The Wedding of Team M-Squared

I didn’t want to get up there and be incoherent, but that’s exactly what happened.  I started the prayer with “Thank You! Thank you, God, for this day, for this opportunity to come before you….”  I tried to say other things, but my eyes welled up with tears, my voice began to shake and my heart took over.

M-Squared Wedding

Faith’s Thoughts:

Last year was eventful. I started a new job, Terry and I celebrated 1 year of marriage, I returned to school full time, Terry unexpectedly lost his mother and my first-born son got married. Those are just some the events that happened from January-July.  I had a hard time remembering what year it was because everything was happening so fast.  I kind of lost track of time. I remember some of the moments of 2018, but the year seems like a blur.  With all the events from 2018 that occurred, one of the happiest moments was Davion’s wedding!  In the past, I prayed for that day. I had prayed for Davion’s wife and from the day that I knew I was carrying life, I prayed for Davion. I won’t go into detail in this post about how wonderful of a son Davion is.

He was a sophomore in college when I began to fervently pray about Davion’s love life and the woman who would be his wife.  My single moms small group at church had just finished studying “Fervent”, a book on prayer by Priscilla Shirer.  Whenever I asked Davion why he wasn’t dating, he said that girls didn’t like him because he was “too nice.” So, this mama started fervently praying for Davion’s love life.  One of my mentors taught me years ago to pray that my son would find a woman who would be “bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh” which is a reference to Genesis 2:23-24. I also prayed for a woman who would honor Davion and appreciate who he is.

The church’s single moms small group decided to host a prayer breakfast as culmination on our study about prayer strategies.  We planned it for the weekend of Mother’s Day 2016 and invited other single moms to attend.  It was a beautiful event.  We had a professional photographer donate family photos to the moms, prepared a delicious brunch for the moms and had wonderful gifts for everyone.  It was beautiful!  I told my kids the only thing I wanted for Mother’s Day that year was for them to help me with the event.  Davion came down from Jacksonville that weekend to help with childcare.  He first laid eyes on the woman would eventually be his wife as she was dropping her son off for childcare so that she could attend the single mom’s prayer breakfast.  She was a beautiful young woman and a great mom with a (very) charming little boy, Keylan.  Davion and Keylan bonded in the nursery during the prayer breakfast while I prayed for a wife for Davion and Keylan’s mom prayed for a husband.  He learned her name as she was picking Keylan up from childcare: Faith. Her name was Faith! Davion was smitten and intrigued.

It was very enlightening to watch Davion fall in love with Faith.  Honestly, watching Davion pursue Faith taught me a great deal about relationships.  Through observing him, I learned that when a man wants a woman, she doesn’t have to wonder about his interest. I watched Davion plan out dates and work out babysitting arrangements.  I babysat Keylan for their first date.  I was very happy that he and Faith were dating: 1) because I had prayed for a woman just like Faith; 2) Faith lived in Daytona and went to the same church as me and 3) Davion came home more often and went to church 😊. I continued to watch him grow in love for her and Keylan.  I met Faith’s mother, Iana at Faith’s graduation from cosmetology school. We exchanged numbers that night without our kids knowing and began to pray weekly for Davion and Faith’s relationship. Seven months later, Davion proposed to Faith.

Terry was very supportive throughout everything.  The couple decided on a dessert reception. I volunteered Terry and I to provide a candy bar for the reception (I’m still learning to not offer us to do things without talking to Terry first).  I started obsessing about the candy. Terry helped me to figure out my vision and ordered the items.  He was there to help set up the church and there to help tear it all down. He even ironed handkerchiefs for Iana and I in anticipation of our tears.

Davion and Faith became husband and wife on July 14, 2018. The ceremony was beautiful. I remember sitting in the rehearsal thinking, “I don’t think I’m going to make it through the ceremony without crying.”  A part of Davion’s vows were to Keylan as he promised to be his dad and honor his vows to Faith.  Davion and Faith asked me, Iana, and their premarital counselor Dina to pray over them during apart of their ceremony.  I rehearsed some things that I wanted to pray over them.  Some of the things that Iana and I had prayed over them weekly as we continued to pray after the kids were engaged, I wanted to repeat in my prayer over them in public.  I didn’t want to get up there and be incoherent, but that’s exactly what happened.  I started the prayer with “Thank You! Thank you, God, for this day, for this opportunity to come before you….”  I tried to say other things, but my eyes welled up with tears, my voice began to shake and my heart took over.  All I could say was “Thank You.  Thank you, God for allowing me to see this day.  To see my prayers over my son being manifested in his life.  Thank you for choosing me to be his mom and strengthening me to raise him.  Thank You, God for the people You placed in my life to help me raise him.  Thank you for this wonderful woman Davion was marrying and this precious little boy he loved.” All I could say was thank you.  July 14, 2018, my first born became a husband and a father. Terry and I became grandparents and “in-loves”. After that I kinda lost track of time.

Faith

 

The Big Day – Team M2

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

The period after my mother passed was a mixture of thanksgiving, fatigue and sadness as I had to take care of my mother’s affair.  Yet, there was something that was coming that forced me to change my mindset and my attitude: the wedding of Davion and Faith.  One of the best things about being in a blended family (at least for me) is the fact that some things that people have to wait decades to experience happens in a matter of weeks or months for me.  In less than 3 months, I was going to have a daughter-in-law and a grandson.

Davion and Faith had been dating prior to me marrying Faith.  They both played an integral part in our wedding ceremony and they caught the garter and bouquet (yes, it was a setup, I admit it).  These two seemed destined to be together, yet it was a surprise that a few months after Faith and I got married that they announced that they were getting married in 2018. In my time around these two, I recognized that they not only loved each other and appreciated each other’s company, but knew that despite the differences in their backgrounds, they were going to allow God to be the head of their lives.

As the months to the wedding came closer and closer to occurring, I had to focus on one person: my wife, Faith.  Davion is her first born and her first son.  As the first born and first son of my parents, I understand the expectations from some people, but especially my mother.  The great thing about Faith and FM2 (this is the nickname that I have for Davion’s bride to differentiate the two when they are in the same room) is that they had and have a great relationship.  Yet, this was her first-born and there was something that Faith needed to do to ensure that this marriage would last: Pray.  Faith is and always has been a prayer warrior and she enlisted FM2 mom, Iana, as an ally early on in their children’s relationship.  These two would send up “timber” weekly concerning their children and their relationship.  From the time that they got serious in their dating, through the announcement of their engagement to the impending wedding, these two prayer warriors set faith in motion to ensure that their children would start and continue down the correct path.

As the wedding date got closer and closer, Faith became more and more “Momma Bear” and I needed to make sure that “Momma Bear” didn’t rip anyone’s head off if they tried to upset the wedding.  Although there were no major problems that could not be taken care of, I made it my mission to make sure that both momma bears did not rip anyone’s head off their body for making any move that threatened the success of the union.  I knew that I would need to run interference for Davion, FM2 and both moms, so I took half the week off from work so that I could be available.  Looking back, I laugh at the things that were said between the two when things would try to come up and my response would always be the same “what do I need to do to make it better.”

The day of the wedding, I was running around playing chauffeur, gopher, designer, roadie, point-man and whatever I needed to be to keep people from being incinerated by laser beam eyes due to people not doing what was asked of them.  For me, it was a labor of love that these two were putting their trust and faith in God that they have heard from Him on who would be the person that they would share the rest of their lives with.  Having spent half of my life in marital bliss, I understood the importance of knowing that the person that God placed in your life would be there for you for better or worse can have on your heart, mind and spirit.  I wanted to do what I could do in the natural what the two mothers have done in the spirit realm through their prayer: help get these two complete their journey to becoming one.

During the ceremony, they had several things that were unlike anything that I had ever seen before.  They requested that certain people (especially the two mothers) pray for them, their marriage and have certain people come and lay hands on them during the prayer.  As always, the protector in me came out and I placed myself strategically near Davion and laid hands on him and prayed within myself that he would have the strength to be the husband and father that God has called him to be. While I was praying this on the inside, Faith was praying for them like she had never prayed before.  The love for her first born and his bride and the success of marriage came out in a prayer unlike I have ever heard before.  Of all the timber that had been sent up before the wedding could not match the amount of timber that was sent up a that moment.  If a foundation for their successful marriage was laid that day, that prayer was a significant portion of it.

When the vows had been exchanged and the pronouncement of their union made, I was HAPPY!  Happy for the new couple, happy for the mothers, happy for the families and happy that no one had to be taken out because they acted stupid (you know there’s always one).  My thoughts turned to the events that I just witnessed and experienced and memories of my own wedding a little over 15 months earlier.  I was happy that I was able to play a part in ensuring that the couple had a great start to the rest of their lives together and could be a witness of their union before God and man.  Most of all, I was happy because I went from being Mr. Terry to G-Pop to my newly minted grandson!

-T

 

A Memorial to Dorothy W. Bryant…My Mom

I had just reached a point where I was no longer upset with the month of April as 35 years ago on April 15th, my father left this earth.  Now, 35 years and 8 days later, my mother joined him.  Wow…I didn’t see that coming nor expected it so soon.

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

The past few weeks have been extremely difficult for me with the sudden passing of my mother…my mom, Dorothy W. Bryant.  The last words that I heard her say was “I Love You.” These are words that I will never hear again from her lips.  I had just reached a point where I was no longer upset with the month of April as 35 years ago on April 15th, my father left this earth.  Now, 35 years and 8 days later, my mother joined him.  Wow…I didn’t see that coming nor expected it so soon.

To know my mom was to know that she loved helping people and loved talking.  Boy, did she love talking.  When I would have to travel somewhere by vehicle by myself, I could always call her, and she would talk me either to the location or back (sometimes both) without me having to say too much.  She would ride virtual “shotgun” with me and keep me abreast of what was going on back home.  From graduations and weddings to funerals and births, mom would tell me what I needed to know to still feel a part of the community. I would appreciate this as this was her attempt to help me still feel that IF I wanted to come back, I could fit in as I never left.  From time to time, she would ask me if I was planning on coming back and my answer would always be the same: “I don’t know. If God leads me back here, I guess I will be back.”  I never thought that I would come back, but at the same time, I never ruled it out.  I just didn’t know.

One of the things that I enjoyed most about my mother is that as the oldest of all her siblings, she took it upon herself to make sure that the family always had a place to gather together during the holidays.  From Thanksgiving to Christmas, mom always wanted to have something at her house and didn’t want to be anywhere else.  She would start planning weeks before the holiday and tell me all the things that she was going to cook and bake for those that she either knew were going to come by or those that she thought might come by (and most of the time, she was right.)  Last year, I called her and told her that we were coming home for Thanksgiving and I would be doing all the cooking.  She could still bake (I had to let her do something or she wouldn’t agree to it), but I was cooking dinner.  While I was working in the kitchen, she sat back and laughed and talked and bragged about how I was cooking Thanksgiving dinner and wouldn’t let her cook and she was happy that I did it for her.  Although she tried to get family member to come visit with me, this trip was all about spending time with her.  After almost a decade of having to work during the holidays, I was finally able to spend it with her.

The loss of a parent is painful in its own right, but when one does not have any siblings to lean upon during these times, it can be extremely painful and sorrowful.  Yet, there is one thing that in spite of all our trials and tribulations, sorrows and triumphs, that I can say: my mother knew who her Lord and Savior was.  I can take comfort in my time of sorrow and pain to know that she is in the Father’s presence and singing with the choir invisible.  She is praising God in her glorified body with those of like precious faith.  Although I will miss my mom and wanted to spend more time with her on this side of the river Jordan, I cannot help but think that she is enjoying herself without the pain and cares that this world brings.  One day, I will see her again (hopefully not too soon) and we will have the ultimate family reunion.  But until that time comes, I am left with many memories to pass on to my family and to cherish in my heart.

Mom, you slipped out on me and a lot of other people.  You were ready to leave but didn’t give anyone enough time to try to talk you out of wanting to go.  You said “good bye” to those who heard it and said “I love you” to those who would feel the pain the most.  Your laugh and smile will always remain in my heart and my mind.  You will always be a part of me as I was a part of you.  Your memory will live on and your legacy will endure through those whom you touched throughout the years.

Loving you always.

Your son, Terry

 

Dorothy Bryant

Faith’s Thoughts:

Mother-in-law relationships are a tricky dynamic. The fact that I’ll be a mother-in-law in 2 months makes me more aware of what Terry’s mom, Ms. Dorothy must have been going through upon being introduced to me for the first time as the woman Terry wanted to marry. She was kind, but cautious and rightfully so. I didn’t want to force myself on her. I tried to let things develop organically. Ultimately, a mom wants a woman who loves and honors her son and I was sure that, over time, she’d see that. I assumed that we’d have (more) time.

This year in January, when Terry turned a year older, I felt a strong urge to write his mother a thank you note. I tried to talk myself out of it a few times, thinking I should wait until Mother’s Day to send her a note. I’m so glad I did finally send it off a few days after Terry’s birthday. I started off telling her how I’m sure it must be weird to be receiving a greeting from me when it was Terry’s birthday, not hers. I told her, that as a mom, I know how much work and dedication goes into raising a man/child. I thanked her for raising such a wonderful and gentle man. I told her how much I appreciate her persistence in making sure that his lessons in chivalry were embedded into his brain. In response, I received a card from her, thanking me for my letter. She expressed how much it moved her and how she read it several times and it comforted her.

I’m guessing Ms. Dorothy’s love language was words of affirmation. She always sent cards to people she loved for special occupations and she had a knack for picking out the perfect card. The last card we received from her was an Anniversary card in March. When we called to thank her, I commented on how perfect it was! She revealed that she had picked it out shortly after our wedding the year before. When I glance over at that card now, it means so much, yet it reminds me that I’ll never receive a card from her again.

On April 24th, when we finally came to terms with the fact that Ms. Dorothy had passed away suddenly, my first thought was “I’m so glad we got married when we did and she was able to see Terry happy.”  My second was, “I was so glad that I sent her the letter and expressed to her how much I value her only child.”  We packed quick and drove to South Carolina. As we walked in the house, I looked around and my brain flooded with thoughts. Ms. Dorothy was a great host. The beds to the guest rooms were made and the rooms were cleaned and decorated with her touch of love. She had all types of stationary and cards she kept on hand to send to people for special occasions. She was so thoughtful and it showed in every corner of her home. Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Ms. Dorothy made people feel loved, important, and comfortable and she has inspired me to do the same. I never told Terry about the letter I sent to his mom when I sent it. We didn’t talk about it until this week when he let me know that in going through his mom’s important documents, he found the letter I wrote to her.  Had I waited until Mother’s Day to honor her, it would have been too late. Tell those you love that you do. Do it often; say it in numerous ways. Make those around you feel important, comfortable, and loved.

Faith

 

The Wedding Planner, Part 3: The Wedding Day

Before Davion and I began our walk, I looked at him and said, “I’m really getting married, huh?” When I made eye contact with Terry, I smiled. I thought about all the planning we had put into the wedding and there we were: me behind a veil and him in a tux with a pastor there only a few minutes away from saying “I do.”

The Wedding Day

Faith’s Thoughts:

I always wanted my wedding day to be full of family, food, and dancing. I didn’t want to be stressed over every detail. My wedding day was everything that I always wanted!  The night before my best friend -Alisha, my daughter and I had a girls’ movie night in a hotel room we had rented for the weekend. We did facials and watched chick flicks. I woke up and needed to pinch myself, I was getting married today! From the first thought of the day until we left the reception, it was like I was walking on air. Alisha was my wedding coordinator/maid of honor and she had done such a great job of attending to the details. There was a little bit of a hiccup as I had gotten my hair done the day before and as careful as I tried to sleep Friday night, my hair needed a little touching up Saturday. My hairstylist was gracious enough to let me come back Saturday morning so she could fix what my sound sleeping had messed up. She got me in and out and I got to the museum timely. I wanted my sister Hope to do my makeup, but there was an issue which caused her not to be able to make if to Florida. So, she contacted another makeup artist who came and did an outstanding job on my makeup. After makeup, I put on my dress and I felt so regal! My seamstress Comfort did an AMAZING job on my dress. It was her idea to add the veil and I was so glad she thought of it because the veil made me feel bridal. Once I was dressed, Alisha had a surprise for me. My mom and my sisters presented me with something old, new, borrowed, and blue. Davion presented me with a memento which he kept from his childhood which made him think of me. It was all so beautiful and I was trying not to cry and mess up my newly “beat face”.

Before I knew it, it was time to start the wedding. Initially I did not want to walk down the stairs at the museum. I was scared I would trip and fall, but I changed my mind. I told Davion, “Your main job in giving me away is to make sure I don’t fall down those steps.” He did good. I had chosen the song “Suddenly” by Billy Ocean as the song I’d walk to because it seemed to describe my feelings perfectly. I truly did think ‘love was just a fairytale’ and after getting to know Terry, life and love have a new meaning to me. Before Davion and I began our walk, I looked at him and said, “I’m really getting married, huh?” When I made eye contact with Terry, I smiled. I thought about all the planning we had put into the wedding and there we were: me behind a veil and him in a tux with a pastor there only a few minutes away from saying “I do.”

The ceremony was beautiful. It went so fast! Nick sang “For You” by Kenny Latimore. I was so proud of him. Princess was as beautiful as ever and Davion was such a great source of strength for me. Terry and I took communion together which I didn’t expect to be as emotional as it was for me. We played “Now behold the Lamb” by Kirk Franklin and the Family.  I’ve always loved that song!  Hearing it as Terry and I took communion at our wedding caused the tears to flow. One line in the lyrics says, “Why you love me so, I’ll never know.”  That’s what broke me.  The love I have always felt from God, the love and support I felt from my children and the love that Terry had displayed made me feel like I was so unworthy of it all, but very thankful just the same.

Terry and I wrote our own vows.  I had hoped to remember mine, but I was too nervous to trust my memory, so I read them.  I put together some of the things I had learned in pre-marital counseling and other things our pastor had been preaching on concerning marriage. Terry’s vows to me were beautiful.  He was so calm delivering his vows.  He was ready to deliver those vows to me the day he proposed.  He included in his vows his “vow” to convert all my family to Steelers Nation and after the season the Dolphins had, my dad might be the first to convert.  After the vows, we said, “I do” and kissed.  It was probably the first time my kids had seen me kiss anyone. As the ceremony closed and Terry and I were presented as Mr. and Mrs. Bryant, the song playing was “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.

The whole thing was so much fun!  I’d do it every year if it wasn’t so expensive.  The ceremony and the reception were so beautiful!   A few times, I wanted to cancel the wedding because I thought no one would want to come. I didn’t want to offend anyone or hurt anyone by having a wedding ceremony.  I am extremely thankful for everyone who came, who wanted to come, who prayed for us and continue to pray for us. Our day was so special and so memorable because I got to spend it with loved ones.

-Faith

The Wedding Planner, Part 3: The Wedding Day

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

The day had finally arrived.  All the planning, “spirited discussions” and everything else that would lead up to the moment where Faith and I would be husband and wife were about to come to fruition.  I had booked a room for her and her bridal party 2 days before the wedding and was secure in the knowledge that if no one showed up, we could still get married as there only needed to be 3 signatures: the officiant, Faith’s and mine.  Everyone and everything else was secondary.  I even went as to have back up officiants on duty in the event something occurred at the last minute.  This wedding was going to take place – no matter what!

As I made my final preparations to leave for the museum, I was checking things off in my head one line at a time.  Once I got the natural things checked off, I went back through my spiritual list of things to check off.  One thing that I always told people is that it’s never too late to back out of a marriage BEFORE you say, ‘I Do’, but once you say it, it’s time to go through it until the end of your days.  That can be easier said than done for some people.  I checked myself one last time before making this lifetime commitment.  I knew this was the woman that God had for me.  I knew I wanted to be with this woman for the rest of my life.  I knew I found my “good thing” as stated in Proverbs 18:22. What I wanted to make sure was that I fully examined myself and was certain that I was not doing anything that would be detrimental to Faith if we were to become husband and wife.

What I found when I checked myself was that not only was I 1000% certain that God had led me to the right one, but we completed each other in areas that we did not know or realize that we needed completing in.  For so long we both had trials and tests that challenged our faith in God from time to time.  These tests helped us become the people that we are today.  We never knew why we went through some of the things that we went through (some were self-inflicted), but in the end, we were being fashioned by the Master Potter to be displayed for all to see.  Our wedding day would be the display case for His marvelous work in our lives.

Once we got to the museum and were preparing for the wedding, I made final checks within myself and with the day of wedding coordinators. No matter what, this wedding was going to go off on time and on schedule.  Once the music started, it was game time.  All joking was put aside and time for me to take my bride and make her my wife and partner for life.  I had already told her father that he wasn’t getting her back (and I still tell him that to this day), but today was the day that all my words would line up with my actions and I would pledge my love and devotion to Faith in front of God, family and friends.

Once the ceremony started and everything started working like a Swiss-made watch, I could see the pressure lift off from Faith’s face as she realized that this wasn’t a dream and she wouldn’t wake up back in her apartment alone.  Her face radiated all the love, passion and trust that she demonstrated all during our courtship and now it was coming to fruition that we were actually going through with what we planned.  As the Rude Boys said, “It’s written all over your face, you don’t have to say a word.”

When it was all over, we were now Mr. and Mrs. A. Terry Bryant.  After pictures and the reception, I looked forward to one thing: getting out of that rented tuxedo and getting some sleep.  Unbeknownst to Faith, I spent the last several days praying late at night about our new blended family and our future together.  I was tired from all the planning, phone calls, emails, moving and everything that needed to take place to make the transition from one household to another as stress free as possible for Faith.  The one thing that we had established was a relationship based on prayer.  We prayed together, and I wanted to ensure that the foundation to our marriage would continue to have prayer as a major component.

I can truly say looking back on that day that I would only change one thing: less cake.  I am thankful that God has blessed me with a beautiful wife, helpmate, friend, queen and prayer partner.  This first year has been great, but I look forward to the next 40+ years with this wonderful woman that I love and call my wife, Mrs. Faith Y. Bryant.

-Terry

The Wedding Planner, Part 1: Culture

‘Where has this place been hiding and why didn’t anyone tell me about this place before?’ I asked myself. Each location had more and more to offer. Some too much, while others not enough. I knew what I wanted in my head and in my heart but didn’t know if they could offer it. Were we in for a HUGE surprise.

The Wedding Planner, Part 1: Culture

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

When we started planning the wedding, my thought was to allow Faith to have control on what she wanted for a wedding and for me to come along and say “Yup, works for me.”  Well, that’s not how it worked out.  Faith is a ‘big picture’ person and knows what it should look like in the end, whereas I am both ‘big picture’ and ‘small details’ type of person.  I know what it should look like in the end, but I also recognize that if all the steps are not done, the big picture will be very, very fuzzy and out of focus.

When we started, Faith had multiple ideas on where she wanted to have the ceremony.  She comes from a large family and wanted to have the majority of them attend, but there is this thing called a budget that prevented us from renting out Daytona International Speedway or the Amway Center in Orlando to hold everyone.  This caused her to have to face the fact that everyone she wanted to invite would not be able to be invited.  My family is not as large and scattered, but there were people that I wanted to invite as well, thus cutting into the number of family and friends that she wanted to invite.  As this was her first wedding (and last), I recognized that she didn’t really understand that everyone wasn’t going to be able to be invited and everyone was not going to attend.  This was going to be hard emotionally on her and I knew I needed to be there to make sure she didn’t get discouraged.

With that, we agreed that I should take the lead in the planning of the wedding.  I didn’t want her to look like the “bad guy” for not inviting everyone under the sun, but at the same time, we had agreed we would not go into debt to pay for a wedding that would only last a few hours and have to pay for it over the next 3-5 years.  We had more important goals in mind: a house and being debt free so that we could pursue the goal of writing and speaking full time.  So, we began the process of selecting a site that would be both elegant yet have the potential to have a large quantity of guest.  Our first thought was the church that we attended and using the chapel.  It was large enough to hold the number of guest that we agreed upon inviting, but also close to where we wanted to have the wedding to accommodate everyone who were going to travel to attend the festivities.  One of the things that we kept talking about was the fact that we wanted to keep the cost of decorating down to a minimum.  I am a minimalist and enjoy simple yet elegant things.  As we started “considering the costs” of decorating the space, it became more and more apparent that it was going to cost more that we budgeted to get the look that we were hoping for.  To this end, we began to open our search to other places.

It was during this time when Faith spoke with someone who told her about attending a wedding at a museum.  Hmmm…a museum you say?  Which one?  My mind began to race.  As a self-professed history and science “geek/nerd”, I thought a museum would be the perfect blend of elegance and affordability.  We could look like a million-dollar wedding, but not have to pay a million dollars.  As we got more and more information about the site, we became more and more intrigued about the idea of getting married at the museum.  It had a planetarium and several other potential places to have the ceremony.  So many options, so little time.  So, we decided to call and make an appointment to check it out.  Boy, were we in for a surprise when we arrived.  We met the person that helped arrange events at the museum and she gave us the grand tour of the museum.  ‘Where has this place been hiding and why didn’t anyone tell me about this place before?’ I asked myself.  Each location had more and more to offer.  Some too much, while others not enough.  I knew what I wanted in my head and in my heart but didn’t know if they could offer it.  Were we in for a HUGE surprise.

Just like any salesperson, the best was saved for last.  We were taken to the newest building and it knocked me off my feet when we entered the front door.  The space was grand, yet simply elegant.  As we toured the gallery, my head was spinning with all the things that I knew I wanted to see for our wedding but didn’t know if it was available.  Boy, was it available!  From the gilded frames to the skylights to the beautiful artwork, the museum WAS the decorations.  No need to add anything else (in my opinion.)  As we continue to walk around, I could see certain things in certain places.  This was the place!  I didn’t need to see anymore, I just needed to know how much it was going to cost.  Then reality hit…the cost. (Cue the music…) It was the ENTIRE AMOUNT that we budgeted for the facility and decorations.  Well, there goes the hope of cutting down on the cost.  We took the package back with us and told our host that we would contact her on Monday of our decision.  Time was of the essence.  We needed to make a decision and make it soon.

As we talked on the way to lunch, we were both excited about the prospect of being married in such a beautiful setting.  The setup, staffing and tables were included in the pricing and we had access to the entire gallery building after the wedding!  For someone who appreciates both art and education, this was a win-win-win!  As we debated, I explained that with everything that was included in the price, the only thing we need to bring was the food and the music!  They would even allow us to bring in our own caterer (as long as they were licensed and insured.)  Cha-ching!  We both knew that this was the place that we were going to commit ourselves to one another, but I have a hard and fast rule: no major decisions without prayer and waiting at least 24 hours.  So, we prayed about it and didn’t talk about it until the next day (Sunday.)

When we saw each other at church, I knew what the decision was going to be, and I could see it in her eyes as well.  After service, we both agreed that the museum would be our best option and would save our sanity because so many things would be included in the price that we would have either had to coordinate or pay someone to do.  All I could say was that our peace of mind was worth the money.  Sometimes, paying a few dollars more for extra peace of mind is a worthy investment.  With that, the first major piece of the puzzle was in place and now onto other things such as catering, linens, music and centerpieces.  But that is for another time…

-Terry

P.S. For those who would like more information about the museum and all the wonderful exhibits that they have available, please visit www.moas.org .  I am 100% certain that they would enjoy a visit from you and your family.

 

When Terry Asked Me to Marry Him

Faith’s Thoughts:

When Terry asked me to marry him (after I said yes) my immediate thought was I wanted a wedding ceremony. I wanted a pretty dress.  I wanted my friends and family there to share my joy. I wanted my kids to be a part of my ceremony. I wanted something simple, but I also wanted it to be memorable.  The first few folks that I told that I was engaged were Davion, Nicholas Jr., and Faith De’Yanah (Princess)-my wonderful children. Davion immediately said he wanted to walk me down the aisle and give me away.  I knew I wanted Nicholas to sing and he gladly agreed.  I wanted Princess to be a bridesmaid, but she wanted to be a flower girl, so I had a 16-year-old flower girl. My kids were genuinely so happy for me, which really blessed me. They could tell how happy I was which in turn made them comfortable.

Terry and I had already talked so much about marriage and neither of us wanted a long engagement. I had spent years thinking I’d never heal from divorce, years fearing that no one would love me, more years thinking I’d never be able to trust and years thinking it would be hard to find a man who treated me as well as God treated me. After 17 years of “thinking”, I wasn’t about to spend more time than necessary planning a wedding day. Terry proposed in December, we were married in March.

I wanted a simple (small) wedding with a pretty dress, but there was a large problem with my small wedding plans. My large family, my large church family and my large group of friends and supporters (my village). Trying to figure out who I could invite from my village was torturous. Then Terry had the nerve to want to invite people too. Thankfully, he’s an only child. I don’t think our invite list was ever 50/50. I think we started at about 70/30. Terry knew that was stressing me out; he was so gracious.

Initially, I was very adamant about wanting to get married in a church. I didn’t want it in a large sanctuary though. That felt too detached. We explored some options at churches, but I wasn’t in-love with any.  While trying to find venues for my wedding in Florida, my daughter and I were also planning her sweet 16 in Georgia. Terry and I traveled to Georgia to check out some venues for Princess’s party. While in Georgia, I started up a conversation with a stranger (as I often do). She was visiting Georgia for a friend’s wedding where she was a bridesmaid. I inquired where the wedding was being held so as to check out the venue for my daughter’s party. She told me that the wedding was taking place in a museum. I didn’t know that museums hosted private events. Well, turns out that 16-year-old girls aren’t so interested in having a party in a museum, but I found it quite intriguing for a wedding. When I returned to Florida, I reached out to the Museum of Arts and Science to inquire about their wedding packages. To my surprise, the rates were not as pricy as I had thought. I shared my information with Terry who was immediately fascinated as well. We both love history and art so we planned to go view the museum.

The wedding coordinator at The Museum of Arts and Sciences at Daytona Beach was very professional and thorough. She also had very high ratings and high praise from previous brides. From our first conversation, I knew I was dealing with someone who knew what she was doing and operated in excellence. The museum offered many options for the ceremony. First, we viewed the planetarium. I liked the idea of the planetarium. It was different and would definitely be memorable. The planetarium engineer showed us the lighting variations and the options for the starry night we wanted on display. Terry asked him to show us the night of our first date. Although it was special sitting under those starts with such a loving and thoughtful man, I realized how impractical it would be to get married under the stars. To really appreciate the planetarium, the lights had to be low. I feared tripping and I was worried about our how our photos would show up in such dim light. Next, we viewed a few other galleries in the museum. The galleries were well lit, open and beautiful. I could see myself getting married there, but there was more still to show.

The final stop on the tour was the newest addition to the museum: The Cici & Hyatt Brown Museum of Art. When I walked in, my heart was filled! I had found my venue. The building was stunning! Natural light poured into the gallery from every angle. It felt open, it felt simple and it was certainly memorable. The second half of the building was a 2-story gallery with an open stair case which made a lovely wedding backdrop. That was my venue!  I was in love! I could tell Terry liked it too, but we had some things to discuss before we could sign the contract. We would have to revise our guest list.  At that point, we were about 80/20 with 80% of the guest being mine. So, deciding on the museum meant making more tortuous cuts to my portion of the guest list.

– Faith

The Blending, Part 3: The Children

One of the things that I was aware of with all the children, but especially Princess,was that they needed to see that I not only loved and cared for their mother, but openly demonstrated this love and compassion despite what others may think or say.  It was during this time that I decided to show the “princess” how the “queen” would and should be treated.

The Blending, Part 3: The Children

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

Many people asked me when Faith and I were dating “Well, what about her children?”  My response was “What about them?”  The line of questioning was not one of concern about how we would blend the families together, but rather was it negative questioning if I wanted the children to be in our lives together.  This would irritate me to no end, but I would patiently explain to them that the children would be an integral part of our family.  Having never fathered children of my own and was in the process of adopting 2 girls when Mia passed, the idea of having an expanded family was very exciting and intriguing all at the same time. There were several things that I had to consider when contemplating and praying on how we should proceed in the process of blending:

  1. The children were not “kids.” Davion and Nicholas were both in college and Faith (aka Princess) was a sophomore in high school.  They understood what our relationship could possibly mean to their relationship with their mother.
  2. Their father was an integral part of the co-parenting relationship that Faith had established. I never wanted to be a “replacement” father figure for them, rather an additional resource with a different point of view since I was older than both of their parents.
  3. They had already had relationships with other step-parents, but I was going to be the first step-father that they would have. It was very important that they understood that I had expectations from them to be respectful of me and my household, just as I was respectful of them and their familiar relationships.

The “Boys”

As I previously stated, Davion and Nicholas weren’t ‘kids’, rather young men that had been reared primarily with Faith as the main guide in their lives.  She did a remarkable job in making sure that they did not take things or people for granted as well as understanding what and how a young man should treat their significant other.  I had met the boys a few years earlier at a small group function when they were helping Faith clean up after the event.  They were very respectful and well mannered (which was to be expected considering who their mother is.)  The next time I had any substantial interaction with them was December 2015 when I was asked to “volunteer” to be one of the three wise men at the church.  Nicholas was “voluntold” to be a wise man and he took it all in stride.  It was his senior year in high school and he was preparing to play football.  Davion, on the other hand, had traveled from Jacksonville to help aid and was fashionably late to avoid being a wise man (thus I was “volunteered”.)  While trying to change into costumes that were NOT made for people over 250lbs and/or over 6’ in height, Nicholas and I struck up a conversation on what his future plans would be.  After our “performance”, Davion joined us, and he and I talked about his future plans after he graduated from college.  I found both to be very engaging and conscious of their place in the world.

After Faith and I started dating each other, Davion was the first of the children that I would begin to develop a relationship with.  As he was the oldest and had a more mature view of how the relationship his mother and I were developing, Davion was supportive and was intrigued at the idea of having a stepfather.  I was extremely impressed at his view of the world and how dedicated he was that he and his siblings would ensure that their mother would be happy and safe.  In many ways, he reminded me of myself and my mother when it came to make sure that my mother’s heart would be safe.  Over time, we would gradually learn to appreciate the differences and experiences that each other had and would grow to respect one another.

Nicholas, on the other hand, is not only the youngest of the boys, but he is also the middle child.  It doesn’t help that he is also the largest physically (both in stature and girth) of all the children.  Yet, considering that he plays football, he is not your stereotypical jock.  Nicholas was very observant and respectful.  He understood that Faith and I were in a relationship, but the idea that “Mom” was about to get married was something completely different.  I reminded him of our meeting in 2015 as the three wise men and the conversation we had that day.  Fortunately, he remembered the conversation and it help allay some of the apprehension that he (and I) had when we became reacquainted with each other.  He was just entering his freshman year in college and was transitioning from being a high school student to an independent young man.  The thought of another male entering the family dynamic was not something that was on his radar.  I understood that there could be challenges, but I was prepared to do whatever was needed to ensure that Nicholas would understand that he isn’t losing his mother, but gaining a new family that would be there to support him as he continued to transition into adulthood.

“Princess”

While I was able to develop a relationship with Davion and Nicholas due to their proximity to Faith and me (they were both in school in Jacksonville), there was one member that was going to be difficult to establish a consistent rapport with: the youngest and only girl of the group Faith (aka “Princess.”)  Princess was living with her father in Atlanta and Faith would have her during the holidays.  Since Faith and I were seeing each other, and Faith would have Princess during the holidays, we decided to make a trip to Atlanta to help with the transition prior to the holidays.  Faith had begun preparing Princess for the meeting/introduction the weeks leading up to our visit. One of the things that I was aware of with all the children, but especially Princess, was that they needed to see that I not only loved and cared for their mother, but openly demonstrated this love and compassion despite what others may think or say.  It was during this time that I decided to show the “princess” how the “queen” would and should be treated.

During our time together during the holidays, I would demonstrate how a gentleman should treat a lady and made certain that she waited until I came around to open the door for her just as I did with her mother.  There are times when words are good, but actions are better.  By demonstrating the actions and beliefs that I have regarding how a lady should be treated, I began to lay the ground work to help Princess understand not only how her mother would be treated, but what she should expect in a young man who attempted to show his affections.

It was during this first trip as well as subsequent trips for Thanksgiving and Christmas that year that I was able to begin to forge a growing relationship with her and the boys.  Realistically, I knew that my work was just the beginning of a journey rather than the end.  As 2017 came and Princess’ 16th birthday party came closer, I chose a path that some people may have found unusual: I stepped back.  Faith and her ex-husband jointly brought her from a young girl to a young lady.  Some people would have taken this opportunity to show that they were the one who needed to be in charge.  Sometimes, stepping back and allowing the spotlight to shine on someone else can show how confident you are.  By stepping back during the planning and providing support and feedback when necessary, I was able to show all three children that I was not threatened by their relationship with their father and was not going to demand to be included in everything just because I was dating their mother.

In the end, my relationship with each of the children is one that continues to grow and evolve at different rates.  Yet, I am hopeful that in the long term, they will understand that I do love and care for them and their welfare.  Not because I am married to their mother, but rather because they are now a part of something larger: being a Bryant.  Whether its via blood or marriage, being a Bryant is something of significance.  Bryant means “strong in the Lord.”  It is my desire that they have a relationship with Christ that they understand that they are strong in the Lord and that no weapon that is formed against them will prosper.  This does not diminish who they are.   Just as we are adopted into God’s family through our relationship with Jesus, I pray that they understand the power and authority they have within themselves and be an example of how being a Bryant can better prepare them for what the world will try to challenge them each day.  By being ‘Bryant’, prayerfully they will implement the things that have been placed into their spirits since childhood and use them as weapons of warfare as adults.  Thus, our children have Faith to be Strong in the Lord.

– Terry

 

Faith’s Thoughts:

I hadn’t dated in 7 years when I changed my Facebook status to “In a Relationship.”  I didn’t date because I was so scared of giving my heart to anyone. I was even more scared of the possibility of yielding parental control to a man who wasn’t my kids’ father. I thought the most practical thing to do was just not date. Once my sons reached a certain age, I thought it would be too difficult for them to adjust to a new male authority figure in the home. That wasn’t my ‘professional opinion’, just my own personal fears. Once my daughter reached a certain age, I was too protective of her to even consider having a man in the house. I already had trust issues and I had heard so many horror stories about people entering into their child(ren)’s lives. That was all the motivation I needed to focus totally on the kids and give love a chance after they left the house.

When Nick (my middle child) graduated high school, I had initially anticipated it being myself and my daughter Princess. She was entering the 10th grade and I figured I hadn’t dated for 7 years, 3 more wouldn’t be hard at all. Princess (my nickname for my daughter), decided that she wanted to finish her high school career in Georgia with her dad. So, I ended up with an empty nest a little earlier than expected. She’s was still a minor, so technically I didn’t have an empty nest, but for the first time in 22 years, I would not have a child in the home to distract me from that “scary” thing called dating.  I realized early into our relationship that Terry wasn’t the bachelor type.  He wasn’t looking to play the field and I wasn’t necessarily stalling anymore. Now, my concern shifted to, “how will I tell the kids” that I was in love.  Terry and I prayed every night that the kids would be accepting.

My oldest son, Davion, was one of the first people I told that I was in love and considering marriage. I was a little scared that he would be skeptical. He was instead very excited. He had this huge sigh of relief. He said, “Oh my goodness mom, I’m so happy for you! I was afraid that I would have to take care of you forever.”  Davion was happy because Terry relieved him of his “responsibility” to “take care of me”.  I don’t know where he got the notion that I needed him to take care of me. I was a little insulted about that, but more relieved that he was supportive.  I was expecting this long conversation with lots of explaining to do, but it was nothing like I expected.  At that point, Davion was in his junior year of college, he had lived on his own since high school and payed his own bills. He didn’t see my marriage as having a huge impact on him or maybe he did and he welcomed the impact of a good man in his mom’s life.

My middle child, Nick, was also happy for me.  Both the boys trusted my judgement and knew that I wouldn’t be contemplating marrying a “scrub”.  All my children are very well-loved, but Nick has had more undivided attention than anyone else.  Nick’s last 2 years at home was just him and me. He probably won’t admit this, but I think he became a little attached (some say spoiled) during that time. I think in his mind; 1) Terry would be my husband,2) he would be my baby boy, and 3) Terry would be a non-factor in his life.  Nick was more standoffish with Terry. He was respectful, but watchful.  He was 18 and living in the dorm at school. He went to school for one semester and came home on Thanksgiving break to his mom talking about marriage.  It was a big transition.  When I told him, he smiled and gave me a hug. “I’m happy for you mom”, he said.  He meant it, although I don’t think he really considered the implications. 2 kids down, 1 to go.

You would think that the boys would be harder on their mom’s suitor, but Princess was a little more skeptical than the boys.  Maybe not skeptical, but she, more than the boys, recognized that my marriage affected them even though they weren’t living at home. Princess was living with her dad in another state, but I traveled to see her every time that I had an opportunity. Terry and I went to see her, so she could meet him.  She said she was happy for me, but sad for herself.  She was sad because she realized that things would be different when she came home. She was nervous about how my relationship with Terry would affect her relationship with me.  Princess could not remember seeing me date. As far as she could remember, it was just them and I.  I didn’t want anyone sad, especially not my “Pretty Princess Girl.”  The boys were in Jacksonville, which was only an hour away from home.  Terry and I could spend more time with the boys than with Princess.  When she was with us, however, she could see how well he treated me and her.  I remember her saying, “I can tell you are happy, so I’m happy for you.”

I considered all three of the children in every aspect of my decision.  I always told single moms that when considering a mate: 1) choose someone who you would be proud of your son(s) becoming like; 2) you would be proud of your daughter(s) marrying someone like him and 3) model a relationship that you would be proud of your children emulating.  Terry fit the bill in every aspect.  I was a little ignorant about what marrying Terry would mean for the family dynamic.  I had fantasized in my mind that waiting until the kids were out of the house meant we would not have issues with family blending.  It was just a fantasy.  Now I believe it’s not just a matter of where the kids lived, but a matter of if they were ready. Even then, there were still issues to be dealt with.  You can’t prevent issues.  I was reminded recently that trust is built from dealing with issues.  The key is to marry someone who will be mature and loving through issues. Someone confident enough to know their role and not be intimidated by the kids’ role.  I always said, “the man I would marry had to be both strong and gentle.”  A man that’s strong and secure in who he is, but gentle in the way he leads.  That’s my husband.  His strong, yet gentle way was one of the indicators that he was the one for me.

– Faith