Written By: Jennifer Stohr
All of my life, from the time I was a tiny girl, I dreamed of the “prince” who I would one day marry. He had to be strong and gentle and smart, and know how to cook and love books/hiking/travel/cats as much as I did. It didn’t hurt if he were to be dashingly tall, dark and handsome either! It’s funny how I never gave up on dreaming of my prince. During the last year of my first marriage, when I lost two women who (I falsely believed) were my best friends, I prayed for exactly what I wanted in a best friend. I gave up on gender or looks but had a very specific list.
#1 – They had to love my kids as much as I do. This was hands down the most important thing. #2 – I had to feel safe leaving my kids with them. #3 – They had to fully accept and learn about all of our allergies/asthma/celiac disease. This one was also key! #4 – They had to have ZERO connection with/knowledge of my soon to be ex. #5 – I had to be TOTALLY free to be myself without judgment or condemnation. Little did I know how well God would answer my prayers AND my childhood dreams!
The very first time that I laid eyes on Steve, I was overwhelmed by how heartbroken he looked. I did not think that another human being could be as broken as I was. I was not fooled by his ready smile and joking manner. His eyes told the true story. The second thing I noticed about Steve was his hands. He has the most amazing hands. They are beautiful! His fingers are long and strong and big enough to make me feel safe without being too big. Steve’s hands are soft and gentle, and I quickly learned how soothing and calming they are. Just holding Steve’s hand gives me strength and fills me with calm.
Even though we met in September of 2010, Steve and I grew up in the same town, and he worked at the farm store that my father frequented, often with me at his side. It would be fun to know just how many times we crossed each other’s path before God, in His infinite wisdom, took the blinders off.
When we met, I was starting my third year of driving a school bus for a small country school. Steve was a brand new driver assigned to that school because one of the drivers had to retire with health issues. Steve had never seen himself as a bus driver. In fact, the day he got hired, he had gone to apply for an accounting job that didn’t pan out. He decided to drive home a different way than usual, saw the “NOW HIRING BUS DRIVERS” sign, and just happened to stop in to check it out. Due to having his CDL, he was hired immediately, assigned to the school, and told to ask me any questions that he had (many, since he’d never driven students before).
We quickly discovered that we were both in the midst of divorcing abusive partners, and that we both dealt with depression as a result. During that year, Steve came to quite a few appointments with my domestic violence counsellor, first to learn how to keep me safe from my sociopathic soon-to-be ex-husband, and later to learn how the many years of severe abuse had affected me and how to help me heal from the sexual abuse and live with the PTSD.
We learned that even though Steve is “exactly ten years, one month, and one day” older than me (as he’s fond of saying), we are two halves of the same person. We have VERY similar values, taste in music, likes and dislikes, activity level, food preferences, the importance we place on our faith, and many many others. Finding Steve was like finding the missing piece of myself. We just fit together. When we went through premarital counselling at our church, our wonderful pastor told us that there was no question that God had brought us together, that He had made us just for each other, and that even though it had taken a while (I was 35 when we met, Steve was 45), our pasts had molded us into the exact people we needed each other to be.
Steve proposed to me under the waterfall in Tonti Canyon in Starved Rock State Park, just a year after we met. It was perfect after all of the wonderful hours we had spent hiking the trails and learning about each other. On Monday May 6th, 2013, we wed next to a creek, in the middle of the day, surrounded by those who love us most. It was a beautiful but simple wedding, and it was everything we had both always dreamed of. My kids have loved Steve from the moment they met him (they were 3, 5, &7) and were SO EXCITED when he asked for their permission to marry me. They loved planning our wedding with us, and always say that it was one of their favourite days ever!
The last almost three years have been filled with trials, adventures, and most of all love! We view each day that we get to spend together as a gift and an amazing blessing, never taking it or each other for granted or forgetting what God brought us out of when He put us together. Yes, I AM living my fairytale!
Jen is married to her soul-mate Steve, and is a busy mom of three kids (13, 10, & 8), six cats, and one spoiled Boxer. Jen is a bus driver for special needs students, a volunteer with Proverbs 31 Ministries as a small group study leader, and a full time allergy/asthma/celiac mom. Jen loves to create new safe recipes for her family, cook, bake, sew, read, write, hike, & canoe with Steve and the kids, and travel with Steve. She also enjoys playing Tone Chimes in church with Steve, attending Adult Sunday School classes, teaching her daughter’s VBS class each summer, and attending a local bible study. Jen blogs at No Longer Invisible and Allergy Lane.