Online Dating Tips for the Recently Single 40 Something

dating tips, divorced, Life changes, online dating, Uncategorized

A few years ago, I found myself in my mid 30’s and single for the first time since my 20’s. My 13 year marriage had ended and my ex-husband had already re-married. I didn’t want to try and meet people in bars, so I bought a subscription to an online dating service. I did some things right and I did some things very wrong, but I did meet the man of my dreams and married him a few years later. Recently, a friend of mine asked for online dating tips. Here are tips based on my personal experiences:

1. Use a paid site; this will eliminate some potential problems right up front.

2. Do not use your full name and consider using an alias; this may prevent you from being “googled.”

3. Consider setting your social media accounts to private during this time. This may keep those who are not your friends currently from gaining too much personal info about you.

4. Do not post specific personal info on your dating profile; keep it general. For example, instead of listing a specific grade, school, or system where you teach, say you are “in education.”

5. Use the site’s contact email and don’t use your personal email or give out your phone number until you have had a meeting and you are comfortable giving out this personal info.

6. First meeting/date should be in a public place; meet there don’t let them pick you up. Consider a coffee shop, lunch meeting, or ice cream/yogurt/smoothie during the day for your first meeting. This is not a large time or financial commitment by either party, but allows enough time to see if there is mutual interest for a more formal meeting. This is also necessary for your safety.

7. Be open to meeting people who may not meet your age, race, or other restrictions. You will never know who you’re missing if you don’t give them a chance.

8. Set personal boundaries before you start the process, before you meet someone, and after you have had a few dates. What is going well and what isn’t? Some boundary examples are: meeting your children, sexual boundaries, monetary, time, etc.

Online dating produces many different results for many different people. Know in the beginning what your goals are, follow the tips listed above, and hopefully, your’s will be a great experience!

Two Sausage Biscuits and a Life Lesson

Faith, Grief, Hospital visits, Inspiration, Life changes, Mother, Uncategorized

“You have both been amazing parents and I am so blessed that y’all are mine.” I was able to say this to my mom and dad just weeks before she passed. Mom was in the hospital again after her pancreatic cancer diagnosis and we knew she was not doing well.

It’s hard to look your parents in the eyes, knowing your days together are numbered, and say words of finality to them. I had thought about this conversation many times in recent days, but finding the right moment to stare death in the face and say what needs to be said is difficult.

On this day, the opportunity presented itself because of two sausage biscuits. A lady from a local church knocked on the hospital room door and came in with two sausage biscuits. She told us what church she was from and that this was one of their ministries; to provide breakfast for family members of patients on this floor. After she left, my dad began talking about church and his childhood which sparked a conversation that eventually allowed me to tell my parents how much they meant to me and how much I loved them both.

It took two sausage biscuits delivered by a stranger to provide the perfect opportunity to express my love and appreciation to my dying mother and my father who would also be gone 15 months later.

I don’t know the name of the lady that brought those biscuits in mom’s room that morning. I can’t tell you the name of the church either. What I do remember is this; her act of kindness opened a door for me to love on my parents and share words from my heart which gave me great peace later. It’s a morning I will never forget.

What’s the life lesson I learned from this? Simple. God can use anything and anyone at anytime for any purpose no matter how great or small.

Feel like God is telling you to do something? Do it. He’s leading you somewhere? Pursue it.

You may never know how you were used, but you could be a mighty blessing to someone.


The Dress


When I was young and planning my wedding, I did as most young girls do and I began thinking about what my dress would look like. I scoured bridal magazines for what I thought was the perfect dress; off white, classic, with some old fashioned detailing. The day finally came when I went to try on a dress. Because I was searching for off-white, I was able to skip over many of the hanging dresses and it didn’t take long for me to spy the dress that was the perfect color. When I began looking at the dress, I thought the size was right, the detailing was right and when I put it on, I knew it was exactly what I wanted. That’s right, I said “yes” to the first dress.

My dress was perfect. It was raw silk fabric that was perfectly not white. It had tiny buttons lined up the back with a perfectly placed bow. The sweet heart top was complemented with puffy sleeves that turned to fitted, beaded, netting just above the elbow.  It had pearl and iridescent sequin beading on the bodice and around the bottom of the skirt. The train was just right…not too long but enough to feel like a bride.

Our pictures were beautiful and our wedding was everything I wanted it to be; our marriage was not. The difficult circumstances we faced drove a wedge between us that could not be overcome. When our 13 year marriage ended, I began to think about what I could do with my beautiful dress. I felt as if it was tainted. How could I offer the dress to a family member when the marriage didn’t last? I attempted to consign it, but I was told it was too dated.

That’s when I found out about Angel Gowns. I knew immediately that this was what I wanted to do with my beautiful dress. Volunteers take donated wedding dresses and make small gowns for deceased babies. I began searching for someone locally who could do this for me; she was found. My beautiful dress was donated.

Something so precious to me at one time will be re-purposed into something to wrap another person’s precious treasure for burial. So very sad, but so very beautiful.

This dress now represents broken dreams. So many things I hoped for while wearing it turned out so differently. Please don’t misunderstand; I love my life now. It is just very different from the way I thought it would be while I was wearing this dress.

Isn’t that just life? Our hopes, dreams, and expectations are often very different than what actually happens? Life is about change. The way we deal with the loss of certain hopes, dreams, and expectations says so much about our character. Just like this dress can be re-purposed, so can we. The initial purpose may be adjusted for something better, more important, or necessary. Has your life been re-purposed? Is your current path miles away from the path on which you started?

Know that this doesn’t mean you failed. It just means you changed; and that, my friends, is OK.

Can God re-purpose us? He will keep us on track, He has plans for our future, His purpose will prevail, and He will work everything for his good! He is right there with us and will not abandon us, even when our lives take a direction we didn’t hope, dream, or expect.

Proverbs 3:5-12 The Message (MSG)

5-6 Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.

Jeremiah 29:11 The Message (MSG)

11 I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

Proverbs 19:21 The Message (MSG)

21 We humans keep brainstorming options and plans,
    but God’s purpose prevails.

Romans 8:28 The Message (MSG)

26-28 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves…That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

Yes, God can re-purpose us. If He can make the old things new, the dirty things clean, the impure heart pure, the water turn into wine, then He surely can take this messy life of mine and give it a new purpose. Clothe yourself in that for a moment and dance around as it if were the perfect dress!

The Story of Evan, Part II

Broken Heart, CHD, Congenital Heart Disease, Hospital visits, Strong kids, Uncategorized

The doctors were finally able to tell us with confidence that Evan would live. So, we continued to prepare for his birth. We knew he needed to be born in a town two hours from our home at a hospital where there were pediatric heart specialists. As the pregnancy reached its final weeks, each appointment was suspenseful. Would this be the week? Finally, the day came for my appointment and I knew on the long drive down that this would be it. I had been feeling different and could tell time was drawing close. My mom went with me and we prepared to stay if needed. Sure enough, after my examination, they said “You want to have this baby today?” Evan was ready. The labor induction process went relatively smoothly and he made his appearance in about 6 hours. The room was full of doctors, specialists, nurses, and students who knew about his condition and were anxious to see how he was doing.

Evan looked perfect. His head was perfectly shaped, he had all his fingers and toes, and I immediately fell in love. No one would know his heart was all mixed up inside. The fact that he was born at this time and place when technology was able to give the doctors a glimpse of his problem before he was ever born was a tremendous blessing.

They gave us a few minutes together and then transported him to the NICU where he would stay overnight for close observation. The next morning, I received a call on the room phone. It was Evan’s pediatric cardiologist. He told me Evan looked great, they were moving him out to the cardiovascular nursery and we would be able to go home in a few days. We were expecting the possibility of heart surgery before he would go home so this was wonderful news. In a few days, I dressed him, we loaded him in our car and made the long drive home. I was able to bring my baby home; another blessing.

Evan was a great baby. He didn’t sleep through the night which was exhausting, but he was a joy. Because of his heart’s arrangement, he was getting too much blood pumped into his lungs. When he would feed, he would sweat a lot because his body was working so hard to eat and breathe. At 4.5 months, he had his first surgery. The surgeon cut him under his left arm and put a PA band on his pulmonary artery to restrict the blood flow into his lungs. This helped him breathe better. We had to be careful about picking him up and had to carry him a certain way due to his incision, but he had survived his first surgery. We had survived seeing this little baby be taken into surgery and we were amazed by the doctors, nurses, Evan’s strength, and by the support of our friends and family.

Not many people look at devastating and life changing situations as blessings. When you look for blessings though, you WILL find them. I am one of the blessed CHD moms who brought their baby home from the hospital…so many never get to do that. I am a CHD mom who knew before he was born that there was a problem so we could get help from specialists; not all moms have that. I choose to find blessings.

More about Evan and additional blessings coming soon.


The Story of Evan, Part 1


Pregnancy is supposed to be a joyous time in a woman’s life. It is supposed to be…but sometimes it is not. We see images, videos, and other media that teach us that pregnancy and becoming a mom is a happy time. For those of us who get lucky enough to experience it, we never think about what it might be like to have a sick baby.

Finding out I was pregnant was a wonderful time. My husband and I had been married 2 years and being a mom was what I wanted more than anything. We shared the news with family and friends and I began to plan…

At my routine 4 month ultrasound, the day I was to find out if I was having a boy or girl, the tech saw something (or didn’t see something) that was concerning. She could only count three chambers in my baby’s heart. Of course this was very serious, but my doctor tried to keep me calm and he explained that it might just be “their equipment.” He scheduled an appointment for me in another facility 2 hours away because their ultrasound equipment would give better pictures.

The hours and days that lapsed between receiving this news and the appointment were torture. I made the decision that I would not share this information with my family yet; not even my husband. Why should I cause them to worry if there was a chance that this was just an “issue with equipment?” So I kept this secret and I began praying for my baby that I now knew was my son.

The day of my appointment arrived and I made the 2 hour drive with one of my friends who insisted she come along on my “shopping” trip (which I had to disclose was not really a shopping trip). The ultrasound there confirmed a problem with Evan’s heart and they decided to do an amniocentesis to check for genetic abnormalities.

The next big task was to share the news with my husband and our families. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Family and friends began praying for my son who now had a name; Evan.

Our first visit with Evan’s pediatric cardiologist was difficult. He was unable to tell us much about Evan’s problem because he was still so small. I left that day knowing this:

  1. My son’s heart could correct itself.
  2. My son may have to have heart surgery right after birth.
  3. My son may have to be flown to a bigger city and have a heart transplant.
  4. My son might not survive.

I accepted baby showers as an act of faith; faith that God would allow my baby to live. I prepared a room for him as another act of faith.

This is where I stayed stuck until I was over 8 months through my pregnancy. Finally,Cardiac Care Unit, UAB a few hours after he was born. the pediatric cardiologist told me that Evan’s was a classic “text-book” heart defect. They had seen this before and they knew what to do about it. He would have to have a series of surgeries throughout his life and possibly a transplant as a much older adult, but he would live.

He would live.



Selecting a Stone

Funeral, Grief, Life changes, Mother

Young girls fantasize about it. Jewelry stores compete over it. It’s a monumental day when a man selects a stone for the love of his life. It’s a moment of joy and hope and excitement.

I watched a man choose a different stone for the love of his life. I watched my father choose a tombstone for my mom. Joy, hope and excitement were absent that day. Instead, we felt sadness and fear and defeat.

The woman for whom he had chosen a diamond 46 years earlier now needed a permanent resting spot and a marker for her grave.

No one makes a big deal about selecting this stone.

A Broken Heart

Broken Heart, CHD, Congenital Heart Disease, Hospital visits, Parenting, Strong kids, Uncategorized

My son has a broken heart. It wasn’t caused by love or loss. It’s been that way from his beginning. Technology, medicine, and doctors work to keep it functioning. It has been the source of pain; mental and physical.

When someone makes an expensive purchase, they want the best and seek perfection; no flaws. We take our children as they are though…with their imperfections. My child happens to have a broken heart. His body is covered with scars; visual reminders of this broken heart. There’s a scar under his arm, another down the center of his chest, small ones on his wrists, puncture wounds on his stomach, small bites on his neck and wires inside holding his bones together. He’s not scarred intellectually; but there are mental scars; scars I cannot see. They are scars of fear, dread, worry, and memories of physical pain. All this and his attitude remains positive. He is a chameleon disguised by his clothing which hides his life map of scars. He blends in with other young adults. He is a warrior disguised as a regular man; not a warrior that fights others, but a warrior that fights for his own life.

Watching your child in battle is terrifying. I fear he will be lost after every fight and dread the approach of new foes.

I also admire his courage and stand in awe of his bravery. He may not recognize his own strength, but I do. I cherish every day, month and year as his mom.

My son may have a broken heart, but he has a soul made of unbreakable steel.

Lessons Learned from Linda

Funeral, Grief, Life changes, Mother, Uncategorized

These are the thoughts I provided to the pastor who preached mom’s funeral on November 22, 2015:

Lessons Learned from Linda

1. Pray

One of the things we remember most about mother is her daily routine of kneeling by her bed every night to pray. At night, near bed time, if you went into mom’s bedroom (or just walked by and peeked in the door) you would find her there on her knees by the bed in prayer. It was understood that you would stand there and wait until she was finished. She never talked about her nightly ritual. No one except those of us in the house probably even knew she did it. We know she spent countless hours on her knees praying for us and the things going on in our lives and we want you to know that she did the same for many of you. She believed in the power of prayer and would encourage you to cast your cares and worries on Him.

2. Spend time with your family.

As young children, we were taken every week to visit our grandparents. There was a time when this seemed boring and we didn’t always enjoy it. Mom explained that we would not always have our grandparents and we needed to visit and appreciate having them in our lives as much and as long as possible. This made a very strong impression on us and we tried to follow her example and visit her and dad as much as possible. She taught us that time is the most valuable gift you can give and receive from a loved one.

3. Look for the positive in every situation.

One of mom’s doctors recently said to her, “I wish all of my patients had your disposition.” She looked for the good in every situation. She could get bad news from a test or blood work and would hold on to any one bit of positive information. Instead of focusing on the negative and feeling sorry for herself or complaining, she would focus on the positive. Blessings can be found in dire circumstances…but you have to be willing to see them. Linda would remind us to look for something positive.

4.Take life one day at a time.

One Sunday morning, I (Vanessa) went to see mom in the hospital before church because that is when I knew we would have some alone time. She began to tell me about the conversation she had with  Bro. John the evening before. She said, “No one want’s to hear the word cancer, but when it happens to you, you have to just take it one day at a time; that’s all you can do…and I’m not worried.”  So mom (Linda) would say to each of us, “No matter what you are facing, take your situation one day at a time.”

5. Live every day so you can say “When He comes, I am ready.”

On Tuesday evening, we could see that there had been a change in mom. As we were giving her the evening meds, we told her how much we loved her and I told her, “Momma, we are going to miss you so much. We don’t want to lose you, but when those angels come, its o.k. for you to go. We will take care of daddy.” After a few moments, she said “when He comes, I am ready.” I think mom would remind us all that this is not our home…and we should endeavor daily to be ready when we are called home.