I was 21, Nevaeh was 2 & Anthony had left us to join the Army. He joined the infantry, in a time of war... I didn't know what to expect, or if I'd ever see him again. It was February of 2010.
In one of the services I went to the Pastor's wife came out during worship & started to say:
"God is good, all the time- all the time, God is good- he gives and he takes away, that is just a part of the process but today He wants to give things back to you- whatever it was, your job, your children, your car, your husband, your health- whatever he has taken away, was with a purpose. Perhaps it was getting in the way of your relationship with him. He asks you today to prove your faithfulness today with a faith offering of $XXX to show him that from now on you will put HIM first- then and ONLY then whatever he has taken, whatever he has broken, WILL BE RESTORED for HIS GLORY."
That's the moment it clicked- I've always said my life mantra was "everything happens for a reason" this was the reason & I was ready to comit my life to Christ & make him a part of everything. So I prayed that He would restore my family. The women's encounter was week later & I was ready for a change.
My mother was very upset, that not only had I betrayed "my religion" (Catholicism) but that I was going to be at a 3day encounter from April 16 untill the 18th- which happened to be Nevaeh's 3rd birthday. As I saw it- I was giving her the best gift in the world, a better mom. As my mom saw it, I was wreklessly abandoning my family & my faith.
The 18th, after I got out from encounter, I took my daughter to Chuck E Cheese. I was determined to be a better mom so I took her to the park the next day as well & we had a lot of fun. We had hardly done anything fun since Anthony left but now I had a new found faith, and inner peace that all things would work out fot the better.
The next day, April 20th, my mother comfronted me about my choice to rebel against her & everything she raised me to be. I told her that she should be happy I found God & that I wasn't sorry for the changes & that I would move out if she really didn't want to see the work God was going to do in our lives. She informed me she didn't care if I wanted to "screw up" my life so long as I didn't drag my daughter into it. She said that I was free to leave but my daughter would stay behind. "Never" I yelled as I stormed off to work. 2 hrs later a police officer walked into my place of employment- I was the first cashier by the entrance. He asked me to step outside, puzzled I followed. Once outside he asked me to turn around & told me I was under arrest for child abuse while putting handcuffs on me. Ladies & gentlemen- I was taken to jail.
You see my mother decided to call CPS and say I was an unfit mother. I worked full time & went to school full time so she claimed I had no time to care for my child. The fun we had at chuck e cheese & the park crawling & climbing had manifested little bumps & bruises on my little girls legs, which she claimed I inflicted out of frustration with my situation in life... talk about persecution...
For the next 3 days I prayed, fasted, sang songs of praise & read a bible outloud.
In jail my experrience was unpleasant. The jailers were nasty to me, they grabbed my arms with pressure leaving deep bruising on my skin while pushing me around during transfers. They took my shoes, my jacket, my bra & any extra articles of clothing- leaving me with socks, pants & undershirt during intake. They threw bags with "meals" at the floor during meal times. It was cold in there. I lost my voice. Then on the 3rd day the judge dismissed my case without seeing me & I was released. There was no criminal charges against me but CPS had opened a case & they removed my child from my custody.
"God won't give you something you can't handle"- they said... God must've thought I was really strong. I was being tested. I was put in the fire. It was the moment of truth. I had the choice to blame God & do something stupid to piss him off & & screw up my chances of getting Nevaeh back OR I could trust that God had a plan... So I continued to pray...
One day in June Anthony called. He had graduated basic & AIT & he was on leave. I told him everything that was happening & like the hero he is, he came to my rescue.
I flew out to Houston that very night & we were reunited. It was a Saturday night /Sunday morning when I got there & I had to be back to appear in children's court on Tuesday Morning.
We called a courthouse first thing Monday & we got married, he returned with me & we showed up to court.
The case was no longer about a single mother with no time for her kid living with mom going nowhere fast, now there were married parents with military benefits, a home & the ability for mom to stay home to devote all her time to the child fighting to get her back TOGETHER. It was another 2 months before they reversed the custody hold, but we were still unable to leave the state.
To say the begining & first year of my marriage was tough- is an understatement. Many days I was unsure what would become of us. He was inpaintiently waiting for us accross the country, and I couldn't see the end of the state restricition....
During this time, God was working in our lives & If you haven't noticed, God works in mysterious ways. There was a time when I thought we wouldn't make it... but God was greater than any and every of the problems that were thrown our way.
Let me tell you... my husband is amazing. He has the heart of God. He loves me & our family unselfishly, selflessly & unconditionally. As a man, he's got a very tough, hard & serious exterrior, but inside he's mushy, warm & sweet. He wasn't that way when we were dating- but I'm telling you- God works things out for the Good of those who believe in him.
So what's the message?
If today things are falling apart in your world- know that sometimes things have to fall apart in order for them to fall into place. If you have God in your life it's important to remember:
1. There are times of trials & testing: if you've ever read the story of Job, you know what I mean.
Don't lose hope, keep the faith, don't fear & be courageous! It's always darkest before dawn & you can't get a rainbow without the rain. Your faith will be rewarded. The greater your suffering, the greater your reward.
2. Trust in God's plan and his timing: Sometimes we pray & expect an answer inmediately- but there is a time & a place. In many places in the bible you will see that the men & women of God waited & waited YEARS- for their promises. So don't be discouraged if you're still waiting...
If you don't have God in your life- consider the fact that perhaps it takes hitting rock bottom for you to have no other choice than to look up.
If you're there, if the stress & worry are making it hard for you to stand, perhaps it's the perfect time for you to get on your knees and pray. I pray that God draws you near, that your heart will be softened & that you will open yourself up to him. Don't be afraid- God is a Just and loving God- Dare to be loved today.