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October 22, 2013

A little over a year ago we came out of an event during which an unknown woman had complimented Vail on her shirt. Upon getting in the car to go home, Vail said to me, “Dad, did you see that lady who was talking to me? Wasn’t she pretty?” “Yes Vail, she was,” I said knowing exactly what she was feeling. After a minute of silence she said, “Dad… I want for you to meet that lady. She was very nice.” I noted that Vail had made her very first reference towards wanting me to date. I was most interested because I had met Shannon a few weeks prior, who I was quite interested in.

“Do you know what dating is?” I began the conversation. As soon as it came out of my mouth I knew that this was a milestone moment. On the one hand I was explaining a concept very simply to a little girl and her sister. On the other hand, this moment was part of a story so dramatic, so heartwrenching, so rich with life significance that I felt like I was in a movie scene. Also in this moment, I was faced with how different my path was, compared to the one I set out to travel. There I was, 37 years old, a single dad with three kids, looking to them for permission to go on a date.

“Dating is when a man and woman go out to dinner and spend time together to see if they want to be boyfriend and girlfriend.” “I know,” Vail assured me. “I think that you need to go on some dates.”

With a distressed look on her face, Mary Haven said, “I do not want you to dad because then we will get a stepmother and I DO NOT want a stepmother.”

Before I could address her, Vail piped in quickly, “Haven, you are just saying that because of Cinderella. That is just a movie and it is not true. Think about how great it would be to have someone help us get dressed and do our hair…”

Haven settled somewhat, but was still uncommitted stating, “I don’t care, I don’t want you to get remarried, dad.”

Vail continued her persuading by drawing Haven’s memory to our friends the Mitchell’s. Ted Mitchell lost his wife a number of years ago to cancer and remarried a wonderful woman a few years later. Ted and Melissa have reached out to us and provided a wonderful model/picture of what a restored family looks like. Vail’s comment on leaving the Mitchell’s house after a cookout was, “Wow, their ‘new mom’ is so nice.”

Shannon and Girls

Shannon and Girls

Fast forward the tape to this past weekend. Over a year has gone by, Shannon and I are engaged, and the kids are bonding fantastically with her. I had all but forgotten that conversation in the car so many months ago. Saturday we went to a parenting seminar with all four kids, and then split up afterwards. I took the boys (Boone and Carson) to watch football, eat pizza and go to bed early, and Shannon took Vail and Mary Haven to dinner and then to the middle school fall play at their school: Cinderella.

The girls came in late, all laughing their heads off. Apparently, it was a comedic interpretation of the folk tale, and they literally could not stop recounting their favorite lines of the play. After the girls went up to bed, I asked Shannon, “How was the play really?” “So fun,” she said. “We had such a great time. We were almost on the front row. There was a tall man sitting in front of Haven’s seat, so she ended up sitting on my lap for the entire performance, which was great!”

And then it struck me… Cinderella, the joy and laughter, the acceptance, the bonding and wholeness, the irony of Haven sitting in Shannon’s lap enjoying being held. It is moments like this when I marvel at God’s authorship of life. At times it feels so pointless, so out of control, and then there are those moments when you get a distinctive “wink” from heaven and you just know how very purposeful every moment of this life really is.

From → Stories

  1. Molly permalink

    Thank you Todd. Your piece brings tears of joy to my eyes!

  2. What a beautiful part of your stories!

  3. Linda Berry permalink

    Todd, I am so happy for you and the children. Thank you for sharing your good news.

  4. Paula Long permalink

    Todd, you can’t leave me hanging like this. Tell me more! I am so excited and happy for you. The “wink” you got touches my heart.

  5. Steve Montgomery permalink

    Good stuff Todd. Terrific read. Warms my heart for you and your family. Fantastically warm.

    With me and my three young children walking a very similar path with you and yours, I too “marvel at God’s authorship of life”. I celebrate you sharing that thought in particular, along with your vision of the path, once too dark to see, being lit by the light that shines from within those who have their arms wrapped around us. Much can be learned from an 8 year-old child. Especially, from 3 or 4 of em 🙂

    Our paths cross again. Yet, we’ve never met. Probably about time, my good man.

    I wish you God’s peace and good times to come for you and your family.

    It’s a tad early in the day but, I will happily raise my glass to y’all later. Cheers.


  6. Shannon Bone permalink

    I am so happy for the two (or should I say five) of you! Love the story and want to hear MORE… Thank you for sharing.

  7. Courtney Greene permalink

    Congratulations on your engagement Todd. I’m so happy for you and your precious kids. We think of you often. Sincerely, Courtney Greene

  8. So delighted to learn of the happiness of you and your children….think Shannon is a very fortunate person to be a part of your life…..sending love to all!

  9. Becky permalink

    Here is the happy ending to your book, Todd. Rather, your first book.
    Smiling through tears,

  10. Barbara guller permalink

    I was so touched by your story and I’m so happy for you and the children. I think of you all often and with love.

  11. Linda Welch permalink

    Todd, this is Linda, formerly of the Snail’s Pace. I thought about you recently and wondered how you and the children were doing. This post doesn’t surprise me at all – I’ve been hoping to hear this kind of news from you and your family. Thanks for including all of us who have journeyed with you through your poignant writing. I am so glad to know this part of your story! Many blessings to all of you.

  12. Nancy Markle permalink

    I am thrilled for all of you. Like many others, I read it through tears. Tears of joy, really. Tears of reality and tears for the “wink” . God bless your sweet family. I am prepared to one day share this joy with Adam. This is the life God has planned. Continue to stay on the path He has for you and you will experience true joy. Because you have already experienced deep sorrow. Blessings, Nancy

  13. Jeanette Riesenberg permalink

    Beautiful. Praising God for bringing such glorious restoration to both of your families that will soon be one!

  14. Mary Baggett permalink

    What a beautiful and magical beginning for you all. Congratulations and best wishes.

  15. Blessing to you all from a “step mother”.
    God is so Good!

    Friends of Robert and Sarah from Raleigh

  16. Susie Weiler permalink

    Love this story~ Shannon is a beautiful woman inside and out! She will be the best “Step Mother” ever!!!

  17. valery permalink

    I love you Shannon! You are so amazing and Carson will have the best step daddy ever! I am so happy and excited for your story to unfold! I love you and am so glad you get this new and exciting journey as ” Mom.” How “neat”, inspiring, and joyful! Love you, Friend! I’d love to meet your new ( an very large) family someday! XOXO Valery, Randy, Tanner & Deegan

  18. Congratulations. So happy for all of you!!! I too, was touched by this story, and every time you write I have tears. Please write again soon. I love it!!

  19. Jane Landrum permalink

    Todd, I too am one who has followed your story from afar. I was first introduced to your situation several years ago through the prayer chain at our church. Shannon Miller was a friend of your wife; I believe Shannon mentioned she knew who through school or something like that. Anyway, I had followed others on the Caringbridge site so I knew what this was all about. After she went home to be with Jesus, I would still look for your posts to see how you and your family were doing. When I saw this one I couldn’t wait to open it. It thrills my heart that Jesus has blessed you and Shannon both. It’s not an easy road; however, the “wink” from God was worth it all. He knew all along and prepared the two of you for each other. May He bless this next “road” in your life in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. Thank you for sharing with all of us. How wonderful God can use something like this to bring hope, joy, love, laughter, and peace to others. It’s all in how you choose to “let go and let God!”

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