Saturday, February 21, 2015

Happy Couple Highlights: Elle and Tosha

Elle & Tosha
Atlanta, Ga.

 How long have you been together? Elle: Doc and I became girlfriends 2.5 years ago and made it official by tying the knot Oct. 7, 2014. We’ve known one another for almost 3 years. Celebrating 4 happy months married on the 7th of Jan. Tosha: Elle and I have been married for 3 months and have been together for almost 3 years.

I love to hear how couples meet. So, share. How did you get together/meet?
Elle: Doc and I met at the beginning of summer (May to be exact) at a concert, in which I was invited to by her BFF April Girard. I knew April was in the life, a life I had left alone many years ago. Later during the concert…. While playing with my cell phone, I looked up and saw Tosh lying in front of me looking directly at me. In that very moment, I snapped a picture of her (smiled) and looked back at the picture and thought, she is stunning! My heart fluttered for a second!

You see, Doc was wearing a cow boy hat that covered her face, yet in the picture (still wearing the hat) I saw her face! Her light brown eyes were kissed by the sun, her freckles caught my attention and the ever so sexy smirk on her face looked devious. I quickly turned to April showed her the picture and said, ‘She’s Beautiful!’ April said, ‘I can’t believe you took her picture! April looked at her BFF Tosh and gave her this look and smiled. I often wondered what that look was all about. As the summer got under way the love bug struck both of us beyond our control. It’s true, when you least expect it love will find you as long as you’re open to it.

Tosha: Elle and I met through my BFF April Girard. My BFF kept telling me about a woman she wanted me to meet because she thought Elle was “my type” and thought she would be good for me. Because of my prior break up, I really wasn’t interested in meeting anyone. I was honestly dating and very content with being single. That was, until I met Lu’Wana Parker. Smile. We met at the Old School concert a few years back and I immediately asked my BFF, “who is THAT?” lol, my BFF laughed and said, “that’s the lady I’ve been wanting you to meet!” I was like, oh um ok…is she gay? Is she married…you know all the questions you ask when you meeting someone as fine as my wife! My BFF told me Lu’Wana wasn’t gay and I kind of shrugged and kept it moving.

I later sent her a friend request on Facebook and you know, watched her from afar for a few weeks. I saw her again at an “Ink and Whole” party at my BFF’s house at the beginning of that summer. I was amazed and smitten! I kept staring at her and wanted to talk to her but I was afraid. Well, I finally mustered up enough nerve to talk to her (I’ll let her tell that part of the story)! Smile

We didn’t exchange numbers or anything that night; however, I did tell my friends that “she was going to be my wife.” Later, on the ride home, The Lord, told me as clear as day, “that is your wife.” I was like, “big gulp, really?!?!?” And it went on from there….

There is always something that always attracts us to certain people. What was the initial attraction?  Elle: My initial attraction to Doc was her inner sex appeal, beauty & physique underneath the edgy exterior. I was turned on by her arm tattoos, her freckles, her beautiful eyes and her calm spirit. I thought, wow I really like the woman that lives within her androgynous style. Once we started spending time, I found that although many differences between us, our similarities were strong. We were created by God specifically for one another.

Tosha: My initial attraction to Elle was her resemblance to my Mama. Her “jazziness” and “sex appeal” were very familiar to me and I thought she reminded me of my mom in that sense. I was also attracted to her love for her children. I noticed from the very beginning that she talked about her kids a lot and it really showed her concern for them. I loved that.

Congrats on your recent marriage. What did you do to prepare for marriage? And how has being married changed your relationship? Elle: Thank You! My Wife and I went to marriage counseling for 10 months. We learned so much more about one another with mediators present. It allowed for a safe space for us to be free, clear and truly honest about our deepest fears, concerns, desires and expectations towards one another and our relationship. Counseling removed the representative (if you will) and allowed us to think beyond the beginning & in the moment. We were challenged to think FUTURE and how to effectively build together. One thing I learned specifically was how to LISTEN.

Since getting married, I have this overwhelming feeling all of the time that is hard to explain! When I think’s scary yet I feel accomplished! Like I have arrived and joined an elite club. Being married has changed my relationship radically in the area of communication. My Wife and I have come to the consensus, giving up is NOT an option! Through communication, we are committed to doing the work no matter what and that in itself is our growth from past relationships.

Tosha: As Elle mentioned, we did couples counseling for several months and spent time getting to know each other before we were married. It was important to me, personally, that we not live together before we were married. I guess I’m “traditional” in that sense.

Being married has strengthened our relationship. I felt before like “quitting was not an option,” but now I feel that it is not even a thought, really. At the end of the day, we are together for life and that’s the bottom line. I would say marriage has changed us both for the better, as a couple. I don’t feel like we are individuals any longer. Now I really feel that we are one in every aspect of life.

Relationships are not always easy. We want them, but they take work. What would you say is the key to the success of your relationship and why?  Elle: The key to the success in our relationship is definitely communication, compromise & comfort. Early on I was taught that communication is key in everything I do! I work hard at being an effective communicator with everyone in my life. I use communication to teach our children, to lead by example and to express myself with respect and respect to others. Tosh wasn’t used to communicating effectively and in the beginning of our relationship we struggled because of this. We’ve learned that in order to be heard and to listen to one another, we need to talk about it in love. Compromise is equally important because we understand that we’re different. Reaching a compromise is key to settling our differences to keep the peace and love flowing. Comfort is necessary as life is challenging, relationships are challenging and knowing that your spouse/partner will comfort you regardless of any situation will allow you to create space to communicate & compromise.

Tosha: The key to the success of our relationship is communication. I’ve not been a big communicator in my past relationships and I’ve learned (and am learning) the importance of communicating. I’m also learning how to communicate effectively and how to communicate my needs and wants without sounding selfish.

Relationships are wonderful combinations of celebration and challenges. How do you deal with and face challenges that might come up in your relationship?  Elle: We face challenges head on! We acknowledge, we talk and we conquer together right away up front. We understand challenges can and will create space and distance if you allow it, so we choose to breathe and go head on to rid away unnecessary absence between us. Doc and I have dealt with a lot to get where we are today in our relationship, honestly if we didn’t take this approach from the start we would not be married today! We work hard to make our time together most enjoyable, effective and essential. We live by…never go to bed MAD!

Tosha: We face challenges head on. We talk about them. We acknowledge them. And we deal with them. Compromise is probably the other key to the success of our relationship. We have both given a great deal and sacrificed a lot to be together. Learning to compromise has been probably the most essential part of us “staying together” thus far. Because I served in the military for almost 25 years, I grew to be a very independent person. For the past few years it’s just been me and my dogs. I got use to traveling and living out of a suitcase. In fact, I would venture to say that most, if not all, of my relationships even since college, have been long distance relationships because of studies and the military. So living with, and having, a family was a major change for me. I had to quickly learn the importance of compromise and the value it plays in our relationship.

I know one of the challenges that many couples have is blending families. How did you blend the family and what advice would you give to other couples? Elle: Yesssss, blending families can be difficult and challenging to say the least! Tosh and I are still blending. Blending will be ongoing and is a day to day process with us, our girls and the dogs. Honestly, personally this is the hardest part of our relationship for me. I have the girls Kharma 12 and Aje’ 7 yrs. and Tosh has the boys Zeus and Duke (boxers). I also have a toy poodle Princess who runs the house (lol). My struggle is getting used to having what I call outside dogs inside full time. Adjusting to BIG dogs in every aspect of our home (drives me batty). I pray, I deal one day at a time (really minute by minute) and keep things in mind like compromise to get through it. I also consider the situation in reverse with Tosh and the girls. My gaping love for my Wife is what keeps me. Our girls on the other hand have adjusted nicely and rather quickly, surprisingly so.

The advice I would give to other couples is, please know merging two lives takes time. When you add others in the family to the mix, it could take even longer. Have extraordinary patience, communication, exercise your right to vent (in a loving way) and work as a team, none of the, this is mine and that’s yours perspective. Take time for self (just because you’re a couple now doesn’t mean you have to give YOU up), yet be selfless. Tosh and I find it extremely helpful to have another couple you trust to have as an accountability partner(s). There’s something good in hearing another perspective from someone who has/is going through the same thing. Lastly, pray and place God as the head of your home/relationship and follow his word (providing that is your belief/faith).

Tosha: Blending our family has been interesting, to say the least. I think our greatest challenge has been learning to live in the space we’ve been blessed with. Our home is very small, nice, and cozy. Subsequently, we have to learn to live together in a very tight space. I think this has been a blessing in disguise because it forced us to get closer and spend more time together. I’ve personally learned the importance of team work and understanding that life isn’t just about me (and my dogs). Smile. Having children has taken some getting used to. The main challenge for me has been learning that the children’s schedule pretty much dictates our (the adult’s) schedules. Once I realized that, life became a lot easier.

The advice I would give to family blending lives would be to take your time, learn one another, and over communicate (your needs). I often see people give so much of his or herself that they become a different person. Remain true to yourself but remember what brought you together and why you are together. If there are children involved, be cognizant of their feelings, their age, and their other parent. Everything matters, whether stated or not. Additionally, I highly suggest both individual and couples counseling. It’s so important to know yourself and know what you bring to the table. What makes you comfortable and uncomfortable. Knowing this can help you communicate your needs to your mate. Finally, find a group that supports you. Be it friends, other couples, a pastor, or mentor. Surround yourself with like-minded people and set the expectation that “giving up is not an option.” In an effort to surround ourselves with like-minded individuals, Elle created an organization called “Healthy Couples – Atlanta.” The group has been very successful and there are couples in the group that have families. We have learned from the other couples and have created a support system as well as accountability partners who help us remain true to our relationship and our family.

I know faith is important to both of you individually. What role does spirituality play in your relationship and how do you celebrate our faith as a couple?  Elle: Spirituality is important! It’s one thing to be spiritual walking your own path and another to be married to a Pastor or someone in Ministry. I’m learning to support and play a role for other people. I’m learning my walk with God and to take on learning what it means to lead at the same time. This has been overwhelming to say the least. I will say this, ‘it’s truly rewarding!’ My reward comes from being obedient to his whisper and not allowing fear to lead me away from our calling to KIMVC. I think it’s safe to say, we are still trying to figure out our way in this area as a unit. We are also growing spiritually together by spending time in prayer and serving through our worship services/experiences. My Pastor, Friend, Confidant and Lover is teaching me and leading me to a more purposeful life…I simply admire, respect & love Dr. Tosha Parker-Meredith!

Tosha: Being a new pastor, I think spirituality is very important. It is one thing to be in ministry and not necessarily play a key role, however it’s totally different to pastor a church and have individuals you are accountable to. Having a spiritual relationship helps with all the challenges that not only come with our relationship but the challenges that come with ministry in general. We are still figuring our way in the area of spirituality. We are also growing in this area to a point of spending time together in prayer as well as our worship experiences.

Tosha, congrats on our new pastorate. How can people learn more about your church and Elle, how are you preparing to be a “pastor’s wife”? Elle: Preparing to be a Pastor’s wife has been seemingly easy for me to do. I’m careful with what I read concerning being a pastor’s wife first and foremost! In the past I found myself side-tracked with worries that I wouldn’t meet people's expectations. However, I find much peace in going back to scripture and reminding myself that my real acceptance and security rest in Christ’s grace, not my performance. I consider it a huge privilege to be married to a woman who preaches God’s Word week after week. I love my wife and am grateful for the ministry the Lord has given us in KIMVC Kingdom International Ministries Virtual Church. Biblically, the role of a pastor’s wife is the same as every wife’s: love your husband/wife and children, manage our home well and be an example to women around me (Titus 2:4-5). I also let my spiritual gifting direct many of my choices. My spiritual gift is serving and outreach, which means much of my involvement is behind the scenes. My main role is to support my wife and here’s how I do that: watch out for her; I provide helpful and honest feedback; stand with her when times are tough; I discern and provide real talk; I never gossip; I ensure both of us grow a thick skin; lastly, I keep the fun alive. I strongly believe, if I continue to do what I’m currently doing and continue to grow in God’s Word, it will allow me to enjoy the role as First Lady.

I feel because I treat my role more as a wife and mother vs. a pastor’s wife makes for any challenges that could occur nonexistent in our relationship. It’s the bond not the title that I/we focus on.

Tosha: Being a pastor is something I kind of fell into. Things happened so fast and changed so drastically that I’m still getting used to it. The church is called Kingdom International Ministries Virtual Church and it’s affectionately known as KIMVC. The web address is KIMVirtualChurch.Org. We started the ministry several months ago for a few reasons. First, we saw a need for integrating technology (social media) with Christ and Christian principles. Our mission is to courageously and intellectually spread the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world; thereby creating disciples of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28: 19-20). Our vision is to create and provide an international platform through virtual and cyber space for individuals to worship Jesus Christ while transforming their lives (Romans 12:2). I must honestly say many people laughed at the idea initially, however, the response and reception has been phenomenal. We have over 100K Followers on Facebook and almost 300 members around the world in less than 6 months! Our aim is to continue to walk in our gifts and purpose while helping others to do the same. Our ultimate goal is to save souls. 

Sensuality and sexuality are important to relationships. What role does sensuality play in your relationship? And, how are ensuring that the flame stays alive? Elle: Sensuality plays a BIG role in our relationship. I realize this isn’t and shouldn’t be everything about our relationship, but it is high on my list! Being able to spend intimate time with Doc is imperative! Being able to release, relax and relate to tosh keeps our FIRE burning. We need that to feel secure in our relationship. Touch brings out vulnerability, honesty and LOVE! We have to be creative to have this, so it’s not often present, however the creativity makes it more interesting and worth the wait. I love, love, love our moments of togetherness and I appreciate them all the more when we are in the moment.

Tosha: Sensuality is very important. Me being the dominant person in our relationship, I have to remember to be sensual and intimate at times. I sometimes take for granted that need for sensuality and intimacy in our relationship. I’m learning to take time out for “us” and be sensual and intimate for building our relationship. One of our biggest challenges is learning to work around the schedules of our children. Smile. We have to “get it in, when we can!” Lol! (She’s going to get me for saying that). But seriously, any couple with children knows that the kids run the house (not literally) and our schedules fluctuate depending on what’s on their agenda. We also have a child with special needs who is up at “o-dark-thirty!” So we are learning to get sleep when we can (usually when she sleeps). So our sensuality is built around these variables as well. Again, and area we are constantly working on and trying creative things to make it work.

Every relationship has rules that support the union. Even if the rules are not stated, they are understood. What are your Relationship Rules and how do your rules support your relationship? Tosha: I would say the stated (and unstated) rule that guides our relationship is that quitting is not an option. We are in this for the long haul and are committed to making our relationship work. God put us together and that is the basis, the foundation if you will, for our relationship. This helps our relationship because we know that we have one another’s back, no matter what.

Elle: I believe our relationship rules are to set boundaries; give what you expect to get; two heads are better than one; sound it out; laughter is the best medicine; mind your manners; fight right and DATE night. Also, when the going gets tough, the tough get therapy! We are avid believers in therapy…it works!  All of the above support our relationship as guidelines to follow to stay true to ourselves and to one another. For example: sound it out is communication! Talking about the not so fun topics like money, religion, raising kids and fidelity usually end up being the most valuable. Another is mind your manners, ‘Please, Thank you and you’re welcome’ can go a long way in helping your partner remember that you respect and love them and don’t take them for granted.  Date night, is showing subtle ways you love, admire and appreciate them. Quality time spent is mandatory for every couple to connect!!!

What 1 word characterizes your love for her and why? Tosha: The one word that characterizes my love for my baby is Angel. She’s my personal God given angel that God has assigned me to take care of while here on earth. She’s assigned to do the same for me and that is why I love her.  Elle: I have two words…I know the question calls for just one but if it’s ok, I have to give two (smile). One word that characterizes my love for Tosh is ADORE - Why? Because I love, cherish, treasure and consider her to be my PRIZE! The second is ANGEL - because she’s a person of exemplary conduct or virtue. The definition according to google says, ‘an angel is a spiritual being believed to act as an attendant, agent, or messenger of God’. I know without a shadow of a doubt my wife is my personal messenger from God. I have grown spiritually simply because she’s in my life.

Relationships teach us so much about partnership. Based on your own experience, what advice would you give to other couples? Tosha: The advice I would give to other couples is to always keep God in your relationship. Stays focused and committed to “not giving up,” and always communicate. Make time for date night. Laugh often, love freely. Finally, keep people out of your business. Elle: The advice I would like to give other couples is to keep our heavenly father first! Stay grounded in his word and a family that prays together stays together. Commit to making it work, giving up is not an option. Love freely, laugh, spend quality time and DATE your spouse/partner. Schedule time to converse, the art of listening goes a very long way. Lastly, keep others out of your RELATIONSHIP!

What has your relationship taught you most about yourself? And were you surprised about what you learned? Elle: My relationship has taught me that it’s ok to ask for help. It’s ok to relax, take a break and put me first. I’m learning to be patient with adults and to share my feelings. My relationship shows me daily how truly blessed I am. Being married to the busiest woman on the planet has placed me on a fast track to my destiny. Growing in Christ and learning my spiritual gifts through my daily counseling with my Pastor have been the best part of merging our lives together. I believe my wife was created to assist in showing me my life can and will be great as I embark on a new journey. Doc is the missing piece to my puzzle. We fit, work and are greater together. God has blessed us, our union, our children and our footsteps are ordered in his holy name. Who would have thought…ME…a First Lady?! I claim it in the mighty name of Jesus, thanks my love ;)  Tosha: My relationship has taught me that I am capable of being and giving love freely. I’ve learned that I don’t have to do things on my own, and that God created Elle to help me conquer the mighty vision he’s given me for my life. And, I believe I was created to do the same for my wife.

What do you hope your legacy will be as a couple? Tosha: Our legacy will be that our family, the world, and society in general will be better off because of our existence. Our hope is that couples will know there is “hope” for a successful relationship especially in the LBGTQ community. I pray that we will be remembered as having “lived life to the fullest” collectively and that we were the epitome of real love. Elle: We hope our legacy will be that our ‘Healthy Couples’ group, our virtual church KIMVC, our children and families will live productive, healthy and spiritual God fearing lives after us.

Tosha, you are a new author, philanthropist and a radio host? Can you share more about your endeavors? And how can others support your efforts?  Wow, I guess I never looked at myself as a philanthropist; however, it seems that’s what my life and legacy are morphing into. The Dr. Tosha Meredith Foundation exists to provide financial literacy to children between the ages of 5 and 18. The foundation also provides food, clothing, and shelter to needy children and their families internationally, primarily in Africa. The foundation is a passion of mine and collectively Elle and I are looking forward to providing additional resources to the community both nationally and internationally. Elle’s foundation, Aje’s Angels exists to help families with children with special needs identify resources available to them. We are a service driven family and we work very hard to ensure that we give back to our communities both financially and physically.

I’m excited about the books I’ve written and am super excited about my memoir that will be released in a few weeks. My series, “Get In The Flow” is a compilation of short books that help individuals become their best. The first, “Get In the Flow – Seven Principles to Becoming A Wealthy Christian” is my version of a pocket book to spiritual wealth. I wanted to create something that individuals could read on the bus, in the taxi, or on a plane ride across the country. Many people think the book is about getting rich or financial success; however, it’s more about getting spiritually connected to God and utilizing those connections to position yourself for financial increase. The second book, “Get In the Flow – Seven Keys To The Kingdom” is a pocket book, a guide if you will to gaining access to the “Kingdom.” It provides guidance for individuals seeking to gain knowledge on how to live a Kingdom centered life. Both books are biblically based and combine my life stories with scripture, Christ centered principles. The next book in the series, “Get In The Flow – Think Like A Millionaire” is just about complete. This is a combination of “practical” and “spiritual” principles to reduce debt and live financially responsible life while focusing on spiritual principles. I have basically added practicality to the spiritual tools in the first book. Finally, my memoir, “Didn’t Ask, Didn’t Tell – The Life of A Gay Christian Soldier” is about my life of serving in silence in the military for almost 25 years. I discuss my history of molestation, growing up in the black church, and being gay during the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell era. It’s a phenomenal read and I’m so excited to finally complete this work that I’ve been engaged in since 2010.

I do a weekly broadcast on the “Live, Love, Laugh” Network. It’s a Blog Talk radio show where we showcase individuals who are striving to transition to their next level of success, whatever that level is for them. We also discuss current, real world events on our “Tuesday Talk” show. I have a weekly morning show called “Monday Morning Glory” which is a time of prayer, scripture, music, and motivation to get the week started!  It has been a true blessing and I am so humbled by the platform God has given me/us. Elle and I also have a monthly broadcast we do together called “Pillow Talk With Elle and Doc.” This show has gotten very good response and we have a very nice following. We talk all things relationship on this show and we collectively open up and allow our listeners into our personal lives in an effort to help them (couples and singles) grow. The “Live, Love, Laugh” network as grown tremendously over the last year and we are now broadcasting on BlogTalk Radio as well as C.U.R.B. Radio out of Tucson, AZ.

To learn more about Elle and Dr. Tosha, please visit their websites below:

Books available for sell:
Get in the Flow: 7 Principles on Becoming a Wealthy Christian
Get In The Flow: 7 Keys To The Kingdom

We thank you for sharing your love with us at Create Love! Your story will encourage, inspire and uplift other couples. We wish you continued success and

 Create Love Founders

Imani Evans and SharRon Jamison

 Don’t forget to register for the Journey to Wellness Retreat. September will be soon!


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