The Wedding Planner, Part 2: The Transition

This was love. This was help, provision and protection.  This was something I never had. This was what it was to have a great husband.  I was ready.

The Move

Faith’s Thoughts:

No one hates moving more than me. In one of my moves, I gave away all my furniture rather than deal with the chore of moving it. Getting married to Terry meant moving in together-which meant MOVING. Thankfully, all the kids had moved out. Nicholas still had a bedroom in the apartment, but he was away at school and it was unoccupied. Terry had a house full of things and a storage unit full of more things. I had an apartment full of things. We were good on things. Moving in together mean downsizing. The process took about a month and a half. While we were planning our wedding, we were also working on the chore of merging households.

There were some improvement projects (read repairs) that needed to be done before I moved out. Both Terry and I are readers who have an attachment to physical books, so we had to merge libraries. Then, there was the “small” chore of consolidating closets. We moved in increments. After work, I would come home, load up things to take to Terry’s house and we would find a place for it. Sometimes, Terry would stop by my apartment to take things to his house. I gave away most of my furniture weeks before we got married. Terry and Davion did the heavy lifting and I had to pack.

The emptier the apartment became, the lonelier it seemed. I remember at one point coming home to an almost empty apartment thinking, “If this dude backs out of this after I’ve given away all my furniture, I’m going to hurt him.” That was one of those “irrational fears” which were running rampant during that time. I had developed a strategy to deal with them. I began to rationalize them intelligently. Terry was investing just as much time in this move as I was. He spent Saturday’s painting walls and fixing cabinets in my apartment and helping me deliver the furniture that I donated. He was just as heavily invested in this as I was. I realized I didn’t have to hurt him.

Moving meant changing my address and having my mail forwarded.  Every step was more than a check off my to-do list.  It was a realization that I was about to get married.  It wasn’t just my address which was changing, my life was changing. It wasn’t just my mail being forwarded, I was moving forward. I had peace, but I was scared. I was scared, yet I was moving forward.

Terry demonstrated many great qualities to me during our moving process. He showed me how he was a hard worker. While I was having my bridal shower, he was being a handy man and fixing things at the apartment. He didn’t complain once, although he did make a few comments about the number of clothes that I was bringing to invade his closet space.  He showed me that he could handle stress. We were merging households, planning a wedding, dealing with drama and he was in the process of being promoted at work. He had all that going on, but he still made me a priority. He was sending me flowers and being attentive to my needs. This was love. This was help, provision and protection.  This was something I never had. This was what it was to have a great husband.  I was ready.

-Faith

The Wedding Planner, Part 2: The Transition

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

As we were planning the wedding there was one thing that we also had to plan for: transitioning from 2 separate households to one house.  She was moving from her apartment to what would soon become our home in Palm Coast.  For months, I had been urging her to slowly review what did and did not need to come (as everyone should do when moving) and let me start bringing non-essential items from her apartment to the house.  This was easier said than done.  Having helped many people move (and having moved several times myself) the one thing that I recognized is that when moving, one must declutter before moving to prevent the unnecessary going up and down 2 flights of stairs.  Stairs are NOT a mover’s best friend, especially one who is in their mid-40’s.

So, over the month of February and the first part of March, we talked about what things needed to make the trip and those that needed to either be donated or sent to the great big dumpster in the yard.  Now, this didn’t mean that I had nothing to do on my end.  I had to prepare to make room for Faith in my closet (who has not had to share her closet for years)!  This is a woman whose walk-in closet was larger enough for a person to have a twin bed and still be able to get in and out of.  Oy vey!  One of the first things that I recognized was that everything that she had in the closet was NOT going to make it, so the winnowing process would begin for both of us.

I never had a lot of closet space in the first place, but this was a whole new experience.  The reason for so much clothing in the closet was because Faith didn’t have a dresser in her bedroom and hung just about everything up or had a hanging organizer for the things that couldn’t be hung.  (It pays to be watchful and recognize what can be condensed and what could be relocated to another area.)  As we went through the closet, I noticed she had her books and other material in her closet, which made it easy and convenient for her to get to when needed.  I had several book cases that had space, so my library was about to change to our library and approximately double in size and variety.  The more that we looked over the closet, the more confidence that I had that I wouldn’t have to purchase several chifforobes (if you don’t know what a chifforobe is, look it up) to place all MY clothes in and give up the closet.

As we got closer and closer to the time when she had to be completely moved out, the anxiety level started to increase for the two of us.  For me, it was making sure that everything was moved out in time before the end of the month as we would be on our honeymoon and did not want to pay for any additional days that she wasn’t in the apartment.  For Faith, it was the realization that she was actually going to get married in a few short days and that her life would change forever.  It was a time of great excitement and tension as I looked forward to having Faith and the rest of the family become part of my clan.

As a planner, I plan how things should go and have an idea of how they should be accomplished.  The one thing that I could not plan is how Faith would react to leaving the place that she called home for several years to move over 30 miles further north to a place that she only frequented from time to time that we would call home.  I was not the one who was taking a “leap of faith”, rather it was Faith who was taking the leap.  She was trusting God that she was making the correct decision and trusting me that I would not betray the trust that I had earned.  She was jumping in with both feet into a new world and I had to make sure that she did not regret the decision that she was making.

Once we got everything moved, except what she needed for the final week and for our honeymoon, there was a sense of “ok, it’s almost time.”  We were less than a week away from becoming husband and wife and it felt like the calm before the storm.  Most people have heard stories of wedding plans going haywire at the last minute, but that was not going to be the case for me and my bride.  All the major components had been completed and the move had been completed.  I would not allow Faith to get stressed out about small foxes; it’s my job to deal with them and make sure they would not have an impact on our “happily ever after.”  The only thing left to do was to get everyone together and get this marriage started…we just had to wait a few…more…days.

-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

No Valentine’s Day? Yep, No Valentine’s Day

Anyone can get flowers, cards or candy for a few days when everyone is expecting it. But, if you get the flowers, cards, candy or make a meal that she loves without asking, it means exponentially more because it comes from the heart rather than from the world.

Valentine’s Day

Faith’s Thoughts:

Terry has been extremely romantic from the beginning of our relationship. I explained in a previous post that I had never been loved on in that way. I didn’t think I liked it. Before being a recipient, I thought flowers were a waste a money since they die. After a few bouquets, however, I loved them! I loved to have a bouquet at my desk at work which reminded me every time I saw them I was loved. When people would comment about them, it made me think of Terry who went out of his way to make me feel special. Once it got close to Valentine’s day, Terry explained to me that he doesn’t “celebrate” Valentines because he expresses his love every day. I wasn’t too disappointed though because I hadn’t celebrated that holiday since I was a kid in elementary school passing out valentines to my classmates. I didn’t hate it though like many single people. Valentine’s Day didn’t remind me more than any other day that I was single. Every morning that I woke up, got the kids up and ready for school (by myself), came home to cook dinner, help with homework, and do all the other tasks which were required of me. I was reminded of my singleness. Surely at the beginning of the month when it was up to me to pay all the bills, I was rudely reminded that I was (very) single. Sadly, I didn’t have an expectation of romance in a relationship. I hoped for partnership and the lack of partnership was the greatest reminder of my singleness, not the lack of romance. So, having Terry demonstrate partnership and romance was more than I could ever ask or think.

Terry isn’t a pessimistic person, but regarding Valentine’s Day, I’d describe his attitude as cynical. Terry explained that he didn’t participate in Valentine’s Day because he doesn’t need a date on a calendar to show love since he shows it all year. He also doesn’t appreciate how things are so overpriced for Valentine’s Day and restaurants are crowded. Some people would say “Would you rather celebrate love one day of the year or every other day?” I think that’s a copout. I don’t understand why the choice has a be so drastic. Some men (especially my husband) LOVE the game of football. He’s a fan from the NFL draft to training camp, preseason football, regular season games, the playoffs, and then there’s the Super Bowl. We don’t have to choose between the regular season and the Super Bowl. We watch them both and during the Super Bowl, we celebrate! We go all out like we haven’t been watching for months. Personally, I think those who are romantic should be looking forward to Valentine’s Day all year. Not because it’s the only day to celebrate, but because they get to really go all out.

I’m new to romance and relationships. I like it more than I thought I would. I look forward to Terry’s sweet gestures, so I don’t want any day to be off limits. Ultimately though, my “love tank” is full. He keeps it full, but I’m not opposed to having the tank topped off. If I must choose between being showered with love 1 day or 364 days, certainly, I’d choose 364 days. But, just as there shouldn’t be a day to dictate when we celebrate love, there shouldn’t be a day when we withhold it either. I don’t need a card, not even flowers, Lord knows I have no desire to wait in line a fancy restraint, but I think Valentine’s Day could be made special without giving into the commercialization of it all.

– Faith

No Valentine’s Day? Yep, No Valentine’s Day

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

I remember the first time that I told Faith that I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. The look on her face was a combination of shock, disbelief and wonder. She said “Okay…”, but the tone in her voice was like “What do you mean ‘You don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day?’” All the things that I had done for her in the months leading up to Valentine’s Day had her overwhelmed with tokens of love and lots and lots of flowers. Of all the days to give flowers, why not give them on Valentine’s Day? The explanation was simple and yet profound: why wait until two or three days (four if you are married) a year to show someone how much you love them?

One of the things that I learned early on in life was that time is short and fleeting and no one knows when it is time to meet the Master. The event that made me take this stand was the death of my father. He was scheduled to come home from the hospital on a Sunday and had a massive heart attack on the Friday before his discharge date. I was so looking forward to spending time with him again as unlike now where children have more liberty to visit their parents in the hospital, at that time, it was very restrictive in both times of day and the amount of time that could be spent. There were so many things that I wanted to say to him and ask him about when he got home, and I never got the opportunity to say them. I never got the opportunity to tell him that I missed him and loved him. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, he was gone. I vowed I would never have that feeling of not letting someone I loved to know how much I loved them and would not wait until a few days of the year to express it.

To this end, I explained to Faith that I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. I celebrate my love for her each and every day. Why wait when I can show her that I care for her, I adore her and I love her for who she is? Anyone can get flowers, cards or candy for a few days when everyone is expecting it. But, if you get the flowers, cards, candy or make a meal that she loves without asking, it means exponentially more because it comes from the heart rather than from the world. To have the love of your life look with amazement and adoration (as well as her co-workers) when something shows up when she least expects it is priceless. I enjoy letting people know that I love my wife, but I love even more when I do something that shows the world that she is my queen and she shows it in her smile.

One of the things that I enjoy is her smile. I don’t smile a lot, but Faith smiles enough for the two of us. I don’t ever want that smile to go away, so I do what I need to do to make sure that it remains on her face. From little things such as picking up a new lunch bag so that she can stay on track with her program to making sure there is gas in the tank when she runs it down, these are just some things that I do to make sure that she keeps a smile on her face. As the Rude Boys sang “It’s written all over your face, you don’t have to say a word” I want that smile to always say “Terry loves me.” Thus, this is the reason I don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. Every day is Valentine’s Day for the one that I love.

– Terry

Post script: So, many have asked “Did you do anything special for Valentine’s Day this year?” Well, the answer is yes and no. Let me explain: the plan (as always) is to do what I am going to do before the day arrives. Well, thanks to delays in delivery, what I ordered didn’t arrive until Valentine’s Day. So, in essence I didn’t and I did do something special for Valentine’s Day. But for me, every day is a day to celebrate my love for my queen.

-Terry

Marriage Counseling: How We Got to Look at Each Other Without the Rose-colored Glasses

I look forward to the day when we’ll look back at our “beautiful day” (the wedding) and say, “It’s also been a beautiful life as man and wife.”

Pre-Marital counseling

Faith’s Thoughts:

It was important for me that Terry and I go through premarital counseling. I’ve been a big advocate of counseling since my divorce. I was 21 with 2 kids and pregnant with my third child when my divorce was finalized. I was working full time and I didn’t have any friends whom I could confide it. I had friends and family, but I felt so ashamed that I didn’t want to share with them what was going on in my head. I tried to keep it all to myself. I tried to manage motherhood, pregnancy, divorce and a demanding job all by myself. I wasn’t managing any of it very well. Actually, I was cracking. I was horrible to work with and I’m pretty sure I wasn’t much better to live with. I worked with mostly men and I remember one telling me, “I’m not your ‘baby daddy’. You can’t keep taking this out on me.” That was harsh, but it helped me to realize that I wasn’t managing this situation.  It was getting worse and I needed help. I took advantage of my company’s EAP program and I was connected to a counselor. Those sessions of counseling were so impactful! Some of the tools I learned in those sessions, I still use 18 years later to help me manage tough situations. There have been other occasions throughout my life when counseling was very beneficial for my children and I. Whenever the situation called for a professional, I called a professional (no shame). Many people place a stigma on counseling, but I’m so thankful that I had it available to me and I didn’t have to try to figure out those tough seasons with (my) limited knowledge.

When Terry proposed to me, I let him know how important pre-marital counseling was to me and I was so thankful that he was willing to go. I didn’t know if Terry was just doing it because he knew it was important to me or because he knew Florida offers a discount on marriage licenses if the couple completes pre-marital counseling. At one point, I feared that Terry wouldn’t take pre-marital counseling seriously because he had a successful marriage for over 20 years. I thought that he would think he didn’t have anything to learn. I remember our first “spirited fellowship” came because of my fears. We had a homework assignment to do for our session and I felt that Terry was rushing through it. Instead of saying what I feared, I just got angry and shutdown. Thankfully we had homework to do for counseling, so we had to talk it out.

I remember when I sent the email to request the pre-marital counseling. I was nervous. I knew some people had reservations about if Terry could be ready to take such a big step so soon with me. I wasn’t sure what response I was going to get. I did not want to make a hasty decision. I recognized my need for wise counsel concerning the matter, but I really wanted to share my engagement news with someone who would gush with me instead of taking a deep breath and then sigh. Kim did not take a deep breath nor sigh. She was honest and insightful and helped me to be more at ease. She assured me that this process wasn’t to beat neither of us up about our decision but to help us to build on a solid foundation. Kim spoke about marriage with an excitement that I had either never heard before, or (always) ignored before. It was very refreshing and helped to ease me nerves about this role I was preparing to fill. WIFE!

I really enjoyed the format of our counseling. We started with a compatibility assessment. Our counselors went over our results. We were assigned a book/workbook to read, discus, and complete homework activities. Some of the activates included a family budget, holiday planning, family planning. The book challenged us to ask tough questions and discus tough issues. We were forced to spend some time out of our “love bubble” and talk about the issues which can cause division within marriages. The book we used had a section added to every chapter for those who were remarried. There are special challenges for those remarrying and our pre-marital counseling book encouraged us to create a plan for success for those challenges instead of hoping our “love bubble” was strong enough combat the inevitable. The pre-marital counseling tasked us to create a game plan for our life together. Some things that I had previously thought were small like “how much we’d spend on gifts for family and friends?”  I’ve learned that even things like the price of a gift for someone else could lead to big arguments if there are strong opinions on the matter. The pre-marital counseling encouraged us to talk about expectations about intimacy which can surely lead to discord if not addressed. Because I’m a divorcee with minor children, the book encouraged us to create a strategy for communicating with my ex-husband and what role both Terry and I would play as it relates to the kids’ needs. Those were things Terry and I had already discussed, but the pre-marital counseling challenged us to think about things which we had not previously considered. I learned that I still have much to learn. I learned that submission is not a prison of do’s and don’ts. Submission is a beautiful protective shield.

I am learning that a marriage relationship can help sharpen and mold both husband and wife into better versions of our previous selves. Pre-marital counseling helped me define my role and better understand Terry’s needs. Our pre-marital counseling was about 6 weeks long. We were in the midst of wedding planning, working and all sorts of other responsibilities, but counseling was a priority. Terry made it a priority. We would read and do our homework during our lunch break and discuss the chapters after work. We were choosing caterers and figuring out our household grocery budget. More than focusing on the wedding day, we focused on our impending marriage. The wedding day was beautiful! The memories will last a lifetime, but our lifetime will be made up of days, dilemmas, discussions, decisions, do’s and don’ts. Strategies we learned during pre-marital counseling and tips we pick up along the way will help us get to our goal of a lifetime of happiness.  I look forward to the day when we’ll look back at our “beautiful day” (the wedding) and say, “It’s also been a beautiful life as man and wife.”

-Faith

 

Marriage Counseling: How We Got to Look at Each Other Without the Rose-colored Glasses

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

Marriage counseling was something that I had already gone through once before and had a good idea of who I was and what type of husband I would be to Faith.  Because we had been so upfront with each other in the beginning, I had a very good idea of the type of person that she was and my expectations on what type of wife she would be for me.  We talked about EVERYTHING.  When I mean everything, I mean everything from finances to education, children, past relationships, etc.  Neither of us wanted to go into a relationship with any hidden agendas or secrets about their past and we did a good job talking about things that we thought needed to be addressed based on our previous relationships.

Although this was a good start for us to get an idea if we should move forward as rapidly as things were progressing or should we slow things down, we knew that marriage counseling was something that we needed to go through.  I have always looked at marriage counseling as an opportunity for an independent third party to look at the relationship that I was in and say “Hey, you two SEEM to be ok in your relationship, but have you thought about this and how it could affect it?”  I have always been open to evaluation (whether self or third party) and welcomed the opportunity to “show my stuff” to others of how great a husband I would be to Faith.  Part of me wanted to go in and say “See, I told you I am going to be a great and wonderful husband to Faith.  Now you can tell everyone I was right.”  Boy, was I in for a rude awakening.

I knew our counselors, John and Kim Freeman, from another wedding I was a part of a few year before.  They were very personable, and we got along very well from the beginning.  A few months after Mia passed, I saw them coming out of service and Kim said, “Don’t make any decisions for at least a year.”  Ha!  Too late!  Faith and I had already started getting to know one another and I knew that she was the one that God had placed in my path.  She was my “good thing.”  Faith had a relationship with them as well as set up the counseling sessions.  When we first met, they were very upfront with their initial reservations about my decision to move forward.  I respected them highly for making their reservations known upfront and even asking how we reached this point.  The one thing that I have not been afraid of is the truth.  If there is something that you want to know (that I don’t mind sharing and isn’t out of bounds), I don’t mind telling people about it in a one on one situation.  Many people make assumptions (you know what that can make of a person) rather than asking and the Freeman’s asked and they got the truth.

During our first few sessions and assignments, I said to myself “this is a breeze.”  I was wrong again.  We delved into some topics that Faith and I either didn’t think about or didn’t spend a lot of time talking about as we had already ‘thought’ we knew what our past mistakes were and had vowed not to make those same mistakes again.  Now, I know some people are reading that previous statement and are saying “but you said you had a good marriage prior to your wife passing?”  Yes, I did, but there are always things that you can look back on and say to yourself that if you had an opportunity to improve the marriage, you would either not do something or do something better.  If you think you are perfect, then you should be standing outside waiting for that heavenly chariot to come pick you up and take you onto Glory.  We had an opportunity to review our past relationships, our role in them and have in depth conversations about what was good, bad and ugly and our responsibility in creating that environment.

The guide/workbook that we had to read and the assignments that we had to complete were very thought provoking and made us both take a long hard look at ourselves and the future that we had planned on having with each other.  Although it did not discourage us as we had done a LOT of praying and talking to each other, I recognized that it was important for our relationship foundation be shaken now to see what falls off before taking our vows than to be sitting with them after the wedding and saying, “I didn’t know she was like this!”  This was the beauty of the relationship that we developed with our counselors.  They challenged us to challenge our relationship and ourselves to make sure that we weren’t doing things “on the rebound” or “loneliness” as some people thought we were doing.

By the end of our sessions, we had a deeper appreciation of who we were as a couple and individuals and what things we had to commit to on a daily basis to ensure that our relationship would not become boring and stale, rather full of energy and love.  Our love and devotion to ensuring that we would not make the same mistakes from our past and our commitment to each other were so evident that our counselors believed that we were in a good place to move forward with our desire to become husband and wife and were pleased to give their “seal of approval.”  I recognized the tests and trials that we had to undergo and appreciated the ferociousness and dedication to ensuring that we had a strong and solid foundation to have a successful marriage.  I came out of the sessions being thankful that there were people like John and Kim who were called to help strengthen marriages by challenging couples to do what is necessary to be a success.

Too many times people think counseling is for couples that have things that are going bad.  We learned that counseling can be used when things are going good as well.  I compare it to getting a tune up before problems start arising in your vehicle.  Sometimes, replacing that older spark plug with a new and improved version can make that engine run smoother than ever before with more power and better efficiency.  Even replacing the wires with newer wires (lines of communication) can make those spark plugs run more efficiently as well.  There are so many things that counseling can do when things are good, that it can reduce, if not eliminate the need for counseling if things go bad, because you have been proactive and don’t allow it to get bad in the first place.

So, with that in mind, if you are in a serious relationship and are seriously contemplating marriage, counseling (especially by John and Kim) would be the start of a positive self-evaluation of your relationship and where you are headed.  It is far better to slow down and make corrections at the beginning of a relationship than it is to be fully committed and trying to salvage a relationship after damage has been done.  We evaluated our relationship, our faith in God and each other in regard to our impending marriage and recognized that we were hearing from Him and that He did place us together.  Now for the most intriguing part of this journey: planning the wedding.

-Terry

To My Wife, Friend and Queen: Happy Birthday

This shed light into something that I knew in my heart that she was committed to me; this experience let me know that she had done “research” into who I was before committing to me.

Typically, we both post on a subject but not today.  I don’t publicly pronounce my affections to Faith for the world to see, but today is unlike any other day: It’s her birthday.  One year ago, today we were in the middle of planning our wedding and the rest of our lives.  To celebrate, the two of us and our chaperone Davion (yes, we had a chaperone…more on that in future posts) went to Savannah, GA.  For someone who had never been to Savannah, Faith considered it her favorite city.  Now, most people don’t consider a city their “favorite” until they have been there, but Faith was Faith.  She knew about the history of the city and when we went on our tour of the city, she was able to tell our guide some facts about the city that they either didn’t mention or from time to time didn’t know.  Yes, Faith is a closet historian.

Although I knew she was special, this experience showed me even more that before she engaged into believing in something, she did her research on the subject and made her determination before committing herself to it.  This shed light into something that I knew in my heart that she was committed to me; this experience let me know that she had done “research” into who I was before committing to me.  She used the best ‘Researcher’ in the universe: her relationship with God.

I am thankful for the opportunity to be her husband, helpmate and friend, but I am more thankful that God allowed us to come together in a manner that neither of us would have ever expected nor would have attempted on our own.  Today I salute my bride, my queen, my wife and my friend on her birthday.  I thank God for allowing you to live this time on earth and I look forward to spending even more time with you as we grow older together.

 

Love Always,

Terry

2017: Wow, what a year! What a Mighty God we serve!

I had no idea how much I desired to be loved in return. I love hard. I commit. I give it my all. In the past, my opinion was that I was the only one fighting for “love.” I thought “love” was a lot of work to go along with a lot of heartache. But what I’ve since discovered was that it wasn’t love that was hard, it was loving without being loved in return.

2017 When Somebody Loves You Back

Faith’s Thoughts:

Teddy Pendergrass once sang a song called “When Somebody Loves You Back.” One of the verses says:

“It’s so good lovin’ somebody
And that somebody loves you back
To be loved and be loved in return
It’s the only thing that my heart desires”

I had no idea how much I desired to be loved in return. I love hard. I commit. I give it my all. In the past, my opinion was that I was the only one fighting for “love.” I thought “love” was a lot of work to go along with a lot of heartache. But what I’ve since discovered was that it wasn’t love that was hard, it was loving without being loved in return.

Having this 2nd time around with Terry has been me experiencing love in a whole new way. A way that I had never seen up close and personal. A way that I never even knew existed. 2017 was a year of newness for me. I saw love take many different forms. I saw it play the background and be my silent strength. I saw love be nurturing and kind. I saw love be protective and responsible. I saw love deny itself. So new, so refreshing, and so very well worth the wait.

2017 has taught me some things about myself as well. I can’t just mask my feelings and retreat to my own space as a married woman. I am forced to deal with things because I can’t hide them from a man who loves me, nor do I want to. I am learning to lean on my partnership and allow myself to be healed instead of suppressing the way I feel.

2017 has been a year of kept promises for me. On so many occasions, I found myself in awe of something I was experiencing as it was the manifestation of a prayer I had made at some point in my life. 2017 has reminded me God is faithful! He really does hear our prayers and even if we give up on the possibility, all we need is the right yes to the right situation to make all things possible.  2017 has assured me that God’s promises don’t expire. 2017 has inspired me to shoot for the stars and not be afraid to reach them.

2017 has taught me that love is a powerful thing. God’s love for us is far greater than we could ever imagine or think!  But just as Teddy Pendergrass’s song eludes, love is so much more powerful when it’s reciprocated by both parties.  I believe God loves us and longs to be loved in return. What happens as a byproduct is greater than we could ever imagine or think.

2017 was not without challenges, but love conquered them all. The theme of our wedding was 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: (NIV):

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails.

I had this verse printed out and on display in my work area to remind me. I also prayed those verses over Terry daily.  I prayed. “Lord, help me be patient with Terry and kind to him. I pray I am not envious and not boastful or proud” and so on. I prayed every verse. These verses lined the aisle at our wedding ceremony and they are hidden in my heart. This second time around, I want to constantly check my motives and govern my actions around love. As I work to better myself in 2018 and become the woman who God has called me to be, I keep in mind that my current self and better self are both wife to a wonderful man who loves me. I pray that my actions always reflect how I love him back.

-Faith

Wow, what a year!  What a Mighty God we serve!

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

Wow, what a year!  2017 has been one of the most exciting and challenging years that I have had in a long time.  From promotion on the job to getting married and blending a family to all the experiences that have gone one throughout the year, this has been one for the ages.  The year started with us planning a “small” wedding.  Faith didn’t have a wedding and we decided that it would be nice to have a “small” wedding to display our love and devotion to each other.  Throughout everything that we went through to pull it together, it was a success and off we go into the future as husband and wife.

Prior to getting married, I was promoted on my job.  I had interviewed several times earlier the year before for promotions, but I was finally successful on the first one of 2017.  Three weeks after receiving the promotion, I took my vacation and got married.  When I returned, I came back refreshed and a married man with 3 children.  Was it a shock for my co-workers and superiors? But of course!  Did they understand my decision to keep my personal life to myself? Yes, they did, but did say that they fully supported my decision and understood why.

Many of the changes that have occurred this year have been life affirming.  From my desire to marry the woman that God placed into my life, to the new experiences of having a different set of in-laws, children and nephews.  Many times, people wonder why things happen the way that they do, but when they look back on all the things that have occurred, most of the time things work out for the better.

From hurricanes to internal storms to external pressure, one must trust that the Master Chess Master is making moves further ahead than we could ever understand and depend on Him to position us to receive the things that He has in store for us.  After 2016, I knew that He had great and wonderful things in store for me, but did not expect them to materialize they way that they have in the fashion that they have. Sometimes, what appears to be a tragic situation becomes an opportunity for God to be God and move in ways that we thought would never occur.  I have a new view and understanding of my relationship with my Father and understand even better what He will do for me and my household as we continue to do His will.

2017 has been an exciting adventure for the two of us, but it has been a learning experience for me in understanding how blessed I am to have Faith, Momma Liz, the kids and everyone else who became part of our clan.  Bryant means “strong in the Lord.”  For so long, I have had to trust and depend on that strength to make it through.  It is a beautiful thing to begin to see the fruits of my faith and devotion to the things that He deemed important, manifest themselves in my life.  If there is anything that I can leave as advice for 2018 from what I learned from 2017 would be this: Don’t lose faith and continue to focus on the things that He has placed in your life to complete.  The moves that have been made in the past are beginning to manifest themselves.  Just as a seed takes time to break through the ground, grow and develop before being able to be harvested, it takes time for the moves to manifest themselves for you to receive the harvest from your faith.  A mature tree does not grow overnight.

In closing, continue to be strong and of a very good courage.  As you choose each day whom you will serve, the Bryant clan will continue to serve the Lord and be vessels for His purpose.

-Terry

 

Fear and Faith, Faith vs. Fear

Simple things in life were stressing me. I did not recognize this stressed, scared woman. I thought that it was a sign that I wasn’t in the will of God.  But sometimes right in the middle of God’s will, there will be warfare. The fight isn’t about where you are, but where you are headed.

Faith’s Thoughts:  Irrational Fear

The courtship of Terry and myself was a whirlwind. It was exciting, magical and beautiful, but also very scary.  It took so long to find him, so I was nervous that it wasn’t taking that long to fall in love with him and trust him.  I was looking for him to hurt me. I needed constant reassurance.  I put him through it. What a trooper he was. My underlying issue was that I was concerned that Terry wasn’t ready to love me.  It was the resounding thread of the people who voiced concerns, so I was sensitive to that and looking for ways where he may have displayed disinterest.

When we first started dating, Terry would send me flowers at work.  He sent chocolate covered fruit and teddy bears too. I had never received flowers from anyone, then suddenly, I was receiving them constantly. What was better than the flowers, were the notes which would be attached. I remember it had been about a month of me not receiving a gift from Terry at work. That morning on my drive to work, I was telling my best friend, “I guess that’s over. He was just doing that to impress me and now he’s done.” Of course, I didn’t express to him that I was looking for him to disappoint me. Later that day, I received a beautiful arrangement from a local florist! It was absolutely beautiful and had my cubicle smelling glorious! The best part was the card. It read, “Thought I was done, huh?”  I was amazed! How did he know to send flowers that day? Truth is, he had ordered that arrangement the previous week. The phone call to my best friend on the ride home from work was interesting. I told her about the flowers then asked (seriously), “Do you think he has my phone bugged?” LOL. See what I mean? Irrational fears.

There would be days when I was feeling overwhelmed with these fears and out of nowhere, he would send me a text, an email or a note saying something that was exactly what I needed to hear. Terry was so noble, so honest and so genuine that I couldn’t help but trust him. He didn’t let his pride get in the way and become defensive. I had talked to guys who became angry with my (very) guarded heart. Some called me names and told me that I would never find anyone. Terry didn’t do any of that.  He pursued me patiently and lovingly, assuring me that he didn’t want to take from me, only give.

Once I accepted Terry’s love for me, I allowed myself to trust him. I started to realize what a gem I had. Unfortunately, the fear didn’t leave me; it shifted. I went from having irrational fears about Terry to having irrational fears about myself. I started to be afraid of everything. If I got sick, I feared the worse. I feared that I wouldn’t be a good wife. I feared that Terry would learn more about me and be disappointed in his choice. I feared Terry would wish that I would be more like Mia than myself. I feared losing my independence. I found every reason to fear that my imagination could muster. I wanted to make sure Terry knew ALL of my flaws from the way I chew loudly, the fact that I can only cook one meal, to my smart mouth.

I wanted him to make sure that he knew exactly who he was choosing. I would think of flaws in the middle of the night and text them to him. He couldn’t say “he didn’t know”. Once we became engaged, the fears intensified. I was excited to be planning my life with him, but my mind was having constant thoughts of fear.  Some were so irrational that I couldn’t even voice them. I was afraid that I was saying yes to something that would eventually hurt me. Wedding planning was frazzling me. I was nervous and scared. The details of the wedding: my hair, my shoes, my makeup were making me nervous. Getting married meant moving and that was stressing me. Simple things in life were stressing me. I did not recognize this stressed, scared woman. I thought that it was a sign that I wasn’t in the will of God.  But sometimes right in the middle of God’s will, there will be warfare. The fight isn’t about where you are, but where you are headed. I was headed to a love I had never known from a man. I was headed into a deep friendship and intimacy. I was headed toward a covenant relationship with an honest, kind, loving man of God, yet I fought every step of the way.  I’ve always dealt with stress through writing.  Sometime, I would write my thoughts.  Other times, I would write poems.  Below is a poem that I wrote during one of my therapeutic writing session to help me through.

 

Why rush when you have forever

Knowing love ain’t going anywhere

Why skip any step in love and intimacy

Since love ain’t going no where

I used to rush it for fear that I’d lose it

Or knowing that it wasn’t real at all

But now I have it

The real thing

And I’m not afraid one bit

Of losing it

I want to experience every single step

slow and steady

My heart is ready

I’ve got forever with it, so why rush it

– Faith

 

Fear and Faith, Faith vs. Fear

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

When one is married to a person named Faith, sometimes when talking about faith can be confusing when talking about faith and Faith.  Yet, it is important to remember that a person’s name can have a direct influence on how a person thinks or feels about themselves and their surroundings.  It has been my observation that the faith of Faith is strong, but even the strongest faith needs support from time to time.  This is the essence of being a helpmate and one of the things that we both had to adjust to as our relationship grew.

One of the things that I recognized about Faith was that she almost always looked at the bright side of situations and give people the benefit of the doubt.  Don’t get me wrong, she wasn’t looking at the world through rose colored glasses, but rather believed that people had good intensions at heart and differences could be resolved through simple dialog. I, on the other hand, would consider myself at that time to be an optimistic realist.  I looked at people and situations believing that for the most part people were good at heart, but the cold reality that some people can be so focused on their own personal ideas and beliefs that they wouldn’t hear anything that was contrary to what they thought or believed.  These opposing views concerning life and relationships were things that Faith and I would have to work on together spiritually, emotionally and mentally.

As more and more people became aware of our relationship, many people would make assumptions about me or Faith.  Some people thought that I was in a relationship with Faith because I wanted a “replacement” for Mia.  Others thought that Faith was moving too fast because she had been a single mom and that I could be a good husband.  While other people had their own ideas with no rational basis for the thought.  It was during this period that Faith appeared to be having a miniature crisis of faith regarding her trust in the thoughts and opinions of others in relation to her personal beliefs.

This is not to say that I didn’t have my share of people who questioned me.  Many of the people that I knew (especially those from back home), knew that if you asked me a question directly, I would answer said question directly.  Several people asked me did I know what I was doing or was there other things at play that was expediting this relationship (read: pregnancy).  I appreciated these people being so concerned about my emotional and spiritual health and were brave enough to ask me directly.  Yet, there were a few people who created scenarios within their own mind to justify their own belief that we were making an incorrect decision.  Some people thought that we had an obligation to get their approval to be in a relationship while others felt as though we should take time to allow them to get use to the fact that Faith was now in a relationship, even though she had been single for over 15+ years.

A few people that Faith cared about deeply expressed deep seated opposition to our relationship and it caused severe anxiety within our relationship.  There would be many times which we would talk, and she would wonder aloud “I don’t know if I can take too much more of this.”  When Faith starts talking about how her faith is wavering, it was time to change gears and become the helpmate that she needed…NOW!  It would be during these times that I would rehearse the things that she told me she heard from God concerning the promises that He made to her.  Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17).  Faith (the person) needed to hear words of faith about Faith so that he faith could continue to grow in relation to our relationship.

This does not mean that she was the only one who’s faith was challenged by opposition.  There were some people who I really looked up to and respected refused to speak to me or ask me directly why move I would move in this direction at this point in time.  One thing I learned early on in my walk with Christ is that when He speaks something to you that others may feel is impossible or improbable in a certain timeframe.  He makes what seems impossible, possible.  I’m possible.  I am possible.  The situation that He speaks to you is possible because He is possible as He the “I am” in the possible.  I began to recognize that He placed Faith in my life not as a substitute, but rather a new phase in my life.  When I started dating Faith, scripture regarding faith became more real and personal than I had ever thought or believed.  Look back at Romans 10:17, now Faith (the person) cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.  By me taking time to hear from God concerning who He wanted to be in my life, Faith came into my life.

Once I got this revelation, I was able to help Faith maintain and increase her faith in our relationship regardless of what others may have felt or believed.  The doubt and fear that attempted to enter our relationship, would eventually wither and fade away as we continued to rehearse what we believed and knew we heard from God concerning our relationship.  I knew she would be my bride and helpmate.  For without faith in what was revealed to each of us and Faith to support me and me supporting her, we would not have reached the point where we would be husband and wife.  Sometimes, you gotta go with what you know you know rather than what others think they know about you and/or your situation.  I thank God for my personal relationship with Him and that I know what He said is true regarding my life.

– Terry