Someone’s Out There


I stumbled upon a blog this past week that intrigued me.

The author, a gentleman whose name I can’t remember and blog I can’t find now, spoke of how fed up he was with online dating. He had much to say about the industry and what an unbelievable scam it was becoming. He had given it a try for a couple of years without meeting the woman of his dreams and decided there must be a better way. I certainly experienced some of the same feelings at times during my stint with internet dating!

This man went on to explain how he went to France and decided to write a book about his love experiences. Right before he left, someone he had once had a couple of dates with contacted him and they reconnected when he returned from his trip. He used the profile idea from his online dating experience to create his own profile and sent it on ahead to the woman. A deeper connection was his goal. Within a short while they hit it off and eventually married.

Seemed like an interesting idea to me.

Reading his blog made me realize how many different love stories there are, and how unique each one is. I never would have imagined meeting my husband online, but God used that vehicle to create a wonderful love story for my husband and me. The man I’ve mentioned (still trying to find his site again) gave up internet dating and found the love of his life in another way. Some people meet at school, or in malls or at a bar. Others know someone who sets them up with someone they know, and still others find their true love at a party or wedding. Regardless of the setting, the bottom line is the miracle and greatness of finding that one person who fits with us perfectly and adds a depth and dimension to our life that wasn’t there before.

I’ve read horror stories of online daters, but I also known of miracle stories (like mine) that came through an internet dating site. I’ve known people who met in junior high school (like my parents and Clayton and Ellen Kershaw – LA Dodgers pitcher, authors), and others who found their spouse later in life (my two best friends). No matter what, when or how, the most important thing is the end result. People weren’t meant to be alone. We long for relationship. Even if we’re happily single, we count on our friends to be there for us and call on us. Meeting our true love can happen anywhere and through a variety of avenues.

Honestly, at first, I felt a little defensive toward someone who insisted online dating was a terrible thing; but in the end, his result was the same as mine–we met our soul mates. Isn’t that what matters most?

Care to share your story? How did you meet your soul mate? Are you still searching? Do you have an experience with online dating?

 

 

Worth the Struggle


Life is hard.

In fact, the first three years of married life could easily be classified as one of the most difficult seasons of both our lives.

Our “honeymoon” phase ended during our actual honeymoon when both of our pasts reared their ugly heads into our current business. Then we came home to the needs of three displaced children, and a house full of unseen mold which caused severe illness for us. I ended up spending almost the entire first year in bed unable to accomplish even the simplest of tasks.

But, I classify difficulties of life it into three distinct types: good-hard, bad-hard and just plain hard. Let me clarify. Death, divorce (which for all practical and emotional purposes is death), sickness and loss of anything significant is sorrowfully difficult. Not that good can’t come out of them, but the pain we suffer during those times is awful at best and excruciating most of the time. Those situations are bad-hard.

Then there’s daily life which can be demanding. The end of the day after challenging work deals on three phones at once; children vomiting on the way to school; juggling the laundry, dishes, what-to-have-for-dinner-tonight; and four hours of kids’ homework that is only explained partially in the textbook? Exhausting and just plain hard, right?

Finally, we experience the worth-the-struggle kind of hard – or good-hard.

Ever been on a hike and you’re just about fifty feet from the top of the vista point? No view is visible yet, so you take it on faith that what you’ve anticipated based on your rock-climbing, mountain-hiking friend’s description will be as spectacular as they have asserted it will be. The rocky trail rolls out from under your feet with every other step reminding you that one careless placement of your boot clad foot could send you sprawling on your face or to your death if the worst case presented itself.

Your legs burn with the strain; sweat trickles down your back and marks every bare area of your body and face with wet, dust trails. You wonder how many more steps it will take to get to the top and want to scream, “Are we THERE yet?” You start counting the steps to keep your mind off the pain. When did thirty get to be such a big number? Twenty more, ten more; then just two more and you gasp…

The splendor of a majestic scene spreads out before you.

Sunlight glistens like diamonds on the ocean as waves roll across the crescent shaped shore. A waterfall parachutes down the verdant cliff in the distance. You take in the view, savoring it as a good meal and drinking in the beauty as fine wine. Nothing about those last thirty grueling steps is remembered in that moment. And in that instant, it all became worth every painfully exerted step. That is good-hard.

These first few years have been good-hard. The way God brought Brendan and I together online was miraculous, and the challenging years we’ve faced so far have been as well. I believe God is still all about raising the dead kind of miracles, but the kind I’m talking about here are the everyday things that really don’t make sense, and shouldn’t happen, but they do anyway. Some people call them coincidence, but these “God things” are really just too coincidental and leave us marveling in a perplexed kind of awe.

That is what fairy tales are made of, and what our story is all about.

So what’s your miracle? How has something been good-hard for you?

Every Little Miracle


Excerpt number ?…

Every little miracle along the way encouraged us. I enlisted the help of my son Chris to help me get  paperwork I needed from Nevada to save me a trip. He gladly managed the task immediately and sent the papers off–express mail. A couple of days later, after checking the mailbox and porch a dozen times, I began to wonder why I hadn’t seen the delivery .

The next day I called Chris to check on it. Yes, he had mailed it. It was supposed to have already arrived. Feeling a bit pedantic, I questioned Chris about the address. It seemed silly to ask since he had lived there for a number of months, but why not cover all bases?

“Uh, I think I might have written the number wrong, Mom. I’m so sorry,” he confessed miserably.

“It’s okay. Don’t worry about it,” I tried to comfort him while I held back tears. “God will work it out. He knows where it is. Thanks. I love you.”

Easy for me to say to my son, but immediately I struggled to believe the very words I had just spoken. I had no clue what to do. Should I have Chris get the paperwork again? Should I check with the post office? Could they track it? I prayed. I asked God if I should do something or wait. I thanked him that he at least knew where the papers were even if I had no clue how to find them. The doorbell rang. A fairly rare occurrence in the middle of the morning.

I opened the door to find our old mail carrier on my front deck holding—yes, you guessed it—the envelope from Chris. I’m sure I must have gaped.

“Is this yours?” He handed me the missing parcel somewhat apologetically.

“Yep. That’s me…but how did you…?”

“It’s a crazy story really. I haven’t worked this route for almost a year now, but I’m filling in for the other carrier today. When I saw the name on this, I thought I remembered you living here, even though the address on it is wrong. On a fluke, I felt like I should bring it to your door and see if it was yours. ” He shuffled his weight back on forth in what seemed as hesitant discomfort.

“You have no idea how important these papers are to me. I need them to apply for a visa for my fiancé to come here to marry me. Thank you so much for checking on this. I can’t tell you how much it means to me!” I felt the tears getting ready to burst forth.

“Well, I’m glad I followed that hunch! Good to know it got into your hands. Best wishes on your situation,” he added as he made his way down the steps. Maybe he sensed my impulsive desire to throw myself at him in a grateful hug.

“So am I!! Thanks again. For everything. Have a great day!”

I ran upstairs to tell God thank you and sorry for doubting him in the first place. Only he could have planned for that situation to be worked out. My heart cried out to the Lord in repentance and thanksgiving and into my mind there flooded verses of encouragement.

Is My arm too short, Laura? Do I speak and not act? Do I promise and not fulfill? Do I lack the strength to rescue you? Trust me beloved.

How Would the Kids Take it??


Excerpt…

As soon as I arrived home (from the jewelry store), I Skyped Brendan so he could see my ring. He felt a bit sad to not have given it to me in person, but I thought the whole situation romantic and exciting.

“Did you tell the kids yet?” I asked as soon as I finished telling him the story of the lady in the jewelry store.

“Uh, no. Actually, I didn’t think of it.”

“Really? I called everyone while I was still in the airport in Australia.”

It seemed inconceivable that he wouldn’t want to tell the kids right away.

“When’re you gonna tell them?”

“I reckon I’ll tell them later after dinner. I want to have a good sit down with them and explain about moving to America. I’m not sure how they’ll take it.”

I supposed that made sense. After all, it’s a pretty big deal to tell your young children that you are going to marry a woman who will become their second mother.

“Oh, and by the way, we’re all moving to another country thousands of miles away that you’ve never seen before. You’ll have to give up all your friends and family here, and you will be plunged into an unfamiliar culture where everyone will think you sound cool when you talk, but they won’t understand a word you say.”

I so didn’t envy Brendan that conversation. Naturally we were counting on the fact that this was God’s idea, and he must have a way to make it work not only for us, but the children as well. It’s not like he would do something to bless us at their expense. We really had to trust that somehow he would make it okay for them in their hearts and thoughts. They seemed closer to me as time went on, so we believed he was working in their hearts.

To Brendan’s amazement, all the children received the information with positive comments and excited questions! Even Brodie voiced interest in making the move.

Another miracle in our eyes. Seven children all on board with this momentous decision was no small feat!

Christmas in Australia


Another excerpt…

Within a couple of days, Brendan and I started talking about when we would see each other again. It was the first week of December so Christmas shopping and decorating had just barely begun, and Brendan felt a little lost regarding what to do. In the past, he had relied on his wife, who had all things for Christmas purchased, wrapped and ready to go by September. The first Christmas after her passing, Brendan had little to do as she, in her usual manner, had already completed most of the shopping and preparations, but this year he was on his own. As we discussed his situation, I offered some ideas that I had found helpful to me. I wondered if there was anything I could do for him from where I was, but obviously my options were limited. Suddenly, Brendan threw out a question.

“Do you think you would be willing to come here for Christmas?”

Heart stopping thrill and an onslaught of my own questions made me speechless.

“REALLY? Well…I…hmmm…,” I stumbled over my thoughts and words.

“That would be amazing, but I can’t be gone for Christmas. There’s no way I wouldn’t be with the kids. I don’t think I could do it. I just couldn’t.”

“I get it. I wouldn’t want to be apart from my kids on Christmas either.”

 “I mean, they are adults, and I’m not sure the boys will even be here. Chris is in Reno, and I’m not sure about Josh. I know Vici has Logan, but still she’d miss our family traditions like baking and stockings. And Ashley’s still just getting her life back together and already struggles with me being in a relationship. Can you imagine if I left her for Christmas?”

I tried to make it feel right in my heart, but I had never been away from them at Christmas, and I just couldn’t bring myself to be okay with it. It was one thing to have them move away as adults or share time with me and their in-laws, but quite another for me to toss away all of our special family time.

“What if I came now, but then flew back home in time for Christmas?”

Brendan agreed, and we checked out flights. Christmas is in the middle of summer there so tickets aren’t exactly cheap, but when we found a reasonable deal that would give me an almost two week visit we snatched it up.

“What do you think, darling? Can you be ready to leave in three days?”

I laughed. Me? The crazy non-traveler?

“Only by God’s grace and a miracle! But I’d better start right this minute.”

My mind raced with all the things I had to do here, whether I could get enough accomplished and what shopping I could do in Australia.

“I’ve got to tell the kids, finish shopping, pack and find a ride to the airport. Thank goodness we have a lot of Carol’s wedding stuff already done. Will you book the ticket?”

 “Doing it as we speak, beautiful girl.”

“Wow, Brendan! Nothing like jumping into the next step. Here we go! I’m so excited. And a little panicked! I love you. Talk to you later. Bye.”

I took a deep breath and grinned with a tear in my eye.

“Carol!!” I called down the hall. “Guess what? I’m going to Australia! In three days!”

Immigration Continued Part 2…


Two weeks passed and we had less than two weeks until Brian and Carol’s wedding so we no longer expected that Brendan would be able to move here in time. Our plan B was for him to at least visit and be Brian’s best man, but even that couldn’t be managed as he tried to get business and household stuff in order for moving. Plus, his coming for a visit while his visa paperwork was in process could be viewed as his trying to get in illegally. In the end, he bought me a ticket to come back to Australia just a few days after the wedding. It seemed like the only option to address our misery of separation.

As we counted down to Carol’s wedding with no visa papers approved, Brendan and I realized that we would have to postpone our original wedding date as well. By that point, I actually felt okay about it. I called the wedding director at our church and told her the news. With gracious encouragement, she assured me that we could keep planning and adjusting as necessary. We checked out dates in May–I think there was only one open, and the next date was in July. I wanted to trust God for May.

Having Brendan miss out on Carol and Bri’s wedding broke my heart, but their day turned out to be beautiful, and I sent Carol off, a married woman, with kisses, hugs and tears of joy as well as some sadness. A few days later I left for Australia still with no visa paperwork in sight. It had only been a month so I tried to be realistic about my expectations while trusting that God could still do a miracle and shorten the time. Little did I know that while I was flying to Australia, someone was reviewing our paperwork.

The kids began to ask when they would be moving to America for the wedding. We talked to them honestly telling them that we had to just keep praying and trusting God with the timing. Blair said he wanted the visas right then and had a feeling they were ready. We wondered at his little boy understanding, but actually, when he said that, the approval was being stamped and mailed.

The papers were in my mailbox when I returned home. It had taken only six weeks–a step that was supposed to take six months at least! Naturally I called Brendan as soon as time zones would allow in order to give him the good news…and the bad; there was still a mountain of paperwork to be filed by him in Australia. This was just the initial approval. It said that if we hadn’t heard from the Australian consulate in four weeks’ time, we could contact them for further instruction…

Immigrating Continued…


Despair is the word I used in my journal to describe my feelings about missing Brendan and expecting government bureaucracy to cooperate with our plans to be reunited for an April wedding. I woke up every morning feeling sad with my heart achy and restless for him. I watched Brendan’s eyes show the same despair every time I talked with him.

I prayed feverishly for God to intervene, to make me patient, to ease the pain in my aching heart and to give me a bigger perspective. After all, Brendan and I would have our whole lives together; I had waited this long, what was a few more months…or gulp, a couple of years?

WAIT! My viewpoint was that I had ALREADY waited this long to have Brendan in my life, why did I have to wait longer?? Couldn’t I  figure out something that didn’t have to do with waiting? Maybe I should just go to Australia and marry him there even if it meant having to come home again without my husband. Couldn’t I have a guarantee that all the paperwork would miraculously be whisked to the top of whatever million applicant file it was in, stamped immediately and we’d call it good? Truth is, life just doesn’t work that way. But I asked God anyway and apparently, he does work that way.

God used the waiting time to show me how afraid of authority I still was. The unreasonable, incompetent government was in complete control over my future is how I saw it, but really God wanted me to see that HE was in control, even over the immensely huge and impersonal institution of the government. He showed me how situations in my past had caused this fear and distrust of authority and how it had affected my life over the years. He wanted me to be free. He wanted me to believe that he could and would do whatever good he planned for me even when it looked like I was helpless. He also taught me that one step at a time would get me where I needed to be and not to fret about the future, the past and what didn’t seem to be happening.

I also felt that the whole situation and the process of waiting for a miracle wasn’t just about us–it was to create a miracle for others to witness when they heard our story. Carol reminded me that God was giving us a testimony in our story, which is exactly what we had prayed for! We wanted others to be encouraged by what we were going through. And in the meantime, I started to learn how to live one day at a time.