The Rings

January 21.

June 4.

August 28.

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I had my first email with Kenneth “Clique” Thomaston during Memorial Day weekend 2004.

We had our first date about a week later. He came to my house in McCalla with his guitar and a variety of liquid dinners, because our church was in the middle of a 10-day fast*.

This made for an interesting first date, but it was also very meaningful.

The first time Clique and I actually met in person was during a small prayer service at our church a few weeks earlier.

Members had been asked to sign up for a time of prayer (thanks, Bro. Steve) and when I arrived for my group, he just happened to be there. At first, I didn’t realize who he was until one of the pastors said, “Clique, what don’t you start us off?”

So, he prayed.

The first time I ever heard him speak was a time when he was talking to the Lord.

A friend of ours had been trying for months to introduce us, but I had explained to her that I did not want to date anyone. Instead, I wanted to focus on my new relationship with Christ, in order to completely heal from my divorce and grow in my salvation. I was a single mom with two little girls and a date just wasn’t on my list.

As we walked out of the prayer room, I think Clique and I awkwardly introduced ourselves, and a few weeks later he came to check me out in the small group class I attended. Yes, that’s what he did. ☺️

As one of the class greeters, I would email the people who had visited, so I may have used that as an excuse to start a conversation with him…

His email was returned undelivered!

I called our mutual friend to say he gave a fake email (at church of all places) and obviously wasn’t interested.

He contacted me pretty quickly after that.

Fast forward at warp speed….three months later, on August 28, 2004, he proposed to me.

We were at the beach for his best friend’s wedding along with several people from our Sunday School class (chaperones). 😍

That night, as the waves provided the rhythm and the moon provided the light, he played his guitar and sang to me.

He got down on one knee, prayed and then asked my Heavenly Father for permission to marry me. I said yes.

The ring was engraved with Psalm 37:4.

Please know the key to having the desires of your heart, is to delight in the Lord.

This verse doesn’t say we get whatever our heart desires, for the Bible says the heart is deceitful above all things, who can know it?

The Lord can know it.

He can align our desires with His when we are delighting in our relationship with Him, by communication from prayer and through His Word.


Sadly, there is now a plot twist.

This next part of the story is painful, but I’m being transparent enough to share that falling in love isn’t all hearts and flowers.

Love is actually 1 Corinthians 13.

This isn’t just a pretty canvas of verses on your wall, but every word lived out for someone else.

I once heard someone suggest that you should recite that passage using both your name, and your spouse’s (or love interest), in place of the word love.

Are we patient, kind, keeping no records of wrongs (that means no list of past mistakes we throw out in arguments)?

Love isn’t jealous, it does not brag or act arrogant. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.

Love never fails.

What is the most important definition of love?

God is Love… 1 John 4:8

What was our plot twist? We actually had a terrible fight just hours before that beach engagement scene, and I was surprised we recovered from it and he actually went through with the surprise.

When we returned to Birmingham the next day – I gave back the ring.

After all of that beauty, the prayer, the song – even the sand that I saved from where his knee was on the beach (I still have it, by the way, shown below) – I just could not get married.

We were a Hallmark movie.

No, maybe more like a Lifetime movie.

He would probably say a horror movie.

In my defense, I had the most traumatic, horrible, pit-dwelling divorce in 2002. I swore I would never marry again.  Melody was only 9 months old when the papers were filed, and I even swore I would never have children again…going as far as to have my tubes tied at age 28.

I was taking both physical and emotional measures to protect myself from ever experiencing that type of pain from loving or trusting someone again.

This is a good example of why I didn’t need to date because obviously, I needed therapy.

Imagine my shock, when after only three months of knowing me, a handsome, precious man of God decided to marry me and become a father to two little girls. Was he crazy?  I mean, I was quite a looker back then, but marriage?

He said God told him I would be his wife, and I explained that I had not gotten the same memo. I wished God would tell us both.

From August 29, 2004 through early December, we got back together and broke up again several times. It was excruciating for both of us, and I know Clique was especially hurt. I kept changing my mind, and after Christmas Day, we decided it was over.

I was still in turmoil though, trying to understand why God brought this person into my life. Was this His love and mercy offering me a second chance? What about all the sweet ways we met, almost ordained?

How could I be sure Clique wouldn’t leave me one day? How could I risk opening the door of my soul that had been sealed with deadbolts, chains, alarms, duct tape and a blanket shoved under the bottom?

Pray.

Fast.

Seek the Lord like never before.

Block out all distractions and fall on your knees at the throne.


It’s hard to describe how God speaks to us sometimes, but I knew this is what I was supposed to do.

I would not contact Clique at all until I heard from the Lord. One way or the other – I needed an answer.

Like Jacob wrestling with the Lord, and Gideon laying out his fleece over and over, I needed the Lord to settle this and I would not stop asking Him until I knew for sure.

My fast began on January 1, 2005. It was for 21 days. I don’t even remember how I came to know that number. The longest fast I had ever done was the 10 days when we met.

To most people, this sounds impossible. With God, all things are possible.

Although our bodies probably cannot survive long without water, we can survive without food. There were times I was so tempted to eat, but that was when I would pray and study to be sustained by God’s Word. For it says, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.”

Matthew 17

Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 

And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you. 

But this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting.”


I do believe that in times of desperation and failing faith…when we are crawling, and reaching out for the hem of His robe, we have to make sacrifices of the flesh in order to focus on the Spirit.

I was desperate.

I wish I could remember the exact date, but sometime in that last week of the fast…I knew the answer.

Of all places, I was sitting at the Vestavia Chuck E. Cheese with Morgan and Melody, and I just knew. For God to break through the noise and chaos of that place, and settle over me a sense of peace, was a miracle in itself.

Without a doubt, I would marry Kenneth Edward “Clique” Thomaston.

However, I needed a plan of how to tell him, and ask if he would come back to me. I knew I could not go back seeking reconciliation of our engagement because I had hurt him so many times. He probably wouldn’t believe me. What would convince him I was serious this time?

I would buy him a ring, too!

As a symbol of my decision, peace and commitment to marry him, I bought his wedding band.

It had a braided design for the Ecclesiastes verse that describes how two are better than one, but a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

With the Lord, he and I could trust that this marriage would not easily be broken. But, it had to be the three of us, a triple-braided cord, with God binding together two already broken, divorced people, whom He had decided to restore and knit together.

The verse engraved inside his ring?

1 Corinthians 13:13.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

With this ring, he was getting Morgan Faith, Melody Hope, and my Love.

Hallmark movie. ❤️

For reinforcements, I then decided to drive to Georgia and talk to his dad and stepmom (she’s actually what I would call an extra mom, because there’s no “step” about her).

Mike and Dianna Thomaston were married for almost 25 years before he passed away in September. Both lost their previous spouses to death and God blended their families together through what I hear was also a lot of trial and error – and prayer.

Who better than to advise me on what to do, especially Dianna, who lived with a famous “Thomaston.” This family, both men and women, have a certain way about them…a little loud and intimidating, perhaps even hard-headed? But, surely full of love.

This photo above was one I took on that drive, with his new ring along with mine, until I could see him again.

This period of my life was one of the sweetest with the Lord, and I often long for every year, every season, to be just as close and intimate. There is no denying His power, wonder, grace, provision, and forgiveness.

On June 4, 2005, I became Keysha Thomaston.

The rings…on the plane to Costa Rica.

Honeymoon and pottery from Costa Rica, 2005. 

Today is January 21, 2018, and it occurred to me this morning, as I kissed my husband goodbye for one of his trade shows, that it was on this date, in 2005, that the Lord told me he was the one.

I glanced down at my hand and was reminded of the drama this one ring caused in the beginning. But, God knew what He was doing.

Without that period of prayer and fasting, away from the whirlwind romance, I could not have met with the Lord on the level I needed, before I trusted someone else with not just my heart, but my whole life and my children.

Clique did not need the same lessons from the Lord, but I had to let go of the past and be completely healed from things I had tucked away, that would have brought uncertainty to the altar. The clarity of that time is so obvious now, but in the midst of a trial we do not always see clearly. And, that’s where faith comes in. 

It has been 13 years. Don’t ask us when the good and bad years were. As I reflect on the bliss, dreams and photos from that first year, never would I have imagined how many times the Lord would have to wrap us up in that triple-braided rope, just to keep us from unraveling.

I don’t understand how marriages can survive without the Lord. Just like in the fiery furnace of Daniel, when a fourth man was seen walking among the flames, likened to the image of God, without that extra strand, two pieces of thread don’t stay twisted together.

I am so grateful I can sit here today, in our house, knowing we have made it this far.

No, the enemy will not stop his attack on any marriage, on anything that tries to further God’s kingdom, but I rest on the promise that He will never leave us, or forsake us, and He will keep the braid tight, whenever we lose our grip.

Captivate Us (song from our wedding)

Watermark


This is a collection of photos where I can see the ring that I presented to him in 2005. I went through today finding as many as I could, discovering sweet ones, comforting or funny ones, and of coursea few with a Diet Sunkist and a guitar.

Next up, the story about The Honeymoon.

Hint: We need that triple-braided cord in more ways than one, and sooner than we thought! 😂 #sailboat


Thank you…Jim, Angela, Rod, Linda, Steve, Donna, Bill, Dayna, Bruce, Robbie, James, Kim, Dianna, Rachael, Lulu, Josh, Jessie, Courtney, Teresa, Rod, Randy, Jeanette, Buck, Brittany, Lo, Michelle, Harlan, Amelia, Leighann, Andy, the Wootens, the Hardmans, the Ramseys, the Norri, the Shirleys, the Blakes, the Dardens, the Jarvi, the Ruhas, the Farleys, MawMaw, Pawpaw, Mom, Dad, Fred, Tonya, Paige, Geri, Jen, Allison, Erica, Kim, Edwina, Tracy, Kim (there’s several), Monica, Stephanie, the old Amsouth/Regions crew, the old Beretta crew, ACS crew, and all the people I’ve failed to list who invested in us, prayed, encouraged and helped us start this journey.

In memory of Jeremy Clay Simpson, Michael Edward Thomaston and Ann Thomaston Norris.

Copyright © 2018 Keysha Thomaston.


*In my 42 years, there have been three times that I fasted for a longer-than-normal period of time (beyond a few days).

I can’t explain it. It’s not possible if you just decide to fast on your own and God is not in it, because it does not work.  I’ve tried. The times I have fasted and went completely without food was absolutely a time of spiritual growth for me.

To fully rely on God to sustain you, while seeking Him during a heightened state of prayer, is an experience that will change you forever.