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

 

First Date or Mercy Invitation?

First Date (kind of) …

Faith’s View:

I was just trying to be nice. It was a month after Mia passed. I knew that Terry worked from home, didn’t get out much, and probably wouldn’t get out without an invitation. So (in Christian kindness), I invited him to a high school football game. My son graduated from Mainland High School in May and had went on to play football in college. Since “Buc pride never dies”, I try to attend as many Mainland games as possible even though I no long have a player on the field. My normal football game buddy couldn’t make it that night, so I thought I’d ask Terry if he wanted to go. I started the Facebook message, then deleted it. I didn’t want him to get the wrong idea. A few hours later, I sent the message inviting him. He responded right away saying sure. I started to feel uneasy about inviting him and almost didn’t go, but finally I rationalized, “nothing is going to happen”. After all, he was not my type.

That night, I tried to not look too cute, because I didn’t want him to get any ideas that this was a date. It was a nice lady and a nice guy at a football game sitting next to each other on the bleachers. I got there early and purchased my ticket, so he would know: THIS IS NOT A DATE.

“Mainland is Mainland”, so it was a blow out and a shutout (we won). I personally like blow outs when my team is winning because I don’t have to spend the rest of the game stressing about who’s going to win. Most guys like for games to be competitive, but Terry didn’t seem too bored.

After the game, Terry walked me to my car as a South Carolina gentlemen would do. He asked if I wanted something to eat. “No”, I said “I ate already” then I went home. I messaged Terry to let him know that I made it home safely. We ended up texting back and forth the rest of the night. I’m a texter. I get annoyed when people call me, especially when a text will due. Terry is a caller, he prefers to talk, but that night, he faked it. I remember thinking after a few text messages, “Faith, stop texting him, he’s going to think you like him”. My first impression of him was that he was a “fuddy duddy” (read nerd). I was very surprised to discover that we have many things in common. I was even more surprised to find myself looking forward to his next text. After a few days of texting, Terry finally popped the question, “do you EVER talk on the phone”? Deep sigh, I paused, “do I like him enough to talk on the phone”, I asked myself. “You can call me” I responded.

I’ve never met a man so noble, or maybe I did and I thought he was too good to be true. I spent a long time distrusting all men. I didn’t hate men. I just didn’t trust them. Early last year, I took a Bible Study called “Breaking Free” by Beth Moore. There was a homework assignment in that study that asked some tough questions which allowed me to see the condition of my heart. I was raising two male sons. I prayed fervently that they would become “good men”, yet in my heart, I didn’t believe “good” men actually existed. I prayed to God to remove that distrust from me. I didn’t know it at the time, but God was preparing me to meet a man like Terry and not be convinced he was a fraud.

– Faith

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

I have had many people wonder “How did you meet Faith?”  Well, I knew Faith from our church as she was the servant leader of the single mother’s small group.  My late wife, Mia, knew her from being a small group leader herself and was impressed with the work that she had been doing with both the small group and her children.  Around April or May of that year, Mia approached me about “helping” (read: pay for) her put together some gifts for the single moms in the church.  Since we knew it was going to cost a lot, we started early and made purchases throughout the year so when Christmas came, it would not be a struggle to pay everything off.  So, as the year progressed, Mia and Faith were more and more in contact with each other on the things that were needed for the event at the end of the year.  The best thing about the relationship they had with each other was the simple fact that Faith respected the boundaries of marriage between husband and wife and Mia kept me informed about all communication that was occurring between them.

As the follow year began, Mia had a deepening appreciation for the things that the single mom’s ministry was doing and was dedicated to helping in any way that she could.  With the help of some mutual friends, Mia began to transfer items that had been purchased, to the single mom’s ministry.  Unbeknownst to us all, in her final week on earth, she transferred some additional items to the single mom’s ministry.  A few days later, Mia had received her reward.  As with everyone else who did not know what was going on with Mia’s health, Faith was completely unaware of what was transpiring in my home and was surprised and shocked when learning about her passing.

A few weeks later, a “little” (category 3) hurricane name Matthew came up the east coast of Florida and made things a “little” difficult (no power for 3 ½ days).  For years, I had volunteered to respond to a storm if necessary and now, a storm appeared in my own backyard and I didn’t have to travel anywhere.  For several weeks, I worked with clients to help them apply for assistance to help them recover from the effects of the storm.  Although Matthew did not make a direct hit on our area, it did create enough issues that I was working 10-hour days during this period.  The work was gratifying and was a great distraction to what had just previously occurred in my life.

So, one Friday afternoon, I get an IM asking what I was doing that evening.  It was Faith.  She was checking on me and said she felt that I needed to get out of the house.  She was correct.  All I did during this time was work, come home, take care of Momma and go to bed. I was being invited to a high school football game.  I thought to myself “Hmm, I haven’t been to a high school football game in over 20 years, this could be interesting.”  I asked her where the game was located.  She said that it was in Palm Coast.  I told her that I wasn’t going to get off work until around 6pm.  She told me the game started at 7pm and the name of the school.  I came home and made the necessary preparations to go.

I met her at the ticket window at the school and we went to the visitor’s bleachers.  When we sat down, something interesting occurred: our knees touched.  Something so innocuous as knees touching ended up becoming the start of something that would end up in our becoming husband and wife.  During the course of the blowout, although there were plays that caused us to get up and sit down, our knees ended up next to each other.  Even when she disappeared during halftime (she was being a social butterfly), when she returned, our knees were together.  I thought to myself “What is this?”  A few weeks earlier, I prayed a very simple prayer: “Lord, your Word says that a man that finds a wife, finds a good thing.  This time, I am looking.”  I knew what I wanted in a helpmate, but did not know whom or how he would present them to me so that I could show them that I could be the spouse that they needed me to be.  When I first met Mia, my prayer was similar, but different.  It was “Lord, your Word says that a man that finds a wife, finds a good thing.  I’m not looking, but I am ready.  You know how to make it perfectly clear to me who You have chosen for me.  I don’t know what to look for, but You do.”  So, when you KNOW He will answer you, then it makes it easier to accept the response that you receive.

When the game was over, I offered to take her to dinner.  She politely refused (which was a surprise to me).  I asked her to contact me when she arrived home safely. On my way home, I prayed a very simple prayer: “Lord, if this is the person who you have called to be my helpmate, give me the strength, courage and knowledge to show her that I can be the helpmate that she has been praying for.”  This prayer was basically made because of two things: 1) I knew what I brought to the table and 2) I knew Faith was a divorcee, but didn’t know the history and believed that there could be the potential issue of mistrust that I would need His guidance.  When beginning to learn someone who has had issues of trust in the past, it takes special faith (no pun intended) and patience to hear from Him on how to address these issues.  One must take time to hear from God to know what to do and more importantly what NOT to do.

When she arrived home, she sent me a text.  Now if you know anything about Palm Coast, getting texts can be just like playing roulette; sometimes you win and sometimes you don’t.  I decided to not move a muscle from the location in which I received the first text.  We basically texted each other for about 2 hours (I don’t know how young people do it).  Eventually, I sent her a text “Do you like to talk on the phone?”  The answer was “Yes.”  Finally, I could actually TALK to her and hopefully and prayerfully hear what was in her heart and on her mind.  From there, we began to forge a deep friendship that turned into a deeper relationship which eventually turned into marriage.  There was one thing that was paramount to our young friendship being a success: we prayed together daily before getting off the phone with each other.  I credit this as being an important pillar in our foundation of our marriage as we prayed for each other, our families and that we would continue to hear from Him on what steps we should take as our friendship grew and matured.

-Terry

The Second Time Around…

Second time around for love?  Sounds like a song, doesn’t it?  Well, for us, life is better than a song, it is a lifestyle.

Terry’s Thoughts (T2)

Second time around for love? Sounds like a song, doesn’t it? Well, for us, life is better than a song, it is a lifestyle. Although each of our life’s journey to becoming husband and wife have been different, we have come together to experience something different from what we previously had. Does that mean that we should forget about our past? No. Does that mean that we should dwell in the past and wallow in self-misery and/or anger? Definitely not! What is does mean is that we can take the lessons from our past (both positive and negative) and create a relationship that can not only be wonderful and dynamic, but more than we ever expected or could have dreamed.

The desire behind starting our blog was to share our thoughts, feelings and observations about different topics as they relate to marriage and a blended family from both the husband and wife’s points of view. Many of our thoughts are influenced by our faith and life experiences and just our thoughts for comparison sakes. Many times, our thoughts are similar in nature, while others, we come from two different parts of the world just to end up in the same spot on the map.

It is my fervent desire is that our writings will help couples, from the newlywed that have been married for a few days or weeks up to the couple that have been married decades, recognize and realize that there is a benefit to understanding both similarities and differences in each other. As we continue to go further and further down this path together, I hope that we present to others a better understanding of what it takes to help make the second time around even better than the first time.

-Terry

Faith’s Thoughts…

For me, second time around is about experiencing the newness of this wonderful union while learning from the past.

Terry and I had two very different “first times”. He was married for years to a wonderful woman. She loved him so well that I can still feel the love in every detail of the house he and I now share. They were an inspiration to their friends and family; so, it dealt a devastating blow to many when she left this earth 1 month and 2 days after their 22nd wedding anniversary. My first time was about 3 years with two of those years being separated. He learned through experience and perseverance. I learned what not to do (again).

So, he’s a seasoned pro at this wonderful institution called marriage. I, on the other hand, still forget to sign cards as a couple or say “we” instead of “I”. I HAVE mastered the art of letting him know if I’ll be home later than expected, so there’s hope for me.

Terry’s hopes to change the world by…well, read what he wrote in his entry. I simply love to write. I want to “keep it real” and share some experiences with people. I know a lot of single women; great single women. Some are believing for a second time around; I hope they find hope in this love story that God wrote so well.

-Faith

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