Category Archives: Hope

Five-Minute Conversations With My 12-Year Old Piano Student

In addition to being a professional singer, actor, musician, designer and writer, I am a teacher.

I have taught special education, reading and theatre in the Los Angeles County public school system, and, in 2003, found myself administering private piano and voice lessons.  The majority of my students hail from a small, quiet community nestled at the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains. I spent the first eight years of my life there.

One of my piano students is twelve years old.  I have taught her since she was in first grade. Both her brothers — now in college — were under my direction in their respective 6th grade musical theatre endeavors: Treasure Island and The Music Man.  The entire family is smart, funny, talented, witty, kind and generous.  They are good and very real people — the kind you want to be around all the time.

12-year old piano student and I were quite compatible from the beginning of our student-teacher relationship.  Early on, I noticed she was quick-witted, honest and blunt.

When she was six, she learned a simple (albeit stupid) song called “The Hot Dog Stand”.

I stood close to her and explained the eighth notes in the piece.

“May I ask you a question?” she politely inquired, as she innocently focused her intense blue eyes upon mine.

“Of course,” I replied.

“Could you please not talk so loud? I’m right here and you’re talking very loudly.”

I have written down snippets of our conversation since that day.

*****
When she was seven, she told me she was going to the Dodger game, right after our lesson.

“Hey, me, too!” I exclaimed.

“Last time I went to a Dodger game, I got hit on the head with a baseball. The guy who hit the ball got traded to the Cardinals!”

*****

Recently, I asked 12-year old piano student for some dating advice.

“Don’t flirt with someone who’s out of your league,” she declared, matter-of-factly.

“Okay,” I agreed. “But what makes a guy out of my league?”

She thought for a moment.

“Someone who doesn’t like you back,” she answered. “He’s only out of your league because he doesn’t want to be in it.”

With that kind of perspective from the heart and brain of a 12-year old, I knew I needed to hear more.  Before we settled into our lesson yesterday, I interviewed her for five minutes (and twenty-seven seconds).

So, what advice can you give me on how to find a date?  I quit online dating a while ago.  It’s tough to meet decent people.

Online dating is a place [where] you’ll never meet your match.  The commercials lie!  All the people are arrogant hussies trying to be awesome, but they’re not awesome.  They do not possess the quality.

(Laughing)  Could I then be construed as an “arrogant hussy”?

You are not an arrogant hussy because you don’t dress like one. The hussies have…makeup all over their face, and they wear all the weird clothes, and, well, they remind me of the 8th graders at my school.

(Laughter.)  So, would you say that men in their 30’s and 40’s –

(She cut me off.)

Men who are in their 30’s and 40’s and aren’t married are not really the good type.

How so?

For one thing, they can’t hold down a girlfriend.

Why can’t they hold down a girlfriend?

Perhaps they’re drunk.  Perhaps they’re abusive or stupid or just disgusting, or, you know, stuff like that.  One thing – I don’t say this actually happens – but one thing that always seems to happen in books: the good guy is married, and then he gets divorced to be with someone else, and ends up having an unhappy relationship.  It doesn’t work.

What would you say to me?  I’m divorced.  But I didn’t get divorced to be with someone else. 

If I were you, I just wouldn’t worry about it.  You can’t control fate.

This is true.

Fate does as she pleases.  What fate normally does is…not very fun stuff.  I think you just got to show you can make it on your own. If you meet a nice guy — great! I’m happy for you! — but you don’t need one.

I know.

You’re doing GREAT without one.

Thank you!

So, I wouldn’t worry too much. The only people who are not doing well without guys are those who wallow on their couches all day, doing nothing but crying and eating ice cream.

That’s true.

So by the time they actually feel like, “I’m going to brace up and do something about it,” they’re 55,000 pounds!  They ate too much ice cream and sat on the couch!  And then they don’t do anything about it, and they’re back on the couch…

(Pause.)

Don’t wallow in self-pity.

Okay.

It never works.

It never works?

NEVER works.  I have already experienced self-pity and I hate it.  Don’t even let it…just ignore that emotion.  Stay positive.

What do I say to my girlfriends who are dating guys but the guys aren’t really –

— Into it?

Exactly.  They aren’t committal.

Guys who aren’t really committal…I have a feeling guys around this time [at your age] have probably had a relationship, and something terrible happened.  Their wife, or whoever they were dating, probably cheated on them and they felt like she was THE ONE, so they don’t want to get hurt again.

Yeah.

They don’t want to feel that pain. I have a feeling they’re not getting committal – not because they don’t like her, or think she’s not perfect — they just think, “I don’t want that pain again.  I thought this about someone else and I just experienced pain out of it; I don’t want that to happen to me [again].”

Guys just aren’t willing to take that many risks on stuff like this.

Do you think women are willing to take more risks than men?

Well, when you’re young; when you’re a girl growing up, you hear all these fairy tales about true love and all that, and you think, “Oh, I can’t wait for all of that for me!”   — But guys don’t get that.  They hear different stuff.  So when girls are ready for their true love, but guys have experienced pain, they don’t want it.

Hmmm.

Listen: no matter how good you are, they are not going to move that fast.  They’re not just going to come rescue you from the tower.

That’s true.

So to those girls who are growing their hair long to be like Rapunzel — just cut your hair!!

(Laughs) Okay.

I had to add that!

So, is there hope for a 35-year old single woman like me, to find a good man?

Oh, yeah!  They’re still out there.  There’s always a good man.

Where are they?

(Pauses):  I don’t know.  I’m not a geography person.  I failed that. (Laughs.)  But they’re out there!

(Laughing)

So, picture this: You are out walking one day.  It’s afternoon, and the sun is setting, blah, blah, blah, and you pass this guy.  And it’s great. You talk to him; you go jogging together.  And then you learn he is in this relationship with a girl you once knew in high school.  And she’s terrible. I mean, really terrible. He is having a little trouble with her, but he refuses to let her go because of her amazing looks.

But you — you open his heart to real things!  And that is a 30’s-to-40’s romance.

(Wheezing with laughter): How did you get to be so wise?

(Smiles and shrugs): I’m an old soul.

While I’m Waiting

I’m impatient with my impatience.

I know better.  I really do.  Yet it still doesn’t stop me from (a) being angry, (b) feeling sorry for myself, (c) crying pathetic tears into my pillow at night, (d) trying to take things into my own hands (ONLINE DATING IS HEINOUS!) and (e) wanting to give up, altogether.

I’m embarrassed at my fickle heart.  I go from being extremely happy with my life “as is”, to completely devastated that I’m not where I want to be.

Yesterday morning I dressed myself for church, feeling obligatory, pudgy and tired, with touch of low-grade frustration.  I arrived a few minutes late and picked a new place to sit, alone.  I’ve been attending church alone for over three years now. I’m quite used to it.  I’m okay sitting by myself.  In fact, I’m getting so good at doing things alone, I sometimes forget what it is like to have a companion.

My problem is that I’m okay with all of this.  I have told myself I have to be. For the most part, I’m just fine being single.  I’m fine with not getting asked out on dates.  It’s totally understandable, because it’s not the right time, or the “right” guys aren’t asking, or whatever other stupid-ass reason. It’s okay that I have to suppress my raging sex drive (I write about this a lot, don’t I?!), because I know better.  I want to have sex when it’s right, with the right person: one who will not just use me, empty me of my full, capable heart, and then leave.

Side note:  When you’ve gone from having a very regular, healthy (except in the end) sex life to NOTHING — ?!?!?!

#((^)@M#%(O)#@T)($*&()H)*(***(E)$&^*(&(#$R)(#@=F)($@U#)(C$)(%#K@)(*E@#%)R(@#%Y*(!!!)@#%*()

F   R   U   S   T   R   A   T   I   O   N.

Tears.

Of course, it’s not just about sex.  I long for relationship.

So, I’m waiting.  Hoping.  At the same time, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be held, desired, caressed; loved – specifically, by a man.  And in those recurring moments of despair I know the answer is to turn to God for help.  Except that I feel stupid, selfish and silly, because I should be stronger than this. 

The truth is, I’m not strong at all.

I’m sick of this “single” bullshit, and pretending that it’s okay. It’s not. It sucks.

And so, a few minutes after I slipped into my seat and greeted the friendly, churchy-hipster faces around me, Joseph began his sermon.

It was about “the meantime.”  Waiting.

Oh, come on, God.  I don’t feel like listening to this today.  I know I have a bad attitude, and I’ll try to fix it.  I don’t want anything to apply to me, personally. I want to be left alone. Can’t Joseph give some illustration about somebody else?  An update on the Kenyan mission team, or maybe a typical four-pointer on how to love my neighbor, all beginning with the letter “L”?  I just feel like checking out today. 

Alas.  His intro was really good, so I decided to cast aside a little bit of my negativity.  I pulled out my journal and pen, and began taking notes.

The “meantime” is the time between wanting something and having it, I wrote, almost as quickly as it left Joseph’s lips.  We equate waiting with wasted time. If we have any hope, the meantime can bring up negative feelings.  We begin to distrust, disobey and despair. 

Sigh.  It’s so true.  I am chief of the triple D’s.

We need to wait…for the RIGHT thing.

How many times have I heard this??  Yet, I can’t poo poo it, because I know it’s truth.

I then started to think about all of the warm bodies in the room, and for what each person might be waiting; hoping; longing.

I know a few couples who are waiting to get pregnant.  They’re trying everything they possibly can, all while praying, hoping and believing that God will answer those prayers.  It just hasn’t happened yet.  Time is running out.

I know families who are waiting to hear news – good or bad – about their loved one’s illness.  What an agonizing place to be: wondering if your child/husband/brother/mother is going to suffer and die, and soon.

I know a woman who is waiting for her husband to “come around” – to see her for who she truly is, and to love her deeply; intimately.  He’s just not capable of it right now.  She still believes in the potential of the man he can become, and is waiting.  It’s caused a lot of pain and confusion in her life.

I thought about my own journey, and how I’m waiting for God to answer all of my prayers.  I’ve been praying about moving back to New York since July 2009, even when I was still married.  I’ve been praying for my dad, step-mom and sisters to plunge into a deep relationship with God.  I want to spend eternity in heaven with them.  I’ve wondered and prayed about a second husband. I actually started writing to him — whoever he is — two years ago.  It feels so cheesy.

And dare I even pray and ask for a career and children?  I do.

There’s nothing that I can do to make the waiting easier, not even with a good attitude.  I just have to sit, and wait, in the meantime.  I know I do a horrible job at it, but I also know that God is in control.  I get frustrated with myself at how small and petty my complaints seem to be, but they’re real, and I know they don’t go unnoticed.  I know God cares, and I know He’s not going to forsake me.  He hasn’t done so thus far.

My mind drifted back to the sermon, and I continued taking notes.  I started to tear up a bit when Joseph pointed out, “As long as we are breathing, God is not done with us.”

Okay, God.  I surrender.  You got me. And I KNOW You’re not done with me yet.  

As if that weren’t enough, Joseph “landed the plane” (hilarious pastoral terminology for wrapping up a sermon) with a 5-minute film. The lights dimmed, and a beautiful, blind teenager named Alyssa was projected onto the screen.  She’s been blind since birth.

Great.  I feel even more like an ass.  My life is good, and this poor girl is blind.  She wins.  I suck at being a Christian.

“If I could see,” Alyssa said, “I don’t think my faith would be as strong.”

The camera then cut to her walking onstage and sitting down at the piano, and Alyssa played and sang – like an angel — an inspiring, beautiful song that she had written.

I started to cry harder at this point, and heard a few other people sniffling around me.  The woman sitting one seat away from me dug in her purse for several tissues.

“I have so much joy and so much anticipation,” Alyssa’s voiceover soothed the congregation, “because I know the first face I’m ever going to see is Jesus, and that means the world to me.”

Wow.

I realized something at that point:  Alyssa will never see.  Not in this earthly life, at least.  She is waiting for something that you and I take for granted, daily.  Her whole life is a “meantime”.

Yet she still has hope.  She still has joy.  She still has an impact on — and purpose in — this life.  She literally walks by faith, not by sight.

I have struggled with this post simply because it doesn’t feel poignant or special.  I have no “plane to land”; no physical evidence of my hope and faith, or even my prayers being answered.

Yet I still hope.  I wait.  I trust.  I believe.

Over two years ago, a friend of mine made me a CD to help encourage me as I endured the real-time pain of my divorce.  I never used to listen to Christian music (I was way too cool for it).  Now that the scars have begun to fade, certain songs pop into my head.  Today, “While I’m Waiting” is on replay in my mind.

I’m waiting
I’m waiting on You, Lord,
and I am hopeful
I’m waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I’m waiting
I will serve You

While I’m waiting
I will worship

While I’m waiting
I will not faint

I’ll be running the race
Even while I wait.

It’s hard to wait.  The meantime can really suck.  But may we keep moving forward, with boldness and confidence; may we keep running with endurance the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1), and hold unswervingly to the hope that we profess, for He who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).

Thirty-Five.

It’s my birthday this month.

I love my birthday.  I really, truly do.  On that blessed day, I make a point to excitedly scream at every single person I encounter, “IT’S MY BIRTHDAAAAAAYYYYY!”

I advertise my birthday by wearing T-shirts, banners, crowns, pieces of flair – whatever I can do to get the most attention. It’s totally obnoxious, but come on.

IT’S MY BIRTHDAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY!!!!

This year, however, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.  My birthday will land on a Thursday.  I’m not planning a party.  (I actually think it’s gross to plan your own birthday party.) Most everyone is out of town for Labor Day weekend, anyway.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not feeling sorry for myself (okay, maybe a little). The truth is, I just don’t think I’m all that excited.

I’m going to be thirty-five.

I’m not at all where I thought I’d be.  If life had gone as I planned/fantasized, I’d already have a Tony award, TV series, a budding film career, a couple of albums and books out, a devastatingly handsome and devoted husband, and be pushing out my second baby – all by the age of 35.

I know.  Laugh it up with me.

The career stuff is not to be bemoaned.  I am talented, and I am successful, even if I haven’t completely “made it” yet.  I still believe that we never, truly “arrive”, else we’d be terribly bored. The nature of my career affords me the luxury of not being time-sensitive.  With the help of perspective (and therapy), I’ve really learned to calm down and enjoy the ride.  I can do a whole bunch of things.  I write.  I sing.  I act.  I direct.  I teach.  I design.  I perform.  I lead.  I play.  Surely I can make a living with at least one of the talents God has graciously bestowed upon me.

The truth of the matter is, my body is a time-sensitive machine, and the desire for sex (oh, LORD have mercy!) and babies is at an all-time high.

I can’t help it.  It’s how I was made.

I want to have a baby.  Or two.  Or several.

But I can’t.  I have no husband, and I would never choose to be a single mother just to fulfill some biological or egotistical reproductive desire.  So, in twenty-six days I will turn 35, and officially be labeled “high risk” in the childbearing department.

It just is what it is.

I feel like I don’t have the right to complain.  I had the opportunity to have children in my marriage, and I chose not to.  In fact, I was terrified.  I did everything possible to prevent pregnancy.  I used birth control and condoms.  Part of it was due to my own immaturity and selfishness, but deep down, I never felt safe enough to have a baby with X.  Even though I wanted kids, I just couldn’t do it, and I’m so glad I didn’t.  My divorce would have been much more painful; involved; devastating, and I’d be tied to X and his family forever.

God is good.

As much as I rejoice in my newfound identity, and the perspective, wisdom and humility I’ve gained throughout this journey, I’m still turning 35 in a few weeks.  I have no prospect of even a date in sight, much less a boyfriend/husband/child.

I find myself in a common predicament.  There are many amazing, 30-something, successful single women in the city who want exactly what I do: a stable husband and family, and a career.

Having been married, I know that life isn’t “complete” when we find a partner.  Yes, those first stages of courtship and romance are blissful; exciting, and you can’t even breathe when the other person is out of your arms.  I long for the day when my heart and stomach flutters in the presence of a man.  I ache to feel lovesick again.  It’s one of the best feelings in the world.

But real love quickly grows out of its infancy of “feeling”, and becomes complete in maturity, and the constancy  — almost the difficulty — of it, is what makes it so special.

I can’t wait for the day when a man chooses to love me, no matter what.

Yet I can.  I’m willing to wait.  There’s no rush.  I want it to be right.  I do not want to get divorced again.  Oh, HELL to the no.  (And, please, no more Sister Wives.  They’re amusing, but ultimately tiresome.)

At the same time, I don’t have a lot of time.  I would like the opportunity to physically bear children.  I also do not want to be in my 40s when this potential arises.  This is obviously completely out of my control, and, as the clock continues to tick, I am accepting of the very real possibility that I may never have children.

Per usual, my casual musings invite the following commentary:

Most Sensible, Cliché and Inarguable Statement:  “I don’t understand why someone as beautiful, talented and smart as you could be having such a hard time finding a date. Don’t worry.  You’ll meet “The One” when you least expect it.  He’s out there, somewhere.  And you have plenty of time to have a baby.  Enjoy your life as it is right now!”

Smug Marrieds with Smug Babies: “I’m too busy posting Instagram photos of my amazing, happy life to bother with your sad, single one – AREN’T MY HUSBAND AND KIDS THE BEST IN THE WORLD??! — but if you want my input, refer to the aforementioned. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to finish these cupcakes – I found the perfect Pinterest recipe! —  for my MOPS meeting.”

Smug Pregnant People:  “Ohhh, my goodness, I can’t wait to get this baby out.  One last date night with the ‘hubs’ before Junior arrives!  Did you get the invitation to my baby shower yet?  Make sure you check the registry: we want the bathtime Sophie the Giraffe, and organic nipple cream.”

Tired Marrieds:  “I am so living vicariously through you.  Take.  Your.  Time.  There are plenty of good men out there, whose vas deferens are still functioning. Plus, kids are expensive.”

People Who Overspiritualize and Ignore the Reality of the Situation, But Are Also Inarguable Because They Pray for You:  “God will give you the desires of your heart.  I’m praying for a husband to come your way. I’ll pray for your future children.”

Random Male Advice“Invest in a new vibrator and be glad your boobs aren’t leaking.”

Divorced People With Kids:  “I’m just so glad I can focus on me now.  I have all the time in the world to find the right relationship, especially since my ex has the kids half the time.”

Other Divorced People With Kids: “God, if I didn’t have my kids, I don’t know what I’d do.”

Single 30-something Friends“If I have to go to one more wedding or baby shower, I’m going to vomit.  I wish I could experience the joy of a happy life, with a family.  What is wrong with me; why won’t anyone choose me?  I have so much to offer, but I’m all alone.”

Other Single 30-something Friends“Here’s the deal: when we hit 40, I’ve got dibs on a Chinese baby girl, and you adopt an Ethiopian one.  Else we’re headed to the sperm bank with our frozen eggs.”

Actually Helpful and Accurate Statement From a Real Married with Real Babies“The grass is always greener.  You want what I have, and I want what you have.  So often we look at each other’s life and imagine the other’s blessings for ourselves, completely overlooking that in our own hands, we are in possession of answered prayers.”

Here’s the truth: I am actually very happy with my life, as is.

I also want more.

I understand that we don’t always get what we want, when we want it.  And as far as God fulfilling the desires of my heart?   Well, I now know that His desires for me astoundingly surpass anything I imagine, dream, or want for myself.

So, as my 35th birthday rounds the corner, I rejoice in the fact that I am, indeed, in possession of answered prayers.  I am exactly where I’m supposed to be.  What is more, God has done incredible things for me.  It took me losing everything to gain a real life, and I trust that life will be nothing short of amazing, no matter what.

Picnics, Padlocks and PDA in Paris

Paris.

It’s simply the most amazing city.  The cobblestone streets; the architecture; the churches; the history; the language; the smells; the lovers; the wine; the light; the romance.

The next day, Andrea and I had plans with her longtime friend, Cecile, who is a winemaker. We met her for an early afternoon picnic of the most amazing Corsican sandwiches in the Place des Vosges.  Cecile flamboyantly arrived with a large, refrigerated bag full of carefully chosen wine, fruit and beautiful wine glasses.  She dressed her tiny frame impeccably French, a la Audrey Hepburn.  In addition, she wore a large, floppy hat, fashionable sunglasses and bright red lipstick. She squealed with excitement when she was reunited with Andrea.

Cecile

As the three of us conversed in and out of French and English (guess who needed the English), I gazed around at my environment.  I couldn’t get enough of it.  The sky was a piercing blue, lightly adorned with fluffy, white clouds.  The air, warm and fragrant, playfully caressed my hair, and the lazy sun gently warmed my skin.  Parisians lounged on the grass near us, sipping wine; reading books; chatting; strumming guitars.  Children played in the fountain, and lovers gazed into each other’s eyes, exchanging kisses and affectionate caresses.

I swear I saw a single, red balloon drifting in the breeze.

“So, Lezzzlie,” Cecile filled my wine glass.  “I hear zat yooou?  Are wanting to kiss one of our men?”

We all laughed.

Andrea and I took turns explaining that we were in Paris to celebrate my divorce (how does one interpret the humor of  “Sister Wife” in French?), and that I had a goal of finding someone to kiss during our short stay.

I honestly didn’t think it would happen, but it made for a good story.

“Yes!  Zees is a good plan!”  Cecile exclaimed, as she examined, then swirled the fresh wine in her glass. “You, Lezzzlie, are the American COUGAR!  You will find a man to kiss – maybe two or three? – and you become ‘ROWR’!  Cougar!”  She howled.

Language barriers are, at times, quite hilarious.

Cecile’s friend, Geraldine, met up with us a couple of hours later for coffee.  As we sat at the little café across the way from the ancient courtyard where we had picnicked, I couldn’t help but think of the four of us as some sort of bizarro, French “Sex and the City” characters.  There was one exception: Geraldine was intolerable.  She’d never make the cut.

We finished our coffee and crepes, said goodbye to Intolerable Geraldine and Lovely Cecile (“Goodbye, see you soon, American COUGAR!”), and made our way to Notre Dame for the late afternoon mass.

Afterwards, we leisurely headed towards our apartment to prepare for an evening outing.  As we neared the Seine, we noticed a rather large crowd gathered on one of the pedestrian bridges.  Happy picnickers occupied every inch of the Pont des Arts.  We managed to find a space to sit down, and, seeing as we had leftovers from our afternoon picnic, we easily fit in.

The sun began to sink, slowly, into the picturesque horizon.  We poured and enjoyed the remainder of Cecile’s wine, which somehow managed to stay perfectly chilled. We were flanked on all sides by the Institut de France, the Palais du Louvre and, upstream, the majestic Notre Dame Cathedral.  Far off in the distance, the top of the Eiffel Tower inched its way towards Heaven.

It was surreal.

We are awesome.

As we absorbed the breathtaking scenery, I noticed that there were hundreds of padlocks in various shapes, sizes and colors, affixed to parts of the bridge.  Most all of the locks were engraved with the initials of their lovesick owners.  I later learned the meaning of these “love locks”.  It’s simple:  Go to the Pont des Arts bridge with your person. Attach your lock to the bridge, throw the key into the river below, and your love is forever sealed.

I (retroactively) decided, right then and there, that I’d be back someday with an engraved padlock and the one I love.  I don’t care how long it takes to find him, or for him to find me; I don’t care if I’m 80 years old.

I’ll be standing on that bridge with him, and our lock will hang on through all kinds of time and weather.

And, yes.  It’s dramatic and romantic, just how I would like it to be.

Hope, Part Padlock.

We finished our second picnic of the day, and wandered again through the white, dusty courtyard of the Palais du Louvre.  We snapped pictures of the glorious sunset, which shone its brilliant orange light through the glass panes of the Louvre Pyramid.

We ate a sensible meal at the apartment and spent some time planning our next day’s adventures – how to rent the bicycles we saw all over town?!  — and then Andrea and I headed out on foot once again for an after-dinner aperitif, and to explore more of the city at its most brilliant: nighttime.  We chatted excitedly about our full, yet relaxing day, and decided that we needed to make picnicking more of a regular routine when we returned home. As we rounded a street corner, I heard a group of men laughing and carrying on in the café across from where we strolled.

Suddenly, one of the taller, more attractive men was waving his arms and beckoning to me.

“Hey!  Hey!  HEY!”

True to fashion, I waved and shouted back.

“HEY!”

The rest remains a bit of a blur, but, suddenly, I found myself in the arms of a very tall, very dark, very handsome, very muscular, very French man.

And he was kissing me.

I mean, kissing me.

And, well, I kissed him right back.

Andrea did not miss the opportunity to snap some (blurry) pictures.

Shameless.

After a few minutes of a very public make out session, Andrea pulled me away from my “date”.  I laughed and started to walk away, but decided I hadn’t had enough of that first-time experience.  So, I turned around and went back in for just a few kisses more.

Yep.  I was that Christian girl.

In Paris.

Andrea pulled me away again, and we squealed as we began to run away.

My Frenchman called after me —  “HEY!!!” – but we kept running, stumbling and laughing up the cobblestone street.

What had just happened?!  I had made this grand declaration that I was going to Paris to kiss someone, and, BAM, within 36 hours of setting foot in the City, I had a marriage proposal and a kiss on the cheek from one man, and a very passionate kiss on the street from another.   I was starting to realize I’d have a much better chance at finding a date in Paris than finding one in Los Angeles.

Time to move.

Sure, if that had happened back home, I might have called the police or sued the guy for sexual harassment.

But Paris was different.  What is more, I was different.  And it felt good.  It was empowering.  There was something so thrilling about being grabbed and kissed, like I so needed to be.  I needed someone – anyone, I suppose – to see me for who I am.

Frankly, I am just kissable.

And, as Paris – or I — would have it, the kissing wouldn’t stop.

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“I’m Going to France to Kiss Somebody”

Friday, April 15, 2011

One year ago I was moving out of my house.  One year ago I knew my marriage was over.  An entire year.

So much has happened since.  I am so thankful

Should I go to Minnesota?  And France?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Oh, Lord.  What a glorious day.  Such beauty!  I am so thankful to be alive, to have my health; to have such amazing people in my life.  Most of all, I have You.

Andrea and I are going to France in ONE MONTH!  I bought our tickets last night.  I am a bit scared, but why?  Scared of things I cannot control…? I am not in control.  It’s not up to me and it never was.  That is freeing.  I guess I’m scared of being stopped at the border – knowing my fingerprints are in the system as a “criminal”.

A new season begins in my life.  The tax job is over.  I do not want to be wasteful with my savings but I am so excited to go to Paris. 

PARIS!

To see, to live, to LOVE life.  Oh, Lord, what a gift!

2 Cor. 5:7 – “We live by faith, not by sight.”

Thank You for getting me through tax season with the ability to drive.  Thank You for helping me through the emotion and pain of dealing with X.  Thank You that he sent (part of) the money.  Thank You for the doors You will open up for me – even now. 

PARIS!  I am so excited.  Adventure!

Oh, may I learn and see and capture everything in this new, blessed life of mine.

Monday, April 18, 2011

I’m going to PARIS.

Talked to my lawyer today, and, regardless of the outcome of my court case (DUI or Wet Reckless), I will lose my license for a month.  I elected to have it suspended right after my hearing. 

So, I might go to Minnesota to visit friends; to be there for love and support.  I want to be free from license suspension and all that crap. 

Why am I so afraid?  NO FEAR!  Lord, I need You; I need a break from myself and craziness and dating and worrying.

I need to get OUT of here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2011

Oh, Lord, what freedom there is in recognizing YOU and YOUR power and glory; YOUR control over the world; my circumstances; everything.

Father, I GIVE THIS DUI TO YOU.  I GIVE OVER my fears, my worries, and I KNOW You have already worked it out for good.  For my good.  I am not entitled.

 Perhaps You are calling me to a simpler life.  I want to follow You, no matter what.  I NEED You; I NEED help.

I pray for peace as I travel to Minnesota.  I am disappointed that there is no Christmas tour this year.  Father, I need work.  I need a job to support myself.  I am worried that a court conviction will affect my ability to be employed in the future.  I cannot worry about that.  I CANNOT CONTROL ANY OF IT!

These are such hard lessons to be learning.  Humbling.  Lord, take my life and let it be, always, only, ever to Thee.  God, I give You my yearning for love from a man.  I give You my longing for children. I give You my longing for a career. 

I have no idea what You are calling me to, but I want to be used by You.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Oh, Jesus!
Thank You for this day!  YOU ARE RISEN!  Resurrected from the dead!  You have called me out of the shadows; out of the darkness into LIGHT.  I am YOURS.  I am YOURS.

I can’t do this on my own, Lord.  Any of it.  I need You so very badly.  Thank You for accepting me just as I am, with all my ugliness and sin.

DUI or not – it doesn’t matter.  I am a sinner.  I am not able to do this life on my own.  Thank You for this time in my life, Lord, where I am facing hard truths and making idiot mistakes.  Yet You still love me – You don’t judge me at all.

May I extend that grace to myself!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

As my court date looms in on me, I am starting to get scared.  I know I’ll be guilty.  But, Lord, would You show mercy?  I know You already do.  I know that You will carry me through this.  I will be OK.

You are showing me new things, and new people are coming into my life.  I am broken.  I need You.  I need Your approval and not the legal system’s; I need YOUR love and not the affirmation (or lack thereof) of some dumb guy.

Clarity.

Finished AA meetings.  Not for me.  I am proud of myself for doing it – seven meetings in two weeks.  Hopefully that will help my sentence.  Oh, Lord.

I am scared.  I am also free.

Lord, I give my trip to Minnesota to You.  Also France.  I am scared.  Of what?  Making further mistakes?  Being disappointed?  I don’t quite know.  But I do know that I am content: right here, right now.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Court is Monday morning.  I will be sentenced.  And then I will face my fears, everything.  I just want to move forward with my life.  Oh, Father, I do not want to take anything for granted!

Thank You for yesterday’s birthday celebration with X’s brother and his family.  Thank You for that healing experience.  Thank You for their acceptance of me.  I pray for them and their relationship with X’s parents.  They have been hurt by the fact that X’s parents have basically refused to meet their new baby.  

Who does that?  

Sunday, May 1st

Beautiful day at the beach with Joy today.  I felt Your love and peace all throughout!  Lord, I pray for a reduced sentence.  I pray hard.  I also give the outcome of my case to You.  You know.  You are in control.  You will go before me.

Deuteronomy 3:16 – “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified…for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Monday, May 2, 2011

In court.  Shaking.  Possibly will be able to get the Wet Reckless.  LORD, I trust You.  I PRAY for mercy. They have to run my married name and check my records.  If no arrests – OBVIOUSLY – I might be able to get the reduced sentence.  Oh, FATHER GOD!  I pray, pray, pray for Your guidance.  May the Prosecutor be merciful.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Oh, Lord!
I was able to get the reduced sentence in my case.  I plead “no contest” to Reckless Driving.  It still stinks, but it is not a DUI. 

Father, I am so grateful for the mercy and grace You continue to show me.  I will still have to take a three-hour class every Monday night for three months starting June 6th.  But it will be done.

Expensive, horrific and scary lesson.

THANK YOU.

Now I’m going to France to kiss somebody.

Beauty Will Rise

The day after I filed for divorce, I started moving my husband out.

The plan was to take his belongings to his parents’ house, with little to no explanation.  I did not want any of his family to know that I had filed for divorce, simply for the fact that I could not trust them.  They would surely go bat-shit crazy on me.

Joy was there to help me.  She started in the Master bedroom, taking on my husband’s side of the closet, and whatever else might be hiding under the bed, in the drawers, cabinets, etc.  I had recently discovered an overdue parking ticket and credit card bill buried deep beneath a pile of sweaters.  I didn’t want to deal with any more surprises.

I decided to tackle “The Man House” (basement), which was a slightly bigger project.  It was full to the brim of my husband’s “toys”: knick-knacks, gifts from students, surfboards, wetsuits, Samurai swords, collectible Star Wars figurines, a couple of skateboards, and the like.

This would be it: the last time I’d have to look at anything that physically reminded me of him.  Energized, I started sorting through a basket of his teaching books and papers.

Almost immediately, I found something horrible.  Two things, actually.

There, on a single sheet of crisp, white paper, was a cluster of Russian writing.  The handwriting was clearly female.  Underneath, my husband had scrawled out the English interpretations of the foreign phrases, all of which were sexual.  I read descriptions of what my husband and his 24-year old Ukrainian student/lover had done —  or wanted to do — to each other.

My mouth went dry.   It was the most explicit thing I had ever read, until I discovered the next item.

Right underneath was a thick packet of my husband’s articles he was writing for a particular magazine.  The series was entitled Leave Them Wanting Less.  My eyes scanned the first story.  Within the third paragraph, my husband detailed having raucous, drug-enhanced anal sex with a “hot” flight attendant in an airplane bathroom.

Just elements of the story.

I dry heaved.

Shaking, I exited The Man House, holding the papers between two fingers, as if they were diseased.  I breathed noisily as the groans started to well up inside of me again.  I forced them back down.  My heart felt heavy and my blood ran cold.  I stumbled into the house and searched for Joy.

I found her in the bathroom, cleaning out the medicine cabinet.

She took one look at my ghostly-white face and reached for me.

“What’s wrong?!”  Her eyes flashed with immediate concern.

“I…I…”

I couldn’t breathe.

“What is it!!?  Are you sick? What happened?”

I collapsed into the tiny bathroom’s doorframe and tried to speak.  I raised my right arm, and gestured towards my hand, which still gripped at the writings.

“This…I…found…sickness…evil…dirty…disgusting…darkness…I…c…can’t…”

She pried my fingers away from the papers and studied them, briefly.

“Get rid of them, now,” she ordered, horrified.  “Don’t go back down there. Just leave it.  You don’t need this.”

I swallowed hard.

“Okay,” I managed.  I was sweating; feverish.

I took the papers from her and dizzily made my way back to the kitchen.  I fumbled through the drawers until I found a lighter, and carried the entire operation outside.

I squatted in the dirt and lit all four corners of each individual piece of paper on fire.  I squeezed my eyes shut so I would not be able to take in any more of my husband’s sickness.  The ends of the paper curled up as the small, orange flame struggled to illuminate, then swallow, the darkness.  I stood up and watched the white turn to grey.

Then, finally: fluttery, black ashes.

I went back into the house, grabbed my phone, and started texting my close circle of friends, begging for help.  I felt bad for doing so, since Easter was the very next day.

My pastor and dear friend, Joseph, showed up almost immediately, as did my dad, and neighbor, Eli.  Together, the five of us were able to get almost everything out of the Man House, into Eli’s truck, my dad’s minivan and Joy’s car.  Only a few surfboards remained, which Joseph neatly organized, then stacked together.

Joy called my in-laws and explained that the house had been leased, and we needed a place to store “some” of my husband’s belongings.  They accepted.

So, the “bombing raid” (as my dad dubbed it) began.  I watched the caravan of three vehicles carry the physical remnants of my husband back to his parents.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and went back upstairs.  On my way back into the house, I passed by the pile of ashes.

Later, it would rain, and wash them away.

This rain feels like a huge cleansing, I wrote.

God, I know he is forgiven, and even though it is difficult to imagine myself ever near him again, I think I can get to a place where I can forgive him —  even for what he is doing right now…it is so sad to watch him be destroyed and enjoy it.  (He is) destroying himself…oh, God, release me.  Release me from the burden of his sin.  Release me from the burden of loving him.  I do not know Your will; I am blinded by my pain.

And so I struggle, but I do honestly want to thank You for this crisis. 

It is making me into the woman You created me to be. 

It is so difficult to not want to forge ahead and taste the future.  I am scared, God.  I don’t want to move.  I love my house and my neighbors and the comfort of being here in my home; my haven.

Yet, You are calling me elsewhere.  I am following You, Lord…and I pray that You would continue to guide me; be patient with me, dear Father.

I cannot see.

Months and months later, a sweet friend of mine would give me a copy of Steven Curtis Chapman’s latest album, “Beauty Will Rise”.  I will be the first to admit how uncool Christian music can be, and have tried to avoid it as much as possible.  Yet this particular album comes from a very real, deep, personal, painful yet beautiful journey through a tragic loss.

What resonates is hope and beauty.  Beauty from the ashes.

It will take our breath away to see the beauty that’s been made out of the ashes.

Out of these ashes, beauty will rise —
And we will dance among the ruins,
We will see it with our own eyes.
Out of these ashes, beauty will rise —
for we know joy is coming in the morning.

Out of this darkness, new light will shine,
And we’ll know the joy that’s coming in the morning.

Beauty will rise.