Shannon here: Inspirational Nonfiction author, Linda Fulkerson shares her real life romance and a chance to win her book, The Prodigal Daughter. Comment on any post dated Dec 27 – Jan 1 for a chance to win One Imperfect Christmas and The Prodigal Daughter. Deadline: Midnight, Jan 1 Central Time. Here’s Linda:
At the conclusion of a long, difficult chapter of my life, I found myself the single mother of two young children and began praying the same prayer daily: “Lord, if I’m supposed to raise these two little ones alone, then please give me the strength and wherewithal to do so, but if not, then send me somebody to help me – and make it quick!”
Soon afterward, I met my husband-to-be, a godly man with two daughters who were quite a bit older than my two kiddos – then ages 4 and 5-1/2. We met at church, which I discovered is a pretty good place to shop for a Christian husband. Something I didn’t think about when I married my kids’ father. (Just sayin’, in case some of you are still searching for your mate.)
We first met while singing together at a wedding. He has the most amazing bass voice. I’d heard him sing at church and his voice was the first thing that attracted me to him. After the first rehearsal, we were formally introduced by the preacher’s wife. Don was easy to talk to, and for the first time in longer than I could remember, I felt comfortable – no more walking on eggshells.
I wasn’t officially divorced yet – I was still making payments to my lawyer. Kind of like a layaway plan, because I didn’t have the money to pay the whole amount at once. Don explained that he had been divorced over two years. Sadly, his wife had left him for someone with money. But we Christians know that earthly wealth can fade easily.
When others, who hopefully mean well, have confronted me with the words, “God hates divorce,” I always give the same reply – “Only those who have gone through it truly know why He hates it so badly.” Don gave me his number and said if I ever needed to talk to someone who understood what I was going through, to give him a call. I thought it was a sweet gesture, but never thought I’d actually call him.
More than a month had passed since we met, and one night, following a particularly hurtful conversation with my soon-to-be ex-husband, I brushed aside the tears and called Don. We talked for a long time. I cried, he prayed, and he invited me to call again if I needed to. Our friendship grew, and the day my divorce was final, he sent flowers to me at work.
He later told me he’d wanted to take me on a date, but knew it wouldn’t be proper until the divorce was final. I’ll never forget our first date. He was walking me to my car after church when he said, “Do you have any plans for dinner?” I’d just mentioned that my parents had invited the kids and me over to eat that evening, so I was a bit confused.
Me: Uh, I’m going to my parents’ house.
Him: But what about dinner? Do you have dinner plans?
Me (very confused at this point): I’m supposed to eat with Mom and Dad tonight.
Him (very slowly and deliberately): It’s din-ner-time. Are you hungry right now?
I suppose at this point I should explain that I’d spent the majority of my life in the west – California, Arizona, and even Hawaii. The three daily meals out west are generally referred to as “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner,” but in Arkansas, where Hubby was raised, meals are “Breakfast, Dinner, and Supper.” After we got that little confusion cleared up and I realized the poor man was attempting to take me (and the kids, of course) to lunch, we had a nice meal.
Because subsequent marriages with blended families have an even higher divorce rate than first marriages, Don was leery of putting me, himself, or our children through another traumatic divorce, so, after we’d gone on a few dates and could tell we really liked each other, he devised a “test” to determine how we’d react under stress. He wanted to see if all six of us could get along under the worst possible circumstances and pull together to help each other during tough times. So, he planned an outing — hiking the Seven Hollows Trail at Petit Jean State Park. This is not one of those pretty hikes that rewards you at the end with a majestic waterfall. It is long and difficult, and the scenery had been marred by a recent forest fire.
When Don came to pick us up, we were wearing shorts and T-shirts (it was late summer, mind you), and our “gear” consisted of a couple of granola bars and some bottled water. He showed up dressed like Grizzly Adams, wearing a backpack crammed with more equipment than we’d ever carried during my nine-year stint in the Marine Corps.
Did I mention I was a city girl? Yeah. Born in east LA, just like the song. And my kids had had little exposure to the great outdoors up to this point in their young lives. Plus, his girls were more into pageants than panoramic views. Picking a half-day hike was as good a crucible as any to throw us all into.
He ended up carrying my then-four-year-old son, leaving me to lug the backpack, but we made it. Without too much whining or complaining. And we did all wind up working together, taking turns carrying various items and biting our tongues, even when the mosquitoes began biting us. Don determined we had passed the stress test.
Don and I were married January 1, 1994. It was a practical decision to get married on New Year’s Day. As a single mom, I would be filing my tax return as “head of household,” and with earned income credit, it was financially beneficial to wait until after the end of 1993 to get married. When we began discussing what date to set, I half-jokingly said, “If we have to wait until next year to get married, then let’s have the ceremony at midnight on January first.”
And so we did.
Don is a very cautious man who rarely makes quick decisions. Those of you who know me well understand that this is a good thing. I’ve often said “Every kite needs a string, and Don is mine.” God knew I’d need the freedom to wave in the breeze, but that I’d also need a strong, steady string to keep me from fluttering off too far from earth. Being married to Don has blessed me with both freedom and stability. He has been a great father to my children. Their “real” dad has come around a lot lately, too, and I’m glad that rift has been mended, allowing them to enjoy two earthly fathers.
Today, 17 years later, Don’s two daughters, (one a school teacher turned stay-at-home mom and the other, a registered nurse), have blessed us with five grandchildren – three boys and two girls. My two children have also blossomed into fine young adults. My son, now 21, is currently in Marine Corps boot camp and is scheduled to graduate January 28, and my not-quite-23-year-old daughter graduated from college last December and, Lord willing, will begin Optometry school in August.
About Linda: Since making the leap across the desk to the writer’s chair, Linda Fulkerson has had numerous articles published in area newspapers, including a guest editorial. She contributes frequently to a number of magazines and newspapers, including Arkansas Health & Living, ¡Hola! Arkansas, Afictionado, Christian Woman, and is a staff writer for Central Arkansas Woman. Linda has also taken on the role of sportswriter, covering local games for the Petit Jean Country Headlight. She is the editor of a weekly newsletter, Our Reminder, which is published by the church where she works.
Linda’s first book, The Prodigal Daughter: Hope for Runaway Christians and Those Who Await Their Return, was published in 2002 by Petit Jean Press. Linda has spent several years studying the craft of fiction writing and is working on a mystery novel and an historical romance. She is also a published songwriter. Linda is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, Chick Lit Writers of the World, and has served as the Arkansas Area Coordinator for American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).
Linda and her husband Don raise Pygmy goats, heritage breed turkeys, African geese, and Muscovy ducks, and are members of the National Pygmy Goat Association. Linda enjoys spending time with her family and animals, hiking, reading, writing, and singing. She performs as a solo act at many local and regional festivals. The Fulkersons live on a 32-acre plot down a quiet road just north of Morrilton. She and Don have three daughters, one son, two sons-in-laws, and five grandchildren. Learn more: www.lindafulkerson.com.
Come back Jan 1 for your top ten posts from last quarter. Plus January lineup of authors:
Jan 5 – Heartsong Presents author Connie Stevens.
Jan 7 – Port Yonder Press author Janalyn Voigt
Jan 10 – 12 – B & H author, James L. Rubart
Jan 14 – Winepress Publishing author, Cynthia L. Simmons
Jan 17 – 21 – Me
Jan 24 – 26 – Summerside Press author, Miralee Ferrell
Jan 28 – Abingdon Press/Barbour Publishing author, Ronie Kendig
Jan 31 – Heartsong Presents author, Erica Vetsch