When God Makes a Match Out of Our Mess, or the How Marisa Met Joe Story, Part Three

Hello, friends! Thanks again for all the prayers going up for Pastor Don, his wife, and church family. I will keep you posted as this continues to unfold…

So…in honor of Father’s Day, I thought I’d lighten the heaviness in so many hearts and share my final piece.

This goes out in tribute to the man who went from single guy to instant father for me and my precious own. Love you, Joe. ❀

If you missed the first two parts, check here and here. πŸ™‚

So…ready? Ok. Well, let’s see…

When last we met over this winding road, Joe and I had “met” over the mysterious space out there known as the internet and began paying our gratitude to Alexander Graham Bell for the spiffy invention of the telephone.

But-

We had yet to meet in-person, though the idea had been furtively nudged at.

Nor had we introduced my kids to him, though they did witness a lot of mommy giggling into the phone or merrily tippety-tapping keys on the computer.

They knew there was something to this.

Much more than the vague “dates” I was out on prior.

So…eventually the nudging formulated into actual plans.

And these plans became one of my first inklings this all could be for real.

Because, he wanted this first date to be all of us!

Oh, I still tear up nearly a decade later on this point…

Never had that offer ever been extended in all these long and troubled months of grappling with the nightmare of online dating.

Ever.

And, to top it all off, he wanted it to be the kids’ favorite spot.

So…we met at our neighborhood McDonald’s on one of his days off.

My mother dropped us off so she could get a gander. He immediately won her over with his politeness and good humor.

Ok. Good. Passed the mama check. πŸ˜‰

He was as fun and animated as he had been in our chats. My nervous self was definitely still present and accounted for, but had rarely banished itself to the background so quickly!

Part of what warmed me was that he became a kid with the kids, an avid listener to their tales( which were extensive in those days, especially for my oldest!😊 ), and quite the clown to their delight.

He also handled every sensory- issue-laden order with ease, ensuring Elijah’s burger was absolutely pickle-free, Timothy had his root beer, and Sarah had her usual pile of ketchup packets.

As if he had always been there doing this very thing with me.

It was…surreal.

I kept waiting for the bubble to burst. Fearing it. It always happened, after all.

Yet…it never did.

Our sweet Sarah, blunt autistic beauty she was at just 6 and still is at nearing 15, assessed the situation with a moment that is still one of the richest in our family history.

She slid in between us in the booth at one point, slipped an arm around us each, and with all the seriousness she could muster, stated the facts:

“You two on a date. You two gonna get married.”

Of course, we each laughed nervously, blushed like mad, and I think would’ve liked to have hidden under the table.

Her older brothers each had raised a brow then but did not comment. They were still in that boyish “eww-romance?” phase.

And yet…here we are. More than eight years later. 😊

The night continued on in that same homey vein.

On so many points, though each of our stories had their own unique struggles and joys, we could match experiences.

Rough childhoods and painful rejections. Awkwardness, failures and triumphs in carving out places for ourselves.

Where I had struggled in abuse, abandonment and seeking self-worth in relationships, his foster care beginnings had led him to addiction,theft, and some youthful years locked up.

Yet, for us both, the best of what we could share was our respective new lives reborn in the Son.

When at last it was time to take our reluctant leave, Sarah begged for a piggyback ride on the stroll back to our nearby apartment. She was obviously officially sold. 😏

The boys were also chatty and playful. They may’ve been “eww-romance” but they were also loving having a guy around to bounce their superhero discussions off of.

And…me? I was… full of wonder.

Still am.

At God’s astronomical providence.

His awesome love.

His astonishing attention to detail.

For He reaches through the messes we make of ourselves, plucks us up, and matches us with just who we need.

Not that all has been as easy as that, of course.

There have been falls from grace aplenty and graces extended once more.

I wish I could say our mutual hold on God had always kept us from spiralling into sin.

But, alas. I cannot. For we are human.

Banged-up, prone-to-sin humans.

For, the drawing together of so many scared and hurting souls naturally brings out the ache of scars and the risk of new wounds.

Both will press deep into the heart and bring emotions and wills to bear.

And…sometimes, we embrace the victory over sin He has given us…and sometimes, we don’t.

Without going to details best left to themselves, I will just say a bonus baby entered swiftly into the mix in our case.

He would be treasured, to be sure.

But, he was coming before we were ready, bringing us to a painful and needed place of repentance, reminding us of both the vulnerabilities and the joys of being human.

For there are so, so many of both, my friends.

And I could’ve either shrugged it off as “just the way of the world” or swept it under the rug unacknowleged altogether.

Or else lingered in the shame of taking His gift to me and misusing it.

I still could.

But, then, what would that say for His tender mercies to us?

That which indeed are new every morning.

Not at all that they should ever be taken advantage of!

But, neither should they not be allowed to do their miraculous healing work in our hearts.

So…we were set to marry as it was but the ceremony was somewhat hastened with this turn of events.

Still, it was beautiful. A bringing together of us all under one umbrella kind of beautiful.

And, indeed, what a beautiful way He has of taking the splotches our fumbling hands create on the sketchpad of living and etching out masterpieces!

For, here we all stand, over eight years later, a testament to His amazing grace.

With so many more stories than I could ever fill these online pages with.

Suffice to say, in my myriads of current struggles, this is what my heart must stir itself to rest upon.

And, so, where there is so, so much more I could say, I will end on that note, dear friends.

It’s been fun to share these tidbits with a new audience.

If you find yourself wanting more of this testimony in greater detail, I will fight my usual tendency to break out in a rash on salesmanship at this point. 😏

Here is a link to my book from a few years ago:

I don’t know what God will do here. Don’t know if this is a resurgence of my work or just a rebirth of the joy in sharing it.

Either way, it’s in His hands. 😊

At any rate, thanks so much for joining in on this reading journey with me! Blessings and prayers! ❀

When God Makes a Match Out of Our Mess, or the How Marisa Met Joe Story, Part One

And now, for something totally different…

Inspired by my sweet blogging friend, Tina, over at Pippi’s Poetry and her recent wonderful posts on how she met her husband. Hello, friend! 😊

Also, honestly, further fueled by the struggles mentioned here.

I think it’s safe to say I could really do with some sharing of this piece of my story at this particular point in time.

To be reminded of His unparalleled goodness to us.

For those who have travelled with me one blog to another or read my book, this all might not be exactly different. My apologies.

Still, with each writing, there are fresh insights to be had. So…there’s that. 😏

Anyway…I have alluded in a lot of posts to having been married before.

It all figures into where I am now. Therefore, this portion impresses upon me to be told first, like it or not.

So…onto to laying the groundwork…

Husband #1 was my high school sweetheart.

The only guy I thought would ever stick around the likes of shy, dorky me.

The one I honestly assumed a lot of my identity through, as I had never felt much of my own.

I had grown up in the confusing atmosphere of a series of charismatic churches.

I had said a prayer to accept Jesus at age 5 that I didn’t really understand. No one truly helped fill in the gaps with anything more than to introduce the concept of being separately filled with the Spirit.

It was indicated such a “baptism” would bring me the “benefits” I witnessed weekly: supernatural healing, speaking a “heavenly language”, and the ability to worship in a “freer” (read: frenzied) fashion. Maybe even prophesy.

I could never figure out why none of that stuff came to me despite my sincere longing. I wilted in rejection.

At age 13, a lot of years of that later plus the abuse my mother administered at home, and I was back at the altar crying out to God to take my heart and change it.

To make me worthy. Because I sure didn’t feel much of that.

I did feel a change then, though again, there was a bundle of confusion handed to me with it when camp sponsors attempted to force me to speak in tongues.

However, older and a bit wiser, I tried to brush that aside this time and place my focus on that change I was feeling Him make within me.

I needed that change within me. I knew it was there.

Yet, I was still so unsure of His love in this process. Of any love, for that matter.

That was something, after all, so often given only to be snatched away when I proved less than pleasing, or so I thought.

I think that rampant insecurity as much as anything made it easy for me to latch onto this guy in my Drama 1 class.

He was funny. He was friendly. He said he believed in God, went to a church that was a lot simpler to understand.

And he seemed to like me.

But, it was never really what I could term as healthy. Lots of overattachment, plenty of push and pull.

Yet, I convinced myself we were destiny, as was the ministry we would unite in.

We married a year out of high school.

It proved a lot harder than anticipated. Neither of us was mature enough to sustain the necessaries of a God-centered relationship.

Children were born, responsibilities weighed, depression haunted.

And…we collapsed. Studies were abandoned and his dreams shifted another direction, with another person.

And the kids and I?

Well, we were left largely to fend for ourselves, beyond the very occasional visit, the very occasional financial contribution.

I was dangerously near suicide, saved by the love of my children and their need for me.

And…for a long while, the foolhardy hope he’d somehow come to his senses and come home, if only I behaved dutifully and prayed hard enough.

I really thought I was hearing from God on this, even.

In the meantime, I took up a new way of life:

Raising kids, discovering their autism and developmental delays, teaching a class of toddlers, learning to lean on God as my husband in that season, drawing my strength from Him.

It was brimming with opportunities for wisdom and fraught with fountains of tears.

New ways to find His joy were latched onto.

Yet, I also held onto my hope for a restored marriage-so tight the fabric of it grew frayed.

And on that fabric was written my mantra: Just waiting on a miracle here. I neither need nor want any other man.

Unfortunately, in the wake of the abandonment, I had found myself vulnerable to the teachings of my childhood and began to swallow the charismatic line whole.

However, as time and circumstance wore on without a glimmer, the words blurred to an unrecognizable blob in my hand, the fabric I carried like a security blanket long since past its use.

Until, finally, one day, I just decided.

I looked around and admitted it. I was lonely. Desperately lonely.

And quite fed up.

He wasn’t coming home because that wasn’t God’s answer to my many prayers.

The answer was I was a fool to believe God was speaking this false hope to me!

I had wasted six years of my life in unrequited longing.

I was done.

And, so, in this moment of revelation, where I wish I could say I had laid it all at His feet, I instead snatched a major chunk of it up for myself, pulled out my mobile phone, and signed myself up for something I never imagined I would do in a million years:

Online Dating. 😳😬

And….whew. That took a lot more words than I anticipated, though I should know my tendency towards windy phrasology by now.😊

That said, I think I shall have to stop there. Seems like a good spot, anyway.

All right. So, I know it is titled, at least partially: “The How Marisa Met Joe Story”. And…we aren’t even to anyone named Joe yet. For any dangling, I am sorry.

But, I promise, he is coming!πŸ˜‰

Stay tuned. I will likely have Part Two for you by Friday. 😊

Thanks for reading! Blessings and prayers, friends! ❀

Crafting Changes


Hello, my friends! It feels like another longish stretch since I have been here! I hope no one feels too neglected. Though my days have taken a different shape in some ways, my heart and my prayers are ever with you. ☺ Hoping this finds you well and seeking the Lord.

I am striving ever for that myself in the midst of crafting a new way to do school, but, I think I am due for some stark honesty here.

It’s funny, really…

Despite my longing to craft other things-to write, to inspire and to be inspired, I am finding it much more taxing to gather my words when I finally do find a moment.

Perhaps it’s just circumstantial.

Circumstances are admittedly…unorthodox, shall we say?- at this stage of our lives.

For all, of course, but, I think especially of us impromptu home schooling parents right now. πŸ˜‰

Now, I am in the somewhat unique position of being accustomed to the life of a relative recluse for a variety of reasons ranging from my physical struggles to my carefully guarded, incredibly introverted nature. πŸ˜’

Not to mention, frankly, long years of the instinctual limitations that often come of parenting special needs.

I do miss church in-person-even if I was frequently the quietest one in the place- as well as cooking for and listening to the banter of our youth group.

Not to mention the simplicity of just strolling into a store on one of my good days with a modicum of abandon.

I am also finding it a bit deflating currently that our technology is too old and creaky to participate in many of the neat things others are doing virtually, as well as the fact my pocketbook isn’t too giving for the updates (Yet, for our actual needs, what we possess suffices, so, I feel gratitude should have its way over such complaints, really. ).

And, much as I am adoring this gift of extended hours with my dear children, I do find moments of longing for the few quiet chunks of the day I had formerly possessed, naturally.

But, all that aside, I can really chuckle to myself that I was born to “stay at home” and scarcely needed an order to do so. πŸ˜‰

So…it isn’t truly these aspects draining me of creative juices. Not really.

Maybe…maybe it’s just time in of itself that has me thrown- paradoxical thing that it is.

Such a precious commodity.

So daunting yet interesting to be presented a drastic reordering of it.

I am cheering on those who are and praying others will be able to capture the silver lining gleaming in the clouds here.

Yet, it’s also consternating how oddly the hands of the clock move these days.

Meandering down unfamiliar paths yet still remaining swift as ever.

Routines upended and rearranged. Things to be let go of, new things to be embraced.

I have to say management in our family of all such has been remarkably blessed by God’s ever-guiding hand.

In any household, that’s something to rejoice in.

In an autism household? Truly miraculous.☺

We are poised for our last three weeks of school already and in pretty good stead with all that it entails.

Yet, all that it entails adds up to… well, an awful lot of this baffling time thing we speak of, leaving little room for expanding thoughts to the avenues once enjoyed.

Words have been fading away from something to skip in a field of flowers with.

Words, rather, have morphed into something to teach how to sound out and how to spell.

To write neatly on the line and to properly define.

Perhaps inserted into a bit of essay coaching for flavor.

Which can have its own brand of satisfaction-don’t get me wrong.

It’s a rare joy to shape my kids in this way.

But, delight in shaping words unto the Lord?

The thirst remains, but time seems to be sapping the wherewithal lately.

Even writing all this, my mind is so…back and forth. It’s not coming in the flurry of phrases that I typically enjoy.

This is certainly not the big revelation I hoped for in time away, nor the encouragement I wanted to be able to give.

But, then, the time away is not really the time away in the sense of sabbatical.

At least, not in traditional sense.

Ah, but He reminds-when was anything ever traditional with me? 😊

So…I am left with this, as I have ever been left with this in my very interior yet very demanding world…

Shaking off the whiny, first-world-woes and grabbing hold of God, where I can, as I can, surrendering to the fact He is resident Keeper of the times, even these seemingly crazy ones.

And I rest in knowing He is ever there, smiling down on me in His infinite love, whether I am crafting an intricate poem to Him or just a shiny aluminium foil robot costume with my youngest for art time. ☺

When our hearts are right, they each honor Him, after all.

I am so selective on sharing pictures of my kiddos. But this one begged to be shared. Literally. πŸ˜€

Blessings and prayers, dear friends!Appreciate the read! Keep resting in Him!

Why I Don’t Talk Shop a Lot Anymore

I keep feeling like I should address this. Perhaps there are a few readers who knew me way back when wondering where some stories have gone. I could be overworrying as I tend to do, but, nevertheless…

My previous writing ventures were a lot about my children, a lot about autism, a lot about the inherent struggles.

With an emphasis on Christ to guide us through, of course.

I hesitate to say I was a mommy blogger, as that term conjures up some images of the overshare I honestly wince at.

Not saying all mommy bloggers do that. But, there are those whose children are treated more as anecdotes, complete with photo spreads better left to family only.

It’s particularly rampant in some special needs circles and something I’ve long decried.

So…safe to say, I was not really a typical “autism” mom ever. ☺️

But, still, a mom. Writing about being a mom.

Which is okay. I am a mom. It’s what I do. There is a time and place for sharing such.

And I know there’s a lot of people out there, particularly parents of those on the spectrum, some on it themselves, that need grace and comfort and solidarity on this ride we’re on.

I wonder sometimes if I’ve abandoned some of them in my jealously guarded privacy.

Yet, for me, as I watch all four of my children grow and mature, especially my two spectrum kids, the stories become something I wonder more if I ought to be sharing.

Because it’s their story. Not mine.

I am obviously linked intimately to it, as are my husband and my two typically functioning boys.

They teach me many, many lessons.

Daily.

But, not every stop on their journey need be my own, or appropriated to write about.

After all, I’m more a side character in their walks with the Lord, in this life.

I experience a lot with them, mind you.

But, each child’s faith and growth in life and in the Lord must be their own.

My job is to tell them what scripture says of salvation through Christ, demonstrate the Christian life through both the good and the hardship, and facilitate the atmosphere for them to thrive in.

And, of course, pray, pray, pray.

Beyond that, what happens next must be in their own hearts.

For there’s no grandfathering in to the body of Christ. Nor into being successful in life in general, for that matter.

The parenting thing is a huge responsibility, no doubt, but the decision to follow Jesus is ultimately individual.

As are many of the gains and setbacks they might go through.

Oh, yes, we strive together. There are teams in their corner.

But, the work? The actual day to day effort?

That’s their own progress, their own choice to share it. Or not.

So, I tend now to let it be their own, to stick away from certain topics this go around, place an emphasis more towards my own spiritual walk and the thoughts that crop up that won’t let me be.

Now, I don’t know if my conviction is overly zealous in this regard.

It could very well be. πŸ™‚

Yet, I feel I must follow His call here.

And with a hearty sidelines cheer, let my children follow theirs. πŸ™‚

Prayers and blessings to you, friends. May we each remember our role, both as parents and in the Christian life.