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How I Found My Family
by Julie White Brown

I'm a mother of 2 sons, 16 and 13. I came about being their earthly mother quite differently than I expected.

I've always felt God blesses me with what I want; it just doesn't always look as I have previously visualized it.

Back in 1993, when I was 29 and afraid I would never be married or have children, I had a dream I believed was a reassurance from God. I consider dreams one of three things: Usually, I believe it is the subconscious part of our minds trying to work things out for us while we sleep. It's a gift so we don't have to deal with as much when we are conscious. Sometimes I believe a loved one who has passed visits us in our dreams, just drops in to say hello. I feel very comforted by this type of dream. The last, as I have experienced, are reassurances from God about things we are deeply concerned about. I've just had a few of these, and the first one I had was during this time.

I dreamed I was lying down resting and there was a tall thin man with two young children beside him. In the dream the man was blond. One of the most remarkable things about the dream was that I distinctly remembered the man having on one of those oxford shirts with button down collars. In fact, after I awoke, I felt God gave me the dream to reassure me I would have a family one day. I shared this with a friend, and I also shared that the man in the dream had a shirt with button down collars.

About four years later, I met my husband, Tim. Less than a year before he had suffered the horrible loss of his wife, Denise. At age 33, she collapsed after her heart stopped beating because of a cardiac arrhythmia, and never woke back up. Two days later she died. Their sons were 2 and 5. You can only imagine the suffering of Tim, his sons, and many, many others.

I didn't know Denise. They had gone to the church I was attending for years, but had left before I started attending there. They were still members, however, and after a period of time Tim brought the boys back to church. He had grieved very consciously with counseling from our wonderful pastor and a family therapist. Even though I didn't know him, I knew of him. In the ensuing months I dreamed of him twice. I just felt like it meant I was supposed to be his friend and I introduced myself to him one day.

Later he asked me for a date. It was not love at first sight. Our lives had been so different. He had married his college sweetheart. I was a perennial dater of the wrong type of man. He liked classical music; I liked the Grateful Dead and bluegrass. We were very different people. I was a free spirited, big picture person who had spent my adult life living in the city. He was a detail-oriented CPA who was married with children, living in the suburbs.

Unfortunately the rug of his life had been pulled from under him, and he had to start over as a single father while raising his young children. Fortunately, he had a tremendous amount of faith, and much support from family, friends and church. He consciously chose to use the experience to further his spiritual growth. It was either that or flounder. This was a choice, too. It wasn't an easy choice. It breaks my heart to think of the pain he and the boys experienced and still do experience at times. I now know that kind of loss never, ever leaves you.

Anyhow, it was love at third sight for Tim and me. By our third date, we were in love. How, I cannot tell you. We just accepted it as a gift from God. I was too in love to worry about it not working out with the kids. I got lots of therapy to learn how to be in this new family. With that and the grace of God I survived this unbelievable life change. Later, I remembered the dream with the man and two children, and I realized I probably dreamed about Tim and the boys, because Tim always wore shirts with button down collars!

I can't explain the reason for any of this. I grew to love the boys and they grew to love me. When I first knew them and later when I knew I was going to be part of their lives, I told them to think of my presence in their lives this way. When their Mommy was alive, there were four places at the dinner table, and they were all filled. After Mommy died, there were still four places at the table; one was empty. After I entered the picture, there were now five places at the table, and four were filled and one was empty.

I was never Mommy.

Tim and I married when the boys were 7 and 4. After six months or so our oldest started calling me Mom, and then our youngest did. We feel their Mommy around us and we honor her memory. It wasn't always easy for me, or for them. There are still very hard times. But it's the way it happened and we deal with it. Now they are teenagers and I'm just their pain in the butt Mom. But I know they love me. And I love them. My love for their Dad came first, but my love for them is just as genuine and I thank God for my wonderful family. What a blessing.

Comments are welcome. All comments will be read, not all comments will be posted. We may invite authors of the best comments to respond in full articles, to be published in our Winter 2008 edition.

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