Surprised by Joy

Posted by on September 14, 2018 in Shirley's Blog | 6 comments

Weeping may go on all night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5b

He wanted to be married to a Christ-follower. That was me.


Yesterday, September 13, was a day to remember and celebrate. It was five years ago on September 13, 2013 that Jim asked me to marry him. I was surprised, yet not so surprised that he popped the question. There was a feeling about him when we met for coffee that first face-to-face meeting. We met online first. I liked his profile. He liked mine. There were questions asked on eHarmony–the matching site where we met. His answers were similar to mine. His goals for life were also similar. He lived to please God. He loved his family and wanted to be a part of them. Friends were important to him. He wanted to be married to a Christ-follower. That was me.


He dropped him in my lap!


Often we were asked, “How did you know you were the right ones for each other in such a short time?” There are many answers to that question. Here’s mine. I asked God to bring the right person into my life after losing two husbands in death. I was even engaged to someone after Blair’s death and my meeting Jim. But he wasn’t the right person for me. After trying to make that relationship work, meeting other guys who just didn’t fit the bill for many reasons, I finally asked God to give me contentment in my single life, or drop the right one into my lap. God answered that prayer about six months later.

The rainbow is a sign of hope from God.




He seemed too good to be true, but he was the real deal.


I joined a matching site and said to myself–and God–this would be the last one I’d try–I’d been on a couple of them. After two weeks, I was ready to give up. I’d paid for six months and there weren’t any prospects that seemed right for me. One morning, a match came through. That’s what happens: you describe the type of person you want to meet, within a certain radius of miles. They send you photos and their description of themselves.



Would you like to meet?


Up pops this photo of a guy posing in front of a background of trees. He looked sporty and friendly. There were other photos of him with his grandchildren–that’s good, I thought. It’s what he said that really attracted me to him. He loved the Lord and wasn’t afraid to talk about his relationship with God. He loved his family and treasured his time with them. He had friends and even spoke of a spiritual mentor he relied on when he needed answers. He really seems too good to be true, I thought. At this point, I decided to make a move. That’s what you do on a matching site. You see someone who might be a possibility and then indicate your interest with a wink, or a click on the site–honestly, I’ve forgotten what I did, but I did something to show him I was interested in getting to know him. A day later, I saw that this mystery guy responded to my poke. The matching service then sends you a set of questions and you respond, and then the other party responds, if they’re interested. He answered and our answers were similar! Another day passed with an exchange of questions/answers–these were deeper questions with more involved answers. Then, I received an email. It said, “Would you be willing to meet in person?” I didn’t think it would hurt to meet in a public place, so I said, “Sure, but let’s keep emailing until we meet.” So we did. Another day passed and then I received a phone call from this mystery guy who told me his name was Jim. He had an enthusiastic voice and sounded just a bit nervous. He sounds nice, I thought. “Would you like to meet at Starbuck’s?” he asked. I responded affirmatively and that afternoon on September 4, 2013, we met for a coffee date that lasted more than two hours. It seemed we had much in common.

We’re re-enacting our first date (Wisconsin, 2017). We’ve done this now for five years. 



Will you?


That led to more dates that week, with an invitation to take in some Shakespeare plays, staying in a hotel (with separate rooms of course), and getting to know each other better. On our way to Ashland, home of the Shakespeare Festival, we stopped by the Grotto. It was at this romantic, mysterious, and beautifully landscaped place, Jim knelt on one knee and said to me, “Shirley Quiring Rudberg Graybill, will you marry me?” Can you believe he remembered all of my last names? He’d only known me for nine days, but he was able to recite them all–without notes!

The sign says it all!


We clicked….


You know what my answer was. It was YES! Just a few days earlier, after spending a lot of time together, Jim confessed to me that he loved me. I told him I loved him too. Then I told him the story of praying to God that He’d have to drop someone in my lap. Right then, Jim got off of the sofa, walked over to me and sat on my lap!! Can you believe it? I hardly could. But it really happened that way. We clicked, there was chemistry–I wanted him to kiss me soon after we had a couple of meetings–he was the real deal!



From our past lives, we know how quickly things can change…..


The rest is history. We were surprised by joy. And romance. And love. Together we enjoy our oneness and try not to take each other for granted, for we know from our past lives how quickly things can change–each of us has experienced loss in death more than once. We are grateful for five years of knowing each other and soon, five years of marriage. This may not be your story. God may tell you, “not now,” or “wait,” or even, “no.” In our case, God blessed us with a “yes.”


Sweet nothings in my ear….he still does this!

Front of our wedding program. Engagement photo.













It seems like yesterday.


I hope you enjoyed reminiscing the past with me. Thank you Lord, for your gift of Jim to me. I am grateful. Yes, we met on a matching site. Yes, each of our profiles caught the other’s attention. Yet we believe God was the initiator of our coming together for this time in our lives. He didn’t need cyberspace, but He used it and we’re together because of that.


Tell me your story.


What’s your story? I’d love to hear from you how God answered a heart-felt prayer you’ve uttered. It doesn’t have to be romantic, though I love hearing those stories, too. Tell me how God worked in your life. Just write a message in the comment space. I’ll respond back and your comment will be under the blog. Who knows what your story might encourage someone else?


We sang this song at our wedding. The words are so true…..


I have some close friends who are going through great difficulty and grief. Please know I am praying for you and I hope this post doesn’t hurt, but  gives you just a spot of joy. You are loved–by me and by our Savior.

God is there for you!


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  1. I loved reading your story of how God brought the two of you together, Shirley & Jim. Our love story is very different & has lasted 53 years! We met when we were college agg in Texas at LeTourneau College. My daddy was a pastor in a church within walking distance from the college. I hadn’t dated much. He had. Because the school was so close to the church, many students could walk there.We met at the college where I was working as a secretary to two professors. I was only 17 & very inexperienced with dating. In fact, even though I had one brother two years older than me, boys scared me. I had low self esteem, was shy & introverted because of childhood trauma with a grandpa & youth pastor! The boys at the college asked me out but I either said no, or went on one date & if they tried to get close to me, I’d ask them to take me home! That was until I saw Wayne Hansen in the hallway as I was going past him near my office. In fact, we nearly bumped into one another! When he asked me out, I was shocked because he was so handsome & had a confidence inhim I ddidn’t have! Why would he want to date me? Well, there is a reason. Before he flew to Long view, Texas from Montclair, New Jersey, he had dated a girl for a couple of years in high school. She was not a Christian but he thought that maybe someday she would become a believer. That day never came. On their last date at a youth service the.pastor had an alter call asking anyone who had never invited Jesus into their life to come forward. Wayne asked his high school.girlfriend if she wanted to make that decision? What she told him would change him & how he knew he could never marry an unbeliever. She told him “no. I guess you’ll go your way &I’ll go mine!” When.he told me this story he told me at that time even before he went to college that he had prayed a prayer of commitment to the Lord that the next girl he dated had to not only be a Christian, but be serious abouther faith! When he met me & we started dating, I became that girl! He knew right away & wanted to get to know me quickly. I needed more time to make ssure. But after going out with a few others at the college including one of his roommates, I knew that he was very special & it wasn’t long that we both fell deeply in love with one another. My daddy married is after he graduated & our love story has lasted 53 years!

  2. I never tire of hearing how the Lord brought you and Jim together, Shirley! Great is His faithfulness! Happy Anniversary!

  3. Tom and I met when we were both students at a school for missionaries in Guadalajara, Mexico. I was impressed with his maturity, love for the Lord, and enjoyment of life. He was soon asked to become assistant director of the school and I was asked to be his assistant. We became good friends and found we worked very well together. After a year we realized we were more than just friends! After we married we continued to serve the Lord together, work together, write together, travel together, parent together, enjoy life together. We had an amazing 19 years together before he preceded me to Glory.

    • Wonderful story Betty Sue! I didn’t know that part of your life! Thanks for sharing1

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