Click For Hope

Divorce

Searching for myself

Clickforhope, Divorce, Single Parents, Single MomJasmine LopezComment
give back chicago click for hope.jpg

Please share your story:

I’m an author, artist, dancer, cellist and mother. But I couldn’t say that so concisely eleven years ago…I only found and redefined myself in 2014. Before that, I was Octavia, the cellist, the French major, the world-traveler, Miss Michigan.
After college, I competed for Miss America and when I came home without the crown, I married my love and we moved to Chicago to begin our life together. We were surprised to become parents within our first year of marriage and panicked, suddenly desperate to do everything “right.” The shoulds we were both raised with were that good wholesome Christian families were homeowners in the suburbs with a dog and van. Check, check, check and check.
As we began to complete our American Dream checklist, I realized the more we checked-off, the bigger the void in my heart grew. My husband felt a strong calling to become a pastor of a small urban ministry center and I supported it wholeheartedly. I felt a strong calling too – whether corporate or academic, I felt I had so much more to give than birthing children, although that had become my life.
I went to graduate school. I dropped out of graduate school. I started a full-time job. We had another child. I quit the full-time job to be a full-time mom. But something was wrong. I wasn’t like those moms that are fulfilled being moms. They were so happy with their children, nestling securely in their roles as homemakers. Content. Placid. They LOVED being moms. I loved being a mom, too, but that wasn’t all. I couldn’t place my finger on it, but I was far from content. I was lonely and isolated. So I made up some friends; I started writing books.
While writing was my creative outlet, my scientific side was also understimulated and I wanted to have a career that provided more paycheck than risk. I felt called to healthcare and began my post-bac pre-med coursework. I was desperately searching for myself. I was depressed. I was hopeless. I was bored and unsatisfied. I wanted more than my suburban prison with really cute cell mates. I wanted friends. I needed a bigger purpose. I needed to contribute to the world outside of my home. I had drive. I had zeal. I had a full tank of gas but no GPS.
I was pregnant again. I started designing nonprofit youth programs and writing grants to fund them. I lost my third child. I was still taking my classes, teaching private cello lessons, working part-time coordinating a STEM grant at a community college, working part-time at the ministry center, running the grant programs I designed and wrote to fund, and then, yes: enter child number four.
We had our fourth child.

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I finally got into the medical program for which I had been applying for years. And my husband and I came to a crossroads. He didn’t understand why I wasn’t satisfied. He didn’t understand why I wasn’t fulfilled making our home my career. We went to counseling. We tried going on dates. We tried getting to know each other again. And we realized the very hard and sad truth: I would never be the wife he wanted. He would never be the husband I wanted. He would never be satisfied with me being myself. I would never be satisfied with him being himself. So, now what do we do?
We got a divorce. I wonder if divorce is harder when neither one of you is the Bad Guy. I dropped out of school and feverishly took to finding my footing in a way that I could live in the city, near friends, and finally realize my larger-than-life dreams of serving others, writing books that are more paycheck than risk, and still being a creative and nerdy mom.
As my circle began to learn about my divorce I realized I was part of a secret sisterhood of silently suffering beauties – wives, unfulfilled by their relationships, and suffocated by the shoulds of motherhood. I began blogging to help myself and others navigate the treacherous and uncharted trails of unexpected emotional trauma. I called the blog Road to Relovery (roadtorelovery.com) and continue to write from my experience of being a single mom of three, trying to honor God and myself and my children with every decision I make.
Finally, here I am, three and a half years post-divorce, successfully co-parenting with my once-husband, successfully working in a career that is more paycheck than risk and uses both my writing skills and healthcare passions to serve one of the country’s leading children’s hospitals; and I’m about to release the first episode in my sci-fi fantasy series, The Hibouleans, with nine more episodes already written – and I’m working on my next biblical fiction novel, Hem. I’m proud of my journey, not only because I am being more true to myself, which helps me be a better mother to my boys, but also because I didn’t have to choose between God’s calling for me and the weight of the shoulds.

How has your story shaped who you are today?:

I am a better me -- author, artist, dancer, cellist and mother. My dreams are coming to life. I am flourishing. My children are thriving. And I feel like I've only taken the first step.
www.octaviareese.com

What compelled you to want to share your story with us?:

I have had a colorful reset to the adulthood chapters of my life and I know there are other mom's out there that can benefit from knowing they are not alone.

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What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?:

Marriage: it is scary; it is NOT what anyone says. It takes work, no matter what. Your relationship does not define you; you define it and your partnership should serve BOTH of you, not one more than the other. Neither of you should need either other; rather you should want to be with each other and make the decision daily to honor each other and make your relationship work. And finally, whatever blessings and scars you each bring to your partnership from your childhoods, remember that you define your own culture for your family. You determine your traditions, your norms, and your boundaries.

Parenting: there is no manual to parenting, but you can't parent well when you aren't well yourself. If your goals, career, or relationship is detracting from your ability to be your best parent to your children, then that factor needs a reset and an adjustment. You can only be your best parent to your children when you are your best self. Take care of your kids by serving yourself, setting boundaries for yourself and your children, and by carving time for your own spiritual-mental-emotional health BEFORE you burn out! Be gentle with yourself and your children. Always lead with love and be the parent you wish you had when you were a child.

Dreams: a dream deferred isn't a dream denied (Langston Hughes), but don't martyr yourself in the name of fulfilling everyone elses expectations of you. It's OK if you're that mom or dad that isn't fulfilled by being a parent. I wasn’t. And it’s OK. When a tree grows a new branch, it doesn't cut the others off. Parenting is just one branch of the tree that is you, and all branches need nourishment and sunlight in order to bear beautiful fruit. You are a better parent when you are your best self and if your best self finds fulfillment outside the home, don't deprive yourself of that light -- and don't let anyone else tell you you're wrong.

Forgiving my dad...

Divorce, Single Mom, Forgiveness, Single Parents, Clickforhope, My StoryJasmine LopezComment

I was born into the world rejected by my father, who made a new life with a new family. So all I knew was our little family: my mom, my older brother and me. I don't have many memories of my childhood. If I'm honest, I've suppressed so much of it, that I can only recall a memory here and there, and they aren't all good.

I do remember my mom doing her best trying to juggle it all. She was determined to figure out how to make it work with no assistance from anyone including the government.  A few of my fondest memories together was having a sock fight and making cheesecake for bake sales at church because I always got to lick the spoon with that delicious cream cheese filling. Other than that I don't remember much.

As a teenager, I was very cold, angry, bitter and didn't really know what I believed about "love". In fact "love" was distorted to me. I hadn't seen a positive example of it as well as marriage because all I was surrounded by was divorce. I don't think I realized it then nor could I even communicate that I had daddy issues. I just knew that when he'd come to pick us up I'd find an excuse to not go to his house. I wanted nothing to do with him. I didn't care if he ever got to be a part of my life again. I felt he had lost his chance.

Summer of junior year I was reacquainted with a childhood friend. It was through her a series of events happened where I found myself going to a youth retreat. I had no idea what I had gotten myself into, and my motives in going were totally wrong too! But God had a different plan for me. After a fun day full of competitive games and teaching, there was a worship experience that I will never forget. It changed my life forever!

I remember being in a room full of other high school and college aged kids, but somehow the room felt empty with just me and God. I was sitting on the floor in a fetal position and I heard a voice say, "I've missed you!" Tears began to stream down my face, as a LOVE no words could describe consumed my broken heart, and filled the room. I wanted this LOVE. It felt so warm, inviting and perfect.....and all I could say was, "I've missed you too!" As more tears streamed down my face I heard a voice tell me, "If you're going to follow me you're going to have to forgive your father." A simple nod was my response.

That Labor Day weekend was the weekend I decided to surrender my life and follow Jesus. What I didn't know how to do was forgive. My mom worked nights so we had opposite schedules and my brother was off at college, so I began having beautiful moments with Jesus as I studied and read the Word every night on my bed. I was intrigued by the simplicity but yet complexity of who Jesus was. The miracles He performed was something I wanted to see one day. The stories of Paul and how he was redeemed and used to do a amazing things was only evidence for me in how I could have a similar story.

Three months later, my mom called my dad and told him to call me. A part of me felt so betrayed, but knew deep downside she only did what I didn't have the courage to do. Over the phone I began sharing my Jesus story with him, and said, "Dad, I just want to let you know that I forgive you!"

I cried. He cried.

I can't say that instantly we began a relationship and everything was just peachy, but what I can say is that when I said those words, I literally felt bitterness, hatred, unforgiveness and so much more lift off my shoulders. I was instantly a different person. I began to learn what love was according to 1 Corinthians 13. I began to let the walls down that I built up towards my dad, and in turn, other people.

It's now been 16 years since that beautiful exchange took place. My dad has been in my life for as long as he was out of it. To me it was worth walking down the path of forgiveness, not just for our relationship, but for me to become the person I am today. My dad and I have a fully restored relationship. He walked me down the aisle when I got married 10 years ago, he's been at the hospital for the birth of each of my daughters. My girls know their grandpa and love him very much. We talk on the phone about marriage, faith, and life. When I look at my dad, I don't see him as the man that abandoned me... I see him as forgiven. All those feelings of hatred no longer reside in my mind or heart. I live my life free, knowing I'm forgiven and loved by my Heavenly Father.

So I end with this! If there is someone in your life that you need to forgive, my hope is that you would begin to walk down that path. It's not easy, and everyone's forgiveness story is different. What I do know is, when we choose to forgive it frees us up to love. It humanizes your pain. It allows you to feel verses numbing it all away. I pray that you would open your heart! Please feel free to email me at clickforhope@jaziphoto.com if you'd like more information on how I walked through that journey or if you are looking for help/advice on how to forgive someone who hurt or abandoned you.

 

 

 

Forte Wayne | Alexandria's Story

Clickforhope, Divorce, AbuseJasmine LopezComment

Please share your story: : I am a single mom of the most loving & free spirited (almost) 8 year old, Everest. When I discovered I was pregnant at 22 I was in shock and not ready. I chose to plan an adoption and his birth dad agreed, since we were young and unmarried. At 7 months pregnant I broke down... I couldn't possibly go through with this. I sought God and clearly heard him remind me He has never and will never leave me alone. He said I can and will do this. I chose to raise my son & his birth dad chose to walk away. 

Over the next year I met a man who would soon after become my husband and adopt Everest. I thought I finally had all I wanted. A family, stability, marriage. Soon after we were married I realized I didn't truly know the man I was married to & the relationship became abusive. After 4 years of abuse, 1 separation, many sleepless night crying out to God... he left with a text & filed for divorce that week.

It's been 3 years since then & I am thankful to God for keeping his promise of never leaving us and always giving me strength to get through the days. Some days I still worry I may have messed up the first years of my sons life but then remember God is not only writing my story but he is writing my sons as well. My son is just as much a child of God as I am & God is a faithful God who redeems.

Last year I started a company Foreveresta in dedication to my son & being a light in the world which can be so dark. It is a mobile retail boutique with a mission of educating guests through global artisans and brands, retail partnerships, and mission-driven organizations while supporting emerging entrepreneurs in the developing world through economic development of underserved communities. 
My hope is that everyone who has a chance to walk in our doors can experience a glimmer of hope and leave encouraged. I hope through this my son will grow to see he is valuable and can achieve anything he dreams with God on his side.

How has your story shaped who you are today?: Being a mother has taught me of God's deep unconditional always forgiving love for us. How at times we walk away, mess up, think we know better whats best for us yet he never once changes. He is always right there ready to redirect and help us back up. I have learned to be still with God & trust what HE says is good, right, and purposed for us... even when I can't understand it. Just because something seems to be everything you want and seems to be "good" doesn't mean its ultimately what IS good for you. God's ways are unlike ours but HE IS reliable & trustworthy. I have learned true joy, contentment, and peace come only from our heavenly Father. Nothing of this world will ultimately satisfy, so I continue learning to abide in Him first.

Why should your story be selected to be featured on our blog?: I have a passion for sharing honest stories from my life with others in hopes they can be encouraged and say "me too!" There is something comforting in those words. When we don't feel as alone in our circumstance and can stand along side one another in love. I know my "story" is still being written but God has given me a voice and these stories to share with other women who can relate.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?: Lean not on your own understanding but TRUST GOD in ALL you do, he will surely direct your paths. 
Take one day at a time and don't be to hard on yourself. Give yourself and your kiddos lots of grace in love, stay humble, and laugh as much as you can. Laughter is good medicine for the soul :) You are always enough and you are never alone!

Inspired by Love | Karina

Divorce, Depression, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment

My story is a very sad and painful one. I went through verbal, physical and sexual abuse at a young age. For someone to experience these things when they should just be a kid and enjoying life is definitely life changing. I grew up in a very strict environment where exploring simple things such a theme park or movie was not allowed. Almost everything that was considered fun was not allowed. We were a family of six and with just my father working on a very small salary there certainly wasn’t much for anything. Living in the ghetto and always being the new girl was also very hard. I searched for love in a boy and got married at a young age. I was in love and thought how lucky am I to have found love. Until it all started to unravel. I tried my best to save my marriage but was just humiliating every time. Although I don’t want to detail all I went through I think it’s important to highlight where I am now because although I was very broken, it served me as a stepping stone to wanting more out of life. During my divorce, I was diagnosed with a medical condition due to a tumor in my pituitary gland. I went from a size 3 to a 16 in the matter of a year. I was already experiencing deep sadness but now depression had settled in. As the divorce was set to be finalized, I found a friend that took me as broken and bitter as I could ever be and loved it all out of me. His incredible patience was instrumental in my healing process. His constant encouragement in telling me I can do anything regardless of what had happened helped me be a successful individual. He constantly reassured me that my past didn’t have to determine my future. The genuine love he gave me brought me hope and I opened my heart to love again. He is now my husband of 7 years. I didn’t get the best start and missed out on a lot of things as a child, but I can proudly say that courage, love and perseverance have gotten me one step closer to my PHD. It is a dream of mine to be Dr. Karina Velez. I have since recorded 3 music cds and have been featured in many other musical productions. I was voted the best Puerto Rican Voice in Chicago and had the honor of singing the National Anthem and the Anthem of PR. I was hired by the largest Ad agency in the world Leo & Burnett and did commercials for McDonalds (I’m loving it). I opened my own business and have reached success in my Business Life, Personal Life and Spiritual life. Success in my opinion comes when you are willing to go against the odds and chose to be happy & content with life. Happiness is definitely a choice and I’m so glad I made it. I will say that the one perfect memory I have as a child is that I was introduced to Jesus and I have been a follower of him ever since. I recognize that he pulled me through it and that my husband was just the tool he used to tell me every day I love you Karina and it had not been in vain. Thank you Jazi photo for the experience. I can’t tell you enough how thankful I am you allowed me to share a bit of my story and show the world that we are all uniquely beautiful. You are amazing at your craft and pray many more women give you and themselves the opportunity to experience this confidence booster session.

Hair and Makeup: Erica Alexis Artistry