I was unequally yoked in marriage. I started to go to church again and pray for my husband. I took all 4 of our children with me.

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1 My name is Melanie. I was born in Elizabethtown, KY. When I was very young my father joined the Army. We lived in Germany for his first assignment, then back to KY, then Georgia, KY again, then California. We were in California for my 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th grade years. My dad was then assigned to Germany again. I was in high school and didn't want to leave and start all over again. That is how the military works though. We went to chapel on post every Sunday. I had been raised up in church most of my life. I was in the 11th grade probably mid-way through the school year and I met this nice young soldier at chapel. We started dating, his name was Jeff. I was 16, we dated for close to a year. My father knew him, he had been one of his soldiers, but wasn't then. My parents treated him like family, he was at our house a lot. My mom sent his mom pictures and letters. Jeff was my first love but neither of us was in control of what happened. He was sent to Desert Storm and when he came back he was only in Germany about a month before being sent back to the U.S. I was in my Senior Year of High School. Life continued even though I wasn't sure it could. I was a teenager, lol, but I survived and graduated in June of My family was sent back to the U.S. in October of My father was stationed in Alabama at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL. We lived in Toney, AL. I got a job at Hardees in Ardmore, TN, it was only 15 minutes from where we lived. I met a man named Bill that I worked with. We started dating. Bill was a great guy and hard worker. My parents didn't exactly approve of him though (at first... but trust me they fell in love with him), he was divorced and had 2 daughters and most of all he wasn't a Christian. I was young and love though. I had a huge argument with my mom, and I left home. I moved in with Bill in Oct. of In January of 1993 I found out that I was pregnant. On July 16th 1993 Bill and I got married at the courthouse in Pulaski, TN in the Gazebo outside. Three months later our son JD was born (Oct. 16, 1993) and on August 25th, 1995 we welcomed our daughter Paige. We were mostly happy but for me something was missing. I hadn't been attending church regularly since I moved away from home and got married. I started reading my Bible and God was convicting me. I had gone against his word.

2 I was unequally yoked in marriage. I started to go to church again and pray for my husband. I took all 4 of our children with me. I would ask Bill every once in a while if he'd come with us to church but he wouldn't. Sometimes the kids would ask him, he'd get upset with me thinking that I put them up to it. I didn't though. In 1999 he and I both worked at Piggly Wiggly in Harvest, AL. We were very happy. My only wish still was for him to be saved and come to church. He met a friend named Nick through someone we worked with, he was a tiny little guy with a big heart. He loved to ride motorcycles and so did Bill. I rode with Bill and in the Nick several times along with some other friends we had. Nick had an accident on his motorcycle when he topped a hill and someone was trying to steal a lawnmower. The lawnmower was in the road and they were trying to back it into a truck. He never saw it; it was just there when he topped the hill. He survived that but lost sight in his one eye. He wanted to ride again and his father wasn't too happy about it. He told his father it was ok, he was going to ride with us and Big Bill would look out for him. He and Bill rode to Daytona Bike Week in March of In Nov there was a nice day and Nick just wanted to take his bike out for a drive. He was riding through Ardmore and he made a mistake that put him in the path of a truck, he was struck and killed. Nick was a Christian, actually he had only nailed it down for sure a while before he died. He had talked to Bill about it. Nicks father asked all his motorcycle friends to ride in the funeral and we did. A few weeks later Bill stopped by Nicks fathers house and was in the garage talking to him. Nicks father led Bill to the Lord and prayed with him!! I was so excited when I heard this news! Bill was SAVED!! He still only rarely came to church though; he didn't think he needed to. He didn't get the relationship part of it yet. Fast forward to Jan. 2006, I was very lonely. Bill was not one to show his affections. I was craving his affection, he thought he was showing his love by working and providing for our family. I didn't understand. We separated for 2 weeks, by my choice. He was so upset. One night he called and asked me to just go out on a date with him, I agreed. He had taken to heart what I had said and he genuinely showed love and affection and it was natural. It was like the Lord showed him what I needed. We went home

3 together that night. From then on every Sunday he went to church with us. He grew to love it and have a deeper relationship with the Lord. We renewed our vows in April of 2006, it was a fresh start and commitment to do it the Lords way. We always kissed each other goodnight and goodbye and we always said I love you. We went to 3 or 4 couples retreats with our church. At one of them they played the Honey Moon game. They asked the women questions and asked the men what the women would say and vice versa. Bill and I answered every question the same, we got 100% of them right. We knew each other so well. From 2006 on we enjoyed marriage the way that God intended. Christian marriage! I know the difference now in being equally yoked and unequally yoked. I praise the Lord for the Christian marriage we shared. In 2012, Bill was working at several of the Piggly Wiggly stores. He was a traveling meat supervisor. He went where he was needed and filled in when someone had surgery, vacations, etc. He had been doing that about 4 years. I worked at the Ardmore, TN Piggly Wiggly. I rode to work with him a lot, he would drop me off and come and get me after he was off on the way back home and sometimes he worked at the same store I did. On Feb. 21, 2012 he dropped me off at 5:30 in the morning. He had a longer drive that day to get the store he was going to. We kissed goodbye and said I love you. I asked him if we were going to the gym after work that day, and he told me we'll see. That was the last thing we said. He left to go to work, and I went on in to work. I was going about my day, it was around 11 o'clock when 2 TN State troopers came in and asked to speak with me. I thought something must have happened to my 18-year-old son. He drove too fast and still does. Turns out it was Bill. He was going up a mountain that he had to go up to get to the store he was going to, he either hit a slick spot or black ice most likely. He spun into oncoming traffic coming down the mountain. He was first struck by a red Ford F- 150 and then a car hit that truck and pushed both of them into him a second time. He didn't survive. I am told that it was instant, I pray he did not suffer. We had been together almost 20 years. We had been married 18 years and 5 months. I was in shock at first. You never really expect that this will happen to you. I thought if it

4 ever did happen to me that I would be totally and completely crushed! Don't get me wrong, I was beside myself with grief but I also had this overwhelming peace. Something that I am not sure people can totally understand unless they have been there. I had peace that I was going to be ok, my kids would be ok, and that God was in control. I was never in control; we think we are but were not! My life verse for a long as I can remember had been Proverbs 19:21 "Many are the plans in a man's heart; but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails." I believe that, I have lived it, I am still living it. God is in control, I am not. I am ok with that, more now than ever. At Bills funeral 5 people gave their lives to Christ. In a horrible time, Christ had a plan. I don't understand why it had to be the way it happened, but he does. Thank God Bill was saved when he was taken from this world and 5 people were added to the Kingdom. I did the best I could to continue working and I went to church. It was hard. I read my Bible a lot, and prayed. Staying in the house we lived in got to be too much for me. I wasn't able to sleep in our room; it was too hard. I had been sleeping in the living room on the couch most of the time. In June 2012 I moved to Pulaski, TN. I liked it there, I stayed active by running often. That was a gift God gave me only a couple years earlier, a love for running. After Bill passed away it was even more of a release for me. It was a time to talk to God, and think and just get away. I also traveled a lot to see siblings and friends who lived in other states. I tried to keep busy but I was lonely. One day in Nov I was on the phone with my mom and she asked if I might want to call Jeff. I never realized that all these years my mom had sent a Christmas letter and picture to his parents and that she also had their phone number! I called his father the next day to get Jeff's phone number. His dad said he was out hunting and that he was going to fall out of the deer stand when he found out who was calling! It had been 21 years since we dated in Germany. We had our first date (again) the day after Thanksgiving in Nashville, TN. Neither of us were thinking right, we met at Opry Mills Mall. It was Black Friday! At least we did wait until late afternoon. He brought me roses and gave me the biggest hug I think anyone has ever given me. It was the best hug. He just couldn't believe we

5 were together and going on a date after all these years. He was crying, and then that made me cry. We had a great dinner and walked around the Opryland Hotel. We talked a LOT and held hands the whole time. It was sweet and special. I don't think either of us wanted it to end. We were even asked if we were honeymooners. What a story! I can't make this stuff up!! God did, his stories are always going to be better that ours. And best thing is it was reality, not just a story! I never would have imagined! Jeff and I were married 4 months after that first date (actually just a little short of that). We were married on March 14, God has blessed me with a beautiful step daughter, Monique, through this marriage. I love her very much. Since Bills death, our daughter Paige has married and has 2 children. So we have 2 grandchildren, Jayden (2 &1/2) and Jordan (91 yr. old). Jeff loves them and they love him. He loves my children and grandchildren. He respects that I still love Bill and that he will always be part of my story. He loves him too; I really do believe that. He gets emotional thinking of how we were able to be together again. Neither of us understand it, but we know we are blessed. I have been blessed twice with a Christian husband. Bill is in Heaven. That was not my plan!!! Jeff is in my life again. Never saw that coming! It was not my plan. But it was God's plan. Sometimes Gods plans are hard, they are messy, they are not what we think we need. We don't have to understand them and he doesn't have to explain them. He is God. I won't tell you that it is always a happy day for me, because every day is not. I still have a place in my heart that is for Bill, and that's ok. Because of that, some days I miss him and I am sad but also at the same time happy because I have Jeff. I know for some this doesn't make sense, but this is my world. God is in control of it and that is all that matters. God has provided and cared for me every step of the way! My God is an awesome God. He cares about me, and he cares about YOU! I care about YOU. I pray that you know my God and you the know love and peace that only he can give you!

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