Today, I have a treat. Nicole Neri wrote a post on her blog that I believe will speak to many of us. I know it touched me. Nicole is sharing it with us here today. I am delighted to welcome one of our wonderful readers as a guest contributor. I pray you are moved by her words and you see God the way she discovered Him.
Welcome Nicole. And Thank you!
I’ve always been a HUGE romance lover. I love cheesy chic movies, stories of romance, weddings, unending love… - I think I’ve watched the Notebook one too many times. And oh the dreams as a child I would have. As far as I can remember I dreamt of y wedding day, my prince and our fairy tale life together. My poor husband had no idea the unrealistic ideals I had placed on him. Our story too started off very picture perfect - high school sweethearts, Romeo – Juliet drama in college, yet a perfect proposal and top it off with a lavish wedding. We had a scored high so far on my fairytale planned life. However fast-forward three years, two kids, and a huge mortgage my lala land was gone. I wasn’t prepared to find myself crying in the middle of the night feeling very un-loved. I had a three month old and a two-year old. Louie was working 60+ hour weeks and romance was nowhere to be found. I remember sobbing on the floor. (I’m sure the lack of sleep and hormone level changes weren’t helping:) At one point I woke poor Louie out of his much-needed sleep to just sit there and cry and ask him, “Do you still love me?” He just stared at me in a daze and told me to try to go to sleep.
The next day I remember watching Oprah – she was advertising a book called “How to Remodel your Man”. Surely this will work I thought I will teach him how to be romantic again! After all I had read her book ”A New Earth” the previous year when my Uncle had died and it seemed to help cope with the pain and fear I had experienced.
So the next day I headed to the library in search of my next Oprah book to fix my romantically deficient marriage. They didn’t have the book, but another book popped up on the library catalog that sounded good – “You can have the marriage you’ve always wanted.” Perfect I thought I looked up the call number and found myself in the Christian marriage aisle-whatever works I thought. While there I grabbed a few more books that looked good, “For women only” and “10 commandments of marriage” to name a few. I started reading them and they had a lot of great practical advice. Like maybe for example my husband did love me and that’s why he was working so hard, Duh! Maybe I should put time aside to be with him. Maybe I should tell him what I need instead of expect him to read my mind – and on and on. Our communication started changing and the more I read the more I started understanding how a healthy marriage works. I started visiting that section of the library regularly. Slowly the reality started sinking in that it wasn’t my husband that needed to change but me! But I still had that deep longing for romance hidden and tucked away in my heart.
At that same time, I was playing in a handbell choir. I thought it would be fun to play music again and get out once a week. The only annoying thing was that every few months they we would have to play in church at 8:00! I rarely went to church and never that early. Then one Sunday that we were playing, I read that the message was going to be on – “A New Earth.” I was so excited I loved that book – it was all about Jesus and Buddah and energy and it had helped me so much. I couldn’t wait to hear what he had to say:) As he began the sermon, I perked up ready to listen. But I quickly I felt like a deer in headlights – The pastor started preaching against the book and how so many people were falling for its’ lie! What? Can you say that again? I was in shock. I went home feeling confused and stunned – I had been reading these great Christian books that were working, but I was also was reading these great new age books like the Power of Now and they seemed to be working too. What’s a brain to do? So I decided I needed to figure this out for myself and dug out my old confirmation Bible and started reading it at night, before bed.
As I read the Bible, I followed some reading tracks in the front that were recommended. I read about what Jesus did and what He said and it was all very interesting. I felt like I was actually getting to know the guy. I continued to read my marriage books, and I also had started reading a book I found at the neighbors called “Captivating”. It was a fun easy read and I was enjoying it late one night - until I got to the chapter that changed everything. It was about how Jesus wants to be your lover? Lover um Freaky? Did I read that right I thought? Then I read a part from Hosea quoted from the Bible and I couldn’t believe my eyes – Immediately I went into the other room and got my Bible to make sure it actually was there – I hadn’t read anything like this before. But sure enough there it was…
“Therefore I will wall her in with thorn bushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not find them. Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her…” -Hosea 2:6-7
As I read it aloud, my whole body felt warm and I started sobbing. This historical figure/distant God all of a sudden became an alive, intimate present person sitting with me in the room. As I read the passage over and over in belief, I knew He was saying – all this time you’ve been searching, striving, thinking that this New Age religion or imaginary romance would cure a hole that only I could fill, I am what you dream of - Would you let me be the great love of your life?
My response - ”You had me at hello.”
My name is Nicole Neri and I have been married to my high-school sweetheart for six years. I taught Junior High for two years before I became a stay at home mom. We now have a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter, Brandon and Brooke. Four years into my marriage I heard God knocking on my heart and I opened the door. That was when I reluctantly enrolled at Unequally Yoked University.
Although I’ve experienced deep growth I’ve anxiously awaited my graduation date. I’ve envisioned many far off kingdom adventures working side by side with my husband sharing the love of Christ. But recently I’ve embraced God’s whisper- He’s your kingdom adventure and you get to work side by side with me!
I live on a quiet street in a low-excitement suburb of Chicago - yet daily I get to partner with the Spirit and shine the light of Christ - it's anything but dull! ~Nicole
Thank you Nicole. I am also praying for your graduation. Hugging you, Lynn