How I met my husband

October 25, 2006 at 2:59 pm | Posted in country living, faith, family, free knitting patterns, humor, knitting, love, yarn | 32 Comments

Official I Live on a Farm Lavender Hat CompleteBefore I get into that story, for the knitters who read my blog I posted the instructions for Stage 2 of the Lavender Hat this morning. I am entirely pleased with my hat design, it came out just as I pictured it in my mind. Stage 2 directions are on the same page as Stage 1 and further down. Enjoy!

I believe it is a bit of a miracle not only that my husband and I met, but also that we are married. The truth is, I am certain there were a series of little miracles over a period of at least ten years that led me to where I am right now, here on this farm with a very dear man I love. I also believe it is a story worth sharing.

I cannot share the story in just one blog … not if I am to be kind to my readers. The story would be far too long and it seems to me blogs are most enjoyable when they are smaller, segmented writings easy to confront and ease through over a cup of coffee or tea. Ten years worth of miracles surpasses the reach of most cups of coffee, even a Venti® Extra Foamy Latte from Starbucks, which is what I would love to have in my hand this very moment … but alas, the nearest Starbucks is tim-buck-too many miles from here for that to happen.

Side Bar: It is cold here today, and my feet are aching from being too cold. I’ll hold my thoughts while I run to my room and grab my husband’s leather slippers …

… okay, I have returned. The slippers instantly gave warmth and comfort to my poor little toes. I also stopped by the kitchen and grabbed a little cup of coffee (I am not supposed to be drinking coffee right now, so let’s just keep this between us) and a piece of peanut butter toast. Now I’m set to continue.

Fireflys Water WellContinuing with the blog: About twelve years ago, I was in the midst of raising my children on my own; a single mother living in the foothills of Los Angeles. Most of my immediate family still lived in Los Angeles at that time, though my two older brothers had by then moved to Denver with their families. We are such a large, close family that their moving away was painful to us all even though it was a good move on their part.

My x-husband had remarried shortly after we divorced (literally the day after the divorce went through was when he got married). That was all fine, no problem to me at all. However, he and his wife were not and are not kind hearted people. For reasons best left unspoken here, they were very hostile toward me on a very personal level from 1987 (when they got married) until about 1996. I call that period of time “the ten year war”. Life is difficult enough when a family splits up, hard enough on the economics of both parents and terribly difficult on the children for too many reasons to count. The ten year war created duress of a magnitude I am still relieved to this day does not exist for my children or for me, or my family, any longer.

The last four years of the ten year war I was involved in volunteer work in a literacy program in the inner city areas of Los Angeles. The work was vital to the lives of homeless people and at-risk youth we were devoted to helping, and I was very devoted to the work. I was not independently wealthy in any way, shape, or form. It was an extremely difficult time financially, but a very rewarding time spiritually and emotionally. However, the stresses of the ten year war added to never having enough money and raising two children, one of whom was a teenage girl who was starting to suffer from migraine headaches regularly, got to me after a while. It all got to me pretty badly there toward the end.

About that same time I started hearing and reading inspiring stories of people who had hit the bottom in their lives for one reason or another and who discovered the power of gratitude at their lowest point. In each case, gratitude discovered and embraced was a key ingredient in each person’s situation turning around for the better.

Fireflys Cottage FoliageIt got me thinking, but I wasn’t sure what to do with that I was thinking about.

One evening one of the toilets in our apartment started overflowing … quietly. Hours later, just before bedtime, one of the kids discovered a flood of water in the bathroom, down the hall, into my bedroom and into the other bathroom. For a couple of hours the kids and I sopped up all that water using every towel and blanket we had and dragged them all over to the laundry room to wash and dry. By the time the last load was finished, the kids had long since gone to sleep and I was exhausted and sore.

There didn’t seem to be anything wrong with the toilet, so there was nothing to fix. Why it had overflowed, I could not discern.

Three days later the same toilet overflowed again, only that time I caught it a bit sooner and it only flooded the one bathroom completely and the second bathroom. Again I used towels to sop up the water, and dragged them over to the laundry room to wash and dry. I also cried quite a bit … woe was me.

Still, nothing seemed fixable on that toilet.

Fireflys Cottage FoliageThree days later, the thing overflowed again. Only that third time I caught it even sooner and only the two bathrooms were affected, and less so than the second time it overflowed. That third time, I started crying right away. Life was overwhelming enough without an overflowing toilet and I (though I am embarrased to admit it) felt sorry for myself.

As I started to sop and mop the floor, I remembered the stories about gratitude and it occurred to me, through my very sincere tears, that perhaps I could apply something about gratitude to my situation just to see what would happen.

Of course right away I thought, “Yeah, right … there isn’t anything in this situation to be grateful for.”

But then something occurred to me. I realized I could genuinely be grateful for the fact of having running water that could overflow through a toilet; afterall, there are many people in the world without running water.

Then I thought I could also be grateful to have a floor that water could overflow onto, because some people do not have floors beneath their feet. That led to a realization that I could be grateful for the walls and ceilings of our home that sheltered us from the elements, because some people have no such shelter.

I was grateful to have a toilet in the first place, because it would be so uncomfortable to have no toilet to rely on … even one that overflows.

Fireflys Cottage FoliageI thought about my aching arms and back and realized I could be grateful for the health and strength of my body that I could use to such a degree it could get so sore from work.

Grateful also that I had a life with enough contrasts in it that I could see my life at that time was somewhat or very unpleasant … what if life had always been like that or worse and I had never seen happier days or times?

The more I found to be grateful for, the more I saw I could be grateful for. My life turned inside out, my thoughts and attention turned outward rather than inward as I saw my life as a a thing of beauty full of so many things to be grateful for that it would be difficult to list or count them all.

By the time I finished cleaning up the water, I was completely full of genuine feelings of gratitude and goodness and all of my unhappiness felt lifted away.

Shortly after my chore was complete I was thinking about what had just occured and I had a terrible wonderful thought: I realized that in feeling sorry for myself and my condition of late, and by focusing negative thoughts on what seemed to be negative aspects of my life I was in fact showing a complete and utter disregard for my life, and all of the gifts from God contained within it. I feel to my knees, closed my eyes and directed my thoughts toward God and humbly said, “I am sorry. I didn’t mean to not appreciate my life.” And I cried some more, quite a bit more.

I call that day, without meaning any disrespect at all, “the day I found God in my toilet”. It is appropriate, because God is in every aspect of life and life is beautiful, even when it hurts or looks ugly. It is all a part of the whole, and God is in every part of it … to me, this is my belief, not something I am trying to push or force on anyone but rather, want to share in case it may be of help.

Another realization I had later that day was that my life is like a river, with currents ebbs and flows. There is scenery along the banks, and places to arrive at up ahead. I began to see clearly that the currents of my life are the river me. That river is my life force, my purpose, my drive, and desires.

The problem with me was that I had a tendency to fight against the river me. I saw that as life seemed to disappoint me, I had turned myself around against my own current and was trying to fight my way upstream against the natural flows of my life. Fighting against the current tended to leave me exhausted, unhappy, and unable to see clearly what was going on around me on the banks of the river me. I could no longer see ahead to the places where I might land here or there.

When I examined my life while mopping up the water, I put my attention correctly on everything that was good and right and beautiful about my life, about the river me. And in so doing, turned myself around and into the flow of me rather than against the flow of me.

That was the first of a series of miracles, the beginning of a journey leading me to this beautiful place with this wonderful man … and isn’t it something there is a thriving, glorious river right across the road and visible from at least half of the forty windows in our home. I can see and hear it from my art studio, which is surrounded by windows on three sides.

Oh, and that toilet never overflowed again.

This weekend we will have been married exactly six months. Though we have joked over the past few months about people who celebrate monthly “anniversaries”, the truth is we are both feeling rather excited about reaching the six month mark of our sweet marriage. We have not even known each other a year, and yet everything in our lives has changed dramatically and positively. It is a miracle, and it is worthy of being shared.

Thank you, for reading.

(The next part of this continuing story can be found here.)


Copyright © 2006 J.L. Fleckenstein ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


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  1. And thank you for sharing. Your words are words I need to remember!

  2. Such a beautiful story (never thought I’d say that about an overflowing toilet). I suspect we could all use a bit more gratitude in our lives – so thank you for reminding me just how good my life is (even on the days when the toilet literally or figuratively overflows).

  3. I am totally enthralled. Can’t wait for the next installment!

  4. so moving…your story brings tears (of joy) to my eyes. 🙂

  5. Wow, I can’t wait to read more! I’ve been busy with other things, so it was nice to get back to your blog. You know, when I was in kindergarten, my parents tried to move me up to 1st grade. It didn’t work out, and I blamed the school (long story, but anyway). When I was 19 I met the man who would become my husband while I was at a church convention in Colorado (I’m from Texas, my husband is from Arizona). I met him through someone else I met there who was helping me with my college physics homework. If I had skipped to first grade way back when, I wouldn’t have been taking that physics class and that person wouldn’t have been helping me with my homework, and I wouldn’t have met my husband. Funny how things work out, isn’t it?

  6. Once again, I am moved to tears. You reminded me to be grateful for what I do have and that I need to stop swimming against the current today. I look forward to reading more. Thank you!

  7. thank you for sharing this story. I’m right now going against the current and it’s refreshing to be reminded that it might be a good idea to go with the flow than against it and to be grateful for the things I do have.

  8. Oh that was beautiful! I’m glad you shared it.
    I should start looking into my own toilets…

  9. Dear Firefly. Thanks so much for sharing. I feel myself struggeling with the “river me”, so I feel so uplifted to read this post. xoxo.Mariyarn

  10. Thank you for sharing that story. It is a very beautiful way to turn your life around.

    I have always sort of drifted through life without ever noticing that I am making an impact on the people who I drift near or with for a while. When I got married, then pregant, I began to open my eyes and see that I was impacting others and I could do so in a negative way by feeling sorry for myself or I could do so in a positive way by giving to others and being happy for what I have and where I am. It has soften my edges and destressed me enough to allow me to quit smoking and partying (fortunately before I got pregnant). So I can work on being the best Mother and Wife that I can be. I want to give my daughter a good start in life so that she will make good decisions about her future and her future mate.

  11. Funny – a few of your posts ago I was thinking “I wonder how they met”….so now I am waiting for part 2….

  12. Well, you must be an angel sent to me with a message. I needed so much to hear your story. I’ve been having a little pity party lately, when in fact, I am so very blessed. I want to be grateful in all circumstances. Thank you.

    Also, thanks for the comment on my “Cup of Heaven” post! I think a farm in New York sounds heavenly to me!

    Have a blessed week!

  13. […] Wow. Just. Wow. […]

  14. I’m also looking forward to the second part of your story. Your comments about being thankful for the small things resonated with me. I’m thankful everyday for a house and running water. Where I live I drive past people who don’t have those things on a regular basis, houses made from salvaged materials, buckets for toilets and a tap every 10-20 houses for water. This also reminds me to conserve the resources that I have available to me. We really don’t know how lucky we are.

  15. Hey Firefly, nice installment – patiently awaiting the next one. The world could do with more gratitude in it – just look at the difference you’ve made today in the comments above just by passing on this story!
    I hope you have a lovely ‘non-anniversary’ weekend.

  16. I wanted to know more. What a story about gratitude and grace! Again, I am love with your pictures. Your blog was about the fourth thing I have read about having gratitude in the last few days, maybe God is trying to tell me something.

  17. I was revisiting to admire your hat again, and realized while looking, the band also would make a lovely neck warmer too. I know the scarf goes with it, but couldn’t resist. You should really write a book with stories and knitting patterns and recipes. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a publisher contacted you!

  18. I loved reading this thoughtful and moving post. As I read, I was reminded of a scene in “Joe Versus the Volcano” (my husband’s favorite movie). Joe, who is shipwrecked, lost at sea on a tiny raft, sunbaked, and delirious from his thirst, wakes up one night to see the moon rising over the ocean. His eyes widen in amazement and he drops to his knees and says, “Thank you for my life.”

  19. I love that scene from that movie. I didn’t remember the words he spoke until you mentioned it, but the visual and the feelings of the scene have stayed with me over the years.

    Thanks so much!


  20. This part alone was well worth the reading. What wonderful inspiration your story is! It sure has made me think about all the things in my life I have to be grateful for.


  21. Lovely beginning to this story, I shall look forward to reading the rest of it. Have a wonderful weekend celebration!

  22. Nice beginning to your story! I look forward to hearing/reading more.

  23. […] Hmm, now where was I in the story of How I Met My Husband … oh, yes I remember now. […]

  24. […] It has been made clear to me by certain readers that I must keep up the pace in telling the tale of How I Met My Husband. There are a few more layers to this tale, and I hope you will allow me to tell the story well rather than rushing through to the punch line. The interest in the story and the stories others have been sharing with me of their own lives and realizations is very encouraging. Thank you all, so much. […]

  25. […] Before I continue with the story of How I Met My Husband, I wanted to share another photo of progress on the Mystery Project … nearly done now. Notice the buttons? This weekend I was gifted with even more vintage buttons from another lady from our church. She heard I had a thing for buttons and had recently paid $1 each for three vintage buttons at a local yarn store. She brought two bags stuffed with canisters, jars, a couple of bags, and a box full, brimming with buttons of every variety imaginable. Most are vintage, some are antique; all are dear to me. Her name is Winnie. She is a tiny little powerhouse about four feet tall and weighing maybe ninety pounds or something, somewhere in her mid-eighties, I believe. […]

  26. […] How I met my husband […]

  27. […] There is much more to this story but now you know How I Met My Husband. He’s a very good man, and I love him dearly. […]

  28. What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it.

  29. […] My goodness, what I am ever going to do with my dear readers. I know you are out there … wondering where the next part of the story is (what happend after I met my husband). […]

  30. […] My goodness, what I am ever going to do with my dear readers. I know you are out there … wondering where the next part of the story is (what happend after I met my husband). […]

  31. I’ve been all over your blog this afternoon, having found it clicking “next” on wordpress. What is so plain wonderful is the reality of your faith in your your daily life – it’s remarkable and just what we need to hear about, be conscious of and strive toward. Thanks for this story on gratitude. You have no idea how much I needed to read it.


  32. […] It was five years ago today when I first received an email from him, introducing himself. I have told that part of the story here on my blog before. […]

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