Chapter 34, Another Evidence

Sunday March 19, 2017

John Anderson, a good friend (he sang in the quartet at Lorna’s funeral), runs into me at church. After the normal pleasantries he starts to tell me about a woman, Allyson, who works for him. He tells me she is 44 years old, never been married and is like a wonder woman. She takes good care of herself and is true and faithful in the Church. I’m not sure why he was telling me about a woman who is 44 (I was almost 69). Then he said, “And I know she has dated men in their 50’s.” I then realized he was telling me about Allyson, to see if I would be interested in meeting her.

I said, “John, how old do you think I am?”  “He said, I don’t know, 56?”  I said, no. “He said,”54?” I said, ” no.”He said, “Am I going the wrong way?” I said,” yes.” He said, “Well, you couldn’t be over 60.” I should have said, “John, you’re my new best friend.” Instead, I said, “John, I’m almost, not quite, but almost 25 years older than her. Not an option for me.”

However, as John was telling me about Allyson, I’m thinking of Scott Lindeman, a friend, whose wife Cindi had passed away the day before, March 17.  Allyson sounded like a perfect match for Scott (he was 52 and fit, not 69 and kinda fit). My thought was that if and when Scott was ready to start meeting or dating, I would tell him about John’s friend.

Cindi’s funeral was held on March 25, 2017.

Friday afternoon March 31, I called Scott to see if he would like to go get something to eat.

During dinner, Scott mentioned that our stake president, Buzz Butler, had stopped to see him and his family. Scott was the only one home. Before leaving, President Butler offered to give him a blessing. Because Scott was there alone with no one to be a scribe to keep notes of the blessing, President Butler offered to let him record the blessing (something he virtually never allows). He told me he had listened to it three or four times and had already transcribed it.

I asked him what he had been told. Among other things, he shared with me this statement from the blessing: “She [Cindi] will be a guiding force in bringing you a women who will be her sister, whom she [Cindi] knows very well [Cindi and Allyson had never met on this side of the veil]. You’ll need not seek it necessarily, but allow your heart and mind to be open to it. She will be pleasing to your children, and they will accept her readily. She will have a familiarity of spirit, not only to you, but to your children and grandchildren.”

I start hearing, “Tell him [Scott] about John’s friend.” I’m thinking, It’s been 13 days since Cindi passed away, it’s too soon. “Tell him about John’s friend!”

With a bit of reticence, I bring up John’s friend Allyson. I tell Scott what little I knew about her: fit, faithful, never been married, 44 years old.

For obvious reasons, Scott showed very little interest in meeting her. I told Scott I would find out a little bit more.

After dropping me off, I called John to find out a bit more. I shared that info with Scott, who wanted to visit with John, and did.

After visiting with Scott, John called Allyson and told her a bit about Scott. She said she would be willing to meet him for lunch if he was interested. John called me back and gave me her phone number, which I passed on to Scott. He wasn’t sure he would ever make the call.

That weekend was general conference.  Sunday morning, he woke up with no intention of calling Allyson. That decision changed during the day, Sunday.

When they met for lunch a few weeks later, they talked for three and a half hours.

They were married in December, eight months later.

Cindi started that ball rolling the day after she died, when John stopped in the stake offices and told me about Alyson.

At the wedding luncheon, Scott and Allyson asked John and me to share our part of their story. I mentioned that the story involved five people: Scoot, Allyson, John, me and Cindi. I knew John and Scott, John knew me and Allyson.  Cindi knew us all.

John said that when Allyson applied for the job to work with him, she wasn’t a good match for the person he was looking for. However, he felt it was important that she be hired. He knew now why.

Allyson was asked to speak in the Alpine West Stake conference, the Sunday session, January 13, 2019.

Allyson Being Faithful in Christ, Alpine West Stake Conference, March 24, 2017, 9:00 p.m.

I got in my car and drove to a Walmart parking lot. I pulled under a lamp post and turned off the car. It was my 44th birthday. I sat for a few moments and then bowed my head and began to pray, pleading with the Lord for guidance. I had prayed many times before, but this time it was different. The deepest desire of my heart was to be a wife and mother. I cried. I poured my heart out to the Lord. I asked, “Lord, What? What more do I need to do? I have searched and waited for 26 years. I have gone to all the dances, FHE’s, and singles conferences, never finding someone I would like to spend eternity with….I don’t know what else to do. Time is passing me by. As I sat there in the dark, I knew that another birthday represented one more year that had slipped away.

After quite some time, feeling spent, and that the Lord needed me to learn greater patience, I prepared to go home. At that moment, I received a text from my sister, which read, “I wish we could see the bigger picture right now, because I know Heavenly Father has your best interest and your happiness in mind, even though nothing has gone how any of us thought it would. It will all work out in the end! Good things are coming.” Humbled and grateful, I thanked her for unknowingly being a comforting answer to my prayer that night.

I’ve been asked to talk about being faithful in Christ, and to share some of my experiences about being single for 44 years, and about a very special family who changed the course of my life. I share these thoughts, realizing that there are far greater trials than this out there, undoubtedly even in this congregation today.

Each of us goes through heartbreaks and challenges over the course of our lives. There are many ways in which we are tried. My experience and observation is that those challenges are fitted specifically for us, and they may try us to a degree that is much greater than we desire. Will we remain faithful, or will we falter? Will we draw closer to God, or turn from Him? Often the clarity, the mercy, and the blessings of those trials are not evident until after we pass through them, and the hardest times are in the midst of challenges for which no end seems in sight, and which we do not know how to solve or escape.

I think this quote is very insightful. Neil L. Anderson said, “These fiery trials are designed to make you stronger, but they have the potential to diminish your trust in the Son of God and to weaken your resolve to keep your promises to Him. These trials are often camouflaged, making them difficult to identify. They take root in our weaknesses, our vulnerabilities, our sensitivities, or in those things that matter most to us.”

In the process of sharing my experiences I hope you will feel the emotion, the pain, the sweetness and ultimate mercy of the Lord. In the process, I hope your testimony of Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation, of the sealing power and of angels, will be strengthened, because I have witnessed them firsthand. And I hope you will see that my trial, and your trials, are the very experiences that strengthen our faith and make us great.

After my mission, the dating years began to pile up. I dated lots of good guys, but it never felt right. More blind dates, more firesides, and hundreds of singles dances, until it got to the point where I had to will myself to go to the next dance. I would get all dressed up, drive to the dance, and then talk myself into getting out of the car and going in. Maybe tonight would be the night that I meet him.

The events were fun, but I often drove home feeling empty. Although I found joy in serving in the Church and spending time with family, with each passing year, and particularly as I reached my 40th birthday, I felt the anticipated joy of having a husband and children slip away. I resigned myself to living single for the rest of my life.

Let me tell you about a beautiful woman whom I have never met, but whom I love and who I know loves me. Cindi Lindeman grew up in New York State, 15 minutes from her future husband, Scott. They had six children, five grandchildren, and were married 28 years when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She was beautiful and strong. Her great desire was to be with her family and over her grand-babies.

Even as the cancer progressed, Cindi was never interested in talking about what she wanted Scott to do in the event she was not healed. She was totally focused on getting well and loving her family. However, less than a month before she passed away, she and Scott were still awake one night at 2:00 a.m. as they dealt with the pain and hardships of her illness. It had been a very sacred day. Her college kids had come home to love her and be with her. The Spirit was very strong. Late that night she turned to Scott and said, “I told the kids today you would marry a woman in her 40’s who had never been married.” Then she looked him in the eye and calmly and lovingly said, “Don’t worry…I will help you…and I won’t make you wait long.”

She battled her cancer and the accompanying chemotherapy,–bone pain, nausea, exhaustion, and so many other miseries–and indignities, with a grace and power that was breathtaking for her family to witness firsthand. At one particularly hard time, Scott asked Cindi in the middle of the night, “Do you think we signed up for this in the pre-existence? She smiled and said “Heck, no, I can do hard things, but this is ridiculous!”

After a two-year battle she passed away quietly in her home, with her family and angels all around.

The day after Cindi passed away, the wheels were set in motion. It was the same week I was pouring my heart out to Heavenly Father. A member of our stake thought to line me up with a friend of his. However, this friend thought of his own friend Scott Lindeman instead, as the age was more appropriate.

There were powerful witnesses–events and assurances that made it obvious that angels were clearing the way. At one point, after some unique and very sacred experiences, Scott looked to the sky with a big smile on his face and gratitude in his heart and said to Cindi, “Ok, now you’re just showing off.”

One such experience happened the morning after I first learned about Scott. I was at the gym. Within minutes, a lady began working out next to me. She reached over, touched me on the shoulder, and said, “Hi.” She began to talk. Soon, I knew all about her life. Then she asked me if I had ever been married. I told her no. She stated very matter of factly, “You need to marry a man whose wife has passed away.” I stared at her and asked. “What did you say?”  She continued, “A man in that situation isn’t separated from his wife because they got divorced. They were good to each other, meaning he’s a good man with all the right qualities that you need. If he loved her, he will love you as well.” She left, leaving me to ponder a statement someone had said to me once: “A coincidence is a miracle in which the Lord chooses to remain anonymous.”

Gradually I got to know Scott and learned about Cindi and their family, and what they were going through. The more I got to know him, the more I felt the peaceful reassurance that I knew I would when it was right. It was a feeling of “Oh…there you are. It’s you. I’ve been waiting for you.” As he would drop me off at the end of our dates, I would watch his taillights in the window and pray that Heavenly Father would grant me this blessing. It was such an easy “Yes.” Through the flood of assurances, and special witnesses, I began to see that Heavenly Father had a plan for my life all along, I just hadn’t been able to see it.

For me, that plan required time. That time is one of the things that made the trial so difficult for me. But now I see the bigger picture. That time was very sacred and precious to Scott and Cindi.

I look forward to the day when I meet Cindi. I will embrace her and express my deep gratitude for creating such a beautiful family, and for inviting me to be a part of it. And (in the spiritual sense) for walking arm in arm with me, as I now join this family for the last leg of the trip we call life. I pray that she is always near.

My trial was to wait, to continue stepping into the darkness, not knowing what the outcome would be. Through those years, I did my best to be where I was supposed to be and to remain faithful. This process was to make me strong and humble until my prayers could be answered. Instead of walking in the dark, I eventually learned to trust Him and walk with him day by day.

President Eyring teaches, “To wait upon the Lord is not a passive act, The help of heaven requires working past the point of fatigue so far that only the meek and lowly will keep going long enough. The Lord doesn’t put us through this trial just to give us a grade; he does it because the process will change us and make us the children of God we need to become.”

Christ has suffered more than any of us, and He knows the intensity of our afflictions. There is no suffering we have that He did not undergo in Gethsemane and on Calvary. That is why He understands and can help us.

Carlos H. Amado explains, “We limit our vision to the events that happen in this life, with the greatest emphasis being placed on the present. Only when we fix our gaze on the heavenly things do we begin to understand the eternities. Only with the help of Christ can we fully overcome trials.”

I think most of us have lived long enough to realize we will always have challenges. We need to learn and find meaning, joy and happiness in our lives, even in the midst of those challenges.

Each of our stories is different, but the principles are the same. Keep moving forward, strive to be faithful and be what He needs us to be. We will look back and realize there was a plan. We will see tremendous growth; we will know why it was the right path for us. We will see that our greatest trials laid the foundation for our greatest blessings.

I am eternally grateful for Scott. He is a merciful blessing to me. He is my sweetheart and my friend. I look at all he and Cindi were able to accomplish in raising six beautiful children to embrace the gospel and be such good kids. I feel that Cindi has asked me to take the baton and continue what she started, including, three awesome in-laws, and soon to be eight adorable grandchildren.

Marriage is trying to make each day much sweeter than the last. Enjoy the little things. Don’t make such a big deal out of things. Let them go. Don’t criticize. Appreciate each other. Most things don’t matter. And even though I am pretty inexperienced in this new role, I pray my new family will have patience with me and that we will all have patience and love for each other as we go on to eternity.

I testify that our Heavenly Father is aware of us, and loves us beyond our capacity to understand. Remember the Lord’s comforting promise to you and me in our trials of faith: “Hold on…fear not…for God will be with you forever and ever.” Of this I bear my witness, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen