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

 

 

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?”

Fantasy vs. Reality


Oh, what a dangerous place is the world of fantasy! 

Question: Does online dating make us susceptible to fantasy? We interact with people we don’t know, don’t see and have no way of watching in everyday life. We stake a relationship and perhaps our life on the profile and email communications of a complete stranger! Some people call that crazy. I’ve been called desperate. Remaining grounded in reality is pretty imperative.

Once during my online dating process, a man and I sent instant messages back and forth for a couple of hours in flirtatious banter. We had so much fun that we carried further on the phone for a while. I felt deep down that I had become too caught up in the exchange, but I ignored those little niggling warning signs. However, when he repeatedly called my house late at night, only to hang up mysteriously, I realized that my perception (fantasy) of the situation didn’t match the reality of it. Oops! How easily we can create something in our minds (and hearts) that doesn’t actually exist as we imagine it.

In one situation, I communicated with someone for weeks and began to imagine him as the person God had in mind for me. I liked him and enjoyed chatting with him. However, one night the subject of his wife somehow slipped into the conversation (thank you Lord!). WIFE?? Well, nearly an ex-wife, separated, but not yet divorced…you know the story. Not a story I wanted to continue.

So how do we guard our hearts and minds to stay in the reality of the moment and not let them gallivant away into fantasies of the future?

First, watch where we take little steps over the lines or boundaries that exist for our good. Each person has to determine what is best for them based on God’s leading. One little toe over a line may seem like no big deal, but after a few toes have crossed, we’ve taken a whole step and soon we’re running into trouble.

Deciding ahead of time what boundaries to create can be helpful. I had no idea about this initially, and I confess to “winging it” as I went along. At least my best friend improvised with me. Certain topics, words and attitudes simply didn’t fit within our boundary lines. When in doubt, we checked with each other and leaders at church. Once, after a few emails with one guy left me feeling uncomfortable, I showed our correspondence to a trusted couple at church and inquired after a male perspective. He confirmed that the intentions of that suitor were not honorable. I’m so glad I asked!

It’s also best to develop friendship while keeping in constant contact with the Lord about what he has in mind. Even with the first email from my husband, I knew right away that he was from God, but I kept pulling back on the reins of my heart and checking in with the Lord and my best friends to be sure. Clarity and truth can be sobering so it helps to keep relationships “public” with at least a couple of friends we trust who won’t just feed a fantasy. I can be ruined in a split second by sin – one poor choice can destroy everything that is truly important to me.

Accountability ushers in reality and keeps fantasy at bay.

If you can’t tell at least a couple of people about a relationship, or feel the need or desire to keep things “private” or “secret,” you may be headed for dangerous waters.

One of the keys for me? Looking for someone who loves Jesus as much as I do and holds the same perspective on God, dating, marriage and sex. Not much fantasy in that.

Piecing Puzzles


From the very beginning of this online dating adventure, I truly desired God’s plan for me regarding marriage and dating – nothing else would be good, even if I initially thought so. I had already proved that by my past choices.

So I decided that if God actually had a third marriage (my confession? I still cringe writing that…) for me, the only way I would end up with that special person – the one God had planned; the best of the best-for me; the only man of my dreams was for me to submit myself and every man I met to him in prayer. I became like a little kid doing a puzzle.

“Does this fit, Daddy?”

With puzzle pieces, you can often tell right away from the color, design or shape that they don’t match. Sometimes, it isn’t as obvious, but if you hold it a bit closer and scrutinize the lines, you can, with close observation, see that they don’t actually go together well. And then there are those pieces that look so perfect that we think, “Aha! I found it!” Everything appears to be a match, but when we attempt to fit it together, we recognize that the two pieces don’t belong together. The edges are a touch off. We may try to force it, but even if we can get it together, the gaps are obvious.

Maybe we do that with people we date. Sometimes the ones that initially seem like they may be a good fit end up missing something. Even though we can see the gaps and how the edges don’t quite measure up, we force it, deciding that this is the best it will ever be. We choose to settle for that mismatch – we’re tired of looking; or we long to feel secure in something even if it isn’t the right or best thing; or we desperately want a relationship so we will feel loved.

When my two youngest kids attempt to put together one of those 1,000 piece puzzles designed for 12+ ages (of which ages they are not), they frequently force pieces together that don’t belong. My husband and I end up carefully separating those pieces and finding the correct place for them. Let’s be real – you wouldn’t actually put together a puzzle with mismatched pieces and continue trying to finish it! Even one piece messes up the entire puzzle.

Thank goodness that God is able to undo our mistakes and rearrange the pieces so they fit again. Even after we force something that was our idea, not his, he helps us begin again to find the correct fit.

The truth is that only God knows who fits best with me. So I began the search by asking him every day to lead me to that person. I wanted my eyes and ears open. I prayed for the man God would someday bring me, and I prayed that while I waited, he would make me into someone who would be a blessing to that person. God’s way. God’s timing. Guess what? He did.