The Second Part of the Story

First, I want to thank you all for your comments and emails on the post “An Anniversary.”  Even after 20 years past, kind words are welcome.  For those who said they had been encouraged, what a gift your words are to me.  If you weren’t able to read the first part of the story, then click here.  And now, to continue.
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Oh yes, a dream.  A dream about a boy I had known in college.  Honestly to say I had a dream is a bit of an overstatement.  There was no setting, no plot, no classic dream symbolism.  I simply woke up thinking about someone I hadn’t thought of in almost ten years.  This happened the next morning, and the next.  I was puzzled.  For one thing, I had no interest in dating and had made it plain to friends that I wanted no part in any “set ups.”  I really could not imagine ever marrying again, so, in my mind, there was no point in dating.
I wish I had time (and the memory) to recall all the coincidences and confirmations, God was sent my way, but about two months later, I finally wrote that “dream boy” a letter on behalf of our college’s alumni council, on which I sat for a three-year term.  The letter was almost a business letter, simply inquiring if he would be interested, or if he knew of anyone who might be interested in serving on our board as we were looking for more young alumni as well as a broader geographical representation.  Almost as an afterthought, I added that after going through a difficult time, I had come to value friendship more than ever, and I told him how much I appreciated his friendship to me during those “golden, carefree college years,” and that I hoped he was doing well.  And that was it.  Consciously, I thought I had lost my mind for writing such a letter, and, yet, inexplicably, I felt it was the exact right thing to do.
A couple of weeks later he called me, and we talked for more than an hour.  He worked for the Walt Disney Company in Florida and did a good bit of traveling.  Keep in mind that this was 1993; email and cell phones were not yet commonplace.  A postcard followed our phone call.  I sent another letter, and a courtship that pre-dated email had begun.  We wrote long hand-written letters to each other all summer, and by the fall we had begun talking on the phone regularly.  He invited me to visit, and so the weekend before Thanksgiving I flew to Orlando.  Friends convinced me that leaving Big to spend the weekend with his grandparents was the thing to do.  I remember one treasured pal, saying, “You cannot walk up that Jet way with a flight-worn toddler on one hip and a diaper bag on the other!”  Friends also convinced me to form a contingency plan—in other words, we had a rescue plan in case this fellow turned out to be an axe murderer.  He wasn’t.  The weekend was perfect; my new beau was handsome, charming, funny, and a complete gentleman, who attempted no more than one chaste kiss.  By the time I boarded my return flight on Sunday, we were figuring out how the relationship could work.  On Thursday of that very week, Continental Airlines announced nonstop service between Greenville and Orlando for $79 round-trip.  It is obvious to me now that God had begun to woo me back, to romance me with a romance of my own.
The Mister proposed to me and to Big a few weeks before Big’s second birthday.  We were married the following September, a little more than three years after my first husband’s death.  To all of us, it seemed to have been a fairy tale, and for that I am thankful.  Our great God, however, is not a writer of fairy tales; He is the author of love stories.
Big and I moved to a tiny town outside Orlando (way outside) to be with the Mister, and our “happily ever after” began, but not in the way you might think.  The Mister headed off to work each morning, while I tried to adjust to life in the swampy woods with a two-year-old.  The heat, the bugs, the isolation of a small town, where I was the only woman who wasn’t collecting a pension check, was depressing.  I was homesick and miserable, yet determined to make it work on my own terms.  Our marriage and family still looked like a fairy tale on the outside, but on the inside resentment and betrayal stained many pages.  And, through each disappointment, God was working.  You see, after my first husband died, I concluded that God—regardless of His sovereignty, love, grace, and mercy—could not be trusted, at least not by me.  My disappointment that our marriage was not the fairy tale of our courtship had less to do with the Mister and more to do with my own failings—my lack of trust in God, my pride or stubborn self-reliance, and my smug self-righteousness.
 
It was only God’s persistent conviction that brought about my sorrowful repentance.  I started to pray to trust God more.  And, then, things began to happen.  I joined with other women, and we began to pray for our husbands.  We prayed for more faith.  We prayed to love God more, and God answered and is still answering those prayers.  The answers are seldom in ways we expect and often in ways that are harder than we’d planned, and yet, how we have seen Him provide.
A little more than five years ago, the Mister and I began feeling rather restless.  We had recently finished building our dream house, and were ready to add a pool.  Our children were happy and healthy.  We thought something was wrong with us.  We began to pray for contentment.  We felt increasingly content, but paradoxically we felt increasingly restless.  On a weekend beach trip to Amelia Island, we walked into a shop called Go Fish Clothing & Jewelry.
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It was a cool place, and from that afternoon God has led us on an amazing adventure from corporate security and a lifestyle we loved to having our own store here in downtown Greenville.  The mission of Go Fish is to provide opportunity to artisans and craftspeople from around the world.  Ours is a fair trade store, seeking to treat both those we buy from and those we sell to with the dignity and integrity of Christ.  Once again this January, the Mister and I will travel to Peru, having the great privilege of serving some of the world's poorest people. 
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Please pray for us.  Only God could take us—two fractured fairy tale characters—and give us vital roles in the love story of His son Jesus, who is the author and perfector of our faith.  The Mister and I have been blessed far more than we deserve, but our greatest blessing is knowing that our “happily ever after” is yet to come.

18 comments:

  1. You and your family have been in my thoughts and prayers since I read "An Anniverary." What courage it took to open such painful chapters in your life. What a wonderful, hopeful set of middle chapters that followed. Thank you so much for offering hope to those of us who have struggles and doubts of our own this week. It truly is a blessing to realize that as believes in an Almighty God, our happy ending is yet to come.

    For some reason I can only post this way but just wanted you to know it's Mimi from My Green Acre offering prayers on your behalf.

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  2. I have just started catching up on my reading. I was so touched by your story. I do know that it is a huge decision to open up that part of your life to those in the blogging world. Thank you for doing that. Although I read it, holding my breath, with tears streaming down my face, I needed to do that this morning.
    I have no idea what the next chapter in my life holds, but I do know that God will continue to be faithful to me.

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  3. First off...I love your autumn header! It's beautiful!

    Second...what an amazing story! I am so glad you allowed yourself the courage to fall in love again!

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  4. Wow, a great story. My thoughts and prayers are with you for a safe and productive journey. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  5. I am so glad you have found happiness.

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  6. Once again, so lovely. Gives me hope. Thank you.

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing. Your two-part personal story was so moving. You are an inspiration. When I went through my own personal troubles, one verse from the Bible kept me from giving up in despair. That verse was Psalm 27:14. God is good.

    Sandy

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  8. I'm so glad you've continued through this adventure of writing...thank you for sharing this story. I'm sorry for what you've lost and so happy for what you've gained.

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  9. What an inspirational story-so beautifully written, painfully honest and full of hope and promise. Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of your life with all of us-Barbara

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  10. Oh my dear friend. This post is beautiful in every way. I am so touched by your story of which I had no idea, and the beautiful way in which you shared it. I jumped straight to part two without even reading the comments others left from part one because I was so captivated.

    I have been away from visiting my favorite blogs as of late and decided to begin catching up tonight starting with yours. I have to tell you I am stopped in my tracks as I just want to contemplate this for tonight. Your story is truly incredible as are the emotions and journey life has taken you.

    I am so happy for you that you have found peace, love and happiness after such a great trial of your faith and that it follows you to who you are today.

    Much love,
    Marilyn

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  11. I am so touched by your incredible, inspirational story!. Continued blessings to you!!

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  12. Thank you for sharing this story and opening your heart to your readers. That can be very heard to do, yet I am thankful you did. And, how wonderful that you and your husband opened a fair trade store. I love the FT store in our town and try to shop there regularly. If I'm ever in your neck of the woods, I will pop in!

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  13. wow. i just read your last two posts. you have a beautiful way of revealing your heart through your words. i cried reading about the loss of your first husband. i had to reread it to make sure i truly understood correctly. to suffer such an unimaginable loss at that time in your life is so painful it hurts my heart just to read it. to see His faithfulness revealed is amazing. that you were open to receive God's grace and that you trusted Him despite the pain you carried is an incredible example to your children, family, friends, and now to us fellow bloggers. thank you for sharing your story. xo, Tessa

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  14. Wow, thank you for sharing your story...I just read your last two posts, twice just to be sure I understood. So heartfelt and beautifully written.

    xo annie

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  15. Town and Country Mom
    I just found your blog, I think it was through Muffy's (The Daily Prep), but I'm not sure.
    What a wonderful story about meeting your second husband. I'll tell you what, it was like reading a good book and I couldn't wait to read about what happened next. You might want to consider actually writing a book about this. I'd read it.
    Anyway, I enjoyed the story you shared and wish you all the best.

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  16. What an amazing story {how did I miss this?} with such sweet heartfelt honesty. You are a remarkable woman.

    Jo

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  17. I've been a follower of your blog for a long time but am quite behind on my reading, so I missed your story when you first posted. I'm so glad you were featured at Inspiration Friday so I could find it! Your authenticity and transparency are beautiful, and I am so glad you finally decided to write your story. Blessings in your work with Go Fish! It seems we've both been blessed to step waaaay out of our comfort zones to love on "the least of these." Funny how I'M the one who learns so much from those to whom we minister. Isn't God amazing?!!!

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  18. I have never visited your blog before but I was very much encouraged to read your story of trust in and guidance from God. Thank you for writing it. I needed this today. Thank you.

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