The Wedding Planner, Part 3: The Wedding Day

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

The Wedding Day

Faith’s Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

-Faith

The Wedding Planner, Part 3: The Wedding Day

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Terry

The Wedding Planner, Part 2: The Transition

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

The Move

Faith’s Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

-Faith

The Wedding Planner, Part 2: The Transition

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Terry

The Wedding Planner, Part 1: Culture

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

The Wedding Planner, Part 1: Culture

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Terry

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

 

When Terry Asked Me to Marry Him

Faith’s Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

– Faith

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

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

Valentine’s Day

Faith’s Thoughts:

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

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

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

– Faith

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

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

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

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

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

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

– Terry

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

-Terry

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

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

Pre-Marital counseling

Faith’s Thoughts:

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

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

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

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

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

-Faith

 

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

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Terry

The Language of Love? Really?

This was a watershed moment in our relationship. We were learning how the other person “speaks” to express their love and how to listen with not only our ears, but with our hearts.

Love Languages

Faith’s Thoughts:

I was introduced to the book “5 Love Languages” by Gary Chapman over 10 years ago. It was presented to our single moms group and I found it so intriguing. I learned as a mom how to identify my children’s love languages (and mine) so that I could love them in the manner which they received love. It was very enlightening for me as a mom. It was also an effective parenting tactic. I wish I had revisited the book when my children became teenagers because I seemed to lose all types of “mommy cool points” when the kids reached teen years (or maybe love languages don’t apply to teens 😊). (Side note: I think I need to write Gary Chapman and give him another book idea: “5 Love Languages for Those Who Are Hard to Get Along With.”)  He has several versions focused on various groups (e.g. teens, singles, children, etc.)

I suggested to Terry that we read 5 Love Languages for Couples. I was a little intimidated suggesting a book to him because he has a very extensive library.  Terry reads a lot and he retains it all!  It’s one of the things I find fascinating about him.  He is a walking encyclopedia. Sometimes I just ask him random things that I don’t even care about just because I know he’ll either know the answer or find the answer. Although I love his big ol’ brain, introducing a new idea to him was scary for me.  I thought he would reject it and miss this opportunity to explore this book with me. I was very surprised when he said he hadn’t heard of it. Alas, I knew something Terry didn’t know 😊. Truly, I only knew the title.  I remembered the concept of the book, but I didn’t remember the details and surly I didn’t understand the content in the context of a couple’s relationship. Terry (of course) did some research about it and agreed to read it with me. I don’t know if he was just trying to appease me, but I was thankful either way.

We delved right into the books when they arrived. We assigned ourselves chapters to read and discussed them every night.  I have never had a guy agree to read a book with me, EVER!  Terry gained so many cool points when he said yes, but the way he faithfully read the chapters and shared in the discussion was absolutely beautiful! Most of the time he finished his reading before me.

Dr. Chapman introduced the concept that people naturally give and receive love in innate ways which are described as “Love Languages”. I won’t delve too deeply into the details because the book does that beautifully and I highly recommend that everyone read the book. By the end, I realized so many implications this concept has. Not just with my relationship with Terry, but my relationships with my parents, siblings, friends, and peers.  I revisited the information I had previously applied to my relationship with my children and refocused on loving them in their own (love) language.  As the title of the book suggests, there are 5 (love) languages and different “dialects” of how they are shown or received.  The languages are: Physical Touch, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts and Words of Affirmation.

I didn’t know what Terry’s love language was. I had a suspicion but I was wrong. Terry is a gift giver. He would send me flowers, chocolate, teddy bears, whatever (just because). I assumed that because Terry was big on giving gifts, that “gifts” was his love language. I was unaccustomed to receiving gifts.  I literally had a relationship where I would get dumped about a week before Christmas, so the guy wouldn’t have to buy me gifts for the holidays. Since my birthday is right around the corner from Christmas, the “breakup” would continue into the new year.  Then, there was Valentine’s Day, so you know what that meant…yup, a stupid argument to ensure he didn’t have to buy a gift in February.  Then he’d want to make up sometime around February 15th.  That went on for years before I figured out the pattern.  Absolute foolishness! Now back to Terry. I thought for sure giving and receiving gifts was his love language. But turns out, it’s not.

We learned in the book that sometimes behaviors can be learned through experiences. For instance, someone may be a good listener, because of training or profession. Quality conversations is a dialect of Quality Time.  Just because someone practices active listening, doesn’t mean that’s their love language.  There is a quiz at the end of the book which helps you identify your own love language, but more importantly, it helps you identify your partner’s love language. Couples are encouraged to know each other’s love language and commit to love their partner the way that they receive. It’s being intentional about love.

When I was a very young woman, I had a revelation about the state of relationships in my generation (at least in my surroundings).  In my view, I saw that everyone was looking at what they could get out of the relationship versus what they could add to the other person’s life.  They based their “love” on what the other person could do for them.  That formula worked until the other person could no longer deliver what was expected.  Once that happened, it felt as if they had “fallen out of love”.  This concept of loving intentionally is about love being more about what you can add to the other person vs what they can give.  When both parties are committed to doing that, it’s the most romantic language there is!  My prayer is that I always stay committed to loving Terry the way he needs to be loved.

– Faith

The Language of Love?  Really?

Terry’s Thoughts (T2):

One night while Faith and I were talking on the phone, she suggested that we read a book together.  I thought that is would be a good idea to help us get a better understanding of how we thought about a subject and help both of us learn more about the other.  So, I asked her what did she want to read or was it just something that she thought about.  As always, Faith had something in mind: ‘The 5 Love Languages for Couples’ by Gary Chapman.  I had never heard of it, but she had read the version for parents to learn their children’s love language. (Side note: There are several versions on the subject and all are centered around learning a person’s love language.  The primary book is ‘The 5 Love Languages’ and I highly recommend it.)  As she explained to me the principles of the book, I thought that it would be very interesting to see what the author said about the subject and where each of us landed.  So, the next day I ordered our copies of the book and awaited their arrival.

When they arrived, I gave Faith her copy and we decided to read a chapter each day and talk about the chapter we read that evening/night.  Faith kept saying to me before we read it together, “I know what your love language is, and the book is going to confirm it.”  Well, even though I hadn’t read the book, I knew I wouldn’t be pigeonholed by any category.  Never have and probably never will, but I told her “We’ll see if you are right or not.  But I’m not what you think.  I know me.”  She was certain that from her previous exposure to the teachings that she new what my language was/is.  Boy, was she in for a surprise!

As we continued to read each chapter and discuss what it entailed, we began to learn more about ourselves and well as each other.  Some of the things that I thought she ‘spoke’ through her love language was not what it appeared to be, while things that she thought I ‘spoke’ ended up being totally contrary to what she believed about me.  None of these things were negative, but they opened our eyes that we are more complex beings and have many layers.  In the words of Shrek, we were like onions: we have layers.  And like onions, sometimes if a layer is cut, it can make you cry.  During the 2 weeks that we were reading this book and our follow up discussions on the chapters, we would discuss our thoughts and feelings towards the subject and would relate our personal experiences to the chapter’s subject matter.  This was a watershed moment in our relationship.  We were learning how the other person “speaks” to express their love and how to listen with not only our ears, but with our hearts.

At the end of the book, there was a test that helps couples learn their love language and gives them an opportunity to discuss their findings and evaluate what their opinions at the beginning versus the end of the book.  In the end, we both learned about how the other expresses their love and receives love.  Knowing how a person receives love and how they “speak” it can help people communicate effectively and efficiently to each other.  There is no sense in speaking French when the other is speaking Italian and expect everyone to be on the same page.  The same with love languages.  By knowing how Faith receives expressions of love, I know what and how to “speak” to make sure that she knows that I love her and vice versa.  By taking a little time to learn your partner’s language of love, you may be surprised how much deeper your relationship will grow towards one another.  I know I did.

-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