Before they met…
Maritza was a single mom with her son Carlos who had just turned 2. She was submerged in a crazy lifestyle that included heavy promiscuity, wreck-less living, alcohol and drugs. She had an extensive background of abuse of various kinds and lost her father at the age of 25. It was at her father’s funeral that she put her faith in Christ alone. Her first couple years living for God was very difficult. Maritza had difficultly fully surrendering to God and giving God her all. She had bounced back and forth from unhealthy relationships, but eventually God drew her to Himself over time and healed her to start afresh.
Something that helped Maritza grow stronger in The Lord during that time and was her friend who led her on how to truly live according to Gods Word.
Over time, her love for Jesus grew and she became content with Him, more than anything else in life. Maritza's pursuit of purity grew very strong and she noticed that she always found herself surrounded by women who loved God so much they were saving their first kiss, saving their virginity and even starting over, with no dating, but waiting and serving God faithfully until and if a husband came. It was so foreign to her early on, at first she thought it was completely crazy.
She also battle thoughts because she was a single mom. But over time God began to do a work in her heart to believe again. She saw that God did indeed want to mark a new beginning with her, even regarding purity and being set-apart for Him in every way of her life, not just physical. Her heart burned to see her generation overcome the perversion of the current times and she began to fight in prayer and fasting.
She prayed not only for her purity, but for hundreds of young women. Although she was already in the trenches of motherhood, she decided with great conviction that her next kiss wouldn't be until the altar with her husband, who ever that was… She even began writing letters to this unknown man in 2009 in faith hoping that God would bless her with the gift of marriage one day.Starting over was no easy task. Warfare became a daily thing. She began to realize when something cost your life for the glory of God, the enemy charges in with full force.
All kinds of attacks came once she made that resolve to wait wholeheartedly! Everything from nightmares, random calls from men, to desiring the things of this world was at times tempting and at her fingertips, but she wasn't going down.
Singleness for Maritza at first felt like a "special disease". She needed to learn the Lords purpose for her during that time. It came with a price as many tears were shed as she wondered and fought lies like, "Who is ever gonna want a single mom?" She was her own worst enemy at times, but God continued to renew her mind and she began to see herself the way He saw her. She began to repent for thinking her singleness was about her.
She realized that trusting God and His timing was perfect and vowed to not question His love and perfect will over her and her sons life. She began to enjoy her singleness as she was busy mothering, serving at her church and God began opening doors of purpose for Maritza.
It had been now seven years Maritza was single and serving God. It wasn’t her identity, it was simply just her circumstance. She was open to whatever the Lord wanted. Around 2013, in prayer, the Lord asked Maritza to ask Him specifically for a husband. She was scared to do it…she would say weak prayers, like “if you want to bless me God…” But she specifically felt God say, “Ask me for one.” She grew in courage and she did…
Months later after crying out to God, a friend of Maritza's saw her at a BBQ. With unbearable excitement she says, "MARITZA! I wanna introduce you to someone!" Maritza was in shock and guarded at first. Her friend began to speak of a man named Paul who she thought she would like to meet. With some reservations, they agreed a group setting would be best and would let her know of details. A few days later, this friend’s husband called to confirm a hang out at their place where this gentleman Paul would be. Maritza was overwhelmed at the very thought of meeting someone. She hid many things in her heart and prayed to God for peace and help. The day came, June 7, 2013, Paul and Maritza met....and that was it.
Literally it was just a “Hi and Bye”. The next day she was faced with a thought that maybe he wouldn’t pursue her...
Done and done. She left it completely alone and continued with life. Only 10 days later, their 2 worlds would collide after Paul asked for her number to invite her to a Hillsong concert with some friends. After the concert they all went out to eat, but it was as if it were just Paul and Maritiza sitting at that table alone.
Maritza learned a lot about Paul and his story. Paul was born and raised in New Zealand. He came to know The Lord at about the age of 18.
Shortly after, he entered a marriage that would prove to be hard and painful for the next 4 years. He tried his best to reconcile the relationship, but unfortunately, it ended in divorce. He was crushed by all that had occurred, but set out to seek God, be restored and healed. During that time (2005) his job at the time offered for him to help a company in Chicago.
He went and the company in Chicago enjoyed him so much they invited him to stay and take on a full-time position. Paul had been praying for a transition beforehand and sensed this was from The Lord, so leaving all his family behind, he packed up his life and ventured out in faith to start new in Chicago. Serving God wholeheartedly in singleness he plugged into heavy accountability and grew in his relationships with men during this time.
On that day they met up, when they departed at the end of the night, the Holy Spirit was burning inside her to pray. She could not wait to get home. And when Maritza did, she cried out to God confessing all her fears about marriage and the future.
She prayed that God would confirm who this man was in her life. She grew great peace after that night and Paul reached out the next day…
There their friendship began…
During their friendship they established boundaries early on. This was a big deal to the both of them, especially since Maritza and Paul had sexual experience in their past and were celibate for many years. They both knew kissing would lead to other things and just weren't willing to risk it. She had decided before hand that kissing before marriage was a no, not only for herself, but for her son and for the women she was mentoring.
During her and Paul's friendship, Paul was very clear and direct with Maritza about his intentions.
He told her that he wanted to get to know her with the intention of pursuing a long term relationship.
After weeks of getting to know each other in friendship Paul asked Maritza if he could speak with her son. He took Carlito for a walk and asked if he could pursue his mom with the intention for marriage. This meant so much to Maritza and meant the world to her son. Months of getting to know each other, fun dates, hard conversations, dealing with conflict and being around each other’s world, it was confirmed to them over and over they wanted to be together.
Months would pass and Paul asked Maritza to eat at nice restaurant. She had that feeling in the pit of her stomach that something was coming…As she entered into this private eating area, she notices rose petals everywhere, along with candles dimly lighting the room.
She hears a beautiful song playing in the background and all over the walls of the small room are pictures of her mom, brother, sisters, close friends and so many close people she knew holding a sign with the word, “yes”. It was at that moment she knew he was going to ask her. Her emotions flooded with excitement and, joy and love.
Paul explained to her as music played in the background that he met with her son, her brothers and mother to ask for her hand in marriage. They gave their blessing of “Yes!” But not only they, but the community of faith closest to them. On April 4, 2014, Paul got on one knee and asked Maritza if she would be his bride.
She said YES of course! After he placed her dream ring on her finger and they embraced tightly. At that moment, she felt a familiar tap on her shoulder. It was her son standing there and he had a sign saying "Yes!" It was the final blessing to their commitment. All three embraced with tears of love and joy
It was four months later that they were married.
August 31, 2014 on a beautiful sunny day in Chicago Paul and Maritza said I DO! They were beyond excited and couldn't wait to kiss for the first time together at the altar. There they shared their first kiss together and haven’t stopped kissing since. They have ZERO regrets on waiting. These were 2 people who felt they had made mistakes in their past, but wouldn't let life rob them of something worth gaining. Their story is one full of hope and restoration...with God all things are possible!