. This is a story that sounds too strange to be true, but because it happened to me, I know that it did. This is about that day at the nail salon…

Our relationship was rocky. His employment had been off and on for the two years I knew him. He had been laid off for months now and it scared me. I’m well aware I could lose my job today, any of us could. But, as a single mom to two girls, steady employment is high on my list. I just couldn’t relax and get excited about the future without it. We needed help.

So, he gets hired at a job fair for a well known company in the area, Praise God!! Hired on the spot. Now, to take the tests required and start working. Problem solved and prayer answered, right? ….Drug test, check. Written test, taken. Never in my mind did I consider him not passing this written test. I mean he’d been in this field for most of his working life. I just thought it was a formality. So, when I got the news he didn’t pass, my heart sunk. Now, I KNEW the problem must be him. I mean, why couldn’t he pass? I couldn’t live this way. I was less than compassionate, I was just mad and confused.

I asked God if this was His sign. I know He wants what’s best for me and the girls. All I heard in my spirit was “wait”. Three hard days went by and I waited. I didn’t end the relationship, I waited and remained honest with him and God that I was highly bothered and frustrated with this situation. Everything else seemed to be coming together, except this job situation. And, I just couldn’t overlook it.

On the third day of waiting and wondering, I left work early because my last patient “happened” not to show up. I didn’t have my girls that day, so I “decided” to get my nails done. When I pulled into the parking lot, I “chose” a salon I rarely went to. Still don’t know why, just decided to mix it up. Meanwhile, I’m texting with a friend about her love issues as well. She asked if I would mind talking instead of texting as she just wanted to hear my voice. I told her sure, but that I was heading in to get a pedicure so I couldn’t talk loudly as not to bother others. The staff “happened” to sit me beside a woman in the salon.

I was sharing my heart with my friend about this test that he didn’t pass. I must have sounded extremely distraught. So much so, that the lady sitting next to me tapped me on the shoulder while I was talking and said “I’m so sorry to bother you, I work there and that test had an 85% failure rate, it’s the talk of the company right now.” WHAT?!? I quickly let my friend go to get more information.

She went on to tell me that employees currently employed there had taken and failed this test. The problem was not him, it was the test! I would have never known, he would have never known had this encounter not happened. Not only did she ease my mind about this test and my guy, she told me to have him call her directly since her department was hiring. So excited and thankful, I shared his name and said he’d call her first thing in the morning. When she heard his name, she said she knew him! Not only did she know him, he trained her at a previous job!

Needless to say, he called her the next morning and the ball got rolling. It didn’t roll smoothly, it took six weeks to get a start date. But, start he did. He just finished his first week as a direct employee at an amazing company that he may very well retire at. Not only are the benefits amazing, he is starting at twice the amount of money he would have made had he passed that ridiculous test.

If my patient had shown up, if I had to go straight home, if I had gone to the salon I normally go to, if I hadn’t been talking on the phone instead of texting, if I hadn’t been sat next to her, if she hadn’t reached out to ease my mind in compassion, if she had been wearing her earbuds that day (which she told me us she usually always does when getting her nails done), if she hadn’t have tried a brand new salon to her that day…..so many ifs.

Looking back, God told me to “wait”. My standards were on point and I do believe a steady job and ability to be employable and maintain employment is and should be on our lists as single ladies. I’d want it for my daughters’. If I hadn’t have waited I wouldn’t have experienced this or had this story to share. So share I will. So each one of you will know that when God moves, He moves. Even in nail salons…

My Love Story….

My love story will be different…It won’t be a “married to my high school sweetheart” story. It won’t be a “rocky marriage and reconciliation” story. It won’t be a “happily ever after right after divorce” story. No, my love story will be different.

My love story will be learning about how much God loves me, even in the midst of painful losses and rejections. My love story will be learning to love myself in the midst of them to0. Learning to love myself even when made to feel unlovable. Learning to love myself after being torn down to a nub by men in my life. Learning that not all men and women are the same….

Right after my divorce, I fell hard for a guy. He gave me more attention that I’d ever received from my ex-husband. We dated over a year, but he refused to commit. So, heartbroken again, I knew I had to stop the rollercoaster of not knowing what he wanted from me. Cue the next few guys who wanted to marry me after our first date. And some even before. What was going on?!?

First guy turned out to be on parole for double homicide (his wife and another guy)! Next two had mental issues, so much so, that suicide was mentioned after ending things. The fear of God set in. What was a single mom with two daughters to do?  Just stop? Or keep trying, trusting God. I chose the latter……My love story will be different.

The only way I could trust God with my romantic life after these stories was IF I loved Him enough and trusted His love for me. I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve cried out, thinking it won’t happen for me. It just can’t after these stories…The fear would be too great or the rug would be yanked out from under me, again.

I dated a guy who truly loved me, but we split over spiritual beliefs. I’ve dated a guy recommended by one of my best friends. I thought that he was my reward for standing up for my beliefs. That turned out to be false too and ever so painful and confusing all over again. What was going on?!?

The guy before has come back around. God spoke to his heart in my absence and it turns out our spiritual beliefs aren’t as different as we thought. Surprisingly, close. He knows all my fears, issues, and concerns. His love still rings true. God’s will be done.

My love story will be different….God will be my first love. My love story will be an open book of the love we share. I will run to Him when I hurt. I will lean on Him when I’m scared. I will share who He is to me. I will trust Him with my life. And, if it turns out that He just wants me all to Himself, my love story will be complete. I will live to please and honor Him all the days of my life.

 

 

…But I won’t do that.

There are many things I would compromise on, but feeling loved is not one of them. My experiences have brought me to the point and realization that words fall short. If I don’t feel loved by a person, their words are just that, words.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  1 Corinthians 13:1-2 (NIV)

Looking back, It’s the same with my relationship with Jesus, it wasn’t until I felt His love for myself, that I could believe it. Once I believed it, I built my life around it. This is where transformation comes in. When His love washes over us and we realize He’s been waiting and pursuing us all along, our hearts are drawn to Him. It’s in these moments, that we worship in tears and awe, sometimes even speechless.

So, when it comes to my future husband, I will compromise. But, I will not settle. To settle would be to commit my life to a man that I’m not sure loves me. To quote Meat Loaf, “I would do anything for love…but I won’t do that.”

I questioned my ex-husband’s love for the 10 years we were together. I will not do that again. One thing I ask the Lord to provide most of all, is a deep sense of assurance. A love I can rest in. A love I can be myself with. A love I can be emotional with. A love I can be honest with. A love I don’t ever question. A love like His. Everything else comes and goes. If we find this kind of love on this earth, romantic or otherwise, cling to it and thank God for it. It’s a love from Him.

Laser Focus

laser-focus

The closer I get to Jesus, the less legalistic and judgmental I get. I think this is because the closer we get to Him, the more our own imperfections are highlighted. Not in a bad way, but in a way that helps us realize we need Him more than ever and how much we are all alike. Sinners searching.

Do not judge others, so that God will not judge you, for God will judge you in the same way you judge others, and he will apply to you the same rules you apply to others. Matthew 7:1-2 (GNT)

The closer I get to Jesus, although my own sinfulness is exposed, His love is amplified. He loves me anyway.

The closer I get to Jesus, the more I can empathize. Rather than seeing rebellion and hatefulness, I see the hurt behind it. I don’t necessarily engage or react like I used to (at least I try not to), but I do understand why it’s there. They are either trying to earn a love that is already there or they are not feeling the love that is already there. Both scenarios are sad. In these circumstances, remind yourself of His unwavering love and pray. Pray they will feel the Love they need. The Love we all need. The Love that is already there.

The closer I get to Jesus, the other “stuff” doesn’t seem to matter as much. A bad day at work is just that. A misunderstanding with a friend is an opportunity to grow. A temper tantrum thrown is an opportunity to practice patience. A tight month financially is an opportunity to trust. A critical comment is an opportunity to test my faith. A rejection is an opportunity to test my resolve. A mistake is an opportunity to show grace.

The closer I get to Jesus, the more thankful I get. It’s because of His love that any of us are here and it’s because of His love that we get to live with Him forever. It’s because of Jesus that I fight the fear to share. And, it’s because of Him, that I get to.

The closer we get to Jesus, the more He shines. My goal on this earth is to walk as closely as I can with my Jesus until that blessed day I get to look Him in the face….

Where is your focus? On the problem? The fight? The hardship? Focus on Jesus, take His hand, and don’t look down. Look full in His wonderful face. With laser focus on Him, the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace….

Guilt to Gratitude

thank you Jesus

Growing up I had the rules, but lacked the relationship. I felt like the only way to earn and stay in God’s favor was to do or not do certain things. And, I failed….constantly. Being a born pleaser, I felt like I must certainly be letting him down like all the time. I loved Him and I wanted His love, but felt unworthy because I couldn’t live up to what I thought He expected from me. Even when I did the “right” things, I didn’t understand why I had to in order to be loved. Either I was or I wasn’t, right?

My “hard to please” God eventually turned into one I gave up trying to please. I just accepted the fact that I never could. I was too sinful, too guilty, too wrong. If he loved me, it must be out of pity. It would have to be in spite of my efforts because I could never do enough or get it right.

Slowly, but ever so surely, I started feeling His love more. I began studying, searching, seeking, wondering….could it be true? He would speak to me. He would tell me it was true. But, my imperfections were the bullhorn and His voice was hard to hear. I started straining to hear His voice. I started reading books that spoke about it. Reading about and talking to people with the same issues and questions as me. People who’s lives were transformed by the love of God in spite of themselves and their actions hoping on a prayer that He could love me the same.

Guess what? He does. Now, I know that His love for me is regardless of my actions. Anything I do or don’t know in His name as a sacrifice is a beautiful thing, but I don’t HAVE to do anything for Him to love me any more than He already does each and every day. This fuels joy like I’ve never felt. This makes me want to shout His name from the mountaintops! This makes me WANT to live for and with Him. This unconditional love is worth changing our lives for and I firmly believe is the only thing powerful enough to do so.

My hang-ups are people pleasing, guilt, fear, worry. He meets me here. He loves me through it. He empowers me, calms me, walks with me, and reminds me that I’m human. While we see the struggle and feel the shame, He sees the reason that He came. Jesus wouldn’t have had to die for us, if we didn’t need Him to. He did it because He loves and He knew He had to. Being human means that we are sinful. We are sinful and selfish as two year olds. As we grow up, we can control ourselves better and make better choices, but we are still sinful and it takes complete dependence on Jesus when we realize that our works are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).

When we realize our condition, we are sometimes prone to run the other way. We could never measure up! Instead, let us turn our guilt into gratitude. Let us throw ourselves at the feet of Jesus and say “Thank you!! Thank you for dying for me. Thank you for loving me then, now, and tomorrow, no matter what. Thank you, sweet Jesus, for taking everything I’ve ever done and ever will do to the cross. Help me to live in a way that honors you!”

Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour? Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Matthew 26:40-41 (NLT)

Even the men Jesus chose to walk beside him were weak. Peter wanted to fight for Jesus. Peter drew a sword when they came to take Him. Peter swore He’d never deny Jesus. But, Peter couldn’t even stay awake while Jesus (his best friend, his Savior) sweat drops of blood in agony just a few feet away. Jesus asked them to do one thing, yet their flesh was too weak. THIS is why He died for us. He knows what we are up against. He knows the frailties of our minds, bodies, and spirits.

That being said, can we love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind and soul?

One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ Matthew 22:35-37 (NLT)

Jesus KNOWS our limitations as humans. He also knows our hearts crave His love. If we allow His love into our hearts and start to live in the freedom of it, our lives will reflect that. We will be filled with Jesus and the fruits of the Spirit. We will not be perfect, but we will be surrendered. Rather than hiding because of our guilt or trying to earn His love, let’s go face down in gratefulness to our Father in heaven. Because there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) and we could never do enough to even come close to what He’s already done for us.

Mary Magdalene loved much because she knew she had been forgiven much (Luke 7:47). That forgiveness and love is available to each one of us. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…..Only Jesus can save a wretch like me. Thank you Jesus!