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Our love Story


Never been Kissed: Why our first Kiss was on our wedding day

Here I was, 28 and standing at the altar facing the best version of the man of my dreams and I was about to be kissed for the first time. Birds were singing, the sun was shining, and time seemed to have stopped for both of us as the pastor said “You may now kiss your bride.” My husband tenderly embraced me, and for a few seconds we looked into each other’s eyes, smiling with an overwhelming sense of love, peace, satisfaction and sweet anticipation. My first kiss was perfect. 

I know. I can imagine all the questions coming to your mind after this introduction. How many people do you know that are passed 12 and that have still not been kissed? Let alone, someone over 20 years old. Who dates for almost 3 years without ever kissing (on the mouth) or making out?  Let me assure you that this did not happen because either of us are helpless, unattractive, socially awkward freaks (or so we like to think). Neither of us is ‘sexually confused’ and we were always very, very, very attracted to each other. So why not kiss? Why try to take abstinence to whole other level? After all, God did not write in the Bible (at least not in black and white) that kissing was a sin. So, were we trying to be holier than God?

Not your average 13 year old   
It all started when I was 13 and had a different crush every week. I never acted on it but was at the age when I constantly dreamed of the man I would once marry. I looked older so I would be asked to date all the time, but my father quickly rained on my parade using ‘Spanish ways’ to prevent me from dating so young. As I waited for my turn, I started to look for role models, successful young couples that I could imitate and that would inspire me. I discovered that it was hard to find. At school, every ‘love story’ was short and full of unwanted drama. I would have to sit through horrific stories of heart breaks and see each one of my friends lose more than their innocence in the process. At church, well it was like an episode of “Beverly Hills 90210”. By that I mean that everyone had dated every youth group member at some point and had baggage from passed relationships. Even at my young age I classified all my findings as dysfunctional and decided that I wanted a different story. 
That year I gave my heart to Jesus and started learning what surrendering my “whole life” to Him meant. My new found passion for God and His word, combined with the negative results of my very unofficial research led me to a radical decision. If I wanted a different result than the ones I saw from couples (of all ages) around me, I needed to take a different approach than the one they were taking.

The plan: No Dates…until I was ready to marry
I decided not to date until I was ready to marry (which for me was 12 years later) because I wanted to fall in love with one person and not be departed from them ever again. My plan to achieve that goal was that every time I would meet a “potential special someone” or every time I would be asked to date I would ask God first and evaluate the candidate (without getting involved in any way) until I received an answer from God on what I should do. As I started getting deeper in the word and in my intimacy with God, I began to hear His voice and accept His guidance for every area of my life. As a result, I concluded that the romantic area of my life would not be an exception. God showed me that by guarding my heart, I was loving my future husband without even knowing him yet. By abiding under His shadow and guidance, I would not bring to the altar leftovers survived from past heartbreaks; instead I would bring a clean and whole heart able to love freely.

What really happened?
I naively thought that any guy that would claim to like me would understand my boundaries and be delighted to comply (I actually did, goodness). Fortunately, I had a rude awakening. Not all guys were interested in my “heart” to say the least and not all Christian men were ‘godly’. I learned that the whole waiting period sometimes felt like a torture, especially when everyone is trying to marry you off (if you are single you know what I mean). I learned that holiness and respecting myself was not as popular and celebrated, even among Christians. I was ridiculed, pushed, and doubted, but I grew closer to God and my faith ended up getting stronger. I learned that purity comes at a high price of sacrifice and even when no one is watching, God is. God kept me (Jude 1:24) and He did what He promised. He gave me the grace and abundant love necessary to be satisfied and complete in Him. I am aware that we are all at different places in our lives, do not be afraid. God's love can reach you where you are and his grace can cover you.
 For the record my husband was my first boyfriend ever.

The plan: To not Date until I felt complete as a young woman in God’s love
I decided that I wanted a romantic ‘one-of-a-kind’ love story. I wanted the whole package. I wanted the ‘drop dead handsome’ dude, the fearless pursuit, the hand written letters, poems, songs and the acceptance and blessing from all the people around me. In other words, I decided that Shakespeare drama was not for me.  I did not want to live in disobedience and live the painful consequences of it. I simply wanted a happy story that was written by God and that made Him smile. My plan to achieve that part was tricky but I was determined. I decided that I would not look for a boyfriend; instead I was going to let God bring the person to me and choose who it would be. I decided to focus my energy and attention on getting to know my Creator, discovering and developing my talents/gifts, and living fully as a single Christian girl. I wanted to be complete in Christ. I desired to know and love Him to the point that even if He decided not to give me a husband that I would be truly and totally satisfied in His love alone.  I discovered that getting to that point in my relationship with Christ was key to a successful love story; that is if I intended to play by God’s rules. (I know that last part is hard to digest)

What really happened?    
I learned that it was not for me to decide when I was complete. God showed my immature self that He is not bound by time, space or my whims. He taught me that marriage was not about ME (I was like what???), it was about Him being glorified. How? By bringing two people that will challenge each other and point the world to God through their love for each other and their mission. I was lovingly taught that God was not only able to provide for my needs but that he also loved me enough to satisfy my desires as well. He showed me that He knew me better than I knew myself and so as long as he was ruler over my destiny. He would not fail to give me even more abundantly then what I ask or even imagine (Ephesians 3:20). Now I see why the perfect time was the one God picked:May 25, 2009.

What no one wants to hear… 
God challenged me to evaluate what sexual and emotional purity meant and how He desired nothing less than holiness. I realized that a man would never be mine until the day of our wedding, not even while we were engaged. Too many times I saw people that with an extra ounce of arrogance or maybe determination; had played with the fire of passion before the time was right, believing the lie that they were strong enough. I did not want to assume I was. I did not want to have to hide to show love to my companion or ‘seek’ privacy because what we did was not ‘PG’ kind of stuff making others uncomfortable. Many people fail to understand that our bodies belong to God and until He gives permission, no one should touch it with sexual desire. We often act contrary to that. We act like our bodies belong to us and in certain areas God can reign but when it comes to this I can give a little pleasure to my flesh and I get to decide how much.  Call me extremist, radical or crazy but I thought it would be very romantic to kiss the love of my life for the first time the day that he actually became mine and I became his. The day that we would not have to hold back in any way because the time to ‘awake’ loving passion and fully enjoy it had come with God’s blessing.
So why not kiss?This post is written as a testimony and not as a theological teaching or argument for you to follow our footsteps. This is a challenge to seek guidance in what to do or not in your relationship based on God’s desire for you and not based on what you see in movies, love songs or your feelings. The Bible says: “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked (…)” (Jeremiah 17:9). This means that your feelings about what you want to do in a relationship are a really bad place to start. Usually, the flesh and the spirit are on two different pages when it comes to the desires of God, so be alert!!!

What about the guy? 
When I met the man who is now my husband, he had been in a previous relationship and ‘not to kiss’ was never an option for him.  Before we dated, we were friends and during that time he discovered my take on kissing before my wedding day. Time passed and when he decided that I was the person he wanted to date and eventually marry, he told me that because he loved me he was going to help me honor my vow to God. During almost 3 years of dating (read our story here and here) we had numerous opportunities to kiss, not only because we wanted to, but also because it felt so right. However, not once did he try to kiss me, even when our feelings dictated otherwise. This revealed so much about my husband’s character and about his love for me. I mean what would happen if you told your date or boyfriend that you did not want to kiss until the day of the wedding? Ha! They would probably think you were crazy. Not my husband, he decided that he was going to put his body under God’s authority and present me clean before God and promote holiness in something as small as this and make my vow his vow as well. Self-control when it comes to the flesh, is a great victory,and it showed me that he was not playing Christian, he was truly living in the spirit even when it was hard. His integrity and determination showed more love than any kiss would have ever had. 
Wherever you stand today, I pray that you will not “be conformed to this world: but (that) you will be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2).

Photography belongs to Nuance and bubbles blog. Photography by Rachel Boggs Photography and Alex Istormin. 2013.



My road to the Altar: from "Hi" to "Will you be my Girlfriend?"

Last week I shared the back story of our love story. Today, I want to share details of the one year of friendship we had as we dealt with our growing attraction to one another.

Shortly after they met in Honduras they started communicating through Social networks (Valerie added Javier on Facebook first and Javier added the picture he snapped of her right after). What started as very short messages morphed into longer and longer ones as the weeks and months went by. They remained in the “friend zone” for nine months. During seven of those months, they decided to limit their communication to the written word. Looking back, they realize that it was not only romantic, but it also developed patience and communication skills without making them feel closer than they really were at that point. It acted like a speed break in this pen pal relationship charged with great chemistry.

Real friends, not friends with benefits
Many times, when we first meet interesting people, we get excited and sometimes burn through the stages. We make an acquaintance into a “friend with emotional benefits” right from the start. We decide from the start that this good looking, interesting person I met today can potentially be my next BF or GF. Making such a premature decision leads many people to overlook serious character flaws and major red flags because their emotions and hormones (let’s face it!) are already involved. In reality, this period should be a time to cultivate a real friendship. At this crucial point, where a friendship can potentially become a relationship, Self- Control (a fruit of the Spirit) is necessary in order to get to know the person and not how much they like you.

After nine months of talking about everything, except how much they were starting to like each other, they had the inevitable ‘serious talk’. It was on Valerie’s birthday (2010) that she asked for clarifications about what their exchanges meant to him, since for the past two months they had upgraded to daily phone conversations in which the intensity was undeniable. That night Valerie received the longest most beautifully written declaration followed by a long phone conversation where Javier explained the adventure on which he wanted to take Valerie, if she accepted.

Be pursued but don’t lose your voice
I am a firm believer that there’s a great blessing and beauty in a woman being pursued by the person that really wants to conquer her heart (which should be hidden in Christ). However, I do not believe that women should lose their voice during the process because God gave us a heart, a mind, and desires of our own to use. Many people make the mistake of assuming that lovers should read each other’s minds when truly the only person that can unmistakably know all our desires and completely satisfy them is God.
From the get-go, communication is very important. You only stand to gain from asking the right questions and communicating your expectations, as long as they are realistic. As a woman, I had to learn to be fair in what I desired from a godly human man as oppose to what Disney (or Hollywood) taught me about men. The harsh truth is that if I was not willing or able to live up to my mental “ideal”, I should not expect it from others either.
I want to say to all my sisters out there: if after you have clearly communicated your desires and expectations, you do not feel respected, heard or comfortable, have the faith and the self-respect to move away from that situation. If you made a mistake, God will let you know and guide you back, but do not stay because of fear that you may be missing out on love.

The nine months leading up to “the talk” were really important and proved to be beautiful and full of small steps of faith. They never crossed boundaries trying to get romantic. Instead, they worked on cultivating a friendship that proved to be a great foundation for their future marriage. Javier visited Valerie during different Conferences and events around the U.S. and other parts of the world (which was part of her job) to show that he was serious about getting to know. However, he never tried to be romantic until he became sure that this was what God desired for them both. They separately prayed for each other, asking God to reveal each other’s heart, for guidance, and for His will to be done. On February they had “the talk” and set a date in June for Javier’s visit to Montreal to ask her father’s blessing to date her. On June 28, 2011 they started their dating relationship, a year after they had met.

Pray, consult, and THEN act.
 I’ve been to many youth camps and other high intensity youth events and shortly after I start seeing relationship status changes and new added pictures with ‘special’ friends appear on my social network feeds. Other times, couples have come to me and said, “Hey Val, this is my new BF or GF and we are dating to find out God’s will for us to be together.”
The truth is, we are called to pray before, during, and after we meet special people (NEVER stop praying is really what God says). However, choosing to hastily follow our heart can be dangerous because the heart is deceiving, but if we choose to pray and wait to hear from God, we would save ourselves a lot of trouble, don’t you think? No, there will not always be an angel that will appear in your room (with a bright light) to say, “YES, this is my will for your life.” But I am of the school of thought that believes in a God who still speaks to his people. In our case, God chose to feed us bits of information little by little (this required constant faith, trust and patience.)
If God would’ve given us a definite “yes” we may have become overconfident and ruined something that was meant to be handled with care; in other words, in godly fear, wisdom, and timing. Take a chill pill, and spend more time praying and in God’s word instead of trying to impress or catch that cute person you met at youth revival or something. It is in the presence of God and in His word that you will be reminded of the characteristics of love itself. Ask for wisdom to handle your emotions until you feel peace that this special person you have met, truly has God’s character and produces fruit that prove it.  
Here are some of the things God did during the time Javier and Valerie were getting to know each other.

They were separately invited to minister in the same places and without knowing they would meet there (keep in mind that they were in separate countries). Unknowingly, in their written correspondence Javier started communicating things that Valerie had written to God in her prayer journal. In Javier’s case, Valerie’s non-flirtatious attitude, while in this day and age unconventional, made her even more attractive to him. Contrary to popular belief, guys (especially godly ones) do not see spouse material in the obvious, flirty girl that is falling at their feet. Hard to get (not as game but just being more in love with God and confident in that fact) is much more attractive and lets guys know that you are not a toy to play with, but someone that deserves being pursued and conquered the right way.  Another way God manifested himself in their relationship was that He began to place peace in their family members’ hearts and they all started falling in love with each other even though they had never met. Being from the same denomination, Javier and Valerie had a lot of friends in common but had NEVER heard of each other. After they met, all these friends started praying and were thrilled that they met.
During the whole ‘open to receive God’s direction” process,  Javier and Valerie were willing to pull away from their correspondence if at any point they felt it was what God required because their relationship with Him was and is the most important thing in this whole world.

It’s not ALL spiritual
Honestly, I spoke a lot about the spiritual aspect of the pursuit because it is the core of what it should be, but not every aspect of love is spiritual. Coming from a Pentecostal background, I have seen too many people over-spiritualize certain things that should not be. When you meet someone special, you have to connect in different areas: enjoy each other’s company, sense of humor, physical appearance and intellect. You HAVE to be attracted to each other in every way and that takes time to discover and unveil. Time will tell who this person really is because you can only put your “best foot forward” while conquering for so long. You want to fall in love with a friend (a friend that you are very hot for) and make God smile through the whole process.



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.