24 years ago we made a vow…

Tim and I promised each other, twenty-four years ago today, that no matter what, come hell or high water, we would stay and fight for our marriage. Hell has come and the water has risen until it was so deep we had to learn to swim… or float… or doggy paddle; anything to keep our heads above water. We’ve struggled to hold true to those promises in various ways, and multiple times.


Our first baby was born nine months, one week, one day and two hours after that ceremony. (But who’s counting? Especially when eight months and 3 weeks would have raised the eyebrows of more than a few.) In the 6 years that followed, God blessed us with five more healthy children, and carried us through losing two others. We cried. We misunderstood how the other grieves, and at times felt hopelessly lost in this thing we call marriage.

Over the years we both have been in situations at various times that, if we had been so inclined, could have led to infidelity and unfaithfulness. But we communicated and risked opening our hearts to each other. Sometimes it meant one of us seeing the risk the other was in, and sometimes it meant seeing it ourselves and together working through navigating those relationships… and ending them.

We’ve each failed the other. We’ve looked out for our own interests instead of the other. We’ve had to own our wrongs, and say “I’m sorry”. And, when we could have walked away from each other, always we chose to stay and forgive, and support each other.

We’ve had crises and challenges and blessings, all blended together into a sometimes confusing mosaic. But when I step back, I see beauty, love and grace. We’ve hurt each other and been disappointed, and wondered if we’d make it through. Yet we’ve never, even in the hell of life, stopped loving. Even in our ‘fights’ – such as they tend to be with both of us not liking conflict – we have kept our love alive. (Yes, you can be angry and love someone. You can hurt deeply, and love them. And you can look at them and say “I still love you… I just can’t keep doing life this way”.)

I am, by nature – or maybe because of past experience – a hedgehog with rhino tendencies. I extend grace, and more grace, and more grace, and then something tips the building blocks neatly stacked, and it all comes tumbling down. And when it all erupts, we haven’t much choice but to stumble through the mess on the floor and work through it. Tim is, by nature, a hedgehog. That’s how we did the first ‘many’ years of marriage, as two hedgehogs – one with rhino tendencies.

Gradually we have learned (and are learning still) that if we talk about things as they happen – which we have done times since all hell broke loose nearly two years ago -things are so much better. When I’m cranky, I take inventory about what’s happening to my heart. Sometimes it’s just hormones. (Seriously! this middle-aged stuff…!)  But it’s not all bad. As my naturopath Dr. Jim Farquarson told me, it’s a time when God invites us to the past and heals a lot of stuff that we’ve ignored. (Okay. I can do that!)  Sometimes when I’m feeling hurt it is the result of a subtle little thing that I’ve decided ‘isn’t a big deal’ because I want to be mature. Many times that works and such grace is good. But sometimes, if it lingers, the best thing for me to do is to tell Tim. I’ve learned that often if I tell him, it breaks that negative power, and it’s over “just like that!” with the little things that build up and cause explosions. So we have less and less ‘Mt. St. Helen’ moments in our marriage all the time, and more peace.

Through it all, we’ve never stopped holding and loving each other. Sure, a few times there were several days of space and distance while we sorted ourselves out, but rarely did that stop us snuggling, even if in silence, and often falling asleep in each other’s arms. That intimacy of physical closeness – with or without sex – has been critical to us thriving. (Please understand, Tim has never violated me physically or sexually. Not in word, not in deed, not in an affair, and not by using pornography. This deeply impacts my trust in physical touch. He has hurt me in other ways, but not sexually. If that is your marriage, I encourage you to seek help. And, in any case, please don’t compare with us. Every story is different.)

Our closest friends have seen our struggles, and I’m thankful for that. I don’t know if we’d have survived if we had kept it all secret. (Special thanks to these closest friends who knew the battles and loved us anyway. In part it is thanks to you we survived those times and came out thriving!) I’m good with confidentiality, but I’m not good at ‘hidden things’ and ‘secrets’, so having safe places to process hurt and anger has been a lifesaver for me, and for us. Twenty-four years later, I spend my life with my best friend because we pushed through those struggles, and are pushing through still.

Tim, you are my best friend. I can imagine my future a thousand different ways and be excited about it. From continuing in our ‘extraordinary ordinary’ life… to pursuing my PhD (scared as I feel at moments), or being rejected from the PhD program… From staying where we live now, to downsizing as our family continues to shrink… I can imagine staying home more, or working a 9 – 5 job, or pursuing my current line of work more – or some variation of it….

I can imagine my future a thousand and one different ways and be excited. But I cannot imagine a future without you…  without my heart breaking.

You are my best friend, my lover, my constant support. In the past two years you have carried me through deep loss and grief. When my heart was so crushed it physically hurt to breathe, you held me. I don’t cry easily, even when life hurts like hell, but in your arms the tears unlock and I am comforted by your love. You have healed me and built confidence in me. You’ve showed me that amazing men exist; men who don’t worship sex, porn and control. (And as I said last week… thank you for staying away from that stuff. In this you honour our marriage so well, and spare me the shame and betrayal many women feel.)

Because of you I generally view men as trustworthy in spite of my past, and because of you I feel respected by all men. You have taught me the stability of faithfulness through the certainty of your love. You call out my strengths, you challenge, you encourage and above all, you bless me. You have learned to fight for me… for us. And you have, in all of these things, showed me the heart of God. Because of you, I trust Him with all that I am… because you have showed me that He is trustworthy. Your faithfulness replaced fear and terror of Him, with love and trust, and helped me see that He adores me.

And if next week some hell hits, or the crick begins to rise, we will paddle and swim and float… And we will fight our way forward. I love you, with all my heart! Happy 24th Anniversary!

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger 2018

Wedding Plans, Old Talents & a Big God Solving Little Problems

It’s a funny thing how a daughter’s wedding becomes a life-focus for a time. Since their engagement, November 1, 2016, my subconscious has been busy planning, dreaming, experimenting and scheming, in an effort to make her and her fiancée’s dreams come true. Rustic and beautiful, burlap and lace, twinkling lights, old jars and doors and windows, tree stumps and slabs, and barn board. And food. Of course! A menu planned by our almost-son-in-law and approved by his bride-to-be…and blessed by the mothers. Those are the main ingredients for their day, from a planning perspective.

wedding plans blog

The past six years of my life have predominantly revolved around heavy, painful and intense ministry, inviting Jesus into the messy of people’s lives, and writing about it. And it has been a very good thing. It also has been heavy enough to squash some of my creative side. A thing this wedding has re-awakened. The more I plan and dream, the more the creative juices flow, and I find myself enjoying the therapy of projects, little and big. as I run them by our daughter for approval and bring to life the ideas in my head, matching them to their dreams.

From mini jars of jam for favours, to sewing cushions without patterns–because I can’t follow patterns anyway, if only because I don’t want to when I can make it up as I go along–to hammering wood together, cutting burlap, and various other little details, I’m enjoying the process. I forgot how therapeutic manual labour and brainstorming can be, and how freeing.  I continue to meet with clients  and offer support, though I’ve scaled back considerably on the number of sessions I do in a week, but all my spare time is invested in various projects.

So many creativities that once were part of my life, long dormant, and now one life-changing event has awakened them and I’ve not had more fun in years! Weekend after weekend, Tim and I have spent time at Mom and Dad Metzger’s place, and weekend after weekend, Dad, Tim and I have measured, sawed, and swung hammers, bringing to life these dreams and ideas that will give birth to the wedding of Alicia’s and Andrew’s dreams.

It’s been fun, spending that time with his parents, and teaming up for projects. At 79, Dad Metzger is still impressively active, and a brilliant man, pitching in with the building projects and throwing in suggestions. I realize again how blessed we are by their support and engagement in our lives.

And Tim, as always, remains my hero. And a saint, the way he walks with me, and partners together to unscramble all the crazy ideas in my head, improving upon them as we go along. He’s organized and wise, and patiently listens to my scrambled thoughts–which are all neatly organized in a perfect picture inside my head until I try to tell him what I see–and helps me create that picture. And of course we sneak in moments of hugs and kisses, all covered in sawdust and straw… because barn board has to be collected from a barn… and taking time to remember how crazy we are about each other is vital in the busyness.

And in the middle of all this, with busy things happening, God has offered unexpected little surprises and blessings. We needed a dance floor, because the wedding is outdoors and unlike King David, we have no street for dancing, only grass, so I started to dream up this idea of building one instead of renting one. Mostly because the children didn’t rent one and I was worried about just using the grass, or the risks involved with laying down plywood. So I searched Kijiji and in a matter of a few days the items we needed appeared, saving a bundle on the dance floor. But the best part of all was the night we took our daughter to Hamilton and stopped to look some flooring. There wasn’t as much as advertised, and therefore not enough for our project. We contemplated matching it because the price was decent, but I felt unsettled and in the end Tim said we should listen to my gut feeling. We started for home and I spent the drive on Kijiji, and that’s when it happened….

An ad popped up at just that moment, offering 300 square feet of flooring for free, set at the end of a lane. We detoured from our beaten path and there it was; gorgeous laminate. Lots of it and in excellent shape, like new.

Other little blessings have been sprinkled throughout each day, and every part of this planning phase, right along with the challenges. I’ve concluded that permits and bylaws are an unnecessary evil that must necessarily be lived by once you find out they exist. Still, you wish you had no idea when it all comes down. Putting up a tent for one day of celebration causes great stress when the rules come into play, when a township is religious about the laws, unlike other townships all around. But we got through it, and Rae Ann was nothing short of kind, in spite of the temporary migraine the stress of it all induced. And I step back and thank God that this really has been the biggest stress and drama we’ve encountered, because I’ve heard nightmare stories about wedding planning. I don’t think I could do all that, and stay sane while trying to pull it together.

I thank God for being part of everything in my life. He is gentle and tender, always present, in everything I am and do. It is humbling, really, to think about that. God, the Creator of the Universe, the One who made the heavens and the earth, chooses to dwell with us… with me. He enters into my journey, every step of the way. I talk to Him about the flowers I planted for the wedding, even though for some unknown reason they are scraggly and struggling to get rooted. A few have died. And every day I send a little plea to the heavens, asking God for a miracle, to make them do well, like past flowers have. And every day they look scraggly, and I realize that I’m still chattering to Him about how much it would mean to me if they did well for that one day. And if they don’t do what they should, we’ll say they have that ‘rustic’ look, which is the theme anyway, and all will be well. And God will still be good.

All in all, we are 7 days in from one of the biggest events of our lives (are we really old enough for this?!) and as the climax builds, I have moments where I catch my breath with all that needs to be done. There are moments of mild anxiety. But each moment I tell myself that it’s not about the details, it’s about two young people who love each other and are starting out like Tim and I did 22 and a half years ago. And I pray that they will be as blessed as we are, and even beyond, in their love for each other and in all things. I pray that she will always adore him, and he will always protect and cherish her, even when they are frustrated, hurt or confused, and when hard life hits. I pray that they will know God together and individually, and sense always His affection for them. Because He has carried Tim and me through loss, trauma and hard times we never imagined  that January day at the altar. And He has, undoubtedly, smiled and laughed as we bumbled along doing life as we do it. Above all, He has walked with us and blessed us. For this we are thankful, and that is my prayer for our two young lovers.

And now off to one more week of burlap, lace, barnboard, food-making, and pulling together those final details.

….What in the world will I do when this is over?

~ T ~

 © Trudy Metzger





About that Online Lover You Fell in Love with…

…but never met. Or met a time or two and he is so ‘busy’ traveling the world over that he ‘misses you dreadfully’ but it’s just not working out to settle down with you… and whose ring you wear on your finger–either engagement or wedding–because that time you actually saw him, you decided to tie the knot because you’re so crazy about each other… and, yes, the guy who is constantly studying to become a doctor or some other great person, and needs your finances to get it done… Yes, about that guy…

He has no intentions of coming for you. He doesn’t love you any more than the other women he is scamming. And he might even be a she.

And, guys, about that drop-dead-gorgeous woman from some exotic place, who can’t wait to be in your arms as “Mrs. You”… Reread the above, and replace ‘him’ with ‘her’, ‘guy’ with ‘gal’ and any other gender-specific info as well… Because she is quite possibly some guy needing cash. You get the idea.

It happens with both men and women, but for the rest of this post I will focus on women, because it’s where I have the examples.


The first time I heard of it, if I recall accurately, was on a Dr. Phil show.  A widow who looked to be in her 60’s  or thereabouts, still grieving from the loss of her husband maybe a year or so earlier. In her loneliness, she fell for his schmoozing, and started supporting him financially with various needs. By the time her children realized her ‘boyfriend’ was an online fraud, she had lost an exorbitant amount of money, and even with Dr. Phil’s help and after having the man in the photo on the phone–keeping in mind his identity was being used by someone else–come on the show and tell the woman that he is a gay man and in a relationship, the woman refused to believe it was a scam. I wasn’t able to find the video to share here, unfortunately, however if you do a Google search of “Dating Scams” or something similar, you will find videos and stories in abundance.

The second time I heard of it was when a single friend shared about her new boyfriend. He was a rather romantic fellow, having sent a bouquet of yellow roses–symbolizing friendship, not love–because a patient man knows love takes time.  She was smitten. Completely ‘taken’, and in only a matter of weeks. When she shared the picture and name with me, along with his career, something didn’t sit right. The guy looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him. This niggled at my mind until I gave in and did what any good friend would do… I did a search of his image, and discovered a very different ‘real’ name; the man behind the picture was a low-profile politician in USA. And then I had the unpleasant duty of breaking my friend’s heart before this impostor broke it worse.

The third time was soon after the second, when visiting with a new friend, and it turned out to be a fascinating ‘twist’ from the usual… My new friend shared of her family, ‘introducing’ me to each one by way of childhood stories and what they were up to now, in adult life. One sister, she said, had been ‘in love’ for many years with a gentleman from overseas. He was somewhat younger than she, but that didn’t bother him, but it also meant he was still in University, and trying to get through studies while maintaining a job and other commitments. Needless to say things were tight, so out of the goodness of her heart, she had supplemented his income quite heavily. My guards went up and immediately I questioned if he was real. She assured me he was ‘real’, as he had come to visit and meet her family, and were now talking marriage. My radar still said something was very wrong, so I asked if we could do a search on his image, and see what happens… Moments later, to her amazement, his picture popped up with approximately 20 different identities, in various countries, and studying at a variety of universities to become many different things. Her sister was being scammed.

sadettin saran 2
The photo used by FB scam artist Stutzman Niccolo Larry 

Since then numerous women have asked for my feedback on various relationship issues, pertaining to online dating, and I’ve seen it too often. For an example of one such profile, and the one who most recently broke another friend’s heart, here is a scammer who goes by Stutzman Niccolo Larry on Facebook posing as Sadettin Saran, a swimmer who is now the owner of Saran Holdings. (If you do decide to check out Stutzman Niccolo’s page, be sure to send him a friend request. Several hundred or thousand requests in a short time should keep him…or her… busy awhile.)

sadettin saran
The ‘real’ man behind the image: Sadettin Saran.

How does the scam work? Some guy–usually with a strikingly handsome profile pic, at least perceived to be that by the scammer–starts sending messages to a woman on Facebook, or through some dating site, flowing with compliments and sweet words. How these people choose their targets (aka victims), I haven’t figured out, but my guess is it’s a mass ‘hit’ on women, to see which ones respond, and which ones seem most likely to fall prey to them. My clue about the ‘mass hit’ is that when I’ve ‘creeped’ these ‘lovers’ on behalf of someone, the men usually have only female friends, with an exception of maybe 2 or 3 males on their list of 60 to 100 friends. Simple math would endorse my reasoning, but it is only a deduction for which I have no proof.

So, be it one ‘hit’, or be it half a hundred, the women who receive the messages are entirely twitterpated by the attention, and stop thinking reasonably. (And if you don’t know the meaning of twitterpated, check  out this little educational clip.) In more formal and professional terminology, Dr. Sam Vaknin writes, “The unpalatable truth is that falling in love is, in some ways, indistinguishable from a severe pathology. Behavior changes are reminiscent of psychosis and, biochemically speaking, passionate love closely imitates substance abuse.” Coincidentally he writes from the perspective of self-love, aka narcissism, in his book “Malignant Self-Love; Narcissism Revisited”, which is the very thing that drives these scam artists. Few things are more narcissistic and selfish than using vulnerable people. So sense and reason have fled for them as well.

Looking at this ‘love intoxication’ from the vantage point of the fraud victim, this works strongly in favour of the fraudster, and not so much for the vulnerable individual getting the attention. If ‘love’ imitates substance abuse, and the behavior changes are ‘reminiscent of psychosis’, then these crooks are of all crooks most brilliant. By making a vulnerable individual feel like a million bucks, lose their head, and then present a sob story–because that is the next step–they are able to take advantage of otherwise reasonable and intelligent people.

In the most recent situation where I was asked for advice, and my ‘spidy sense’ told me it was ‘one of those’, I predicted the next move before it happened; she would be asked for money shortly, I said. A day or two later I received a message saying, “You were right… He just asked for money.”

These crooks are as predictable as the day is long, with slight variations on the minor details. They know their game, and they look for your vulnerability. I hate to break it to you, but it’s very much a ‘let me give you a hug so I can pickpocket you’ kind of love, and they have no regard for you. You deserve better.

The solution? Be wary of people who fall in love with you quickly online. Research them. Search Google for similar images by ‘right clicking’ on their pictures and choosing  that option. (Only works on Chrome, that I know of.) If you’re so inclined, report them, which may mean first joining in the game and asking for their phone number so you can ‘hear their voice’ or some such excuse. And if he sounds like a teenage girl, he’s probably not the hunk for you. If he sounds as sexy and masculine as anyone you’ve ever heard, he’s also probably not the one for you. And if it never works to meet, he probably doesn’t look like his picture and has to make excuses.

If he does meet with you, now and then, and eventually marries you or becomes engaged to you before disappearing again, I suggest you take your ring(s) to an appraiser to see if they are worth more than a buck or two, or twenty or a hundred… Then, if he just can’t come live with ‘his beautiful bride’ or spend time with his fiancée, whom he ‘misses immensely’, it may be because he has so many brides or fiancées that he doesn’t have time for all of them in a year. In that case, cash in the ring–and hope it’s worth more than a buck or two–and assume you were never married. Take the money and go out for dinner with a good friend who will love you and not judge you for being duped.

Then wait patiently for the right one to come along, who will treat you with the respect and love you are worth.

Less gushy and more sincere will carry lovers through many years of wedded bliss, while bumbling and stumbling through the nitty-gritty of real life. That messy stuff, with real humans and real problems, is the best kind of love in the world. It’s not perfect and trip-over-yourself-romantic all the time, but it’s a safe place to land without pretenses and performance, and it fights forward together and doesn’t use manipulation to rob you blind. It’s real, and it’s love. That’s the kind you’re looking for. So ditch that dude (or dudette) and prepare your heart for someone worthy of you.

~ T ~

© Trudy Metzger