The Miracle of Us


Marriage isn’t easy.

I don’t want to burst any bubbles out there, but what begins as a miracle of seemingly chance encounters and that sudden knowing that this person is the one, takes some work to maintain.

At the start, that person, who you swear you’ve always known somehow even though you’ve only just met, sweeps you off your feet. You confess you’ll never love another and  he or she is your one and only love.

If you’re anything like us, you witness miracles, maybe a dozen or more (in our case) that let you know with certainty that this is meant to be. You say yes to the proposal and the dress and begin planning your dream day. For us that happened across two continents. COVID-19 long distance has nothing on us!

The wedding is pure bliss even with its few unplanned mishaps (like our crystal champagne flutes that didn’t show up on time), and you waltz from the dance floor to the honeymoon in ecstasy.

We did. Ahh…

Then begins reality.

The moment when the fairy tale becomes real life.

The best love story comes after the wedding. I have a quote something like that framed with a picture of us a year after the wedding. The best comes when you fight through the worst. The worst of both of you, the worst circumstances, the worst heartache. All of that brings out the best of your love story.

The rest of our story will be told in Beyond the Miracle: When the FairDSC_0002y Tale Meets Reality, but until its release (projected for May 2021), we celebrate the now of this year’s anniversary with a throw-back to where it all began.

In honor of our eleventh anniversary, The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater is FREE on Amazon for your holiday weekend reading.

Get your e-book copy here.

What are some of your wedding or marriage miracles?

Different, Not Wrong


Photograph Laura Bennet - artist unknown

Photography Laura Bennet – artist unknown    (Do you see a waterfall or a flat surface?)

My husband and my first golf experience revealed a core issue in our marriage.

My husband plays golf. He knows what he’s doing, and he’s good at it. Unlike me, who has been on a golf course twice. And, I spent more time playing in the cart than in the game.

However, my dad taught me all he knows about golf. He’s good at it.

Despite my lack of actual course experience, I’ve hit dozens of balls on the driving range (I’m not even counting putting on miniature golf courses). I know how to hold the club and keep the arm straight and knees slightly bent. I’m not saying I’m consistent or good, but still…

So how did what should have been a pleasant activity turn into a forced, disappointing situation? Why did our fun evening digress into an argument? Brendan thought his experience would benefit me. I decided to stick with what I had been taught.

We both wanted to do things our way and couldn’t see the other’s perspective.

It seems we aren’t the ones who coined this dilemma. From what I understand, many people struggle with the same issue. World conflicts, politics and the ongoing argument of which way to load a dishwasher are proof. Knives down, people!

Whether it’s about golf or any other number of situations, we both have understanding and opinions based on legitimate past experience and information. Even if it’s not the same, they’re both valid.

Neither is wrong or right, they’re just different.

In a healthy relationships, we do the following:

  1. Listen to the other person’s experience and perspective
  2. Validate that the other person’s view is legitimate even if we don’t share it
  3. Be open to considering the other view as a way to broaden ours
  4. Be willing to compromise when it will better serve the relationship
  5. Choose the best way for each of us given the new information
  6. Voice our position calmly, honestly and without condescension, excuse or defense
  7. Allow the other person to choose their way without judging or criticizing them

We’re still figuring out the healthy way.

Those opposites that attracted us often lead to frustration as well. Initially, I appreciated that my husband’s strong opinions could stand in the face of mine, but later I discovered  I didn’t like being challenged. Both of us believed the other one should hold our same perspective without any question.

I don’t think either of us were often very open to the other’s perspective.

The good thing is it’s never too late to change. Being in relationship, whether a marriage or with a friend, family member or co-worker challenges us to become better people. It broadens our scope of how we see life. It makes us compassionate. That’s why God created us for community.

The Bible puts it this way:

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

Our last golf experience during Father’s Day was better. We encouraged each other, let the other person do things as they wished, and I asked Brendan for some help. Well, maybe once.

I guess we have grown some.

You can read more of the story along with the miracles God did to connect us online and bring my Australian husband to America in The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater.

Online Dating Popularity Update


According to current stats it seems online dating is here to stay!

Let’s compare this popular post from 5 years ago with these statistics from May of this year:

  1. 49.7 million people have tried online dating
  2. 17.5 million are on eHarmony.com
  3. 24.6 million are on Match.com
  4. 17% of marriages began online – this is the same as 5 years ago
  5. 71% of online daters believe in love at first site – WOW!
  6. New stat – 10% of people who use online dating to meet people are sex offenders
  7. According to eHarmony they are responsible for 4% (down 1% from 5 years back) of marriages from online dating – are other sites creating more matches??

If you’d like to read our story, you can get The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater here.

Re-post:

It happened again.

This time I was getting a pedicure and chatting with the lovely woman who attempted to produce something beautiful from my calloused, beach-combing feet. The conversation naturally turned to how we each met our husbands.

Her question prompted my response, “On an internet dating site,” and I grinned, waiting for the usual astonishment.

No way! You’re the third person that I’ve heard of.

I find I’m hearing that more often now. My husband and I know two other married couples who met on Christian Café. Online dating is quickly losing its stigma. Many folks are tired of the bar hopping want-to-go-to-my-place scene. They want more than one night; they long for something real, deeper and permanent.

According to 2012 statistics, internet dating is gaining popularity and producing lasting results.

Did you know that:

  • In 2007, 20 million people tried online dating; in 2012 40 million have jumped onboard
  • 10% of 54 million singles use an online dating service
  • Of online daters, 52.4% are male; 47.6% are female
  • 20% of current committed relationships started online
  • The average length of courtship leading to marriage for online daters is 18.5 months
  • 17% of couples who married met on a dating site
  • According to eHarmony, their site is responsible for 5% of all US marriages

Is it the best option?

While opportunities for meeting the person of your dreams through work, school, and social activities may present themselves to the majority of society, many people find the internet dating situation a beneficial one. Learning a little about someone from a profile or being matched to a compatible suitor offers a dating advantage that supersedes a bar scene or the constant conscious effort to pay attention to every potential single who may be in the next aisle at the grocery store.

Yes, liars and potential dangers do exist online.

But I’ve seen or met some fairly sketchy characters on a college campus, in a restaurant and even at church. There are no guarantees that you won’t meet unscrupulous people on an internet dating site—just as you might anywhere. It’s certainly not the only option; it’s only one of many. But I’m awfully glad I tried it.

Do you know someone who has met online? What’s their story?
 
Statistics provided by www.statisticbrain.com and www.eharmony.com

 

Playing With Fire


IMG_4339

My heart held a weakness for being led astray by entertaining suitors who flirted and made me feel desirable.”   from The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater

Can you relate?

When we seek relationships, we want to be careful about motives – other people’s as well as ours.

Whether online or in person, the dating journey reveals the good and messed up places in our hearts and minds. Find out more of the lessons I learned during my journey. You can also read my entire story in my book, The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater.

Dater Beware


miracle book cover_0001The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater has been so well received. I’m grateful, blessed and a little amazed at all the positive comments. People have said (or written) the following:

“…great read…captivating…page turner…excellent…amazing…inspiring…”

Thanks to everyone who has read or is in the process of reading and has encouraged me with such wonderful praise. I say the glory goes to God.

While I’m basking in your kindness, I’m also sending a caution.

You see, I’ve been doing some research for one of the characters in my next book, A Voice from the Past, and what I’ve discovered is quite alarming. I don’t want to spoil any future readers’ appointment with the book so let’s just say this character, Sam, is an unsavory one. Which leads me to the point of this post.

Beware of unscrupulous online suitors!

My experience with internet dating ended in wedded bliss, but unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Even though my friend, Carol, and I both met our amazing husbands through that vehicle, we also waded through some cads and even potential dangerous predators. Please be careful when you are pursuing someone online.

And not only online.

Anyone practiced in deception can convince us to fall for their charms. I had a couple of close calls with some I’ve met. It is crucial to get other opinions from family or friends who know you best. (Thank you Carol!) When we are swooped off our feet by someone intending to disarm us and use us, it’s easy to have our thinking a little distorted. For specific tips see my earlier posts: Fantasy vs. Reality, Are You Kidding?, Meeting Face to Face, and Meeting Face to Fact Part 2.

Are You Dating A Crook?

This was the title of a brief insert in the Feb/Mar 2012 issue of AARP Magazine.  It gave the information for MyMatchChecker.com and BeenVerified.com where you can get access to public records like criminal history. Is seems like the $15 -$89 (depending on the level of info you choose) is worth the investment.

Online dating can be a great vehicle for finding the love of your life. But be careful. Be wise. Because you’re worth it.

Have any online dating stories to share? We’d love to hear… 

God’s Love


My husband, Brendan, did an amazing thing for me today.Lake Tahoe, NV

I woke to find a book which held a dated message for every day from January 1st through today in which Brendan specifically told me something I had done or said during that day that blessed him. At the end of each page he reminded me that he loved me that day. I can’t describe how much this gift meant to me for so many reasons other than the obvious. He planned something and carried it out during a time when he is especially busy with schoolwork and business. He took time to write down his thoughts each day so he could show me his love for me. He encouraged me as a wife and mother. I’ve never been so moved by a gift in my life. Sharing this with the world even feels a little sacrilegious.

But Brendan gave God the credit.

And as the day has progressed, and I’ve considered what God would like me to share in this post, it occurred to me that God has done the very same thing for us.

Thousands of years ago, He came up with a plan.

He wrote down everything or had someone write it for Him so He could tell us how much He loves us each day. The execution of His plan cost Him a great deal. But with each action and word written, He reminds us how much He loves us and encourages us as His followers. He points out all the good things we’ve said or done in a day and offers grace (even to the point of forgetting) the complaining attitudes, criticizing words or curt actions. Through it all, He loves us.

God is love.

The Bible is His collection of love letters to us reminding us and encouraging us.

What an awesome gift. Not only on Valentine’s Day, but every day.

Thank you, Jesus.

 

What is the best Valentine gift you’ve ever received?
 

Yes, Brendan and I have a truly wonderful relationship. You can read our entire story now in The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater. Get it here or on Amazon today.

 

Can You Hand Me a Fig Leaf, Please?


miracle book cover_0001 The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater  went live on Amazon this afternoon and the reality of what we’ve written (I say we  because Brendan put his story, thoughts and feelings in there too) is hitting us full force.

 Why? You may ask.

Well, we’ve shared our personal testimony. Our thoughts, feelings, struggles, triumphs as well as the fun and the nitty-gritty tragedy in between are all in the open. Suddenly, we feel a bit self-conscious to talk about our failures, losses and newly found love. Love found on the internet, no less. We think of the conflicts we’ve given you a glimpse into and the intimacy of some of our moments together, and quite frankly, we’re blushing.

So, why would we do something like this?

The Bible tells us that we overcome our enemy by Jesus’ blood and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). It’s that simple. And complicated. When any one of us shares our story of the amazing things God has done for us, our faith is strengthened. Our testimony encourages the people who hear it, and fills them with hope that if God could/would do that for someone, then maybe he could work in their situation as well.

Each word of our testimony sends our enemy reeling.

We gain hope, strength, power all because of a confidence in the God who just did miracles for us or other believers. When someone tells me about how they were healed, or given $462 when they needed that exact amount for a doctor bill my faith leaps with excited anticipation of what God will then do for me. I am filled with awe, wonder and praise for his mighty works, and his great love that incites him to do those things for us. Like the woman at the well who ran to tell everyone in town about Jesus being the Messiah because he told her things he couldn’t have known unless he was God, we share the miracles of God and others believe.

God did amazing things for two broken people.

This is our story to encourage, inspire and give thanks to a wonderful, loving Heavenly Father who deserves our gratitude and praise. It might bring laughter or tears, or even ruffle a few feathers, but the focus is on the big picture of what an incredible God can do when we trust him. Ultimately, we hope it will bless everyone who reads it, even if we feel a little naked sharing it.

Now available at:

My CreateSpace Store – purchasing here means the highest author royalties

AND

Amazon – this option may be more convenient and offers a discount and the potential for free shipping!

 What is your testimony?

Miracles Do Happen


When my friend, Carol, and I decided to take a chance with online dating, I don’t think we expected the outcome we ended up with. Oh, we hoped to find Mr. Right, but really, what were the chances we would both find our husbands through that vehicle?

At the same time?

Brian and Carol's rehearsal dinner
Brian and Carol’s rehearsal dinner

The actual odds were pretty slim considering that only 1 in 5 singles form a committed relationship with someone from a dating site (match.com). So for both of us to meet our husbands online at christiancafe.com within a couple of months of each other seemed pretty miraculous.

How many people do you know who have met through an internet dating site and are now happily married? (I’d really love to know in the comments below.)

We are both coming up on our fifth year anniversaries which seems amazing to me. What’s even more amazing is the story of how it all happened. Well, Carol’s story is hers to share, but you can find more of my story from earlier posts in Confessions of an Online Dater.

Or, you can read the book.DSC_0002

It’s in the proofing stage currently and is now set to release on February 7, 2014. It will be available through CreateSpace.com, Amazon.com and other retailers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON IN PRINT AND KINDLE EDITION

 

 

IT’S FINALLY HERE!


Many of you have been waiting…(drum roll)

🙂 I’m thrilled to announce:

The Miracle of Us: Confessions of an Online Dater is soon to be released!

miracle book cover_0001

This four year writing project has taken many twists and turns along the journey, but at last, the ultimate love story will be released on February 7, 2014 in time for Valentine’s Day.

In case you haven’t been following the Confessions of an Online Dater portion of this blog, here’s the scoop:

They met online.

Laura was a twice divorced mother of four grown children. After two decades of marital devastation, she wasn’t sure if God would give her another chance at love.

Brendan, shocked and devastated after the sudden death of his wife, was left a widowed father with three children. He didn’t see how God could overcome their unexpected tragedy.

But God held all the shattered pieces of both their lives, and He had a good plan. Could He bring together two families 8,000 miles apart? How would they trust Him with the risks required for such a miracle? With each step of faith, God changed their lives and replaced their pasts with a new story. A story of hope, healing and redemption. And it all started on the internet.

The best news is I’m offering a couple of ways to get your FREE autographed copy.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Be one of the first 5 (five) people to submit your comment using the following form.
  2. If you have a blog, be one of the first 5 (five) people to volunteer to read the book and write a blog post with your review. I appreciate your honest evaluation. Use the following form to volunteer.

And that’s not all!

For anyone who pre-orders by January 24 (you have 2 weeks), you can get 20% off the retail price of $14.99. I will personally send you an autographed copy. Use the following form to pre-order, and I will email you secure payment information.

Thank you for your readership and support. Your encouragement means so much!

NOW ON AMAZON IN PRINT OR KINDLE EDITION

Are You Wandering in the Desert?


The Israelites grumbled in the desert. IMG_3958

In my self-righteous present, it’s easy to look back and think I’m nothing like those who couldn’t seem to get a clue about trusting God. Even after forty years of him patiently guiding them, providing food and clothes that didn’t even wear out, and speaking directly to them through a tremendous leader, they still cried out asking

Why did you bring us out of Egypt?

(Translate: bondage, slavery, painful existence, starvation and abuse.)

Today God showed me how close to that brink I am.

The Miracle of Us is an exciting story full of romance, challenges and, well, miracles. God connected me and my Australian husband, Brendan, across an ocean via an internet dating site. Against all odds, we Skype dated, spending only a total of nine weeks together in person spread out in four separate visits over a year. Soul mates, we marveled at how perfect we were for each other. We had no clue how to address the practicalities of joining our lives. With seven children and 8,000 miles between us, the impossibility of it seemed insurmountable.

Yet, God assured us of an amazing, abundant life together: the Promised Land.

Now, five year later, in the midst of some significant challenges (job searches, lawsuit over moldy house, illness, broken van, etc.), I am tempted to ask God,

Why did you?

I adore my husband. No question there. My acquired children are a delight and couldn’t be any more my own than those I bore. The life and connections we have here are priceless. God’s miracle of bringing us together, merging our families and settling us remain a source of awe and wonder both to us and others. But that doesn’t mean easy or without conflict.

Romantic fairy tale collides with “jagged cliffs of reality” (son Chris’ phrase).

And God knew every one of those difficulties ahead of time. So, why? What was he thinking, planning, promising?

In every miracle, rescue, amazing promise, we can easily ask why when the path temporarily becomes rocky and heated. Like in a desert without shade or water, we can wander, thirsty and tired and forget the miracles, the promises and the good we’ve had; and start asking “why?”

So far, this is what I’ve discovered:

God is preparing us for something better and greater. The Promised Land occupation required the driving out of “giants” and people who worshiped idols instead of God. It took work and fighting. The people needed strength, courage, patience and perseverance. Mostly, it meant the Israelites had to rely on God to supply all these traits. They had to have faith. I’m learning all of this.

Good doesn’t mean easy.  Booker T. Washington said “Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work.” Brendan and I together are good. Getting us together was hard work, but so worth it. A rocky path makes legs stronger. Rocky life makes hearts stronger. That’s good.

True love isn’t a feeling, it’s a sacrifice. A choice to be the same with someone as I promised I would be. Better, worse, sick, healthy, right, wrong, sinful, righteous. Am I willing to do or allow whatever it takes to be faithful to someone I love? Jesus did. He calls us to. He makes us able to follow his lead.

I don’t have it all figured out.

But I know God does. And he’s the only one who matters. If I keep my eyes on him, I will enter the Promised Land just as he plannedIMG_3401 and promised. And in the meantime, he makes streams in the desert. In so many ways. Doesn’t he?

 

What is your desert? How is God meeting you when you wonder “why?”