Words of Wisdom (Hopefully LOL) By Valerie Caylor

October 9, 2016

A Message to Christians Concerning the Upcoming Election

I am addressing this post to those who claim to be followers of Jesus….Christians. If this post does not apply to you, you may know someone to whom it does apply. Please share it with them. I have seen several say that, since the stupid 11 year old tape of Trump using foul language when speaking about women was released, that this is the last straw for them and they cannot, “as a Christian,” vote for such a man! I am going to point out a few things for you to consider, and then end with an eye opening statement that EVERY Christian should KNOW but very few believe, else there would not be so much confusion about for whom to vote. And I am not saying that if you don’t vote for Trump you are not a Christian. I am saying that after reading this, I ask you to search your heart, read the Scriptures to prove if my points come from God’s Word, and then get alone with God…unplug…and ask God to speak to YOU and tell you for whom YOU should vote.

 

So lets look at a few of the men that God used in some of the most memorable and remarkable ways. I am sure that most of you are familiar with Moses. Moses is referred to often throughout the Bible, from his very birth and being spared death as an infant to leading the Hebrews out of captivity in Egypt. And it was to Moses that God chose to give the Ten Commandments. It was Moses to whom God showed Himself, if only from the backside. It was Moses to whom God spoke through the burning bush. I could go on, but the point is, God used Moses in mighty and wonderful ways. But many forget that before God used him, Moses was a murderer! He killed an Egyptian that he felt was mistreating a fellow Hebrew. This was not self-defense. This was an angry murder. Yet, God STILL used this man to save his people and to give US His commandments!

 

There was another man you might remember named David. David killed the mighty giant Goliath and to this day this story is referred to when people speak of the little guy going against the giant in their lives. David wrote psalms that are sung to this day. David was even referred to as a man after God’s own heart! Yet David committed adultery, got a married woman pregnant, and then had the woman’s husband brought back from war so that the husband could sleep with his wife, and they could claim that the baby was the husband’s. But when the man refused to lie with his wife while his fellow soldiers could not sleep with their wives, David was so enraged that he sent the man to the front lines where he was SURE to be killed! David was an adulterer, a deceiver, and a murderer, but God STILL used him!

 

So why would God use such horrible men to fulfill His will? Because these men trusted God, and when confronted with their sins, were truly repentant and asked for God’s forgiveness. And in case you missed it, as soon as the tape of his horrible words was released, Trump owned up to what he had done and apologized, asking that he be forgiven for his own stupidity.

 

But many still say, “I just can’t vote for him. I will vote for someone else and trust God that this other person will win.” It sounds like a wonderful idea, but in our system, unless a third party candidate is doing as well in the polls and is at least as well known as the candidates from the two major parties, there is ZERO chance that the electoral college will elect that person. Therefore, a vote for a thrid party candidate (or a write in vote) is a wasted vote and will assure that Hillary will be president. And trust me, she is COUNTING on all you who plan to vote for a third party to help her win, because she KNOWS that she CANNOT win without the third party votes!

 

So let me make one last statement for you to consider. During the temptation of Christ after He had fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus with food and with His safety…to prove that God would really protect Him if Jesus got hurt. But then there was the third temptation and this one is VERY relevant to us today and in this election, but it is so often overlooked and only mentioned momentarily in a sermon. However, the third temptation explains so many things that people have failed to understand for the 2,000 plus years since the temptation!

 

You see, for the third temptation (in Matthew and Luke, both in the 4th chapter, though only Luke goes into this important detail), we see WHY people like Hitler were allowed to be in power. In the following Scripture, I have added the parenthesis for clarification and all caps to add emphasis to the statement that is crutial. In Luke 4:5-7 (King James Version) “And the devil, taking Him (Jesus) up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto Him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of the them: FOR THAT IS GIVEN UNTO ME; AND TO WHOMSOEVER I WILL I GIVE IT. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.”

 

WHOA!!! That means that it has been given to Satan to put into power whomever he chooses! That would explain many things, wouldn’t it?. But what does that mean to us? First and foremost, though Satan can put in power anyone that he chooses, we MUST remember that he can ONLY act within the will of God. Do you recall that Satan thought that by killing Jesus, he had spoiled God’s plan for our salvation? But the death of Jesus, which lead to His resurrection, actually GAVE us salvation!

 

So what are we to do then? If Satan can put into power whomever he will, why should we even vote? I will explain why. We KNOW that God knows our needs before we even pray. So why should we pray? Prayer is an exercise in faith. God does not need us to tell Him our needs nor is He incapable of providing our needs if we don’t pray. But prayer shows God that we believe Him, we trust Him, and we are obedient to Him be following His instructions to pray. So what does that have to do with us voting. Quite simply, God has given us the opportunity to exercise our faith in His faithfulness by voting. . .an opportunity that most people throughout the history of mankind have not had. Because we were born in an age and live in a country where we have this opportunity, our vote shows God that we trust Him to only allow to be put into power the person who will ultimately bring about His will!

 

So PLEASE, study the Scriptures, get alone with God…unplugged…and seek HIS direction for your vote, remembering that God used men who were NOT perfect, but they WERE the men that GOD had chosen for those very specific situations. Then after praying, studying God’s Word, and listening to what He has to say to you, GO OUT AND VOTE!

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March 9, 2015

In What Condition is YOUR Spiritual Armor?

Some may find this question odd, as they have never heard of  “Spiritual Armor.” Others have heard of “Spiritual Armor,” but have no idea what is meant by the phrase. Some know what “Spiritual Armor” is, but have no idea how to use it. Yet others have used their “Spiritual Armor” in the past, but have allowed it to fall into disrepair. I will discuss our Spiritual Armor and why it must be kept in top shape!

So what is Spiritual Armor, why do we need it, and how do we use it? Ephesians 6:11-17 tells us why we need Spiritual Armor and gives a detailed description of it. I will  use the King James Version for this reference: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; and having your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”

So our armor consists of a girdle, a breastplate, a foot covering, a shield, a helmet, and a sword. After you have read this, I hope that you will check to make sure that you indeed have each piece of your armor and that they are in good shape. After all, going into battle without all of the needed armor or with armor that is in less than perfect shape can lead to your being wounded or killed! A soldier would not go into battle without a sword to fight the enemy, or he will be doing nothing more than running and hiding from the enemy all the time, never effectively able to fend off the enemy or destroy him. Likewise, a soldier whose footwear has holes in the soles will not be able effectively traverse the terrain of the battlefield.

So let’s look at each piece of armor-what does it look like and how is it used?  We will look at them in the order they were given in Ephesians 6.

1) The first thing that we need is the girdle of truth. A modern example of the girdle of old would be a large belt used to hold the breastplate in place, as well as a place to carry your sword until it is time to wield it. So then what is a “girdle of truth”—or “what is truth?”

John 14:6 “Jesus said unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” Jesus said that HE is the TRUTH. We are to wrap Jesus around our lives-around the very core of our being. He will hold our breastplate of righteousness in place, as well as keep our Sword of the Spirit at the ready for use in battle.

Since the girdle of Truth holds the breastplate of righteousness and keeps your Sword at the ready, it must be well fitting. If your girdle is too loose, your breastplate will not adequately protect you and you could lose your Sword. If your girdle is too tight, you will not be able to breath properly or move about as needed, and it will be difficult to draw your Sword when needed.

How do you know if your girdle of Truth fits just right? A correctly fitting girdle of Truth is one that keeps Jesus as the center of your daily life-not just someone you sing about at Sunday (or whatever day you worship) service. Someone with a lose fitting girdle will make excuses for sins in their life. They accept sins in others around them without sharing Jesus for fear of losing friends. On the other hand, one with a girdle that is too tight is one who has no joy in the Lord because they think that everything is a sin. They have no peace because they live in constant fear of their name being erased from the Book of Life. Between those two extremes is the Christian who has matured in their walk with the Lord and has learned that they must strive to walk with the Lord daily, realizing that they are not yet perfected, but they are working on it-allowing the Spirit of God to direct them, correct them, and fill them with joy and peace.

2) Let’s look at the Breastplate of Righteousness. What exactly is that? Righteousness is right doing, right actions, and right ways. Our breastplate covers our heart and protects it from attacks of the enemy. When we are doing right-in actions, thoughts, and words-we protect our hearts from attacks that may cause us serious spiritual injury or death. Conversely, when we are not living right-in actions, thoughts, or words-our hearts are left unprotected and we are vulnerable to attack.

3) What does it mean to have our “feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace?” While we know that the first four books of the New Testament are called the “Gospels,” this reference to the Gospel is used in the broader sense of “the teachings of Jesus, the kingdom of Heaven, and the way of Salvation.” Our feet carry us where we need to go. They are our “mode of transportation” For example, you have heard the saying, “I just walked into that one.” Of course, the person did not actually walk anywhere, they simply found themselves in a certain situation, much like we do daily in our walk with the Lord. Therefore, we must protect our “feet” with a covering to prevent injury so that we will be able to traverse any terrain in which we must fight the battle. The preparation referred to here means that we must study the Word of God-not just memorizing verses, but actually coming to an understanding of all that is contained therein. Phillipians 4:7 tells us, “And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” When we have covered our feet with preparation through study of God’s Word, we can have peace even in the heat of seemingly unbearable battles!

4) The shield of faith is to be taken “above all.” Why is the shield so important? The girdle, the breastplate, and the shoes all protect certain body parts, but the shield can be used to protect the entire body, and also deflect the “fiery darts of the wicked.” Faith is complete confidence and trust in God and His promises. In order to protect our being, we must have complete and total faith that God IS Who He says that He is and trust that He WILL see us through this battle. Romans 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” John 1:14 tells us “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” In order to “hear” faith, we must receive The Word of God-Jesus-into our hearts. As we grow in our relationship with Jesus, and continue to study His Word, our faith grows and our shield becomes strong enough to defend us against any attack that the enemy may send our way.

5) The helmet of salvation protects our head-our minds and our thoughts. Without this helmet, our minds are subject to the lies of the enemy. Satan will tell you that you are too far gone for God to forgive you now-LIE. Satan will tell you that he (Satan) doesn’t exist-LIE. Satan will tell you that your situation is hopeless-LIE. But when we have our minds protected by the knowledge that we are INDEED saved by the work that Jesus did on the cross, we are able to keep our minds safe from such attacks.

6) So far we have discussed defensive weapons-the ones that protect us in battle. But we are told to take an OFFENSIVE weapon as well, in order to fight against our enemy when we are under attack. The Sword of the Spirit, which IS the Word of God, is ours to turn back the enemy and defeat him. This powerful weapon is available to all who believe, but we must be trained in the use of the Sword of the Spirit. While Jesus is the Word made flesh, we have been given the written Word to use as well. So how do we wield this powerful weapon?

Just as one learning to use any sword, you must be trained to use the Sword of the Spirit. In Genesis, we see that God created the entire world and all that is contained therein by simply SPEAKING everything into being. Jesus, the Son of God and “THE WORD,” spoke and people were raised from the dead, healed, and many other miracles occurred simply by the spoken WORD. Further, John 14:12 (Jesus speaking, said,) “Verily, verily I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father.”

In other words, Jesus promised that we would be able to speak and things would happen. How awesome is that? That does not mean that we can go around telling the rain to cease because we don’t want our hair to get wet or to tell someone to fall in love with us when they are already married to another. Certainly not! What we CAN do is speak the Word of God to a situation, in faith, and (if we are speaking this in God’s will, not our own) it will be. I will give you an example.

 

Isaiah 54:17 states “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment, thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.” When I have been under an unwarranted attack from someone, I have taken God at His Word, and proclaimed His Word aloud in prayer thusly: “No weapon that is formed against ME shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against ME in judgment, I shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord (of whom I am one),  and MY righteousness is of the Lord, saith the Lord.” I proclaim HIS Word in MY life. I leave the situation in God’s hands and continue to believe and say the Word of God aloud concerning the situation. And the Lord has NEVER failed to handle the situation.

When you are facing a battle with the enemy, begin to practice wielding the Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. So how will you know what scriptures to use and when? Jesus speaking in John 14:26 tells us “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.”

This is why it SO very important to KNOW the Word of God. I don’t mean in the sense of memorizing, but in the sense of coming to an intimate knowledge of God’s Word. When we are under an attack by the enemy, we have been given this mightiest of weapons to win the battle!

So I ask again, in what condition is YOUR Spiritual Armor? Because whether we know it or not, and whether we like it or not, we ARE in a spiritual battle daily! Just take a look at the attack on Christians around the world. Do you not realize that we are in the heat of the battle? Even though we may not know them by name and have never met them, our brothers and sisters in Christ are counting on us to join the battle for their lives!

Here is a promise of God from 2 Chronicles 7:14  “If My people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” We need to proclaim this for our country daily by speaking God’s Word aloud-“Lord, you promised that if I (your child), which is called by YOUR name (Christian-a follower of Jesus Christ), would humble MYSELF, and pray, and seek YOUR face, and turn from MY wicked ways; then will YOU hear from Heaven, and forgive MY sin, and heal MY land.”

December 30, 2014

Hearing the Voice of God

Many people claim that God told them to do something or that He has enlightened them in some way, but have they really heard the voice of God? Does God even talk to people today the way he did in Biblical times? If so, who hears the voice of God? Of course, if you don’t believe that God exists, you won’t believe that people have ever heard His voice, so I will not try to prove God’s existence to that audience. This blog is aimed at those who DO believe that God exists, but have asked themselves the questions above.
We must first answer the question of whether or not God speaks to people today as He did in Biblical times. Many people claim to believe in God, the Bible, Jesus–all things Holy. Yet there is a great divide among the various “Christian” faiths as to the meanings of the scriptures and whether they were written for people of long ago or for all generations. For the purpose of this blog, I will take the position that all scripture is relevant today.
Taking that stance, I will explore what the scriptures have to say on the subject of God speaking to people today. Let’s take a look at the character of God as it concerns His unvariedness. James 1:17 states, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” In John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.”  Additionally, in Hebrews 13:8, we are told that Jesus is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.”  Therefore, we have established that God has not changed in His character, in His love, or His mode of communication with humanity.

So how do we know if someone has TRULY heard the voice of God, as so many claim? We have to compare messages that God gave in scripture to what one is claiming to have heard from God. God will never tell anyone to do any act that is contrary to His Word or His character. Additionally, when someone proclaims that God told them a future event will happen at a certain time or in a certain way and it does not happen, you know that person has NOT heard the voice of God. In contrast, if someone states that God has given them a prophecy for the future and it is fulfilled EXACTLY as that person claims, you can believe that they had heard the voice of God.

I will go into more details on false prophets and other such persons who claim to hear from God, but are not truly hearing from Our Father, in a future blog.

So who DOES hear the voice of God today? Scripture tells us in Matthew 22:14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” God wants to save everyone, though not all will come to the knowledge of truth. However, many WILL come to God (the called), but for whatever reason God sees fit, He has CHOSEN a few to whom He speaks with special messages. We know from John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him…” God will speak to your heart by His Holy Spirit and draw you to Him. John 16:13 tells us, “Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come.”  He will speak to your heart by His Holy Spirit and convict you of your sins when you stray. God will speak to your heart by His Holy Spirit and guide you in your walk of faith. Every true believer hears the voice of God, or they could not be saved. But there are some with whom the Father has chosen to have a depth of conversation that not many will ever know in this lifetime.

Understand that no one CHOOSES to be among the “chosen” to whom God speaks with special messages. No one can bargain, barter, or beg God to be one of “the chosen few.” God does not always choose someone that the world would consider worthy of this awesome privilege, as we see throughout scripture. Before God spoke to Abraham, Noah, Moses, etc, they were just ordinary people. If they had not harkened to God’s voice, we likely would not know them today. But God chose to speak to these great people because He KNEW that they WOULD listen and heed His Words. Of course, we know that none of the people to whom God chose to speak were perfect-even after they heard the voice of God. But their HEARTS were after God. In other words, they may have fallen to human frailties, but they were quick to repent and truly sorry for the error of their ways. Their desire was to serve and please God, even if they stumbled along the way.

Does God only speak to adults? 1 Samuel 3 tells the story of Samuel, as a very young child, hearing the voice of God. At first, he thought that Eli was calling to him. But after the third time that Samuel went to Eli saying, “here I am, for you called me,” Eli realized that it was indeed God Himself who was calling upon Samuel. So even as a child, God can speak to us.

Having said all of this, I will now share with you that God has spoken to me throughout my life. Yes, I have failed Him miserably. No, I am not (at least in my own opinion) anyone special to whom God should choose to speak. However, God HAS chosen to speak to me and I will now share with you my experiences in hearing God’s voice.

The first time that I can remember hearing God’s voice (though I certainly didn’t know it at the time, much like Samuel in 1 Samuel 3,) I was about 7 years old. I can remember the exact spot where I was at that time- in the sitting area of the dining room. I was sitting on a couch beneath an open window with the Mimosa trees in full bloom. God spoke to me and said, “You are special.” At that time, we were not a “church” family. We only attended on special occasions, if then. However, our mother had taught us to pray when we were very young and I had a great faith in God.

I was certainly not learned in the ways of the Lord nor in hearing the voice of God, so I looked around to see who had spoken to me. There was no one around. I was there alone and yet, as clear as I had heard anyone else, I heard this “Voice” speaking to me. The message was simple and I did not understand it at the time. I didn’t think of myself as anything special or certainly worthy of any extra attention by the Creator of all that is. However, in the future, I would hear this message again and again.

As I have written about in other blogs, I suffered great abuse as a child and this message came to me either just before or just after the abuse began-I’m not quite certain, except that it was about the same time. Because of the abuse, I had a very low self-esteem so that I would never really feel very special-even when I would hear this message. As most children do, I thought the abuse was somehow my fault and I felt dirty and unlovable-yet this Voice would continue to tell me that I was special.  It would be many years before I would begin to understand the message.

I was not special because of anything that I had done, but rather because God SAID that I was special. He did not say, “You are perfect. You will never make mistakes. You are better than others.” He simply said, “You are special.” I am sure that there are many who would argue that I am certainly nothing special, but I will not attempt to change their minds. I will simply stand by the statement from the Lord.

So how do I know that I wasn’t simply talking to myself? For one thing, I would have said to myself, “I am special”-not “You”. Additionally, I certainly wasn’t vain enough to think of myself as special in any way. I knew that I was hearing a voice not my own, but not human either. In John 10:27, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice…” I cannot explain this to anyone who has not heard the voice that I have heard, but I eventually knew that it was the voice of God.

My Aunt Imogene, a great woman of faith and faithfulness, often heard the Voice of God and I was in awe of her connection with the Lord. When she prayed, her prayers were answered. She never doubted (or at least never let anyone know if she did). One day she was visiting us here in South Mississippi when, as we were riding down Highway 90 along the beach, she shuttered and proclaimed, “God is going to send a great judgment upon this place.” I don’t remember if she elaborated, except that there was going to be a great destruction. A few months later, Hurricane Camille hit this area and it was the most devastating hurricane in the area to that date. I do believe that my Aunt Imogene heard the Voice of God.

Shortly after Hurricane Camille struck this area, a gentleman came to our door to discuss some roofing repairs-the only loss we had even though we only lived a few blocks from the beach! Because my mother has worn 2 hearing aids since I was a very young child, she had difficulty understanding what the man was saying. The man asked her if she believed that God could heal her hearing. He asked if he could pray with her. After praying with her, he invited us to attend his church, where they prayed for healing regularly. (My mother still wears hearing aids-healing will be the topic of another blog-but, yes, I absolutely believe in healing!)

At this time, we were visiting churches looking for a church home. Having been raised Congregationalist in the North East, my mother was not particular as to what church we attended since there were no Congregationalist churches in this area. We had visited churches including Baptist, Nazarene, and Church of Christ, but had not found a church home. This gentleman invited us to an Assemblies of God church in Gulfport (Mississippi). This was a Pentecostal church where they shouted, raised their hands, and spoke in tongues. The women wore long dresses and no makeup and little jewelry. My Aunt Imogene was Pentecostal, though I was not familiar with exactly how the services were carried out.

As we began to attend this church, there was a great emphasis on “speaking in tongues” as a symbol that you have been filled with the Spirit of God. I began to study this and though some of my family members began to speak in tongues, I was not quite sure about the practice. I wanted to understand it all to be sure that this was really something from God and not a man-made situation. I would often find myself at the alter with people grasping my jaw and shaking my face, as if somehow I would begin to speak in tongues if they just moved my mouth in the right way. But in my spirit, I knew this was not God’s way. None the less, one day, deep in prayer, I began to pray in a language that I did not know. I cannot explain it to someone who has not experienced it, but I knew that my spirit was communicating with God in a way that was deeper than prayers that I could utter of my own understanding. A friend from high school visited church with me once and while we were in the choir room praying , she said that an aura of light was shining around me! I have never seen this myself, but she was a very sober and somber person and not prone to making such statements if they were not true. Again, I am far from perfect, but I know that I have a measure of faith that says, “Though I may fail Him, God will NEVER fail me!”

Remember that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Having said that, Jesus said, in Mark 16:17 “And these signs shall follow them that believe; in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.” Unfortunately, many Pentecostal churches have put too much emphasis on the act of “speaking in tongues” above all else. There is a time and a place for speaking in tongues. Some are given the gift to speak in tongues within a group and there should be someone there to whom God has given an interpretation-lest there be confusion. However, to date, my gift has be a personal prayer language between God and me. I have not felt compelled to speak out in tongues in front of others, though some may have heard me praying in tongues in my personal prayers. I do not always pray in tongues. It is not something that I can switch off and on. But frequently when I am personally praising God or in desperate prayer, a beautiful language comes forth from my lips. Should God tell me to do so, I  would speak out in tongues. But for now, I have this gift for my own personal edification.

It was shortly after I began to pray in tongues-a deep, meditative prayer beyond what I could utter on my own-that I had the following incident. I was struggling with trying to serve God and wanting to live a holy life, yet knowing how dirty I was because of the abuse that I was still enduring at home, I never felt worthy of God’s grace. In fact, as I drew closer to the Lord, my father would tell me, “Now go and ask Jesus to forgive you,” when he would finish with me. I was in mental torment and in great fear of being cut off from God because I was a “dirty sinner,” no matter how hard I tried to be and do good.

One afternoon as I left the high school cafeteria to sit outside on a bench waiting for lunch break to be finished, I literally saw a battle going on in my mind! I could see demons and angles fighting for control of my mind. Satan spoke to me and said, “I will take your mind.” It was not the first time that I would hear Satan’s voice, but I had learned by this time whose voice this was and it wasn’t God’s. I had also learned to rebuke Satan in Jesus name (just as someone with the power of attorney has the authority to speak in someone else’s name) and that is exactly what I did. I began to pray that God would keep my mind sound and deliver me from the forces of Satan. I immediately received the peace that passes all understanding. I later began to realize that the statement, “I will take you mind,” did not necessarily mean that I was going to go crazy, but that Satan would do all that he could to “take my mind” away from God. I needed to be on constant guard against that attack of my mind-but I would not always succeed. Not because God had somehow failed to keep my mind, but because I had allowed things to enter into my mind that had no business there-fear, lust, hatred, etc. We must ALL guard our minds DAILY against the “wiles of the devil.” Thus we are instructed in Ephesians 6 to put on the whole armor of God-including the helmet of salvation-the protection of our mind!

After high school, I attended the local junior college and had begun dating a young man that I had admired in high school. He was very popular and was a year older than me, so I never expected to see him much less date him after high school. I was thrilled to be dating him, but for some reason, dating him was more like going out with a family member. I had no romantic feelings for him. It was not anything he did, I simply didn’t have the emotions that I thought I would have. One night, after Christmas when I was with this young man, I heard the Voice of God again. “I want you to go to Southeastern,” God told me. I was surprised that God was telling me to go off to Florida to a college in which I had no interest. I had been hoping that if I continued to see this young man, my feelings for him would change. After all, he was quite a catch and I was desperate to get married and move out of my parents’ home to get away from the abuse. I had never planned to go so far from home to college because I was still very close to my little siblings and I knew nothing about this college except that it was sponsored by our church and a few of the young people from our youth group had gone there.  Howbeit,  I KNEW this was the Voice of God and I had to tell this young man that I would be going to Florida for college.

I went home and told my mother that I wanted to go to Southeastern Bible College in Lakeland, FL. I didn’t even know where Lakeland, FL was, but I knew that I was supposed to go there! Since it was already after Christmas, and the new semester would begin on January 4, it was pretty much impossible to think that I would be able to get all of the paperwork done and be accepted for that term, but when God tells you to do something, He makes the way! I began classes at Southeastern on January 4, 1975!

I would only be there for one semester because near the end of the semester, my father, who had not been happy about me going off to Florida, called me to inform me that I would NOT be going back. In a panic, I basically asked the young man who I was just beginning to date, if he would be interested in marrying me! I knew that my father meant what he said about me never leaving again! Since the young man was trying to get away from a bad situation in his own home, the young man said that he would marry me. I knew that I did not love this young man, but I was desperate to get away from my parents’ home. However, God had a plan that I could not possibly see at that time.

We were planning to get married in June, but the new church building would be finished by then and we would be the first couple married in the new church. Since he was from Orlando and his family and friends would not be at the wedding, the young man began to panic and change his mind because there was so much pressure on us to have a HUGE wedding. I felt like this was my last chance to get away from my parents so I said, “Since we are getting married anyway, why wait until June? Let’s get married this weekend!”

We went back to my house and announced that we were getting married that weekend, before the new church building was complete. It never occurred to me that anyone would think that I was pregnant and that was why we moved up the date. I just wanted to get married before my last chance slipped away. I had no idea what marriage was all about, but I didn’t think it could be any worse than what I was enduring at home. I can remember standing at the back of the church as the music began playing, thinking, “I hardly know this guy and I don’t have any real feelings for him, but my mother always said that you can learn to love anyone.”

Our marriage was rocky from the start, but I would be blessed with my three sons, and for that I will be forever grateful. In fact, I had been in labor for nearly 24 hours with our second son when I would hear the Voice of God again. My husband was not a patient man and my hours of crying out in pain were irritating him. He was basically telling me to hurry up and get this over with-as if I had some control over what was going on. The pain was unbearable and I didn’t think that I could last another minute. My husband’s complaining only made me feel worse. I began to pray that I would NEVER have to go through this again! I had wanted many children, but by now had figured out that my husband was not a very good father or husband and that it was probably not a good idea to have a bunch of children with him. However, as I lay there in labor, the Lord spoke to me and said, “You have another son coming.” I wasn’t sure what that meant, since my mother had given birth to twins and didn’t know until after the first one was delivered that another one was on the way. Was I having twins? No.

I would become pregnant again when my second son was only 9 months old. I couldn’t imagine going through labor again, but I was not able to take birth control pills, so I knew that I could become pregnant again. At that time, you could not have your tubes tied if you were under 25 years old unless it was deemed medically necessary. But by God’s good grace, my doctor would agree with me. I had to have a C-section due to the baby’s size (over 9 lbs and 24 inches…2ft long). Since I am only 5’2″ myself, this baby was taking up nearly half my height! While they were doing the C-section, I opted to have my tubes tied. While I was pregnant with this baby, I discovered that my husband, whom I had met in Bible College, was now smoking pot in addition to getting drunk. I didn’t want to bring another baby into the world with a father who was on drugs. I prayed before the surgery and told the Lord that I was acting in good faith that if He indeed intended for me to have more children, a little thing like tying my tubes couldn’t prevent it from happening. When I shared my concerns about my husband with my Dr., he agreed to tie my tubes.

Seven years into our marriage, I would hear the Voice of God again. I had never told anyone except my mother about the abuse that I had endured from my father, but she never did anything about it, so I didn’t tell anyone else. However, one day the Lord spoke to me and told me that the whole ugly story was about to come out in the family and that I needed to share this with my husband. When I told him what my father had done to me, my husband’s reply was, “You mean you were USED when I got you?” I was crushed at his reply, but about a month later, my parents announced that they were divorcing and the whole ugly story came out to the family!

Within a few months, my husband began having an affair with another woman. He simply came home one day and said, “I don’t want to be married anymore. I love someone else and I’m leaving.” Our sons were 6, 4, and 2 years old at the time and I was a stay-at-home mom. How would I take care of our children? How would I pay the bills and feed them? I felt like my entire world had just imploded! I went about my daily chores catatonically. I knew what had to be done and I did it, but I was completely numb. My father was quite wealthy, and though I had gotten away from my parents, I was still close to my younger siblings, so I would still visit on occasion. I could go to my father for financial support, but at what cost? I could lose the few pounds that I still had in baby weight, but if this woman was so much more beautiful than me, I could never win my husband back. I was completely lost and had no idea what to do.

As the boys sat at the dining room table eating lunch a few days after my husband walked out, I was folding clothes and found myself lying on the floor in a fetal position, crying into a blanket.  The Lord spoke to me and said, “Love him home.” Love him home??? How could God tell me to love someone who was committing adultery and had abandoned his family. Then it suddenly dawned on me! All of my life I had feared being rejected of God because I knew that I was far less than perfect, yet God was telling me to show this man HIS love. The Lord showed me that no amount of my father’s money, nor any beauty that I might attain could possibly bring my husband back. But forgiveness-unconditional love-would win him back! And the Lord also showed me that if He could forgive my husband and love him still—He could forgive and love me!

I immediately got up and the Lord began to show me things to come. For example, I saw my husband coming home. He would be in a truck and would come to the side door carrying his lunch box and thermos, as if he were simply returning home from work. I wrote that down on my calendar.

It was during my husband’s absence that I grew closer to God than I ever knew possible. He would reveal truths from His Word that I had read many times and never understood. I would learn to walk by sheer faith alone—trusting God for each meal, each bill, and every need. I was able to get food stamps to provide for my children and one day as I was heading to the store on my bike (since my husband had taken the car) with one child sitting in the basket, one in the child seat on the back, and one on the seat as I stood up to pedal, I was singing “We bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of our God!” I was completely at peace and happy for the first time in my life! It was the worst time of my life and the BEST time of my life, all at the same time. A friend commented to me, as I pedaled and sang, “They are going to put you in Whitfield (the state mental hospital). How can anyone be that happy with all that you are going through?” (Years later, that same friend would end up in Whitfield from a nervous breakdown.)

During those several months that my husband was gone, I grew in the Lord more than I knew possible and I had a wonderful prayer warrior as a mentor. One day she said to me, “Are you going to take him back before he gets right with God?” I was shocked! Of COURSE I was going to take my husband back, no matter what state he was in. After all, God had told me to love him home and that is what I was going to do. I suppose that I thought I was so close to God that I could never fall away again, so when she told me that taking him back before he got his life right with God could pull me away from the Lord, I arrogantly said, “That will never happen!”

Boy, was I wrong!!! It wasn’t long before my husband came home. A friend brought him home in a pickup and when he got out, the first two things that he grabbed where his lunch box and his thermos! He came in at the side door to the house! Exactly as the Lord had shown me!!!

But I was soon compromising my faith in order to keep my husband happy and to keep him with us. The Lord began to tell me that my oldest son, Andy, “would be as if he were an only child.” That message upset me, but I KNEW the Voice and I knew that God does not make mistakes! I pleaded with God and begged that He not take my other two sons. I would hear this message again and again over the next several years and each time I would beg God not to take my other two sons.

As I said, by trying to appease my husband, I began to allow things into my life that I never imagined that I could do. Though he did start out going to church with us, it wasn’t long before he quit going, and we quit going as well. Just like the children of Israel began to fall away and lose faith after all of the miracles that God had done for them in delivering them from Egypt, I too, began to lose faith. I didn’t turn my back on God, but I simply starting trying to fix things myself instead of leaving them in God’s hands.

Remember the friend who told me that I would end up in Whitfield if I didn’t stop praising God in the midst of my troubles? The Lord spoke to me and told me to stop hanging around with her. I couldn’t understand it. She had been my friend through out all of my troubles with my husband and she was an emotionally needy person. She didn’t have many friends and I understood her. I argued with the Lord about it,  but He was clear in what He told me. I wish that I had listened to Him!

A few years later, my friend decided to go to college and become a nurse. She came to me and informed me that she would no longer be able to hang out with me because she was going to be “college educated and would need to hang out with educated people.” I had graduated from high school and had a year of college before I married.  I never thought that I was somehow too educated to hang out with her when she only had a GED. But now she felt that I would be beneath her. She then proceeded to tell me that should she divorce her husband, she could have any man she wanted. When I replied, “Well, if I divorced my husband, I could have any many I wanted,” she immediately said, “I’m not talking about drunks and derelicts, I’m talking about real men.” I was truly hurt. But her husband and my husband were friends, so I knew that we would still see them.

Sure enough, only a few weeks later, our husbands had gone to a party and gotten quite wasted. My husband brought my friend’s husband back to our house and said, “Maybe he can do something for you that I don’t,” then announced that he was going back to the party to find someone (woman) to party with.

Since the day we married, our “love life” had been more than just lacking, as my husband didn’t believe that a Christian woman was supposed to enjoy the love-making process, so he refused to do anything to bring me pleasure. Now he was giving me permission to enjoy myself with someone else. Of course, that was a ridiculous idea! I would NEVER commit adultery!

I went to get a blanket and pillow for my friend’s husband. When I brought them to him, him grabbed me, kissed me, and told me that he had long desired to be with me. I will not make an excuse for what followed, but I gave in to temptation and had a short-lived affair with my friend’s husband. I wish I could take it all back. But what was done, was done. I soon realized WHY the Lord had told me to quit hanging around with this friend.  Had I obeyed, she would not have been able to make those cutting remarks that made me vulnerable to her husband’s advances, in an “I’ll show her” manner. There was another thing that occurred that would not have occurred had I obeyed the Lord and stopped hanging around with this woman, and I will discuss that a little later.

My husband was now doing the same things that he had been doing before he left us for the other woman. I had not recognized the signs then, but I knew them now. I began to make plans to leave him. He was doing drugs again and was beginning to be quite bizarre. For example, one night when a neighbor and her husband had a fight, he dressed in camo, painted his face, got his sawed-off shotgun, and began to “walk the perimeter” of our fenced yard in downtown Long Beach-a quiet, residential area in a little town. He had turned the couch over in the living room and ordered the children and myself to hide under it, “in case ‘they’ (the government) came in to get us.”

A few days after that incident, while he was quite drunk/high, he ordered me to go get him a six-pack of beer. I had to be back in 15 minutes, with exact change, or “I will start shooting kids (his own kids)” as he wielded his loaded 357 magnum. I knew he meant it and I knew it was time to get out!

I began making plans to leave him, but I didn’t know where to go. My mother had moved to California to be near my sisters who had moved out there and I couldn’t afford to move out there. My father still lived alone in the mansion by the beach, and even though I had counseled with my pastor about my father’s abuse (after I told my husband about it), my pastor suggested that the children and I move back into the my father’s house. That was not an option as far as I was concerned, as my father had made it clear to me, even after my children were born, that he still had desires for me.

I knew that my husband was violent and that the children and I would not be safe if we were still in the area. I looked up an old boyfriend in Georgia and he was single. Within a few weeks the children and I moved in with him. I knew that it was not right in God’s eyes, but I was not trusting God-I was trusting what I could see-which was only one way out.

I lived with the boyfriend for about a year when my husband, who had by now moved back in with his mother in Orlando, came to get the boys for a summer visit. I didn’t want to let them go, but since he had refused to finalize the divorce and we were still legally married, I didn’t have much choice. When he brought them back to me, he told me that he had a loaded gun under the front seat (and I knew he did-he always did). He said that he was taking our oldest son, Andy-now 13- to live with him in Orlando. He wanted to get on welfare and he had to have a child living with him to do so. He told me that if I tried to stop him from taking Andy, that he would just kill me and take all of the boys-and I KNEW he meant it!

As soon as they left, I went straight to the police. I told them what had happened, but they informed me that since the divorce was filed but not finalized, they could not do anything. Since I had not actually SEEN the gun (even though I knew he never went anywhere without a loaded gun), they said that there was no proof that he had really threatened me! I was not where I should be with God. I had not turned my back on God or quit believing, I had simply allowed the world to enter in and was not living a life pleasing to my Father. But in His infinite love, God spoke to me even then and reminded me that He had told me that “Andy would be ‘as if he was an only child’.” Andy was now living with his father in Orlando-as if he were an only child!

When my husband’s girlfriend became pregnant about a year and a half later, he no longer needed Andy in order to stay on welfare, so he allowed Andy to return to me-but this time on MY terms. In order to stay in his mother’s home, my husband had to be married to his pregnant girlfriend-but he was still married to me. I told him that I would sign the final divorce papers-when he returned Andy to me and did not try to take him again! He agreed and he never again came to see our sons until they were grown men.

Though I knew by this time that I did not want to marry the boyfriend (as he was a mean drunk), I was forced into the situation in order to maintain my temporary home. I did try to make that marriage work, but after years of abuse and being told how he would like to be with other women, “if I would give my permission,” I finally divorced the second husband.

However, while I was married to the second husband, I would still hear the Voice of God. We moved back to the Mississippi Gulf Coast the same month that casinos opened here. I had never believed in gambling, but it was after the Lord had spoken to me to quit hanging around with my friend, that I began going to church bingo games with her, reasoning that it was not really gambling, but giving money to charity. That opened the door for me to later become addicted to gambling.

I didn’t mind going to bingo, as it was raising money for charities. But I always felt a little funny about it (conviction). Then when the casinos opened, I was invited to go with friends and family members. I didn’t see the fun in putting a five dollar bill in a machine and within a matter of minutes, walking away with nothing. However, when friends came to town, they wanted to go and would usually pay my way if I would show them around. On one such trip, I actually hit a small jackpot and began to realize that this might just be fun. I reasoned that the money was going to education, and being that I was back in college to complete my degree to teach, I would actually be reimbursed the money when I began teaching, as teachers’ salaries began to rise with the influx of casinos.

It wasn’t long before I was gambling on a regular basis-only small amounts at first-but as I began to win more and more, I found myself addicted. I would ask friends to pray for me to quit going and would read scriptures that indicated why I shouldn’t gamble-such as Isaiah 55:2 “Wherefore do you spend money for that which is not bread? and your labor for that which satisfies not?” But I would continue to gamble. I finally realized that I was addicted when I could hardly concentrate on work on Fridays, knowing that on Saturday morning I would be in the casino and maybe then win the jackpot that would allow me to pay off all my bills-like the loans I was taking to pay my bills because I was gambling. I was teaching by this time, but even though I had a good salary, I was always in debt because of my gambling.

I would pray for the Lord to deliver me, but I would go right back to the casinos. Then one Friday night, as I lay in bed imagining how much I might win the next morning, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Don’t go.” I began to argue with the Lord-you would think I would have learned my lesson about listening to the Lord by now-but no. I argued, “But, Lord, I will only spend $20.” “Don’t go,” I heard. “But, Lord, I don’t go to movies, or eat out, or spend money on myself. This is the only selfish thing I do for me.” “Don’t go,” He said again. By now, I had gotten out of bed, sometime after midnight, and was pacing the kitchen floor, arguing with God. As I paced back and forth making excuses to go, the Lord finally said to me, “Do you NEVER want to hear my voice again?” I was instantly snapped back to reality~~~and instantly delivered from gambling!

I will not even buy a raffle ticket for a charity. I have played bingo with my fiancé and his mother a few times, but he has purchased the cards and I have given any winnings to him. We do it occasionally for his mother to have some socialization. But I will NOT pay for the cards, as I WILL NOT gamble again. He plays the lottery and says that he will give me half the money if he wins, and that is fine if that is what he chooses to do, but I have shared my story with him and he knows that I will not pay for gambling of any kind. We went to a casino for dinner one night and we received “free play” but I even felt guilty about playing that so I can not do that again. I realize that it was not “technically” gambling since I didn’t put any money into the machine, but it was too close to a sin from which I have delivered for me to want to do that again. Am I ever tempted? Of course I am. I was an addict. But I am also delivered and pray that I never, by God’s grace, get caught up in that again.

The Lord has spoken to me since about other things and again I have not always obeyed-and again regretted my failure. However, I know that God is long-suffering, forgiving, and still talks to me, though I know that I am far from perfect.

Recently, after my second divorce and feeling that I may die before I ever know the true love of a man-the kind of love that God intended-the kind of love that leaves no doubt that I am loved (which I never knew from either husband and for which I have sought my entire life)-I prayed for just such a love. As I prayed, the Lord said to me, “Wait. Trust. Believe. Receive.” After all, who would fall in love with a woman who was in her mid-50s, overweight, and by this time, disabled?

However, I kept praying that there would be a man somewhere who could love me just as I am. I heard those words over and over again-“Wait. Trust. Believe. Receive.” Even though I dated a few “possibles,” and wondered if they might be “the one,” I knew in my heart that they were NOT the one. I finally resigned myself to the fact that even if I never know that kind of love from a man, God has always loved me-no matter what. I had finally come to the place where I stopped looking for a man to fill that emptiness in my heart. I have my children and grandchildren and I know that they love me.

And then it happened! God brought the most amazing man into my life. He loves me for me. He doesn’t expect anything from me and treats me with the love, honor, and respect that I never received from either of my ex-husbands. Within a month, he told me that he planned to marry me. We are planning to get married as soon as we get some financial things in order-but they are not gambling debts-praise God!

And God is still speaking to me. Recently a situation came up and I wanted to go see what was going on. The Lord spoke to me and told me to stay put. Though I was very curious as to what was going on (because I knew that it concerned me), I am grateful that I obeyed and stayed put. As it turned out, the person was just trying to stir up trouble and I would have been caught up in it had I not obeyed.

So to answer the question, “Does God still talk to people today,” the answer is a clear YES! Who hears the Voice of God? Though we are all drawn by God’s Spirit, a few are chosen to hear special messages from God. How many is “a few?” I have no idea. It is NOT for me to know.  But I do know that when God speaks to you, you WILL know that it is HIS voice!

 

 

 

December 10, 2014

For Those Who Saved Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — valeriecaylor @ 8:22 am
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December 10, 1967 was a very cold morning in the country about 20 miles east of Tulsa, OK. The recently fallen snow created a picturesque scene on the acres and acres of soybean fields across the street from our house as they stretched up to the foot hills in the distance. Christmas was in the air and it looked like it was going to be a wonderful, white Christmas that people of dream of but don’t often get to see.

That morning my mother had taken my older brother, David, into town (Catoosa, OK) for a Boy Scout meeting.  My little brothers and sisters and I stretched out on the floor of the living room watching cartoons as our father prepared breakfast for us. He told us that we needed to go upstairs and change out of our pajamas. It may have been a Saturday morning, but there were chores to be done on the farm.

I helped my little brothers, 3 year old twins, get dressed and sent them down stairs. Then I made sure that my little sisters, 9 and 6 years old, were getting dressed. I finished dressing and made sure that everyone else was down stairs. Our father let us watch a few more cartoons before we had to start on our chores, as this was an especially cold morning-crisp and clear, but a hard freeze the night before left everything outside frozen.

As I sat down, my father placed another log on the roaring fire in the fireplace-a beautiful structure made from sandstones brought up from the Verdigris River that ran across the back of our property. Glass doors opened into both the living room and the den, creating an open, warm feeling throughout that entire side of the house.

A minute or two later, I said, “Daddy, I smell smoke.”

My father chuckled and said, “Well of course you smell smoke. I just put another log on the fire.”

“No, Daddy,” I protested. “I smell ‘funny’ smoke.”

Just then my father looked up and saw black smoke billowing across the ceiling like a thunderous wave crashing on the shores. “The house is on fire,” my father yelled. “Get the kids out of the house!” I hurried my little brothers and sisters outside and into the freezing cold as we looked back to see where our father was. He rushed out of the burning house and opened his truck so that my little siblings would have a warm place of safety.

As my father rushed to get a hose and try to douse the flames, he told me to run to the neighbor’s home and call for help. Our nearest neighbor was about a quarter of a mile down the road. I was always known for being quite a runner, but that day, I may have set a record! As I ran barefoot on the frozen dirt, all I could think about was the safety of my family and wishing that my mother was there! Why did this have to happen at the time that she wasn’t there? Who would watch the little ones while my father tried to save the house? I knew that they had to be just as afraid and confused as I was. I wanted to stay there with them to watch over them so that my father could fight the fire. But I also knew that I would be able to get help faster than any of them and I surely didn’t want any of them having to make this run for help.

By the time that I got to the neighbor’s house, they had already seen the smoke and called for help. I wanted to go back to be with my siblings, to watch over them, but the woman wouldn’t let me. She held me back and I can remember well the horror of seeing the smoke and watching my father trying in vain to save the house. Soon someone brought my little brothers and sisters to our neighbor’s house and at least I knew that they were safe.

We would later learn that squirrels had made a nest in the wiring beneath the house, just under the staircase-the staircase that my siblings and I had JUST come down minutes before they ignited in flames! I also learned that our property sat in two different counties and there had been a debate about which county should respond—as our house burned!

My mother was returning from town with David when she saw the smoke. She said that somehow she “knew” that it was our house on fire. I can’t even imagine what was going through her mind, not knowing if her children and husband were burning with the house! That had to be terrifying for her!

The heat of the flames had thawed the water enough that my father was able to get the hoses going and by some miracle, the house was not a complete loss. However, it would be months before it could be rebuilt.

We spent that first night with the neighbor’s and then help began flooding in. The Tulsa newspaper ran the story of a family with 6 children who had lost all of their Christmas (much of it hidden in that closet beneath the stairs) as well as their home. It was only a day or two after the fire when we stood in a huge room filled with toys, clothes, bikes, and everything a family would need to start over again. So many people had come forward to help us, that we had more than we could possibly want or use!

I learned a very valuable lesson, even at the tender age of 11. Christmas is not a day or even a season-it is the unselfish act of giving to others. The joy those people derived from helping us and giving us back a stolen Christmas had a great  impact on my life.

Christ willing left all of the Glory of Heaven to come to Earth. He did not come as a grown man, but as a completely dependent infant. He did not come as a wealthy business man, but as the son of a lowly carpenter. He did not come in an age of cell phones, cars, electricity, and all of the many luxuries that we consider necessities today, but in an age when survival was difficult even for the greatest men. Knowing what the future would hold for him-abandoned by EVERY man, beaten, scorned, and finally crucified for our sins-not His own-yet he came! Jesus gave of Himself, unselfishly and willingly.

Though we said thank you for all of the gifts that we received that year, I don’t think that “thank you” was quite enough to convey my gratitude for ALL that I was given that year. More than the material things that I acquired that Christmas, I still had my family, and I had learned a lesson that would be with me for the rest of my life.

Each year, I try to make at least some, if not all, of my Christmas gifts for others. It is that “giving of myself” that makes it Christmas for me. I also try to give to others in need as much as I can. It is my way of thanking those precious souls who saved Christmas for us that year!

 

November 28, 2014

Being Thankful

Filed under: My thoughts — valeriecaylor @ 12:03 pm
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It’s that time of year when everyone begins to think about the things for which they are thankful. Of course, we are all thankful for family and friends, good food, a warm home, and the list goes on. I am not saying that you cannot be truly thankful for all that you have if you have never been without. But I think that when you HAVE been without, you are maybe just a little more thankful for all of the blessings in your life when they come your way.

If you have never driven a car that had rusted through the roof and you had to wear a garbage bag on your lap to keep from getting soaked as you drove in the rain, watching the highway go by under the car through the rusted out holes in the floor, stopping every 50 miles to add water and oil, then you probably aren’t quite as thankful as I am to have, paid in full, a very nice van with a tv in the ceiling that drops down for the grandbabies to watch their favorite movies as we take trips. I am thankful that I don’t have to drive with a garbage bag on my lap, see the road go by under my feet, and stop to add oil and water every 50 miles. The tv? That was just icing on the cake that I didn’t even expect or dream of when I prayed for a car that was safe, sound, and didn’t look like a piece of trash rolling down the road.

If you have never had to wonder where you and your children would sleep tonight, then you probably aren’t quite as thankful as I am to have a nice home to sleep in every night and that my children have homes for them and their families to sleep in.

If you have never been down to a single potato to feed your children, then you may not be quite as thankful as I am to have a bountiful meal not only for me and my family to eat, but to be able to share with others.

If you have never been down to a single pair of sneakers and your little toe sticking out of each shoe, wearing a single pair of jeans that have holes in the knees, then you may not be as overwhelmed as I am when I look at my walk-in closet full of clothes, with shoes in various colors and styles to match various outfits, and the jewelry to match as well.

If you have never been told by the doctors that you will never have children, and with each pregnancy being told that you won’t be able to have another, then you may not be in awe each time you look at not just your 3 sons, but the beautiful women they have married and with whom they have given you 8 beautiful grandbabies!

If you have never had your 13 year old son taken from you at gunpoint in the midst of your divorce, whisked off to Florida by his father, and being told by the police that there is nothing they can do since the divorce isn’t finalized yet, then not being able to get him back for a year and a half, only to have him enter the military and serve in Iraq a few years later, you may not be as humbled as I am that my son is still here and has given me beautiful grandchildren to love as well!

If you have never had to search the couch cushions, sell cans you have picked up along the roadside, and checked pay phones and vending machines for enough change to buy a single roll of toilet tissue, then you may not appreciate your regular check as much as I do.

If you have never had a loaded gun put to your head by your husband or had your children threatened at gunpoint by their own father, never had your face punched as you drove down the road, never had cat liter dumped over your head and smeared into your hair, (all as the man who is supposed to love, honor, and cherish you is drunk as a skunk), then perhaps you can’t understand how much it means to me to be loved by a man who not only doesn’t drink, but won’t hurt me, and who goes out of his way to SHOW his love to me.

If you have never been a sinner, never done things that disgust you-things that you would condemn others for doing, never realized that you are NOTHING without Christ, never understood that it was YOUR sins that kept Jesus on the cross of Calvary-realizing that He could have cried out to the Father to relieve Him of the horror that was happening to Him, and realizing how much you still fail Him, then you won’t be able to understand that being thankful isn’t enough. You can’t see that His love for us is unconditional, without end, and so very undeserved. Yet, He loves us still.  You can’t see that no matter how many good works we do, we will never “earn” His love, because His love for us is a gift-freely given and freely accepted. You will never know that through all of the things we have been through, all of the things we have been without, and all of the blessings that we now have-He has been there with us all along-never leaving us, never failing us, and never turning us away.

So you see, I AM thankful! I am humbled, I am awe-struck, and I am without any further words to express how blessed I am!

August 23, 2014

Online Dating Part 4-My experiences-funny, frightening, and true!

I have to admit that I never thought I would do any online dating and even poked fun of those who did. But sure enough, I found myself signing up for such sites when I realized that I wasn’t meeting many single men in my job as a Special Ed teacher. I was not into the bar scene and had been married twice-both were alcoholics (though I met the first one at a Bible College) and I didn’t want another one!
Even though I am quite large, I don’t look that big in my pictures. I posted recent pictures, often taken the week I made the profile or updated it, but many men didn’t believe that I was really that big. Because of this, I had a few interesting dates that I’ll share with you now.
The first one was a gentleman from New Orleans (about an hour from my home) who asked several times to meet, though I didn’t really think that we would be a good match.From his profile, he was looking for eye-candy to hang on his arm. I finally agreed to meet him for lunch at a location where I was singing at that time. I knew everyone from the owners to the wait staff. I knew that they wouldn’t let this guy bother me should things turn out badly. I had warned him that I am quite large, but he said (as I heard from many men) that my eyes had “mesmerized” him. He told me that I had a “sexy aura,” whatever that means.
I pulled up to the restaurant and he was already there sitting at a table overlooking the water. I knew instantly that I would NOT be going out with this man. He was stuck in the 70s-big gold chains around his neck with his shirt half buttoned to show off his hairy chest and a 70s hair style. As I walked up, he was on the phone with someone else saying, “Yeah, if this doesn’t work out, I’ll see you around 3. You know I can’t wait to meet you, Baby!” Of course, he didn’t know that I had heard him and I didn’t let on that I had. Before I even sat down he said, “Oh my God! You ARE huge! You’re too big for me to date, but I wouldn’t mind f—ing you! You look like you would be a lot of fun in bed.” I looked at him, without missing a beat, and said, “Honey, I could rock your world in ways you haven’t even thought of yet, but YOU’LL never know that!” Then he tried to hand me his business card and asked me to call him if I ever just wanted to have some fun. “Keep the card,” I said, “Because THAT will never happen” End of date.
Another man had a profile picture of himself in front of his Corvette, but it was taken from so far away that you couldn’t really make out his face. I wasn’t enthused about meeting him because any man who would rather show me his car than his face is not someone for me, and again we had the “I’m a large woman” discussion. We agreed to meet at a place where I would go with friends to country line dance. When he walked in, my first thought was that he looked like Jeffery Jones’ (the Dark Overlord in Howard the Duck) twin brother. I didn’t like the movie or the actor, and it would only take me a minute to not like this guy either. He walked up to me, sitting with my friends, and said, “You ARE fat! I could never date you!” To which I instantly replied, ” Oh! I’m so glad because I didn’t know how to tell you that you are so ugly I could never date you!” And then my friends and I all had a good laugh! Everyone who knows me knows that I am not usually a mean person, but I wasn’t going to let this guy think that he had hurt my feelings. I truly believe that some of these guys showed up JUST to put me down publicly as big joke. NONE of them expected me to have a quick comeback without tears!
Of course, I had my share of “no shows,”-guys who make a date and then for some reason don’t show up and don’t call to cancel the date. I often thought that they had shown up, seen how big I was, and left before coming up to talk to me. Or perhaps they were fake profiles, which I will discuss in my next post.
In addition, when I first began online dating, I made the mistake of agreeing to meet men who didn’t have profile pictures on their profiles. (I will discuss that in the next post as well.) These men had contacted me and we had gone through all the steps before meeting, except that they knew what I looked like and I only had their description of themselves to go by. The excuse was always that they didn’t know how to upload a picture because they were new to computers.
The first one that I met without a picture told me to imagine Richard Gere, because people often ask him if he is indeed Mr. Geer. When he showed up, he looked like Mario from the Super Mario games! How could ANYONE confuse him with Richard Geer? Not only did he not look anything like he said he did, but it only took me a few minutes in his company to realize that I wasn’t interested. He was loud, it was all about him, and when I got up to leave after explaining that it was late and I needed to go, he grabbed my arm with such force that it hurt! I asked him to let go of my arm, and he squeezed my arm tighter and told me that it was NOT time for me to go. As I said, I always met men at a place that was very public and where I knew people there. I signaled for one of my friends to come over and when he did, then guy finally let go of me. My friend walked me out to my car and made sure that the man hadn’t followed me out so that I could get home safely.
The next man marked “government” as his occupation. He owned his own home and said that he was a John Wayne type. He would be driving 2 hours to meet me, but I wasn’t sure that I would want to feel obligated to spend the evening with the man if things didn’t work out, so I told him that the restaurant where I sing has a ladies’ night. I asked him to meet me there so that if for some reason we didn’t hit it off, his two hour drive wouldn’t be in vain-there would be lots of other single ladies there. I’m not a big fan of ladies’ nights because it makes you feel like a piece of meet in a deli case with all of the guys trying to decide which piece they want. Though the young, pretty girls got most of the attention, I was not just a wall-flower. However, I didn’t go to many ladies’ nights because most of the people there were drunk, and again, that is not what I was looking for.
Remember that this guy had told me that he was the John Wayne type? I sat at the end of the bar where I could see everyone coming in the door. One man came in and walked around the square bar area three times before walking up to me and asking me if I was “Beachwalker.” I was looking at Uncle Fester from the Adams Family! I’m only 5’2″ and I was looking him straight in the eyes! I stared at him for a minute, debating if I should ask him to stick that light bulb in his mouth! I told him that I was indeed the Beachwalker, but he had not been quite honest in his description of himself. He asked if I would have agreed to meet him had he been honest, to which I replied that I probably would have if he had been honest with me, but since he had already proven to me that he was not truthful, I would not be interested in dating him. He asked if we could just talk for a few minutes since he had driven for two hours to meet me. I agreed, but only for a few minutes. I asked what he did for the government, and he said that he gets a government check. He explained that he had suffered three heart attacks and was no longer able to work. The man was 5 years younger than me and was really just looking for a nurse. The home that he owned? It was a fish camp on the bayou with a little old single wide trailer “that needs a few repairs.” I told him that I was sorry that he had driven so far to meet me, but that I had been honest with him and told him that things might not work out. I assured him that there were many women there who might enjoy his company and I got ready to leave. By the time I turned around, he was already dancing with a young lady!
Then there was the man who seemed to be ok, and I knew a little about him already since he had been a local police chief-though it had been many years earlier. He wanted to meet for dinner and suggested Red Lobster. I love Red Lobster, so I agreed to meet him there. He pulled up in an old car filled with bags and clothes. He got out with his hair and clothes all disheveled, leaving me with the impression that he lived in his car. We went in and were seated, but he complained about the seat because the sun was setting and it was shining in our faces. Then he complained because it didn’t have a place to plug in his cell phone charger. I could tell that this was not going to go well. I only ordered an appetizer and this man talked on his phone and text through the entire time we sat there! At least he DID offer to pay for the appetizer. As we left, he said that he’d like to see me again. I told him that I appreciated the offer, but since he barely knew I was there this time, I didn’t think I would want to do this again.
As I left this date, my phone rang. It was another gentleman with whom I had been talking, though we had never met. He asked if I’d care to meet him for dinner that evening. I told him what I had just been through and didn’t think I was up to it. He said that since I only had an appetizer and hadn’t actually eaten dinner, he’d like to buy me dinner and show me how a real date is supposed to be. When I asked where he’d like to meet, he said, “Well, you were looking forward to dinner at Red Lobster and didn’t get it, so let’s go to Red Lobster!” I laughed at the thought, but he was very persuasive, so I agreed. I got to the restaurant before him and when I walked in, the hostess just looked at me funny. I told her that I wasn’t a hooker meeting Johns, I promise! The date went well and I continued to see the gentleman. We both knew it wasn’t what we were really looking for, but we have remained friends to this day. He is a great gentleman and I hope that he does find the right one some day.
Another gentleman insisted in meeting me. I wasn’t really interested because something just didn’t feel right about him, even though everything LOOKED right. His profile said that he was in the medical profession and his profile picture showed a picture of a tall, dark-haired man with a great tan standing on the back of a yacht. I insisted that we speak on the phone first before meeting in person. As we talked, I shared that I walk the beach every day and am working really hard to get this excess weight off. He said that he’d like to walk the Ocean Springs/Biloxi bridge the next day if the date goes well that night. I said that would be fun, as I had walked that bridge before and it is quite nice.
We agreed to meet at the movie theater to see Avatar (a LONG movie). I was there first and I waited out front, dressed to the nines! I saw an old, beat up van pull up and park in the handicapped space. My problem was not with the vehicle being old and beat up, my problem was with the man telling me that he was a medical professional working at the VA and that he owned a yacht and a “fine car.” Remember, too, that he had asked me to walk the bridge the next day. But this very pale, very old man lumbered across the drive and walked up to me. He looked nothing like the picture on his profile, but I had agreed to the date, so I decided to see the movie, as I would hope someone would do if they didn’t like the way I looked when they got there. However, MY profile pictures were current, while his was at least 30 years old! The dark hair was grey and instead of a dark tan, there stood a man who looked as if he had not been out in the sun in MANY years.
We walked up to the ticket both and this “52” year old man asked for the senior discount, stating that he was in fact 62! We stopped to get popcorn and a drink before the movie. I got a large bottle of water and he got a soda with extra butter on the popcorn. Not exactly the health conscious guy that had proclaimed to be. We entered the nearly-empty theater and he told me to choose a seat. I chose one that I liked, but he said that it was too close, I so went up higher, then he said that it was too high. I finally told him to choose a seat for us. Before the movie started, I asked what type of medical work he does. He said that he was a custodian (janitor) at the VA. Again, I don’t have a problem with a custodian, the problem is with deceiving me as to your true profession. “Service Industry” would have been more appropriate for him than “Medical Professional.” When I asked about the yacht in the picture, he said that it was a friend’s yacht and that he was cleaning it when he asked someone to take his picture. I would date a great poor man before I’d date an arrogant rich man, as long as they are HONEST with me up front!
I had wanted to see Avatar so I figured that I would just make the best of things and enjoy the movie. Within fifteen minutes of the movie starting, I heard a loud snoring! My date had fallen asleep! “Well,” I thought, “at least I can enjoy the movie in peace!”
As I said, it was a long movie and I had drank the entire large bottle of water, so when the movie ended, I woke my date and told him that I needed to use the restroom, which was directly next the theater where we had seen the movie. I asked him to wait right there and I’d be right back. I try to treat others the way I would want to be treated. He had paid for the movie and the water, so I would at least give him the courtesy of walking back out with him. I quickly did my business and when I stepped out into the hallway, it was empty! I thought that perhaps my date had gone to the restroom himself so I waited for a few minutes. This was the last movie of the night and they were trying to close up, so I walked out to the lobby. His van had been parked in front of the main door, and it was gone! I had been dumped at the theater! He didn’t even have the courtesy to make sure that I got back to my car safely that late at night!
“Oh well,” I thought, “he saved me the trouble of telling him that I don’t care to see him again.” However, the very next morning, he called to ask me if I still wanted to walk the bridge. ‘How are we supposed to do that,” I asked. “You could barely walk across the drive from the handicapped parking last night. Do you want me to push you in a wheelchair? Besides, you ditched me at the movie last night and didn’t even wait to see if I got to my car safely.” I didn’t say it in an ugly tone of voice, but he hung up on me!
I had some frightening experiences as well. I am ashamed to admit this next one because I felt like such a fool for allowing myself to get into that position, but I was raped by one of my dates. I did not file charges because I didn’t think anyone would believe me because I had gone along with it-even though I feared for my life. But GOD saw what happened and the man will be dealt with by GOD.
A gentleman had contacted me and he seemed to be quite interesting. He was retired from the Air Force, had a beautiful home, and seemed like a perfect gentleman. On our first meeting, I had my 9 year old grandson with me. It was a casual meeting and he seemed to be a really nice guy. Since I love to watch college football, he asked me to come to his house to watch the game with him. As it turned out, once I met this man I realized that one of my best friends had dated him but it never got serious because her ex-boyfriend would show up at the man’s house and cause problems. My friend had told me that he was a really nice guy and a perfect gentleman the few times they had gone out, so I thought that I would be safe.
I went to his house and as I sat down to watch the game, and the man pulled out his gun collection. I was a little stunned! I don’t care for guns-though I’ll use one if I need to-and it made me a little nervous. I asked him if I could have a glass of water and when he came back from the kitchen, he said, “I’ve locked the doors” -dead bolts that use a key both inside and out. I told him that I thought I needed to leave, but he said that what I needed to do was go to the bedroom and take off my clothes, as he started fooling with one of his guns. Having been through sexual abuse as a child, I was instantly sick! I kept trying to get him to let me leave, but he just got between me and the door and marched me backwards into the bedroom. “If I fight back, I will probably be shot,” I thought! I did as he said and when he had finished with me, he made me clean myself. He had laid out everything for me to clean myself when he finished with me long before I had gotten to his house! Then he wanted to sit and talk some! I kept telling him that my kids would be wondering where I was because the game had been over for a while and I had told them that I would be home right after the game. He finally allowed me to leave…when one of his neighbors came to the door…with a new gun he had just bought and wanted to show the man! I darted for my car as soon as he opened the door!
I decided that I would NEVER go to another man’s house unless there were other people there or unless I knew the man really well. I should have gotten to know this man much better, but my friend had told me what a complete gentleman he was. I told her what he had done and she was surprised!
Shortly after that, another gentleman in whom I was not really too interested wanted me to come to his house for dinner. I told him that I would not go to a man’s house unless I knew them well or unless there were a bunch of people there. He said that his neighborhood had a monthly party and it was going to be at his home that weekend. I told him I would ONLY come IF there were other people there. He assured me that his entire neighborhood would be there. When I drove up, I didn’t see any other cars, but since it was a block party that was logical. This was a high class neighborhood and his home was gorgeous! I could hear other people talking and laughing in the back yard. It was just getting chilly and they were all gathered around his fire pit on the patio. He introduced me to his neighbors and we all chatted for a few minutes. He made a mundane remark, but when he did, all of the neighbors began to excuse themselves to go home-right on cue! I suppose he thought that I didn’t catch on to his obvious attempt to get me alone, so I told him that if everyone else was leaving, I’d be leaving as well. He tried to talk me into staying, but I told him that I had made it clear I would not be there alone with him because I didn’t know him well enough yet. As he walked me out to the car, he said that he would like to see me again. I thanked him for his interest, but told him that I didn’t think I’d care to see him again. He kept holding the car door so that I couldn’t shut it and kept trying to kiss me. I asked him to PLEASE let go of the car door and let me leave. He teased that he wasn’t going to let me go, and I thought to myself, “Well then I guess I’ll be dragging you down the street because I’m fixing to gun this car in reverse!” I finally jerked the door away from him and left. He had shown me in just a few minutes exactly why my instincts were right and he was NOT the kind of man I wanted to date.
Shortly there after, I joined a religious dating site hoping that there would be a better class of men on that site. One man sent me a message and he seemed to be wonderful. He knew God’s Word perfectly and would even send me copies of his church bulletin with his name on it-Dr Mike Smith (I have changed the name here), but, he told me, his friends sometimes call him Bobby-his middle name being Robert. He told me that he had only been married once and that she had left him for an other professor at the college where he taught. He said that they had two sons that he rarely got to see. He was from New Orleans, but he was a pastor in north Alabama. However, he did make trips to New Orleans to visit his aged mother. He was a couple of years younger than me, but that was no big deal.
We talked for nearly three months and he never said anything that was inappropriate and he seemed too good to be true! At one point, an aunt had passed away and he returned to New Orleans for the funeral. We would not meet on that trip, as it was not the right time with all that he had to do in the few days that he’d be there. But he gave me his mother’s phone number and I could call him there if I’d like. When I called one afternoon to see how he was doing, an elderly lady answered. I asked for Mike and she called him to the phone. This made me feel very sure that man was being honest with me and had told his family about me.
One afternoon as we chatted, he was telling me a story about his ex-wife Lorna, but he called her Lisa. I said, “I thought your wife’s name was Lorna.” He said, “It is Lorna, but her middle name is Lisa and when I get mad at her, I call her Lisa.” That was strange, but since there were NO other red flags, I let it go at that.
Mike had told me that he didn’t have a Facebook account and was really not very computer savvy. But that Lisa-Lorna thing kept nagging at me. Mike was planning to go to New Orleans in a week and we had made plans to meet. That nagging feeling that something just wasn’t right kept bugging me. I decided to do a background check on this man. It was some of the best money I EVER spent!
When I did the background search, I couldn’t find a Mike Smith in the town where he lived. I DID find a Bobby Smith with the same birthdate that he had given me, only this man was 10 years older than Mike. Additionally, he didn’t live in a parsonage, but in a low income apartment complex! It also listed nearly a dozen women who may be associated with this man. I saw Lorna’s name and decided to check her out. I found a phone number for her and dialed!
When the woman answered, I told her my name and asked her if she knew Mike Smith. She said that she did not know a Mike Smith. I then asked her if she knew Bobby Smith. “Run! Run! Run,” was her reply!
I told her that I had met him online and we were planning to meet the next week. She told me the whole disgusting truth about the man! He DID have a PhD, but from an online school. He never taught at a college, but was a custodian at one. He HAD been a lay preacher in his church, but had been defrocked when, while his wife was 9 months pregnant, he went on a church retreat-paid for by the church-with a 17 year old girl from his church.
Not only was his name not Mike or even Michael, but there weren’t even any Mikes or Michaels in his family, so she didn’t know why his mother would call him to the phone using that name. She told me that he had been married a dozen times and had as many children, none of whom he supported. Lisa was the name of his most recent wife-a young lady of 17 when he first started an affair with her-much like he had done with Lorna, and all of his wives before her! Seems he had a thing for teenage girls. He would have an affair with them while still married. When the wife would find out, they would divorce him and he would marry the teen. Since I was in my mid 50s, I had no idea why he would be interested in me. Then it dawned on me. He had told me that if things worked out with us and we got married, he’d be glad to help me at work if I ever needed it. I was a high school teacher at the time—plenty of teenage girls there for an old man to meet, because he was getting too old to meet them on his own!
He had told me that he had been a police officer in New Orleans at one time, but left for the ministry. She told me that he had been fired for hitting a superior officer. She also told me that the story of HER taking a shot at him one night when she was mad was actually one of his other wives who had caught him cheating. Seems every story that he told me happened between him and one woman were actually stories of things that happened between him and his many various wives!
When he called me later that night, I told him that I knew the truth about him! He said that I had often told him he was too good to be true and he had always said that I was right. Now he said that he WAS too good to be true, so almost everything he had told me WAS a lie! No remorse. No explanation. Simply an “Ok, I’ve been caught. Moving right along” attitude.
I swore off online dating for a while after that, but a few months later, I decided to give it one more try. A gentleman contacted me and I immediately didn’t think it would work. He and I were complete opposites in almost every area of life! But he was insistent and extremely charming. He was quite wealthy and had some very well connected relatives (think Monaco-rich type and you’d be right.) We ended up really enjoying each others’ company and dated for several months. However, I began to get the feeling that he was no longer interested in me. He was still treating me well, but just seemed to be distant. I had always thought he was still in love with his ex-wife. If she would call (12 years after their divorce) he would get very excited. No wonder he hadn’t dated much since his divorce! Finally, the week before my birthday (and a week after his birthday for which I had given him a very expensive gift that I really couldn’t afford) I got a text one night. “I don’t know why but the feelings I had for you are gone. I don’t want to see you anymore. Please don’t call me. I have nothing to say.” At first, I thought it was a joke and I waited for the text or call to say that he was just kidding-as he loved to pull pranks on people. But the call or text never came. I was numb. I was not in love with this man, but I was beginning to really care about him. I decided that I would NOT let this get me down. My birthday had always been a bad time for me and this didn’t help, so I decided that I would get back online that night-at least in the chat room where I had made many friends, male and female. I had been gone from the chat room for a while, but I knew that many of my friends were still there.
I dated a few guys and had some fun, but I was really losing hope that I would ever meet anyone for me. Then I got an email from a man about my singing site. I liked to sing and was beginning to do some Karaoke DJing to make extra money.
This man wanted to meet for dinner to discuss me doing backup singing for his act-an Elvis Impersonator. I checked him out and he was legit, so I met with him. At the end of the dinner, at which he told me that he had not dated in 12 years since his wife died of cancer, he said that he felt like he was ready to date again and would like to see me the next time he was in town. Since I had checked him out, I knew that he had a full schedule of appearances. I told him that I would like that and we talked daily while he was out of town. When he got back in town, he came to see me twice. He had added me to his Facebook and I noticed a strange post. A woman had posted how much she had enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner with the family and that she loved him. The next time he called, I asked him about the post and he said that the woman was his twin sister and he hadn’t seen her in a while.” Though it sounded plausible, I had a nagging feeling that he wasn’t being honest with me. The next time he was in town, we saw each other and made plans to meet the next day. When he didn’t show up, I waited about an hour and finally called him. He didn’t answer. I then looked up the woman’s business listed on her Facebook page and called it. I told her my name and asked if she knew this gentleman. “Of course I know him,” she said. “He’s my fiancé! Why are you calling me about him?”
I told her that her “fiancé” had been with me the night before and was supposed to be with me right then, but hadn’t shown up. She hung up on me. The phone rang immediately and when I answered, it was the gentleman. He was with her when I called. “Don’t you EVER call this number again,” he yelled at me! “Oh, don’t worry,” I told him. “And you had better lose my number as well. And if you EVER show up at my house again, I will have you arrested,” and I hung up!
Lest you think that all of my dates didn’t go well, rest assured that I had many good times and nice dates. But either I wasn’t interested in them or they weren’t interested in me after a few dates. I have remained friends with some of those men. But I was about finished with online dating.
Then one day I was on Facebook and a guy from high school contacted me. I had one date with his older brother 42 years earlier, but had never dated this man himself. He told me that he had a crush on me in high school. I told him that I had had a crush on him too, but then I had a crush on all the guys back then! He sent me his phone number and asked me to call him. (All of this was posted on my public page for the whole world to see.)
I called him because I was curious about his older brother-a young man who had made a lasting impression on me that one special night all those years ago. The man on Facebook asked me to meet him for lunch when he comes through town the next week as he was an over-the-road trucker. I said that I thought he was married. He told me that he was going through a divorce (though I would later find out that his wife didn’t know about it at the time.) I told him that I don’t date married men, even if they ARE going through a divorce. He kept asking and I finally said that I WOULD meet him for lunch—if he brought his wife along! Of course, that wasn’t going to happen! I then asked about his brother-the one I had dated. “Oh,” he said, “he’s looking rough. You don’t want to talk to him!” “Hmm,” I thought, “he didn’t say that he was married,” so…..
I looked up the brother’s number and thought about calling but what would I say after all these years? He probably wouldn’t even remember me. He had been a very popular senior when we had an impromptu date over 40 years ago and I was a nobody freshman. I would look at the phone, but I just couldn’t dial it. After about 3 days I couldn’t get him out of my mind, so I said a prayer and dialed the number. I nearly hung up when it rang, but he answered the phone almost immediately! I said, “Is this Kevin Davis?”(I have changed the name as he is a private individual). “Yes it is,” he said, “who is this?” I had forgotten about caller ID, so I said, “Do you remember that cute little redhead in high school”? He slowly said, “Uh, yeah.” “Well, I’m not her,” I said, and we both laughed. He said, “Well, the caller ID said ‘Valerie Caylor’,” (I had gone back to my maiden name after my divorce) he said, “And if I remember rightly, you’re a blonde.” I could hardly catch my breathe! I couldn’t believe that he remembered me after all of those years and only one short date!
We ended up talking for 5 1/2 hours that night, 6 hours the next night, and 7 hours the next night. He hadn’t dated once since his divorce 12 years earlier and was now taking care of his elderly mother since his father had recently passed away. He said that if we did begin to see each other, we had to be in before dark, because his mother didn’t like to be out after dark and that if we DID go anywhere, she would have to come along. I knew his mother from years ago and she was always a very sweet lady. I could play second fiddle to her, as long as he didn’t make me FEEL like a second fiddle.
He had looked me up online and knew what I looked like, but I hadn’t seen him in over 40 years. He had been the hunky, dark haired football star. In fact, his nickname was “Greek” because he looked like a Greek god! I had told him that I had gained weight and why. He told me that his hair had migrated south from the top of his head to his chin and turned white! He send me a picture of himself and expected me to be turned off. I told him that his eyes still had that same sparkle and his smile still looked the same. We were both afraid that the other wouldn’t like our looks, but before we even saw each other in person, he told me, “You know we’re going to get married some day!”
We were engaged within a few months of seeing each other for the first time. We are both parents and I have several grandchildren. We are getting all of our finances in order so that there won’t be any issues with our kids or grandkids should anything happen to either or both of us once we get married.
I still think that it’s funny that I spent all that money on dating websites and couldn’t find “the one” I was looking for. Then when I had quit looking, God brought the perfect man to me without a dating site! I am sure that many people DO find the right person on an online dating site. It just didn’t happen for me.
In my final installment, I will review what I have covered thus far and go over some warnings that I hope will keep you from some of the unpleasant experiences that I have had. I will also share some of the stories I’ve heard from others.

August 15, 2014

Online Dating Part 3-So you want to meet in person

Filed under: Advice — valeriecaylor @ 8:03 pm
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Now that you have found someone that you are interested in, you’ve communicated with him for a time, and feel that it’s time for you to meet this person face-to-face, how do you go about meeting him?
BE CAREFUL!!!! Let me say that again. BE CAREFUL!!!
Some sites host “Meet and Greets” where all members in that area are sent a notice that there will be a gathering at a local restaurant or club on a certain day. This is one of the safer ways to meet someone for the first time, as you will be in a public place and with a crowd of people. If you are not familiar with the place that has been chosen for the Meet and Greet, do some checking. Look it up, ask friends and family if they know anything about the place, and print out a map so that you won’t get lost getting there or getting home. It is best to make your map to and from a very public place near enough your home that you can find your way home but not so close to your home that someone could find you if you should lose the map.
I went to a few Meet and Greets about an hour from my home. Though I knew the cities well, I was not familiar with the places that had been chosen. One was a little hole in the wall dive that was loud, dirty, and scary. Another was a known gang hang out with numerous shootings and fights. Needless to say, I was less than happy when I got there because I had trusted the persons arranging the Meet and Greets. That’s when I learned to check out the places first.
I began to host Meet and Greets myself. I was accustomed to throwing large parties at my home, many times with guests I had never met, so some of the meet and greets would take place at my home in the country. Though I never had any problems because of it, I look back now and realize that was probably not a wise thing to do and I don’t recommend that anyone else do it either. I’m an honest person and it wouldn’t occur to me to rob anyone, but that was a very real possibility by anyone attending one of my parties. However, they were all aware that my grown son had moved in with me and since we worked opposite shifts, there was almost ALWAYS someone home. And did I mention that I had a Rottweiler AND a Bull Mastif? Of course, I kept them penned during the party, but made it clear that they lived IN the house with me when I don’t have company over, so it wasn’t VERY likely that anyone would come back after the party to bother me.
What if you would rather simply meet the person in a more private setting without other singles there? I would suggest that you meet at a very public place. Do not allow the person to pick you up until you have gotten to know them well and don’t allow them to follow you home on the first date either.
You should go with the expectation of paying your own way. It will put less pressure on both of you. The gentleman may offer to pay for your dinner, movie, etc. Do not allow him to do this unless you are sure that there is no expectation that you will repay him in other ways at the end of the date or at another time. Additionally, you should always bring enough money to pay your share because you may get stuck with the check. You would be quite embarrassed if you are sitting in a fancy restaurant after finishing an expensive meal and the gentleman who offered to pay for your dinner suddenly has his card declined. Should that happen, pay for your share of the meal, thank him for an interesting evening, and leave. If you would like to give him a second chance, that is up to you. But should this occur again, I would say it is time to move on!
Of course, there are many dates which don’t cost anything-a walk on the beach, a bicycle ride, or even just evening sitting at the library reading with each other. Whatever you choose, make sure that you will never be completely alone or only in the company of his friends or family on the first date. The old adage that there is safety in numbers is true!
For my next post, I’ll share a few of my experiences with online dating.

Online Dating Part 2-Making Contact!

Filed under: Advice — valeriecaylor @ 6:59 pm
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Now that you have created your profile and clicked, “Done,” you are on your way to the adventures of online dating! So how does all of this work? Will someone contact me or do I make the first contact? Relax. In a very short time, you’ll be a pro at this!
First let’s consider the contact options available to you (and the person you hope to meet.) Most sites allow you to send a “flirt.” A flirt (sometimes called a poke or a wink) is usually just a little icon like a smiley face or a winking eye and simply means that the person found you interesting. Some sites will send you a flirt from the other person just because they looked at your profile-even if that person isn’t really interested in you and had nothing to do with the flirt being sent. The flirt or wink is usually a free service, but that is the ONLY contact that is usually free. It doesn’t do you much good to just send or receive flirts or winks, because no further contact can be made and you’ll just be caught in a cycle of flirting back and forth.
Some sites allow you to communicate if only one member is paid. That is, if I pay for the site I can send and receive emails, chats, etc. with anyone on the site, even if the other person isn’t a paid member.
Most sites have a “chat” option, where you can chat with the person in whom you are interested, either in a private chat or a shared chat room. This is almost always an option reserved for “paid” customers. If the site offers private chats, you can chat with several people at the same time, unbeknownst to the others that you are chatting with someone else as well. Though it is done frequently, you can get yourself into an embarrassing situation here if you are not very alert. I have been chatting with someone who came back with an answer to a question someone else had obviously asked him. Of course, he tried to cover his mistake, but I wasn’t buying it and ended the chat.
Another form of contact is email. Many sites have an email that is strictly on site, but some will send the email directly to the personal account that you used to sign up for the site. Either way, the other person won’t have your personal email account unless you give it to them. You need to be very cautious in giving out your personal email because even the very best of sites are full of scammers looking for ways to make a quick buck. At the very least you may get a bunch of spam emails and at the worst, you may get a stalker who invades your entire personal life. I have known a woman who gave her private email to a gentleman and was shocked to find out that he had hacked into her personal account and was reading ALL of her incoming and outgoing emails. I’ll discuss more about stalkers in a future post about online dating.
Web chats are often offered as well, but I caution you to be very careful when you choose to do a video chat. For one thing, you are showing this perfect stranger the belongings in your home that are in plain view when you turn on your webcam. Additionally, do not be surprised if the person wants to show you their body parts and asks to see yours as well. They don’t usually start out that way, but once they have you “hooked” into a regular chatting schedule with them, they may “spring it” on you. I had this happen to me once. I had gone through the flirt, then email with an interesting gentleman, and then agreed to a video chat on the site before giving out my telephone number. We video chatted a few times so I was completely shocked when I turned on the chat and he was sitting there butt naked! I turned off the chat and sent him an email that said he was not to contact me again. He tried to explain that he had forgotten that he was naked when he turned the webcam on, but I told him that I was still not interested. I told him that I would decide when and if I choose to see a man naked, but based on what I had seen, he saved me many months of wasted time!
Back to YOUR experience. So you’ve gotten a few emails from “mr.wonderful” and maybe you’ve even had a few video chats. He seems to be someone that you would be interested in dating. Now what do you do? The next step is to make phone contact, which I HIGHLY recommend before meeting someone in person. You can tell so much more about a person when you actually speak to them on the phone. There are subtle little nuances in a person’s voice that you can’t pick up on in an email. If you can, get a prepaid phone that is not attached to your bank or regular phone accounts, and use this phone strictly for contacts from the online dating sites. It’s not foolproof, but it could prevent the person from getting too much personal information about you just in case things don’t work out. Remember, not everyone on these sites is honest or even looking for love. Many are just looking for the next pigeon to scam. And again, many are stalkers that are hard to get rid of. I will discuss these people in my last post on this subject.
If you talk on the phone and there seems to be something there that you’d like to explore further, you can then set up the first meeting. I will discuss those meetings in Part 3 of this series.

Online Dating Part 1-The Profile

Filed under: Advice — valeriecaylor @ 12:23 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

This is written from a woman’s point of view, but it applies to men as well-just reverse the roles.
So you’ve found yourself single, wanting to date, but not sure how to meet someone. You’re not into the bar scene and all the guys at your church are married or simply not your type. So how are you supposed to meet someone that you might be interested in and vice versa?
You’ve seen all of the commercials for online dating sites. They promise to match you to someone “just perfect for YOU!” “But only losers use an online dating site,” you tell yourself. “Decent people wouldn’t use those sites.” Then you find yourself signing up for that free week! You know that you are a decent person and you’re no loser, so perhaps your “other half” is on the site as well.
The first thing that you have to do is choose the appropriate site to join. You can choose a site for a specific age group, for a particular race or religion, for a certain size or income, or you can even choose a site that caters to your lifestyle.
Once you have chosen the site, you need to decide if you want to do a “free trial membership” that many sites offer, if you want to remain a free member, or if you want to pay to become a paid member. Almost all sites limit how much contact you can have with the person you are interested in if you are not a paid member, with the exception of the free trial period. If you choose the free trial, remember that your card WILL be charged at the end of the free trial, so if you are not happy with the site or simply don’t care to be a paid member, you will need to cancel the charge before your free trial is up. While you may want to join more than one service, depending upon what you are looking for, remember that being on a few different sites is ok, but if you join EVERY site out there, you will be seen as desperate. If you think one site may be better than another and you are already on a few sites, you should probably cancel the one in which are least happy before joining another site. Ok, now you are ready to sign up!
You’ve given your required info and your credit card number. Now you have to create a profile. The first thing you have to do is create a screen name-not your real name, but a pseudonym that describes who you are in a word. Your name is often the first thing that the other person will see and it needs to get their attention. However, you have to be careful in your choice because even if you only meant it as a joke-a way to show that you have a sense of humor-names like “Slu-Tee” can backfire on you. Decent men won’t give you a second look, but you are liable to attract the attention of sex offenders. (More on that subject later.)
So you have chosen the perfect name-mine was “Beachwalker” because that is what I did every day.
Now you have to go through the dropdown descriptions that will tell more about you. Hair color, eye color, and race are pretty cut and dry, but the rest leave a little room for “personalization” (or lying if you are so inclined-and many are.) Let’s see now, body style-Petite, average, athletic, or BBW (Big Beautiful Woman-a term I very much dislike because the FIRST term it uses is BIG-as if your size is the most important aspect of you as a person.) Then education level- some high school, high school (and if you have a GED you ARE a high school graduate), college, graduate school, PhD. (You’d be surprised how many people overstate their qualifications here.) Followed by income level, which most sites give as an “optional” choice-you can include this or leave it out. While some people leave this out since income is personal and many people are “gold diggers” seeking someone to support them, others may see this as you’re being ashamed of how little you make-these are the shallow people who won’t contact you and for that you will be thankful.
Now for the “occupation” section. People can be VERY creative here! (I’ll tell you more about some of these embelishments in an additional post on the subject.) While your occupation may not be listed exactly, just pick whichever option is closest to yours. For example: if you are a person who communicates with fairies for the betterment of mankind, just mark “entrepreneur.”
Finally, there are two very important dropdowns that need to be answered. The first one is “relationship status”. Talk about fudging the truth, this is probably the one that gets the most lies. The options are usually “single,” “it’s complicated,” “in a relationship,” “divorced” (which may mean that they plan to get a divorce when they find someone better than the person to whom they are now married), or even “married. And then there is the “what are you looking for in a relationship” dropdown: “nothing serious,” “casual dating,” “friends with benefits,” “bi-curious,” “exclusive relationship,” and of course, “marriage.”
The next thing you’ll be asked to do is to write an essay about yourself. This is usually optional as well, but can be important if you are seeking a serious relationship of any sort. Keep it brief but don’t leave out anything significant. This is NOT the time to tell your deep, dark family secrets, but if you will only be in the area a few months, you should mention that. Many people will not even read the essay-they will simply look at your screen name, your status, and your pictures-which I will discuss next. Remember, for those who do read your essay, this will be the other person’s insight into the real you. You will also want to refrain from disclosing any personal information that may allow someone to contact you off-site. Sites will not allow you to give out your phone number or email address, but creative people get around this. Here’s a sample: My aunt SuzieQ is 463 and goes to the Y every day—meaning “my email address is SuzieQ463@Yahoo.com” (My apologies to anyone who may actually have that email address.)
Now, the one thing that gets the most attention on your profile-your picture! While we all would hope that the person we want to meet is not so superficial as to only be concerned with our looks, the fact is that profiles WITHOUT a picture rarely get a second look or a contact. So the profile picture that you post should be a true representation of you as you are today. Don’t pick a picture of you taken before you gained 100 lbs or while your hair was still a dark, chestnut brown and not the dull gray that it is now. Remember, the point of this is to meet someone in person. If you post a picture that is not representative of the real you, it will be quite obvious when you meet in person. It’s best to have a picture taken within the last 3 months if possible.
There you have it! The perfect profile. Now you are ready to dive into the world of online dating! In the next post, I will discuss making contact with that perfect person. Enjoy the adventure!

August 13, 2014

Did you hear the one about the fat blonde…..?

Filed under: Advice — valeriecaylor @ 1:57 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

August 13, 2014I watched her lumber across the parking lot to her car, her stomach dipping down below her crotch line. “If I ever get that big, just shoot me,” I said, “because my life wouldn’t be worth living if I was that big!” In a split second, I had judged this woman that I knew nothing about. I had determined that she was lazy, didn’t care about herself, and I had basically decided that her life was of little value.
I never knew anything about the woman upon whom I had so easily passed judgment. I had no idea if she was married, had children, a job, friends who loved her-nothing. But the most important thing that I didn’t know about her was WHY she was so big.
Fat people have long been that butt of jokes, even in these “politically correct” times. Even when clearly one third of the population of the United States is obese (and that does not account for those who are merely overweight but not by 20% of their ideal weight), joking about peoples’ size is still completely acceptable. Though I hate to admit it, I have been guilty of making such remarks and laughing at such jokes-never considering the pain I may be inflicting on someone else. Then I became fat! I don’t believe in Karma, per se, but I DO believe that we reap what we sow and I am reaping the humiliation and distain that I once held for those who didn’t look like they were “supposed to look.”
I was always one of those skinny kids that was made fun of because of my petite stature. “You have to run around in a shower to get wet,” or “If you stand sideways and stick out your tongue, you’ll look like a zipper,” etc. I didn’t have to work to get my tiny body, it was just the way I was made. However, because of the teasing, mostly from my family members, I actually drank shakes to help me GAIN some weight, but it didn’t work.
When I got married and became pregnant with my first son, I began to gain some weight-normal for a pregnant woman. However, my father began to make comments anytime I would go to visit my siblings. He would admonish me not to gain TOO much weight. My father found “fat women” especially disgusting. He would tell me that I “didn’t want to look like one of them!”
After my third and last son was born, I was still a little over my ideal weight–but only by 15 lbs. Nevertheless, because I was very muscular and have an hour glass figure, I was able to “wear it well.” I enjoyed going to those “guess your weight” booths at the local carnivals because they would ALWAYS guess my weight far below what it actually was–and I would win the BIG prize!
All of that would change though. You see, I had been sexually abused by my father from the time that I was a small child until I got married and moved out of my parents’ home. (That story is for another blog.) I still had younger siblings living at home, so I would occasionally take my children to my parents’ home to visit their aunts and uncles. On one such visit, when I was 25, as I left the house, an incident would occur that would forever change my life and the lives of many others over the years.
As I walked down the stairs, my four year old and six year old walking in front of me and my two year old on my hip, my father walked up behind me,leaned down, and whispered in my ear, “I wonder if you’re still as tight as you used to be.” I was instantly sick to my stomach and I pretended that I didn’t hear what he had said. When I got married and moved out of my parents’ house, I thought that was the end of it. It never occurred to me that my father STILL had desires for me in a sexual way! I was both frightened and disgusted at the same time. The old, familiar fear that I had known whenever I was alone with my father began to wash over my being. I hurried my children to the car and left.
My mind was racing. Because I knew that my father was disgusted by fat women, I determined that I would get as BIG as I could so that he would stop thinking of me like that. I had only a few months earlier told my husband about the abuse that I had suffered as a child-a secret that I had not discussed with anyone after telling my mother the first time it happened. My self-esteem was already rock bottom, but my husband’s reaction to this news only made it sink lower. Instead of being angry towards my father for what he had done to me, my husband looked at me with disgust and said, “You mean you were USED when I got you?” I was crushed! I was “USED”? He said it as if I were a piece of second-hand furniture! My self-esteem dug a hole in the bottom of the bucket!
Additionally, I had some physical issues that had begun in my early 20s that contributed to weight gain, though I COULD have prevented it had I made any efforts in that situation. By the time I finally divorced my first husband, I was over 200 lbs, but still I had my hour-glass shape and people still didn’t think I weighed that much.
At this time, I needed a place to stay while I got on my feet and my father had an apartment that he kept in Biloxi for when he was visiting the Coast. Though I hated to ask any favors of my father, I knew that I wouldn’t have to actually see him, since he was living in Baton Rouge at that time. My father agreed, but the night that I was supposed to move into the apartment, my father had allowed an acquaintance to move in. The acquaintance had a history of domestic abuse and I wasn’t about to stay there with my children. My father was there as well and offered to let me come with him and his girlfriend (a woman who was only 1 day older than me) to stay in Baton Rouge until Monday. Since it was the weekend and I couldn’t find another place until Monday, I reluctantly agreed to go with them.
That night, while his girlfriend was in the restroom, my father told me that he was tired of her drinking and was going to kick her out. Then he proceeded to tell me that since no one in Baton Rouge knew that he was my father, the kids and I could move in with him and live together. WHAT???
I felt like I was trapped in a nightmare and couldn’t wake up! It was storming that night with torrential rain. I went to the guest room with my kids and locked us in, moving furniture against the door to keep my father from coming in if I dosed off. I would figure out how to get out of there in the morning. When my father got an emergency call to come in to work about an hour later, I told his girlfriend (who had a 9 year old daughter) what my father had done to me as a child and told her that she needed to leave him to protect her daughter. She didn’t believe me and when my father got home, she told him what I had said. I DIDN’T tell her what he had said about kicking her out and letting me move in because she wouldn’t have believed that either. My father woke me up about 3 in the morning and we got into a huge argument! I was going to get my kids and hitchhike back to Mississippi, but my father calmed down and I finally went back to bed-with my kids and I locked into that room. The first thing in the morning, I drove back to Mississippi, but I realized that even at 200 lbs, my father STILL had sexual fantasies about me!
I had not yet accomplished my goal-to be so big that my father would no longer see me in a sexual way. So I kept gaining weight. By the time that my father was dying, I was over 320 lbs! By now, I had learned to forgive him, as I have to forgive others if I want to be forgiven. I helped to take care of him as he died and for the first time since he first touched me, my father was treating me like a daughter and not a sexual partner. I had finally gotten so big that he was no longer making suggestive remarks!
Not only was I using my size to make my father quit looking at me like that, but it became my defense against men who were only interested in me for sex. I was very surprised that so many men were still interested in me, even as big as I was-though most didn’t want a relationship-just some fun. One man told me that I gave off a “sexy aura,” whatever that means. I had someone tell me that I didn’t ACT like a fat person. I simply told them that I “forgot to get the Fat Person’s Manual when I gained weight,” and that I didn’t know I was supposed to act differently just because I was bigger than I used to be! I would kid that “there is a VERY sexy woman hidden under all of this fat, but I have to keep her hidden because she can be fairly dangerous!” But inside, I was hurting.
I would pretend that the remarks people made didn’t bother me, but they did. Remember the woman in the parking lot that I thought had no value? I knew exactly how she must have felt and I was ashamed!
Shortly after my father died, I began to lose weight. No shots, shakes, pills, crazy diets, or surgery. I simply began to eat better and began exercising again. I was actually followed by the local media as I lost the first 100 lbs. Every day after work, I would work out and then walk the beach. The newspaper dubbed me “The Beachwalker.” Then the BP oil spill hit and I was no longer able to walk the beach. At the same time, I began to have pain every time I exercised. My Dr said it was sciatica and gave me steroid shots. But the steroids didn’t work. The pain got worse and I had to quit working out while tests were run. Though I am in good health as far as cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure go, I knew that there was something very wrong with me.
I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and a condition with a LONG name (basically, my spinal cord has shrunk from my neck to my tailbone.) I am now 100% disabled and I live in constant pain. I can do very little physical activity without it causing pain-even with my pain meds. I DO swim 5 days a week and try to watch what I eat. But my wonderful fiancé wants to make sure that I am happy, so he is always buying me little treats. He knew me when I was the tiny teen, but he loves me just as I am. He loves me for ME-the person inside. He understands that when I look out at the world, I am seeing the world through the eyes of the “skinny me” inside. He understands WHY I got big.
He also understands how the meds I have been on for 4 years now have caused me to gain some of the weight back. He knows that I am determined to find a way to finish getting this off-the right way-without surgery or drugs.
In the meantime, I hope that this blog has opened a few eyes about the reasons WHY people may be overweight-health issues, abuse, and even fear of looking good (as strange as that may sound). Next time you see someone who is overweight, ask yourself this question, “WHY are they like that,” and don’t assume that the answer is, “That is a lazy person who doesn’t care about his/herself.”

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