Category Archives: I love Jesus

Teeth Or No Teeth

2:00 pm, 120th and Madison. Headphones and ponytail firmly in place, I marched towards the train station to the beat of a Phoenix tune.

“Excuse me, miss?”

A tall, African-American woman wearing a crisp-yet-stained white shirt, bedazzled jeans and tennis shoes stopped me.

She was missing all her teeth.

I pulled out my headphones.

“I have to take a step back,” she said, and did so, “because I’m so ashamed. I don’t have any teeth.”

She opened her mouth and showed me her gums.

“That’s okay,” I reluctantly offered. I wasn’t sure what she wanted from me, and I had to catch a train.

The woman started to cry.

“I am so ugly!” she sobbed. “My husband beat me in the face a few years ago and I lost all my teeth. My daughter died when she was four and today is my birthday. I’m 69 years old.”

I took a step towards her.

“69?!?” I exclaimed, in encouraging disbelief. “Well, happy birthday!”

She sobbed, harder. Gigantic tears dropped onto her smooth cheeks. She really was beautiful.

I took another step towards her. 

“May I pray for you?” I asked, not knowing what else to do.

She nodded, and bowed her head.

I stepped all the way in and placed my hand on her shoulder. Immediately, she fell into me, limp and needy. I held her. She smelled of alcohol, but it didn’t matter. She was in pain.

As I prayed for her, she softened. I prayed God would comfort her; that He would wrap His loving arms around her and remind her of how beautiful she truly is.

Teeth or no teeth.

“I may be beautiful on the inside,” she whimpered, “but I’m so ugly on the outside. People make fun of me. I just want to die. I wish I were never born.”

“That is simply untrue,” I almost scolded her. “I don’t bullshit. I speak truth, and you are beautiful. Also? You are loved far beyond you can imagine. And I am glad you are here, right now.”

She buried her face in my neck, kissed and thanked me. She didn’t want money, just clothes. I gave her my phone number and told her I did, indeed, have clothing I could give her.

“I love you,” she said. “Thank you. Please keep praying for me. I’ll see you in heaven.”

And she was gone.


I’m sitting on a train platform, not sure how to process all of this, but I have a few initial thoughts.

First of all, I am reminded that humans are absolutely beautiful, no matter what size, shape, color, sexual preference, fashion sense, social/job/financial status, or disability.

We are beautiful with or without teeth.

We are worthy of love. We long to love and be loved in return.

I know why I live in New York. It’s to love the people of this city. People who are hurting and broken and missing things, like spouses and love and children and teeth. I somehow understand that pain.

Everything points to God. Even our suffering.

Jesus suffered the most. He gets it. And I’m quite sure it was He who wrapped his loving arms around that toothless woman.

He wants to envelop you, beautiful friend who is suffering. Allow Him to fully embrace you. There is nothing He cannot handle. He is the lover of your soul. He is the ultimate healer.

After all, He
“rides on the clouds;
rejoice before him—his name is the Lord.
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.”
~Psalm 68:4-5

Diamonds are a (Divorced) Girl’s Best Friend

A year ago, I sold my wedding rings.

Actually, a diamond is *not* forever.

Actually, a diamond is *not* forever.

Although it was empowering to rid myself of the final remnants of my marriage – the most symbolic token of all – I agonized over the possibility of keeping the diamonds and repurposing them.

Another ring? No.

A necklace, perhaps?

In the end, I sold the engagement diamond to a jeweler for $45.00, and dumped the one I could not sell – a tiny fleck of a Tiffany diamond – into the Pacific Ocean. I decided were I to have diamonds in the future, I would buy them for myself.


A few weeks ago, I performed with Brian Setzer at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Andrea attended the sold-out show, and met me in my dressing room afterward. She presented me with a stunning pair of handmade chain mail earrings, and another gift.

“This is from the Saudis,” she smiled.

For a year and a half after my divorce, Andrea and I designed an entire home for a very prominent family in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I was grateful to have such an exotic job, and the opportunity to work with/learn from one of my best friends. The project was extremely detailed.  There were many times I wasn’t sure we’d meet our tight deadlines. We had to source, purchase, store and ship everything overseas, even down to mattress pads and pillowcases.

I had worked at Andrea’s successful, Los Angeles-based firm since the fall of 2009. She hired me because I was desperate for work. My derelict ex-husband had long ceased his marital duties, including financial contribution. I was on my own.

Last December, Andrea made some major changes to her business. She needed more architects on board, and I was graciously let go. There were no hard feelings; it seemed a natural progression for both of us. The loss of that job was ultimately the catalyst that pushed me out of the nest, and a blind leap of faith into the next chapter of my life.


Two days before Christmas, I opened the little teal bag Andrea handed me. I read the card first, tracing my finger along the etching, “TIFFANY & CO.”


Dear Leslie,
Your spirit, energy and professionalism made it all possible for us to get the job done. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Love, Fahda and Khalid

I carefully unwrapped the glossy, white ribbon from the familiar blue box, and gasped.

Inside lay a diamond necklace.

Tears welled up in my eyes. It was exactly the necklace I would have designed for myself, even with an old, tainted diamond. I hadn’t admitted it, but I truly believed I would never receive a Tiffany diamond again.

It was at the bottom of the ocean, Titanic-style.

One year later, I have a brand new, gorgeous piece of jewelry I wear every single day.  I cannot help but marvel at God’s kindness and provision. This diamond is shinier, bigger and brighter. This diamond is forever, because not only is it a gift from the bottom of people’s hearts, it is a very personal gift from my Heavenly Father.

He truly makes all things new.

From Blog to Book

I’m going through a bout of writer’s block.

Coupled with the fact that Andrea and I just returned from France, part Deux (ohh, the stories we have to tell!), I haven’t been able to really sit down and focus.

Perhaps the ailment is a bit psychological, too.  The pressure is on now, to build readership and market myself and my book — oh, wait, did I say MY BOOK?!?!?

It’s official:  I have signed a publishing contract with Burnside Books.  They announced it on their website this week.  What perfect timing, too: I signed the contract the day before I jetted off to France.

I’m an AUTHOR!

But the journey from blog to book was a bit of a bumpy one, at first.

Back in March, I was minding my own business at my favorite coffee shop, writing about bigamy (as people can casually do).

Between editing my post, sips of my lovely latte and distracting myself with my blog’s Facebook page, I noticed a new message in my inbox.

It was from a publisher named Jordan Green.  Our mutual friend, Carlos, had recommended he read my blog.  Jordan perused the first couple of chapters, and wanted to talk to me about turning it into a book.

I straightened up on the hard, wooden bench, glanced at my surroundings and scratched at the back of my neck.  I leaned back into my computer screen and placed my fingers over my mouth (which was agape), furrowed my brow, and shook my head.


I immediately wrote him back, gave him my phone number, and we ended up chatting the next day. Within a few minutes of our phone conversation, I had a publishing contract in my hands.

I will be the first to admit that I am new to this whole business (I know, fellow writers.  Please don’t hate me!).  I have spent years of my life dreaming for and working towards a career on Broadway.  I made it (kind of) off-Broadway, and have been struggling in my acting career ever since my marriage imploded.  I never, ever thought I’d be an author.  Okay, yes, I have been writing since I was a kid, and my degree is in Journalism.  I’ve always been a fan of my writing and crack myself up – I just never thought that I would have a voice beyond my actual voice.

So, after I “Facebooked” the exciting news that I had my first publishing offer, my friend Ken contacted me.  I have known Ken since I was a happy, dorky, rotund senior in college with a bad haircut.  He and his gorgeous wife attended my wedding, and I actually hadn’t seen them since.  Having had experience in contract negotiation, Ken offered to look over mine and help me however possible, pro bono.

This is another testament to the amazing people who God has allowed in my life, and brings up at the most perfect moments.

Yet, I still needed to do “due diligence”.  So, I flailed around, freaked out and tried to get a few agents, but ultimately was – kindly – rejected.

One agent told me I had a long shot on my hands, especially with the topic of divorce.

“Retail hasn’t always been favorable, sad to say,” he graciously replied.


I get it.  I do.  Nobody wants to read yet another “guidebook” about divorce.  Christian divorce.  Except that my blog-turned-book isn’t just about that.  It’s about the journey; the process; the feelings.  And, really, there’s nothing out there in Christian literature that even begins to deal with the epidemic and reality of divorce.  It’s what I wish I could have read when I was going through it, just to know that I wasn’t alone, “motherfuckery” and all.

I’m so glad someone picked up on that.

Still, it took several weeks of negotiating, praying, wondering, hoping.  I lost faith a few times that it would actually happen, but decided I’d be okay with it.  I’d continue writing, anyway.

Old, familiar fears crept in, too.

What is X going to think or do?!
I’ll just say it (because you’re all thinking it):  X was the writer.

I actually think Sister Wife will be much angrier about the whole thing.  Honestly, I wouldn’t want to be in her shoes.  She married a guy who just had “an affairs”, still loved his first wife, and wasn’t even divorced.  Enough said.

But this isn’t about revenge.  Truly.  When I started this blog eight months ago, I had no idea the scope and impact that it would have.  I just sat down and started writing about my journey.  I have said it before: my intention is not to defame or hurt anyone.

I just want people to know that they aren’t alone.  More importantly, I want people to know how amazing, wonderful, good, faithful and awesome God is.

He is the ultimate Healer.

Who is going to want to date the “Christian Girl” with a “Guide to Divorce”?!
It’s going to take a special somebody, that’s who.  A godly, hunky, delicious man with a great sense of humor and understanding of grace who is not threatened by —  well —  me.

I’m really excited to meet him, by the way.

One friend of mine (whose similar divorce was recently made final) wrote in response to my encouragement:

You need to have some crazy, whirlwind, divinely appointed courtship that can be turned into a sequel to your book.

To that, I say: AMEN, brother, and BRING HIM ON!

And so, a couple of months later, the “deal” is in place.  The book will be coming out soon.  I’ll keep writing, don’t you worry.  The blog isn’t going anywhere.  And you, dear ones – keep reading and passing it along.

Finally, please buy the book!  It will make an excellent stocking stuffer.

Thank you, Renee, for asking me to write about “overcoming”.  That one post I wrote for your blog started it all.  Thank you, Carlos, for reading, responding to and recommending me.  Thank you, Ken, for all your help and encouragement.  Thank you, Jordan and Caleb, for the opportunity to become a published author.  Thank you for recognizing the need for a “guide” (ha!) to divorce.

Thank you, faithful — and new! — readers, for laughing and crying with me, and for graciously embracing this journey.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for using me and my story to bring YOU glory.

I am so excited to see what You are going to do next!

Help me, O, God. I Hurt.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It happened.  The papers were signed.  I met him in Starbucks at noon.  Walked in and bought myself coffee.  He looked as he always looks — this new person — dirty, not taking care of himself.  He asked me how I have been and I replied, “We are here to talk about the divorce.”

We agreed on everything – I am taking half his retirement and he will keep his credit cards.  He said he would pay me half of the lawyer fees.  I don’t believe him, I should have had it in writing.

I said I worried about him.  He asked why. 

After a long pause, I responded, “Because I love you.”

He never told me he loved me.

I told him I didn’t think he was in a good place or on the right path.  I also told him about my vivid dreams of him – all his drugs and women.  He didn’t say anything.

I said I was excited to meet someone who will truly love me – also someone with whom I can have a family and care for.  I need to move on.  I expressed excitement at having sex again.  He smirked.

I told him he never made himself trustworthy after the affair.  He told me I should have trusted him – that we had ten years of trust.  I explained to him that it was broken.  He defended himself and said the marriage became “irreconcilable” after I “only wanted to go to marriage counseling”, and he wanted me along for the next chapter.

He is delusional.  He wanted “me and…” ???

I said he needed to have only wanted me.  The “and” would come.

We then went to the house.


I made him take boxes of photos, our dishes and china, and my wedding dress.  He said the dress wouldn’t fit in his car (some Jeep, I don’t know where he got it). 

“Throw it in the trash, then.”

He carried it to the Jeep.

Going through boxes – I broke down in the middle of the garage.  Lisa (neighbor) came outside and comforted me.  Then, after a while, [husband] said, “ I have to go.”


He just stood there.

And then he spoke.
“This isn’t what was supposed to have happened,” he said, softly.  “Why couldn’t we fix it?”

I fell to my knees in the street, sobbing.  Snot and tears bubbled together into a pool of grass and dirt on the hard, grainy asphalt.  Tiny pebbles dug into my kneecaps, causing them to bleed and bruise.  I couldn’t bear to look up at the street or behind me at the house, which was now no longer a part of my — our —  life.

Dramatic?  Yes.  But I couldn’t help it.

He just touched my back.

And sneezed.

He said his heart was broken just as much as mine.  He wished I would forgive him for the Ukrainian girl, but that he wasn’t what I wanted.

I agreed. “Not after her.”

He never followed through with ACTIONS.  I expressed that to him.  As I pulled myself together and got up to leave, he tried to hug me.  I stopped him.

“No, do not touch me.  It is too painful.”

I told him I hoped that he’d be happy and find what he is searching for.  But he lost the one person who really, truly knew him – the one person who would really love him the best.  I also told him I was really great.

He said he knew.

He openly admitted that, yes, he would always continue to leave me.

My heart breaks into a thousand fragments again.

Lisa later told me that one of our neighbors saw him parked outside of our house, long after I had driven away.  His head was slumped over the steering wheel and he was sobbing, loudly.

I must move forward.

Help, God.  I feel like I can barely move.  I still love him and that’s not going to go away easily.

Oh, God, it’s so painful.  SO, so painful.

I can’t even begin to digest the pain.  Grief.  Shock, Horror.  All over again.

I feel totally dead – like my body sustained one too many blows and I succumbed to my injuries.  I want so badly to press forward, yet my heart still clings to my husband.  Even after all he has put me through, I still love him and I wish he would choose me.

He can’t.  He won’t.  And all that is left of us is in boxes.

I can’t see, God.  I can’t see anything.  My heart is broken. Smashed into a billion pieces and then set on fire, pointed and laughed at.  It is then dragged through sewage and hung up on display for all the women and druggies in my husband’s life to see.  His “friends” – those three cast of characters.  They laugh at me and mock my pain and blame me for not letting my husband do whatever he wants/wanted– drugs, women, scandal, surf, party.  

I know, eventually, that life will get tiring, but the question is, when?  I feel rejected all over again.  A million times over.

The life we had was a mere joke; a laughingstock for all the mistresses and “investment bankers” in the world.  Such pain.

I still love my husband and want a life with him. But he is too lost.  You have made it clear that he is not for me anymore…yet my heart aches and aches for the husband I once knew; the love we had.  I know I am forgiven, as is he, and I have to let go.  Help me to let go of him.  It is so difficult.

Lord, end my pain.  Take my life.  I want no more.  I refuse to buy the lies that have convinced and corrupted my husband and his family.  I reject those lies.  

I trust that You are leading me out of this marriage because it is best for me.

I cling to You.  You who promised are faithful.  You have a plan for my life.  You are moving in my life.

I cannot see, but I trust with whatever human ability is left.

Help me, O, God.  I hurt.




April 2, 2010 ~  Good Friday

I Corinthians 4:16-18 ~ Therefore, we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


It is a beautiful morning.  Quiet and crisp.  The birds are singing. Wimbley is with me, atop this deck.  He’s on the lookout.  This week has been the biggest of my life: leasing the house and letting go of my husband.

Lord, I do not know what you have for me, but I’m willing to go.  I am focusing on You.  May my heart be seen by You.  I love my husband, I do.  Yet I love myself and I know he is not right for me like this.  This is not the husband that loved me, or You.

Oh, these times I have cherished in my own backyard.  Moments with You – all moments with You.  On my knees, on my face; sobbing, hurting, pleading, wondering – and now (I sit) before You and feel peace.

I lift my husband up to You.  God, he needs you desperately, as I do.  Jesus, as You said on the cross so long ago – “into Your hands I commit my spirit,” and – “It is finished”.

I am so tired.  I know more work is ahead of me.  But may I remember this Peace – Lord, I am anxious but I trust You.  I trust that this is the right thing to do.

Ten years, five months and three days.

I trust You.  Lead me!

April 3, 2010

This is the first day of my new life!

I filed for divorce yesterday.   Tried to file at the Pasadena courthouse but was told that I had to go downtown.  Shaking.  Andrea accompanied me and we passed by the Disney Concert Hall; tall, beautiful buildings downtown.  Entered the courthouse and went up the escalator.  Brief feeling of good memories with him on the escalator.  How we used to kiss and hug whilst riding on one.  Wave of sadness.  Up to the 4th floor.  Line looked long but it didn’t take but two minutes.  This is what people do, everyday.  They get divorced.  They stand in line to get divorced.

Wrote check for my court fee.

“Memo…memo…thanks for 10 years?  Thanks for cheating on me?  Abandoning me?  I still love you?”

No…memo was, “GOOD FRIDAY”.

White out, caked and crumbly.  Must fill out “Central District” instead of “Northeast”.  Shaking.  Andrea helps fill in “111 N. Hill Street”.  Court address.

Sounds that will haunt me forever: the sound of stamping.


Frantically fixing court address on all copies.


The clerk’s calm voice: “This is complete”.


Writing faster.  Head spinning.  Weak knees.


“This is complete.”

I hand him the last paper.


“You’re all done, Leslie.”  Clerk is calm, almost sympathetic.

My head hits the counter and I start to sob.  Andrea grabs my folder and helps me out the door.  We are both crying.  I can’t breathe; I can’t find the door.  I can barely walk.  I am wearing a black dress and black Stuart Weitzman heels.  (Husband would love the detail.)

I calm down as I get outside – see the Concert Hall before me.

I text all my friends as we walk to the car.  “10:32 a.m.  I filed for divorce.”

And we “celebrate”, but it is a mixture of drunkenness (sadness), excitement for the future, and exhaustion.

Went home, took a nap.  Joy came up from Orange County to stay with me…we drove to Long Beach so I could sing at church.

It is, after all, Good Friday, the day that You died for me. The day that I attribute the death of all sin, and the death of my marriage — only now it is committed into Your hands.  Only You can resurrect and redeem. Maybe not the marriage or my husband, but me.  You can redeem ME.

Good Friday service I could barely hold my head up to sing, but You gave me strength.

How high, how wide!
No matter where I am,
Healing is in Your hands.
How deep!  How strong!
Now by your grace, I stand –
Healing is in Your hands.

Oh, God, in You I am, indeed, complete.

My Story for His Glory

Wait, wait, wait — wait a minute.

Time out.

Why are you writing this?”

“Why on earth would you start a blog about your divorce?  Nobody wants to read about that. You’re sharing WAY too much personal information. You’re going to get in big trouble. You should think twice before posting. You must still be stuck on your ex. You’re way too consumed with the past. Furthermore, what man is going to want to date you, after reading all of this?  You’re insane! STOP!”

These are the thoughts that run through my head, or maybe what other people are thinking. (Nice try, Satan, you ninny.  I’m sick of you!)

Then a smile spreads across my face, and I say, “This is me.”

I’m trusting God to use my story for His glory.  Yep.  I said it.  I said that cheesy, Christian-ese phrase:  MY STORY FOR HIS GLORY!  There!  I shouted it.

My intention is not to defame anybody.  I don’t want to hurt anyone, especially myself.  There is no “good guy/bad guy” in this story, because we’re all broken human beings.  But God uses our brokenness, and can make beautiful, new life out of the darkness; out of the ashes.

I don’t actually know who is reading this.  I do know how many are, though, and the feedback I have received has been extremely positive.  I believe that my readers can identify with my thoughts, feelings and experiences, even if their own journey or beliefs are not exactly the same. One person even thanked me for helping her remember how much she missed reading. (!!)

That is why I keep going.

I’m a writer.

Furthermore, this isn’t the only story I have to tell.

I’m not making money, I don’t have a book deal, maybe I never will.  I don’t know what God’s ultimate purpose for this is, but I do know that He is in control. He’s always in control.

I used to think that I had my life together.  I also used to think that I had to be “perfect” in order to have a voice in this world.

Guess what?  I’m not perfect.  I am a broken, mangled, mess of a human being who just so happens to have gone through a heart-wrenching divorce.  I do not recommend divorce.  It is almost worse than death, maybe simply for the fact that the other person is still alive. There is no “happy ending”. But, I can tell you – there is hope.  There is always hope.  Hope, Part Infinity.

Isaiah 40:31 – “But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

So, my friends, I continue — my story for HIS glory.

The Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce

Two years ago, almost to the day, I discovered my husband of almost ten years was having an affair.

I will never forget that feeling. How do I describe it?  Vomit. Blackness. Horror. Shock. Loss of appetite. Murderous rage. Immobility. Violence. Death.

I knew something was terribly wrong months earlier; he had become extremely withdrawn and essentially blamed me for the slow, stinking death of our marriage. I was living in New York at the time, working off-Broadway, and had left him in Los Angeles, thinking our marriage was solid. Thinking our enduring marriage would last because we had been faithful thus far; we loved each other; we had prayed together about the decision for me to go to New York – to pursue my dreams – for at least the length of my six-month contract.

I remember getting off the subway one evening about two months after I had gone, and suspiciously yet playfully texted my husband.

“What’s her name?”

His response, of which I later became far too familiar: “What are you talking about?”

What is so weird is that I knew. Even then. But I didn’t want to believe it. My whole body — my entire soul — did not want to accept the fact that a person I loved so much was so capable of such selfishness and careless cruelty.

All this is beside the point.

A few days after returning back home to a (literally) burning Los Angeles, I found enough evidence (flirty Skype conversations with a girl from Australia, and one specific dialogue between my husband and his best friend regarding his love for “UKR”) to confront him.

He confessed that he loved her, but he had not slept with her. Then he had to go figure out what he wanted to do. He disappeared for days.

I waited. I prayed. I called upon all of my Christian friends – the ones that I trusted most.  My small group – a circle of all pastors, who, to this day, have remained close to me.  I cried out in anguish to my friend Jenny, also part of that close-knit group, immediately after discovering the evidence.

“I THINK HE’S HAVING AN AFFAIR!” I sobbed, in utter disbelief.

I clutched my heart but it was nowhere to be found. The emptiness ached inside of my body. I writhed on the white shag rug in our living room, screaming at the single wedding picture displayed almost mockingly on the bookshelf. That lovely wedding picture, which depicted two young lovers in their early twenties, hopelessly in love and devoted to one another.

A few days later, he returned and confessed he had, indeed, engaged in a full-fledged affair.
He blamed me, and said he wasn’t sorry. He wanted to leave me for her. I wanted to fight to save our marriage.

How did this HAPPEN? How could it happen? We had done everything right. We were Christians. We loved Jesus. We went to church. We had church friends. We had saved ourselves for each other.  We even were virgins when we got married. We always had a lot of sex throughout our marriage.  We were a month away from celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.  We had been an example of marriage to other friends and family. People looked up to us. We were the attractive “power” couple, pursuing our dreams and able to maintain a strong marriage.

Yeah, right. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you’re actually a Christian.

I have wanted to write about my journey for quite some time. I have written many things down, mostly in my personal journal. I have talked, prayed and sobbed with my close friends, I have gone to marriage counseling and personal therapy. All the while, I have hoped that my story can help others — that my personal hell could serve as a portal to someone else’s freedom. Because, all in all, I have experienced full freedom.  Besides the obvious freedom from the marriage that my husband willfully and proudly chose to desecrate, the new freedom I have found is my identity.  I have found my identity apart from the once-happy marriage; who I am apart from the deceit and shackles of ugly sin, of terrible choices. I have found my identity apart from grief, shame and sorrow.  I have found who I am apart from my old ideas of what a Christian, and a Christian marriage, should be.

Best of all, I’m continuing to find my true identity in Christ.

My journey is one full of searing pain, unbelievable grief and sorrow. Yet that is not all. It is mostly filled with amazing grace, love, tenderness, kindness, laughter and tears of joy. It is full of God’s goodness.

This is the Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce.