Lessons From an Internet Bride

I met my husband at a Christian singles' site on the Internet. Phil and I were both widowed. My husband, Tom, and Phil's wife, Jenny, had died of cancer. We had both been married for 29 years. Tom and I had four sons, while Phil and Jenny had one son and one daughter.

Phil first e-mailed me from Indiana on New Year's Day 2003. I responded, but only politely, since Indiana as a future home didn't interest me. Indiana doesn't have any mountains!

But God had other plans and lots to teach us about His goodness and blessings. Phil and I e-mailed and telephoned until we finally met at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Cleveland, Tennessee, on January 28. And, well, this Tennessee girl did marry that Indiana guy on August 24, 2003.

Here are some of the lessons we learned as God brought us together.

* Be careful what you pray for--God may smile.

A little more than a year after Tom died, I began to pray about the possibility of another companion. Since I wanted to be careful and cautious, I made two specific requests when I prayed.

First, I asked God to bring me a partner the way He had brought Rebekah to Isaac (Genesis 24) and Ruth to Boaz (Ruth 2). I wanted it to be clear that God was in charge. But God (smiling, I'm sure) took me literally. Both Rebekah and Ruth came to their husbands from "far off." How could I complain when God sent mine from six hours away?

My second specific "suggestion" to God was that my new husband might need to be a little younger than I was. That was because I enjoyed hiking and needed a man with energy!

Once again, God granted my request--Phil was younger than I was. By three weeks! And we certainly do hike.

* We're never too old for romance.

Phil and I were 51 when we met--young to us, but old to our children. We were both so amazed that God was giving us a second chance at loving.

Phil's proposal included playing the Randy Travis song "Forever and Ever, Amen" before he asked me to marry him. The part about our hair turning gray seemed especially appropriate.

One of my sweetest honeymoon memories is of Phil rushing off in a rainstorm at Dollywood just before the park closed. He was purchasing my promised funnel cake during that mad dash. And we spent our newlywed time in those mountains tubing, horseback riding, and, of course, hiking. We decided that rocking chairs would wait for our distant futures.

* A second marriage is a family affair.

One of my sons has teased about writing his version of our story and calling it "Mom's Got Mail!" Although our children were wonderful about our relationship, blending two families requires a lot of cooperation. It's especially important to be sensitive to your children's (and grandchildren's) feelings as you move forward.

We wanted our children to know that they were a vital part of our lives together. My three oldest boys (Adam, Logan, and Judson) gave me away in our wedding, while Phil's son, DeWayne, was best man. Zane, my youngest, saved his energies for decorating our car.

* Friends make all the difference.

Phil and I had so many friends praying for us to have another chance at happiness. They certainly thought we were right for each other. One friend took me into her bathroom as soon as she met Phil. She assured me, "If you don't marry him, I will!" And she was already married!

The same support system that had carried us during the illness and deaths of our spouses rejoiced with us as God brought us together.

* God keeps His promises.

God tells us that He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3). He also gives us the "blessings of good things" (Psalm 21:3, God's Word).* And He surely has given Phil and me "beauty for ashes" and the "oil of joy for mourning" (Isaiah 61:3, KJV).

Also, as He has promised, He fills our mouths with laughter and makes us glad (Psalm 126:2, 3). Our wedding was joyful: Phil's wedding ring wouldn't slip on, and I got the giggles; our pastor accidentally abbreviated our wedding vows; and my 18-year-old did a PowerPoint performance that "took the cake." But what a memory!

Yes, I am an Internet bride. I imagine that our grandchildren will enjoy hearing the story in the years ahead. I expect that they will find it to be a fun love story. I also trust that it will be a story that brings them hope when they hurt, smiles when they are sad, and faith when they would falter.

* GOD'S WORD is a copyrighted work of God's Word to the Nations. Quotations are used by permission. Copyright 1995 by God's Word to the Nations. All rights reserved.

Lettie Kirkpatrick Burress has written two books and numerous articles, several of which have won writing awards. She is also a speaker and workshop presenter. Her first husband, Tom, died of cancer in 2000, and she and widower Phillip Burress have been married since 2003.

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