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

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

Giving Thanks and Thank You

I learned to love me. I had the opportunity to face solitude. I had the absolute pleasure of depending solely on God as my provider and learning the value of community.

Faith’s Thoughts:

Thankful-(adjective)-pleased and relieved

Synonyms: grateful, appreciative, filled with gratitude, relieved

I’m thankful for so many things.  I got divorced in March of 2000. I got remarried in March of 2017. I’m thankful for 17 years of singleness. Why? Because I had the opportunity to learn about me. I learned to love me. I had the opportunity to face solitude. I had the absolute pleasure of depending solely on God as my provider and learning the value of community.

I’m thankful that the 3 most wonderful children in the world call me mom! Davion is scheduled to graduate from The University of North Florida in 2 weeks!!! He works 2 jobs and volunteers. Nicholas is in his second year of college. He’s been blessed to continue to play the game he loves and pay for college in the process. Faith De’Yanah (Princess) is in the 11th grade. She gets excellent grades, participates in extra-circular activities and works part-time. I’m so thankful to be their mom!

I’m thankful for my husband Terry. I get to wake up next to my best friend. Morning breath doesn’t scare him off. Head scarfs don’t either. He doesn’t even flinch when I cry over something simple, or spaz over something trivial. He says, “you’re beautiful” when I’m bloated and “I’m proud of you” when I lose weight. When I have a problem, he goes into fix it mode and when I’m stressed he reminds me that we’re partners in this. Marriage is cool. Being a newlywed is fun.

I’m thankful for my relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m thankful for the gift of prayer. The opportunity to cast my cares onto God and leave them there. I’m thankful for God’s guidance in my life. I am SO thankful that every step I made in faith landed on the sure foundation of the hand of God. Even when I felt like I was sinking, I never went under. I’m thankful for every season of my life, even the hard seasons, because they make me really appreciate this season.

– Faith

 

Terry’s Thoughts:

This time last year, Faith and I were embarked on a journey to let those whom we loved and cared for know that we had found someone that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives with.  I am thankful that during this period, Faith and I never gave up hope that we would be together.  Now, over a year later, we are husband and wife.  She is my queen and I am her king.  I am thankful for my relationship with God. I trusted Him to send me someone who understands what I needed in a helpmate and He has given me the tools to be the husband and support that she needed.  I am thankful for the all members of my family, either through blood or marriage.  For a kid from NY who was transplanted in SC, I am thankful for the opportunities that have been given to me to be a positive influence on the lives of others.  I am thankful to have people in my life who have shared with me their wisdom and understanding from their life experiences to help me understand the adjustments that I need to make in my life to be a better husband, father, son and most importantly man of God.

To all that have been sharing our life experiences with us the past few weeks, I am thankful to you to allow us into your life and share who we are and what we have endured.  This is just the beginning of our journey, but our path to reach this point hopefully can help others realize that their can be true love…the second time around.

-Terry

The Blending, Part 2 – Meet the Parents

My dad on the other hand had been trying to marry me off for years. Every time I saw him in person, I knew my dad was going to ask me, “Have you ever thought about giving love a second chance?”

Faith’s Thoughts:

By the time Terry and I met each other’s parents, we were telling them we wanted to get married. We received mixed reactions from the parents:

• One parent said we should wait a year so that people would be more accepting.
• One parent was ecstatic and ready to “put the broom down” for us to jump right away.
• One parent was extremely cautious and protective.

Terry took me to South Carolina to meet his mother. He didn’t tell her that I was coming. He didn’t even tell her that he was coming until we pulled into the driveway. That was nerve wrecking. As a mother of grown men, I can imagine what she was thinking meeting this woman she had never heard of as her (recently) widowed son told her that he wanted to marry her. It was awkward, but she was kind. Terry’s Godmother was more direct. She was probably asking the questions that she and his mom had discussed; but she was the spokesperson for the mother/Godmother duo. Terry’s Godmother said, “Don’t get married for the sex.” LOL. Sounds like something I would say to my son. I love talking to older ladies; they don’t have time to beat around the bush. She didn’t ask me this directly, but privately, she wanted Terry to assure her that he had remained faithful to Mia and I wasn’t his “side piece”. I don’t mind direct questions. It was however uncomfortable feeling like I was getting the “side eye” from people.

Terry’s family and friends didn’t know me. They were protective of him. I was a single mom with 3 children. Terry was an honest, kind, giving widower 8 years my senior. So, without knowing anything about me or who I am, I can see why people were protective. I just wasn’t accustomed to being scrutinized. I remember a moment when we were out to eat, Terry left the table and his mom asked me how I felt about him. I responded with, “He’s nice, he’s a great man, he’s sweet”. I don’t know why, but I was nervous. The rest of dinner, I kept admonishing myself for not saying how I really felt for Terry. It wasn’t until we were getting ready to leave to travel back to Florida that I set the record straight. I pulled her to the side and said, you asked me how I felt about Terry and the truth is, “I love him.” She smiled and gave me a hug. She said, “That’s what I wanted to hear.”

As I stated in a previous post, Terry and I were (well) aware of how grown we were. I had “grown woman” responsibilities which included supporting two grown children through college. Terry had “grown man” college debt from putting himself through college. We didn’t NEED anyone’s approval but there were some people whose support was vital to me. My mom was one of those people. My mom has loved me through every stage of my life. Even stages that were hurtful and embarrassing for her. She didn’t waiver in her love for me or faith in my future. When I gave birth to my first child at 15 years old, she lovingly and patiently helped equip me to be Davion’s mom. When I got pregnant with my second child at 18, she helped prepare me to be a mother of 2. When I got married and almost immediately started having marital problems, she coached and prayed me through that season. When I found myself divorced and pregnant with my baby girl, she loved and prayed me through a very dark season. I knew that she (more than anyone else in this world) had my (and her grandchildren’s) best interest at heart. She wasn’t afraid to tell me the truth and I knew she would see anything I may have missed. When I told her that I thought Terry was ‘the one’ she said, “We’ll see”.

My dad on the other hand had been trying to marry me off for years. Every time I saw him in person, I knew my dad was going to ask me, “Have you ever thought about giving love a second chance?” Every time! My dad is a man of repetition. He has a lot of crazy sayings that he repeats. To know my dad is to know what he’s about to say. I knew my dad would love Terry. I knew because Terry loved me. The moment my dad saw how Terry treated me, I knew he’d be a fan. Plus, my dad knows me. He knows that I was independent and extremely protective over my heart. He saw a good man with good intentions and he was ecstatic for me. I needed that! I needed to have someone as excited as I was. He doesn’t know it, but I would call him when I felt (particularly) beat up and his enthusiasm about Terry and me would calm me. My dad is the best cheerleader ever! I love that man.

Although I cared very much about how my parents felt. My parents have known me long enough to know that once I set my mind to do something; they might as well figure out a way to support it. Terry has a similar tenacity. May we both always set our minds to do the same-something. I had set my mind to marry Terry, so having Ms. Liz, Terry’s mom, and my parents’ support was a wonderful blessing and an answer to our prayers.
– Faith

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

My introduction to Faith’s parents was a combination of “Meet the Browns” and “Criminal Minds.”  Faith was the first person that I ever dated whose parents were divorced, but were still cordial with each other.  In my family, most of the marriages ended “‘til death do you part” and most of the people that I dated when I was single either had intact households or one parent was completely out of the picture. This was unfamiliar territory for me as I couldn’t relate to the dynamic that she and her siblings lived with regarding their parents’ relationship.  I could try relating, but I would ask questions of her about how her parents would possibly react to me once they met me.  I was always taught to “Be Prepared” (yes, I was a Boy Scout) and “prepare for the worst and expect the best.”  When dealing with parents, one must not be too over confident or be too passive.  One must be balanced.

Yardman Ned

Faith is from Broward County, FL and everyone I met that was from there would tell me “I’ll cut you if you hurt her” or some variation of this phrase.  Initially, I would just laugh it off, but after a while, the “2-5/NY” in me started to come out and my responses would be a retort that would be along the lines of “yeah, but my knife is bigger” or “I would hate to use the red dot.”  Most people would smile and laugh at my response as they began to recognize, I was not a wimp and won’t back down to a challenge.  But there was one person who decided to test me in his own unique way: Yardman Ned.

Faith would refer to her father from time to time as Yardman Ned.  This is because he owned a lawncare business and had very catchy slogans that he would use to gain the attention of potential clients.  The first time I met him, he and his wife came to Palm Coast to travel with us to Jacksonville to see Nicholas play in a football game. (Nicholas is the middle child.  More on him in another post.)  I was cautioned that he was a big practical joker and amateur comedian along the lines of Mr. Brown.  Boy, did she hit the nail on the head with that description.  The FIRST thing he says to me when he pulled up into my yard after getting out of his car was “Well, I got a knife that I hope I don’t have to use.  Nice to meet you.”  Game on.  My response was classic Terry “Nice to meet you, but my knives are bigger, and I have red dots.”  That invoked a smile on his face as he knew I wasn’t afraid of him and the moment was not too big for me or him.  Dominant Male Territory Marking 401 in progress.

As we traveled together, we talked about several topics.  As a Dolphins fan, he had to recognize that I was NOT going to change allegiance from the Steelers.  If anything, I was trying to get him to come to the right side.  As the day progressed, we continued to talk about additional topics that ranged from faith and biblical studies to deer and other wildlife in Palm Coast.  I recognized that he was trying to see what type of person I was.  Yet, when he wasn’t talking (which wasn’t that often), he was observing.  He was watching the interactions between myself and Faith and how we treated each other and cared for each other.

After the game, we went to eat dinner and hung out in Jacksonville until it was time to return to Palm Coast.  On the trip back, we continued to talk and establish a report with each that was growing deeper and deeper with respect by the minute.  It was during this time that I informed him that I was going to ask his daughter for her hand in marriage and wanted to get his blessing.  To my (pleasant) surprise, he gave me his blessing without hesitation and told me that he could tell that we were happy together and he believed that we would be great with each other.  Whew.  Stereotypically, fathers are extremely difficult and guarded about their daughter’s heart.  I said to myself “This was easy.  Her mom should be easy.”  Boy, was I wrong.

Ms. Mae

The month of November was the month that we had planned on meeting her parents and my mom and godmother.  After meeting “Yardman Ned”, my confidence was through the roof.  I knew how to prep Faith for the meeting with my mother and godmother, but I was going to meet Faith’s mom (and half of her family) on Thanksgiving Day.  Me, Faith and the kids all piled together in the Avalanche and off to Tampa we went.  I was forewarned about the various aunts, uncles and cousins that would be there and the intense “interrogations” that I would be subjected to during the course of the day.  Bring it on!  I was confident and ready for anything.  Yet, I was not prepared for the tactics of Ms. Mae.

Faith introduced me to everyone in her aunt and uncle’s house and eventually introduced me to her mother, Ms. Mae.  She smiled and was polite, but I noticed she kept her distance.  I recognized that look before: she was observing me.  For several hours, she would engage in small talk from time to time and then go back to talking with other family members.  Just like the behavioral analysts from ‘Criminal Minds’, I felt as those I was being observed by many people and they were going to eventually try to circle me and pounce.  I was ready and confident in who I was and true to my feelings about Faith.  Nothing could change that.  About 6-7 hours pass and the ‘interrogation’ that I had been forewarned about by Faith never came.  All I could think was “That was it?  This could be a set up.  What just happened (or didn’t)?”  Ah, the psychological game was just entering the second phase.  Phase one was complete.  I was completely off guard and didn’t have the slightest idea where the questioning would come from or when.

Eventually, Ms. Mae grabbed me by my hand and led me to the backyard to talk.  She was polite and direct all at the same time.  I was ready for any question with an answer from my heart.  She expressed her concern about the speed that our relationship was going.  I understood and respected that she didn’t beat around the bush and was very direct in both her statements and questions.  She asked me my intentions concerning Faith.  As I told her father, my intensions were to make her my wife, when the time was right.  She politely let me plead my case and said nothing and revealed nothing either verbally or via facial expressions.  Just like an interrogator, she didn’t let her emotions or thoughts be revealed.  I was not ready for that in this setting, yet I respected her for it.

When we finished talking, I asked her about her thoughts.  She said, “I’m still deciding.”  I thought I plead my case and defended myself very well and knew within my heart of hearts that I had won her over.  Whether or not I did or did not, she was not prepared to tell me.  It had been a long time since I had to defend myself, my emotions and my intensions to a mother.  This was NOT going to be the slam dunk that I had with her father.  This one was going to take some time.  The rest of the evening, we had limited contact with each other until time for us to leave.  I didn’t know what to think and asked Faith if her mother had given her an insight on what her thoughts were.  Faith did try to get the 411 from her, but just like she told me, she was still “deciding.”

I would later find out that Ms. Mae came from a long line of praying women in their family.  This is where Faith got her dedication to prayer.  She wasn’t holding out on me, she was going to pray about it and get her “decision” from the Ultimate Interrogator.  It would be through prayer that she would determine whether or not she could trust that my words and my actions would truly withstand the winds of change and time or was I just “talking the talk.” All I could do was continue to be myself and allow my Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to speak to her on my behalf.  It would be several days later that I would receive word from Faith that I was accepted, but she was still watching and praying.  I wouldn’t have expected any different.

Mom and Godmomma

Between meeting Faith’s father and mother, we took a trip to visit my mother and godmother.  I don’t call my mother “mother”, I call her either “ma” or “mom.”  I didn’t clue my mom into the fact that we were coming as it was a surprise. The one thing that my mom likes to do when I come into town is let everyone know I’m coming.  Even when I am coming to spend time just with her, she wants everyone to know I was coming.  This was one trip where discretion was definitely needed.  Mom knew I was seeing Faith, but didn’t know how serious we were with our relationship.  She knew from my history, I only brought those whom I considered to be “potential marriage material” to the house to meet her after I had been dating.  I called her from the driveway and told her to come to the front door.  She was doubly surprised: 1) I snuck up on her and 2) I had Faith with me.  She did NOT see this coming.  I introduced her to Faith and told her to get her clothes on because we were going out to dinner.

We went to the restaurant and ate.  Faith and mom talked when I was away (we went to a buffet).  While Faith was away, I asked her what was her thoughts.  She thought Faith was nice and she asked me was I going to marry her (told you she knew my M.O.). I told her yes, it was my intention to marry Faith.  She was concerned that I was getting married “on the rebound.”  It was during this time that I revealed just how long Mia had been sick and what I had been through.  As my father was sick the majority of my life and understood the “waiting for the other shoe to drop” she understood what I had been through.  I had put my future life in God’s hand and trusted that He would lead me to the right person.  My mom respected my decision, but asked that I keep it quiet for a little while longer.  I told her that we had decided to wait until late December or early January to announce that we were going to get married.  Then she asked if I was going to see my godmother.  Of course, I was.

My godparents were the people that I could always go to in order to get a non-biased opinion on ANYTHING.  After my godfather passed, my godmother was still there to give me the straightest and non-biased answer or opinion. She was a God-fearing woman for as long as I can remember and if I ever needed a prayer and expected to hear from God concerning a subject, she was my number one go to prayer warrior.  So, on our way back to Florida, we stopped to see her.  She knew we were coming as my mom had let her know I was here with “this woman named Faith.”  It was time for the final spiritual check of Faith.  I knew what I heard from God, but I also knew that if there was something that was affecting my spiritual hearing about the timing of this relationship, she would hear it.

When we arrived, I introduced her to Faith and we sat down to talk.  I told my godmomma how we met and how our relationship grew so quickly.  She listened to me and she gave us some advice: “Don’t get married for the sex.  It’s not worth it.  As long as you are hearing from God and want to be with each other for more than sex, then you will have a long and happy marriage.”  Wow, I had heard many things from my godmomma, but never had she talked to me about sex.  That was my godfather’s domain.  Since he wasn’t around, she wanted us to know that no great relationship should be built on the premise of getting married in order to have sex so as not to be in spiritual condemnation.  We let her know that sex was not the reason that we were wanting to get married, but rather that we had been praying and our hearts and spirits were connected to one another.  She was happy to hear that and gave us her blessing.  I thought it was over, but there was a surprise waiting for me a few weeks later.

Two weeks later, I got a message on my answering machine (yes, I have an answering machine and a house phone) to call my godmomma when I got home.  When I got the message, I called her immediately as my godmomma doesn’t call long distance as she doesn’t have unlimited long distance (yes, she’s that old school) so I knew for her to call and leave a message, it was important.  When I called her, she asked me one very simple and direct question: “Were you two seeing each other when Mia was alive?”  I knew this question was going to come from someone, but from my godmomma? I was not expecting it from her.  I told her very quickly that no, we were not in a relationship with each other before Mia passed.  My godmomma always knew when I was telling the truth or lying even when my mother couldn’t tell when I was a child just by the sound of my voice.  When she heard me say “no”, she said “I didn’t believe that you two were together before, but I needed to put my soul and mind to rest and I wanted to ask that question.”  I respected her for asking that question as I also knew she was asking that question for my mom as well and would give her the good news.  Sometimes the hardest questions to ask are answered with the simplest answers when God puts things together.  This wasn’t a matter of whether or not I was telling the truth, rather it was a time to show the enemy that people don’t have to be tipping around and being on the ‘down low’ in order to be brought together.  It was a testament to the dedication to the vows that I had observed over 22 years before and to the vows that I would take a few months later

-Terry

The Blending, Part 1: Mamma Liz

In less than 10 years, she had lost both of her children and her husband of over 46 years.  There was no way I was going to back out of my promise now.

Terry’s Thoughts (T2)

So many people ask me why I still have my mother-in-law living with Faith and me.  First of all, she’s family.  Although we are related by marriage (Momma Liz is Mia’s mother), she is still my mother-in-law.  When I married Mia, I became part of her family and they became part of mine.  These people are still my family and I still consider them to be aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. and they reciprocate the same feelings and sentiments.  My thought was that no matter who God sent, they were going to have to accept Momma Liz and me as a package deal.  Why? Well, I’ll tell you…I have a promise to keep.

Shortly after marrying Mia, I told my father-in-law that if anything were to happen to him, I would make sure that Momma Liz would be taken care of.  Yes, she had her children and two siblings, but I understood the responsibilities that were on the children (especially the first born) to care for their parents.  As an only child, I am well aware of the pressures and expectations that are placed on them.  As I was Mia’s husband, I wanted to make sure that her father didn’t have to worry about what would happen to his bride if something happened and he passed on.  When “Deac” (that’s what I called him as he was a deacon) was called home, I let her know that I would fulfill my promise to him.  A few years later, Momma had the first of several strokes that would leave her partially paralyzed on one side.  As I observed how it was becoming more and more difficult for her to function independently in rural Georgia, I told Mia it was time to bring Momma to live with us in Florida.  I had a promise to keep and now it was time to cash the check that my mouth wrote those years ago.

After asking her to leave her home and come live with us, Momma and I continued bonding as we had when I first started dating Mia.  I had made a commitment that I would not have the stereotypical bad relationship with my mother-in-law that you see some people have.  We started off with a good relationship and it became just like fine wine: better with time.  As time continued, our relationship continued to grow from just being a mother-in-law and son-in-law relationship, to one where she was a second mother and I was her other son.  This would be critical as in 2015, her son would receive his heavenly reward and a little over 14 months later, her daughter would receive hers as well.  In less than 10 years, she had lost both of her children and her husband of over 46 years.  There was no way I was going to back out of my promise now.

Shortly after Mia’s passing, we had several conversations.  She asked me directly was I going to put her into a nursing home or send her off to live with someone else.  I told her “No ma’am, I made a promise to Deac and Mia and I am going to fulfill that promise.”  She asked me several more times and told me that she didn’t want to get in the way as I was a single man and wasn’t married to Mia anymore.  I informed her of the promise that I made and the commitment that I made to her.  Just as Ruth made to her mother-in-law, I made the same commitment to her.  I said to her “Whomever God has for me is going to have to accept us a package deal.  You are my 70+ year old child.”  She and I laughed at the statement, but the feelings were real.  Just as a single mom would expect potential mate to accept her children as his own, whomever God would send into my life would have to face the same scrutiny, just by someone who had MANY more life experiences.

With this in mind, after Faith and I started dating, Momma asked me “Are you going to marry her?”  Wow!  Talk about being blunt and direct.  I said, “I hope so.”  Then, she asked me “Do you love her?”  Again, not expecting this line of questioning from her, my answer was short and simple: “Yes, but you aren’t going anywhere.  I told you we are a package deal.” I knew where she was going mentally and emotionally with her line of questioning and wanted to make sure that she knew I hadn’t changed my mind concerning my promise.

Several times while we were out, Faith and I would talk about the blending of the families.  I had already made it clear that Momma Liz and I were a package deal. Faith expressed that she would have been disappointed if I had changed my mind about the promise to Momma Liz and sent her away.  Just as she expected me to accept her children, she knew I expected her to accept my promise to my “other mother.”  Momma knew who Faith was, but it took time for her to really get to know and trust Faith as she had to learn and trust me over 22 years before.  Yet, she learned to appreciate the things that made Faith different and recognized her love and concern for her welfare.  This helped with the blending that was taking place in our home.  In a short period of time, Faith and Momma went from two strangers who only knew each other in passing to now Momma has a new daughter-in-law and “grandchildren.”  It is because of the love of God that Faith and I are together, and it is through this same love that we are a happy and peaceful household that is blending together nicely and Godly.  Only God.

-Terry

Faith’s Thoughts:

Terry explained to me early that he and Ms. Liz were a package deal.  Ms. Liz is Mia’s mother. She had come to live with Terry and Mia some years before.  Terry had committed to Ms. Liz’s husband on his death bed that he would take care of her.  Terry calls her momma. Ms. Liz refers to Terry as her son.  She trusts him as such.  Terry keeps up with Ms. Liz’s doctor’s appointments, he prepares her meals, he helps coordinate her care.  When Terry and I started dating, I would just observe.  He was so attentive.  I thought it was beautiful. Ms. Liz’s trust in Terry caused me to drop my guard a little bit.

With some of the criticism Terry and I received from people who knew Mia, I was particularly concerned about how her mom would receive me.  I would come visit Terry and Ms. Liz after work.  She was very polite to me.  She didn’t seem annoyed by my presence, but still I didn’t want to force myself on her.  I wanted to let things develop organically.

Terry and I prayed daily about the critical relationships in our lives.  We knew we loved each other.  We knew we wanted to be together, but we didn’t want to live in turmoil.  The acceptance of the people who would live under our roof was a huge factor. If Ms. Liz wasn’t accepting of Terry and I, things probably would have not moved as fast, but she is a woman of great faith.  She’s wise and seasoned.  She witnessed Terry care for her daughter, while also taking care of her.  She genuinely wanted happiness for him.  Because she was okay, I was okay.

Still we prayed. We prayed for Ms. Liz, we prayed about my parents, we prayed about Terry’s mom.  We prayed about the kids.  Yes, we are grown.  We didn’t have to have anyone’s approval to get married, but I loved him enough to not start our life with internal turmoil.  He and Ms. Liz had been through enough.  I wanted to bring joy and laughter into our home and not unnecessary drama.

– Faith

Divorce is like death, but death is not like divorce

The divorce class teacher told me that divorce is like death. It’s the death of a relationship and dreams. She said I needed to give myself time to grieve.

Faith’s Thoughts…

In Florida, when you apply to dissolve a marriage where minor children are involved, they require that you take a parenting course (at least they did in 2000 when I became divorced.) I found it very helpful.  I didn’t have any idea of what I was doing. I was walking around pretty disconnected. I had just started a new job. That’s not the most opportune time to start going through extreme family drama. I was within my probationary period and I remember going to work every day crying my entire shift. They didn’t keep me and I totally understand. I was supposed to be offering customer service, but I was crying on the phone. That’s not good. The divorce class teacher told me that divorce is like death. It’s the death of a relationship and dreams. She said I needed to give myself time to grieve. I probably didn’t need 17 years to grieve. I’m sure I didn’t. It didn’t take 17 years, but it did take me time to not want to punch people. It took me a while to embrace my new norm and not be upset about what that meant for my children.  Divorce is a death to relationship; however, death is not like divorce.

People who cared about me were concerned when they learned about Terry and me. They were not sure that Terry was ready to pursue a new relationship so soon after losing his wife. Some people who cared about me were not ready for me to fall in love. Being single meant I was always available. I was the one to text late at night with a situation, who would answer in the middle of the night and pray. Some people felt that dating so soon was distasteful and disrespectful to Terry’s late wife Mia. “It’s too soon”. Terry and I heard that quite a bit. We were falling in love and enjoying that excitement that new love brings, but that sentiment wasn’t initially shared. Not with everyone. There were some key figures who were very supportive; without them, there may not have been this “2nd time around for love blog”. I didn’t want to hurt or offend anyone.  I considered walking away from this wonderful man because of the disapproval of a few. We prayed a lot. I cried a lot. I thought too much. Terry and I talked a lot. We had long deep conversations. It wasn’t just his words however; I observed a lot. I observed a man who was stable, a man who was honest. A man who was genuine and willing to be vulnerable. I observed how he cared for Ms. Liz, Mia’s mom. I observed how she trusted him like a son and welcomed me without reservation. Finally, I had observed enough. Terry’s character spoke louder than anyone else’s thought that “it was too soon”. I knew that I was loved by him. I Corinthians 13 (NIV) says:

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.

A wise woman told me that I could measure a man’s love for me by comparing his actions to those 3 verses in I Corinthians 13. I knew was loved which made me feel safe.  I realized that I loved Terry when I became more concerned with Terry’s feelings than those of people who thought our relationship was ill timed. I still cared very much about how others felt (probably too much.) I felt a sense a guilt for finding love with Terry. I even carried it down the aisle. I had to grow up in that period. I had to learn that even with the purest intentions, one can be misunderstood. I learned that some people who mourn with you won’t necessarily celebrate with you. And that’s okay.

I prayed a lot for my husband in my period of singleness. I prayed some specific characteristics. The more I learned about Mr. Bryant, the more I recognized him as the man of my prayers. The more I realized who he was, I became astonished that I was actually experiencing the manifestation of years of prayer. People say I’m glowing since I started dating him. I think I look the same, but I also think people see a woman who is amazed that 17 years of prayer could be answered in an instant. I would have never picked Terry for myself. I’m not that astute. Every day, however, I realize why God picked him for me. I said this in my vows: He’s nothing that I expected, but all I had hoped for. Such a beautiful surprise!

–  Faith

Too Fast? Too Soon? Nah…

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

Before contemplating dating anyone, my mother-in-law had given me some very sound advice: 1) You are a single man.  You fulfilled your vows, so you are free to be with whomever God has sent to you; 2) Don’t look for another Mia.  You won’t find another like her and don’t compare her to anyone else. He (God) will send you someone that is perfect for you where you are in life.  At that moment, many thoughts and apprehensions had fallen away in an instant.  Although Faith wasn’t in the picture at that time, I knew what I had prayed and what I hoped to find.  I just had to wait, watch and listen. Shortly after we started getting to know each other, I knew that Faith was the one that God had hidden in the bush for me.

Many people who I had respect for said “Don’t do anything for a year.  You don’t want to make any decisions until a year has passed.”  Well, those that know me, know that I am a biblical scholar and wanted to see if the saying was a biblical principal or religious tradition.  I went searching and could not find a biblical precedent on the length of mourning.  The only thing that I found was the length of time that Israel mourned for Moses (30 days).  So, with that traditional hurdle past me and knowing that God does things in His own time, I had no fear knowing that He may have someone out there for me.

During this period, I had two close friends call me within a few days to tell me that I would be blessed for being faithful to Mia and honoring my vows until her death.  This just confirmed what I already felt, and I knew He would bring someone else into my life.  So, when Faith came into the picture, my prayer that night after the game was “okay Lord, if this is the woman that You have for me, You know what You need to do to allow me to prove to her that I could be the husband that You have called for her.”  It’s a wonderful and blessed thing to have a personal relationship with God.  Although many people did not initially agree with my decision to move forward with my relationship with Faith (they thought I was “lonely” or “on the rebound”), I was confident in my own feelings that I wasn’t doing anything out of grief or loneliness, but rather my belief that God was not scared of me to tell me and/or Faith to slow down.

Over the next few months, I observed people become upset and withdraw from me because I didn’t consider their feelings concerning my future.  Some stopped speaking, some expressed their disappointment that they weren’t consulted, and some people made accusations with no basis for the allegations to make themselves feel better about their decision to stop speaking to me.  All I could think was “Wow!”  Faith was experiencing similar issues with people she was close to, but in the end, we supported each other (with the help of God) through daily prayer each night.  We knew that if we could withstand these assaults during the foundation of our relationship, then we knew that no weapon that would be formed against us would prosper.

– Terry