Match Made in Heaven (Part 2)


“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” (James 1:17) In my last blog, I wrote about how God fulfilled my prayers for a soulmate. Many naysayers may wonder, How does she know that he is the one? and How can she be so sure that it was a ‘match made in heaven’? After all, they met online! A while ago, I wrote about looking for and recognizing the signs from God. If you haven’t read that one yet, here it is… Anyway, throughout my relationship with Kim, from the very beginning, there has been a series of “Godwinks” that I choose to believe were God’s way of giving each of us confirmation that we were the ones made for each other.

It was this very day last year, the Sunday before January 25th, that I was doing my weekly food shopping at the supermarket. I was wheeling my cart down the frozen foods section. I vividly remember hearing the song, “Haven’t Met You Yet” by Michael Buble playing faintly over the sound system. The lyrics were so appropriate for where I was in my life at the time. “Wherever you are, whenever it’s right; You’ll come out of nowhere and into my life; and I know that we can be so amazing, and baby your love is gonna change me; and now I can see every possibility…” The words stopped me in my tracks. I closed my eyes right there in Publix and prayed, “God, I’m so ready for you to make this happen.” I was alone for 3 years and waiting on God to answer my prayer. Two weeks prior, after feeling like it was time, I created my first online dating site profile. I went on one date a week later. We met at a restaurant and it was obvious there was no attraction between us. He had been at this online dating thing for a while. He told me of the horrors of online dating which made me question this route to finding my match. Could this really be what God wants for me? However, my date also gave me the name of a different dating website. He suggested I try that one. So, I did. I posted a profile on a second site and hoped for the best.

The evening after hearing Michael Buble in the supermarket, I checked out the second dating site. If you’ve never been “lucky enough” to experience online dating, it is really a strange process. You search for people that fit into your criteria of what you are looking for in a mate. You could get as picky as you want, but I generally kept to the basics—age (between 40 and 50 years old), height (taller than me 5’10” or higher), spirituality (as long as it didn’t say none, I could work with it), and location (I hate to drive so I selected “within 25 miles”). Then you peruse through the profiles of people that fit into your criteria. And that night, I came across the photo of my love. He had the sweetest smile and his eyes had a child-like enthusiasm to them. His profile write up wasn’t the best (Lol! Sorry, Kim ;-), but that smile and those eyes just warmed my heart. I was too chicken to send him a message. I wasn’t sure what was worse, not receiving a response or finding out that he wasn’t attracted to my photo (yes, online dating is killer to the self-esteem), so instead I “favorited” his photo by clicking on a star. My first favorite. I knew that he would get a message from the site saying that he was favorited. I left it up to him to decide if he wanted to send me a message. On my profile write-up, I mentioned that I was a morning person and that I was looking for someone who was the same.

The next morning, Kim’s alarm went off as it usually does between 4:30 and 5:30am. He saw that I “favorited” him and wrote me a message thinking, I wonder how much of a “morning person” she really is? My alarm goes off at 5:03am (hey, that 3 minutes makes a big difference! Lol!). By 7:30am on January 25th, we had been communicating via messages back and forth non-stop (outside of getting ready for work and driving to work) for 2 hours. Every night for those first few days, our phone calls lasted 3-4 hours. We were so similar—it was like talking to a male version of myself and apparently our attraction to each other was mutual. In one of his messages he wrote, “I am very flattered that you picked me as a favorite. You are very beautiful and I would have thought out of my league.” We fell in love with each other quickly and admitted it to one another a week after our first date.

So, what else were the signs in those first few months that we were a match made in heaven? We’re obviously both morning people and he’s very tall J. We’re both from NY and we’re Yankees fans (but we both dislike the cold and snow). We’re both technically Episcopalian and now attend a Methodist church together. We love to travel. (I feared meeting someone who would be content not seeing anywhere but here. Thanks to his time in the Air Force, Kim has been to far more places than I and only wants to see more! AND he doesn’t mind always being the driver so I never have to drive. Yay! My perfect traveling buddy!) We’ve both been through divorce. Ironically for two Floridians, but we both enjoy hiking and mountains over the beach. We love to eat and try new restaurants. We are less than 1 year apart in age. (I’m older by 7 months, but WAY wiser.) Since we grew up during the same time period and in the same state, we almost always get each other’s references about TV shows, music lyrics, movie quotes, and pop culture. We have both always wanted to go on a mission trip. We’re both cat lovers.

On our first date while we were in the car on the way home, “Haven’t Met You Yet” played on the radio. On our 1st Valentine’s Day together, after knowing each other for less than a month, we bought each other the same card. We went horseback riding in the Spring. Out of 40 horses to choose from, with different names like Linus and Spartan, they selected our horses for us. Mine was named Chief and his was named Blaze–quite the coincidence for the fireman and his future wife. Together we’ve witnessed more rainbows (a sign of God’s promises) in this year than I’ve seen in the past several years combined.

But probably the coolest of the “meant to be” moments happened just recently with our engagement. In November, I was in the mall with my teenage son. Of course he wanted to shop without his mom, so we parted ways for a bit. Unbeknownst to anyone, I went into one of the mall’s seven jewelry stores to look at engagement rings. The saleslady asked me if I’d like to try anything on. (I was looking at the engagement rings.) I told her that my boyfriend and I were talking about getting married and he asked if I liked any shape of ring over the others. I told her that I told him I liked radiant and emerald cut diamonds, but that I had never tried one on. So she went into the case and pulled out an emerald cut diamond engagement ring. It was my size so I put it on. It was absolutely beautiful. She took out another ring that was a slightly different cut and encouraged me to try it on. I told her that it wasn’t necessary. The ring I had on was exactly what I wanted. She gave me her business card and wrote the ring details on the back. She said, “Here, give this to your boyfriend.” I couldn’t do that! I took the card to be nice, but never gave it to Kim. I never even told him that I went to the store. He knew that I liked emerald cuts—whatever he got for me would be perfect. A month and a half later, you can imagine my shock and excitement on Christmas Eve when he proposed to me. He opened up the box and the ring inside was the ring that I wanted! I later learned that when Kim went to the mall to buy my ring, he went into the nearest of the seven jewelry stores to where he parked. It was the same store that I went into. He showed me the business card of the saleswoman that helped him. It was the same lady that helped me. She showed him several rings, but he said only one ring stood out to him—the same exact ring that I had tried on a couple of weeks prior to his going to the store. Talk about a God-incidence!


Amazingly enough, we’ve lived 7 miles away from each other for the past 13 years. A friend from my church and Bible study group lives across the street from him. A co-worker of mine is good friends with one of his co-workers. We often wish we could watch a side-by-side movie of our lives to see if, or how often, we have crossed paths. We shopped at the same supermarket. We use the same pharmacy to fill our prescriptions. His neighborhood is next to a park where my sons played sports. I attended the Blue Angels air shows and practices while he was working on the air field. And he did, in fact, look at the stars and wonder if the woman he was hoping for was out there, doing the same.

God knew that we would meet and when it happened, it would be life changing for both of us. It had to be at just the right time in both of our lives. So if you are like I was, waiting and waiting and waiting for God to make changes in your life, have faith. Keep praying. Be patient. He has a plan. Trust me—trust Him; it’s worth it. God’s timing is absolutely perfect.

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:14)

Match Made in Heaven (Part 1)


On Christmas Eve, I got engaged to the love of my life. When people hear that you’ve gotten engaged, one of the questions that is asked (after “Did you set a date for your wedding?”) is, “So how did you meet?” Every time the question is posed, my fiancé and I give each other a little smirk. If our minds spoke their thoughts, they’d probably say, Do we have to admit to it? We wish it was a different way. Hopefully they don’t ask which site. This is so embarrassing. But, rather than coming up with a fantastical story, we admit through mumbled breaths, “Online.” Yes, we met through an internet dating website.

While I know that this isn’t the most romantic set up for meeting your future spouse, I’d like to tell you a little back story about how this beautiful relationship came into being.

In 2012, my marriage of 15 years was headed toward divorce. For the first year following our split, I had a difficult time. I was stressed beyond the max. I was returning to full-time work after being a stay-at-home mom for 13 years. I turned 40. I was losing hair at an alarming rate, gaining weight, and feeling just awful. All the while, I was putting on the smiley face to let everybody see my optimism for the future, while behind the scenes I was a mess. I immersed myself in my spirituality. I spent a lot of time praying, reading and studying the Bible, and building on my relationship with God.

In the years that followed, I wondered if I’d ever fall in love again. Despite my deepest hopes, I seriously doubted it. I wrote a Bible Study for people who were going through divorce. One of the chapters was about starting new relationships. At that point in my life, I was talking a good game, but I wasn’t practicing what I preached in the book. I wasn’t praying for a mate. By the beginning of 2014, I decided I was ready to meet someone. But this time, I didn’t want just anyone; I wanted God’s pick for me. I prayed for him every single day. I prayed that God would allow us to meet soon. I was getting lonely. Even my children were asking me when I was going to find myself a boyfriend! As much as I wanted to find a companion, I didn’t want to do anything that was outside of what God wanted for me. So I just prayed and waited.

In April of 2015, I read a book called The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. In the book, the author talks about praying circles around our hopes and dreams. This book had me write down exactly what I was praying for—the love of my life. As embarrassing as it is to share this with you, I need you to see all that I was hoping for…



Love of my life *Soulmate*: God filled, Spirit driven, optimistic, honorable, loving, trustworthy, intelligent, attractive/tall, respectful, funny, devoted, faithful, kind, generous, friendly, caring, motivated, loves me and I love him, “smitten with each other,” “two peas in a pod,” “friends and lovers,” “partners in crime,” “made for each other”



While this was not the only thing I prayed for, this was at the forefront of my daily prayers. The strange thing is, no matter how much I prayed and hoped and thought about it, I kept feeling like it wasn’t time yet. A few friends asked if I’d like to get set up, I said, “Sure!” I hoped this was God’s way of putting His choice in my path, but for one reason or another, the set-ups never worked out. I was never introduced to any of them. By the Fall of 2015, my kids decided that I had a make-believe boyfriend named Bill. After a weekend at their dad’s they’d ask, “So, did you hang out with ‘Bill’ this weekend?” I repeatedly told them that I wished I had, but “Bill” just never showed up.

I even backed off on my prayer list… My prayers changed, “Lord, it’s okay if he’s not funny. I can love someone who isn’t funny…Dear God, I don’t need him to be motivated. I can love a couch potato…Father, who needs an attractive man anyway? I’ll take one that’s a little goofy looking. That’s fine.” In the end, I pretty much crossed everything off the list. I decided I would stop asking for so much and just pray for him to have two things: I wanted him to be tall and I wanted him to believe in God and that was it. Surely God’s pick for me would have at least that?

By December of 2015, I was so tired of being single. I was desperately lonely. It had been three years since I had been kissed, had my hand held, or even received a hug from someone other than a friend or family member. I longed for a companion. I wanted someone to go to the movies with, someone to share my dreams with, someone to have an adventure with, someone to love and I yearned to be loved in return. My mother called me out on it—it was two days before New Year’s Eve. We were having a heated discussion about my wanting my parents to move near me. (That’s a story for another blog post!) But at one point in our conversation she looked at me with sad eyes and said, “ToniAnn, I can see that you are miserable.” I sobbed and sobbed. I was inconsolable. It hit me like a ton of bricks. She was right. The loneliness had taken over my heart, robbed me of my joy, and I was just so very sad. I got to the point of crying out to God, “Please, Lord! Where is he?!” I would look at the stars and wonder if he was looking at the stars too—maybe he was even pleading for me.

After New Year’s I continued my prayers, but out of nowhere, there seemed to be a change in God’s response. During my prayers instead of feeling like my love was nowhere to be found, I got the distinct notion that it was time! The next day, I prayed again and again I felt like God was nudging me, “It’s time!” So, I acted on it. That day I set up my first profile on a dating website. Two weeks later, I met Kim. On January 29th of 2016, I had my last “first kiss.”


So, if you are like I was at this time last year—painfully alone and waiting for your “one”—pray, have hope, and be patient. “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalms 30:5b, KJV)

I look back at the list that I wrote so long ago. Kim fulfills every single thing that I prayed for—every one of my heart’s desires. He truly is my match made in heaven. Of course, however, by the time I met him, he only needed to check off two boxes: 1) His faith—Yes, he believes in God. 2) His height—I think God got so tired of my prayers on this that he responded in a big way with this one! “So how’s 6’6”, ToniAnn? Is that tall enough for you?” Why yes, Lord. Yes, it is. Thank you very much! 🙂

To Everything Turn, Turn, Turn


To everything…turn, turn, turn…
I remember the first time I realized that the song, “Higher Ground,” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers was actually a remake of a song that was originally written and sung by Stevie Wonder. My thoughts were, No way! Stevie Wonder did this first?! I thought this was a Red Hot Chili Peppers’ song!

My thoughts were quite similar several years ago when I came across this little diddy… “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh…a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NIV) My thoughts were, No way! This is in the Bible?! I thought this was The Byrds’ song… “To everything—turn, turn, turn. There is a season- turn, turn, turn. And a time to every purpose under heaven… Sometimes we are just more familiar with the remake than we are with the original and this was definitely one of those eye-opening situations for me.

Either way, the message from the Byrds song and the one from its Biblical original is the same: There is a time for everything. The seasons of our lives come and go. We all have that in common—the passage of time. It is one of those rare unifying elements that all of creation experiences. We cannot stop it, slow it down, speed it up, or avoid it. We can usually choose how we utilize it and decide how we are going to spend our precious but fleeting days, hours, minutes, seconds. We hate to waste it, but at the same time; we often make choices that do just that.

The season we are currently in, a.k.a. “the holidays,” gets to be the craziest time of the year. But does it have to be? Do we really have to shop for matching outfits to get professional photos done so we can send 500 Christmas pictures to everyone we’ve ever met? Does our house need to be more decorated with lights than Cinderella’s castle at Disney World? Will my son really love that 6-foot crane that he requested from Santa once January rolls around—how about once I’ve finished paying it off from the credit card bill in the Spring?
I know, I know, I’m starting to sound like a Scrooge. Bah humbug, right? But seriously, what is it all about? We put so much pressure on ourselves to have everything just right—the perfect decorations, the perfect meal, the perfect presents, etc. etc. It is just too much and we are NOT perfect! We need to give ourselves a break!

I grew up in an Italian family. On Christmas Eve, we would gather together and eat the seafood meal of a lifetime. The tradition is that we should have at least seven different fishes represented, and of course, there was always pasta as well. I believe the seven-fish rule represents the seven hills of Rome. I’m not even certain if that’s the reason we had to have seven—hence my point—why? It becomes a little crazy. I think of all the years that I would go through the shopping list and do the count off: 1) shrimp scampi, 2) mussels (to go with the linguine), 3) clams oreganata, 4) scallops wrapped in bacon, 5) baccala (cod salad), 6) stuffed flounder and 7) ? . What should we have for number 7? Oh no! Christmas Eve is ruined! We don’t have a 7th fish! Let’s fry some shrimp; that’s a different dish than shrimp scampi. But would that qualify as the 7th fish?! Um, technically, the flounder and the cod are the only “fish” on the entire list; so I guess we were actually five short of our seven fishes anyway. Haha!
Anyway, you get what I am trying to say. Traditions are wonderful. Presents are fantastic. The decorations look beautiful. We just get so wrapped up (excuse the pun!) in all the season’s “must-haves” that we forget about the purpose of it all. It wasn’t until I spent my first post-divorce Christmas Eve at home, by myself, that I realized how unimportant all of those previous “must-haves” really were.

A few lines down from the Scripture that I quoted earlier it says, “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toils—this is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:12-14 NIV)
Consequently, I don’t think Jesus’s birth was put on our calendars for the purpose of stressing us out! Like the Scripture says: eat, drink, and be merry; but you can’t do that if you are so stuck on the things that might be lacking from your holiday.

So I invite you to join me in forgiving ourselves this season. We may not have the best Christmas card photo (or we may not get to send cards out at all, sorry!); we may eat off paper plates instead of fine china; we may not be able to afford everything off of the wish list; and we may not even have all seven fishes on Christmas Eve, but we do have each other. Let’s choose to spend our time wisely and decide which “must-haves” are most important. As you already know, our time is limited…turn, turn, turn.