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.

 

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?

 

 

K-I-S-S-I-N-G


This week I’m delighted to offer another guest post from Brendan Bennet, an excerpt from The Miracle of Us: Confessions of Two Online Daters. Brendan gives us a glimpse into his initial experience with internet dating…

I began my internet dating experience on a secular website. 

Silly Me! My first clue should have been the computer generated initial ‘hi’ for this site was a kiss. A bit forward, don’t you think? I mean kissing on the first date would be pretty irregular especially before even being introduced.

I received my share of interest from people who I declined politely. Those were individuals twice my age (and I was 47 then), not resembling a female (who am I trying to kid, not even vaguely female), escaping war torn nations, believers in the god Pluto (the Disney one), and shall we say, business ladies.

Despite some hiccups, I did connect with a couple of ladies who I ended up meeting in person. One of the ladies decided she was too independent for a serious relationship and my having three children required someone serious about family! I went out with the other women four or five times for some laughs over drinks and dinner. We became friends and had some good times together, but we were not interested in each other romantically. No other situation presented itself. Still, it was refreshing and fun to meet these ladies and realise that being single might not be a permanent situation.

It soon became apparent, however, that secular dating sites might not be the best place for me to search for my life partner. In view of my Christian beliefs, it was desirable to meet a like-minded lady. It would be a disaster if we found out later that our philosophies and beliefs conflicted, and we couldn’t get along because our values were misaligned. Trouble was I didn’t even imagine there might be such a thing as a non-secular dating site.

Technology is not my strong suit. I only recently learned that search engines have, for a very long time, had the ability to tag linked accounts, such as email, with banners for businesses that might synch with the activity on the account. Given I was on a dating site as well as various Christian sites regularly, the search engine must have married those two activities and come up with the banner over my email advertising a dating site called Christian Café. I don’t believe in coincidence; I believe in Providence. I felt this began a long list of interventions that brought me and my family to the U.S. where God gave me Laura as His gift and blessing for healing, new life and wholeness. Mark down finding Christian Café through a banner advertisement as intervention number one.

46 Year Old Man Seeks Company


This is the first of a series of guest posts by Brendan Bennet taken from our book in progress The Miracle of Us: Confessions of Two Online Daters. Needless to say, he’s the second dater in the story. I think some of you have been waiting to hear from him…
 

Looking for romance in all the wrong places?

Okay, I’d been out of the dating scene for a decade and a half so where do you go to look for romance with a view to finding a future? Forty-six year old man with three young, dependent kids seeks company, possibly long term if mutually desired.

What did I do? I went to a night club. Can you believe it? No really, I did. What the heck did I think I was going to find in there? I found about a thousand twenty-somethings staring at a silly old man.

“What on earth are you doing in here?” I queried myself.

To make it worse I went in there alone. That made me look not only pathetic, but possibly perverted. I didn’t feel comfortable in that night club. Go figure.

Do you know that there aren’t many ways to meet people if it isn’t for professional reasons or to play a sport? However, there was a relatively new concept starting to get a foothold in the world of socialising–internet dating.

“No, Brendan. Don’t be ridiculous. That’s not for you!”

I chided myself. Then I reconsidered, “But what else is there? Do I dare to put myself in such a scary place? Internet dater people are still being mocked by trendy, socially adept, bar hopping people for being “losers.”

“Ah, what the heck. Let’s do it!” I didn’t know who I was talking to, but he or she agreed.

Next step – research!

I knew a sum total of zero people using internet dating services. Either my friends and acquaintances were much more sophisticated than I and didn’t need to consider internet dating, or there were a number of liars amongst them. I’m going with the latter. A smarter man may have given up there, but…

Google! Don’t we love that word! In Australia, the premier dating service on the internet appeared to be a site called RSVP. At last, following a gruelling sixty seconds of clicking, research was complete! The catchy RSVP advertisement allowed 30 days free trial. I couldn’t wait to get started so I missed the clause, “Must supply credit card details for a minimum 6 month membership.”

But wait; there was a huge set back. I actually had to supply my personal details, a (recent) photograph and, horror upon horror, “a few paragraphs about yourself.”

“What is your weight?”

“None of your business or anyone else’s. She’ll have to love me for who I am.”

“What’s your hair colour?”

“Scarce. Is that a colour?”

“Are you in shape?”

“Yes, round. Round is a shape.”

“Eyes?”

“Two.”

“Do you have children?”

“No, their mother did that.”

“Do you want more children?”

“Well, how many are you trying to get rid of?”

“If you could be stranded on a deserted island with one other person, who would you choose?”

“It wouldn’t matter. That person would soon kill me, or at least never talk to me again for getting us both stranded on a deserted island.”

“Are you gainfully employed?”

“Much more so than the idiot who wrote these questions.”

There it was; my completed profile. Here is a word of advice for anyone thinking of going down the internet dating route. Don’t use your computer camera to take that profile picture. Hire a professional. It will save you a lot of heartache—rejection type heartache.

 

Continued next week…

Passion and Perseverance


“If you’re passionate about something, it overflows into how you make people feel….”

This quote by Sunny Good in the spring 2012 issue of Do It Yourself magazine caught my attention and begged the question, “What am I passionate about that overflows to others?”

I’m passionate about so many things… I’m a passionate person, period. But obviously, one of my greatest passions is writing.

I’ve worked hard on the opening pages of my current book, The Miracle of Us: Confessions of Two Online Daters, to create a piece that would compel people to want more. I long for them to feel hope, encouragement and the promise of something great for themselves as my story unfolds.  When I re-read the beginning, I wanted to read more! If I was uplifted by my own story, maybe others would be as well.

So why, with all this passion, is it so difficult to sit down and write??

Emails beg to be read, tasks scream for attention, the children need help, friends and family want to chat or hang out, the phone rings with another urgent situation or request  and soon it’s time to make dinner. I wonder what happened to the day and my night as I sit down to finish a barely begun blog post at 11 p.m.  Where’s the passion then? It wants to go to bed!

Next, it’s the question of whether I actually have something worthwhile to say. Do I like what I wrote because it’s mine, or because it truly offers a benefit for someone else? What exactly is overflowing to others in a way that inspires, encourages or incites to action? Perhaps it’s the idea that the amazing things that happen to one person can happen for someone else too; or maybe it’s simply relating to other authors regarding the difficulty of getting to writing and staying on task. I find it encouraging when I read the story of another person’s struggles and how they overcame obstacles; like when a passionate writer describing the challenges of writing.

Finally, like any endeavor, getting the job done takes perseverance that goes beyond passion. I love writing, but it’s hard work and takes commitment and concentration.  However, when I’ve managed to commit to paper something that I enjoy reading, I savor the satisfaction and pride I feel.  A well placed word or phrase that paints a picture captures a place in my heart that fulfills a longing. Do you feel the same?

What are you passionate about that overflows to others? Have you felt challenged to live out that passion? Share your worthwhile comments below!

Deadly Expectations


Our first night out (alone) in Australia.

Brendan, ever the gentleman, held open the door of the building. We had agreed to walk because we were close to numerous restaurants.

“Where do you want to go?” he asked.

“Uh, well….since I don’t know any places here or really where we are, I’m not sure.”

I admit I felt a little disappointed at his lack of planning. It’s not like I could offer any ideas either since I knew nothing about the area.

“Well, what do you feel like eating?”

“Maybe we can start walking and see if something appeals to us?” I suggested.

We wandered down the street, my stomach starting to growl because it was nearly 8 p.m. After considering a few places, we settled on a cozy Italian establishment that offered warm, gentle lighting and renaissance walls. I figured we couldn’t go wrong with Italian cuisine. How wrong I was!

Brendan had to ask for menus, napkins, silverware, and water which were brought one item at a time (yes, even each fork, knife and spoon). After a mediocre meal, we decided to fore-go dessert. We couldn’t seem to attract the attention of anyone who looked remotely prepared to bring us a dessert menu or take our order. While we waited for the check, our first disagreement erupted and smoldered.

I had expected to be swept off my feet.

The sweeping would happen as a result of a perfectly planned evening (by Brendan) at an accommodating restaurant where dinner would taste divine, and we would share a delectable dessert over fascinating conversation. Then perhaps more romantic wooing with a stroll down the beach holding hands and sharing our dreams for the future. The strolling, of course, would be punctuated with a few well-timed kisses. Finally, he would escort me home with gallant intentions to protect my honor by restraining himself at the door with a lingering gaze and a kiss just passionate enough to leave us satisfied yet wanting.  I would then proceed to drift off to sleep with dreams of the enchanting night we shared on our first night out alone.

The evening wasn’t unfolding as I planned in my mind.

I did attempt gracious acceptance since I loved Brendan and was happy to be with him, but I began to feel increasingly disappointed. My grand expectations and hopes for our wonderful evening out together dictated my emotions so when Brendan made a comment and I disagreed what resulted was a defensive standoff that had no place in my plans for the previously mentioned romance. Naturally, the disagreement added to my frustration.

I don’t remember even a hint of what we argued about.

Part of the problem was the expectations I had regarding our date. The evening needed to look a particular way in order for me to be content. Flexibility wasn’t the issue. We didn’t have to eat at a particular restaurant or order something specific. I wasn’t looking for precise words or actions, but in my heart I had unknowingly set up a scenario that required adherence to (at least) the most general of details. And, I expected Brendan to telepathically pick up on my disappointment, apologize sincerely and fix it. Except that I didn’t even know that’s what I was thinking.

I realize now that expectations like that can be deadly.

The best thing to do is communicate. My fear of hurting Brendan’s feelings or sounding like a demanding shrew kept me silently scrambling to figure out everything in my head. But if I had shared what I was struggling with, we could have worked things out. Maybe we would have argued, but probably we would have ended up laughing over it all.

Love covers over so many things and makes a place for us to share what’s in our hearts—both the good and the bad. Fear keeps us trapped while we question our desires and the other person’s motives. Fear made me judge Brendan’s lack of planning and foresight and offered me the conclusion that it revealed a lack of care for me. I didn’t realize all of that at the time, but I did want to put aside whatever it was in me that was creating discontent.

In order to salvage what I thought was a ruined evening; I suggested a walk on the beach in the moonlight…

Have you ever been disappointed when your expectations weren’t met? How did you handle it?

Love, War and Sex


My husband and I celebrated our third year anniversary this week. We were fortunate to take off for a few days on an adventure of zip lining through the forest near our home (Mt. Hermon Redwood Canopy Tours), then on to Half Moon Bay where we enjoyed good food, window shopping, long conversations, watching airplanes land and a lot of laughing! We also took a book to read together.

I wrote a bit about this book in a post a couple of months ago titled Relationships. The book, Love and War by John and Stasi Eldredge is the most helpful guideline we’ve discovered for our marriage. We’re reading through it a second time. That’s how good it is!

One of the challenges of dating online from two different continents was the sporadic, cyber life we inhabited. Writing emails and long Skype chats gave us the benefit of knowing so many details about each other; our emotional roots went deep. But we missed out on daily dating life which could have enlightened us about our dysfunctional ways of relating. Love and War is helping us understand our messed up perspectives, and what to do about them.

Like many couples, we’ve harbored messed up perspectives regarding sex. Negative childhood experiences, societal messages and lack of understanding this awesome God ordained ecstasy all contributed to our twisted perceptions. John and Stasi Eldredge offer some intriguing and fabulous insights about sex, why we end up with warped ideas and what to do about it. We’re learning a lot.

So at one point during our anniversary get away (sorry, no specific details here!), we discussed our intimacy while lying in each other’s arms. Part of the discourse went something like this:

“Honey, I’m thinking that sex can be analogous to two things,” I mused.

“What’s that, darling?”

“Well, I think it can be like a wedding feast. You know, like Chris and Sabina’s wedding (Chris is our son in Poland who just got married in November); hours of eating, dancing, drinking and toasting, fun and spending great time in relational celebration. Making love should be a celebration of intimacy, relationship and good things.”

“I think you’re right. What’s the other analogy?” Brendan asked. He loves analogies.

“Sex can also be like fast food. Quick, without substance or much thought and no intimacy. I mean they both satisfy a need; get the job done, but isn’t a feast better than a Big Mac?”

“Yeah,” he paused to kiss me. “It is.”

We shared another kiss and felt the promise of feasting stir our hunger.

“Brendan?” I murmured.

“Yes, darling?”

“You know I’m going to have to blog about this, right?”

“I reckoned you would,” he chuckled.

The weekend feast surpassed our expectations. Thank you John and Stasi.

 

 

 

 

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.

Hunt for the Ring


This excerpt precedes last week’s, but getting to that point took some work. Below shows some of the typical times we had with the kids…

I like that one there,” I said pointing out a couple of rings that slightly appealed to me. “I like smaller versus something like that big thing (which was probably no more than ½ a carat), and I’m not big on solitaires.”

“Dad! Come on! Can we go get ice cream?” Blair pulled lightly on Brendan’s arm.

“Just a minute. Laura and I are looking at something.”

“I have to go to the toilet.”

“Now?”

Bella nodded, and Brendan shrugged at me.

“I’ll take her,” I offered, sighing at the parental realities that punctuated our romance.

“I have to go too.”

“Come on Blair. Really?” Brodie shook his head.

“Well, let’s all go then,” I suggested. “I wouldn’t mind using the restroom either.”

“Why do you call the toilet a rest room?” Bella questioned.

“I don’t know. I guess it seems more private. Like not announcing to the world what you’re doing in there. In the old days ladies went to “rest” or powder their noses. They didn’t want to tell everyone they had to pee. Why do you call it a toilet?”

She and Blair laughed. “Because that’s what it is!”

“Good point,” I conceded.

Brodie rolled his eyes. “Let’s just hurry up and get out of here.”

Brendan and I decided it might be better to leave the kids at home next time.

 

Furniture Styles


Another excerpt from “The Miracle of Us…”

Riding a cable car seemed like the most exciting way to get to Union Square where we planned to eat at The Cheesecake Factory on the top floor above Macy’s department store. After putting our name in, we took our little pager thingy and browsed around the furniture department. It seemed like a good time to get to know more of what Brendan liked since we would eventually set up house together.

“Timber and iron,” was the unembellished comment on furniture tastes.

“Uh…together?” I asked, not quite sure what that meant. I pictured Southwestern Native American with wooden logs and heavy wrought iron adornments. Not happening.

I tried to explain the image his words produced in my head and drew a blank look from Brendan. Clearly we weren’t on the same page.

“Well, maybe you could show me something you like. Perhaps that would be easier.” I’m forever optimistic.

“I guess it depends on the house,” Brendan said.

Again, I was confused.

“What do you mean?”

He seemed confused.

“You know, you buy furniture according to the style of house you live in. Like you buy colonial furniture for a colonial style house.”

Light was dawning.

“Ok, I kind of get what you’re saying. But, what if you end up renting or buying a colonial house, but you don’t like colonial furniture? Then what? And what if each of us likes different styles and neither of them are colonial? AND how do we know what style of house we will end up buying? What furniture do we put in a rental then??”

I could feel myself become more agitated as I thought of these things and pictured an empty non-descript house with a few mattresses on the floor. Brendan just looked at me kind of blankly like he wasn’t sure which question to answer first or if he should, in fact, attempt any of them. Deep breath, Laura. This was supposed to be fun, right? I took a deep breath, waited a minute and tried a new approach.

“Do you like this one, for example?” I asked pointing to a bed frame that I felt was particularly hideous.

“Well, not really. I mean, I guess if it fit the style of house…” he trailed off. It appeared that he may not be certain of what he did like.

I tried again. Oh persevering one that I am.

“How did you and Edyta pick the furniture for your house?” I asked, realizing that I was treading in uncomfortable waters for me.

“That’s easy. She picked everything, and I had no say. That worked,” Brendan stated with seeming relief as if that would settle it all.

The situation, now fully illuminated, brought up something else in my mind. Brendan, while easy-going, certainly has very strong opinions about most things. It didn’t seem like he was the kind of person who didn’t have likes and dislikes about his surrounding world even if some guys don’t. He was much more like my dad, brother and sons who had very distinct tastes about clothes and furniture and décor. I decided to toss the idea on the table and see what he thought.

“That’s interesting to me because you seem to be someone who would have an opinion of what you like. Maybe your situation with Edyta didn’t allow that, but I would love to know what you like and plan our house together. What do you think?”

A slow smile came over Brendan’s face and then he shrugged slightly. He grabbed my hand.

“I would like that. I’m not sure how it will work, but we can give it a try. I love you.”

“I love you too. Can we start by agreeing that this piece of furniture really is hideous?”

He laughed. “Yeah, actually it is. I just thought that if you liked it…”

I hugged him. “I love you,” I said, shaking my head. Then I kissed him hard on the mouth wishing we were somewhere a bit more private.

“We’re buzzing,” Brendan whispered.

“I know, right? Pretty good kiss, huh?”

“Yeah, but no, I meant the restaurant…”

I opened my eyes and found myself looking at Brendan’s bemused expression as he held up the buzzing, blinking disk. I felt a bit foolish.

“Guess we better go find Brian and Carol, huh?”

“Yes, we should,” he chuckled.