2021: Not that 2020 won, but that we be growing

In my last post, I went over the highlights of 2020. For the record, I got that upgraded car on the last day of 2020, a Subaru Forester which has been a great addition to my single mom life with Aria. I also unexpectedly met another great addition to my life.

I started texting this guy during the first week of December, at the same time of him leaving Chicago for the holidays to spend time with his family in Texas. At first swipe, I expected absolutely nothing much like all of the other matches and conversations that were going nowhere. But this guy did something unexpected. He was vulnerable from the first conversation. I found myself finding a lot in common with him, and demanding video calls to make sure he wasn’t a catfish. Fast-forward three weeks later, he’s in Chicago and agrees to walk around Oak Park with me. 6 miles later, I find myself just more comfortable with him.

Here’s the thing, I didn’t expect this guy to enter my life. I didn’t expect him to be vulnerable and real with me. And while it’s been a little less than two months from our random text message conversation, it feels like we’ve known each other longer since we have been our real selves with each other.

I waited until recently to have him meet Aria. To be honest, I thought he would meet her then change his mind and leave. As a single mom with a growing toddler, I know kids can be overwhelming for someone who is kid-free. Surprisingly, he has gone above and beyond my expectations of him. He went out of his way to make a great impression on Aria. And on the flip side of that token, he has been very careful and reserved as to how to react to Aria when she is showing him affection.

While I have come very far in my healing process, there’s still thoughts that creep into my mind that I battle daily. I recently reached out to a close friend who said “Love (or relationships) is scary” and they were completely right. But I also feel that if you don’t give relationships and love 100% chance than you’re missing out.

Until next time, here’s a cute photo of Aria being goofy.

What faith means to me

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Some common questions I get from friends, family, and acquaintances:

  • Why are you not more angry over what happened to you?
  • How is it that you’re happy despite everything you’ve been through?
  • How is it you continue to believe in God even after He took away everything you wanted?
  • How do you find your strength and courage?

I’m here to tell you that this journey I’ve been on, the one I call faith, has not been the easiest one. It has had it’s ups and downs, and I fully expect it to for the rest of my life. A quick look at my history within the Christian realm:

I was raised Catholic. For three elementary school years, I attended two different Catholic schools. The three years were miserable, with the third taking the cake. My mom listened and showed me grace by placing me in the local public school starting in 4th grade. But no fear as I continued CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) through middle school. Basically, continuing education for Catholics. After I graduated high school and went away to college, I decided to officially stop pretending to be Catholic and leave religion for the old ladies with rosaries.

During my first semester in college, I dated a guy who wanted me to “know Jesus” so I dumped him. #byefelicia. By the second semester, I was lost, alone, and sad. Someone invited me to a bible study, and I went mostly to just make friends. Through the small group, I started making some amazing friends. And I discovered Campus Crusade for Christ. While I was a part of the small group, I didn’t really get into Cru until my sophomore year. Through this small group and the amazing things I did with Cru, I accepted Jesus as my savior and chose to have a relationship with Him. The rest is history. But like I said, it hasn’t been an easy journey. At times, I’ve fallen away from my faith, but I’ve always had my belief in God to fall back on. A crutch, if you will. Even when I disobey, I still feel His love.

But I never needed it as much as I’ve needed it over the past two years. Through the death of a parent, a divorce, a life-changing move and now marathon training, I’ve never felt closer to God. And that’s where I am now.

This past week, we celebrated our 5th birthday at my church (Free Church) and this amazing pastor Brett Jones visited us and had an amazing message. And it’s too good to keep inside. So this is my version of it. Welcome to my mind. Make yourself comfortable, today we go deep.

(Genesis 22:1-14)

It’s important for us to know that not every test comes from Satan. The life of a Christian should be expanded and grown upon. For example, one way to know if someone is ready to be passed from one grade to the next is to test them. God doesn’t test you to break you. He tests you to prove you. The difference between temptation and test: Satan tempts you. God tests you. One is to destroy you, the other is to promote you.

A sure way to wreck your life is to think you can take everybody with you. God calls you for your assignment and you alone must go. Some people need to stay with the donkey (Genesis 22:5). Don’t try to take them where they don’t have grace to go. Abraham knew that something was going to happen on that mountain that the young men he was with couldn’t handle. There are some places that only you and your sacrifice can go.

Most of the time there isn’t a crowd when God proves himself to you. God will allow you to prove yourself and He will rewrite the story after your proving ground. If you’ll give God your stuff, He’ll give you His stuff. This story in the Bible introduces one of the greatest themes of the Bible: substitution. Abraham and Isaac met God on a hill outside of Jerusalem. Abraham saw a lamb (substitution), Jesus was the lamb.

Jesus was crucified on the same hill where God tested Abraham, just thousands of years apart. As Abraham climbed that hill, his thoughts centered around the death of his only son. As God climbed that hill, his thoughts centered around how amazing Abraham was and his amazing will to pass the test He was placing on him. His faith led him to where God wanted him. God tied up a lamb to replace Isaac as the sacrifice. And Abraham had no idea this all was in store for him, he just took a step in faith.

Are you living in faith or fear? Do you check everything before taking every step? Do you over-analyze everything going on? God sees the whole picture. He is the author of our story, and He has the ability to rewrite it. Even if you feel like you’re destined to live without God, anything is possible. Even if you feel too evil, or too far from Jesus, He still loves and chooses you. If you’re interested in learning more about what I believe in, reach out to me. This is just a tiny snippet of my story, and my story is still being written.

Lots of love,

Jen