A Love Story


On November 7, 2011, as a 2nd anniversary present to my husband, I wrote up a testimonial and sent it in to Christian Cafe, the Christian internet singles site where we met. Here is our story:

In 2001, I unexpectedly became a divorced parent of two. My son was ten and my daughter was almost eight when this happened. As of 2009, we had been living with my best friend for nine years. (Because I was struggling so hard trying to provide, God moved in her heart to take us in shortly after the divorce.)

Being a single mother was probably one of the greatest challenges of my life and most certainly the most rewarding. In the 9 years I was single again, my main focus was on raising my children and trusting God for a husband in His time. For fun, I tried some online dating services and eventually signed up at Christian Café. I paid for a membership for a brief time, but did not seriously desire to connect with anyone so I let my membership expire. However, since I had signed up, I would often get email notifications when there was a free trial period. Since I had to be frugal, I decided that I’d just play around whenever I got a free membership. Eventually I even stopped taking advantage of the free memberships and for about a year I did nothing with it. I got busy going to college and working full-time. I was quite content at being single so I stopped going to the Café altogether.

Then, on March 23, 2009, I got another notification for a free trial. So, I half-heatedly decided to take advantage of the free offer. I was really too busy to get involved in a relationship but I really had nothing more interesting to do at that moment. So, for entertainment, I decided to go in and check my inbox to see if there were any funny emails to read (I got them from time to time). I had no idea that God was about to use the Christian Café to bring about a complete overhaul of my life. My Heavenly Father was also about to provide for a huge transition into a totally new phase in my walk with Him.

As I sifted through emails, I responded to a few potentials. My original plan was just to check the emails and be done. But, since I had nothing better to do at the time, I decided to go ahead and just browse the café and see any new faces I was matched up with. It was at this time that I came across a profile picture of a man from Alabama who was very handsome, but in a wheelchair. My first instinct was to just move on to the next profile because I just did not think I was selfless enough to date a person who was handicapped. But, I was curious as to how he ended up in the chair. I wanted to read his story. I wanted to find out more. So, I read his profile and was blown away. I thought, “If could place an order for a husband, this would be his profile”. I really asked myself if I could overcome the handicap and take a chance on this wonderful man. After praying, it didn’t take long to realize I’d be crazy to pass by this potential opportunity. He had mentioned in his profile that it was important that the wheelchair wasn’t a problem.

It also said on his profile that his membership had ended. But, I still had to at least make an attempt and see what God would do. I knew that He is a God of making the impossible possible according to His plan.

So, on March 23, 2009, at 10:23 pm I sent my first email titled, “Pick Me!” (I wanted to make sure my email stood out among others…and it worked because it was the first one he opened…and the last…

Here is what I wrote:

“Hi, I am not usually this forward on here…but I can’t wait until you get a free trial so we can (hopefully) chat. I LOVED your profile and don’t worry about the wheelchair issue…if I am so blessed that we might engage in a conversation…I won’t be concerned with you being in a wheelchair.

You seem like a really good person who loves our Lord as much as I do… and I’d love to have the opportunity to correspond with you. So, if you have even the slightest bit of interest while you are thinking about which of your many emails to respond to…I hope that it might be possible that you would pick me!!!! 🙂

My trial here will end tomorrow…I don’t know how our paths will cross at the same time…but with God all things are possible…right?

Who knows..maybe you have already found that special someone.

Blessings to you”

Out of all the emails I responded to that day (prior to finding Michael), I only anticipated one reply. However, since I could not afford a membership, I had to wait until the next free trial. Normally, the free trials came months apart, but for some reason, only two weekends later, I received another free trial. I didn’t realize it until a couple days later because I was at a sleepover with some friends and unable to check my email. On the morning after the sleepover (April 5), I was talking to an acquaintance who informed me that in her prayer time earlier that week, she felt that God had given her a “word” for me (oblivious to what was going on with Christian Café). It was Isaiah 62: 2-4.

“2 The nations will see your vindication,

and all kings your glory;

you will be called by a new name

that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.

3 You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD’s hand,

a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

4 No longer will they call you Deserted,

or name your land Desolate

But you will be called Hephzibah,

and your land Beulah;

for the LORD will take delight in you,

and your land will be married..”

It was received as such a message of hope. I had been through so much and had struggled so long and when God’s word was spoken in that moment, I believed. I knew God had given this person a word of prophecy and I could not let it go. I didn’t know who or what it was speaking of…I just believed. Then, I told her about the email I sent to Michael and how I was anticipating hearing back. I also told her that his membership ended but that I believed that all things were possible with God. So, when I went home that evening and realized I had another free weekend, I couldn’t sign in quick enough! As soon as the page popped up, I began looking for his reply and there it was!

On April 9, 2009, this is the response Michael typed to me:

“Well, I kept getting notifications that I had mail here on Christian Cafe, so I thought I’d come back for one more month and I have to say that I’m glad I did because I LOVED your message and your profile! You sound like such an engaging, interesting woman with a true love for the Lord!! But, unfortunately you’re not active right now here on CC!! But, you are 100% absolutely correct when you say that with God, all things are possible!!

So, with that being said but without rambling on too much for lack of not knowing when (or if) you’ll get this message, I’ll just leave it at this for now. I do have a paid membership for 1 month, so maybe you’ll pop back on within the next month … but if not, since I’m paying for this membership this month, I am permitted to send my contact information…

Hopefully we’ll be able to hook up and communicate with each other … provided you haven’t already been spoken for.

Blessings!

I was so excited! This began a plethora of email exchanges that quickly led to phone conversations and video chats. Although things were going great, I was very apprehensive and guarded my heart not to get carried away too quickly. As the relationship began taking a more serious note, I wanted to slow things down. I was going through some difficult personal circumstances and began to be very insecure about a romantic relationship. But with every doubt came affirmation from God that I needed to hold on and not run. Every time I doubted, something would happen that would tell me that this relationship was part of God’s plan.

One example of this would be the fact that my best friend and I were doing a Bible study by Beth Moore on Esther. The reoccurring themes just happened to be, “Who knows…” and “…for such a time as this”. One night, just after watching a video on these themes, I was talking to Michael. I believe we were discussing the difficult circumstances I was going through and how I didn’t want him to get caught up in it. He responded, “Who knows? God may have brought me into your life for such a time as this”. Well, you can imagine how the conversation turned at that point. I do not believe in coincidence. I believe in a God that is always aware and in control of all circumstances…I especially believed in that moment!

I have to go back in time for a minute in order to prepare for another example. A couple years after my divorce I heard a song on the radio that made me cry. I said out loud, as the tears rolled down my cheek, “That will be the song played at my wedding if I ever marry again!” One morning, not long after Michael and I started communicating, I got this email from Michael in which he explained that he usually leaves the radio on when he gets ready for work in the mornings. Usually, he can’t hear it from the back room but the song really grabbed his attention. He said it described exactly how he felt about me and wrote down the words. Before I even read them, something inside me said, “It can’t be…” Here are the words to the song:

It’s always been a mystery to me,

How two hearts can come together,

And love can last forever.

But now that I have found you I believe,

That a miracle has come when God sends the perfect one.

So gone are all my questions about why,

And I’ve never been so sure of anything in my life

~chorus~

Oh I wonder what God was thinking, when he created you.

I wonder if He knew everything I would need,

Because he made all my dreams come true.

When God made you, He must have been thinking about me.

I promise that wherever you may go, wherever life may lead you,

With all my heart I’ll be there too.

And from this moment on I want you to know,

I’ll let nothing come between us, and I will love the ones you love.

(guy):So gone are all my questions about why (girl echoes):about why

Oh I wonder what God was thinking when he created you,

I wonder if He knew everything I would need,

Because He made all my dreams come true.

When God made you He must’ve been thinking about me.

Bridge

He made the sun He made the moon,

To harmonize a perfect tune,

One can’t do without the other they just have to be together.

And that is how I know it’s true,

Your for me and I’m for you and my world

Just can’t be right without you in my life

Chorus

He must have heard every prayer I’ve been praying (girl echo)

I’ve been praying (both) He must’ve known everything I would need

When God made you, He must’ve been thinking about me.

Under any other circumstances I would have thought it too soon for a person to feel this way about me. But, even though I was apprehensive and careful of getting carried away too quickly, I couldn’t deny the “coincidence” of this song. I knew even before I read the words that it would be this song…This old song that I had not heard in eight years and only heard the one time…This old song that he had heard for the first time that morning.

It had only been a few weeks. We had never met in person. But so many things like this just kept happening. So on May 09, 2009, Michael and I had plans to meet in person for the first time. I was so nervous I could hardly eat. I felt sick. When we met, he treated me so sweet, but, for some reason, I began to feel uneasy about the whole situation. We had a wonderful dinner. Then, I went home to change for our symphony date. I was suddenly so uncomfortable with everything and knew I would never meet a nicer man but at the same time… I think I knew inside that this really could be it and it scared me to death. I cried out to God in tears, on my knees and prayed for wisdom and guidance. I asked Him to remove my fear.

When we were at the symphony I was afraid that he would want to hold hands or put his arm around me. I didn’t know what I would say or do. It was so terribly awkward for me, but not for Michael. He knew from the beginning. He had settled it in his heart and he waited patiently for me to get it settled in my heart (which took much longer!).

The moment arrived when he had an opportunity to put his arm around me. I was freezing. He gave me his jacket and as I had anticipated, he took advantage of the opportunity to “hold the jacket up” on the other side…and it felt WONDERFUL! The next morning we went to church together before he returned home. Later he told me that it was the best first date he had ever been on and even admitted being a little misty eyed as he left. These words brought tears to my eyes. I was overwhelmed.

The second weekend we got together (two or three weeks later), we sat out in the church parking lot after a date, watching lightening off in the distance. We held hands in the car that night for the first time. I have butterflies as I write this…just like I did that night.

In early July, I made my first trip from West Tennessee to Central Alabama. He took me to a very romantic restaurant for dinner that overlooked a beautiful river. Then we spent some time together before he took me to check into the Fairfield Inn, where he had reserved a room for me. The next morning was when I would be introduced to his church family and friends. Here is another one of those “examples” of how God was showing us that He had brought us together for marriage. One of his friends took me aside and asked if she could sing at our wedding! I responded, “Ummmmmm we haven’t even known each other for two months!” But, before I knew it she had drawn me into making plans (and she DID sing at our wedding…you’ll never guess what song it was)! Neither of us knew that her husband was talking to Michael about the same thing!

During the last week of May, Michael attended my college graduation (I never anticipated my future husband being at my graduation). My son had joined the navy a few months earlier and I had decided it was time for a change. Previously, my daughter and I were presented with an offer to move to Atlanta and start a new life with friends there. It was a hard decision that took several months to make and accept. I had lived in West TN for most of my adult life and (prior to meeting Michael) I couldn’t imagine ever leaving. But, the invitation from our friends seemed like an opportunity to move forward and I thought maybe God had opened this door for us to walk through. So, we were planning to move to Atlanta in July. God was about to throw a wrench into my plans.

What I was unaware of was that God was about to take me through a very difficult pruning season…one which would not involve a move to Atlanta but to Alabama. God would use this time to bond Michael and I even closer to Him and one another. The Atlanta plans fell through at the last possible moment when my daughter chose to move in with her estranged father (who ironically just happened to live only two hours away from Michael). I had already turned in my notice at work and there were no open doors in Tennessee. I didn’t know what was going to happen to me…but God did. Marriage and a move to Alabama was not something I had planned for, especially not this early in the relationship with Michael. I had come to a place in my personal life where I had put my friends, church, career, and children in first place…the place reserved for God alone. I needed to have God in that place before I could have a successful relationship with anyone…God knew I needed pruning. Michael knew God had put him in my life for “such a time as this” and He was my lifeline to Jesus through an excruciating season of heartbreak and transition. God used Michael to be a beacon in what would have otherwise been a very dark time in my life.

As time went on, our friends, coworkers, family, and both of our church families were all pushing the marriage buttons! We kept telling them that they were moving too fast! However, it got us talking about it, just a couple months after the first incident at his church, we were shopping for wedding rings. We wanted to be prepared but had no intentions on being married within a year from meeting. (I think God may have actually been laughing out loud at our plans.)

On the weekend of August 9, (Just three months after meeting in person for the first time and a little over a month after the Atlanta plans fell through), Michael had come to celebrate our three month anniversary of the day we met in person for the first time. Due to circumstances at the time, and conversations we had been having, I knew that a proposal was in the air at some point, but Michael wanted to do it when I least expected it. I expected it at least by August 9, the day Michael was scheduled to return home after our anniversary date. We went to the restaurant where we met in person for the first time. I thought maybe he might propose then. Dinner came and went. No proposal. So, I had resolved that it was too obvious and he wasn’t going to do it. As fate would have it, his car broke down and had to be put in the shop for repair. It wasn’t going to be ready for several days. So, because he had to work early the next morning, I ended up having to drive him back to Alabama that evening where he had another vehicle available. We got there just in time to catch the most beautiful sunset from what is now our front porch. It was such a romantic gift from God that set the stage for what was about to take place.

With the long day coming to a close, and a much unexpected ending, I had given up on a proposal. We were about to say goodnight with the little game that we began playing after we picked out wedding rings. It was a conversation that would go something like this….

Katrina: “I want to marry you.”

Michael: “You do? You want to marry me?”

Katrina: “Uh huh”

Michael: “So, you want to marry me huh?”

Katrina: “Yeah”

Now, at this point he would normally say something like, “Well, you never know.”

But this time he said something different…

Michael: “So, will you….marry me?”

Not believing he was serious, I responded jokingly.

Katrina: “Yes! Now I just need a ring on my finger!” Then I held out my hand.

Michael: “You mean like this one?” Much to my surprise, he reached around and pulled out the ring.

Needless to say, the moments following involved lots of squealing, crying and shaking as he placed this beautiful ring on my finger. He accomplished his goal. I was definitely caught off guard! At 10:00 pm I began waking all of my closest loved ones to tell them the news before announcing it to the world on Facebook the next morning. They all affirmed and celebrated with us.

Originally, we had set the date to be the weekend of the anniversary of our first email connection, April 9, 2010. The move to Atlanta turned into a move to Alabama. But, the wedding date turned out to be much sooner than expected. Unable to secure a job, I would not be able to afford an apartment and I was not going to move in with a man I was not married to. This would not glorify the One who brought us together. More and more, Michael and I were encouraged to move up the wedding date. I was filled with fear. It was all happening so fast. But while sharing my dilemma with a co-worker and mentor one day, she asked me, “Are you going to let a spirit of fear keep you from doing sooner what you know is destined to be anyway? Why not marry him now?”

After much prayer and so many circumstances moving us to marrying sooner, we moved the date up from April 9, 2010 to November 7, 2009. We chose November 7 because November is the season of Thanksgiving and the number 7 is God’s number for completion and perfection.

And so it was, Michael Dunkin and Katrina Blakely became Mr. and Mrs. Dunkin on November 7, 2009. We are a three cord strand with God at the center, growing ever happier in our marriage with each passing day. This testimony is completed on the day of our 2nd anniversary and presented as a gift to my “Hubby” from his “Wifey” with so much love. I give all the praise and honor and glory to the only One who deserves it. Thank, you Father for blessing us both with this gift of marriage. It is our desire to have a relationship that will be a testimony to others of Your great love. “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.”

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About rhemajoy

I love the reviving, motivating aroma of freshly ground coffee beans first thing in the morning. Freshly pressed coffee is the essence of rejuvenation. But what I love even more is the revival I receive each morning when I start the day firmly grounded in the Word of God. So grab a cup of java and join me on this journey from glory to glory as each new morning beckons for a fresh cup of faith.
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4 Responses to A Love Story

  1. svenoblivion says:

    I did not know all of this! Love it!! Oh my gosh I am feeling so mushy!!!!!!!!

    • rhemajoy says:

      I thought I had told you our story. Haha! Thank you for your sweet comment, Syd. I miss you so much and I adore you and I am so thankful that you and Justin have such a beautiful relationship. I miss you AND your family and I do hope we can get out there again soon!

  2. Shirley Butler says:

    Made me cry. I have known Michael since he was 18, and was there the day of his accident, and my husband and I made many trips to the hospital, and cried many tears over the wonderful person this accident happened to. We are so happy that you two met and share a beautiful love story. Shirley Butler Hueytown, Alabama

    • rhemajoy says:

      Shirley, thank you so much for your beautiful comment. Michael is a beautiful man and I am very blessed to call myself his wife. I don’t deserve him. I am so thankful that God gives us what we don’t deserve.

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