Sunday, August 23, 2015
It was a Thursday night. Maryann was on the phone with her boyfriend and a friend of Rich's came in to invite me to a Bible study after work. Rich ( his name too ), can I talk to you for a minute? We walked over to the side of the card shop ( where I worked "gift corner" in the Mahoning Plaza ) and I started crying. I thing about my salvation ALL THE TIME. I have to do it, but I don't know how. Rich just talks about salvation, and he is so happy and even rainy days and snow days when he has to go get buggies ( he worked at Queens grocery store next door ), he is happy. I just want to ...be different. WHOOP WHOOP...hahaa, he was so excited. So we sat down in the card shop and prayed. Odd...we had NO CUSTOMERS for almost 2 hours. Hmmmm. Anyway, we went to the payphone and called MY RICH and told him. We had such a great Bible study that night.
Then... with really no support at home, and all of my friends were drinkers, and ... well, I was missing out on the fun! So, I put my God back under my mattress and went back to my friends. When we would go to the Orange Room on Sunday nights my mom said "at least you aren't going to CHURCH or Bible study!!". So, my folks approved, my friends approved and after a while, I didn't see a backslider in my mirror anymore.
After Paul and I married the FIRST TIME, we started attending Youngstown B aptist Church, and I and my stepdaughter Susan, went forward , she was saved and I recommitted my life to The Lord. Not long after Pau l was saved, and a couple years later, young Paul was saved. It was a great church for all of us. Great youth department, I started teaching 1st and 2nd grade girls Sunday School, Paul was in the "Retarded Ministry". The kids were totally committed to the Lord. 17 years later, things started to fall apart. Slowly the kids moved out, did their own thing, Paul and I ... well, anyway, we divorced after 20 years of marriage. I relearned to be 'single'.
Well after a horribly failed 2nd marriage and my dad passing away, I slipped away into a depression like no other I had ever felt. BUT... all the while, I felt God. I would cry out to Him constantly. For nearly 2 months, I never left the house except for dog food, baloney, bread, milk and DQ cake ( see, I never FULLY lost it wink emoticon ). I cried out and He said " I am here, you have to go through this but I am here". Really, I am not crazy... If I was online in the middle of the night, Millie Murray was on ... and we would pray together. Then Margie Cline started sending me cards and praying for me. Then for some reason, someone called me and asked me to come to Greenford Christian Church. I said "no, I am not ready", but God said "yes you are". Lauren Kyle started going with me and being there for me too. They had a Divorce Care class that I started to attend. NO DATING FOR 5 YEARS AFTER YOUR DIVORCE. I didn't care. I hated people at this point and frankly, men, ugh. I went to several of the classes then I started getting hit on after class and the second rule after NO DATING FOR 5 YEARS, was no dating within the class. I quit. But Lauren and I started to go to a different church. Totally NOT my style. Ugh. Then I was pumping gas one day and I saw Timmy Mariano. I was a wreck, I must have been on a DQ run so idk if I even SHOWERED. He said "Miss Mary, I will pray for you, but Gary has a church now..." MY ANSWER." I got into my car and pulled into a parking place and BAWLED!!! And when I was there, broken and lost and trying so hard to find out where God wanted me, He said to me "Now, its time to get better".
Well , life has since then, still thrown me curve balls. But my 'ditching skills' have become stronger. Paul and I started hanging out once in awhile and I met ... re-met a guy from school. He asked me out!!! HE asked ME out!!! And yes, I waited almost 5 years to go out on a date!!!! But I did go, and found out that I am not what my ex had convinced me I had become. Someone actually found me , ikd, fun? Interesting? Dare I say 'worth asking out'!! While I was dating , Paul started to ask me to pick him up for church. For awhile on Sunday morning he would call me and say "I'm not ready to go to church yet". Okay, but that never deterred me. I knew that Timmy was sent by the Lord, I knew it when we spoke. I felt the Lords presence when I pulled away.
Since that time, my ex left me, my dad passed, I dated!, my mom passed, I went back to school I GRADUATED, and the dating process seemed to move way to FAST for this old girl, I wouldn't have traded it for ANYTHING. But I knew the Lord was bringing Paul and I closer. I told Him that 'where you lead, I will follow'. A year later, we married and maybe one day soon we will actually LIVE together, but for now, its all in God's timing. I believe The Road to Damascus ... I believe I walked that road too. I believe with all of my heart that My Lord, held my had the entire way. From July 7, 1977...a hot Thursday night on the West Side of Youngstown, to August 23, 2015 until forever, My Lord has been on that journey with me. Yes, sadly picking the Orange Room over church was my turning away period, but THAT is when He just held onto me a little tighter. Like a dad who loves their child more than life itself, He lived and died for me. He has given me life's instruction Book to remind me that He hasn't gone anywhere. And He gave me friends, like Millie, and Margie and Lauren and John, and Timmy and the entire Mariano family as reminders, Just in case I ever wonder if He is still there. Thank you Pastor Gary for another phenomenal service, and for loving His people enough to teach us ... every week. Thank you Lord, for holding onto me.