Click For Hope

Single Mom

Searching for myself

Clickforhope, Divorce, Single Parents, Single MomJasmine LopezComment
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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.

I will be the father of your children

Clickforhope, Single Parents, Single MomJasmine LopezComment
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Please share your story:

As a single parent it has definitely been a rough patch, from waking up super early, to being the last one to go to sleep. Mommy duties never end. When I became a single mother, I was so afraid. All I could think about was how would I survive with my 2 daughters. I was an emotional wreck as I was a victim of verbal abuse. I felt as if I was never going to get out of that relationship. I stayed with him because I was afraid of being a single parent. I could only imagine the challenges that were going to come my way the moment I would decide to let go. When I finally decided to let go, I faced lots of struggle. I now knew that all the responsibility was going to be on my shoulders. I now had to be a single parent to 2 daughters. I have to teach them good and bad. I fell into an anxious season. I felt as if I was losing my breath, as if I couldn't handle the weight of being a single mom. The Lord rescued me one night, comforted me, and said "I will be the father of your children." I felt a peace and even though sometimes the struggles are there, the Lord always reminds me of how blessed I am to see my children grow. To see them wake up next to me, to see the smile on their faces when I'm down, brings me so much joy. There are days where I would cry at night because of the pressure of having to raise 2 daughters. Not having that support of a father for my daughters would break me. My day consists of a chaotic morning waking them up, to dropping them off, to picking them up from after school and daycare. There are days where I have late dinners, at around 9:00 pm, because my children come before me. You learn to manage your time and day efficiently. And on my days off, they are my world, I spend lots of quality time with them. I pray every night over them, so that the Lord can guide me to be a parent who raises them well.

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How has your story shaped who you are today?:

It has definitely made me stronger as a person. I am more independent and it has allowed me to see things differently. I am stronger in my faith because of this circumstance. I feel like I can conquer anything. There is no holding me back from growing as a person and growing spiritually. When I learned to let the burden out and allow the Lord to build me as a new creation I was able to be free. I can now say I'm blessed to be a single mom.

What compelled you to want to share your story with us?: I want to let other single parents out there to know that they're not alone. I want others to be encouraged through my story and push forward,  bring hope and not be afraid, don't overthink the process.

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What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?: I would tell them to never feel alone, to always lean on God's word to pull you through. To always smile through the trouble and to see your children as blessings.

AWAKENED BY A MAN ON TOP OF ME

Abuse, Adoption, Breaking the Silence, Clickforhope, Depression, Forever Family, Foster Care, Rape, Sexual Abuse, Single MomJasmine Lopez13 Comments
 Photos by:  Jazi Photo  Makeup by: Ashley Vela

Photos by: Jazi Photo Makeup by: Ashley Vela

Please share your story:

It all started when I was 14. I lived in Gary on 21st Sve . I was going to school and just living a normal teen life, chilling with friends and having fun. It had its ups and downs but hey who's life doesn't right?!? So in March 2012, my dad takes a trip to Puerto Rico to visit his mom, leaving my brother, mom, and me alone at home. So one day, being the nosey child that I was, I went looking for my mom but couldn't find her. I went upstairs to check and nothing. Something said go look out the window. So I went and looked, and saw my mom talking to some guy. I didn't know who he was but they exchanged something, and my mom walked back into the house. I didn't think anything of it. I'm 14, why should I really care, right? My mom always told me to stay out of grown folks business, so that's all I knew.

So a couple days later my mom comes downstairs and says "We're having company for a while." I told her, "Ummm...okay?!?" To soon found out it was the guy who she was talking to outside. I told myself, "Something is wrong here. A man is staying in our house that isn't my dad. He shouldn't be here. But she said it's only for few days, and she gets paid for it?!?" Now money was tight since no one had a job at the time, so my brother and I had to panhandle a couple time for money just to get through one day at a time.

One night, I'm asleep and the night is still. Only to be awakened by a man on top of me, touching me, and taking my innocence. My brother was asleep in the bed beside me. The man whispers, "Shhh don't tell anyone, and your mom will be okay." I laid still thinking my life is over. I'm scared...Where's my mother to protect me? He left soon after. The next morning, I walked downstairs to see my mom scooping some type of substance on a plate... Is it flour? Sugar maybe? I walk into the kitchen and she hurried to cover the plate, and told me to get back upstairs. It's now April and the same thing happens again, while I'm asleep in my bed, in my house...while my mom is God knows where. My brother and I were barely surviving and it's up to me to stop this from continuing. May is here and I have no menstrual cycle. My mom is all of a sudden curious, and asks me. "Where's your cycle?" I replied, "I don't know, late probably?" I can't even look at her. I stopped going to school because I had no motivation and no drive to do anything but live in fear.

One day my mom sent me to my grandma's church to ask for some money, but something in me said enough is enough. I went to church and I told my aunt that I didn't want to live with my mom anymore. I was tired of everything going on and I was dying inside. My other aunts, who attended the church, came over too, to gather my things, along with my brothers. We left and stayed with them for a while. I told them what happened and everyone was disappointed in my mom, in how she let her guard down and let drugs break her wall of being a real parent.

The next day, I was in the hospital getting rape kits done, swabs, and shots, only to find out I'm one month pregnant. Yes, I was 14 years old, pregnant and felt like a piece of trash without anyone or anything. My aunts told me and everyone cried. Three months past by and I'm now four months pregnant. I'm tired, big and taking everything in, all at once. I have a journal to keep me sane and it wasn't working. My aunt found it and kicked me out because of something I wrote. I was then placed into foster care and I can honestly say it was the best thing that could have ever happen to me. I missed a lot of school, so I had to do 8th grade over again which was my choice. Even though everything was bad, I was blessed with a beautiful son on December 24th, 2012. Yes I can really say he was my gift from God. I named him Alejandro Nicholas Kirkland.

I moved again shortly after that to Whiting, Indiana and my son got a terrible fever of 104.3. My foster parent really didn't care and kept saying to give him water. God whispered to me and said be patient, just watch. A few hours later, my therapist came and saw Alejandro so hot and called the abuse hotline. We went to the hospital and stayed all night. Lets just say God has his ways and perfect timing. The doctors said if we had waited any longer, he wouldn't have made it. That made my life take a turn it really needed to. We were removed from her care and moved to East Chicago, and spent a summer there. We then were placed in a foster home in Gary once again. At this time, I just couldn't deal with my life and putting my son through that didn't feel like it was right. I couldn't do this to him. I was in school but I didn't have a job and I couldn't provide for him like I wanted to.

So winter of 2014, I got placed in Dyer at a mom's home for some help and to see if I still wanted to have the role as a mom. I found out that I didn't. I didn't have help andit was hard seeing my peers with their baby's father. I was alone and no one came to see me. I loved him with all my soul and being, but I wanted better for him. I want him to have the world and some. I wanted to give him everything I never had. Summer of 2015 I gave him up for adoption. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make. I signed the papers and he was officially adopted. He deserves better and that's what he's going to get. God has always watched over him and I trust Him.

So its been a little over a year now and his new family spoils him and some. He loves it. I'm also glad that I could be a blessing to someone who couldn't bare on their own child. But, overall God gave me an amazing person to help guide me and steer me in the direction I needed and her name is Kiessa Hamilton. I love her so much and shes my rock. I'm sure I wouldn't be here without her pushing me to keep going forward. I will be 19 on September 18th and its crazy to think about how I've been in 6 placements, 5 schools over 4 years. Where did the time go.?.

I can't end the story here. I always told myself good things come to those who wait. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for God. I wouldn't be telling my story without Him. And I'm a firm believer, because God's work is so pure and unbelievable. He's amazing! When you think it's over, God sneaks up and says "No you're just getting started."

How has your story shaped who you are today?:

It shaped me to know that life isn't over. Keep moving forward and know you have more to live for. Life is more valuable then you think. Keep pushing through the pain and you will find healing.

What compelled you to share your story with us:

Because I've been through a lot and I feel like I can help someone overcome their troubles. To let them know they can get through what they're going through. You are a strong independent person!

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

You're strong!

You got through it!

I'm proud of you.

Keep going.

I knew you had it in you.

Never give up on your dreams.

God has plans for you.

 

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.

 

 

 

He gives Beauty for Ashes

Loss, Widow, Single Parents, Single Mom, Clickforhope, Placental AbruptionJasmine Lopez3 Comments
"I have absolute trust in His sovereignty, wisdom and goodness. I've learned that the most epic adventures await where your feet no longer touch the bottom of the ocean floor." -Brandy

Please share your story:

I was raised in a Christian home, and have been around/involved in ministry my whole life. I thought I had things pretty well figured out as far as God and life were concerned, and felt like all of my service had somehow earned me a "Hardship Pass". Not that my earlier days were easy breezy (they involved family issues and divorce, lots of moving around, difficulty making friends, etc.), but I knew a lot of people that had it way worse than me.

In 2006, after 4 years of dating, I married my college sweetheart, Jonathan, or "JoNate". I was a new Labor & Delivery Nurse and he was in full-time ministry at a fairly large church. Within 3 months of being married, he was diagnosed (not to my full knowledge) with some pretty significant health issues. 2 years later, we moved away from family, friends, and secure jobs in TN, to follow the Lord's lead to Gainesville, FL. We were getting a fresh start, and it did wonders for our marriage! 6 weeks after we moved, I got pregnant with our first child (after trying for over a year!). At 20 wks I had a placental abruption and we lost our sweet baby girl.

To give a very brief overview of that year, in Feb 2009 we lost our baby, March had a lease purchase agreement fall through on one of our houses in TN and we had to deed back a lot we had purchased to build on in TN as well, April my husband was "demoted" due to changes in his new employer's plans...and totaled our second vehicle (which we’d had for 6 months:-I), July a week after paying off the last of $1000's in medical bills from my pregnancy complications, I got a kidney stone...incurring more medical bills. Then, in October, my husband's little sister, Jessica, was killed in a car accident-leaving behind her 21 y/o husband of six months, 2 y/o daughter and 3 wk old son.

During this "eventful" year, our marriage and ministry were thriving. We were leading a church "small group" with 25-35 people in our (apartment!) home each week...it was incredible! Each trial served to drive us closer to each other and to God. We were fasting together, praying together more frequently, seeking after the Lord...we were desperate! Shortly after Jessica died, I got pregnant again. This pregnancy was completely different and I delivered our healthy, beautiful baby girl, Madison, at 39 weeks! We were so in love! On Sunday, Aug 29th I posted on fb about how happy I was to finally be able to take Madison to church, and how good it was to hear my husband leading worship again..."I couldn't imagine life getting any better than this."

Six days later, Labor Day weekend, I woke up to find my husband unresponsive. He had passed away sometime early in the morning from what we later found out was a genetic heart condition. I was scheduled to return to work from maternity leave in another week, and instead found myself in a whirlwind of funeral arrangements and flooded with friends, family and phone calls.

The phone calls included one to the HR Dept at my job to find out how to activate the new life insurance policy that we had just placed 3 wks prior, after our daughter was born. I was so relieved that we had acted quickly on that. However, my relief very quickly turned into shock and panic when I found out that the insurance company's system had a glitch, and our policy increase was never fully processed...which left it at $5k...and covered 1/3 of the funeral costs. And here I was left with student loans, 2 mortgages on our rental properties in TN (which weren't bringing any profit), a hefty car payment on our 4 yr old car, rent, ridiculous Florida utilities and other monthly bills...with a newborn! My husband had handled 100% of our finances from day one, and I didn't know usernames and passwords for a single account. It took three months of sifting through statements and making phone calls to figure it all out.

I have so many stories of things that happened with the houses...from sitting empty for up to 9 months at a time, to trees falling on the roof, getting destroyed by tenants and having to be renovated-despite having a property manager that was supposed to be helping take care of them, the legal processes necessary because we didn't have a will, getting dropped from 2 insurance companies in 3 months while waiting on the legal process to be finalized, facing foreclosure a couple times for different reasons and the possibility of bankruptcy...so many crazy stories to tell! But each one is a crazy testament of God's faithfulness and provision!

Today, outside of the one remaining rental property, I stand debt-free, with great credit and I am scheduled to close on our beautiful new (to us:) home in Franklin, TN in August. This process started out of the blue and a full year sooner than I had hoped and planned...this is nothing short of miraculous!

It’s invigorating to accomplish feats with hard work and putting in all of your effort. But it’s all the more exciting, and humbling, to know that you had little to do with getting where you are! For every battle or trial I've faced, (and there have been many) I have been incredibly delivered and I am living proof that, “In all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

 

How has your story help shape you into who you are today?:

I've realized just how powerful God's strength and joy are in my utter lack of qualification and in my greatest weakness. I've discovered the safety that accompanies submission to God's plans for my life, even when I am so far beyond understanding. I have absolute trust in His sovereignty, wisdom and goodness. I've learned that the most epic adventures await where your feet no longer touch the bottom of the ocean floor.

What compelled you to share your story on our blog:

I have such a heart to encourage people facing loss, or going through seemingly impossible situations. I've watched the Lord do absolutely unbelievable things in my life, and I know that He's able to do it for others too! I just want to spread hope!!

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

Never give up...no matter how hopeless your situation seems. As long as there is breath in your lungs, God is willing and able to heal, redeem and restore. He delights in those who place their trust in Him. He gives beauty for ashes....

Photos by: Jazi Photo

Makeup by: Jacqueline Gamache