My Cinderella story, the introduction

imageI grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas and lived there until I was 16. I grew up on speed the light, missionettes, C.A.Rallies, teen talent and everything in-between.
I was a PK (preachers kid) For the most part my childhood was uneventful. We lived in a small 3 bedroom parsonage for most of my life where my dad pastored a small white church that was across the street from our home. I have an older brother and sister, and the three of us were raised on music lessons (mostly piano). I grew up playing the piano and singing, I remember being so young that I needed to stand on the piano bench so I could see and be seen. We weren’t a perfect family (by the way there is no such a thing) but for the most part I was happy and loved by my family.
The year I turned 16 my parents decided to move to Arkansas (they were both raised there). I was the only one still at home and so the three of us moved that very hot summer of 1980.
It was July 1 and would mark the beginning of my young adult life. In Arkansas I would meet the man I would marry. The next few years would play a major role in the person I would become. The interesting thing is, I wouldn’t change a moment. I cherish the lessons I learned, people I met, and the new way I learned to trust God for myself, in ways I never thought possible.
Let me stop here and say I don’t claim to be a great writer and you won’t need to look far to find an error as I write so don’t look too closely πŸ™‚ It will take me some time to share all that I want to with you, but I’ll just do it a chapter at a time. For the record I will not be throwing out ugly details, or trying to bash anyone…this is a love story, no room in it for anger, hate, or bitterness or finger-pointing.
Many of you that will read this will have played a role or part in one area of my life or another. Some only knew me in the first phase as a young child and teenager, others only around me during my twenties and then those of you who only know me now, in this part of my life. Some will be surprised at my story, while others of you lived it out with me. So many helped me through this difficult time and I dedicate this story to all of you. I won’t mention names for privacy sake but you all know who you are. Angels that were sent to touch my life along the way.
Those of you who have no idea who I am, I hope you will take from my story a new perspective on facing difficulties. Maybe you’re not experiencing the type of heartbreak as I will be sharing, but through the years of helping others (women especially) I have learned that heartbreak is heartbreak, no matter the cause. There’s an answer for all of life’s problems and pain……don’t give up!! God has a plan B and it always surpasses plan A. Hold on the dark won’t last forever!!
Sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way you planned…..sometimes it turns out better!

Psalm 91:14-16
“If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God,
β€œI’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!”

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Preface to “My Cinderella Story”

I have been planning to write an update to my little mini book I wrote over 10 years ago so I’m excited to do that through my blog.
My story is about heartbreak, but mostly about survival, rebuilding my life, and most importantly not getting bitter.
It’s a love story,
It’s not a story about pointing fingers, placing blame, or pity.
It’s about divorce, despair, feeling worthless, but also about trusting God, searching my own heart, learning to be ok with being alone, and forgiveness.
It’s about being a single mom, coping, determining to be in a better place, and finding out what’s important and what’s not!
It’s about being poor, living in government housing, learning that happiness is a choice and has nothing to do with your surroundings.
My story is one of hope, it will make you believe in true love again, convince you not to give up, and show you all you need is courage and faith and you can overcome anything.
It’s a Cinderella story…..

Chapter 1: For Better….For Worse

We moved to a very small town (Mena) and rented a home in a quiet neighborhood (next to a sweet neighbor that I’m still friends with today, thanks to Facebook!) 😊
Moving to a small town in a different state was a transition, but I loved it and made many wonderful life long friends.

I was 17 when I first met the man I would eventually marry; however, we didn’t date until a little over a year later. He was several years older, so I’m sure at 17 I was way too immature for him. I know it sounds odd to some, but all my life I wanted to be a wife and mom more than anything. I wanted four children (of course I had no idea how much work that entailed ).
I would eventually fall in love and get married on my 19th birthday, November 27,1982
(yikes that makes me sound old). 😊
It was no surprise to anyone that I would end up married to a preacher, it fit with my upbringing and it seemed a perfect match
We lived on a farm in an even smaller area (Pine Ridge) in a mobile home. I was happy and life was good. This will shock some of you, but I actually have experience in driving a tractor and working cattle. I was raised in the city but happily became a farm girl. I taught a few piano lessons at the local school in Oden, but otherwise stayed home and enjoyed cooking and keeping house (a bit old fashioned but for me, living the dream).
August 26, 1984 after 36 hours of hard labor (no such a thing as an epidural at that time…. well in Mena anyway) 😊 I gave birth to a beautiful dark haired, dark eyed 8 pound baby boy. I couldn’t have been happier. We named him Charley. I was a VERY young mom, but had babysat all my life so was fairly capable of the role. Nothing really prepares you for your first baby….first of all I had NO idea he would keep me up at night haha, but oh how I loved the job. I was blessed to be able to stay home with Charley, and we grew up together (so to speak) 😊

1985 or thereabouts, we began to pastor a small baptist church in Oden, Arkansas. This was also a very, very small community but filled with loving people….according to the internet about 200 population in 2012, a 😊 typical little community where everyone knows everyone and will come together to help like nothing you’ve ever seen. I loved (and still love) Oden. The church holds precious memories for me and the people from it. My husband would preach and I would sing and play the piano. Life seemed very simple and pure, and at the time in my mind, perfect.
We bought a home which was so exciting and a very big deal at the time. It was on about 3 acres if I recall correctly and just a simple little 3 bedroom farm home, but to me it was magnificent. I was pregnant with my second baby by this time and on May 29,1987 my second son was born…..little Caleb James. A blond haired brown eyed beauty all of 7lb 5oz. I was only in labor with him for about 19 hours, so a bit better….but still nothing for pain.
Both boys were healthy, happy and life was sweet. My boys were such gifts from God (and still are). I’m so grateful I was able to stay home with them and all that comes with that.

The church was growing and everything seemed to be going exactly as it should. I was completely happy and content and oblivious to any problems there might have been. I loved staying home with the boys; and to this day, being a mom is the highest calling I have ever had. I was not perfect nor would I ever claim to have been, but I was completely dedicated to be being the best I could. My husband and children were the most important thing in my life. In fact looking back that was one of my flaws: I had let God slip into second place behind them. They were my everything and I poured all I had into them. But what a joy it was to me.

Charley turned 5 in August of 1989 and that meant he would start all day kindergarten (3 days later) and be picked up by the school bus at 7:00 am and return at 4:00 pm. It was a very long day, and I can still see him in the back of the bus fast asleep when the bus would pull up to our house. It proved to be more than he could handle. After a week or so and some great advice from his wonderful teacher, I felt we should take him out and give him another year. This turned out to be a great decision(for many reasons) but mostly since his life would soon be turned upside down.

I’m sure it had been building for some time, but for me it was “out of the blue.” In a matter of weeks we went from being normal (in my eyes) to a point where my husband told me he could no longer live with me and filed for divorce the day after our 7th anniversary and my 26th birthday. I was devastated (a huge understatement). In a few short weeks my life crumbled at my feet in a million tiny pieces, shattered not just broken. To this day it was the worst feeling I have experienced in my life. Watching my family torn apart and in the process loosing the person I planned to love forever for better or worse. I couldn’t comprehend it since I always thought only unhappy people got divorced and I had been happy. I realize now that you can feel like all is well and even be happy yourself ….all the while things may very well be coming apart at the seams. I begged, groveled, made a fool of myself…..all the things you think you’d NEVER do, but then you find yourself doing all the above. Humiliation, despair, heartbreak……then simultaneously I entered a deep, dark tunnel. This is how I refer to the depression that closed in on me and began to choke the life from me. I felt my everything slipping away, EVERYTHING, and the depression was so thick I could barely breath. There was no light in this tunnel, not even a flicker……only tears, regrets, brokenness, fear, and pain. My heart and life had just been crushed. I cried for days; hopelessness began to settle in all around me until I was immersed to the point of drowning in it…..I knew I needed to pull myself together for my sons. They were only 2 and 5, and their little lives had just been turned upside down as well. I tried but the depression was too deep and thick and I felt powerless. I did not want my marriage to fail, I was desperate and at times I’m sure seemed a little crazy. I felt like I was loosing my mind. Divorce and all it entails will do that to you. I questioned everything, read every book I could get my hands on, clinging to any hope I could but feeling it slipping from my fingers. I knew we were the conversation at a lot of dinner tables in that small community. I felt the sting of that as well…..I didn’t want to leave my house. I remember one particular afternoon lying on my floor (I was alone) I had some music playing and I just laid there and cried for hours. Eventually the sun set and I was there in the dark, too distraught to even get up and turn on a light. There’s no way to describe the emptiness I felt, I ached not only for myself but for all of us. Our lives would never be the same, and at the time for me that meant life was over. The rest would be just be pain and loneliness, going through the motions but not really living.
I cried out to God for help, spent days and nights crying, not caring if I lived or died. Most of the time I had no words to pray; but I know God collected my tears, each one representing a prayer, a piece of my shattered heart.Even though at the time I thought he didn’t hear, I know now he did. His plans for me and my boys had never changed. People change, circumstances change; but God remains the same. I felt alone….SO alone, but I wasn’t not for a minute. Even there in my darkest days,when I would cry out and say “God where are you? Why aren’t you hearing me?” I know now He had not abandoned me. When I thought nothing was changing, prayers weren’t being answered, that things were going from bad to worse, God was answering them all but in His way not mine. For this situation had not surprised him like it had me. No, He knows what’s in our path before we are ever born and He goes ahead and makes provision ….I was asking God where are you and He was busy answering my prayers with the preparation of my plan B, which would not be second best but the very best. My future was bright, very bright, I just had no idea, could not fathom I would ever be happy again. Little did I know my best days were ahead of me, being drawn out like a beautiful painting, down to every detail and in colors of beauty I could not fathom I just needed to hold on to His hand, let His love comfort me… for even when He seemed so far away and almost nonexistent, He was right there holding me in His arms and whispering sweet peace to me.

Deuteronomy 31:6
β€œBe strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated…..because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.”

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Chapter 2: Starting Over

The end of 1989 was extremely difficult and those few months seemed like years to me.
Depression wasn’t as understood back then; so I thought I was just physically sick and went to the doctor. I was so blessed to have a physician’s assistant that spotted my problem right away. Even though he didn’t know the “why,” he did explain to me depression and how situations can bring it on and make you feel the way I was feeling. He prescribed an anti-depressant for me to try. He let me know I wouldn’t have to always be on the medication, but just until things were better. It took several weeks to kick in fully. I was still very sad and depressed, but now I could at least function. I still cried a lot but instead of crying for days I would have shorter times of intense sorrow and grieving; then I could dry my tears and do whatever I needed to do. With the medical help I was better able to care for my sons and do more than just exist.
One of the heart wrenching memories I have is of my boys seeing me cry so much and so often. One day little 2 year old Caleb said,”Mommy, please don’t cry anymore, ok?”
They needed their mom to be whole and healthy and that didn’t happen overnight.
Somehow I made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas. I felt like I never got warm that winter…..I felt hollow, unwanted, and just plain sad, cold through and through.
About a month or so after the divorce was filed, the reality began to sink in that I had to get a job and get a car (I didn’t have my own). I began to open up my heart to a few people and was met always with open arms and compassion. Depression loves the isolation. The more you reach out, the less power it has over your life.
As I told the story in my earlier post “A January from the Past,” the thought of finding a job was overwhelming, not just because of my depression but also the fact I had no college education or career. I knew I would have to leave my boys with others while I worked and that was hard as well. I pulled up to the Sonic Drive In in Mena, Arkansas that cold January day; and somehow I knew after many stops at other places with no success, I would be offered a job there. That’s exactly what happened.
I was barely 26, but I felt like I was 126…..no confidence, no self worth, empty and sad .
When I left there I cried in my car because it was not the job I wanted, to be honest. Back then only 16 year olds car hopped and I felt silly as a woman with 2 children to be a carhop….but I had to work, I had no other options; so I did what I knew was necessary.
My Sonic job holds many sweet memories as well. I would have never imagined I would ever look back on that time as anything but humiliating; however, I always smile when I pass a Sonic πŸ™‚
I didn’t know at the time that people tipped at Sonic. I was so surprised when I started getting tips. I was not only the oldest car hop in history (in my mind, ha) but I also became the highest tipped one. I made more in tips and salary than I could have ever made at -say, the bank or a more glamorous place. I also was able to pick my hours every week, which helped with scheduling around times my boys were taken care of. Added bonuses were I was forced to be outside walking (a lot), fresh air and human connections, all of which are so good in fighting depression. At first I wanted to hide when I would see someone pull up that I knew. I hated feeling the stares, knowing what the talk inside the car was; but I had to face them, no room for pride. I slowly realized that I needed to do my job and not worry about people and gossip. Before you know it, I was in full swing as a car hop. Not long after I got the job, I found a car for sale. With the help of one of my aunts and uncles who were willing to co- sign for me, I was able to buy it. It was nothing fancy, a little maroon and silver/white Chevy Spectrum 😁
Another reality during this same time frame was that I could no longer live in the house where we had lived as a family; I simply could not afford it, not even slightly.
A wonderful energetic minister’s wife that I had known for years and still adore, took me under her wing and said, ” I’m coming with you and we are going to find you a place to live.” A couple of days later she and I were pulled up in front of the Polk County Housing Authority (government subsidized housing), and again I felt that same feeling as I had when offered the job at Sonic.
I filled out the paperwork with her encouraging me all the while, reminding me this wouldn’t be forever; but it was the next step. I was almost relieved when they said there was a waiting list and it would take possibly a couple of months or so. The thought of leaving my home with all the memories, the boys’ tire swing in the big tree, sand box, my flower beds I had worked so hard in; everywhere there was a connection. Less than a week later I received a call from the office and was told that, amazingly, a little duplex had just opened up and would be ready to be moved into in a matter of days. I remember a hint of excitement rose up in me, because I knew this could only have been possible through God when it was supposed to take months. The excitement was short lived as the reality sunk in that I was moving, not to a cute little house or adorable apartment, but to a government housing duplex. Not where I wanted to be; but just like Sonic, it was exactly where I needed to be.
About a week later, truck after truck of loving friends from the little church I was attending pulled up to my house and loaded all that I owned (which wasn’t much) and moved Charley, Caleb , and me to our new little duplex. It smelled a little funny but it was now home. Everyone helped me unload everything and got things set up for me …..the quietness of the evening settled in; and as I lay there in my bed, I felt one of the first real feelings of peace in a very long time. The beautiful country moon that had shown over my home in the country was replaced by a street light. The solitude I knew there was now the fact that I lived in a duplex with total strangers who were just a wall away, but still there was undeniably a trace of peace. It was just right for us, really; and the boys and I could live here for 32.00 a month, rent was based on salary. Soon with the help of the scented candles and other touches I brought to this new home, the funny smell was gone, a few pictures began to be hung, and the beautiful trees that budded and surrounded us later that spring gave us a new beauty, a new hope, a new beginning. This was our little house, and even though it had a few bugs that came out at night at times, it was ours! Little did I know I would find a greater peace than I thought possible while living there.
As spring began and I was able to plant a few flowers in front; the beauty of the wooded area on one side of the complex was very inviting…..color, warmth, freshness that only spring brings. Looking back I see how in my life the same process was starting. It was slow in my eyes; but just as spring had brought things to life, my life and that of my little boys was ever so slightly beginning to bloom again. I just could not see it at the time. In my dark, dark tunnel of depression…..around this time , if I looked very close every now and then, I would catch a glimpse of a flicker of light, just a hint of hope; and every now and then, I would smile.
Though sadness still ruled my life for the most part, it would not always….I was starting to heal. A few of those shattered pieces of my heart were lovingly being worked on and cared for awaiting the day that each piece would be restored without a hint of a fracture….it was beginning to happen, I just didn’t know.

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd;
I have everything I need.
He lets me rest in fields of green grass
and leads me to quiet pools of fresh water.
He gives me new strength.
He guides me in the right paths,
as he has promised.
Even if I go through the deepest darkness,
I will not be afraid, Lord,
for you are with me.
Your shepherd’s rod and staff protect me.
You prepare a banquet for me,
where all my enemies can see me;
you welcome me as an honored guest
and fill my cup to the brim.
I know that your goodness and love will be with me all my life;
and your house will be my home as long as I live.

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Chapter 3: Lonely But Not Alone

With each passing day I began to feel more like I would possibly make it through. My good days started out numbering my bad days, and my horrible days were very quickly becoming memories. Of course there were those times when I was doing just fine; then I would see something, or maybe hear a song, or a rumor. I would feel my heart aching and falling apart; but usually a couple hours max, then I could brush it off and finish my day or night.
The divorce was final now, over and done. I was often encouraged (by well meaning friends) to get everything I could out of the divorce, but I didn’t want anything except my boys. My thinking at first had been to fight the divorce and maybe he would change his mind. With the wonderful advice from an aunt of mine who helped me see that you can’t “make someone want to be with you,” I stopped contesting the divorce. She let me know it was ok to “give up” the fight and regain some dignity in the process. I went to my attorney’s office and said, ” I’m not going to try and stop this any longer.” The moment those words left my lips, I felt a giant burden lifted from my back. Wow, I didn’t expect that! I thought it would feel opposite, but letting go of something you no longer have can be very freeing. Instead of hearing that door closing, I only felt a warm breeze of peace and comfort from another door that opened simultaneously; and I knew immediately I was doing the right thing. It’s nothing I had ever wanted, but the time had come. The divorce was finalized very quickly after that. Amazingly (through answered prayer), my love for the person I was once married to also had died. I can tell you the moment it happened, I remember it so plainly. I was in the car and had just seen him. Like a weight lifting off of my heart, the love I had held there for over 7 years lifted. I felt sort of flushed and almost confused, but only for a moment. Then I was flooded with peace; because I realized that not only had the love lifted, but so had the hurt, anger, and bitterness that had tried to seep in. In one supernatural swoop, I was free. Obviously it doesn’t always happen instantly like that, but for me it did. From that day on, I was never the same. Did I still feel sad? Yes at times but now I felt more lonely than sad. I no longer grieved for what once was; my burdens though still there, were much lighter and fewer. I no longer loved him. I had no idea that was possible, but what a relief.
Times weren’t easy but I began to find myself again; and along with that I found my smile.
I worked several different jobs (non of which were glamorous) such as cleaning houses and doing ironing for people. Also, much to my embarrassment, I had to have food stamps for a few months.
I’m not sure why I was so ashamed of that, (of course they were way obvious back then as you had to tear each one out of a little booklet) but I was horrified; and shopping in a small town where you know everyone can be a nightmare. There was one 24 hour grocery at the time and I would shop late at night (when the boys were with their dad) and I would just pray no one would see me, ha. Believe me when I tell you I have left shopping carts full of groceries in an aisle because I saw someone in the store and didn’t want to chance being in line to check out with them.
Though my parents lived 3-4 hours away, I had lots of long distance calls from them, as well as my sister and brother, checking on me and concerned. I had aunts, uncles, and cousins that lived close by as well as a multitude of friends. My support system was strong. There were those friends I knew I could call in the middle of the night when I had a hopelessness slip in; so even though I felt like the entire world was happily married with the exception of myself, the loneliness began to get better.
One of my favorite memories is one weekend when I had nothing in the house but peanut butter and cornflakes in the pantry. My food stamps had been delayed for some unknown reason. I went to work that day at Sonic and it’s all I could think of, because I knew they would not be in for several more days. If I remember correctly, a friend of mine came by Sonic with some story for why she needed my house key. πŸ™‚ When I returned home from work later that afternoon, to my surprise my pantry was full, and I mean full of all kinds of groceries. It makes me tear up just writing about it. My friend and her sweet mom had decided to take everything they didn’t need out of their own cabinets to fill mine. Few things have touched me so deeply, and I’m still so humbled by that kind of love.
I learned that God was always there to supply my needs and those of my boys. My cousin and her husband would have us over often and entertain us. She and I would paint t shirts (I have no idea what sparked that haha), but it was good therapy. While we painted, the boys would play with her little girls.
I had the sweetest neighbors, mostly elderly people who took me under their wings and adopted me and the boys as theirs. Sharing the other part of the duplex with us…..one very thin wall away, lived a young couple with a small little boy. I would hear them sometimes at night fighting and a couple times him throwing her against the wall. I would lie there and pray for her and her little guy.
One Saturday night after Sonic closed at 1 am, I came home tired and ready to crash into bed; but as I pulled up I saw my neighbor sitting on the porch with her son. She was scared and needed help. Her husband had been drinking and had beaten her. I was able to get her help before she moved away. I saw first hand that there are worse things than being alone, and she was a good example of that.
I learned so much that spring, about letting go, choosing to move on, how tough I really was, and how being unhappy, unforgiving, and bitter will destroy you and let the other person off Scott free. I made an important decision to not drink of the poison cup of bitterness. Forgiving is not condoning what someone has done to you or what you feel they have done; it’s simply deciding that you’re not going to dwell on the wrongs, nor replay the hurts. It’s making a decision to trust God to take care of it all and understanding He doesn’t need our help. It’s choosing to move on.
At times I was tempted to let little weeds of anger pop up to justify to myself why I had every right to feel that way; but I immediately would feel the weights coming back on me along with all the baggage, and I realized I can’t afford to dwell in the past.
For my future was bright, free, and I had to be the best me possible…..that was the greatest thing I could do for myself. One thing for sure, I didn’t want to be where I was in life forever and began to have the drive and energy for bettering my situation. I started feeling a tad bit attractive again, I began to feel like a survivor, and I became determined to not just survive but to thrive. That would not happen over night, but it would happen!
I got pretty good at brainstorming and problem solving; so when the spring brought grass that needed to be mowed and I had no mower,I figured out that I could offer to mow one of my elderly friend’s postage stamp sized yard two doors down at no charge. In exchange, I worked out a deal to use his mower on mine. Problem solved!
I would take our laundry down the street to the laundry mat and then bring everything back home to hang it to dry for free on our little clothes line behind the house. I adjusted to a refrigerator that had to be defrosted (some of you will need to google that haha).
I learned how to sit on the front porch with my elderly neighbors and listen to their wisdom and advice. No wonder the greatest commandment in the Bible is to love one another. That’s what pulled me through.
I smiled more, laughed some, dreamed a lot; and daily my faith grew. I couldn’t imagine someone would love me and my boys again. Little did I know God was already preparing the heart of the man who would love me like I’d never been loved before….a stranger I had yet to meet.

Proverbs 14:10
The person who shuns the bitter moments of friends
will be an outsider at their celebrations.

Galatians 6:2
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.

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Chapter 4: Singing a new Song

20140123-212416.jpgIt was a very hot summer in that brick duplex. It faced the west, no trees in the front yard to block the fierce sun. Seriously there were days we needed to go outside to cool off πŸ™‚
We had a couple of small oscillating fans loaned by a couple of sweet friends,; but unless you stood by them with your hair wet, you only felt a warm breeze. Of course this was probably a blessing, making working out in the heat everyday easier to handle.
My heart was mending and by summer had, surprisingly, only the scars left to show where it had been shattered. One of the scars was my fear of trusting and loving again, traces of insecurities that come with divorce; but on the other hand, I had never been more secure in myself and what I was capable of with God’s help. I felt pretty tough.
I began to love my life again and accept it for what it was, but I never wanted to be comfortable staying there. I wanted a better life for my sons and I, so I began to take steps to bring it about.
I worked a lot of hours (mostly all weekends and sometimes double shifts) at Sonic that summer, rolling in the tips and walking with a spring in my step. During this time it was amazing how many people decided I needed to date again; and they just happened to have an uncle, cousin, brother, neighbor…..you name it. They would send them up to Sonic so I could meet them. Wow, I remember thinking more than once, “Do they really think I’m desperate?” (Haha). Let’s just say they were less than attractive to me. They came in all ages and sizes and brought to Sonic with them many awkward moments. We did have some good laughs over it at Sonic, for sure.
Every-time I thought I might consider dating, I had a reality check that there was no one around I was interested in; and I was not going to bring guys around my boys and mess with their little heads. I couldn’t see myself with anyone; but I knew if I ever could be, it would be different than before. Consequently, my weekends were spent working hard in the hot summer and letting my young 16 year old fellow car hop friends do the dating πŸ™‚ I have such warm memories of that summer. That’s truly when my life began to change quickly, with every day better than the day before.
I signed up for nursing school (and was accepted) which was a huge confidence boost. I had been depression free for a few months at this point and had learned to be ok with being alone. I missed being loved; gosh, that felt like forever since I had.
One miracle after another happened in my life, such as a gift of money that was given to me, interest free and not to be repaid until after my graduation from nursing school. That loan completely paid off my car, bought me a washing machine, and the boys school clothes for the fall. This gift was given me so that I could quit my job at Sonic and go to nursing school full time. What a blessing! I still tear up when I think of the fact that God loved me enough to have someone help me like that.
Another thing that happened that summer was a lot of swinging done by Caleb and Charley on the (less than safe looking ) neighborhood swing sets. They were a ways down from the house through the back yard, and oh how they loved to meet their little friends down there and swing and play. I remember they had to come back every ten to fifteen minutes to let me know they were ok :). Some of the little kids were less than cared for and a bit more street smart than my boys, but they managed to hold their own. Caleb had just turned three and what an adorable three year old he was. Dark brown eyes and white blond hair, with a summer tan. He’s always been the singer of my kids (still is). It was only after my parents came for a visit one afternoon and my dad walked down with the boys to swing that I realized just how much singing Caleb did while swinging. Dad told me later how Caleb would swing and sing a special song over and over with only a few simple words….”I want my daddy to come home.”
My dad was so touched by this, as was I when I heard it. How my heart ached for this little guy. My dad decided at the time he would talk with Caleb about his song (which by the way I feel was a prayer). He asked Caleb about it, and Caleb explained that was what he wanted. My dad asked him if he had ever heard about step daddys? Caleb said, “Noooooo,” but his interest was peaked!! “What’s that?” he asked. So my dad explained and Caleb’s little face lit up with excitement. From that day on he never sang that song because he had a new song that he sang loudly in his famous little southern accent, “My mommas gonna’ buy me a ‘tep-daddy. ” I guess he figured that’s why we didn’t have one yet; maybe I didn’t have enough money saved. hahahaha I know God heard his prayer and he had someone in mind that would suit Caleb just fine as well as Charley. Charley was my little man, always looking after me and checking on me. My little elderly neighbor lady told me once that Charley had come over not long after we had first moved in and knocked on her door. There stood my handsome little Charley and he said “Miss Hazel, please start praying, my moms in the bathroom crying again.”
Every time I think of that my heart just breaks. I wish they hadn’t had to go through all they did, but I’m thankful God filled in the gaps that I sometimes left when I was so heartbroken.
Not all was sad; we ended up having a great summer, laughing, playing, working and healing…. preparing for our future. The boys started school the same time I started nursing school, kindergarten for Charley and head start for Caleb. Caleb would cry every morning and say,”Momie, I don’t wanta’go to ‘kool”. But he soon adjusted and Charley thrived.
Life had changed so much; our little house felt like home, because to us it was. It felt like I was seeing in color again after black and white. I would sometimes let myself think about the fact that maybe there was someone out there who was going to love me, and my boys…..I began to dream and hope and even pray that it would be possible. I wasn’t sure I could trust again, love without walls of protection, but maybe I thought, just maybe. One night in the late quietness, alone with my thoughts, I suddenly realized I couldn’t remember the last time I had cried. I was happy again, fully content, just loving the peace in my heart and mind. I too was singing a new song!
Ecclesiastes 3:11
He has set the right time for everything. He has given us a desire to know the future, but never gives us the satisfaction of fully understanding what he does.

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Chapter 5: The Cinderella Setup

Weeks and months had gone by since the darkest days. Funny how you feel they will last forever, and then one day you wake up and realize they’re history.
I was busy with nursing school and loving every minute, still dropping by Sonic but only for a cherry coke, or hot fudge shake. I missed carhopp-ing in a strange way (not enough to go back ha).

I can honestly say my heart was healed. It was supernatural and much faster than I would have thought possible……now this doesn’t mean I didn’t have issues or insecurities; oh I did, and it was a work I would continue for sometime. Heart break is a deep wound, that heals in layers. It’s important to heal each one or you will experience a rupture down the line. In order to become whole you have to deal with every tiny detail; don’t skip any.

I was 26 years old, Charley had just turned 6 and Caleb 3. I had grown in so many ways throughout the previous months, I hardly recognized myself. I had my insecurities that were left over, but I had some self confidence. I never felt humiliation anymore, or shame. I was pretty impressed that I had made it out on the other side and not only was intact, I was better. I held no hard feelings, no “what ifs”, no “maybe so’s” …..I had definitely closed that chapter and stood ready to walk through the open door to my future.

My sister and I talked often by phone, back when you paid for long distance…..she was always more than happy to foot the bill so we could talk.
We laughed a lot and I started going to see her and her husband and sons on weekends occasionally when the boys had their visitation. She lived in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, which was only about a 2 1/2 hour drive. Just about perfect and a good little break for me.
She had been saying for some time (since before I was ready) that I should start dating. The thought scared me, it felt foreign, almost silly to me; yet I was lonely and longed for some companionship. I wasn’t thinking someone to love, just to enjoy, have fun. It had been over 7 years since I had dated, and the thought of starting that awkward process did not sound appealing.

Pam (my sis) would just gently encourage me here and there.
Then there was a phone call with her once where she brought up a possible option πŸ™‚
She knew I didn’t want to date anyone from the Mena area, (I had a whole list in my mind of definite “no can do’s”); so she explained she had someone she thought I should meet. She further explained that he was her neighbor (a few houses down) and that since he lived in Oklahoma (a whole state away) that would be a safe scenario for me to start off with…..just interacting with someone, possibly.
We didn’t talk about it again for a week or two and then it came back up. Apparently he fit a lot of my criteria: he was 26 (I wanted someone my age), he had never been married, (something else on my list), and he was tall (a definite must be).
She explained further that she didn’t know him, but that his sister n law (who also lived in the neighborhood ) was one of her good friends and walking buddies .
During one of their walks as they talked about this and that, Pam mentioned,”I need to find my sister a husband “, sort of jokingly but also meaning it. Her friend (Gail) said, “Well I need to find my brother n law a wife”…..and they laughed and thought it was funny. The longer they talked the more they began to think that maybe introducing us wouldn’t be such a bad idea. So they came up with a plan of sending each of us pictures of the other one, along with an address (way before email folks:) and then we could either write each other or not. I agreed to this as it seemed extremely safe from an emotional view as well as not awkward in that he didn’t know my past or think of me as the ex-preacher’s wife.

A few days later a picture of him arrived in my mail; I still remember looking at it over and over. I was very impressed. He looked fit, handsome and tall:) I thought he was super cute in fact and I had that feeling of excitement tickle my stomach, such a foreign feeling; but I liked it! I only hoped my sis would give a decent picture of me to him and that he would be interested enough to write me; that’s all I really hoped for, nothing more.
A week or more passed and then there it was, a letter from the mystery man! My fingers fumbled with the envelope , my heart skipped a few beats and I was surprised at myself how excited I was over a letter-ha.

I still have that letter, and when I look at it I remember that feeling all over again so vividly.
I felt young again, excited, intrigued. I felt like I had a secret that everyone wished they knew. I put his picture where I could see it and shared it with a handful of close friends who I could trust to be discreet.

I answered his letter and anxiously waited to hear back……but no letter came. Even better he called me!
Not only were my tears a memory, all I could do now is smile, almost uncontrollably. I don’t think I could have cried if I tried. Hadn’t met this guy, had only spoken once briefly on the phone, one letter…….but the excitement /nervousness/ giddiness was much bigger. It was different ….. I had no idea!!!

Psalm 116
I love the Lord, because he hears me;
he listens to my prayers.
2 He listens to me
every time I call to him.
3 The danger of death was all around me;
the horrors of the grave closed in on me;
I was filled with fear and anxiety.
4 Then I called to the Lord,
β€œI beg you, Lord, save me!”
5 The Lord is merciful and good;
our God is compassionate.
6 The Lord protects the helpless;
when I was in danger, he saved me.
7 Be confident, my heart,
because the Lord has been good to me.
8 The Lord saved me from death;
he stopped my tears
and kept me from defeat.
9 And so I walk in the presence of the Lord
in the world of the living.
10 I kept on believing, even when I said,
β€œI am completely crushed,”
11 even when I was afraid and said,
β€œNo one can be trusted.”

Chapter 6: The Cinderella Slipper Fits

The letters continued, and we talked briefly on the phone at least once or twice.
We didn’t talk about anything too deep; but he did mention that maybe sometime when I made a trip to my sister’s, we could meet each other in person. Just the thought of that produced major butterflies in my stomach. I kept thinking that he didn’t have any idea what my life was like. I wasn’t sure he even knew I had boys or had been married. My sister didn’t know much about him either, just that he was a Christian and was in business with his brother. He knew I was in nursing school and that was about it, I thought. I didn’t know for sure if he knew I was divorced with kids. We had shared only one, possibly two 5-10 min conversations and a couple of letters that were “short and sweet.”
He did mention a couple times that he wanted to meet me, so I began to think of my next trip to my sister’s. After receiving my first letter from him on September 1, I soon had plans to go to Broken Arrow for the weekend of the 15th.

Wow, was I ever extremely excited and extremely nervous . He hadn’t asked me for a date just that he wanted to meet me. Pam and I were not sure how that would happen. Coincidentally, it was the weekend of the annual garage sale in her neighborhood, so we thought well that’s at least an excuse to walk down the street and see if he was in his yard or something, haha!
I let him know I was coming into town after my Friday nursing classes. I arrived Friday evening around six.
I sat around talking with Pam and waited, wondering if he would call or not, wondering if he had Pam’s number. After all he had never really met her either. Nine oclock came, and I was beginning to think he might be reconsidering. Trying not to get disappointed I refused to think about it, assuming the attitude: “If he doesn’t, he doesn’t; it’s no biggie.” All the things I was saying in my head jolted back to reality as I heard the phone ring. Could it be? Yes it was, and with my heart in my throat I took the phone from my sister and said, “Hello.” It was a brief conversation, about 2 minutes: “How was your trip,” and that sort of thing; and then he said, “Would you like to go out tomorrow night to a movie and maybe dinner?” I tried to sound calm and cool, which I was anything but! I mean after all, I thought he would ask to come down and meet me first before he asked for a date. Now there was more pressure/excitement on that first meeting. I agreed on a time to be picked up, not sure I took a breath between that and saying goodbye. He had already taken my breath away πŸ™‚
I had just scheduled a blind date. If you want to add some stress to dating for the first time after all I had been through, then make it a blind date. The excitement was almost too much. Pam was a bit anxious, too, and said, “Well, tomorrow we will still walk down the street and see if we can spot him just to make sure he’s really cute and it wasn’t just a good picture.” (haha) A sure sign of my insecurity returning a little, I wanted to make sure he saw me in person before the date in case he might want to change his mind. I still had things to work out in myself, so it didn’t take much to bring up the weak areas and scars in my self confidence leftover from divorce.
The next day Pam and I walked down the street, pretending to shop for bargains. I mean we couldn’t just walk straight down by his house; that would be too obvious!
We stopped at his brother and sister n law’s house (my sister’s friend that was helping with this setup). They lived next door to him and were in business together with him. I met them both as they were putting a few things out to sell. Neighborhood garage sales were a big thing in Oklahoma back then with people out walking everywhere; so Pam and I were blending into the crowd. The next few minutes are still a blur, I heard something like, ” Well there he is now. Let’s walk over there and I’ll introduce you.” The next thing I know I’m walking; but I’m not sure I could even feel my feet move, almost a slow motion feeling. Then I look up as I hear the introduction and catch his eye. Wow, I thought to myself…..his picture didn’t do him justice; he was so handsome, tall, fit, and such kind eyes. When he smiled at me, I felt my face flush and I managed to choke out the words, “Nice to meet you.” I returned his smile, then we quickly made up some excuse how we needed to get back to Pam’s house. It was a bit unnerving for all I think, ha. We said our “Nice to meet you.” As we turned to walk away, I heard him say, “I’ll see you tonight, Quita.” Again, I could hardly get my voice to work as I said, “Yes, I look forward to it.”

The rest of the day was spent picking out an outfit to wear, going back over every detail of the “meeting”, how cute he was, how tall he was (don’t underestimate how important that was to me Haha). In my mind, I guessed he liked what he saw since he didn’t find a reason to cancel the date πŸ™‚
I felt like a young teenage girl, spending way too much time getting ready for this date. It had been over 8 years since I had dated, so I wasn’t sure I knew “how” to date. In the mean time, my sister began to freak out a little because she realized she didn’t know that much about him, just what her friend Gail had told her. She had no reason to doubt her, but I think the thought of setting me up and the chance I would be hurt again, panicked her a bit.
She had as much fun as I did though with the excitement and waiting for 7:00 pm to get there. The closer it got the more I was sure I was not going to be able to stop shaking. To this day that’s the most nervous (good nervous) I’ve ever been.

The next thing I know he’s at the door and I’m in that blurry slow motion thing again that giddiness brings on. He looked so handsome as I opened the door, and was greeted by his smile. I realized for the first time he had dimples, and then of course my eyes were drawn to his kind eyes which were a perfect blend between brown and green. He whisked me down the drive way to his car , a very nice red 300z. He opened my door, and as I got in I was overcome with a calm. This was a night I would never forget and neither would Mike.

We talked like old friends that night, laughed, not too many awkward silences. He asked about my boys and I was relieved he knew about them. We talked about his business, his family. He was on the quiet reserved side, not shy in the least, just very good at listening. He seemed interested in every thing I said, and those beautiful eyes of his were always intent and soaking up the details. We went to a restaurant first (Charley Mitchell’s), then a movie, then a walk around the 21st river bridge/pier area. He took my hand and I felt my heart skip a few beats. Though it was a very long time since I had felt that type of touch, it felt very comfortable, very right. I could tell Mike was different than anyone I had ever met. I sensed he had a lot of self confidence, but not a trace of arrogance. His intelligence was obvious to me; his honesty was very noticeable. He was not comfortable talking too much about himself, but he listened intently to every word I spoke.
The night ended fairly early,around 10:30. He walked me to the door where we said goodbye. I walked into my sisters house to be greeted by her excitement and need for details.
I don’t think I slept much at all that night, or the next few. I replayed every moment of the date in my mind, thought of everything he said, how I could tell he loved God the way that I did. He was unlike anyone I had ever known; could it be a dream?
All I know is I had not smiled like that in a very, very long time. My steps were lighter, the sun was brighter, I felt like I had just tried on the Cinderella slipper and it had fit. My heart battled some between my hopes and dreams, and the fears and insecurities; but most of the time the hopes and dreams won. I had no idea how well the slipper would fit or the brightness of my future.
Looking back on that night I realize how God started something special in both of us. I know He must have smiled from heaven and said, “Now that’s what I’ve been waiting for.” His Plan B had been put into play.
I fell asleep that night feeling like Cinderella. I had truly been treated like a princess. I felt beautiful, I felt interesting, and I knew I wanted to get to know this mystery man more.
My heart was light and happy, the scars from divorce barely noticeable against the light of hope, the brightness of joy, the reflection of true inner peace.

Isaiah 61:3
Joy and gladness instead of grief,
A song of praise instead of sorrow.
They will be like trees
That the Lord himself has planted.
They will all do what is right,
And God will be praised for what he has done.

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Chapter 7: Smiles and Butterflies

I returned to Arkansas early the next morning, the day after our first date. The following days were filled with smiles and butterflies. Letters, phone calls, and an unending movie of moments and events of that evening played in my head.

I returned to get my boys, resume studying and real life. I never mentioned a word to the boys about the special person I had met; I had decided long before I wouldn’t do that to them until I was serious about someone, just to protect their little hearts.
I received a letter that week from Mike stating that he would like to see me again, and that he thought I was beautiful inside and out….I felt so special just reading those words. I read and reread his letter several times and talked on the phone a couple of times. Everything seemed effortless to me: studying, taking tests, getting the boys ready for school and everything a single mom does. Life seemed to be a gentle breeze as opposed to the dark stormy season I had just lived through, where everything I did seemed to zap all my energy and emotion.
I had learned from my dark days to cherish the warmth of the sun, so the tiniest moments of happiness were to me like treasures. I knew on an entirely different level, the gift of being at peace with yourself and the feeling of coming out of the dark, dense tunnel of despair into a new world that was bright, fresh, full of promise.
There’s nothing quite like having calmness in your spirit, until you’ve lived without it.
In a very short, yet very long year, I had been transformed into someone new. I had lived through trials and heartache that I didn’t know I was capable of. I had trusted God in situations that normally would have been unbearable. I was stronger, I was kinder, less judgmental, more sensitive to the pain of others. I still lived with my boys in the little government duplex, still hung my clothes on the clothes line, put $5.00 worth of gas in at a time in my car; but my heart was happy, and now I had someone that thought I was beautiful. That was the icing on the cake!

After phone calls back and forth and “get to know each other more” conversations, I planned another trip to my sisters for the last weekend in September.
I anxiously awaited the arrival of the weekend, and it felt so good to have plans that no one really knew (with the exception of a few). I felt in control of my life again, and did that ever feel amazing.
I didn’t need a man to complete me, I didn’t need “things,” I only needed God and his wonderful plans.
Friday finally arrived; and after handing over the boys for their weekend visitation, I left in my little Chevy Spectrum and headed for Tulsa, Oklahoma.
We had a date planned, so he picked me up from my sisters. This time the nerves were a bit more settled but not completely. He took me to a wonderful dinner at Steak and Ale, where we soaked up each others’ company. Nothing serious, just great conversation. We rode around some afterwards and listened to music; then he stopped by his business and gave me a tour. The next morning he picked me up bright and early from Pam’s, and we went to my nephews soccer game and then on to the state fair. We just walked and talked for literally hours. He was such a gentleman and I loved how “even keeled” he was. I found out he was a volleyball player and had grown up in California on the beaches. He was full of ambition, but not in an imbalanced way. He was a dreamer, a visionary, and lived life with a purpose. He looked at me as though I was the only person in the world. The weekend was going by way too fast.
Before I knew it, I was headed back to my real world; but I left part of my heart with him. He was the perfect gentleman, not pushy, or assuming. I wanted to know more, and in some ways that scared me. Could I trust and love someone again? I knew I was getting way ahead of myself; after all, the word love or anything of a serious nature had not come up.
The next week’s letter included a question…..Mike wanted to know if Mena was big enough to have a hotel. If so, he would like to come see me and see where I lived, possibly go to church with me (I wasn’t ready for him to meet the boys). Wow, I thought, and immediately became intimidated about my living situation. What if he wants to see where we live? He had no idea I lived in government housing. Insecurities began to build, but they were quickly pushed out with my desire to have him come for a visit. I’d just worry about that when the time came (with the plan in my mind to make sure he had no reason to see my house).
I was beyond excited! I could finally let people in on my secret; I could have a date and everyone know it. Even my elderly neighbors waited with great anticipation for me to start dating. Lots of people would be excited for me.
I wanted to show him off, and I wanted to see him again; so I gave him the name and number of a local hotel (I think it was called Harvey House Inn). The plans were put into place for him to come for a weekend visit the next time the boys were on weekend visitation. Mike grew up around Los Angeles and knew nothing about small town life. He was in for an interesting experience. I counted down the days with anticipation. It was different having him come to “my world,” and I was a bit unsure how it would turn out. It would be a weekend that would change everything; little did I know the impact it would have.

Chapter 8: Cinderella Weekend in a Small Town

Friday arrived, along with all the excitement it held. I could hardly concentrate in class that day since nerves were abundant. I had a plan which had set my mind at ease (or so I thought). I asked a sweet friend (previously carhop buddies) if she would be able to drop me off that evening at some location still to be determined; and I would ask Mike to be there so we could have our date from there. Looking back I have to smile as I can’t help but wonder what my thinking process was…..but anyway Laura agreed and got to witness my nerves first hand πŸ™‚
Mike arrived around 6:30 and called me from his hotel room to ask for directions to my house so he could come pick me up. I quickly thought of some lame excuse why it would be easier for me to just get dropped off where he was. I couldn’t bring myself to reveal my address to him and have him drive in past the big sign announcing I lived in government housing. (I know it was so silly, I mean where did I think he thought I would live? Haha)
He hesitated but then agreed and before I knew it, we were on our way. Fall was well under way, so it was dark but a beautiful crisp night. There was a little chill in the air, but I hardly noticed.
We pulled into the parking lot, and right away I spotted him standing by his car waiting for me to arrive. I felt my heart rate go up a little with excitement. He looked so handsome, he was waiting for me and I could hardly contain my enthusiasm.
He greeted me with a big hug, a warm smile, and opened the car door for me to get in. I felt as light as a feather, not a care in the world; and once again as was always the case with him, I felt like the most beautiful girl in the world. I felt like a young 26 year old should feel, not burdened down with sadness and sorrow; instead I felt weightless, like I couldn’t even remember what it felt like to be sad.
As we drove down the different streets in town to get to the theater, I could just hear in my mind the conversations of those we passed…..”Who’s that I wonder?” “That’s an Oklahoma license plate, someone new in town I guess”. Being new in town and getting attention wasn’t hard, but It helped that he drove an awesome looking sports car. Regardless, that’s just how a “small town everyone knows everyone”- kind of place works. Unknown to Mike, he was the main attraction, and unknown to all the observant public, Quita was IN that car. I’m sure the second Mike walked around and opened my door in the parking lot of the theater and I exited the vehicle, word spread like wildfire through the town. Quita finally has a date AND he’s from out of state! How mysterious πŸ™‚
Mike was probably not prepared for all the curious stares he would receive once we arrived inside the theater. I soaked them in, however; because for once, they were stares based on curiosity and intrigue rather than sympathy and pity. I had a secret everyone wanted details on, and since he was a stranger in town (unlike a local who everyone would have known and had an opinion of), there were no details. No one knew who he was or how we had met, and that must have made for some interesting rumors. He took my hand and never let it go as if to say, “You’re with me now, and I want everyone to know.” I’m sure I must have been radiating pure joy.
After the movie was over , which was the newly released “Ghost,” we headed back out in his car and drove around listening to music and talking (and giving plenty more people a reason to see and speculate, I’m sure). I said, “Let’s stop by Sonic” pretending to really want a cherry coke; but of course that was a cover up for showing him off to all my carhop and Sonic friends πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚
I could see inside the windows of Sonic, the big smiles, the chit chat that ensued, and perhaps a competition for who got to bring out our cherry cokes and meet him face to face. These were the same friends that had seen many tears and much sadness from me at times in the past when I could hardly speak because of the heartache I faced. Now, months later, they could share in a moment of such excitement and fun. I have rarely felt as free to be happy as I did at that moment; I think my face may have ached from smiling πŸ™‚
It was late, not a ton of things to do in small town Mena but drive up and down Main Street (if you’ve never experienced that in a small town you don’t know what you’re missing haha; it’s a highlight)
So then the moment I hadn’t prepared for….”I was planning on taking you home, if that’s ok?” I suddenly couldn’t remember any of the pre-prepared excuses and alternate plans I had put together, and instead found myself feeling comfortable enough to say “Sure, that’s fine” then immediately thought,”What am I saying?”
I started praying silently in my heart (but seriously) that God would make the little bugs that liked to come out at night stay hidden if he asked to come inside . Then the next five minutes I spent getting myself psyched up that it had to happen and that he would either accept it or not. I couldn’t hide who I was, and where I lived was a very Important part of my life. It was the honest to goodness reality; I couldn’t hide from it.
I found my self getting quieter by the moment but Mike seemed un-phased as we passed the big sign on the side of the main building staring us down announcing that we were entering government subsidized housing . This was the moment of truth.
As we drove down Rodgers Avenue, I thought, “People either think we are in a stolen vehicle or Mikes a drug dealer.” (haha) His nice red sports car somehow didn’t fit in with the other vehicles in the neighborhood.
Of course my house was at the very end of the street, so he got the whole picture. Finally we pulled up in front of mine. He asked to walk me in and I said yes. As we walked up to the door, I could feel my little elderly neighbors peeking through their blinds and curtains trying to get a glimpse of this guy that had swept me off my feet, curious about the man that had brought the smile and laughter back to their lonely neighbor and friend. I could picture in my mind them cheering. They had looked forward to the day I would have someone special; in fact, most of them had prayed for that as well.
I unlocked the front door, and as we stepped inside I said “Well, this is it, this is my home.” He smiled and said “I like it,” and I saw the honesty in his eyes. I knew he was saying, I’m impressed you’ve been able to make this a home, and I could tell he was not taken aback in the least. We talked for a few minutes in my tiny living room and made plans for him to pick me up the next morning so we could spend the day together. The fall colors were brilliant in October in the national forest and mountain areas around Mena. The warm days that tend to linger in October would make for the perfect Saturday to go up on “Rich Mountain” and have a picnic, so our plan was made.
I was relieved when we stepped back outside a few minutes later to say our goodbyes, that no one had stolen his car πŸ™‚ As he pulled away, I went back inside and sat there by myself for several minutes. I was alone, just reflecting on the date and Mike, trying to remember the last time I had cried, trying to remember when I had ever felt like all was so right in the world, in my world. The ache was gone from my heart, disappointment was now replaced by hope. I was thankful, grateful…I was happy!
As I got into bed I realized another answer to prayer……the bugs had stayed in hiding while he had been there. That thought brought another smile to my face. Love had still not been mentioned, but there was something going on between our hearts. I could not have imagined that the very next day Mike would realize he had fallen in love with me. In fact, those thoughts were already being tossed around in his mind; I just didn’t know yet. This special weekend would seal the deal in his heart that I had in fact been the one he had prayed for. I wouldn’t find out that weekend, however! I would know that I was falling in love with him. It was scary, seemed a bit far fetched, but so simple and real; yet the edges of my heart were still scorched with the rejection and insecurities that come with that. My hope was fighting against my fear to love again. I had constructed the walls of protection ever so tight and secure around myself; could I ever be vulnerable again? “You’ll have to help me God,” I said and then drifted off to sleep.

Psalm 147:3
He heals the broken-hearted
and bandages their wounds.

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