My Journey With God
It doesn't sound so significant now, but at the time, it really was. The first time, the first REAL time that I felt God's presence was when I was about 7 or 8 years old. I was on a vacation with my mom and dad somewhere in Northern California and they put me on a horse, and off I went! It was a hot day, I was all alone with a group of people I didn't know, and I was scared because this horse was so big. All I could think of is to not fall off. I had a bad experience with a horse at the Arroyo Stables in South Pasadena when I was younger: it galloped away and I had no control over it and it just ran with me on it, so I was scared this would happen again.
We were all in a line, I was somewhere in the back of the group with people behind me and I just started to pray for courage. I prayed and prayed and prayed, continuously repeating myself. My horse started foaming at the mouth quite badly and I got even more scared. He had foam all over his muzzle area and it was falling off. I knew he had rabies because that's what foaming at the mouth meant in an animal! I thought I was going to die and no one cared. No one came to my rescue. No one saw how frightened I was, so I just continued to pray to God to help me, over and over and over again. And all of a sudden I felt this warmth - I mean it - I felt this calmness come over me. I felt enveloped with peace! It was such an amazing feeling and it was proof, right then and there to a little girl, that God existed, that He was protecting me, that He heard me and that He was there for me and He answered my prayer.
I found out later that horses sweat through their mouth; that was why no one was concerned, but to me, I thought I was going to be hurt or worse that day. I was so alone and then I wasn't. THAT was the beginning of my journey of faith with God.
Let me begin with a little background. I was an "oops" child. My parents had two teenagers, my brother and sister, who were almost starting high school, and my mom and dad were almost in their mid- forties when I came along, and I was not the most welcomed news. By the time I was five, both my brother and sister were out of the house, so I was the youngest and also an 'only child.' My parents were members of Oneonta Church in South Pasadena, and I went there for Sunday school every Sunday.
When I was around 12 my parents bought a place in Palm Desert. They would go there for weekends. Now, at 12, being with my 50+ year old parents was the LAST place I wanted to be for the weekend. And from their standpoint, WHY would they want to be with a pre-teen who was rather strong willed and unpleasant? So, at 12 my parents began to leave me HOME ALONE almost every weekend from Friday night until Sunday afternoon. Looking back, this was totally wrong, but at that time, I preferred spending time alone rather than being with them. Funny, today my cousins and some Aunts have affirmed that they knew about this, and they knew it was wrong, but no one said anything about it.
I had a lot of time on my hands, and although I wasn't a saint during that time, I also remember reading the Bible cover to cover a couple of time in my early teen years. I also was very lonely during that time. When I was around 14, I joined a youth group at Oneonta and it was there that I met some people that are still my close friends to this day, one of which was my husband to be, Robert. And also at this youth group I met Frank, who was like Robert's little brother. Frank was probably around 12 or 13 at the time. This youth group at church became part of my weekly routine and I found comfort and safety at Oneonta. I would often go into the sanctuary just to pray, and it felt like a home to me.
I got married at 19, which was way to young, and I had my son Brian a couple of years later, however, we divorced when I was 23. We were way too young and had no foundation for what a marriage should be. But I'm blessed that even from all that time ago, we have worked through our divorce and we have been friends for years and years and go to our grandson's sports games and family events to this day. I'm very grateful for that friendship with Brian's dad.
I found myself back in South Pasadena with a one year old and a job and a house to take care of and I was only 23 years old!! I cried a lot during this time. I lived in a home across the street from Bernie and his family. I stayed in touch with my church friends and reconnected with Robert, and he and I got married when I was 27 and Brian was 4. The next year our son Scott was born. Bernie and his family soon became our good friends, and of course, we introduced Frank to them so my history with Frank and Bernie goes a long way back.
I had known Robert since I was in Jr. High, we shared the same friends, who are still some of my best friends to this day. Robert was the most integrous, honest, hard working man, he was a believer in Christ and was a strong Christian, but what I didn't know was that he had a lot of demons in him from his childhood. Both of his parents were hard-core alcoholics from the time before he was born, and as an adult, in order to feel he had control, because he had no control in his chaotic childhood, he was obsessive/compulsive regarding neatness and order. He learned to be valued only by his work, not from just who he was, and he got rageful when he felt insecure or if he felt his environment was "cluttered". I had no idea when he would become rageful, and the kids and myself walked on eggshells in order not to make him angry. Water spots on a faucet, dust on the back of a picture frame, or utensils not in order in the dishwasher could set him off in a rage. He was a good man, but it was a hard and lonely marriage for me.
Robert got his value from his work, not from his family. When Robert wasn't working, his weekend was biking, or golfing, or bungee jumping, or traveling without us, or working around the house, or building something, or kayaking. I continuously wanted him to pay attention to us, but it was always lacking. And he would have anger outbursts over the littlest of things and you never knew when he would blow up. We went to counseling almost from the first part of our marriage all the way until it ended, 20 years later. It was like a "dance" we did, and it would always return to the same place. I prayed and prayed that things would get better, and sometimes they would for a while, but then it went back again. We had started our marriage going to church, but after Sara was about 3 we didn't go anymore. Life just got hard and busy and we neglected God. Not that I stopped praying, I didn't, but I didn't center God in my life. I also realize now that my prayers were always about me when I should have been praying FOR Robert!! That's something I've learned. But I think we kept trying to fix our marriage without God in the center of our lives first, at least, looking back, that's what I think.
One day after Thanksgiving, Robert got rageful at me for something small, I just couldn't take it anymore. Now, I NEVER had said the "D" word, but that evening I said it, and you never saw someone move so fast!! Within a few minutes of our argument he called Bernie and asked if he could move in with him. At the time we lived in Thousand Oaks and Bernie and Ana were in South Pasadena. Bernie said yes, and within weeks, Robert moved out. Looking back, I think he was very happy and ready to move out. I was shocked that it happened so quickly. In hindsight, I think Robert wanted it too. But to this day, I'm sad that he left so quickly without giving it a bit of a fight. But we had tried for so many years, I don't think the outcome would have been different.
Despite the divorce, Robert and I remained friends. We became almost closer as friends because we weren't living together. I didn't have to worry about him bursting out in anger anymore. We were a family, no matter what, and always would be. I loved him and he loved me, as much as he could love me, and I knew that.
Later, Scott was getting more involved with drugs and on July 4th 2010 I called the police on him and had him arrested. That was so very, very difficult to do. A week later Robert and I, and our daughter Sara, took him to a rehab center in Palm Springs. Robert and I were still close, this was our family, and we needed to support our son. On Family Weekend, July 30th and 31st, Robert was supposed to be there on Saturday and Sunday, but he decided he could only come Sunday. That Saturday afternoon around 4pm I got a phone call saying he passed away. I got the call right after this intense Family Day at the rehab center and Scott was at my side. How do you tell your child that his dad just passed away?? It was awful! Scott and Robert had plans to do things after Scott got out of rehab. I questioned God a lot about Robert's death, asking why? Now I am the only one that is The Parent and it scares me.
Throughout the past years I have come to lean on God more, to yearn after Him, to want to know more about him, more about the Bible. I try and read it daily, listen to His word, read books, listen to pastors on KKLA, and use their words as inspiration in my daily life
I try to be more Christ like, to have God at the center of my life. All through my life I've known that there is a God who is there to protect me, to guide me, to speak to me when I am quiet and listen. I pray for the correct words when I'm in a difficult situation, and they usually come to me through Him. I pray for strength, and I pray for others. I know He is there, and I know I have to have faith to get through the tough times and that He will be there for me. I know I've made some very poor decisions and He's guided me out of them. God has given me strength throughout my life, he has never abandoned me. I did not put him first during times in my life, yet He never left me.
I have been single 10 years now, no dating, nothing, certainly not by choice! I hope not to be alone the rest of my life, but I've accepted that if that's God's will, then He knows what's best for me. During these past years I've been available to my children and I think they needed me so it's good I was single. I really feel that I wouldn't have been able to be there for my kids had I been with someone. I've grown so much as a Christian, and I know that God is right here, taking care of me, and placing me where He needs me to be. I do hope God has a Christian man for me in the future, but if not, I'm content, I'm happy, I'm grateful, and I feel at peace in his Love for me. I am so blessed.