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Happy Early Valentine's Day! (Rev B)

Dear Muir Rock Family,


Greetings from the plane again. I am flying back from Nashville (not Chicago) to LAX. I have a fictional story to share with you (again) regarding a person named Julie, my a favorite name. The intent is to share what's been on my mind lately with an ideal future spouse. This reminds me of what I had in mind with a future spouse before I met Teri. God provided me someone very different than what I had in mind. As we all have learned from this blog, He exceeded all of our expectations on what I really needed.


Some of you saw that I posted this fictional story earlier in the week. As I expected, it wasn't really received well so I took it down a few hours later. Many people texted me about it, curious about what as going on. I had some good discussions with a few that did read it. So here it is again, with some slight modifications to help with clarity.


Note: It you read the story, feel free to scroll to the bottom and read the Post Story Retrospective since most of it is the same.


Opening Prayer


Dear Jesus,


Please forgive me for thinking that this post about "Julie" was a good idea and deceiving all my friends and family reading this until the very end. Julie is too good to be true. And that is true. I know she isn't real but I sure wish she was.


Help me grow from my selfishness regarding writing about Julie. I feel like I'm in a season that it's all about me and my desires again to be understood. I clearly don't like being single if this Valentine's day holiday seems to bother me more than other holidays. I guess need your help again during another difficult time of uncertainty.


Lastly, thank you for teaching me so much during this difficult season. Before I met Teri, I thought I knew what I wanted for a future spouse. I was also so sure about everyone else I liked before Teri that they were "the one." I never knew you were preparing Teri this whole time in the lovely city of Atlanta. Teri and I were so different, yet I can see how perfect she was for me. And everyone reading this blog and knows Teri seems to feel the same way. You always know exactly what I need. And you're doing just that, right now, with my new life without Teri or Julie.


In Jesus name I pray,

Amen


Jan 1, 2018 - Nice photo of me and Teri (not Julie) in Chicago to celebrate the New Year. So cold!

In the beginning...


Since Muir Rock is about sharing the adventures of Terwin, I'll use "placeholder" photos/videos from my Teri album, that way it's not all text. It may be confusing at first, so don't read while driving. You'll figure it out.


This all started by using those dating apps that I don't like, even though that's how I met Teri. Let's call "Julie" for now. Julie didn't have as much great info as Teri did. What great info? Here's a recap of Teri's amazing eHarmony profile (for reference):


I didn't use eHarmony this time around, it is way too expensive.

Why use online dating? It's a numbers game. It's efficient. If this method worked with meeting Teri, then I must try again, right? And it worked again! Look what this person sent me after we matched:

"Hi Erwin! Nice to meet you. I loved reading your profile. Cute photos of both you and Mayo! Most importantly, thank you for also including a link to your blog. I was so touched by it! I'm so sorry about your loss of Teri. Teri seemed like an amazing person, I wish I could have met her, but not really because then you wouldn't be on this app. You seem like an amazing person as well, and would love to meet you in person as well if you're open to it." - Julie Erwin's future BFF/wife

Wow, that was easy! Let's call this the perfect first message to read during this season I am in. No mind games, no need to ask ChatGPT to help me come up with clever responses. She just cut right to the chase that she's interested too and wants to meet up. She all the ''C's' I'm looking for:


  • Christian

  • Cute

  • Content (happy with life, stable job, church, etc..)

  • Cooks healthy food

  • Chooses Facebook Messenger


One of my favorite parts about meeting Teri was how she accepted my Facebook friend request since I didn't want to use eHarmony. Unfortunately, she kinda blew me off after my first message but it was 12AM her time so I wasn't that upset:



This also reminded me of how she dozed off during our second phone call. We were talking about running, so of course i had to share about some of my recent races. I was really good at putting Teri (and maybe some of you too) to sleep with my stories. There's no way she would have read all these blog posts.


Anyways, I'm not sure what's there to wait on with Julie, right? So I moved stuff in my calendar around so I can see her sooner than later.


The First Date

Since I'm trying to lose weight, we went to a healthy place. It wasn't too loud or crowded. Everything went well! I picked her up at her house, just like I did when I met Teri. Was she cute? Yes. Like Teri, she looked better in person than in her photos. We had a very nice dinner. Then offered to buy me dessert afterwards. We actually shared dessert since we were pretty full.


Mar 1, 2017 - Terwin's first date @ South City Kitchen (Atlanta, GA)

I felt a bit anxious after dropping Julie off since i had a great time. I wasn't sure if she wanted to meet up again, you never know, right? I'm really good at getting friend-zoned, just like Teri did to me after our first date. The only problem with Julie is the competition. She's still dating other people that she met before me. I get it.... she needs to do her thing until she finds the one. It is what it is. While I love competition, competing against other guys in this way is not my thing. I guess that's just part of the process. Julie seems totally worth it so I'm determined to win.


Anyways, when I got home, here's what I sent her:

"Thanks again for meeting up for dinner tonight, I had a really great time getting to know you better and wish we could have talked longer. I appreciate all your honesty about everything as well and getting to spend time aligning on values and goals. I know it’s work going over these things over and over." - Erwin (via Facebook messenger)

And thankfully she replied and didn't ghost me! It's not over. Here's what she said:

Oh hi! You beat me to it. But I just wanted to say thank you for dinner. I had a lovely time. Sorry I couldn’t hang out longer to talk and stuff. It’s been a long day and I appreciate your understanding. - Julie

I'm pretty happy with this response. Seems like she's interested in meeting up again to continue the conversation. I was worried that even though it went well from my perspective, you never know what the other person is thinking. Any response is better than nothing, right?


The Second Date (a few days later)


The day finally came. So far so good, actually seems too good to be true. We had more time on the second date since we hung out on Saturday instead of a weeknight. Since she loves being active (and also uses Strava), she was OK to come to my place in Irvine in the late morning so we can ride my favorite bike in the garage, the tandem bike. My dream come true. First, I gave her a tour of the house. She loved everything that was still on display, including the tree thumb print frame from the wedding.


FYI, this was a slow, recovery ride since I already rode with my other friends that morning. We also didn't want to get too sweaty.


Also in case we split up during the ride (you never know what could happen on a tandem), I asked if we can share locations using FindMy, one of favorite apps. She said yes! I was suggesting just for the day but she just shared her location with me indefinitely.


And for those that forgot, Teri and I did go bike riding that first weekend I met her (on our own bikes, no tandem bike):

Mar 4, 2017 - Silver Comet Trail
Side story: The photo above is when Teri and I rode ~30 miles on the Silver comet on day 4 of my trip to meet her for the first time. I was on a mountain bike and she was on a road bike. She tried a surprise attack to "drop me" in the middle of the ride, and totally failed. What was she thinking...I am not sure? She was impressed that when she looked back, I was still on her wheel. It pays to stay to be in shape for clutch moments like these.

Back to my present day story. After riding, we had a healthy lunch at the house (split pea soup), we gave Powerpoint presentations to each other. Don't worry, we already made them, just had to update a few things. This was used to cover the following topics that are best supported with visuals:


  • Life Mission/vision statement

  • core values/ StrengthsFinder results

  • Goals/ bucket list

  • Spiritual gifts


Julie is also crazy... she was interested in my blog analytics and benchmarks. While she works in the healthcare industry like others in my family, she's into tech (like Teri). She was impressed (but not too surprised) that the average session duration is over 10 minutes and better than 94% of other general blogs in the United States:


Feb 3, 2023 - Benchmarks (last 30 days), muirrock.com. Thank you readers for reading the whole post!

Don't worry, it wasn't all about business and stuff. We also shared photos of our recent trips and watched a few of our favorite youtube videos, including some on my channel that is gaining lots of popularity. She confessed that she already subscribed to and said we should take a cooking class since she can tell from that I have lots to learn from the time I cooked steak for Teri:


I miss cooking Steak for Teri :(


Then we both agreed we needed to get our steps in, so we walked Mayo around the lake. She loves dogs. Good news...Mayo loves her!


Just when I thought it couldn't get any better... .Julie asked if I had a presentation to share about Teri. Of course I do! The one a handful of you have seen at the house with all the photos from the time we met in March 2017 to the funeral in April 2023. When I rush through the presentation, it usually takes me about an hour. But since she had so many great questions, it took over two hours.


I didn't assume she would stay this long, so I was unprepared regarding where to eat for dinner. We ended up getting Sup Noodle (one of my favorite places to eat that's close by). We didn't have any pork. Then we did another walk with Mayo around the lake and happened to catch the sunset. How romantic. Reminds me of Teri. We love sunsets:


Sunset photos with Teri


Overall, I would say that date #2 went very well. We could have hung out longer but since we both serve at church the next day (she loves kids and also does kids ministry).


The big test... Some Time Apart (a whole week)


After that amazing Saturday, I had to travel a few days later for a work conference (not birthday conference). We just kept up through video chat and Facebook Messenger. She isn't the best at replying to me right away, which is actually a great thing since it means she's not always on her phone.


Key status update: As I wrote earlier, she was dating others before she met me. She told me that she decided to stop seeing them since she didn't like multi tasking. This is a great sign as long as I don't screw things up. Unlike all my triathlons, I don't have to stress out about the competition anymore:


I sent this to meme to her (I found in 2017) and she loved it. Hopefully we can do some races together. She may even beat me, she's pretty fit!


Meeting Friends & Family

Meeting the family is a pretty important part to make sure I picked a keeper. I love my family and spending time with Teri and family was always so much fun.


After looking through more photos, the cousins trip to Chicago in May 2019 was a very memorable trip:

The cousins are overdue for another trip. Perhaps we will go on a cruise, great idea.

Now I have someone to bring :)


For our third meeting, she said she was open to visiting my church. I was scheduled for lyrics, so I had to be there for two services. She had no issues watching both services and was curious about serving in Children's ministry at Mariner's since she can see the need. Then we went to lunch at Edwin and Alex's house and was able to meet most of my family as shown in the Chicago photos.


Afterwards, we went back to my house for a little bit to walk Mayo around the lake and to debrief about how she felt about meeting my family. While Julie liked everyone, she also said she felt like things may be going a bit too quickly and wanted to make sure I was okay with the pace. We haven't even talked about rings and wedding expectations in person, just via text. Then Julie said something unexpected.... she asked if she can take a look at Teri's rings since it was a part of my Teri presentation. Of course I said yes, along with showing her some of three photos I had from the store:


April 3, 2019 - The day Teri got a new engagement ring (bottom right)


Here's my favorite part of the story. She said that while it's way too early to talk about the future (we weren't even boyfriend/girlfriend at the time), she said "I'm not sure why I feel this way, but I wanted you to know I would be honored to wear Teri's rings."


I was so humbled. For her, it wasn't about saving money or being efficient. She could tell through reading the blog and how I talked about Teri that Teri is still a big part of my life right now. She didn't see my talking about Teri or blogging as competition, she wanted to be a part of it.


Let's recap the highlights:


  • She's cute

  • She embraces your relationship with Teri and likes to here more about her

  • She doesn't use her phone too much

  • She wants to get married ASAP


You're going too fast Erwin. Like usual. You're being "rush rush." What about meeting her family? Actually I forgot to tell you that I met them already when I picked her up on my first date. They were all there at the house and was very interested in meeting me. They're all great people. More about them later.


The Engagement


Now you know why E40 will have even more to do than a conference....


Since she reads the blog, I can't write much about my engagement plans, except it's happening very soon. I want it to be a surprise. Since I'm already having E40, she said she's open to just doing the wedding at that time, but I will need to find a bigger venue. This was always the plan I joked around about with my friends, so thankfully it may come true.


Sept 23 2017 - The day Terwin got engaged


Post Story Retrospective


First, there are no changes in plans to E40. Hope to see you all there, please register before space runs out.


I've reflected a lot about grief and this story, and how overwhelming my emotions and thoughts regarding relationships can be during this season of remembering and rebuilding.


Right now I think what I need is someone just like "Julie" and for everything to happen very fast like I always want in life. I know someone like her may not exist. Even it she does, that's not what may be what's best for me.


There are aspects of the story that are true that would make me feel better. I still love talking about Teri and sharing my stories about here. I would also love to use the tandem bike again, I can't even remember the last time I've used it. I also could use some healthy cooking or meals, as I haven't been doing so well again with my diet and exercise.


If this were a true story, I would feel a tremendous amount of guilt and anxiety trying to sell to my friends and family that they should support the relationship and aggressive timeline to get married. That doesn't sound like a good idea to me.


I learned a lot about how instead of being patient and actually enjoy the process of dating, I get carried away about efficiency and just wanting to get to the "end goal" which in this case, is marriage.


Good reminder to slow down and not stress about stuff

I'm most encouraged by my close friend who reminded me of this truth after she read the story and sent me this message:

"I have to admit that it scared me because of that person was real, she would have set off a lot of red flags. No one person may fit as perfectly as we want into our existing lives but yes, I do hope you eventually find that girl that shares some common interests but also challenges you by having ones that you may not be as into..."

Reflecting on this story even more, it is true that "Juile" is not what's best for me. Embracing differences are how we can grow and get better, just like Teri and I did since we were SO different.


Closing Prayer


Thank you Jesus for also providing me a handful of readers that can empathize and hopefully laugh a little bit about this ridiculous post. I am also thankful for honest feedback from those that didn't receive it well. I feel so loved and pray that none of them have to experience a loss of a spouse and don't do crazy things like I seem to keep doing. I also pray that they don't unsubscribe or send me not so nice text messages.


Please help me be open minded and truly content to being single for the rest of my life like you were on this earth. Help me embrace singleness and this special season of rebuilding and remembering. Help me make the most of this time to do good things for this world using the gifts and talents you've given me. Help me with being okay that I am not okay being alone with Mayo on Valentine's Day. Times like these are how I can experience your unconditional love for me even more.


Lastly, please also tell Teri I said hi, and thank you that we didn't celebrate Valentine's Day while she was here. In some ways I wish I did. I guess not celebrating with her in the past makes this upcoming one lot easier.


In Jesus name I pray,

Amen


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I actually really like this post. It’s a very creative way to remember your spouse through story telling and make believes. I don’t see that there’s always a linear way to grieve. The human mind does not process things linearly and our minds deconstruct memories in a multi dimensional way; and cognitively our minds don’t see time linearly. Anyways I get how this can confuse people and I’m glad you explained yourself with so much care for others as you always know how.

I’m actually thinking about this future book that you are working on maybe it should really be a fiction rather than a non fiction to start your publishing career.

If you really stand back and look at…

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Praying for you, brutha. May the Lord grant you supernatural peace and contentment (Phil. 4:6–7), especially on V-Day. May He also keep you in perfect peace for the long run as you stay your mind on Him and trust in Him (Is. 26:3). And may He eventually grant you a wife with a good amount of "Julie" qualities in addition to the many others He deems necessary for her to be a helper fit for you (Gen. 2:18).

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Aw, that prayer is so sweet. Lord, please tell Teri hi for me, too. Please tell her that I miss her and love her. I love the steak video. That steak looks delicious! I got scared for a second that Mayo liked someone more than me, but then I saw it was a joke, haha. So funny. I was surprised that the E40 conference was going to be an engagement party as well, but Thankfully, was a joke, too. Funny, haha. You’re doing a great job embraces this season Erwin. One day at a time. We all love you Erwin

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Erwin, thank you for sharing about Julie and about Teri. It takes courage to authentically share your journey, which is an interesting word to think about, as Teri said she was looking for someone who was just that: authentic.


Praying God would meet you in this season, especially with Valentine’s Day this week.


Also that steak looked pretty good even though the off-the-grill temp was slightly over haha. Teri was very blessed to have someone make Target steaks for her!

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