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What's in a name...change?

I was 16 when I met Rob.  Officially met him, that is.  I knew of him--a popular, athletic boy that was a year older than me.  I didn't really know much about him--just that his name was like a buzz among the girls and that anyone that caught his eye or affection was immediately promoted to high school stardom.  My junior year, we were in keyboarding class together.  I'm not sure why, him being a senior.  I guess he was just looking for elective credit.  I was just killing time in my own boredom and dysfunction.

This was our first encounter.  He flirted with me like a grade school boy and unplugged my keyboard whenever I was in the middle of some important project.  Young love.  I was smitten.

(Prom 1995)
We dated for six years.  He was the love of my life.  When I was 20, he gave me an engagement ring. I bought a wedding dress.  We set a wedding date.  He called it off.  We were young and immature and unsure about marriage.  He said he loved me, but wasn't in love with me.  I was an emotional mess--trying to escape my childhood.  He took me to a small Chinese restaurant in Cincinnati for a date and I slid the engagement ring back across the table to him.  And told him not to call me again.

18 years later.

A message on Facebook.  The only way he knew how to contact me.

You see, he was in Africa taking care of disabled orphans.  His life in the last 18 years was mostly work, prayer, and trying to get over the grief of losing me.  He never married, never had children.

I have been honest about the fact that he was been an "issue" for me these last 18 years as well.  I had vivid, intense dreams about him all through my last marriage.  Dreams that seemed unfair and relentless.  I was honest with my husband about it.  I went to counseling.  I prayed.  I cried.  And eventually, I just accepted the dreams and allowed them to be an opportunity to pray for Rob...wherever he was, whatever he was doing.

My first marriage dissolution had absolutely nothing to do with Rob.  He wasn't even on my mind during any of the hell I had endured through divorce.  In fact, I dreamed about him but didn't consider him or trust him.  I had been wounded so long ago and wasn't about to do that again.

But here we were, 18 years later.  Not partaking in the love but the friendship of the relationship that we once had.  And that friendship grew.

18 years later, I have become reacquainted with one of the most amazing men I have had the privilege of knowing.  He has worked with traumatized boys--lost and abandoned to the juvenile justice system.  He has worked with disabled men--forgotten in "the system."  He spent almost a year with the refugees in Ghana.  And two years with the tortured children of Liberia.  He survived the Ebola scare, choosing to stay with the people rather than flee.  He survived multiple cases of Malaria.  He survived villagers with machetes--trying to break through the mud brick and thatch.

This week, I married the love of my life.  Some would say that it was quick.  But I knew him better than anyone.  Some would way that it was unwise.  My heart said otherwise.   Those that know us best say that it is perfect.  It is.  My boys love him.  He is stable and consistent and thoughtful.

So that's that.  I have learned that God's ways are not our ways.  Sometimes life looks messy.  But God likes the messy stuff.  God always makes it beautiful.  I'm happier than I have ever been--safer, healthier, more hopeful, more peaceful, more content.  That is all God's work.  That's what He does.

Have hope.

Until soon,
b.

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