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So many women whose marriages have fallen apart end up on this blog, wondering if there is any hope for finding the kind of love that God designed for marriage. 

And today I have a lovely story I want to share with you from Manndi deBoef, one of my readers.

As may of you know, it’s been a heavy few months on the blog, and when Manndi sent me this story, it just made me happy. I hope it will make you happy, too!


Less than a year ago, I met a man that changed my life forever.

This man came at a time I had all but given up on love. I had been through two heartbreaking miscarriages, one devastating divorce, one horrific death of a partner; all losses unimaginable for the hopeless romantic in which the younger version of myself identified. When the decade of my thirties hit, they practically shook me free of every single romantic yet naive notion I had as a young woman. Yet, I never fully gave up. My heart would not allow it. Deep down in the recesses of my broken and battered heart, I knew somewhere out there was a man just for me. A man that would embrace my crazy, accept my baggage, understand my deficiencies and see my imperfect ways as perfectly suitable to his.

That man waltzed into my life mere months ago. At the height of Covid, on our infamous first date, he picked me up at my parents’ house. Yes, at the rife old age of forty, I was picked up at my parent’s place (only because they were watching my kids and it made more sense from a logistics standpoint). Not to mention I did not want him to see where I lived in case he was a serial killer. Still…it was awkward. This man actually met my Father before any of the others (we do not speak of).

Fast forward to the best first date ever.

We were practically kicked out of the restaurant (since when did high-pitched laughter and the sounds of a lifelong connection forming become a crime)? Pandemic life…UGH! Before they could ask us to leave, we took the cue and headed to a local botanical garden for some floral eye candy and wine-induced romance. The flowers were in full bloom, I was worried my self-tan would run due to the sticky summer humidity of the evening. He did not seem to care. We walked, we laughed, we talked about everything under the sun. I felt like a high school girl on my first date. It was glorious.

Next, we went to the bike trail near my house. I was not ready to let him see where I lived, but I figured bringing him a little closer to my natural habitat couldn’t hurt. We walked across the bridge and down to the river. We sat in the jutted pointy rocks at the river’s edge and talked about more things we had in common than not. When he said he had tickets to Alanis Morissette pre-covid, I knew there was something special that set him apart from the infamous others.

Finally, I said I needed to pick up my children and thus end the first date I desired to last forever. This mystery man that seemed almost too perfect drove me back to my parents’ house. Again, awkward. There was a goodnight hug and a promise of seeing me again. It was perfect.

When my head hit the pillow the night of our first date, I could not stop the reel replaying each moment I had spent just hours ago. I finally dozed off into a deep sleep with thoughts of this ultra-handsome, undeniably fun, seemingly perfect man still fresh in my mind.

After that first date, we agreed there was a very strong connection.

We continued to see each other as much as humanly possible, given that we lived in different cities. We hit the trails and rode bikes on the weekends. He introduced me to his local hang-outs. I introduced him to my best friends. He had already met my parents and children, so while we held off on spending much time with family, when the time came, it wasn’t as awkward as that initial meeting when a couple is dating and collectively decides it is time to meet the other’s family.

I search my memory for the moment I knew. The moment I knew this man would be my future. While I could not imagine the present without him in it, try as I might, I could not put my finger on one particular moment in time. It honestly just feels like I always knew it was him. Justin. My Justin. Even before I knew, I knew.

This kindred bond is one of those rare soul connections in life that only comes along after so much pain, heartache and life journeys have distinctly molded you into the best version of yourself.

When we met, I felt I had known him all my life.

We had so much in common. Even the passions and desires we did not share from the beginning have become interests we have each developed in efforts to spend more time with each other.

I never dreamed I would enjoy dirt biking. It is hot, dirty, dusty, loud and dangerous. Yet, the first time I saw Justin ride, his bike slicing through the air like it had wings, he pointed his index finger at me in a Tom-Cruise-Top-Gun sort of masculine heroic way, as he seamlessly sailed over the dirt-packed mound like it was nothing. Seeing him in his element made my soul burn with desire for a sport I had never given an ounce of thought to. Suddenly, I was a Super-Cross Super Fan!

We had many talks about our children. Being full-time single parents is not exactly a recipe for a prosperous dating portfolio, much less a healthy, lasting relationship. Yet, Justin knew from the beginning I was a package deal. If he were to fall in love with me, he would have to love my two young sons as well. I worried this might present a problem as it had with others. Yet, my worry was in vain. Justin easily accepted my sons as his own and developed a special, healthy, loving relationship with each child, separate but equal from that which he shared with their mother.

Seeing Justin with my boys gives me the confidence and assuredness to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is my person.

There was no doubt of my feelings for him early on. However, seeing his glorious interaction with my sons, showing interest in their activities, sitting at basketball games and through swim team practice, taking them on honey-do errands when it would no doubt be just as easy (and much quieter) to go solo, sealed the already-sealed deal. The bonding with my kids came so naturally there was no room for doubt. My once-broken, hurting, separated family had become healed, happy and beautifully nurtured. A dream I had long ago given up on.

When I hear the song, He Didn’t Have to Be by Brad Paisley, my eyes fill with tears of resolute understanding and immeasurable gratitude. The song tells a story of a little boy growing up with a single mother. His mother meets a man and the boy assumes it will end like all of the others. Yet, that man falls in hopelessly in love with his mother and in time, falls in love with the little boy as well. That man becomes a Dad to the little boy and one day, that little boy, as he is holding his own precious bundle of joy, sings the beautiful full-circle words to his own child: “I hope I’m at least half the Dad you didn’t have to be. Because you didn’t have to be.”. That is how I feel when I see this beautiful man with my sons. When I see Justin with our boys.

Sometimes I catch myself looking at him. It sounds a bit creepy. Yet, I catch glimpses when he is driving, on the phone, washing dishes, feeding the dogs, interacting with my boys or parents, or just sitting on the couch watching Netflix with me after a busy day at work. I see such a grace and tenderness in this man. He is everything I am not. Patient, quiet, considerate and thoughtful in his responses to others and the world. He is gentle and takes time to do things right the first time (to avoid having to repeatedly repeat things which is my particular spiritual gift).

When I look at Justin, I see a hero, a worker, a fighter, a tender, loving father, a kind and respectful son, a loving and protective big brother. I see so many traits that paint a beautiful picture of the complete and very competent man he has grown to be. It positively blows my mind how blessed I am to be loved by this man I met on a dating site less than one year ago.

Us - The Man Who Changed a Grieving Heart

Justin asked me to marry him less than two months ago.

Four words I painfully worried I may never hear again. While I am still floating on Cloud Nine, dreaming of our future, the impact of being his future wife has not fully set in. At times, I have to pinch myself to prove this is not a dream. This is reality. Sometimes reality is even better than the dreams our limited human minds can conceive.

I know we are still in the new stages of relationship. The rose-colored glasses phase. Yet, I have seen enough to feel confident that I want Justin as my partner in this life. I want to fight battles with him, I want to wage wars with him, I want to peacefully throw up the white flag of surrender with him. I want his to be the first Good Morning of the day and the last I love you of the night. I want to sit on our front porch someday in wooden rocking chairs and reminisce about the foolishness of our youth, lessons learned in our adulthood, mistakes our children are currently making and pure, unfiltered joy at the sight of our grandchildren happily playing in the yard just beyond our front porch.

“I wish you could see yourself through my eyes.”. While this is a statement you (Justin) have said to me countless times, it adequately portrays the desire I feel for you to see through the many layers to the very core of my own beating heart. Only then could you possibly know the abundance of respect, desire, passion, curiosity and love that flows through my veins when in your company and reveling in the life we have made together. I blame you for my happiness. I blame me for not giving up on the one true love I knew deep down in my heart of hearts was out there in the world, waiting just for me. I could not say it any better than the poignant words of Rascal Flatts’ song…”God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you”.


Sheila here again: That story just made me happy. I  know so many of my readers are leading lonely lives, and often we do have very broken roads. But I hope many of you find love, too, in whatever form it takes.

Keith says that Brad Paisley is responsible for most of the tears he’s cried in life, and he loves this song that Manndi mentioned, too, so I thought you may enjoy it as well:

Man Who Healed a Grieving Heart - The Man Who Changed a Grieving Heart

Manndi works at the UMKC School of Pharmacy and as a freelance writer in her spare time. Her greatest passion is being a boy mom to her two rambunctious, creative, endearing sons, William, age 10 and Waylan, age 8. Her sons never fail to provide daily entertainment, which inspires many of her writings. She also loves to write about everything from being a single mom and dating after divorce to finding lasting love later in life, the devastation of miscarriage, the loss of a loved one and starting over. Her pieces are lovingly filled with inspiration, encouragement and always a touch of humor.

“Live a life others wish to read about.”

Manndi Maphies DeBoef

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