The wedding quilt: A local love story

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Randy and Jane Allen married May 1 in front of a joyous crowd of friends and family. Everyone had been a participant in one way or another in their lives, love and the miracle of the Wedding Quilt, according to the couple. The journey they traveled to this moment has been a series of amazing events and miracles. When they met last fall a whole new world of possiblities opened up for them. It opened up in both directions, towards the future but also connected with the past.

He, living in Washington state, but formerly from Florida, had been on several online dating sites, then let his membership lapse. She, living in Florida, just decided to put information on an online site, adventistmatch.com . Understandably, she had concerns. Earlier she prayed about how to know if any match made online would be appropriate. The criteria that came to her was if the respondent called her at work rather than wrote her, she would know to pursue the conversation. She was uncomfortable writing a letter to a man she didn't know but Randy was the only one who interested her. It looked like they had a lot in common, so she took a chance.

Randy hadn't checked the website for awhile so there was a delay in getting the message. He liked her picture, she looked a bit familiar but that didn't make sense. He kept shutting the computer off, giving up and then turning it back on again. He prayed for guidance and asked God if he actually knew this woman. The answer came to him that they had gone to high school together. Prior to this, another classmate had given Randy a copied yearbook, so he flipped through the pages to find Jane had actually been in his senior class in Apopka, Florida, 1972.

He didn't want to rejoin the website, so he ended up having to call her at her job as a church secretary, which was exactly her prayer. He researched, found her, then phoned. That particular day was her birthday, everything fell into place right from the beginning.

"We just hit it off, her family had friends in my family," he said. He flew out there to get acquainted; then she flew here to learn more about him. "I know people who know her, these are people I've known my whole life," he said. They have many similar beliefs and interests; they both are devoted to a spiritual life. "We pray a great deal over the phone," he said. "We finish each other's sentences, like we are of the same mind," he said. They both enjoy scuba diving, snorkeling and have taught school. Both were born on Air Force bases. Both have gone through a divorce. He has three children and she has two.

She inspires him, he said. "She's all about joy. For 28 years her life was not about joy and now it is."

"The joy of the Lord is your strength," she often reminds him. According to Randy, Jane knows, "When I'm not in joy, I'm in the wrong place." It was a miracle that they met again after 38 years. The miracles continued with his marriage proposal and the selecting and giving of her engagement gift: the quilt.

"I prayed about what to give her as a token of my love and promise to her. I did not want a ring or watch or traditional token..." He recalled Jane had mentioned to him how important the Biblical story of Ruth and Boaz was to her. In the story Boaz covers Ruth with his cloak. Randy wanted something like that, but not sure what, something large and beautiful. He consulted with Irene Walters, a relative, and she suggested he look at Macy's. There he looked at scarves but they weren't as large as what he envisioned. He went to several other stores on Main St., scarves weren't quite right, although cloth was good.

Standing in front of the doorway to the Sew & Vac and Spas, he knew he needed to go in. He glanced up and saw several quilts on display, one in particular caught his attention. "It reminded me of the Carribbean with its bright blues and suns in the middle." He knew he was on the right track, so he took photos of the quilts with his phone for reference.

Not sure what to do, he thought maybe he should buy some fabric and make something for Jane. So he drove to Jo-Ann Fabrics in the Eastgate, where a number of employees helped him. Maybe he was looking for silk. "Silk sounded pretty," he said.

At Jo-Ann's Debbie Fine came over to help him. They had a conversation with a number of the women that worked there. He showed Debbie the picture of the blue quilt on his phone. She knew Glo James, who made quilts. It turns out Randy had met this woman years ago, doing carpentry work for her. He called, left a message, then decided since time was short, he'd stop by.

He ended up on her porch just as she returned his call. He said, "Look outside!" They were talking to each other on the phone and in person simultaneously. She had a friend who made many quilts and he felt more confident he was on the right track.

Randy called Brie Clearwater, the quilter and asked if she might be able to make a quilt for him. He showed her the picture of the Carribbean quilt at the Sew & Vac shop. "Upon seeing it, Brie's eyes got as big as saucers and she said she'd made that quilt..."

One like it or that very quilt? "I made that very quilt."

"No way."

"Oh yes way."

Brie explained it was an expensive quilt that she'd pretty much given to Tanja Seeliger at the Sew & Vac. Randy was directed back to the store with the blue Carribbean quilt on display. Tanja was there and spontaneously Randy dropped down to his knees in front of her to propose buying the quilt. She said she needed time to think about it, but Randy's departure was the next day. She decided to sell it to him. The next question: how much? It would have to be cash. On the spur of the moment he asked her what the back looked like. She was surprised the back wasn't the same expensive fabric as the front and needed to recalibrate the price. Then amazingly enough, the refigured amount was exactly the amount of money he had in his wallet for the gift. The quilt arrived in his hands within an hour of his departure to propose to Jane.

"Prayerfully, I felt very completely that God was in this whole chain of events," Randy said. He got the quilt, made it to the airport, proposed to Jane and she accepted. He gave her the quilt as a symbol of his love and promise.

In March Jane again came out to Washington state, he wanted to introduce her to the people involved in the whole miraculous chain of events leading to his purchase of the quilt.

On the last day of her visit they returned to Jo-Ann's to look for Debbie. She wasn't working that day but "just happened to be there right at that moment shopping for something." He showed her the quilt, she met Jane and Randy mentioned he is thinking about submitting the story to the newspaper.

"Debbie then tells me something that blows me away," he said. "Debbie knows someone at the paper who writes these stories. Sure enough Karlene calls me and we set up an appointment to tell her the story."

Originally scheduled to take place in Florida, the wedding was moved to Washington because a volunteer just happened to be available to take over Jane's work at the time needed, to work three weeks for free. In addition to the bride and groom, the pastor and matron of honor were high school classmates as well. So this commitment to the future bonds with the friendships of the past.

Joy and love permeate the couple's relationship. They have so much in common. The quilt also reminds Jane of scuba diving, which they both love to do.

"The turquoise, the blues and greens, look just like the ocean and the suns in the center. It's an artist's palette," she says. Their bond includes a committment to a spiritual life.

"We just watch for His providential hand to show," they said. The couple continually ask for divine guidance, wait for an answer they believe is from God, then act on the information.

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