Josee and Ariel

african american teenage girl

She was relaxing on the sofa, waiting for him to come home.  As as soon as her class ended, she left the university campus. She took  the bus to the condo building where they lived.  She did her homework and or studied for exams in the study for about two hours.  By the time she was done, it was time to fix dinner.

She loved preparing dinner for him.  He enjoyed her cooking.  Her mother taught her when she was 12.  “One of these days you’re going to be a wife.  The sooner you learn how to cook and keep a home, the better it will be for you.”

And here she was waiting for her husband after preparing one of his favorite meals.  Being married to him was beyond what she could have ever imagined.  Every night, she thanked God for blessing her with a wonderful guy whom she was madly in love with and who was madly in love with her.

They got engaged just months after she had introduced him to her mother and sister.  She still hadn’t met his family as yet.  Only his grandmother who was her piano teacher.  Three years ago, it was at her house where they met one afternoon during one of her lessons.  It was on a Thursday afternoon and she was playing the piano when he walked into the living-room.

He sat in the chair by the window and listened to her play.  She was acutely aware of him but remained focused on her playing.  When she was finished, his grandmother, Mrs. Eidelman introduced them.  “Josee, this is my grandson, Ariel.  He’s a lawyer.”

Ariel smiled and held out his hand.  He had the most incredible eyes she had ever seen.  He was tall and very handsome.  “It’s nice to meet you, Josee,” he said shaking her hand.

She smiled shyly.  “It’s nice to meet you too.”

“While you two become acquainted, I’ll go and make us some tea.”

Josee sat down on the sofa and Ariel sat beside her.  “You play the piano very well,” he remarked.

“Thank you.”

“My grandmother is an excellent teacher.  She taught my brother and me how to play the piano as well.”

“Maybe you could play something.”

“Sure.”  He got up and went over to the piano.  He sat down and played Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.  When he was done, he rejoined her.

“That was amazing,” Josee said.  “Is your brother as good as you?”

“He’s way better than me and that’s why he’s the musician in the family and I’m the lawyer.”

“How do you like being a lawyer?”

“Actually, I love being a lawyer because I get to make a difference in someone’s life.  I knew that I wanted to be a lawyer after I watched the movie, To Kill A Mockingbird.”

“That’s one of my favorite books.  I always said that if I were living in those times and my father was in trouble, I would want Atticus Finch to be his lawyer.”

Ariel smiled.  “It’s one of my favorite books too and Atticus Finch is the kind of lawyer whom most of us in the profession aspire to be like.”

Just then, his grandmother rejoined them and as they had their tea and Apple cake, they spoke about other things.  Then, it was time for Josee to leave.  Ariel offered to give her a ride home.

“So, you know that I’m a lawyer and that I have a brother but I don’t know anything about you except that you’re learning to play the piano.  Which school do you go to?”

She told him.  “It’s a very good school.  I’m going to miss going there.  I’m graduating this summer.”

“Have you decided what you want to study when you go to university?”

She nodded.  “Yes.  I’ve decided that I want to study biomedical engineering.”

“That’s great!” he exclaimed.  “Engineering has been a male dominated field for a long time but I don’t think it will be for much longer.  More and more women are becoming engineers.”

“My father was an engineer so I want to be like him.”

“Were you and he close?”

She nodded.  “Yes, very.  I was devastated when he died.”

“How old were you when he died?”

“Eight.”

“How old are you now?”

“Seventeen.  I’m going to be eighteen in April.”

“Are you dating?”

“No.”  She wanted to ask him the same question but was too shy to do so.

“I’m not dating either.  I’m ten years older than you so, would you have a problem dating me?”

She stared at him.  He wanted to date her.  “No, I wouldn’t have a problem,” she replied.  “What about your family?  Wouldn’t they have a problem with you dating me?”

He shrugged.  “They might.  My mother has always wanted me to marry a nice Jewish girl.  She even has one lined up for me but I’m not interested.”

“I’m a Christian.”

“So?  I won’t be the first Jewish guy to date a girl outside of my faith and I won’t be the last.”

“I don’t think my mother wouldn’t have a problem because, Jews and Blacks have a lot in common.”

“Yes.  We were once enslaved and have always been targeted by hate groups.”

“It’s a sad world we live in.  I can’t wait for Jesus to return.”

“So, are you busy on Saturday?”

“I’m free after sunset.  Like you, Saturday is my Sabbath.”

“So, you’re an Adventist.  I have several friends who are.  We have a lot in common, except Jesus.  You believe that He’s the Messiah and we don’t.  There are many Jews who no longer hold to a personal Messiah, but hope for a messianic age of justice and truth.  For many of us, the coming of the Messiah or the messianic age still lies in the future.”

“Did you know that the first Christians were actually Jews?”

“Really?”

“Yes.  All of the writers of the New Testament were Jewish Christians except Luke who wrote one of the Gospels.  He was a non-Jewish doctor.”

“That’s another thing we don’t have in common.  We don’t accept the inspiration of the New Testament or its account of the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies.”

“In Hebrews, the writer explains how the sacrifices for sin and the Day of Atonement in great detail.  Maybe one of these days, we can read it together.”

“Maybe.  So, may I take you out for dinner on Saturday evening?”

She nodded with a smile.  “Yes.”

When he took her home and he followed her to the front door, she invited him in to meet her mother and younger sister, Deidre.  “It’s nice to meet you, Ariel,” her mother said as she shook hands with him.  “I’ve heard so much about you from your grandmother.”

Ariel smiled.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you too,” Mrs. Carter.  “You have a very nice home.”

“Thank you.  And thanks for bringing Josee home.  I hope we will see more of you.”

“You will,” he promised.  He smiled and shook Deidre’s hand before he announced that he had to leave.

Josee walked him out to the porch.  “Thanks for the ride home.”

“It was my pleasure.  I’m looking forward to seeing you on Saturday evening.  I’ll pick you up at 7.”

“Ok.”

“‘Bye, Josee.”

“‘Bye, Ariel.”  She watched him walk to and get into his car and drive away before she went back into the house.

“He seems very nice,” Deidre said.

“And very handsome,” her mother remarked.

That night Josee told her that Ariel wanted to take her out for dinner on Saturday.  “He wants to date me.”

“Well, I don’t have a problem with you dating him.  Just make sure that you don’t go to his place or do anything you know you shouldn’t.”

“So, you don’t mind that he’s in his late twenties?”

“I was your age when I met your father.  He was in his twenties too.”  She smiled.  “I don’t have any objections.”

Josee smiled.  “Thanks, Mom.”

After their first date, Josee and Ariel began dating.  On her eighteenth birthday, he proposed and she readily accepted.  She told her mother who said, “I think that the two of you should wait for at least three years before you get married.”

“You mean when I’m 21.”

“Yes.  You will be a young adult then.”

“All right,” Josee agreed.  “We’ll wait.”

“Make sure that the two of you go for premarital counseling.  It’s very important that you do.”

Three years later, soon after her 21st birthday, they got married by a rabbi and a priest at a non-denominational chapel.  It was a beautiful ceremony which included both Christian and Jewish rituals.  Her family, high-school and university friends were there.  Ariel’s parents didn’t attend but his brother and grandmother along with his friends and colleagues were present.  The reception was held at a banquet hall.  Josee looked lovely in her simple but elegant dress with her hair in an french knot.  Her face was devoid of any makeup and the only jewelry she wore was her wedding ring.  Ariel looked very handsome in his wedding suit.  As they faced each other and exchanged rings, there were tears in their eyes.  The love they felt for each other was evident on their faces.  Her mother was moved to tears.  In her heart, she knew that her daughter was going to be all right because God was in this.

For their honeymoon, they went to Montego Bay.  They spent eight glorious days on the island.  She smiled now as she remembered their first night in the suite after they had a mouth watering dinner and went for a walk along the beach.  They were both very nervous and excited.  For several moments they stood there staring at each other and then he was holding her in his arms and kissing her.  Since it was her first time, he took it slow.  However, the other nights, he was like a ravenous wolf.  She trembled at the memories.

“What are you smiling about?” the inquiry brought her back to the present and she looked up as Ariel walked into living-room.  She immediately got up from the sofa and hurried over to him.  He lifted her up in a hug.  She put her arms around his neck and lowered her head to kiss him.

“I was just remembering our honeymoon in Montego Bay,” she said after she drew back to gaze down at him.Image-4_4

He smiled.  “I think about it a lot too.”

“Dinner is ready.  While you go and change, I’ll set the table and share out.”

His eyes darkened on her face.  “I’m hungry but not for food,” he murmured before he carried her into the bedroom.  After closing the door behind them, he set her down by the bed so that he could get undressed.  Soon they were under the sheets making passionate love.

Dinner was still very warm when they finally had it.  As they ate, they told each other how their day went.  “I told my friend, Allison that we’re going to Florida next week for three weeks and she suggested that we visit Beth Tehillah Vetikva in Hollywood, Florida.”

“Is that a synagogue?” he asked.

“It’s an Adventist Messianic Congregation made up of both Jews and non-Jews who believe that Yeshua is the Messiah.”

“Josee…”

“I Googled them and it says on their website that they worship God in the context of their Hebraic heritage and they believe that we should live our lives by the word of God.  They also observe the Torah.  Please, let’s just go and see what it’s like.  Allison said that if you don’t like it, there’s a Jewish synagogue not far from there where you can go to instead.”

“All right, I’ll go but I’m only doing it because of you.”

She smiled.  “Thank you.”

They went to Beth Tehillah Vetikva and they both loved it so much that they decided to spend the entire three weeks in Hollywood instead of heading to Tampa as originally planned.  Several months after Josee graduated from university, they moved to Hollywood.  They joined the congregation of Beth Tehillah Vetikva after Ariel was baptized following a series of Bible Studies.

Ariel joined one of the top law firms in Hollywood while Josee got a Biomedical Engineer job at the University of Miami.  Eight years later, they were expecting their first child.  Josee’s friend, Allison was invited to the baby’s dedication because it was on account of her that they went to the House of Praise and Hope where Ariel finally accepted Jesus as the Messiah.

Many Jews now recognize that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel. The World Jewish Adventist Friendship Center therefore provides a place within the Seventh-day Adventist denomination for every Jew who is waiting for the second coming of Jesus our Messiah to worship God in the context of their faith without denying their own culture – Richard Elofer, World Jewish Adventist Friendship Center Director

Sources:  BBC; Shiksha; My Tea Planner; Inl India; IEEE Spectrum; The International Bible Society; Waiting for Your Boaz; Chicago Tribune; Linkedin; Beth Tehillah Vetikva; World Jewish Adventist Friendship Center;

One Afternoon Break

The first time he saw her, it was on Monday.  She was walking down the street.  In her hand was a red school satchel.  She looked at him as she walked past.  He was sitting on the rail outside of the building where he worked.  It was during his afternoon break which he usually took a half hour earlier.  He was looking in the opposite direction but he could feel that someone was staring at him and he turned his head.  Their eyes met and held.

She couldn’t have been more than eighteen although she looked younger. She was wearing a yellow shirt tucked into a knee length denim skirt and a pair of black low heel sandals.  Her thick hair framed her face.  She was a very pretty girl.  He couldn’t help staring at her.  He knew that there was a high school a couple of blocks away.  Perhaps she was on her way home because it was last three thirty.

He started going for his break at three thirty when he knew that he would see her.  And when she walked by, he smiled and said hello.  He found himself looking forward to seeing her.  Many times, he thought to himself, This is crazy.  I’m twenty-nine years old and here I am, attracted to a high school girl.  Yes, I must be losing my mind.  Yet the thought didn’t prevent him from wanting to see her and get to know her.  He made up his mind that before the week ended, he was going to talk to her.

That Friday, he got his chance.  Since it was the last Friday of the month, he was dressed casually.  As he waited for her, he thought about what he was going to say to her.  He was nervous and excited at the same time.  When, he saw her coming towards him, his heart began to beat fast.  He rubbed his hands nervously together and tried to look calm.

As she got closer, he stood up.  His eyes traveled eagerly over her small frame in the tee shirt and jeans.  “Hello.”

To his surprise, she stopped and said, “Hello.”  Then, she handed him a flyer which he readily took from her.

He looked at it.  It was an invitation to a benefit concert at a church two weeks away.  “Thank you,” he said as he folded it and put it in his pants pocket.  “What’s your name?”

“Staci.”

“Mine is Aaron.”  He held out my hand and she put hers in it.  It was so soft and tiny.

“Do you work here?” she asked, glancing over her shoulder.

He nodded.  “Yes.  I’ve been working here since I left university several years ago.   Are you on your way home from school?”

“Yes.  My school is a couple of blocks from here.”

“Do you live close by?”

She shook her head.  “No.  I have to take the bus to get home.  The bus stop is just around the next corner.”  She glanced at her watch.  “I should go.”

“Don’t go, Staci.  Stay and talk with me for a while.”

“All right.”  She set her satchel down on the pavement and leaned against the rail next to me.  He turned so that he was facing her.  She looked shyly up at him before she looked away.

“Are you a junior?”

“No, I’m a senior.  I’m graduating in June.”

“Do you have a major as yet?”

“Yes.  Computer Science.”

He was impressed.  “Good for you.  You’ll be the first person I know in a field which needs more women.”

“My father always encouraged me to work hard and to believe that I can do anything I set my mind to.  He believed in gender equality.”

“So do I.  Your father sounds like a remarkable man.”

“He was.  It has been eight years since he died.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.  Do you have any brothers and sisters?”

She shook her head.  “No.  I’m an only child.”

“What about other family?”

“They’re in Grenada.”

“So, now it’s just your mother and you living here in London then?”

“Yes, but she isn’t well.  She has Multiple Sclerosis.”

He looked alarmed.  “How are you managing her illness while going to school?”

“We have a home care provider who takes care of her.  I take care of cleaning the apartment, the laundry, the grocery shopping and the cooking.”

“How old are you?”

“Eighteen.”

“You’re pretty young to have so much responsibility.”

“I don’t mind.  My mother can’t do those things anymore.”

“You don’t have much of a social life.  Don’t you miss hanging out with your friends?”

“Not really.”

“Do you know how to roller-blade?”

“Yes.”

“Great.  How about you and me rollerblading this Sunday?”

She looked hesitant.  “I’m not sure…”

“Come on.  It will be fun.  And I’m sure your mother wouldn’t mind.”

She smiled.  “All right.”

They talked for a while longer and then she had to go home and he had to return to his job.  They arranged to meet at a park.  “I’m looking forward to seeing you on Sunday,” he said as he gazed down into her upturned face.

“Me too,” she said shyly.  Then, she picked up her satchel, waved at him and hurried off.  He stood there watching her until she disappeared from his view before he went into the air conditioned office building.  He couldn’t wait to see her again.

Sunday came and they went rollerblading and then grabbed something to eat afterwards.  He gave her a lift home.  They saw each other every afternoon during the week and went different places on Sunday.   He didn’t see her sunset Friday to sunset Saturday because it was her Sabbath.  She was a Seventh-day Adventist.  He went to the concert she invited him to and he really enjoyed it.  The following Saturday, he went to church and sat next to her.

Afterwards, she invited him home for lunch.  He met her mother and Maureen, the woman who was taking care of her.  Mrs. Brown’s was confined to a wheelchair.  Looking at her, he could tell that she was once a very beautiful woman.  Her speech was slurred and her voice was so low at times that he had trouble hearing her.  Seeing her hit home how hard it must be for Staci to see her like that.  It was after seven when he left.

He and Staci continued to see each other and he soon realized that he was falling in love with her which just blew his mind.  In two months he was going to be thirty years old.  If his family and friends knew about her, they would strongly object and not only because of the age difference.  He wanted to invite her over to his place but he knew that she probably wouldn’t think that it was a good idea.  They couldn’t be alone.  There would have to be a chaperone present.  So, when they were out on the road, they were at her home.  woman-in-red-shirt-2732990

Then, one day, he had just taken a shower after going to the gym and had barely gotten dressed when his doorbell rang.  He peered through the keyhole and was surprised to see Staci.  When he opened the door, he saw that she had been crying.  He quickly drew her into his flat and after locking the door, he turned to face her, alarmed.  “What’s the matter, Staci?” he asked.

Tears welled in her eyes. “My mother’s dead,” she managed to say before she broke down.

“Oh, Honey, I’m so sorry for your loss.”  He pulled her into his arms and hugged her tightly as she buried her face in shirt, her body shaking with the sobs.

They stood there like that for several minutes.  When her sobs subsided, she raised her head.  He released her to cup her face between his hands.  He wiped away her tears with his thumbs.  He wanted so badly to kiss her but now wasn’t the right time.

She stared at him, feeling guilty because she was wondering what it would be like to kiss him.  “I’d better go.”

“Let me take you home.”

She didn’t answer but let him take her to his car.  In the car, he held her hand.  When they go to the apartment, she invited him in.  Maureen, her mother’s former caretaker informed her that the funeral home came and took the body away.  “Do you have someone you can stay with?” she asked.

Staci shook her head.

“You shouldn’t be here by yourself, at least not for a while.” Maureen said.

“I’ll manage.”

“Well, if you need anything, call me.”

“I will.”  They hugged and then, Maureen left.

When they were alone, Aaron said to her, “She’s right.  You shouldn’t be here on your own.  Why don’t you come and stay with me?”

Staci shook her head.  “I can’t.  It isn’t right for a single man and woman to be living under the same roof especially when…”

“Especially when they are attracted to each other.  I understand.  Still, I’m not comfortable with you being here by yourself.”

“I’ll be fine.  Besides, people from the church will be dropping by to make sure that I’m all right.”

“Okay, but I too will come by every single day to make sure that you’re all right.”

“All right.”

He stayed with her until late that night.  He and some members of the church helped her with the funeral arrangements.  Her aunt and cousins flew in Grenada the day before the funeral.  They stayed at a hotel because they didn’t want to sleep in the apartment because that was where her mother died.  They stayed for a week and then left.  Staci stayed in the apartment and continued to pay the rent until it was time for her to go to university in September.  She told Aaron that she had decided that she was going to live on campus or nearby where there was affordable student housing until she graduated.  They were sitting on a park bench facing the pond.

He reached for her hands.  “Marry me, Staci” he said urgently.

She gulped.  “Marry you?”

“Yes.”

“Why do you want to marry me?”

“I want to because I love you, Staci.”

“I–I love you too, Aaron.”  Her heart was pounding wildly.  “But, are you sure you want me, a high school senior to be your wife?”

“I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.  Marry me.”

“All right.”

He leaned over and kissed her.  When he drew back, they were both breathing heavily.  “We’ll get married and then, you’ll move into my place.  It isn’t far from the university campus.”

“Sounds perfect.”

“I want you to know that while you concentrate on your studies I can take care of the cooking, cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping and ironing.”

She shook her head at once.  “No, Aaron.  As your wife, I want to take care of you and our home.  So, on the weekends, I will cook for the week, clean, do the laundry and ironing.  All you have to do is to pick up the groceries.”

“All right but if at anytime you need me to step in and take over, please let me know.”

“I will,” she promised.

“And it’s totally up to you when you want us to start a family.  We can wait until you have finished university and have settled into your career.  We can wait up to ten years if you like.”

She reached up and kissed him on the lips and then, slipping her hand in his, she said, “I prayed that one day I would meet, fall in love and marry a good man and here you are.  God answered my prayer.”

He gently squeezed her hand.  “I always believed that there was a special someone out there for me.  And then, one afternoon you walked into my life.  I believe that some people are meant to be together.”

“And I believe that God brought us together at the perfect time.  I had my mother all of my life and now I will have you for the rest of it.”

“Yes, you will,” he murmured huskily before he kissed her again.

They went for pre-marital counseling with her pastor who initially was concerned about the age difference but his concerns were allayed when he saw how much they were in love and how compatible.  Aaron began Bible Studies with him and was baptized shortly after.

After Staci graduated from high school, Aaron and she got married.  Her cousins, school friends and his co-workers as well as most of the church members were present.  Not surprisingly, his family wasn’t there.  It stung of course, but he didn’t allow it to spoil the wedding or their ten day honeymoon in breathtakingly beautiful Bali.

Source:  National MS Society; Wedding Wire

 

 

Janine’s Story

women-fashion-portraits-emotionI’m standing in Times Square staring at the church which was founded and opened in 1987 in this area which was once known as a center of X-rated films, strip clubs, prostitution, and drug addiction.  If I were standing in this same spot back then, people might have assumed that I was a prostitute or a junkie or both.

I don’t do drugs.  Don’t have the stomach for them and I have seen what they do to people.  And as far as prostitution, goes, I would never get into it.  Sex is a beautiful and it should be between a husband and wife or a man and woman in a monogamous relationship with each other.  Sex should never be for sale.

I have nothing against prostitutes, though.  I don’t think they’re bad women and I don’t believe that most of them choose the profession because they want to.  Most of them do it out of necessity.  I don’t think women in the Bible like Rahab wanted to be prostitutes either.  The first opportunity, she had to get out of the trade, she did.  She and her family went with the Jewish people and she got married to one of the Jewish men.

Everyone knew that she used to be a prostitute but that didn’t matter anymore.  She had helped the spies and saved their lives when she lied about them not being in the city.  She got married to a decent man and they had a son who turned out to be a decent man too.

I stand there, dressed in a fur coat and top with a very low neckline and jeans, staring at the church.  I feel a strong urge to walk up those steps and through those heavy wooden doors.  It has been years since I have set a foot in a church.  I stopped going after I got pregnant by a married man who was also a member of that church.  People treated me like I had committed the unpardonable sin and I felt like I was on trial and found guilty.  I left and never went back.  I lost the baby.  It was a stillborn.

For a long time, I mourned my loss and then, like King David, I dried my tears and moved on.  I went to nightclubs and bars where I met all sorts of interesting men.  Most of them were interested in one thing but I wasn’t interested in having casual sex.  I let them buy me drinks and I chatted and danced with them but I always left the bar or nightclub alone.

Then, one Friday night, I was with a bunch of friends at Puffy’s Tavern and one of them said to me, “Don’t look now, but there’s a very attractive man over at the bar, staring at you.”

“Really?”  I looked over at the bar and I saw him.  He was very attractive and he was alone.  He was dressed in a navy blue shirt and black pants.  My friend was right.  He was staring at me.

“Why don’t you go over there and say hello?” she suggested.

I hesitated for a moment and then, I got up from the table and walked over to the bar.  There was an empty chair beside him.  I sat on it, facing him.  I saw his gaze travel slowly over me before it returned to my face where it remained.  This close, he took my breath away.  And he made my stomach do all sorts of crazy things.  All sorts of thoughts were running through my head.  I smiled.  “Hello.”

He smiled slightly.  His eyes were intent on my face making it feel hot.  “Hello.  May I buy you a drink?”

“Sure.  Thanks.  I’ll have a virgin Strawberry Daiquiri.”

He signaled to the bartender and ordered my drink.  “What’s your name?”

“Janine.  What’s yours?”

“Salvatore.  My family and friends call me Sal.”

I held out my hand.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Sal.”

“Likewise.”  He took my hand and raised it to his lips.  I felt that crazy sensation in my stomach again and my heart was racing.  I saw something in his eyes which made my mouth go dry and after he raised his head, he continued holding my hand.  “I’ve been watching you all night and I’m pleased to see that you aren’t here with a man.”  He spoke perfect English with an accent.

“That’s because I don’t have a man.”

“And I don’t have a woman.  So, here we are, both available.”

“Yes.”  My drink arrived and I took a sip.  “You have an accent,” I said.  I sounded a bit breathless.  He was still holding my hand.

“I’m Italian.”

“Oh.  Which part of Italy?”

“Parma.”

“As in Parmesan cheese?”

He chuckled.  “Yes.”

“I’ve always wanted to visit Italy.  How-how long have you been here in New York?”

“About fifteen years.  I don’t usually come to bars alone but I’m glad I did tonight.  So, Janine, tell me about yourself.”

I told him what I felt comfortable about divulging and then he told me about himself.  We had a very engaging conversation which neither of us wanted to end but then it was time for me to go.  He asked me for my phone number which I gave him.  I got another kiss on my hand before we separated.  My friends teased me and told me what a lucky woman I was to snag such a fine looking man.  I told them about that he was Italian and the a self-made Entrepreneur and they were green with envy.  “Find out if he has any brothers or cousins,” one of them said and I reminded her that she already had a boyfriend.

Salvatore called me the next morning and asked me to have dinner with him.  He took me to an upscale French restaurant in Greenwich Village with a wonderful atmosphere, great service and an amazing menu, not to mention the live, upbeat piano music.  We had a great time.  I was so relaxed with him.  I felt as if we had known each other for years.  Afterwards, we went to the top of the Empire State Building.  The view was spectacular and we spent at least half-hour admiring it.  Then, he took me home.  I invited him in and we ended up in bed.  I invited him to spend the night but he said that he had to go.  He promised that he would call me the following day.  We kissed and then he left.  I showered and turned in for the night.

I didn’t hear from him the following day or the day after.  I began to think that maybe all he wanted was sex and after he got it, he wasn’t interested anymore.  It wasn’t the first time that happened to me and that’s why I had stopped bringing men home or going to their places.  I felt like a complete fool.  I had fallen hard for Salvatore and had been flattered that he was into me.  I told my friend, Ingrid when we met for coffee after work on Tuesday.  She patted my hand and said, “I’m so sorry, Jan.  He looked like he was really into you.”

“I should have stuck to my plan not to sleep with a man unless we’re in a monogamous relationship or married.”  I sighed heavily, blinking back the tears.

“You’ve fallen for him, haven’t you?”

“Isn’t that ridiculous?  I’ve fallen for a man I’ve only seen twice.  I should have my head examined.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself.  It isn’t your fault that things didn’t work out.”

“Do you think that maybe he’s married?”

“It’s possible.”

I didn’t answer.  I was too upset.  After we left the cafe, I didn’t go to the subway which would take me home but headed to Times Square.  And here I am now, standing on the sidewalk opposite the Times Square Church which my late aunt used to attend.  I quickly crossed the busy intersection and went up the steps.  I pushed the doors open and went inside.  I went to the third pew and knelt down.  I spent a long time, praying about Sal and asking God to help me to get over him if he wasn’t the right man for me.  When I was finished praying, I felt a kind of peace–the kind that comes only from God.  I knew that He had heard my prayer and that He would answer it.  I got up and walked to the front doors.

Just as I stepped outside, my cell rang.  It was Salvatore.  I answered.  “Hello, Sal.”

“Hello, Janine.  Please forgive me for not calling you before.  My father suffered a heart attack

“I’m so sorry to hear.  Where are you?”

“I’m in Parma.”

I almost dropped the phone.  “Parma,” I exclaimed.  “What are you doing there?”

“On Monday, my sister called to tell me that Papa had fallen ill and that they didn’t think that he would make it to the end of the week.  I grabbed the first flight out.  Things have been so crazy here that I didn’t have a chance to call you until now.  You must think that I’m a how do you say it–a jerk.”

I leaned against the wall, relieved.  “When I didn’t hear from you, I felt like a fool and thought that you played me.  I even wondered if you were married.”

“I’m so sorry, Janine.  I didn’t play you as you say.  I’m mad about you.  And I’m not married.  I’m yours if you still want me.”

My heart skipped a beat.  “Of course, I still want you,” I said breathlessly.  “How is your father?”

“He’s not breathing on his own.  He’s so emaciated.  It breaks my heart to see him.”

“I’m so sorry, Sal.  Is he in a lot of pain?”

“I don’t know.”

“Is it cancer?”

“No.  It’s Parkinson’s.  He has had it for over ten years.  He was diagnosed a year after my mother died.  It would have killed her to see him like this.”

“I wish I could be there with you.”

“You could be if you can get away.”

Fly to Parma to be with him?  The thought was exciting and crazy at the same time.  Yet, she heard herself say, “I can get away from work for a couple of weeks.  I will phone my manager now and let her know.”

He sounded pleased.  “Thank you, Janine.  It would mean so much to me having you here.  And you’ll get to meet my family.”

I told him that I would call him or text him the flight details.  We spoke for a long while and then, he had to go.  I walked to the subway.  My heart was racing.  I was going to Italy, albeit under very sad circumstances.  I couldn’t wait to see Salvatore again.

As soon as I got home, I called my manager and explained everything to her.  She was very accommodating.  I booked a cheap flight from JFK to Parma, booked my stay at a hotel, texted Salvatore the details, packed two small pieces of luggage and went to bed.  Then, I was on my way to airport and on my way to Italy.  I was excited and apprehensive at the same time.  I wished that it was under better circumstances.  I prayed for Salvatore and his family.  I knew what it was like to lose a parent.  I lost my father to cancer.  It spread from his prostate to his bones.  This was five years ago but I still miss him a lot, especially on his birthday, Father’s Day and Christmas.  My mother still finds it hard to talk about it.

I arrived in Parma on Thursday morning.  Salvatore met me at the airport.  We literally ran to each other and hugged tightly.  After we exchanged kisses, he grabbed my hand and my luggage and escorted me to where his car was waiting.  He bundled me into the car before he placed my luggage in the trunk.  And then, we were off.  It was so good seeing him again.

“I will take you to your hotel so that you can freshen up before we go to the hospital.”

I took the opportunity then to explain to him why I was staying at a hotel instead of at his condo as he had suggested.  I was completely honest with him, explaining that it wouldn’t be right for me to stay with him and I admitted that I was afraid that we would end up in bed again which was something I couldn’t let happen because I’m a Christian.  I didn’t want to have sex outside of marriage any more.  As I waited for him to say something, I hoped and prayed that he understood where I was coming from and would accept my decision.

He reached out and squeezed my hand.  “I understand and respect your decision,” he said.  “I want you to know that my connection to you is more just physical.  It’s emotional.”

That made me feel better, and I breathed a sigh of relief.  We talked about other things and when we got to Novotel Parma Centro Hotel, he brought up my luggage.  It was a very nice room, comfortable.  Nothing fancy.  I liked it.  It was close to a cathedral, a gallery and transit.  I didn’t expect to go sightseeing, though.  I quickly freshened up and then we were off to the hospital.  His sister, Elena and her husband, Guido were in the waiting room with his sister-in-law, Anna.  He introduced me to them and they were receptive.  They spoke little English so Salvatore had to be our interpreter.  It was awkward when he went to see his father, leaving me with the others.  I didn’t know or understand Italian so it was hard to have any kind of conversation with them.  I had brought my phrase book and dictionary but had forgotten it at the hotel.  I felt like a fish out of water without it.

Salvatore asked me later if I wanted to meet his father.  At first I hesitated and then I went with him.  Tears sprang to my eyes when I saw the frail, emaciated man lying there, being given oxygen.  His eyes were opened and he was staring at me.  Salvatore introduced us.  I reached down and touched one of the thin hands resting on the sheet.  It brought back memories of my father and the tears fell more freely.  I excused myself and left the room.

It was around 2 when Salvatore and I left the hospital and went to a Trattoria for something to eat.  I was very hungry and was also relieved to get out of the hospital.  It was good for Salvatore to get away too.  I could imagine how difficult it was for him to see his father like that.

David NAs we waited for our order, I reached out and covered his hands with mine.  “I know how hard it must be for you.  I went through something similar with my father.”

He nodded.  “There are times when I wish he would pass away instead of continuing to waste away and there are other times when I don’t want to lose him.”

“I know.  Tell me about him.  What was he like?  Were you close?”

He told me stories about his father–most of which were funny.  His father sounded like he was a wonderful man who loved his family and worked very hard make sure they had a good life.  I had a feeling that Salvatore was a lot like him.  He would make a terrific husband and father.  And I was proven right when a year and a half after his father passed away, we got married and shortly after we had our first child.  We are now living in Bronxville.  I thank God everyday for blessing me with Salvatore and our growing family.

Sources:  Wikipedia; Kayak; Niche

From Enemy to Friend

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good – Romans 12:20, 21

laughter

I’m looking at a photo of Jenn which was taken last summer.  It’s hard to believe that we were once enemies.  We used to work together but for some reason, she didn’t like me.  I didn’t do anything for her to take such a disliking to me and it bothered me because I’m a Christian and the Bible says that we should try to get along with people as much as possible.  I try to get along with everybody but for some reason I couldn’t with Jenn.  She wouldn’t talk to me.  And when she did it was in a condescending manner.

She made snide remarks about my hair which was natural and cut short.  I got tired of putting chemicals in it so I decided to cut it off.  Everyone else said it suited me but she seemed to have a problem with it.  She criticized my clothes, the way I talked, my food and even my laugh.  She was always finding fault and I was getting tired of it.  She never did these things when other people were around.

She saw me reading my Bible one day in the cafeteria during my afternoon break.  “I suppose you think you’re better than the rest of us because you’re a Christian,” she remarked.  “You’re all a bunch of hypocrites.  You don’t practice what you preach.”

I calmly met her stare and replied, “You’re right.  Not everyone who says they are a Christian are.  Reading the Bible or going to church doesn’t make a person a Christian.”

She looked surprised by my answer.  For a few minutes she stared at me and then, she walked away.  I continued my reading until my break was over.  Several times after that, she came over to me while I was taking my break and made nasty remarks about my religion.  Sometimes, I ignored her and she went away and other times, I answered her in a calm manner and that seemed to get her more riled up and she would stomp off.

I prayed to God about the situation because it was unpleasant.  I thought of transferring to another department but decided not to.  I shouldn’t run away from my problem but try to deal with it with God’s help.  I told my husband, Matt about it and he said that I should settle the matter once and for all with Jenn.  I told him that if I talked to her about it, things might get ugly and the last thing I wanted was a confrontation.

Then, one afternoon I was on my way home when I saw Jenn standing at the bus-stop.   It was a very cold day and it would soon get dark.  I pulled up to the curb and got out of the car.  I hurried over to her.  She looked startled and not at all pleased to see me.  “Can I give you a ride home?”

She looked like she was about to refuse when the man in the shelter said, “If you’re waiting for the No. 23, you just missed it.  The next one won’t be here until a quarter to.”

“It’s cold and I have heat in my car,” I told her.  “And it’s no bother for me.”  I knew that it was only through the working of the Holy Spirit that I was able to show kindness to a woman who never had anything good to say to or about me.

Grudgingly, she accepted my offer and walked over to my car.  After she got in, I pulled away from the curb.  She told me where she lived which was about a half-hour drive if you take the expressway which I did.  “My car is in the shop,” she explained.

“When will you get it back?”

“On Friday.”

“I can give you a lift to work until then, if you like.”

She glanced at me.  For a brief moment I could see that she was taken aback by my offer.  “Why are you doing this?” she asked.

“I used to take the bus before I bought a car so I know what it’s like to stand in the cold bus shed and wait.  Besides, it’s no trouble for me to pick you up in the morning.”

“Sure.  If you want to.”

“I do,” I said.

She didn’t answer.  For the rest of the trip, there was silence, except for the radio.  When we got to her apartment, she turned to me.  “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.  So, would you like me to pick you up tomorrow morning?”

“Sure.”

“All right.  I’ll be here at eight.”

She thrust open the door and climbed out.  She walked up to the entrance and disappeared through the revolving doors.

I pulled out of the parking lot and drove home.  When I told Matt what happened, he said quoted Paul’s words in the Bible about doing good to your enemy and in doing so, you make him ashamed.  “Well, we’ll see if anything changes,” I said.

The next morning I arrived at Jenn’s condo building and she was waiting in the lobby.  She came outside as soon as she saw me.  After we said good morning to each other, the rest of the ride to work was in silence.  It was like that one the way home that afternoon and the next day but on Friday, when I dropped her off at the shop to pick up her car, she said to me, “You’ve been so nice to me when I have been nothing but mean to you.  And I was wrong about Christians.  You’re one of the good ones.  You showed kindness to me when you didn’t have to.  Thank you.”

I smiled.  “You’re welcome.  I was happy to be of help.  Any time you need anything, please don’t hesitate to ask.”

For the first time since I’ve worked with her, she smiled at me.  “The same goes for you, Jazma.”

“Thanks.  Have a good weekend.”

“You too.”

The following Monday, she joined me in the cafeteria when I was on my break and she asked me questions about the Bible.  From that moment, we became friends.  And, she’s the godmother of Matt’s and my first child.  We’re expecting our second in August.  Great things happen when we apply God’s Word to our lives.

Alexi Goes to Ajax

Alexi stood outside the building where Ajax lived.  She had texted him on Monday to tell him that she would be stopping by to see him on Sunday.  He replied that he would be at home and to drop by any time.   Her heart was pounding like crazy and she needed a few minutes to compose herself.

A week had passed since she had bumped into him and it had bothered her to no end that he had been about to say something really important to her when they were interrupted.  What was Ajax going to say?  He didn’t look too pleased to see her with Gerrard.  The expression on his face was glacial and his greeting chilly.

When they were alone, he confronted her saying, “I thought you two were just friends.”  And after she assured them that they were, his response was, “I hope so.”  Taken aback, she immediately asked him, “Why?”  She was anxious to know why it was so important to him that Gerrard and she were just friends?  She didn’t get her answer because Gerrard rejoined them at that precise moment.  And his question, “Am I interrupting something?” irritated her.  Soon after that, Ajax mumbled something about an errand, excused himself and walked briskly away.

Alexi watched him go, frustrated.  “Gerrard, why couldn’t you have stayed on the phone a little longer?” she demanded, turning to face him.  “Ajax was about to tell me something very important.”

“I’m sorry,” Gerrard apologized.  “I could tell that I was interrupting something.  Ajax didn’t look too pleased to see me.  I think he would have liked it better if you were alone.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Come on, Alexi, don’t tell me you don’t know that Ajax has a thing for you.”

Alexi’s eyes widened.  “He does?”

“Yes!  You must be the only one in the group who doesn’t know that.”

She told him what transpired between Ajax and her while he was on the phone.  “What do you think he was going to tell me?”

Gerrard shrugged.  “I don’t know.  Maybe he was going to confess that he’s into you.”

Alexi sighed.  “I wish I knew what he was going to tell me.”

“Why don’t you go and find out?”

Alexi’s heart skipped a beat.  “You mean I should go and ask him?”

“How else are you going to know?”

The thought of being alone with Ajax made her extremely nervous but she had to know if Gerrard was right.  She hoped with all her heart that he was because she was crazy about Ajax and had been since they met three years ago at a mutual friend’s engagement party.  “All right,” she said.  “I’ll go and see him.”

“Good for you.   He’s a great guy.  If God is in this, it will work out.”

She smiled and kissed him on the cheek before they parted ways.  That night she prayed about what she was going to do and asked God to give her the courage to do it.  She told Him that if it was His will for Ajax and her to be together, then, His will be done.  And now, here she was, in front of his building, trying to summon up all the courage she had to face him.  After saying a quick prayer and taking a deep breath, she went down the stairs to where his apartment was and rang the bell.

Her heart lurched when he opened the door.  He looked amazing in the black tee shirt with the sleeves pushed up to his elbows and pale blue jeans.  Their eyes met and held for a long time before he said, “Hi.”  His expression wasn’t glacial this time.

“Hi.”

“Come in.”

She stepped into the foyer and removed her shoes.   “I hope you don’t mind me stopping by,” she said after he closed the door.

3J7A6866“Why would I?” he asked as he took her coat and hung it in the closet.  “Do you have a date?”  His eyes traveled over her and when they returned to her face, his expression was tense.

She shook her head at once.  “No, don’t have a date.”

“I saw the dress and thought…”

“Ajax, if I were going on a date, would it bother you?”

“Yes, it would, Alexi.”

“Why?”

“Isn’t it obvious?”

“Not to me.”

He turned so that he was facing her.  “I’m crazy about you.  I have been since the first day we met.”

She moved closer.  “What were you going to tell me last week Sunday when we bumped into each other?”

He moved closer.  “You mean before I was interrupted?”

She nodded as she took another step.  “Yes.”

“I was going to tell you what I just told you–that I’m crazy about you and that I wanted to be in a relationship with you.”

They were standing very close to each other now.  “I was hoping that that was what you were going to say,” she said, smiling up at him as he put his arms around her waist and pulled her against him.  She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck.

He smiled and lowered his head.  They kissed for several minutes, savoring the moment and then, he raised his head.  “I think we should get out of here before we get ourselves into trouble.”

“You’re right.”

“Let’s go for a walk.  It looks like a beautiful afternoon and then afterwards, we have dinner at the Sacred Chow.”

“Sounds good to me.”

“All right.  I’ll just go and change.”  He reluctantly released her and left the living-room.  She wandered over to the window and looked out.  Soho was such a great neighborhood.  She loved it.

Half hour later, they were sitting in the Sacred Chow enjoying each other’s company and the Lemongrass Red Curry served over Asian noodles.   By the time the Christmas holidays rolled around, they were officially a couple, much to no one’s surprise.  Gerrard was right.  All of their friends knew that Ajax carried a torch for Alexi and they were thrilled that they were finally dating.  They knew that it was only a matter of time before there would be wedding bells.   “Just don’t wait another three years before you tie the knot,” Gerrard told him and they all laughed as they gathered in Grace’s home for Christmas dinner.  It was she who had introduced Ajax and Alexi three years ago at her engagement party.

They didn’t have to wait for three years.  On New Year’s Eve, Ajax and Alexi announced their engagement.   After the ball dropped in Times Square and everyone was singing, Auld Lang Syne, Ajax and Alexi prayed and thanked God for bringing them together.   God’s will had been done in their lives and now, they had a new and promising future to look forward to.

If whatever you ask God for is His will too, it will be done. 

The Word Became Flesh

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14, NIV

baby_jesus11

God, the Son and the Word who was with the Father in the beginning became flesh.  He came into the world as a newborn Babe to live among men.  He was raised in a Jewish home to Jewish parents in the town of Nazareth.  He became a carpenter like Joseph before going into ministry.  As Man, Jesus experienced the things we experience such as hunger and thirst, tiredness and grief.  He was tempted like us but He didn’t sin.  He prayed daily to the Father.  He had friends and He socialized with different sorts of people, some of whom were treated as outcasts.

The glory John saw was the transfiguration of Jesus when He took Peter, James and him up to the high mountain where He communed with Moses and Elijah.  They were not to mention anything to anyone until He was raised from the dead (Matthew 17:1-3, 9).   Peter later wrote, “For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’  And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” (2 Peter 1:17, 18).

Jesus came from the Father to bring grace and truth into the world which was steeped in sin and darkness.  His grace was shown in his healing of diseases, the casting out of unclean spirits and in his interaction with tax collectors, sinners, the woman caught in adultery and the Samaritan woman.  He shared moral and religious truth through parables and the Sermon on the Mount.  He taught people how to live in relation to God and to people.  Jesus placed God’s truth which was found in His Word above the traditions of men and the lies of Satan.

As you celebrate this Christmas season, reflect on the amazing reality that Jesus, by Whom all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, set aside His majesty and glory and came in the form of man to tabernacle among the people (Colossians 1:16; Philippians 2:7).

Thank You, Lord Jesus for becoming like us, so that in the flesh You could save us.

Unequally Yoked

Falling in love with William wasn’t something I expected to happen. Why not? Well, he’s younger than me, he’s not African American and he’s a Seventh-day Adventist Christian. They don’t believe in wearing jewelry and I love jewelry. I love wearing big gold and silver earrings, rings and bangles. They frown on makeup too. I don’t wear any but it’s not because of religious reasons. I’m allergic to it. So, all I wear is a tinted lip balm. Fortunately for me I have naturally long eyelashes so I don’t need Mascara to darken, thicken, lengthen, and/or define them.

Anyway, makeup aside, I was happily single, dating on and off when it suited me. Most of the men I dated were Christians but on a few occasions I dated non-Christians or men of other faiths. Well, that got my Christian friends talking. I was scolded. My friends Shirley shook her head and wagged her finger in my face. “Girl, don’t you know you’re not supposed to be dating any man outside of the church? Do you want to be unequally yoked?”

“And why would you want to date men outside the church when you have so many fine looking brothers in the church?” Rochelle piped in. “Did you see that visitor we had last week Sunday? I first thing I did when I was introduced to him was to check to see if he was wearing a wedding ring.”

Whenever they carried on like that, I would just look at them and smile. They meant well and I loved them dearly but friend or not, they had no business telling me who I should or shouldn’t date. After all, didn’t Moses marry an Ethiopian woman and Joseph the daughter of an Egyptian priest? I didn’t marry any of those men–I just dated them.

Anyway, we were out at a bowling alley one evening and having a blast when I noticed that this really good looking Asian guy kept staring at me. He was with a group of friends. He was well dressed in a crisp white shirt and black jeans. He had a really nice physique. As I waited my turn to bowl, I allowed my eyes to drink in every detail of him. Finally, I walked up to him and holding out my hand, I said, “Hi, my name’s Monique.”

He looked a bit startled. I guess he wasn’t used to being approached. “William,” he replied after a few seconds and shook my hand. His fingers were long and I could see that they were well manicured. This guy took self grooming very seriously. I like that in a man.

“Is this your first time here?” It wasn’t my first time. I had been there numerous times.

“Yes, it is. What about you?”

“No, I come here often with my friends.”

He glanced over my shoulder. “I think your friends are trying to get your attention,” he said, releasing my hand.

I turned to see Shirley and Rochelle waving wildly. I turned back to William, an apologetic expression on my face. “Excuse me.” I turned and walked over to my friends. I could feel him watching me. I knew I looked great in the red shirt and the jeans which hugged me in all of the right places. Being a Christian didn’t mean that I had to dress like a nun. I bowled and got a strike. My third in the game. Pleased, I returned to William who was up. I watched as he too made a strike. “How many have you had so far?” I asked.

“Four.”

“Good for you.”

“After we have finished our games, would you like to grab something to eat?”

“Here or somewhere else?”

“Here is fine.”

“Sure. If your friends won’t mind.”

“They won’t. What about yours?”

“They won’t mind either.” Of course they would but that was their problem. “I’ll go and finish my game and meet you right here.”

He smiled. “Okay.”

I rejoined my friends who were watching me very closely. After we finished our second game which I won, I told them that I had a date. I indicated with whom the date was and I could just hear the lectures. “Sorry, Ladies but I don’t have time right now to listen to why I shouldn’t grab a bite to eat with a guy I just met.”

Rochelle shook her head. “You really need to be careful when it comes to men,” she said. “The guy is a perfect stranger and you’re going out with him?”

“We’re not going anywhere. We’re going to have something to eat right here. And when we’re done, I’m going home–alone.”

“Well, I should hope so,” Shirley said. “You’re a Christian, remember? You shouldn’t be taking men back to your place and you should never go to theirs.”

I wonder what they would say if they knew that years ago I had slept with one of the brothers in the church. We hadn’t planned to, of course, but it happened. The following week at church we avoided each other like the plague. I just go out with men and have a good time but at the end of the evening, we part company. I try to be celibate but it isn’t always easy. I’m not a robot. I have needs.

“Don’t worry, ladies,” I said to my friends. “I’ll be good. Now, run along. I’ll see you in church on Sunday.” Then, I turned and walked over to William who was alone. I guess his friends had left. “Do you mind if we ate here?”

“No, I don’t mind at all.”

“Good.” We both order burgers–his was a veggie and mine was a cheesy cheeseburger with fries and milkshakes. We sat at a table and as we ate, we talked about all sorts of things. “Do you have a girlfriend?” I asked. He wouldn’t be the first guy to step out on his woman.

“No. What about you? Do you have a boyfriend?”

“No. I’m single. How old are you?”

“Twenty-nine.”

“I’m thirty-six.” I figured that he was younger than me. “Have you ever dated an older woman?”

He shook his head. “No. Have you ever dated a younger man?”

“No, but there’s a first time for everything.” Did I just say that? Was I seriously thinking about dating him? I must be out of my mind. He was younger than me, for Pete’s sake and he wasn’t a brother. Yet, I couldn’t deny that I was extremely attracted to him. I kept having all sorts of thoughts that a Christian woman shouldn’t be having. And it didn’t help that the first button of his shirt was undone. I tried to keep my eyes on his face. He had the most amazing brown eyes. I could drown in them. I realized that I was staring and I turned my attention to my fries.

“So, what else do you like to do besides bowling with your friends on a Friday night?”

“I like to read, go for long walks, shopping and travel. What about you?”

“I enjoy a good game of tennis, cycling, swimming and long walks.”

“What do you do for entertainment?”

“I’m not really into any type of entertainment except maybe a gospel concert or maybe an opera or a ballet or a classical music performance.”

“Really? So, you won’t go to a nightclub or a bar, then?”

He shook his head. “No.”

“Why not?”

“Those are not the sort of places that a Christian should go to.”

“So, you’re a Christian?”

“Yes.”

“So am I.” I could see the surprise on his face. “I guess it’s hard to believe that because of the jewelry.”

“Well, the women at my church don’t wear jewelry or makeup.”

“Let me guess. You’re a Seventh-day Adventist.”

“Yes. Are you familiar with our beliefs?”

“Yes. You are what I would call legalistic because of all your dos and Sony’s.  You don’t believe in having fun, do you?

“I believe in having fun, yes, as long as it is done responsibly and it doesn’t conflict with my beliefs.”

“What about being with me, a non-Adventist? Wouldn’t the members of your church have a problem with that?”

He smiled.  “Some of them might but I’m not answerable to them but to the Lord who welcomed all who came to Him.”

“I think all churches have the same problem.  They say they are the body of Christ but they have a problem with us associating with people of other faiths.  Adventists don’t seem to like being around non-Christians and non-Adventists.  My grandmother was an Adventist and when I visited her church, I felt uncomfortable.  Some of the members couldn’t hide their disapproval of me because I wore jewelry.  After my grandmother’s funeral, I never went back to that church.”

“I’m sorry you had a bad experience.  Does this mean that you wouldn’t go out with me because I’m an Adventist?”

“Are you asking me out, William?”

“Yes, I am.”

“All right, I’ll go out with you.”

“Have your ever been  to a circus?”

“No.”

He smiled.  “Good.  I’ll take you to one on Sunday and then we will go for dinner afterwards.”

“Sounds good to me.” I glanced at my watch.  It was getting late and I had had a long day.  “Well, it’s time for me to head home.”  

He looked disappointed.  “Do you have ride?”

I nodded as I stood up.  “Yes, I drove here.”

He stood up.  “I’ll walk you to your car.”

We walked to my car and before we parted company, I gave him my address and number.  “See you on Sunday,” I said as I got behind the wheel.”

“See you on Sunday.”  He waved as I drove off.

Sunday came and we went to the circus where we had a blast.  Afterwards, we went to a Thai restaurant.  Over mouth watering food, we made plans to see each other again.  Then, we started dating.  It wasn’t long before I realized that I was falling for him.  That scared me.  I have been in love before but this was different.  I was actually thinking of marriage.  Marriage!  Me.  The woman who liked being single.  I wasn’t sure how he felt about me.  I knew he wanted me–the kiss we shared the other night made that crystal clear to me.  If I didn’t break off the kiss, grab my jacket and hightailed it out of his apartment, who knows how things would have progressed.

We are walking in the park now, holding hands.  We draw a few stares but I’m used to it.  We come to a quiet, secluded spot where we stop.  We face each other.  He has a very serious expression on his face.  I swallowed hard, my heart racing.  Is he about to break up with me?  The thought terrifies me.  I’m so crazy about this guy.

“Monique, we have been seeing each other for a while now.  You must know by now how I feel about you.”

“How do you feel about me?”  I wanted him to come right out and tell me.

“I love you.”

Relief washed over me and I smiled.  “I love you too.”

“I know that we come from two different denominations but I can’t give up on you, on us because of that.  I want to marry you, Monique.”

“Marry me?  Are you sure?” I wanted to be sure that was what he really wanted.

“Yes.”  He released my hand and getting down on one knee, he reached into the breast-pocket of his jacket and took out a little red box.  He opened it and removed a beautiful diamond ring.  “Monique Charles, will you marry me?”

Tears sprang to my eyes and for a moment I was too choked up to say anything.  “Yes!” I managed to gasp and he sprang to his feet and pulled me into his arms.  He hugged me tightly about my waist before he leaned down and kissed me.  When we finally broke apart, we went to our favorite place to celebrate–the bowling alley where we met.

Two years have passed.  William and I have moved into a nice, residential area just outside of the city because we have a son and another one is on the way.  I’m no longer a Pentecostal Christian.  My friends, Rochelle and Shirley were upset at first but they decided that it was my life to do what I wished with it and besides, they could see how happy I am.  While we were dating, I began attending William’s church and after a lot of prayer and fasting, I got baptized and became a member.  This means that I’m no longer wearing jewelry and believe it or not, I don’t miss it.  I love my new life with William and I’m thankful to God for bringing us together.  We are equally yoked in every way now.

Source: Pinchasers