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! 🙂

God Will Provide


My grandmother passed away a couple of weeks ago. In a family that has been blessed by longevity, she is the first person in my immediate family to die. Gram was the family matriarch on Mom’s side of the family. Despite the fact that she was born with a handicap, Gram had a zest for life. Her mantra, “God will provide,” allowed her to enjoy every day without worrying about tomorrow.

When I was preparing the eulogy that I would give at her memorial service, I was thinking about the many ways that God provided for her—the ways that He lived up to her trust in Him. The first was before she even knew He was caring for her…I moved to Florida about 13 years ago; so now when I go back to NY, I act like a tourist. Last summer, I took my sons to see the Statue of Liberty and we visited Ellis Island. While I was there, something really powerful struck me. Gram came to America from Italy when she was about 3 years old. That would’ve been around 1923 or 1924. According to the historical records at Ellis Island during that time period, there were doctors who were doing physical and mental exams on all immigrants. If an immigrant was found to have an illness or even a physical deformity, he or she would be sent back to their country of origin. So that left me wondering, How did she do it? Gram was born with one leg shorter than the other. How did she, with her physical handicap, get passed the physical exam? Was the doctor not paying close attention or maybe he was on a break? Was her mother carrying her so they wouldn’t notice her legs? Maybe the doctor who did the examination felt sorry for her and allowed her through? It is something that we will never know. And yet, it is a moment in her life that could’ve changed absolutely everything! I wouldn’t be here if she hadn’t been granted permission to America that day! I’d like to think that it was through the grace of God that she got here and that it was His provisions that allowed her passage to her new life.

Another example of God’s goodness was when she was moved in with her family in Port Chester, NY. Apparently her parents couldn’t afford to keep her with them and they had no room for her where they were living, so they had her live with her aunt and cousins. To most children who would have to live without their parents, this would be an extremely difficult and sad situation, but to Gram, it was a blessing beyond measure! She grew up as an only child and she hated that she was alone because she never had anyone to play with. But then, when she got to live with her cousins, it was like having instant siblings. She had playmates and she loved it there. Once again, God provided for her and turned a difficult situation into a blessing. He added to that blessing ten-fold when she married my grandfather and inherited his family of nine siblings.

She never let her handicap hold her back from living every day to its fullest. She swam, danced, jumped rope, drove, worked, and traveled. She was blessed with children and grandchildren whose company she loved more than life itself. She never passed up the chance to go out to eat or to attend a party. Gram loved going to the beach and soaked in the sun. She was the first to ante up to a game of cards. She enjoyed a glass of wine at happy hour, an occasional cold beer on a hot summer’s day, or even a shot of Goldschlagger if it was offered to her! She was always the perfect companion for a late-night movie, cup of coffee, piece of cake, or even a casino trip. She and Pop weren’t rich by any stretch, and yet they always seemed to have just enough. Especially as they got older, they never fretted about where they would end up. They didn’t like to plan out the steps too far into the future. They didn’t dwell or complain about how they were lacking. Instead they always made the best of what they did have; they were generous with it; and they always said, “Don’t worry, God will provide.”

I don’t remember Gram being an overtly Christian woman. She wasn’t preachy and she didn’t attend church too often. However, the relationship that she had with God when no one was looking was a different story altogether. One time, I went to visit her and my grandfather at their apartment in Peekskill, NY. When I walked in, Gram was sitting in her chair in the corner of the room. She had her eyes closed and her hand was resting on a stack of papers. I assumed that she was sleeping. But when she heard me, she opened her eyes quickly and said, “I’m almost done. Just a minute.” Huh? Almost done with what? Napping? A few moments later, she opened her eyes and said, “Okay. I’m finished.” I asked what she was “finished” with and she opened her hand to show me her stack of papers. I’m finished praying. “Praying? Praying for whom? Here? In the middle of the day?” At this point in my life, I was a “pray the same prayers before bed” kinda girl. I’m not sure why, but the realization that Gram was praying for people mid-day was strange to me. As it turns out, Gram prayed for people everyday—lots of people, by name—maybe even some of you reading this right now! She had a daily routine and it included saying her prayers. She was faithful about that and it made an impression on me that day. It also made me feel good because in my heart I was sure that I was included in her daily chats with God. 

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Now when I usually think of this Scripture, I think of someone’s “purpose” as being something that is big and grand, like someone’s job or their life’s conquest or their legacy. Thinking back on Gram’s life, I think that her purpose may have been a bit less glamorous, but no less purposeful or powerful than anyone else’s. Her purpose was carried out in the way that she lived. She showed us by her life that we can do anything by trusting in God. Her life proved to us that He worked all things out for good—no matter how difficult or burdensome they seemed. I for one am grateful to her for fulfilling that purpose, whether she knew she was doing it or not. To see the life of a lonely, poor, handicapped immigrant transformed into one that was filled with laughter, adventure, family, friends, and an abundance of love is quite inspirational. And then to know that she lived that life believing and trusting that “God would provide” and time and time again, He did? Well, that’s enough proof for me to want the same for my life. Thanks for your example, Gram…

Lord, it’s your deal. I trust you and I’m all in.
me and gram