Chapter 12: Everything Changes

After dinner at Denny’s, we headed back to the hotel and a much anticipated swim in the indoor pool for the boys.
When we arrived back we went our separate ways with the plan that the boys and I would meet Mike by the pool after the swim suits were on. I’m pretty sure the door was barely closed before the boys were dressed in theirs. The excitement was building as they tried to patiently wait for me by the door. I’m not sure how many times in that few minutes I said the words, “Hold your horses!” Haha. Even though we were slow, from the boys view, we still beat Mike to the pool. I’ve posted a picture at the bottom of them waiting in the chairs for him to arrive. I’m SO glad I took pictures that night, since it wasn’t as handy as it is now with cell phones; but I had managed.
What a fun hour or so (I don’t recall how long) but from the pool to the hot tub to the pool and so on, I watched as they interacted with Mike and got rid of some of their energy. He was very patient with them, and I could tell he was genuinely having fun. They were talking to him non stop and laughing and saying (about a million times each), “Hey, watch this!!!”
They were trying to impress him, and it worked; he was very impressed. As you can imagine, we didn’t get to talk much during this time; but that was ok because this weekend was about him and the boys more than anything, or at least that was the plan 🙂
Around 10:00pm we finally talked them into drying off and heading back to the room. They were intent on wanting Mike to hang out with us longer, and I wasn’t about to argue against it. After all, I still wanted to visit with him as well. I knew eventually they would fall asleep and I would have him to myself, but until then I was perfectly happy and enjoying watching him with my little guys. So he headed to his room to change and we did the same after he accepted our invitation to come back over and hang out with us in our room.
The boys were starving after such a fun swim. Mike took them to the vending machines when he came over and even that was such fun for them.
I was very proud of them with the exception of Caleb embarrassing me half to death at dinner with his proclamation of, “My momma’s gona’ buy me a ‘tep-daddy” … had gone very smoothly. There was a connection between Mike and the boys that could not have been fabricated; it was amazing to watch, and I remember thinking how good he was with them.
I felt like the boys were starving for a “daddy” to be honest, and this was a gift to them. I watched this play out that evening, and I was drawn to Mike even more than I had imagined. It really scared me because for the first time, I KNEW I loved him and that made NO sense to me. “How could I possibly love him?” I thought to myself, and then refused to think about it again; but within a few minutes those thoughts would come back in my mind, and I seemed to be powerless over them. I felt vulnerable, scared, full of doubts, almost panicked. I felt the walls I had built up so strong for protection against any heartbreak, being chipped at…..little by little….”But what if he doesn’t love me? I mean really love me…;” but then I’d catch his eye, and we would exchange smiles and my insecurities would vanish (at least for awhile).
We tucked the two very tired little boys into bed and then went back into the living room area and sat on the couch together. I think we had planned on watching TV together for awhile but somehow instead we sat there talking for hours.
Almost from the first few minutes of quiet, our time seemed different than any other times we had spent together talking. We talked about a lot of things that night; in fact, we talked until almost 2:00am. Eventually our conversation came back around to Caleb’s comments at dinner, and we laughed. Somehow it didn’t seem as big a deal as it had earlier to me in the restaurant. All he had wanted was to be heard; and when Mike patted him on the head and smiled, it was all Caleb needed. In fact I guess it was all Mike needed as well. For it was that very night, after hours of talking, that he would look me in the eye and tell me for the very first time that he loved me. I found myself telling him that I felt the same, even though all the while my brain was screaming, “No, it’s too soon, what are you doing?” After all we had only known each other a total of 36 days. Yes that’s not a typo: 36 days… and the boys he’d only known for a few hours…”This is crazy,” I thought. “I’m setting myself up to be hurt; I can’t do this.” He held me close and told me he had never felt this way before, and promised he would never hurt me. By this time I had shared enough on different occasions that he knew the insecurities I held; he knew about my wall of protection that I had spent time building up. I’m sure he knew my heart (though for the most part healed) still showed signs of trauma. The scars were still there, even though not as visible as at one time, still there as a reminder of rejection and heartbreak. It felt like Mike could see all of that, but could also see past all of that, and what my heart could look like if it was given to him.
What I didn’t know till later was that during the same time frame when I was being served with divorce papers, almost a year earlier, Mike had decided he wanted to find someone that he could love and eventually marry. He had been so busy with his business he never dated any one girl more than a time or two.
So during that time he asked God to give him a wife and a couple of kids :)…..which I just happened to have:)
He realized soon after meeting me, that I was the answer to his prayer.
How special this night was as we talked. I felt like every prayer I had ever prayed was being answered in those gentle, quiet moments with him.
So you see when Caleb told Mike earlier in the evening, that I was going to buy him a ‘tep daddy, I could not have imagined before the night was over, Mike would tell me he loved me for the first time; but that’s not all…..he would also ask me to be his wife…or as I always like to put it, “He asked US to marry him.” After all, we were a package deal, and it was just the family package Mike had prayed for, as well as the “‘tep-daddy” Caleb had prayed for in his little song.

Philippians 1:6
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.



Chapter 13: Can I Trust You With My Heart?

I’ve never felt so safe, yet so afraid. He just kept telling me, “I’m not like that; you can trust me.” I wanted to… more than anything I wanted to put all caution aside and dive in; but when you’ve been through divorce, you’re never quite the same…..not for a long time anyway and possibly never. There are just a lot of gray areas, unknowns. It’s difficult to give your heart away again; but that’s the BEAUTY of love, taking the risk, opening that door, and eventually holding out your heart to someone you’re willing to entrust with it, and in return accepting the responsibility of loving them as they deserve and desire to be loved.
For those of you who don’t know Mike and me well, (or at all)….I must tell you that we are both very cautious decision makers. Everything about this proposal from Mike was completely out of his character but that’s how much he knew I was the one he wanted to love forever.
There were so many thoughts and feelings that night and not enough hours to talk everything through. Eventually we had to get some sleep, so he headed back to his room.
I didn’t say yes or no to his proposal, just kept bringing up the “what ifs”…… so many things to weigh out. I was in nursing school which I still had several months left to complete; then there was uprooting the boys, the moving. I was overwhelmed, but Mike was patient and completely understood why I couldn’t say yes at that moment.
I am not sure either of us got a wink of sleep, but it’s funny how during times of great excitement your body just doesn’t require much (it also helps to be 26 years old).
The boys and I met Mike fairly early for breakfast so we could plan out our day, and a fun day it was. Chuckie Cheese, was one item on the agenda. It was a beautiful warm Saturday in October; that made the park a perfect place to spend the afternoon. While the boys ran and played, Mike and I had a few more moments to talk; but this was not really the place to continue our marriage conversation. Even in these quiet moments, our hearts were speaking a thousand words to each other. I didn’t want our time to end, because everything felt so perfect when he was near me.

The boys were absolutely crazy about him and he them! As I watched them play in the park together I couldn’t help but wonder if Mike was really ready for such a major change in his life….I mean from bachelorhood to a family of 4, and it would be so instant. I decided to put all those thoughts and fears aside and just enjoy our last few hours together before we parted ways once again.
The boys slept all the way home, exhausted from all the fun and thrills, and I knew I had a lot of thinking to do. Could it be this easy? Should it be this easy? I was not ready to tear down the wall that had been protecting me. I had spent months building it up with all levels of defense and I couldn’t risk living without its security, not yet. I was not about to quit school. I had determined long before to never be dependent on anyone again, with the exception of God, but certainly not a man. I would not put myself in that position, I had promised myself that over and over during the previous year.
Mike returned to Tulsa and had a long talk with one of his brothers. Whatever was said just seemed to firm up his decision.
The week was filled with flowers and phone calls that lasted for hours. I think I made it to Tuesday evening before telling him, “I’m scared but everything in me is screaming: Yes marry him, trust him.” I decided I was willing to take the risk. I had the strangest peace in my heart that came over me between Saturday and Tuesday, peace that could have only come from one source, and that was God.
Just as I had instantly fallen out of love with my ex husband many months before, I had just as instantly fallen in love with Mike. I explained to him that I had to continue living in Mena until I finished my nursing school. He was very understanding and said if that’s what you need to feel secure then we will just be together on weekends till it ends. I assured him that’s the only way I could feel OK about it. I had to have that security; it was a major part of my wall of protection. He constantly reassured me that he would show me through time and love that I could eventually trust him and that we would take those steps together. He always seemed to know when I needed reassurance and he would say,”I’m not going anywhere.” He told me he had never been in love with anyone. I can’t even put words to the way he loved me with the words he spoke to me, the way he respected me, admired me. Mike had my heart in a way no one had ever had it before. It was as though I was falling in love for the first time. I knew everything would be OK; I can’t explain how I knew that…..I just did.

1 Corinthians 13

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.