Our Love Story by Ardis Thomas

After my loving husband of 52 years passed away Jan.4,2011, I told the Lord that I had had the greatest marriage and would prefer to stay single the rest of my life.  I have two of the greatest sons and my sister and brother and their spouses and just didn’t feel like I needed a husband again.  One morning, a year after my husband died, the Lord awakened me about 3:30 am and told me I was selfish.  I felt the Lord was at the wrong house but he said it a second time and I answered, “If I am selfish you will have to tell me how.”  He then told me, “You are selfish because you will not open your heart to love another man.”  I hit the floor crying and stayed there a long time.  When I got up I ask Him if he found someone for me to choose someone nice  and please make him sweet.

It all began after my oldest son put me on  Plenty of Fish which is an on line dating site.  The site sent me an email asking me if I would like to meet Norval by putting his picture before me.  His smile was very inviting so I looked at his profile.  I remember nothing but this one sentence, “I am looking for someone but expect God to send her.”  I didn’t respond with an email but did take the option a woman has and sent him a flirt.  That caused the dating service to send him an email stating that I may be interested in him.  He then went to my site and read my profile which was long and very informative.  He then wrote me an email and told me he didn’t think he could keep up with me,   but if I was still interested he gave me his phone number.  I had plans to go to Atlanta 2 days later to pick up my sister who lives 15 miles from Norval so I called and ask if we could meet on Sunday 2/24/2013.  We made arrangements to meet at Cracker Barrel and spent 2 ½ hours talking.  Then Norval asked if he could escort me to my car and if we could pray together.  When we got in the car he even asked if he could hold my hand while praying.  What a gentleman.  When he prayed it was the same prayer I had prayed over and over as I had driven there.   My prayer was, if God wanted to put us together please let us know up front.  If not, let us know so we could just be friends and maybe prayer partners.  I didn’t want a long distance relationship and we were more than 2½ hours apart.  While he prayed my heart started to pound. I had brought him some of my chicken’s fresh yard eggs and had promised him I would give him a dozen and because of the prayer and my brain racing and heart pounding forgot to give them to him. When I arrived at my sister’s I realized my broken promise. My sister suggested I send him a text and offer to meet him after church and give him the eggs. We met and talked about an hour and decided to have breakfast that Thursday am after I would returned my sister to Atlanta. I had shared with him my difficulty in trying to kiss a man since my husband had passed away and he had assured me he would make no advances and let me lead in that area. But that night I tried a peck or two and realized with him it might actually be OK. The next weekend I spent with my boys on vacation in Gatlinburg and we texted some. He seemed lots of fun and we agreed on him coming to my home the following weekend to meet my sons. He came 3/8/13 and actually arrived a bit earlier than we had expected. I took him around our rafting outpost and properties on my Kawasaki 700 and gave him a bit of a thrill. I tried not to be too wild but I do like to have fun with it. We came back to the house to finish supper and I gave him a glass of my homemade wine. Then the Lord spoke to me and asked me if I would I love him. I looked at him and then told the Lord that I would go over and see by trying to give him a real kiss. We can’t remember if I was polite and asked if I could kiss him or if I just did it. Anyway, I did and it was good and I gave him a second kiss and wow, he said, my knees are weak and God spoke to me and said, “You will love more passionately than you have ever loved before”.  Didn’t know what He meant but at that moment the Lord filled me with a love for Norval that was so great that had he asked me to marry him that moment I would have said “Yes” because of my relationship with the Lord, the trust I have in the Lord, and the feelings He had just given me for this man I knew almost nothing about. We continued seeing each other as often as possible and God kept giving us a greater Love for each other. He came and brought his Grandson to my 75th birthday celebration 5/4/38.  Two mornings later the Lord woke me and told me that he had brought his son Norval to me on March 8th and when I accepted Norval God gave me the Love for him and we were betrothed at that moment and he had become my husband. The Lord wanted me to study Betrothal in Jewish customs which gave me the understanding I was now to begin to prepare for the marriage celebration which could be up to a year.  However, I knew I would be married before the end of the year…..a knowledge and understanding he put in my spirit.  He told me to be patient he was working with Norval. He kept increasing my Love for Norval.  Norval had started praying for me every evening as we talked and I watched God working as he prayed. On Wednesday 5/22/2013  God dealt with me to take all my deceased  husband’s suits (he was a pastor so he had over a dozen suits) to a second hand store in Robinsville. I had given away everything else but I had put the suits way back in the closet years before he died because we couldn’t dress him in them. I figured God had a pastor that needed them in Robinsville  so I didn’t question the extra drive to a further town. I put them in the car and as I was about to drive out of my driveway God spoke to me, “They are closed.” I stopped and called my son to look up the number and I called and no answer so I turned around and told the Lord I would take them Thursday. Thursday my son had me making errands in our town Bryson City which has 3 used stores so I asked if I could drop them off and save gas and time and it was a clear NO. So I headed to Robinsville. I had a great time worshiping the Lord on the way and the drive is so beautiful I was grateful until I arrived and the store had just closed for the day. Their hours were only 10-2PM. I asked the Lord why he didn’t stop me like he had Wednesday and then I had to repent and tell him I enjoyed the drive and the extra time with him and that the suits would be at the store Friday by 10 am. The next day was the Friday before Memorial Day and a busy one for me at the rafting company so I was in a hurry to obey the Lord and get rid of these suits this poor pastor must need. As I unloaded the suits to take them into the store the Lord spoke to me and said, “I have a dress for you.” The understanding was a wedding dress but I had a nice dress I had settled on already in my closet. I had run in the store in March looking for some things Mark had wanted and noticed about 30 wedding dresses along a back wall and though: what a great place for a bride to get a dress and help this church store also, but of course I didn’t need one. So after giving them the suits I asked if the wedding dresses were still in the back and they said, “oh no, they are all gone.” I said, “All”. They said, “No we only have 3 and they are right over there.” I said, “It only takes one.” I walked over and there were 2 white dresses and one cream and I said, “I will take the cream one.” They asked me what size I needed and I told them size didn’t matter I knew it would fit like a glove. Anyway, I was in a hurry to get back to the rafting company. But I did want a better price. So they gave me $10 off and then said, Oh wait, We have a sale today and tomorrow for Memorial Day with 25% off everything. That was a blessing for me and  I am sure one reason why the Lord delayed me until Friday. I did break down and try on the dress for the women because I knew it would be a testimony for them about the Lord and of course the dress fit me like a glove and I am only 5’2″ which is pretty short and yes, the dress was exactly the right length, so that was also perfect. By the way; about a month later the Lord woke me up about 3:30 am one morning and said, “I gave you the shoes to match the dress a long time ago.” I jumped up and there in my closet was one box with shoes and yes they matched the cream satin color exactly and the lace design perfectly.   It was as if they were made at the same time. Who gave them to me I don’t know and how God kept me from passing them on because I would never wear them or have anything that would go with them is another miracle. I am not one for a lot of shoes in my closet.  I had moved them from Louisiana when we moved to North Carolina. On 8/18/2013 as  Norval was holding me he turned and said, “Will you marry me.” We had been talking about our relationship and being together forever but this was the formal question that had not been asked.  I answered “Yes” so fast he didn’t have time to take anything back.  We were married on Dec. 14, 2013.    We know that  God has put us together for his purpose and for our good. We will bless each other for the rest of our lives. We have now been married over four years.  The first year of our marriage we were on cruises 29 days, the second year 47 days, the third year 28 days and the fourth year 12 years.  We love cruising, and visiting relatives and friends during the winter and are committed to Paddle Inn during the summer.  We love working together and just totally love being together.  I cannot imagine loving anyone anymore than we love each other.

Last year March was difficult for us (2017).  Norval almost bled to death through a nose bleed on March 3-4th.  Then on March 14th he had a stroke.  We have learned that when one looses more than 40% of their blood most of the time they either have a stroke or a heart attach within 10-12 days.  We did not get out of the hospital and rehab until April 11th.  Because of that we were late at opening up last spring.  Norval did well and was in the office working the board and helping with the drawer.  Norval’s progress was amazing during the season. And he is looking forward to walking among the customs more this season.    Mark and I are great at making people better.  Norval says, “They are the best Doctor’s around and force you to get better.”  His progress is almost a miracle.  Please keep us in prayer.

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