OUR MARRIAGE ENCOUNTER

(By: Rick & Kim Garner)

IN THE BEGINNING...

back in my days...Kim and I met at Mississippi College (Clinton, MS) while I was working at WHJT-FM. I had been there for several years by that point. One day this young, short blonde woman comes walking into the FM studio. "Hmmmm, I've never seen her before," I said to myself. I don't recall much of that first introduction, other than names being exchanged. I do remember asking if she would be working with us and Kim indicated that she was a new recruit for the FM's sister station, WSLI-AM. I also recall thinking to myself that she would be a "challenge." This came as a result of "The Garner Test." Having met someone for the first time, I would make a statement or ask a question ... something specifically designed to determine the person's personality. Generally, it centered around humor - one can tell much about someone else by how they react to humor. Their reaction would determine how well we would get along. Kim proved to be a challenge mainly because she somehow perceived that she was being analyzed. She saw through my little test! It didn't take me long to get some nerve and shortly thereafter we were having a "lunch date."

one lump or two?

Oh, aren't those so quaint! The first time you're checking someone out, learning about them, examining them ... meanwhile, they're doing the same. Lunch dates. So very "safe." Not a lot of time to commit to the outing, less chance of seeing someone you know... We went to Ruby Tuesdays at the MetroCenter Shopping Mall on Thursday, February 4, 1993. 1 must admit that by the end of that outing, my interest had been sparked. Kim was confident, sophisticated, bright, humorous ... fun to be around!

Kim and I were still in college while dating. She was a couple of years before me and performing duties as Youth Minister at Briarwood Drive Baptist Church in Jackson. Her plans at the time were to go to Southwestern Seminary in Texas after graduation. Her father, Dr. Tom Stevens, had gone to Southwestern, too. Kim thought her life was planned out ... just coasting along life's little highway ... it was to be a rough road.

Getting to know someone can be a dangerous path

Getting to know someone can be a dangerous path. After all, you are going into the depths of a person's soul to discover what makes them tick. Every once in a while, one finds something that the other didn't know was there. Kim had never had a "serious" relationship. She had dated guys, but for no great length of time. Why get too serious when you're moving to Texas? Somewhere around August or September of 1994, Kimmie broke it off with me.

good-bye...

I was prepared for the conversation that Saturday morning in her church's playground. I was ready to love her and be committed to her and spend my life with her, but at that time she couldn't even return the words "I love you." I was released by her and I let her go. Or so I thought. The very next week, I had a date with Angie Crabtree - a Miss Mississippi Beauty Pageant Contestant that year. We worked together at the radio station and she considered me a good friend. I was looking for a little more. Little did I know that on that same Friday, one week after we broke up, Kim was going to ask me on a date! Imagine that! Well, this obviously floored her that I would have moved on "so quickly." The fact is my heart had moved on many moons before then. Kim had no real problem with this, because I believe she knew that Angie and I just didn't go together. God was teaching both Kim and I some valuable lessons.

in love and war...

Nothing panned out with Angie and all the while we're all still working at the college station. Not long after that, I got involved with a blonde bombshell named Maria Webb. She was a new salesperson at WHJT/MSLI. We began dating on a regular basis. Probably one of my big mistakes during that time was to allow my pride to get in the way. Kim wanted to still be friends, and we were mature enough to make that work, but I was too self-absorbed into having this "looker" on my arm that I didn't even tell Kim about our relationship ... Kim found out on her own and was the last to know. She was devastated and elected to take a standoff approach with me.

Kim stood back and watched me go through my relationship with Maria. That's a true friend. She voiced her opinion and concerns, but didn't run away like she wanted to ... she disagreed with what I was doing, but remained a true friend and did not let her emotions, pride, or anything else get in the way of her judgment. That's easy to do when one is focused on God's Will. Kim stayed "on the sidelines" praying for me the whole time.

I was trying to disciple Marla. A young Christian with many questions about life and God, Marla was curious and cautious. The funny thing was that Marla didn't really want to start dating me, because she thought that Kim and I should be together or that we would be getting back together. "It's happened to me before... " she quipped. "Me getting attached to someone and them going back to who they recently broke-up with. " Being the typical American male, I felt certain that Kim and I weren't getting back together. Marla was unconvinced.

ENGAGEMENT

planning...Asking the woman of your dreams to marry you can be a difficult process. Well, it should be! This is a guy's one moment to shine! His one chance to say, "Romantic?" I was born to be a romantic!" He gloats this in victory, but if he isn't careful, it will backfire and make him look like a total shmuck! Men, you know what I'm saying ... planning, preparation, thought ... any and everything you place into your one true moment to pop the question, will never quite work out like you planned it. Oh, to her it may be best thing in the world, but you know that extra pazaz that you had planned, that extra heart-kicker of a moment ... something just went screwy. Bachelors, take it from us married folk ... PREPARE and GO FOR THE GUSTO when it comes to proposing to the woman of your dreams!

Now, let me bring you up to speed on Kim and I. We began seeing each other on a deeper level and with a true vision of love. For you "personality testers" - I'm a Golden Retriever/Beaver and Melancholy/Phlegmatic while Kim is an Otter/Lion and a Sanguine/Choleric ... yes, total opposites of each other! That's one reason we clashed so well at first. We were so ingrained in our personalities that although we should have fit like a glove, we were beating each other up!

moms will be moms...

We knew we were going to get married and everyone else knew we were going to get married...now it was a matter of preparing for the future. It's so funny to watch your friends and family during this time. They want you to get married right then and start having babies! Hello! Getting a full-time job and a place to live were top-priority on my mind before even thinking about marriage. It's rather humorous when the mothers start thinking about grandchildren and get all excited. Hey, moms, the couple is just interested in the process of how those bundles of joy come about and aren't exactly thinking about the result ... if you catch my drift!

more planning...

So, you've received input from other married friends or family on how to propose to your sweetie. The final decision is yours and yours alone. For me, I knew Kim thought I would take her to Cedar Grove Mansion in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Its a glorious antebellum mansion with a restaurant that'll knock your socks off! We had been going there for several years and it is a very special place to us. Well, I couldn't let her think that she knew where I was going to propose, now could I? So, I gave her the shock of her life!

will you marry me?

Kim and I had been working just over a month at a brand new Adult Contemporary Christian radio station WYJS 105.9fm "Spirit 106." She was part of the morning show of Wilson and Stevens. Kim also handled Public Service Announcements, News, and Sales in addition to being on the air. I was Production Manager and Afternoon Drive Personality. I knew Kim would never suspect that I would propose to her live on the air and especially during her morning show. On Tuesday, May 14, 1996, Rick Garner proposed to Kim Stevens live on the air at 7:50am.

a captive audience...

Family and friends had actually tuned in at 7:20 that morning, since the deed was supposed to be done at that time. Remember, not too many words ago where I reminded you that something would have to go array in your prefect plan? I was up somewhat late the night before getting everything set, calling folks to listen ... planning my attack! My plan was to awake around 5:30 to let Kim's partner, Buster Wilson, know that a computer file contained a special announcement within it. (The beauty of modern radio when music and commercials can now be digitally stored and played from a computer!) I wanted him to know what was happening so there would be no surprises. And I wanted to catch him before Kim got there. I had thought about leaving a note, but knew that just as sure as I left a note, Buster might be late, Kim would get there first & might get nosy, and the gig would be up.

zzz ... zzzz .... zzzzz.....

My alarm never woke me ... only the Lord must have jolted me to reality at 7:15am. The 7:20am break was minutes away ... Buster knew nothing about the file in the computer that would play automatically ... and I didn't have the ring! I was also supposed to meet Kim's mother at her work to get the ring from her. Linda had the ring, because her sister in Kentucky operates a jewelry business. She secured it on a previous visit to Kentucky and held on to it until that blessed day. But first, I had to stop the countdown, so to speak. I called the station and Kim answered. I knew she would find it odd that I was awake that early and calling the station, so I explained it away as needing to inform Buster about a commercial - which was pretty much the truth! She gave him the phone and I explained what Kim thought I was sharing with him and for him to reflect that in his responses. I walked him through the procedure to stop the automatic playing of the production piece, which contained the beginning of my proposal. Meanwhile, Kim's mother was expecting my call and agreed to meet me at the station - the only way to pull this off in time! Many friends and relatives were tuning in, wondering where this momentous occasion was since it didn't take place at 7:20am. On went the clothes and out the door I went!

warp speed!

After booking it to the station, I knew things were going fairly well in this recovery operation, because I had beat Kim's mother to the radio station and Kim was on-the-air doing the news. I sat in my car waiting and praying. When Linda drove up I was getting a little nervous and anxious. I accepted the ring from her. Now was the time ... Kim had finished the news. I went into the station and entered the Control Studio. Buster was expecting me, but tried to act surprised while Kimmie had no idea why I would be at the station that early in the morning! I explained that I needed to personally take care of a problem that was my error again, not far from the truth! Working with quickness and ease, I set the computer to air the segment during the next commercial set. I stood by with a gorgeous wedding ring within its box in my left blue jeans pocket. My untucked polo concealed it pretty well.

the deed is done...

Wilson and Stevens had a small on-air bit and went to "something a little different, " as Buster worded it. The segment played with me speaking about how special Kim was and what she meant to me. She knew what was going on, but was in shock that I was doing this live! The segment ended and I fished the ring box out of my pocket. Buster kept the orchestrated music from the segment playing softly and activated the studio microphones. "Well, good morning, Kim," I said with a large grin.

"You better get on one knee, " she reminded me, already beginning to choke with excitement. (Guys, don't forget to get on one knee ... make a mental note!)

Some other brief interaction occurred before I "popped the question" and she joyfully accepted! After some more jubilant conversation on the air between the three of us, Kim said one of the cutest things I can recall...

'Go to a break!" she emphatically requested to Buster. (A "break" refers to a commercial break in radio programming.)

"A break?" Buster inquired.

"Yeah, so I can kiss him!"

Afterwards, I had arranged for Buster to play "This Day" by Point of Grace, one of the songs we had picked to be in the wedding. The phone lines lit up constantly for the next hour as listeners, family, and friends wanted to express how touched they were by the announcement and their congratulations. Kim simply glowed with excitement and contentment.

If you would like a cassette copy containing the live proposal, "This Day" by Point of Grace, and a produced promotional radio commercial with highlights of the event, please e-mail Kim and Rick at 2r1@geocities.com.


GOING TO THE CHAPEL and THE HONEYMOON

the who, what, where...

Kim and Rick were married April 19, 1997, at 4pm at our place of worship in Jackson Colonial Heights Baptist Church. Her father, Dr. Tom Stevens, Pastor of Lena Baptist Church in Lena, MS and Dr. Curtis Elmore (retired), married us. The wedding party was as follows:

Katie Stevens - Maid of Honor; Preston Everett - Best Man; DeAn Roberts, Andrea White, Leslie Sanders, Stephanie Nohra, Whitney Ballard - Bride's Maids; Ryan Webb, Jimmy Glenn, Trey Wooten, Bill Mcllwain, Bryan Eubank, Robbie Ballard - Groom's Men; Shane Singleton, Bill Marshall - Ushers; Adam Ballard - Ring Bearer; Selby - Flower Girl; and Tamra Hedgepeth, Sharon Irwin - Guestbook.

Our honeymoon began at Cedar Grove Mansion in Vicksburg, MS at a magnificent antebellum mansion with an intriguing past. Kim and I were prepared to stay our honeymoon night at Cedar Grove, but Preston and Trey had arranged for us to have Sunday night, also, and both evenings were pre-paid - a gift from my dear friends! We returned to Jackson on Monday, packed and flew to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for a 3-day stay. From Miami, we boarded the Carnival cruise ship Ecstasy and sailed to the Bahamas for a 3-day jaunt.

If you've never stayed in an antebellum home - DO IT! If you've never gone on a cruise DO IT! Our honeymoon was fabulous, because we did things we hadn't done before, yet they were things we both wanted to do. You don't have to spell out and plan out your marital romp hour-by-hour. Having a good idea helps keep things flowing smoothly.

Also, always educate yourself as to where you are traveling. Read over and even carry with you maps and books to familiarize yourself with the area. Don't make your resources obvious to the locals, though. You don't want to appear as a tourist, even if you are one!

THE FACTS OF (MARITAL) LIFE

passion and purity...

The honeymoon should be very special as it is time for two people to get away from everything and everyone they know and spend time with each other in beautiful and intimate ways. Don't go where everyone else has gone, where your parents went, where your friends went ... go where you two want to go and can afford to go. We chose to spend our honeymoon night at Cedar Grove Mansion in Vicksburg, MS. We had dined at the mansion for years, but never spent an evening there. It is here where I must insert a very important subject: sexual purity. Kim and I never had sex with anyone until our honeymoon night, because we understand the importance of remaining pure until marriage. This is very important.

I Thessalonians 4:3-6: For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified

the Bible is real...

Some have no understanding as to how the Bible can apply to them. Some feel that they have missed out, because they do not know Christ or they know Him and have had pre-marital sex. Let's get one thing straight ... if you have had pre or even extra marital sex, God still loves you! He wants you to know Him, to understand Him, and to believe Him. But first you must have faith. You must trust in Him to remove the doubt, confusion and pain from your life. Seek help from a local Body of Believers, a church home where your spirit can be ministered to by a loving group of people who are on a similar journey. Don't let Satan's lies keep you from finding a church where you and your fiancée can attend and grow together.

just the facts...

If you are thinking about getting married, are about to propose, already engaged, about to get married, or deep within being married...let's look at some universal facts:

Marriage is cool! It is the most wonderful and exciting experience you will ever go through ... period!

Marriage is to be built on the foundation of God. Without God, there is no strength; without strength, there is no love; without love, there is no bond; without a bond, there is only one. A marriage where both know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is so awesome, comforting, and secure.

Divorce is not an option. If the spouse you are marrying or have married is someone you can say without a doubt is the one, then there is no room for divorce, so it is not an option. Kim and I have said this for our marriage. Times may be rough, we may have arguments, fights, or whatever, but we will work through it with God leading us forward every day!

Read! Yes, read! I personally hate to read and Kim is such a bookworm! But even I learned the value of first committing to a daily quiet time with the Lord and reading scripture. I also learned the value of reading books from Gary Smalley (Love Is A Decision), Elizabeth Elliot (Passion and Purity), and Dr. Bruce Wilkinson (anything). Dr. Wilkinson does a series entitled, "A Biblical Portrait of Marriage." GET IT! Walk Thru the Bible, Inc., (Atlanta, GA) is his ministry and we would recommend anyone before or after marriage looking at his material and the other authors for clear, concise, Biblical teachings on marriage.

Pray! A couple that prays together, stays together! We have morning devotion separately and come together to pray before going to work. This may not be possible for everyone in their own marriage, but I feel that a husband and wife should pray together at some point every single day. There must be a one-on-one quiet time with God, but as Christ states in Scripture "where two or more are gathered in my name, there I shall be also." Few things are as beautiful as a husband and wife in Prayer - two are one.

Get Pre-Marital Counseling. A couple should always go through several meetings designed to stimulate the mind, heart and spirit with a trained counselor on the marital subject. We wouldn't recommend a friend or family member. We really wouldn't even recommend a pastor or whoever is performing your ceremony. However, you should first and foremost seek out and choose whomever you have a peace in your spirit about sharing intimate information. Kim and I would recommend a Christian marital and family counselor. They are trained and educated to address many specific needs and issues that sometimes are not addressed through the other avenues previously mentioned. A couple going into marriage must be challenged and forced to examine their hearts and motives before the isle-walk. Pre-marital counseling from a qualified objective person will provide such a stimulus.

God continues to do many things in our lives and marriage. We thank you for taking the time to read our story. Our prayer for you is that God will use what we've shared here to help lead and guide you in your journey for marriage. God bless you as you seek His will for your life regarding marriage!

Love,
Kim and Rick

Also, if you would like to learn more about Kim and Rick, you may visit their website.  They would love to have you stop in!


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