Tag Archives: Sonya

20 years

20 years.  That’s how old we were when we got married.  Just kids!  Many suggested we wait until after we finished college.  But we knew that wasn’t God’s plan.  We prayed and sought Him together and knew it was the time.

20 years.  That’s how long we’ve been married today.  1 wedding, 4 apartments, 4 houses,  5 cities, 2 college degrees, 3 long years in seminary, 5 children, 5 OBGYNs, 5 full-time ministries, 6 cars, 1 minivan, thousands and thousands of miles driven, 1 incredible wife, and 1 husband blessed beyond degree.  Good start.

20 years ago today.  I woke early.  Had breakfast at the hotel.  Then golf with my father and brother.  Lunch with family and friends at Ruby Tuesday seemed innocent enough until one of Sonya’s bride’s maids informed us that she was there too!  Yes, we were all traditional with the not seeing the bride before the wedding thing.  Loved it.  Loved that Sonya got shoved under a table as we walked in.  It’s so much fun.  Months before we rejected a photographer because they wanted to take all the pics before the wedding.  Nope.  This is too much fun.

Then, taking all of our stuff for an early check-in at our hotel.  O.K.  This is were I messed up.  Several out-of-town friends from my Continental Singers days had come in for our wedding, including an old girl friend.  They were all with me when I picked up Sonya’s stuff.  I don’t think it would have had the effect it did if she hadn’t been trying to take a bath on her wedding day and run out of hot water.  I remember talking to her through the bathroom door.  But hey, just little bumps on an incredible day.

Before the wedding, the men all dressed in the Music Suite.  Why does the bride get a Bride’s Room and the groom get a choir room?  Aaa, who cares?  Suddenly, I remembered that I left our rings in the suitcase.  You know, the one I’d taken to the hotel.  So, last minute hope-I-don’t-get-pulled-over-for-speeding trip to the hotel to get the rings, in my tux.  No problem.  Made it back in plenty of time.

Then, right before the wedding, they informed me that our cake had not arrived yet and not a call from the baker.  “Should we tell Sonya?” they asked.  No.  Don’t add that stress.  Turned out to be a good answer.  The cake was there for the reception no added stress on the bride.

I remember when they opened the doors.  Down the aisle was a woman so beautiful.  So stunning.  Her dress was perfect.  Wow, she was gonna marry me.  Her dad married us.  My dad was best man.  Her sister was matron of honor.  Many of our family and friends played and sang.  It was perfect.

I look at these pictures and think, “Wow, we were just kids!”

That is still the best groom’s cake I’ve ever had.  Chocolate heaven.

Right after this picture of us running to the car, someone, probably a kid, pelted Sonya in the face with an unopened bag of birdseed.  One of the bags we’d stuffed two nights earlier.  Lesson learned: pretty lace + bird seed + unsupervised child = dangerous projectile.

Off we go.  Not a clue.  But blessed beyond measure.

The best part: I wouldn’t change a thing.

Thank you, Sonya.  You are my best friend, my inspiration (insert Chicago song here), my wife, my mate, my partner in parenting, and my partner in ministry.  You are awesome.  I love you more now than ever before.  I love you with all of my heart and I can’t wait to spoil our grandchildren together, then go for ride in our red convertible Corvette.  Just the two of us old people making the young ones jealous.

Thank you God.  You are so good to me.




On September 2, 1992, just before 8a.m. I walked into Music Theory 101 a week late to Mobile College with no books.  So, I asked the prettiest girl in the class if I could share with her.  Praise God she said, “Yes.”  But He already knew she would.  His sovereign hand had been guiding us to this moment. The many ways God gently, or not so gently, corrected us and kept us heading to this point is simply miraculous.  Here is a little taste of what our life has been like these past 20 years.

And, if you haven’t read or heard it before, here is our story:

My Bride

Sonya and I met in Music Theory 101 on September 2, 1992, during the first semester of our freshman year at the University of Mobile (it was called Mobile College then).  I was late getting to school that year because I’d been touring with a musical group, had no books for my first day of classes, and needed to share with someone.  Naturally, I asked the prettiest girl in the room.  When the class was over, we introduced ourselves and I said something dorky like “My name is Brian, but my friends call me Odie.”  Yes, my college nickname was Odie, but that’s another story.  Incidentally, Sonya never called me Odie.

I was dating someone from that tour long distance at the time so Sonya and I just “hung out.”  We quickly became good friends and soon would call each other “best friends.” We went to the 1992 Homecoming dance together as well as every concert we were required to attend as music majors.  In fact, if the seat next to one of us was vacant, people would leave it vacant for the other.  Many people asked if we were dating and we denied it everytime.  We were just good friends.

Now, about that homecoming.  I would learn much later that a significant event took place the night before at the talent show.  I had practiced for weeks on a jazz band solo called “Nichole.”  Sonya listened many times, so we nicknamed it “Sonya.”  (I know, very creative, but it helps in a minute).  It was a very mellow yet emotional fluegel horn solo.  As I played it that evening with the jazz band behind me, Sonya sensed that we were going to be married some day.  While I would like to believe that I wooed her with my very passionate performance, I don’t think it had anything to do with the way I played the song.  God was speaking.  Now, that was in October.  Sonya committed to be patient and let God work.  She began to pray that He would either remove her feelings for bring me around.

Somewhere around that time Sonya asked me to come to church with her on a Sunday when she was singing.  Wow!  She was amazing.  Little did I know how blessed I would be by that voice in the future.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day 1993, my girl friend from Texas came for a visit so, I asked my best friend if she would provide accommodations.  For some reason S0nya politely declined to help.  But I found a mutual friend of ours who would let her stay the weekend. While staying with our mutual friend in the dorm, my girl friend asked “So what’s with this Sonya chick?”  Apparently, I’d been talking about her quite a bit.  Our friend reassured her that we were only friends.

Fast forward to March.  We continued to grow closer and closer.  I drove most Thursday nights to her home in Daphne, where she lived with her parents, to watch Seinfeld and Frazier.  (Now you know why we quote so many lines from Seinfeld.)  Then, she went on a date.  Not with me.  Someone else.  The best part of it was that I encourage her to go!  When they schedule the second date, I began to feel differently.  Oh yeah, I was still dating a girl in Texas.  But I didn’t like this idea of Sonya dating.  Our time was threatened and he like to put his arm around her.  He began to talk about their “relationship.”  To my relief, Sonya quickly began to confess her lack of enthusiasm for the relationship and I obviously encouraged her to end it!

Spring Break ticket

April 1993 came quickly and with it, the Spring Banquet: an off campus event with a catered meal and dancing.  (I believe it was the first one with dancing – lucky for us.)  Sonya did not want the aforementioned young man to ask her to it so we agreed to go together.  Three days before the dance, my girl friend from Texas broke up with me.  I was heartbroken and my best friend came to comfort me.  We sat on the front steps of my campus house (girls were not allowed inside – it was a baptist school!) and she consoled me with sweet words and side hugs.  Now I know that inside she was smiling and just a bit giddy. She confesses to also feeling a little guilty, thinking that all of her praying about our relationship had finally worked and now I was upset!

Because we were just “friends” we had agreed to go to the Spring Banquet as a part of a 5 person group.  Two couples and a single guy named Eddie Gross.  The other couple made new plans, so Sonya, Eddie , and I went to the Banquet together in my Blazer.  We began the night dancing like friends with a safe distance between us.  By the end of the night, I’m not sure there was any distance between us at all.

first date - Spring Banquet

I took Sonya to her sister’s apartment and walked her to the door on the second floor.  Eddie, who had not said a word from the back seat the entire time, stayed in the car.  There was a awkward hug followed by a quick, glancing peck on the lips from the clumsy guy not sure what to do.  Not knowing what to do I tried it again.  I mean, this was my best friend.  I’m a guy.  I don’t know how to read “signals.”  I can’t sense feelings.  That’s when Sonya took things into her own hands.  As I turned to leave she said “Wait,” wrapped her arms around my head and did it right.  Boy am I glad she did!  It really was magical.  We say that was were we crossed the “platonic line” – April 3, 1993.

The transition to “dating” couple was pretty seamless.  We had really been dating for several months without actually dating.  I see God’s hand in it all.  We became best friends first.  We are still best friends.  As people noticed us holding hands, some would actually cheer.  Most just said they already knew we would be together.  Some asked when the wedding would be.

The next December, I took Sonya back to the apartment door where her sister once lived, reinacted our first kiss, and proposed to her.  That was January 8, 1994.  We were married on December 30 that same year.


Sonya is my best friend.  She is an incredible wife.  She has given birth to five amazing children who remain to be amazing because they have such a wonderful mommy.  She has been through the dreaded Seminary years with me as well as a very tough ministry stint.  I couldn’t have done any of it without her.  And those of you at Lynwood know that my ministry now would not be the same without her.  She sings and leads, which means that most Sundays she gets all five children to church on time to be in her spot by 8:00 a.m.  Our kids have such fun with her.  She brings laughter to our family.  Her smile is captivating.  There is no one like her and there is no doubt, God created and molded us for each other.  She’s my soulmate.  Thank you, God, for my wife.  And thank you, Sonya, for listening to Him.

I Love You!


First Date - before  

more pics:



it’s getting close, but we’ve got a long ways to go.

On July 21, Sonya and I will be leaving for Kenya.  We’ve been on mission trips together before but not with 5 kids and not for 2 whole weeks!  We are both anxious and excited.  God has provided for our kids.  We have no worries about where they will be or how they will be cared for.  Praise God!

In Kenya, we will be working with a group of around 200 kids in the village of Machakos and the tireless woman of God who ministers to them, Monica.  With little to do and little supervision after school, the kids of Kenya get caught up in drugs, violence, and sex.  They are attracted to anything that seems to meet their needs.  It sounds like inner city America but it happens all throughout the continent of Africa with the neediest of kids.  These are the kids that Monica ministers to.  She works to meet their needs while sharing the love of Christ and hope we have in Him.  We will help her set up an after-school program to keep these kids off of the streets and share the good news of salvation in Jesus.

Before we return, we will also visit the Heart of the Bride orphanage in Uganda to teach bible to the kids and minister to the workers there.

But we need help to get there.  My trip is covered but Sonya still needs to raise about $1,700 before July 10.  That seems huge but we know God will provide.  If you would like to donate I have given the details below.  Don’t feel pressured to give a big gift or anything at all.  Only do what God leads you to do. If God leads you, whatever He leads you to give will be just the right amount.  Here are the details:

If you would like to financially support this trip, there are two ways you can give:

You can donate online by going to http://heartofthebride.org/donate-missiontrips.  Please choose “Kenya short term mission trip”, indicate the dates as July 21 – August 4, and put “Sonya Crisman” in the team member field.

Mail a Check:
you can mail a check to:

    Heart of the Bride Ministries
    P.O.Box 786
    Niceville, Florida 32588

Checks should be made out to Heart of the Bride Ministries accompanied by a note designating the check to Sonya Crisman for Kenya/Uganda STM Mission Trip.  All financial donations are tax deductible and you will receive a donation statement at the end of the year.
You can also get more information about Heart of the Bride on their website,www.heartofthebride.org.

Thank you so much.  Please keep our team in your prayers as we prepare, travel and minister in His name!


Mr. Mom – Days 2, 3 and 4//Kate report

There is so much going on right now. It’s hard to describe it all. Sonya’s gone. I’m on vocal rest. Kate possibly has arthritis. And, Monday was my birthday. So, summing it up is difficult. Here are some highlights:

Day 2

Ellie is “calling” Sonya a lot on her play phone. And she also asks, “Where’s mommy?” all the time. We say, “Africa” and she says “Oh.”

We’ve been blessed with some amazing friends who are helping so much this week. Each Saturday night the kids are staying with someone who then brings them to church on Sunday. Keeps them from having to get there so early with me and me from having to get them ready before the break of dawn! That made Sunday so much easier. Again, we are so blessed. We did discover, though, that Ellie can now climb out of her pack-n-play. Not sure what to do about that.

We ate at some friend’s house for lunch yesterday. While there, we told Ellie that she couldn’t jump on the exercise trampoline without shoes. So she walked right over to the fridge, grabbed a magnet shaped like a flipflop and tried to put it on. When it didn’t fit, she said, “It doesn’t fit.” and went about her business.

Day 3

Then, last night was crazy with Ellie. She was up forever and climbed out of her crib for the first time. Really not sure what to do about that. Any suggestions?

Today, we had Kate’s first rheumatology visit. The appointment was a 9am in St. Louis. We had to be there at 8:30. It’s 2 hours away. Once again, a precious soul took Ellie at 6:30. The rest of us headed up for the visit. The visit went well. It will still take another three weeks to diagnose her symptoms as arthritis, but if that’s what it is and it stays in the one knee, that will be a blessing. Much easier to treat.


I was reminded again of how bad I am at this Mr. Mom thing when Kate asked if we had any snacks on the trip. Of course we had no snacks. Mommy packs those!

After the visit we went to the science center and hung out for my birthday. We had a blast. It was so special.




I don’t guess I’ve ever gotten to spend time like that with our four older ones. In the middle of it all, we went to the Macaroni Grill for lunch. They treated me so special. They even snuck around and told the waitress that it was my birthday. Of course I could see what they were doing which made it all the more fun. They brought me the Ghirardelli chocolate cake. It was amazing! The cake is in a bowl and comes with a little bowl of chocolate dipping sauce and a blob of whipped cream with toffy and chocolate bits in it. A-ma-zing. It looks a little something like this:


But the best part of that day: Sonya called. I can’t tell you how incredible it felt to talk to her. I miss her so much. But I am so glad that she is there doing what she is doing. That God is going to use her the way He is. Still, I’m counting the days until she returns.

At the end of the day, they put four candles in a cupcake and sang Happy Birthday to me. It was a very special version.


All in all, it was a great day. A very special birthday. Only thing that would have made it better? Sonya here, of course!

Day 4

Everyone slept good through night so I felt a little better. Sarah Dodge kept the kids at the house and they all had a blast. While she was there she made homemade pizza for our dinner! It rocked! I mean really. It was good. The older kids went swimming with some friends while Ellie and I spent some one-on-one time. It was really nice. We sang “Ring Around the Rosie” and hit the ground more times than I care to remember. But her laugh and the phrase “Do it again, Daddy!” are all worth it.


Still, counting the days until August 6.




Day 1

This is the first full day without Sonya. She road to Gadsden yesterday, then boarded the plane in today. She flew to Atlanta (doesn’t everybody?). And now she’s on her way to Amsterdam.

From there, Nairobi!

I’m so proud of her. She was nervous about flying. But today, God gave her excitement. She was nervous about leaving us for 2 weeks, but God has provided so much love and help from our Lynwood family. She is awesome and I know that God is going to do tremendous things through her this week. I know that He’s going to do great things in her as well.

It’s hard sitting here tonight without her on the couch beside me. This would be our coffee time. Then we’d get ready for bed and turn in early because Sunday is an early morning. And I’ll miss her so much during worship tomorrow (especially since I can’t sing right now, post to come later). But I’m so glad she went. She heard God’s call and answered as she should have – obediently! I can’t wait to hear all about it. And I’m so thankful for the example she is to our kids. True courage not the lack of fear, but doing the right thing even when you are scared. That’s my girl. Courageous.

She’s also being a mentor to this sweet girl from Gadsden:

She’s my favorite person in the world.  Sonya, that is!  No disrespect to Holly.  She’s sweet too.

We all miss you, Sonya. I love you more than I can say.




Oh, and Bozeman was there to see them off as well.

my favorite person in the whole land//the birthday girl

Today is a big day. It’s the anniversary of the day my favorite person in the whole land took her first breath.

## years ago my bride was born in New Orleans, LA.  Her parents were in seminary.  Her father studying to be a pastor.  They ate at Pancho’s Mexican Buffet often because it was cheap.  We figure that’s why she likes mexican food so much.

But she’s not a Louisianian (is that what you call them?), oh no, she’s really from LA.  Lower Alabama.  Well, that’s where her family is from.  As a pastor’s kid she lived in rural Alabama and mainly in Fort Walton Beach, FL and Tampa, FL.  But I don’t really think she’s a Floridian either (I’m pretty confident about that one). Together, we’ve lived in Mobile, AL, Louisville, KY, Little Rock, AR, Gadsden, AL, and now Cape Girardeau, MO.  Following God is one crazy, awesome adventure.  And just over a year ago began the next leg of that journey.

And after a wild year, I have to say that I’ve never been prouder of her than I am right now.  This year has been crazy.  Lots of sickness.  Two house payments.  A dog.  Thousands of miles in the car for weddings, anniversaries, and funerals. A miscarriage.  And last week,

all night in the Children’s Hospital in St. Louis with a child with a mysterious swollen knee. Has she been tired?  Oh yeah.  Has she been upset?  You bet.  But she clings to the knowledge that we are in God’s will and that His plans for us are the best.  And that even when He leads us through testing, fire and water, and crushing burdens, His ultimate goal for us is a place of abundance (Psalm 66:10-12). Her faith never waivers.

I love her more than words can say.  Way more than my actions usually show.  Her kids adore her.  Way way more than their actions usually show! She is a precious jewel and a woman after God’s heart.  She’s my favorite person in the whole land.  She’s my friend and my wife.  I am so blessed.

Oh, and did I mention that she’s hot?


can I ask you to pray?

For just over two years now, Sonya has had back pain.  It started as just a little dull pain.  As it began to ramp up there was little we could do because she was expecting Ellie.  It was a hard pregnancy.  Over the last year or so the pain has spread down her leg and sometimes reaches the bottom of her left foot.  She’s had MRIs, physical therapy, epidurals, more MRIs, a nerve conduction study, and a shot in the back side.  Nothing has given her any relief.  I’m writing this today because yesterday was particularly bad.

Most of the time, you wouldn’t know she has a problem.  Like the picture above, she smiles, works, serves, and parents through pain with love and devotion.  But sometimes she has a hard time even getting out of a chair and walking.

Please pray.  Pray for healing.  Pray for answers.  Pray for wisdom.  Please pray.