“They Are Yours Before They Are Mine”

A Dream

As a little girl, I had always dreamt of a fairy tale wedding and a happily ever after with my future prince, my husband. When I was in high school, I recall slipping a note to my Christian friend during class telling her ‘I want to marry a Christian husband” and signed the note with a smiling face. She turned around and asked me if I wanted to attend Sunday school and worship service with her. I was raised Catholic but respected other religions.

My late grandmother had already instilled Christian values in me and would talk about Jesus when she came to live with us. She read her Bible and prayed every morning and we watched Oral Roberts together on our old television box with the antenna. I thought to myself, sure why not. I mean if I was going to marry a nice and strong Christian man, what better place to meet him at. Oh, what a silly girl I was because my motives for attending church was off, but “it got me in”. Sunday school was awesome, and it was followed by their worship service, which was in Spanish! My friend softly translated the entire service in my ear in English. It was not long after that visit until my conversion for my pursuit was now for Jesus.

The Best Decision Ever 

It was a cold and foggy winter school day, when my friend and I were on the bleachers. I must have been my friend’s first convert. She took out a sheet of paper completely filled on the front page with “instructions” and the sinner’s prayer. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior at sweet 16. Nothing special happened, no tingly feeling or anything, just faith and it was a good thing.

BUT, then something very special happened for the next seven days.

The next morning after receiving Christ, I was awakened at 6am. We lived in an in-law at the time and everyone was fast asleep. I was drawn to the living room and immediately fell on my knees crying and worshiping Jesus for the first time in my life. I looked over at the coffee table and a saw the teal green bible I bought for my grandmother. I opened it and read it for the first time. The scripture were alive to me and in that moment with God, the true God, was beautiful. It happened again the next day, and the next day, for seven days straight.

Courtship to Marriage

Fast forward a couple years, I graduated from high school and relocated back to the SF bay area. I found a church to attend and served in their Praise and Worship Team. It was at this church where I met him. We became friends but I had no idea he would be the man I was going to marry. Then it happened. After one service, he told me he had been thinking about me and that he wanted to take me out to lunch. We started spending time with each other and getting to know each other better. Sooner than later, he asked my late dad for my hand in marriage. I was 19. He was 32. Exactly 13 years apart like my own parents were.

I honestly thought this was the prince I had been praying for, and that I clearly “heard” from God that he was “the one”. My dad thought he would make a fine husband for me, but my mom rushed home from work in the attempt to stop to my dad from consenting; she “felt inside” that he was not good man for her daughter. I now know what she meant…but it took many obstacles, trials and struggles to understand. “A mothers knows” now resonates with me…

Four Blessings

After we married, we talked about how many kids we wanted to have. I wanted all boys and one girl. I had my first son Daniel the following year, my second son Elijah two years later, my third son Michael two year following, and my youngest son Joshua 1.5 years later. Life with my sons’ father was not the “happily ever after” I dreamt about as a little girl.

The Abuse

I did not know, nor were there any signs of him being controlling and having a bad temper. It was an abusive environment for the boys and me verbally and physically. However, it was more physical for the older three boys. Their dad and I separated after 7 years of marriage. My sons were ages 6, 4, 2 ½, and 1 year and 2 weeks old when this happened. Divorce was finalized two years later.

Being torn down for 7 years by the man I thought was a real Christian was heartbreaking and awful altogether. Worse of all, he started physically abusing our sons and I was not brave or strong enough to do something about it… I would find bumps on their heads from being hit with a thick wooden stick because of his temper. There was even an incident when their dad was home alone with the older three boys while I was at work pregnant with Joshua. When I came home and changed Michael’s diapers, I found what was the most horrific thing my eyes had seen on a 7 month old baby’s body; both of his legs were covered with blue and purple bruises and I began to cry. I went up to their dad and asked him what happened? He answered, “He would not stop coughing.” I was hysterical. He continued to say, “I stopped when Daniel (who was three at that time) came inside the room crying and pleading,’ Please stop hurting my friend.’”

This was the last straw, and it needed to end.

Many may ask why I did not call the police. The reason originates to what happened before our courtship and marriage. He did not share a very essential detail of his past life before we were married. I later found out that he already had one strike against him in California, and during our marriage, he received his second strike. Throughout that time, three strikes meant life imprisonment. I became scared of him and I was afraid for the boys to ever make that call. Nevertheless, for the sake of my children, we separated.

Separation

I will always remember the night of our separation, January 2000. I had recently turned 27 years old and was starting all over–but now with four kids to take care of and raise by myself. How was I going to do this with us five being ok? I had to learn how to drive–yes, drive–learn how to handle finances, find a job with reasonable pay, go back to school to finish what I started a long time ago, all while raising my sons well.

Yet, I was broken inside. I had lost myself, was taken for granted, abused, hurt, and had no money – not even a penny. A healthy self-like, self-love, and self-image was absent and so far from me. I found myself at one of the weakest moments in my life…

2007_grand canyonFinding My Strength In Jesus

All I knew is that I had to be strong for my precious four. One of the first verses I fell in love with when I started reading God’s Word at 16 is found in the latter part of Matthew 28:20 (NKJV),

“and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”

I did not have much. I was not much. But I knew Jesus was with me. I knew He would never leave me nor hurt the boys. And I had to rely on Him literally for everything.

All I had was God and my faith in Him. I knew He would take good care of us, heal us from an abusive past, provide for us, and protect us. I made several promises to myself, but the most important two was that I would never let a man hurt the boys and me again, and I would be a responsible single-mom.

Transition

I moved in with my mom and we stayed with her for 6 months until I found an apartment for the boys and me in a gated community. I rededicated my life to the Lord, found a job, and most importantly, discovered the best babysitter/daycare for my sons. I enrolled my older two sons in schools outside of their district because I did not like their district schools. I also went back to school but figured out shortly that this was not gonna happen “right now.” Trying to get to an evening class on time after work was nearly impossible, for I had to pick up the boys from school/daycare, drop them off at my mom’s place, then drive to school during rush hour. I put this dream aside but never lost sight of it. I told myself I would go back to get my degree when the kids were older.

After the separation, the first words I whispered every morning for many years were, “Good morning, Lord. Thank You for loving The Boys and Me.” I smiled at heaven beyond my ceiling. It touched my heart knowing that the Creator of the universe, the King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords, loved the boys and me. He was always with us five. I…we…were never alone.

Looking Back With Gratitude

It’s been a little over 15 years that I have been a single mom–a cheerful and extremely grateful single mom. People often complimented my raising the boys so well single-handedly. Deep down inside, it was and always is hard to receive, because there was no way I could have done this or am still doing this without my Father’s love, help, patience, guidance, miraculous provision, wisdom, peace, joy and strength.

One of the greatest compliments a dear sister gave me was, “They were meant to come out one way or another.” There was no judgment–just truth spoken in genuine love that lifted my spirit and warmed my heart when it was spoken. The boys could have been birthed by any woman on this planet, but God lovingly and graciously chose me and entrusted their lives into “my” small hands. The honor of giving birth to my four handsome and amazing sons was heaven’s gift to me, someone quite undeserving, inexperienced, and completely unqualified. I never had my girl (yet), but I am at peace with it. I would not trade these gentle giants for anyone or anything.

In His abundant love, grace, and mercy, The Lord blessed my womb, and I am most humbled by His loving-kindness towards me. More importantly, I had a mandate from heaven – to raise them well for His glory, His purpose, and His perfect will.2013 Mothers Day

Family & The Price of Pride

It is important to convey that I never wanted a divorce. I wanted us to get help, but he refused and did not want anyone to know what we were going through behind closed doors. He had a lot of pride, and The Bible clearly states that “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” – Proverbs 16:18 (NKJV). But the constant abuse towards my sons and I had reached its limit…

I always dreamed of having a God-centered family, the way The Bible describes… Children to be raised by the godly partnership of father and mother. Unfortunately, this was not my case. It took a lot for me to say “that’s enough”. It took me losing myself and the boys’ physical abuse.

Faithful and True God

Through much prayer, exercised faith, and trust in God’s Word, I have learned and continue to learn that “God is not a man, that He should lie” Numbers 23:19 NKJV. His Word is truth, and if we believe what He wrote in the scriptures, anything is possible with God.

You see, people have watched me and say I make “it” look easy. I just had to do what I had to do, and I knew I had His Spirit to lead, teach, guide, and correct me in how I raised my sons for Christ. I knew that one day I would answer to Him…

I have often humbly “told” God in my alone times with Him, “Lord, they are Your sons before they are mine…”

Through the years, one cannot deny His hand upon us, or His eye closely watching over us ever so tenderly.

Without Jesus, the Lover of my soul, life would not be the incredible journey it is today with the four princes, my sons Daniel, Elijah, Michael, and Joshua.

It was God’s love and forgiveness that brought healing and new beginnings, rich and full of His grace and favor, in our lives.

He alone gets the glory – ALL of it!14 years single mom

One comment

  1. Mary, thank you so much for sharing your story with us! Clearly you took a huge risk and trusted God and best of all discovered He was completely faithful in helping you and your sons. I love your faith, courage, and tender heart. I have so many more questions about how you managed through the years and made choices, and discerned how to bring positive male mentoring/friendship into the lives of your sons. Keep writing, and sharing your story!! I know so many of us moms will be blessed and helped as a result.

    Like

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