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Before Running down the aisle, please leave baggage at the Cross



I love being a woman. I love how God made us and how important we are to Him. I have previously shared our story and the lessons we've learned as a testimony, hoping that it will bless you. This post has 2 parts where you will see that love stories do not always start off as fairy tales. Actually, they usually begin with a confrontation with the bad and the ugly that is killing us inside. Today I share some of the baggage that I and many sisters out there have had to leave at the Cross before being able to walk down the aisle.

Not everyone will think that I am wonderful and that’s ok
As a young woman in ministry since the age of 16, I have learned (the hard way) that in order to be free, we have to resist the urge of wanting to be ‘wonderful’ to everyone. Not everyone will appreciate our talents, understand our personality, or even acknowledge the calling of God upon your life. I know this may sound crazy, but that’s o.k.
 God has traced the limits of our world and the influence we will have in it (Job14:5). It is not our job to prove who we are or what we are worth. Though God requires holiness and a good testimony, many times God will speak for us and fight our battles when we choose to decrease. 
This is a very important lesson for marriage but also for life in general. It is really liberating to not feel like you have to impress anyone. The truth is, there will always be at least one (usually someone that does not know you very well) that will dislike you or even think less of you. I’ve had to learn to recognize who is worth my time and my efforts and nurture those special relationships instead of trying to impress people that were determined not to see who I really was. However, when in a relationship, you should recognize each other’s ‘wonderfulness’ and be in complete awe of it. Brag about each other’s strengths and be each other’s number one fan. I do not have to work to be ‘wonderful’ because my husband already thinks I am (even when I fail miserably) and his love gives me room for error and is quick to give me a hand to lovingly be more Christ like.
Love yourself because you are enough. Jesus already paid the price for you in the Cross and there’s nothing we can ever do to impress Him or make ourselves more lovable then we already are in His sight. 

Not everything is a competition 
I am naturally very competitive. I have seen how to a certain degree, competitiveness has been healthy for me, always pushing me forward. However, when not measured wisely, it can get out of control. After quite a few tantrums with God, I had to accept that I needed Him to control my whole life (including that area, obviously) because that whole idea of having to prove myself could have been a relationship killer. 
Please understand this: God deliberately chooses to use us the way he pleases. No one is better than another, we are all servants and whatever talent or blessing we may have, comes from God. Therefore, all the glory is to God and not to the vessel through which he operates. Constantly feeling like we are not recognized enough for how great we are and constantly feeling the need to prove it, is really a sign of insecurity. A “one on one” at the feet of Jesus may be necessary for us to gain of healthy perspective of who God is to us and who we are in Him and Him alone. 
As young ladies we are often expected to be viciously jealous of each other and constantly trying to compete with each other. Honestly, women are not like they are depicted in the movie Mean Girls. Women bring people and nations together because of the nurturing instinct and motherly love. God created women as sociable beings and not one emotionally healthy woman would ever feel at peace when there is discord among sisters. There comes a time when each girl needs to become a woman and act like a lady.
I have happily learned to dance to the rhythm of my own drum and it is a liberating experience. I now strive to fully live for God according to what He asks of me and me alone. After all, that is what I will be judged on. What He asked me to do and I chose to do or not do (Matthew 7:21). Will I ever be tempted to try to impress people? More often than I would like to admit, but God’s grace is enough to keep me and you.

Jealousy is poison 
Let me start by saying it loud and clear: Jealousy is NOT a proof of love. It is rather a proof of underlying insecurities.
 When you date a godly person that is sincere and committed, you would think that there would be no reason for jealousy. Wrong! The harsh truth I learned is that jealousy is always a reflection of scars of unhealed wounds in our own heart. It often has nothing to do with the commitment of the couple, but more with the condition of the heart. No matter how controlling or territorial I choose to be with my man, it will NOT make him be more faithful then what he has already committed to be. 
Imagine being in a long distance relationship and being anxiously jealous? We never really knew what the other was doing unless we took each other’s word for it. There are many people out there that are not worth your trust (unfortunately in and out of church as well) but if you are or desire to be in a relationship with a committed child of God you will have to learn to trust. Imagine if I would have had been stressing over the thought (because that is where it all starts) that he may be somehow cheating on me or in danger of falling for someone else? I would’ve quickly become crazy. I can sit here and try to convince you that your love chose you, so he/she is not going anywhere, etc. But the truth is that until you surrender the control into the strong, loving hands of Jesus and allow healing to begin, you will not be free to love. 
James 3:16 "For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind"
On my road to the altar I had to learn to let Jesus heal me from memories of unfaithfulness I had witnessed growing up. I learned to trust that if God trusted my husband enough to care for my heart after being so protective of me for so many years, who was I to doubt Him now? After all, this whole love story was his idea. 
God understands your fear but His love casts out ALL fear (1 John4:18). I recently shared a scripture related to this issue of control on my Instagram: “Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city (or a relationship), guarding it with sentries will do no good” (Psalm 127:1). If God is the creator of our story, He is also the keeper, so do not stress. There’s nothing we can do better than God. God NEVER fails. Start your healing today in the arms of your loving Father. 



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My road to the Altar: Before the love story happened



Hello lovely people! Many have asked about how I met my husband, so I decided to tell you all about it. You will find the story followed by sideline commentary that has to do with lessons that I learned throughout the process. Actually, this post tells the preface of the story (or the back story), which in retrospect was just as important as the love story itself. I will tell you all the juicy details in 3 parts.
"It all started with a Christian Leadership Conference held in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. This conference was specifically for Central American leaders so, as a Canadian, Valerie was not supposed to be present. However, she was was invited to join as a translator. Javier was not supposed to be there either, because two other people from his nation were already going to attend. Two weeks before the event, however, one dropped out and the invitation was conveniently extended to him."

The right place. The right time.
 Out of the many, great scenarios my vivid imagination had produced since infancy, not one was as creative as the one that actually happened. Looking back, I realize that only God was able to lead me to the right place at the right time in order to meet the love of my life. Only He can lead our lives in such a way when we submit to Him. When I finally stopped focusing on things that distracted me from getting to know God with all my heart, I realized that He was concocting a great surprise for me.  My suggestion for you: follow God’s voice and let Him lead you.
"One day before the event started, rumors began circulating that a tall, handsome young man with a killer smile (Javier) was going to be part of the conference and it was suggested to Valerie that she should meet him. Valerie openly refused to be introduced to him due to the fact that she hates arranged introductions because they feel unnatural and totally unromantic. The whole weekend passed and though people tried over and over again to introduce them, they both felt weird about it so they never tried. Javier even noticed that Valerie would run the opposite way from where he was and would give him attitude when he tried to melt her heart with his secret weapon: his adorable dimples when smiling."

 Happily single: Not an oxymoron
You did not read wrong. Before I met the love of my life, I was single (it was not only a status but also the condition of my heart) and very enamored with my life which was full of adventure and freedom. After seeing so many failed relationships around me, I turned to God, looking for a better way. I asked Him to keep me from meaningless relationships so that I could experience what He had in mind when he created love.  I had finally reached the point in my life where I was happy with the person I was and all the projects I was involved in. (BTW: confidence and good self-esteem are very attractive. They are a secret weapon to help weed out all the people that are not worth your heart or your time.) It took many, private crying sessions in my room and many gentle but firm “slaps” (like I call them) for my ego to let go and confide in God. Only then was I able to surrender every area of my life to Him. I felt like I had finally found that spot in the arms of my heavenly father where I was satisfied with His love alone. That is why you see (in the story) that I was reluctant to meet this cute guy and risk jeopardizing my peace and balance. 
"The conference ended and most people left to go back to their respective countries. Only the staff and a few others made plans to fly out the next day, May 25, 2009. (This date is important; you’ll learn why soon!) There are only two flights that leaves from Tegucigalpa airport to go stateside and most people on staff had gone on the first to Atlanta. Valerie, however, was going to New York City via Miami, so she had to wait in another terminal with three other staff members. Ten minutes before boarding, the tall, handsome young man with a killer smile (Javier) runs to the terminal where Valerie was waiting to board her plane.  Neither of them knew they would meet again. Javier was going to Puerto Rico via Miami.  Javier mustered all his courage and came straight to Valerie. He introduced himself: "Hi, I’m Javier”. She simply answered, "Hi." He, uninvited, sat next to her and started talking to everyone around them trying to make eye contact with Valerie, who was determined to stay out of that conversation. For a moment, however, she forgot her plan and interjected a comment and that was all Javier needed to start addressing himself directly to her as if they had been having a friendly conversation from the beginning. Eventually, Javier nervously asked Valerie if she would like to stay in contact with him though Facebook. She agreed, thinking that there would be no harm. After all, they would never see each other again. Thankfully for Valerie, the time to board had finally come.  Interestingly, one staff member worked with the aircraft personnel to arrange for the conference group to all sit in one section. Javier ended up sitting right behind Valerie. So while they all waited for the aircraft to depart, Javy decides to make a bold move. Without any warning, he snapped a picture of Valerie. She was partly in shock, partly flattered, and partly convinced that this tall, handsome Puerto Rican with a killer smile was a 'church player' that had come to the conference to conquer pretty girls' hearts.
(Some of you may feel tempted to say that I was playing hard-to-get.  Let me assure you, that was not what I was doing…)"

Desperate is not attractive
I meet many young people that are in this sort of ‘stand by’ until they meet love. It is as if the universe will magically align once they find the right person. In my limited experience, I’ve seen that success and growth are achieved mainly through hard work and sacrifice, not by getting a new GF or BF. We are all at different places in our lives, but the truth is that when we are busy and passionate, we don’t have time to get desperate. Desperate people take desperate measures. This puts us in the vulnerable position to go for regrettable relationships and to lower our standards (Proverbs 27:7). Don’t wait, this is the time to pour into your own life and to develop your gifts or perhaps even develop new talents. 
"They all landed in Miami and planned to have lunch together. Through a series of involuntary events, Javier and Val ended up sharing a table for two. They went through a few minutes of awkward small talk.  After that short conversation, Valerie left thinking that Javier was cute but was not a possibility to explore and Javier left thinking that Valerie was pretty and was definitely a possibility to explore."


Passion, confidence, and knowing your identity in Christ are very appealing traits that help attract the right people: the ones who understand their value. I encourage and challenge you to fully jump in (head first ha!) and start your love journey by getting to know the one who “loved you first”: Jesus.  

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