The Unsworn Declaration. What Is It And Why You Cannot Obtain A Marriage License In Texas With It Instead Of An Absentee Affidavit…

My Ellis Unit client had contacted me last week regarding the law library informing her fiancée that “we are no longer notarizing Absentee Affidavits.” 

I quickly reviewed TDCJ Access to the Courts, Councils and Public Officials as I was all too well aware that an Unsworn Declaration would not substitute for an Absentee Affidavit. Thankfully, the problem of the Unsworn Declaration was effectively solved with a phone call to Ellis by me and my beautiful Ellis Unit bride now has both the Absentee Affidavit and ID ready to buy her marriage license. 

This “shift” of not notarizing inmate documents is a problem for not only the inmate but also his fiancée. Why? Because the county clerk will not accept an Unsworn Declaration in exchange for an Absentee Affidavit. 

Communication is “key” between TDCJ personnel and myself. Thankfully, I have built a stellar reputation of good relationships with TDCJ staff members when encountering a “hurdle.” Today’s blog will address the “unforeseen issues” of clients wishing to marry an inmate and the hurdle of purchasing a marriage license in Texas using an Unsworn Declaration. 

CIVIL PRACTICE AND REMEDIES CODE TITLE 6. MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS CHAPTER 132. 

Sec. 132.001. UNSWORN DECLARATION. (a) Except as provided by Subsection (b), an unsworn declaration may be used in lieu of a written sworn declaration, verification, certification, oath, or affidavit required by statute or required by a rule, order, or requirement adopted as provided by law.

(b) This section does not apply to a lien required to be filed with a county clerk, an instrument concerning real or personal property required to be filed with a county clerk, or an oath of office or an oath required to be taken before a specified official other than a notary public.

(c) An unsworn declaration made under this section must be:

(1) in writing; and

(2) subscribed by the person making the declaration as true under penalty of perjury.

(d) Except as provided by Subsections (e) and (f), an unsworn declaration made under this section must include a jurat in substantially the following form:

“My name is __________ _________ ____________, my

(First) (Middle) (Last)

date of birth is _________________, and my address is

_____________, ____________, _________, ____________,

(Street) (City) (State) (Zip Code)

and __________________. I declare under penalty of

(Country)

perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

Executed in _______ County, State of ________, on the ________ day of ________, ________.

(Month) (Year)

____________________

Declarant”

(e) An unsworn declaration made under this section by an inmate must include a jurat in substantially the following form:

“My name is __________ _________ ____________, my

(First) (Middle) (Last)

date of birth is _____________________, and my inmate

identifying number, if any, is __________________. I

am presently incarcerated in ________________________

(Corrections unit name) 

in _____________, _________, _______, ____________. I

(City) (County) (State) (Zip Code)

declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct.

Executed on the _____ day of ________, _______.

(Month) (Year)

____________________

Declarant”

For the many people wishing to marry an inmate who assume the above Unsworn Declaration “is the same or similar or can substitute for an Absentee Declaration,” the Absentee Affidavit specifically states that the clerk “will not accept an Unsworn Declaration” ON THE TOP PARAGRAPH of the document. 

Let’s use Tarrant County for an example and note that although inmate marriage has been legal since July 28, 2015, that Absentee Affidavits at county clerks offices in Texas have yet to update the AA to reflect the use of this form pertaining to inmates. “Unsworn Declarations are not accepted.” 

The reason I’m pointing the significant variations of an Absentee Affidavit versus an Unsworn Declaration are specifically to advise you that trying to substitute one for the other will not allow you to purchase a marriage license in Texas.

Yesterday, my client from Hobbs, New Mexico planning to marry at Bridgeport Unit sent me a message upon leaving Anderson County, Texas that read “they won’t issue the marriage license because he isn’t here.” Checking the distance from Hobbs to the nearest major city in Texas, I found Lubbock to be an hour and forty five minutes from my clients location and contacted the clerks office myself while in my SUV at Green Bay Unit. 

Let’s “go over” what NOT to say if you encounter a clerk who is unfamiliar with inmate marriage. Do not say that the inmate is military. If the inmate isn’t military, the inmate still qualifies as being absent. However, many clerks (especially in smaller towns and sub courthouses) are completely unfamiliar with inmate marriage and the use of an Absentee Affidavit. This is why you need someone experienced and educated in your corner as your TDCJ Approved Officiant. 

I called Lubbock and my client is purchasing her marriage license as I write this blog from Parker County. As a person planning to marry an inmate, you may face challenges from clerks who either “don’t approve of inmate marriage” or worse, “have no idea that the same form they are familiar with can be used to purchase a license for an inmate marriage.” Rather than becoming upset or argumentative, it’s best to contact me.

A few months ago, my Michael Unit bride encountered issues in Denton County. Why? Because her Absentee Affidavit “was from another county and we can’t use their form in our office.” My Michael Unit client had called me upset about Denton County and to solve the issue of a clerk unfamiliar with inmate marriage or the use of an Absentee Affidavit, I instructed my client “to go to Tarrant County.” Since I was meeting a client at the Tarrant County Jail, offered to meet her there to purchase her marriage license. I married her at Michael Unit several weeks ago. 

Being in another state and marrying an inmate in Texas can be trying. My Florida client was married by me to an inmate at TDCJ Holliday Unit but, the process wasn’t easy. If you live in another state, I strongly suggest taking the Twogether In Texas Course online. Why? Because if you are flying to Texas, the three day waiting period can and will pose a problem to your travel arrangements if you are on a tight window. Not all of my clients can afford to take an entire week from work to marry in Texas. 

I’m including the link to Twogether since I’m well aware many third party providers are selling it at an inflated cost– Twogether In Texas Online Course. This course waives the three day waiting period and discounts your marriage license fee by $60. 

Why was House Bill 2865 passed? House Bill 2685 increased the marriage license fee to $60. However, the fee was be waived for couples who complete an eight-hour premarital class, and those couples can forgo the 72-hour waiting period to get married. 

AUSTIN – The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is spreading the word about a new state law, which took effect Sept. 1, 2008 that encourages couples to take premarital courses in Texas. This course began due to an increase in the cost of marriage licenses due to House Bill 2685. 

The state’s initiative, called “Twogether in Texas,” promotes marriage education classes that provide eight hours of training on communication skills, conflict resolution and other elements of a healthy marriage. Any couple who complete the class will receive a certificate that they can take to their county clerk when they apply for their marriage license. The certificate is good for one year and serves as proof that the couple is eligible for the discounted marriage license fee. The online class allows you to stop and start. The ONLY requirement is that you complete the course. You will then print your certificate. You will need to take the certificate with you along with the notarized Absentee Affidavit and TDCJ ID as well as your own ID to buy the marriage license. 

For clients encountering a “CLM status to anyone other than them” trying to get Approved to marry an inmate, the consistent issues of “this piece of paper” continue to be a horrifying surprise. Let’s first go over why any inmate who was granted contact visits by notarizing an Informal Marriage Affidavit obviously knew that it “wasn’t just a piece of paper.” TDCJ recognizes an Informal Marriage Affidavit as binding. If you are attempting to marry an inmate who is listed as being “informally married to someone other than you,” I strongly encourage you to have a serious discussion with the inmate regarding his or hers honesty relating to the issue preventing you from marrying them for a number of reasons but mainly because dishonesty isn’t the way to begin your marriage and secondly, because you have a very time consuming legal battle ahead of you. It’s also something you were wholly and completely unaware of. 

Outside of TDCJ, such Informal Marriage Affidavits must be filed in person by both parties at the clerks office. Use of an Absentee Affidavit is not allowed pertaining to an Informal Marriage Affidavit. 

The wide misuse of an Informal Marriage Affidavit in Prisons is astounding to me. For anyone signing this document unaware that doing so in the presence of a notary is a deliberate misuse since you obviously aren’t living with an inmate inside a prison, beware of the ramifications of signing such an instrument. Inside TDCJ, you CANNOT marry anyone other than the person on the Affidavit without providing TDCJ with a divorce decree. 

I am attaching a photo of the Declaration And Registration Of Informal Marriage for your review as well as the warning regarding falsifying documents. 

WARNING: IT IS A FELONY TO FALSIFY INFORMATION ON THIS DOCUMENT. 

If you are attempting to marry an inmate who has this document on file with TDCJ or any other prison, it’s a problem. It’s not a problem that can’t be overcome but, it’s still a problem. If you are a client, contact me to go over what will be required to move forward with your Prison Wedding Planning Process. If you aren’t my client, good luck. 

Outside of prison, an Informal Marriage Declaration once filed, legally binds both parties. A divorce is required to dissolve the union. 

If you are from another country planning to marry an inmate in Texas, neither I nor anyone on my staff will conduct your wedding ceremony. Immigration Fraud is a crime. We will not make exceptions to anyone for any reason.  

The end answer regarding Unsworn Declarations is that while they may be effective outside obtaining a marriage license, they are still ineffective in obtaining one. Only the use of a notarized ID and Absentee Affidavit will substitute for the inmates presence at the clerks office. 

Behind The Glass, Absentee Affidavits, Unsworn Declarations & What To Wear To Your Prison Wedding…

No one is “comfortable about marrying with an inmate behind the glass.” Many of my clients never planned to marry in a Prison and much less to be separated by the glass.

On one rare occasion, I had a client nearly vomit due to her surprise and shock to see her future husband on the other side of the glass smiling at her. Walking into a visitation area at a Prison to marry is dramatically different from walking down an aisle. 

The glass was not only unexpected to my client but also me as she was unaware of his status being “upgraded” due to an infraction. Walking in to find her fiancée behind glass literally took her breath away. Thankfully, I was right beside her to steady her the last few feet leading up to the glass. 

Infractions can and do change an inmates status. At any point during the Prison wedding planning process, a change in the inmates status can prevent the inmate from being “on the other side of the glass” aka standing beside my client and I. 

I spent several minutes trying to calm my client who had driven from Houston to Tennessee Colony before proceeding with her wedding ceremony. She was facing a long and lonely drive home and I wanted to comfort her as much as possible. Frankly, I wished she had brought someone with her to have a ride a long. Many of my client choose to bring friends or family with them and although no visitors are allowed inside the Unit, these guests are happy to wait on my client and I. 

During the Prison wedding planning process, I become every Clients mother guiding them and directing them through the process whether they are male or female. 

One of my Gatesville clients still calls me “Mama Wendy” and is planning his vow revewal with my team next year. 

The intimacy of my Prison clients by far exceeds any amount of time spent with traditional clients. Why? Because from what to wear to what they can say or do, these unique clients rely heavily on me to get them through a confusing and time consuming process. 

I would never ask a traditional client to send me a photo of what they plan to wear. For a Prison wedding though, this is a standard question. 

Glass can be upsetting at a ceremony when it isn’t expected. The majority of my clients wait months for their wedding to be scheduled. 

Posing for a photo with glass separating my client and I from the inmate at the Unit, finding creative ways to pose was a bit of a hurdle.

At TDCJ Ferguson Unit, Nikia wasn’t at all uncomfortable with the glass. Instead, I was. Why? It was my very first time to encounter glass separating my client from the inmate. 

The photo below was taken by a guard and Nikia loved the way the glass “merged” their faces. It would be my first encounter with the glass but, it wouldn’t be my last as a Prison Wedding Officiant. 

The status of an inmate cannot be changed. If the inmate is a G4 or G5, a lifer or on death row, he or she will be behind the glass. Neither you or I can change that. We must accept that there will be glass separating you and I from the inmate and effectively move on. 

There are a number of creative ways to address your Unit photos with the inmate behind the glass and I encourage you to do whatever will make you more comfortable when posing for your Unit wedding photo if  (of course) photos of your wedding ceremony are offered at the Unit. 

Some of the most memorable prison photos were taken by Andrew Lichtenstein. These photos show families visiting inmates and give a “different glimpse” of the domestic aspects of Prisons. How so? By giving a glimpse of the children, spouses, grandparents and parents of inmates visiting them. 

Photos taken by Mr. Lichtenstein “on the other side of the glass” also feature children who may or may not understand why their parent is in prison. 

To view the gallery of “life in prison” by Mr. Lichtenstein, click this link– Andrew Lichtenstein Life In Prison.

Before my readers “zip off an email” regarding Danny Lyon’s photos taken in Texas Prisons during the 60’s and featured in Conversations With The Dead, I’m well aware of the book and in fact, I’ve read the book, Conversations With The Dead  published in 1971. It is a very emotional and heartbreaking read for anyone unfamiliar with the life of an inmate. 

Danny Lyon has long been considered one of the most original and influential documentary photographers and has produced numerous highly collectible photobooks, mounted solo exhibitions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Corcoran Gallery in Washington DC, and won two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller Fellowship, and ten National Endowment for the Arts awards. Lyon divides his time between New York State and New Mexico. 

Other Danny Lyon photography books published by Phaidon include Danny Lyon: Memories of Myself (2009), Deep Sea Diver: An American Photographer’s Journey in Shanxi, China (2011), and The Seventh Dog (2014).

In an effort to educate those who may be unaware of Danny Lyon or the access that he was given by Dr George Beto to photograph Texas inmates, I will add include the link to Magnum Photography featuring photos from Conversations With The Dead and a warning that a few of Danny’s Prison photos are graphic and might be disturbing– Conversations With The Dead. Photography By Danny Lyon 1967-1968. 

Between 1967 and 1968, Danny Lyon spent 14 months photographing inside six Texas prisons. He had already made his name with his sustained reportage from the frontline of the black civil rights struggle in the southern US states, but shooting inside high-security penitentiaries in Texas, where some of the inmates were facing the death sentence, was an altogether more soul-sapping experience. He would later describe it as heartbreaking.

The resulting book, Conversations With the Dead, was published in 1971 and immediately hailed as a classic of insider reportage. 

Times have changed since the 60’s and 70’s as photographers and/or reporters are no longer given the access that Danny was. 

Today, Unit photos are offered for sale at $3 each in quarters and occasionally given to visitors. Wedding photos at Sanders Estes Unit are emailed to myself and my client at no cost. Private Units do not offer photos at all and often Unit photos are grainy and out of focus. Guards are not professional photographers. 

Prison Unit photos are often sent to inmates from loved ones who purchased them during their visit. Other Unit photos are often framed and kept in the homes of loved ones to remember their visit to a Unit while still others are put on refrigerator doors as a constant reminder of someone who may or may not ever be coming home. 
Being married to an inmate who will never be granted parole is a difficult and serious decision. You will always be pulling the wagon alone. I discuss the aspects of marrying a “lifer” on a regular basis with clients. 

How successful are my discussions? Hit and miss. Very few clients have changed their mind about marrying someone serving a life sentence. Why? Because they had given their choice to marry months and occasionally years of thought. Their commitment and sacrifice astounds me. It also astounds most other people. 

Being a Prison Wife or Husband can be a lonely and expensive lifestyle. Your weekends are spent driving to a Unit and going through a search while waiting to see your loved one. Your holidays are spent alone. You jump to answer the next expensive phone call and you dedicate your life to the inmate. My clients give up far more than the inmate. They sacrifice on a regular basis to make their relationship work. 

My clients are usually standing beside me at a Prison wedding unless the inmate is classified at a rank that prevents contact. The client and inmate are allowed to hold hands, hug (no inappropriate contact), and seal their marriage with a kiss (no open mouths). 

My clients are advised to “keep it classy” by me long before their wedding ceremony. After all, we are in a prison and as such, I expect my clients to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner pertaining to the visitation code as well as the Administrative Directive pertaining to inmate wedding ceremonies. I.E. We follow the rules. 

I completed a follow up interview with Kate, a journalist following the story of Luther and Mary a few days ago. If you missed my interview with Mary before her wedding to Luther, here’s the link– Wendy Wortham Interview With Mary Martin Wichita Falls, Texas.

Luther and Mary will never hold hands at a visit, hug or even a few months ago, seal their marriage with a kiss. I admitted that this struck me as somewhat sad to Kate because it did. 

Mary’s photos and interview with me feature a woman thrilled to be marrying an inmate serving a life sentence. Anyone looking at my joyous bride would have no idea that her life would always be spent visiting Luther “on the other side of the glass.” Mary wearing my clothing or tiaras and holding one of my bouquets in photos taken by my niece, Leigh Ann “looks like any other happy bride.” The difference in Mary’s marriage versus my traditional clients isn’t lost on me. There won’t be a honeymoon. There won’t be dinners together at home discussing the workday. Their won’t be the normality or predictability that most married couples share. My clients accept the lopsided aspects of being married to an inmate. 

The glass is heavy and often dirty. Occasionally, there are also cracks where an inmate struck the glass. The cracks bother me. Why? Because someone drove hours to visit the inmate. Because someone went through the screening process and because someone who cared enough to come visit the inmate was on the other side of the glass when the inmate effectively punched it. 

Acting as if the glass doesn’t make me uncomfortable in front of my clients is essential to performing my job functions. I put my anxiety in “the corner pocket.” 

Marrying a couple when one of them is behind the glass will always be more emotionally challenging for me solely because the couple cannot touch one another. The glass will always be between my clients and their spouse and although many of them accept this without mourning the fact, I mourn for their loss of ever touching their spouse. 

I am a seasoned wedding Officiant and planner. I’m also well educated regarding the limitations of legal remedies for couples who aren’t married. 

I’ve seen far too many tragedies in my lifetime with couples who were not allowed to marry prior to the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriage. 

Whether my clients are “inside a prison or outside of a prison,” the differences between both sets of clients are often staggering to the “outside world.” 

There are many options “in the free world” that will never be offered in a Prison for a wedding ceremony. As a Prison bride or husband, it’s essential to accept the rules pertaining to your upcoming marriage and more importantly, to abide by said rules and regulations regarding inmate marriage ceremonies. 

Accepting that my Prison Couples may never touch is just as sad for me as it is for them. Silently, I grieve their inability to have contact during the wedding ceremony. 

I have also (for many years) Officiated deathbed wedding ceremonies for certain individuals that never expected to die who (upon their deathbed) want to protect their loved ones by ensuring their material possessions go to them rather than the state upon their death. 

These incredible and extraordinary “situations” are equally sad for me but, I am well aware that many LBGT Couples have lost everything to their partners family after death because they had no legal recourse as a spouse. 

Times have changed and Marriage now protects the surviving partner and more importantly, the assets the deceased wished to leave to them. Thank goodness that LBGT couples can now have insurance and the rights so many of my friends have lived a lifetime without. 

I have thousands of friends in the LBGT community and for a number of years, officiated Unification Ceremonies for those who couldn’t legally marry in Texas as well as driving to Oklahoma to marry them in a state where marriage was legal long before Texas and many other states legalized same sex marriage. 

Jeff Mosier of the Dallas Morning News interviewed me upon the ruling regarding same sex marriage.

Previous to same sex marriage becoming legal, I also strongly suggested to my non married couples to obtain 5 legal documents that would protect their rights should one of them become ill or die. 

The reason I continued to advise my LBGT connections to obtain documents was to protect them.  I had written the blog titled “Five Legal Documents Every LBGT Couple Need” prior to Texas recognizing same sex unions because I had witnessed the fleecing of survivors in courthouses who effectively had No Legal Rights pertaining to burial or the assets of the Union. 

I’m often amazed at the failure of non married couples who don’t take the time to sign a Living Will or to get a Body Disposition Affidavit in order or at the very least, to have a Power of Attorney document in place should an accident render your partner incapable of making decisions on their own. 

But, not having any say regarding burial of your loved one can be a shocking surprise. It surprised my father. It also saddened me while we were forced to wait 30 days with Gretta “on ice” at the funeral home solely because her sister “claimed” she planned to make burial arrangements. As the next of kin, without any documentation giving my father the right to supersede Gretta’s sister, my father was forced to wait while Gretta decomposed. A month after her death, I went to the funeral home and chose clothing while carefully applying make up and jewelry to Gretta the day before officiating her funeral. Even the frigid temperatures couldn’t prevent the decomposition. It wasn’t what anyone who cared about her would have wanted. But, her sister only cared about control. Kathy never planned to make burial arrangements and sadly, my father and Gretta had failed to file for an Informal Marriage or have me Officiate a Formal Marriage due to Gretta’s sudden and unexpected death. 

No one is prepared for death. It’s often a dark stranger that sweeps those you love away before you realize how fragile life actually is.  

I’m well aware of laws pertaining to death and the loss of rights to survivors because I’ve seen the greed of the surviving family members personally. Fighting over money and assets without any degree of care regarding the impact to a survivor when  “holding up a burial” is a purely selfish act. 

If I’m advising you to protect yourself legally, I’m doing so only for your benefit because I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what my father did. What you don’t KNOW will hurt you. 

When one of my best friends, Charles, lost his thirty plus year partner, Dewitt, Charles also lost all of Dewitt’s material possessions to Dewitt’s family as well as the right to make burial decisions. Why? Because LBGT marriage wasn’t legal at the time AND because Charles and Dewitt had failed to take legal measures that would have given Charles far more legal remedies. 

Charles died shortly after Dewitt and I am guessing that his death was due in part to his broken heart. 

I was the last person to see Charles prior to his death and knew his will to live had been lost. Less than twenty four hours after my visit at Harris Hospital, Charles died in his sleep. Charles and Dewitt had shared a lifetime together but, Dewitt “came from money” and Dewitt’s family fought Charles to get the money back and won. 

At the end of Charles and Dewitt’s long life together, I couldn’t believe the ending would be as tragic as it was. Both surviving families continued to fight over the assets. Neither family wanted the treasured pets left behind though. I helped find foster homes for the cats Charles and Dewitt had loved so much. 

What is a Body Disposition Affidavit? The right to consumers in Texas to use a Body Disposition Authorization Affidavit or similar written instrument was created by the Texas Legislature several years ago and codified in section 711.002(g) of the Health and Safety Code. The provision was embedded in the law dealing with cemeteries and was overlooked by many.

This authorization form helps consumers secure the right to specify ones body disposition. This law provides that consumers wishes as expressed in such an instrument must be “faithfully” carried out by whoever has the legal authority to control the disposition.

The other primary advantage of the Body Disposition Authorization Affidavit is it’s use by people who want to be cremated. In the absence of a properly executed Affidavit, the funeral director must secure permission of ALL IMMEDIATE family members who have the authority to control disposition. 

For instance, in the case of several adult children scattered across the country, this often time consuming task can delay disposition and drive up the costs of funeral arrangements due to storing of the body until all interested parties can be located.

Using a Body Disposition Authorization Affidavit eliminates confusion and allows the cremation to proceed without unwanted delay. For those interested in body donation for medical research and teaching, the form provides for an alternative in the event the body is not accepted by the medical school because of it’s condition at the time of death.

A separate provision found in Section 711.002(b) allows consumers to designate the person or persons they want to control the disposition. The form Appointment of Agent to Control Disposition of Remains accomplishes this. If no one is appointed to control the disposition, the following persons, in the order listed, have the right to control the disposition:
1. The descendants surviving spouse

2. Any of the descendants surviving children 

3. Either of the descendants surviving parents

4. Any of the descendants surviving adult siblings, or

5. Any adult in the next degree of kinship in the order named by law to inherit the estate of the descendant.

The Appointment of Agent Form is useful in order for a persons wishes to be carried out after death. The Appointment of Agent Form avoids conflict among survivors and the Body Disposition Affidavit assures that the descendants wishes for body disposal will be carried out.

Section 711.002(g) also provides that consumers may make their disposition decision in a will or in a prepaid funeral contract.

A Living Will and subsequently the “ability to make medical decisions on your behalf” is also something I encourage my clients to consider. Whether it’s a Power Of Attorney or not, a Living Will is also essential to protecting your loved one from suffering for months in a medical setting. 

A Power Of Attorney is nice to have on hand but, it won’t give you the same amount of decision making when your loved one is facing death. A Do Not Resuscitate Order will. 

A (DNR) Order Do Not Resuscitate (DNR), also known as no code or allow natural death, is a legal order, written or oral depending on country, indicating that a person does not want to receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), advanced cardiac life support (ACLS), or other aggressive interventions if that person’s heart stops. 

An advance directive is a broad category of legal instructions you may set up for your healthcare. A living will is a document that falls into the category of advance directives. 

Therefore, a living will is a type of advance directive. Other types of advance directives include: durable power of attorney (aka health care proxy), do not resuscitate order, and organ donation form.

Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. A durable power of attorney for health care, which is also known as a health-care proxy in some states, allows you to appoint a representative to make medical decisions for you. You decide how much power your representative will or won’t have.

What is an Unsworn Declaration? To better understand, click on this link– Unsworn Declaration VS Absentee Affidavit.

Traditionally, Absentee Affidavits were used solely for military members. The Administrative Directive pertaining to inmate marriage changed this. 

Absentee Affidavits are required to be sent to the inmate who will then visit the law library to notarize the document and mail it back to their loved one. The Absentee Affidavit in combination with a Notarized ID is necessary to purchase the marriage license without the other party present. 

“Why do I need an Absentee Affidavit?” Because the state requires this document. 

“Why do I need a notarized ID?” To purchase the marriage license without the other party present, you will need to legally explain why the other party is absent with an Absentee Affidavit in order to purchase your marriage license. 

BOTH the ID and Absentee Affidavit must be notarized. The person appearing at the clerks office must also have a valid ID and the fee for the marriage license. 

The Unsworn Declaration WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED at the clerks office. You MUST HAVE a notarized Absentee Affidavit. 

If you are a client and encountering this issue at your fiancées Unit, contact me. I will help you obtain a notarized Absentee Affidavit from the Unit. 

There are two types of marriage licenses–Formal marriage license and Declaration and Registration of an Informal Marriage (Common law). The basic requirements are the same for both types of marriage.

Both parties must appear in person.
Both parties must be at least 18 years of age.

Must have a valid, government-issued picture identification. Names will be reflected on the marriage license exactly as they appear on the IDs. 

The County Clerk’s office cannot change the name or spelling of name on ID. Forms of acceptable, valid identification include:

Driver’s license

State ID

Passport

Military ID

Visa

Must know Social Security number.

A blood test is NOT required.

Consistently, I’ve advised my clients of protecting themselves and their assets by marriage. In certain cases, I’ve also suggested Prenuptial Agreements. The “client” is the person who hired me and NOT the inmate. Often, the person who hired either myself or my staff has significantly more assets than an inmate does. If I’m giving you sage advice that on occasion may include advising you not to marry your fiancée, my advice is based solely on my observations and conversations with you. 

Please remember that your needs and best interests are my priority. I’m “everyone’s mother” when planning a wedding whether the wedding will take place inside a Prison or on the outside. I’m honest, wise and well aware of the repercussions of trusting someone you don’t know well enough to dedicate your life and quite possibly your livelihood to. 

If you and your fiancée cannot appear together to purchase your marriage license, the use of an Absentee Affidavit “substitutes” for the person not present. 

The Absentee Affidavit is to be completed if an applicant is unable to appear personally before the County Clerk to apply for a marriage license. The other applicant may apply for a marriage license on behalf of the absent applicant.

“Why can’t I fill out and notarize the Absentee Affidavit for the inmate?” Because YOU ARE NOT ABSENT the inmate is. 

There cannot be any corrections to an Absentee Affidavit. Why? Because a Notary seal make it a legal document and corrections void the legality of the document. 

Marrying an inmate is a confusing and lengthy process. Neither you or I can control the timelines involved. We wait on the ID. We wait on the I60 and we wait for a date.

“Why can’t I wear what I want to my wedding?” Because inmate weddings follow dress code guidelines. “What WILL HAPPEN IF I WEAR SOMETHING OUTSIDE THE VISITATION DRESS CODE? After all, I don’t want to look like a nun.” 

Okay, there are two options to “wearing what you want” neither are going to have the outcome you desire. First- you can be required to wear a cafeteria smock. 

Secondly- if you refuse to wear the cafeteria smock, your wedding will be cancelled due to non compliance. 

Thirdly, your payment will not be refunded because I have done my part by driving to your Prison wedding. 

I strongly discourage all of my clients about “winging it with their clothing.” I have solid reasons for asking you to send me photos and those reasons are to protect you from a “walk of shame in a cafeteria smock” or having your wedding cancelled because you refused to wear the smock. Please be aware of visitation dress code guidelines. 

“Why can’t I bring a guest?” Because rarely and I mean rarely have guests or witnesses ever been allowed inside a prison for a wedding ceremony.

In years of officiating inmate weddings, only three times have guests been authorized to attend a wedding ceremony at a Unit. 

The THREE weddings with guests allowed have all been at Sanders Estes Unit. No other Unit has offered to allow a guest to attend an inmate wedding.I’m well aware of any and all rules pertaining to inmate marriage within any state either I or my staff conduct ceremonies within at Prison Units. There are strict limitations pertaining to what you CAN and CANNOT do at a Prison. 

Although a few of my clients may wish to argue these points on occasion, please remember that my staff or myself are acting in your best interest by telling you what you can do and advising against what you cannot do. 

“Why can’t I bring a ring?” Because Section K of the Administrative Directive specifically prohibits ring exchanges. There is no “rule bending” regarding Offender Property.

“Why can’t I bring a change of clothes for the inmate? I don’t want our wedding photos with him wearing Prison issued clothing.” Because once again, Offender Property guidelines strictly prohibit bringing anything in to give to the inmate.

“What can I bring?” You are REQUIRED to bring the marriage license, your current and valid state issued ID or passport, your car keys and quarters in a clear plastic bag to purchase Unit photos if they are offered.

“What can you bring?” My ID, my car keys and my Bible as well as notes inside my Bible. If you have handwritten vows or anything else written on paper, you MUST give these to me prior to entry. I will put your notes in my Bible and give them to you at the commencement of the ceremony.

Weddings “on the outside” include guests, bouquets, vendors, cake, and all of the other elements that “weddings on the inside don’t.” 

The majority of my Prison wedding clients re book upon release of their loved one for Vow Renewals. 

Everything you couldn’t do “on the inside” including your choice of clothing, a wedding ring, guests and the like are included at your Vow Renewal. Fees are based on distance from Fort Worth, Texas.

I hope this explains and subsequently, answers your questions and I look forward to meeting you at your Prison Wedding soon… 

If You DON’T Focus On YOUR Journey To SUCCESS You Will End Up WORKING For The Person Who Did…

For a few months now I’ve been pushing off a press release for an award I was presented. Why? I don’t have time to sit down for a one to two hour interview. My work takes precedence over anything else in my life with family running a close second. 

I’m frequently asked how I became so successful by others who readily realize that I have never advertised or needed to. The answer is by exceeding my clients expectations. If everyone else in the sales industry would put forth the effort with each and every client they too would see amazing results but, sadly we live in a world where sales are similar to taking a number. Once the number is taken, it’s thrown in the trash. 

Relationships outlast the initial sale. I don’t treat clients like sales. I treat them as individuals and make their needs my priority. I’m different because I actually care about my clients. 

My Beto client last week touched my heart. Her journey hasn’t been easy. Both of her parents were sentenced to prison when she was only one year old. She had also just given up her apartment and had her car towed a week prior to her scheduled wedding at Beto. Hearing this news days before the wedding and knowing she had a two year old son touched my heart. How could I find her help for a very stressful situation? I quickly went to my contacts at Womens Haven and Union Gospel Mission as well as deeply discounting my fee and even offering to drive her to Beto myself. 

At her photo shoot, I asked her “what her plans were for her and her son?” My bride had family in East Texas but, her son attended school in Forest Hill and my client didn’t want to pull him out of the school she had fought to get him into. Her son’s school took precedence over any decision she would make to find a new home and job to support herself and her young son. 

It’s not well known but, my twin sister and I were residents at Women’s Haven ourselves at fifteen years old. Homeless and alone, Cindy and I both lived at the center until we could get on our feet again. During my divorce, I worked 2-3 jobs to support myself and my son while paying his Ad Lidem attorney and my own attorney. Without my twin sister helping me by taking care of my son, I have no idea how I would’ve afforded childcare back then. 

I’m driven and determined because I’ve always had to be. I’m compassionate because I’ve learned that caring about others journey is rare but, I care far more than anyone realizes. 

Yesterday as I was driving back from Dallas North Tower and the county clerk, my Beto bride called me regarding filing the license. An issue she faced was that she no longer lived at the address she had given when purchasing her marriage license. If I filed the license for her, it would be mailed to the old address. I spent some time going over a few alternatives with my client that included going to the post office to put a hold on her mail at her old address as well as getting a P.O. Box or filing the license in person. 

If I file a wedding license, it’s mailed directly to the address given by the couple. If a client files the license in person, the license is recorded and handed back. I suggested this option to ensure the license wasn’t lost in the mail and put gas money in the envelope containing her wedding photos to be sure she wouldn’t run out of gas getting to Dallas. I hadn’t heard from her prior to running to Dallas myself yesterday morning and assumed she had filed the license herself last Friday. Otherwise, I would have driven her to Dallas myself to spare her the trip and the expense of gasoline. 

This morning as I prepare for a call from Kate, a journalist on my way to Tarrant County Detention Center, I wonder if my bride has been by my office to pick up her wedding photos and gas money? I wonder if she has found a place to stay or a job and I wonder how the burden of expenses involved to be a Prison wife will affect her life? I worry constantly about my clients. I can’t help myself.

There’s a stack of mail in my office awaiting my attention. There’s also a five page questionnaire for Power Woman Of 2019 awaiting my attention. I have 172 emails to answer and I have a text from Cindy. My day is off to a “roaring start.”

Cindy now has both of her adult daughters and all three of her grandchildren living with her. I’ve talked to Adult Protection Services in Valdosta and Texas. The “Stephaney Situation” is finally blowing over although I may need to testify in Valdosta, Georgia regarding how my niece wound up there and how I realized that there was a problem while at Wynn Unit with my client in Huntsville, Texas. It’s a long story.

Cindy is overwhelmed at “trying to make everyone else happy in my home other than myself.” Cindy does it all and without my help, Cindy would be doing it alone. Maryssa and Makenna argue incessantly and Leigh Ann has a chip on her shoulder regarding her sister, Stephaney moving back home. “Five females fighting” is an ongoing rerun at Cindy’s house. Arguing over the bathrooms, arguing over the chores, arguing about each other. I could go on and on here. Cindy lives at Camp Chaos. Don’t let the happy smile you see Cindy wearing fool you. Cindy spent seventeen years caring for our selfish grandmother. My sister finally snapped over our grandmother and kicked her out after nearly eighteen years. I would have never moved her in. I’m far less tolerant of moochers and morons than Cindy. My twin has the soft heart regarding our family that I possess regarding our clients. It’s a fact. 

Cindy has spent her entire adult life caring for her children and grandchildren and Cindy needs a vacation. Cindy loves leaving her fighting family behind to jump in my SUV and head off to meet clients. Who could blame her? At home, chaos and more chores await my overworked twin sister. 

After listening to Cindy nearly crying while I sat in my SUV at the Tarrant County Clerks Office preparing to file licenses before walking across the street to the county jail, I butt in and suggested “laying down the law. It’s your house. Your adult children are guests. I’m highly concerned about Leigh Ann’s husband, Alex coming to stay from July to August and bringing more chaos. You need to establish rules and guidelines. If you don’t, I will.” Cindy knows I will and it will be far less confrontational if she would snap and start putting her own needs first. If she can’t though, I certainly can.  

My Beto bride sends a text asking “are you home?” I’m twenty minutes from home but at least an hour from attending to filing licenses and meeting my Tarrant County client. I suggest meeting me for lunch at the 7th street Starbucks in an hour after she picks up her wedding photos and gas money. I’m highly concerned about her and her child and have a list of suggestions for her to get back on her feet. I have plenty of time to get to Jack County Jail and Parker County Jail to meet my afternon clients before heading to Willow Lake Event Center with Cindy at 4PM. Leigh Ann will pick up Maryssa and Makenna at 3:30PM and after their incessant arguing this morning on the way to school, Cindy could use a break from the twins and Leigh Ann quite frankly. 

Yesterday, Cindy and I were with our clients at Taylor’s rental looking at bar height tables and chairs for a June graduation party when Leigh Ann sent a group text to Cindy and I regarding Stephaney. I was instantly lit because when my family know we are with clients, the last thing I need are to be blasted with family bickering but, Leigh Ann consistently and repeatedly makes her problems a priority to her mother and I. “Maddy had milk on her mouth and I asked where that milk came from? I went into the living room and Stephaney was eating cereal and had been sharing it with Maddy. I’m so furious about this that my hands are shaking!” 

I walked out of Taylor’s to call Leigh Ann. While she attempted to interrupt me, I interrupted her. “Listen, we are on location with clients. We don’t care about your problems and if Maddy wasn’t hungry she wouldn’t be asking Stephaney to feed her. You need to go feed your daughter and stop disrupting us with stupidity while we are working. We don’t care how mad you are. Now we are mad you bothered to dump your problem on us. Grow up.” I then hung up and practiced smiling in the parking lot before walking back to my clients and sister. 

I abhor disruptions to my carefully orchestrated agenda from family members and everyone realizes it. And yet, the consistent disruptions from my family are a regular and consistent occurrence in not only my life but my twin sisters too. Dash it all. 

What Leigh Ann should have been doing was feeding Maddy first and finishing the Sunday rehearsal photos second. But, explaining prioritizing to my niece is an escapade in futility. 

Meanwhile, my Bridgeport bride had sent me a message on FB that would have to wait until choosing tables and linens and my Allred client wanted to know about the Absentee Affidavit while my Torres client was concerned “about the glass” and my Eastham client wanted to know “how much longer the I60 would take?” My phone never stops ringing and bleeping alerts. 

Preparing myself to text back and answer emails from the Taylors parking lot after happily waving goodbye to my June clients, I turn to Cindy and say “about the California back and forth situation, I’ve come to a decision. We aren’t telling any of our adult children when we are leaving or arriving in California. We need a few days of fun without being drug into drama in San Diego with Leigh Ann, the twins and Alex. We won’t check in on FB. We will pretend we are still in Texas. Wink. Wink.” 

Cindy is shocked by my “plan.” I’m not. I need a break from my family and whether Cindy knows it or not, she does too. My sister is thinking. I jump in before she can respond (as usual) “listen, we are exhausted and overwhelmed. We have a podcast with Karen and then the Twyce Twins, a press release for Power Woman Of The Year, a follow up interview with Kate, and we are juggling 29 clients with new clients each and everyday. We need a vacation and I’m booking us into The Beverly Hills Bungalow for three days of spa, shopping and fun before we hit the bricks on that August wedding in two cities. It’s going to be an ass whipping and if we don’t catch our breath, I’m afraid we will be in the hospital from pure exhaustion. We are bouncing from Louisiana to Arkansas to Oklahoma to California seven times between August and October. It’s time to put our needs in the “front pocket” in order to be camera ready and refreshed for our clients. Our families and their chaos are killing us with stress Pal. Unlike our clients, they dont appreciate our sacrifice today, tomorrow or ever. With them it’s me, me, me, I, I, I. We must hopefully before our 55th birthday in November, learn to put our demanding kids and chaos on the back burner.” 

Warily, and probably feeling guilty (as usual) my twin sister agreed. Traveling gives us the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company but, thanks to cell phones, our family is always a text or phone call away from screwing up the day. It’s a fact.

My son and his wife have been traveling together as an Officiant and photography team the past 4 years. When my son and his wife get into an argument, everyone in my family hears about it. My daughter in law “I can’t drive with him in the car. Nothing I do is right and he makes me nervous.” My son “Stephanie doesn’t pay attention. She’s either driving too slow or driving too fast.” Me “you two are married and work together. Try to stop bickering and work together on learning patience.” Cindy “Robert and Stephanie Hafele are arguing again.” Me “I cannot stop what’s coming. Those two think they are communicating when in fact they are arguing.”

When I’m on location with Leigh Ann as I was last weekend at one of my rehearsals, I’m called “The Boss.” I instruct Leigh Ann on locations for photos and how to pose the wedding party. I wonder how Leigh Ann will handle addressing clients in California when I’m not there telling her what to do? It’s a valid point. I recognize that more flights to California to “save the day” await the Texas Twins. Our adult children are needy and often demanding. Heavy sigh. 

For two years now, I’ve been bouncing between states for inmate weddings. It was essential due to my burgeoning client base to add Leigh Ann as a TDCJ Officiant and to bump county Jail Weddings as well as traditional requests for an Officiant/photographer to Robert and Stephanie. 

Cindy and I are both stretched to the limits. My traditional bookings are now three years out. Weekends and evenings that include holidays are taken up by traditional clients. 

Trying to find a day off is impossible during wedding season. As usual, my anniversary will be bumped into my birthday this year when things slow down. My husband accepts my overwhelming schedule. He knew when he married me that I was an overachiever and accepts it. He’s also fifteen years older than me and turns off his phone from 6PM to 8AM Monday through Friday and altogether on weekends. 

Matthew is “off work when he is off the clock.” We have very different views regarding client needs. I never turn my phone off which may be why my husband is “tuned in” on client needs and family chaos. He hears it all. 

My husband doesn’t have any family to burden him with their problems. I cannot imagine what a worry free blessing that would be to not have adult children or grandchildren and their problems dumped in your lap like my husband doesn’t. Seriously. My husband as well as Cindy’s husband don’t have children which is a remarkable comparison to Cindy and I with our “carnival of chaos kids and grandchildren.” Opposites do attract. Our marriages are proof of that.

I’m going to go over the certified marriage license to address questions about the process of changing an inmate status from single to married. While we are inside a unit, often there will be a copy of the marriage license filed with inmate records. This is not a certified copy. 

What constitutes a certified copy being available has a few caviats. First, the license must be signed by the Officiant AND then filed at the clerks office either in person by the client or via certified mail from me to the clerks office BEFORE a certified copy of the license is available for purchase. 

The certified copy bears a seal deeming it as certified to be true and correct. While the original marriage license (after being signed and filed) can be used for the DMV and SS Office, it CANNOT be used for a change of status to inmate records. 

Only a certified copy of the marriage license can accomplish this task. You will purchase and then mail the certified copy to inmate records at the Unit your spouse is incarcerated at. 

You have 30 days from the date I married you at the Unit to provide a certified copy. You will then need to change your name (if you intend to do so) on your state issued ID for visits to the Unit.

The reason that Units NOW REQUIRE a certified license is to prove the marriage license was filed and is legally binding. 

Apparently, several people were “going through the motions to get married” but, by not filing the license, were effectively not legally married. Due to this issue, certified marriage licenses are now a requirement at many if not all Units.

Reading a text from one of my Coffield Unit brides was truly good news today. The inmate has made parole and will finally be coming home. I cannot wait to Officiate their Vow Renewal with family and friends present to celebrate their new journey of freedom and promise together. God Bless my amazing couple and their resilience. What a blessing.

My Beto bride and sit down together to “go over her plans for her son and their new direction to move to East Texas.” Visiting for a little over an hour before running off to Jack County, I also prayed that this trip would bring my client a new job and positive direction although removing her son from school was somewhat troubling to her. At two years old, her son is resilient enough to change schools now as opposed to being older. I will order her certified license as the Officiant and forward it to her to send to the Unit. 

Since there are many questions about certified marriage licenses, I’m adding a photo of the questionare for Dallas County for your review. 

The cost in Dallas is $10. The cost may vary by county. Tarrant county charges $21. Unlike Dallas county, there is no form online in Tarrant county. Here’s the link– Tarrant County Certified Marriage License Request.

Juggling incoming emails and text messages while sitting in the parking lot of Jack County Jail, my husband sends me a text telling me he loves me. It’s the little things but the stinky skunk development problem is finally over and Matthew is relieved! Thank goodness. We’ve had a month of brain storming to solve the skunk issue and, it’s a month too long. 

I miss my happy go lucky husband. Matthew is actually hilarious when he isn’t stressed out. Cindy and I are looking forward to road tripping to Stiles, San Saba, Crain and Huntsville Units before heading back to Louisiana in May. We love getting away for a day or two and hitting the junk shops together. 

My husband prefers long walks with my feisty Beagle, Foxy Wortham along with the Golf Channel or NASCAR and a dry martini. 

Cindy’s husband left for Canada today so she has 5-6 days before Steve Daniel is back home for a 1-3 day “staycation” at Camp Chaos AKA Cindy and Steve’s house. 

With five females fighting over the bathroom, I’m guessing Steve was “ready to roll.” Fighting for a bathroom isn’t fun at Cindy’s house. I drink a lot of water and coffee and it’s not uncommon for me to stop at Petro on my way to her house to effectively “stand in line.” 

Things will get worse when Alex comes to stay for a month before leaving for San Diego with Leigh Ann, Maddy and the twins. A summer in San Diego will do them all good and an empty house will be a Godsend to Cindy as we bounce all over the place to client bookings. 

In fact, I’m looking forward to Cindy staying at my house for our slumber parties and spook movie nights.

My Saturday clients are so much fun that Leigh Ann and I can’t wait to see them again. I love it when clients at outgoing and spirited at photo shoots.We love our LBGT clients and I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of the rehearsal photos for Brokk and Ruben. 

Since I’ve been asked, I do stop and start blogs between bookings. I just leave my WordPress app open and pick up where I’ve left off. All of my blogs are typed with one finger on my iPhone. Often, while waiting on a client at a Unit or venue. I spend a lot of time waiting as I’m always early.

I reviewed another email regarding someone else blogging on one of my sites and will once again go over why I have no interest in “guest writers.” First, my content is entirely my own and based on my experiences with clients and my family since they are both combined. 

Secondly, I have no interest in sharing my platform with others. 

Thirdly, I do not allow back links on any of my sites. Sorry, but, I’m not now nor will I ever be interested in having a guest blogger.

I’m off to the Parker County Courthouse and looking forward to meeting all of my new clients in the coming weeks… 

“Everybody Clings To Their Own Fear. Everybody Hides Their Scars” Moving On Down The Highway…

Wednesday afternoon while headed to Willow Lake Event Center, my TDCJ Beto Client called me while exiting Santa Fe towards the venue and my “traditional clients.” Sitting at the red light watching semi’s pulling out of Petro, I hit “accept” and wondered where my brother in law, Steve was driving since I hadn’t heard from him since Monday and if my niece, Stephaney would get the waitress job she had applied for at Petro? My mind never stops.

Apparently, the Warden at Beto had called my bride which is somewhat unusual. I shifted my attention to her to find out more. “He will be behind glass. The glass upsets me. I was hoping to hold his hand or hug him but, we will be separated. I’m terribly upset about this.” Dang. I was rattled myself. “The glass.” No one loves the glass. 

Since I was thirty five minutes early for my appointment at Willow Lake and only twelve minutes away, I pulled into Petro to attempt to calm down my client. 

I should note that the majority of my “upset client calls” will always be my Prison Wedding Clients. Why? Because they are not in control of a lengthy process that often confuses them and occasionally even scares or angers them. I’m the hand holder. I’m generally the go between and I’m usually the one talking to the Warden. 

The glass is something no one is ever comfortable with. Behind the glass, the inmate is also handcuffed. At Ferguson Unit, the inmate was also locked into the cage behind the glass. 

Ferguson was also the first time I would encounter an inmate behind the glass and effectively, shocking to me. I didn’t expect the glass although my client was prepared for it. Occasionally while inside the visitation area for a wedding ceremony, I will notice the glass cracked or writing on the wood. I asked one guard “how did the glass get broken?” 

The answer surprised me. “Well, Miss Wendy, the inmates get angry at visitors and hit the glass.” Hit the glass? To the person that drove all the way to the Unit? Waited in a long line. Went through the screening process? I was shocked. The wiring under (also sometimes above) the glass was how my client and I communicated with the inmate. It’s essential that the inmate can understand the commitment aspect of the wedding ceremony. 

I was more than a little nervous about the inmate hearing and subsequently, understanding me but, he could easily hear and understand the ceremony. 

The wedding photo above thrilled my client because the glass “merged them together.” Walking back to the parking lot, I hid my silent tears from my client and “braced myself” for smiles a few miles from the Unit for her wedding photos. I didn’t want her to know how rattled I was about the glass and the wedding photos. I hid my sorrow intentionally. She couldn’t touch him. It pained me. 

As a mother, the aspect of marrying an inmate is a lonely life of isolation for many of my clients marrying an inmate that is often serving 20, 30, 50 years or even life. My clients may never see their spouse on the outside. It’s not an easy path. They may never touch them. 

I worry about my TDCJ Clients and on occasion, have even talked a few out of marrying the inmate. It’s a rare occurrence but, it has happened. The “Coffield Unit Con Man” who attempted to control my client and her money needed the boot and got it. 

On my fourth phone call from my emotional Coffield client, I had suggested that she consider what the inmate was bringing to her life. If the only “gift” was strife and argument, it was a gift that she needed to give back. 

It took a month but, the Prison Wedding Planning Process isn’t “quick or easy.” If one of my TDCJ clients wants “out,” they have time to effectively “hit the highway.”

Mary was determined to marry Lester. Her path wasn’t easy. It would take months. Mary would never touch Lester. The glass would always be separating them from one another even on their wedding day. 

The glass didn’t make Mary uncomfortable as it hadn’t made Nikia uncomfortable. Mary and Nikia were prepared for the separation. I was the only one uncomfortable with the glass and the inability of my clients to touch their new spouses. It always saddens me. 

It’s difficult for me to accept that for a number of my clients, they will never touch their spouse. The glass will be a part of every visit they make to the Unit. It will be a permanent “barrier.” 

The glass is something neither I or anyone else can  change but, it always saddens me nonetheless. It’s something I must accept ascmy clients have. It’s also something “I’m working on.” G4 and G5 inmates are always behind the glass. Lifers are too. I’m never really prepared mentally to Officiate a ceremony that won’t be “sealed with a kiss.” My heart hurts. I have had hundreds and even over a thousand “other couples” to compare my wedding ceremonies to. 

From my couples “on the outside” to couples “on the inside,” the differences between both sets of my clients is significant. 

While one set of my clients worries about the perfect dress, the perfect cake, the perfect venue, the guest list, the DJ, the photographer and more, the other set of clients drives several hours to get to the Unit, worry that their clothing will be within the visitation guideline, and try to remember to bring quarters to buy low quality wedding photos for $3 each if they are even offered at the Unit. Private Units do not offer photos. 

I had finally calmed my Beto client down “about the glass” before pulling out of Petro. It wasn’t an “easy conversation” it never is when a client is upset. 

Mentally, I prepared myself for the first “behind the glass” ceremony at Beto. I wondered if they would have the phones Allred did that no one could hear using? I hoped my bride wouldn’t cry seeing the inmate behind the glass. 

I recalled my Coffield client vomiting in a trash can beside me when we walked in to find her beau behind the glass. The shock rattled her to such an extent that it took several moments to calm her before proceeding with the ceremony. She also “nearly ran” from the Unit following the ceremony. I was forced to chase her down because I feared that if she left the Unit upset, she might have a car accident. Luckily, I had plenty of time to talk her through the shock of the glass and explain to her that it was something neither of us could control. 

Normally, I leave one Unit to head to another. On the Coffield Unit day of “the glass,” I wasn’t due at another Unit for several hours and had plenty of time to spend with my client. She was so upset that she skipped doing bridal photos and I bought her lunch instead at the infamous General Store in Tennessee Colony. 

Thursday morning at 6AM, I checked in with my Beto bride. I was juggling several other “traditional clients” on my books for rehearsals Wednesday evening, Thursday evening and Friday evening for wedding ceremonies at venues on Saturday and Sunday. I was also apprehensive about how my bride would react to “the glass.” 

In fact, I was so worried about my bride that I offered to drive her myself to the Unit. This is rare but, it’s happened. My Estes bride didn’t drive and took a bus from Houston to Fort Worth. I picked her up and took her to breakfast before driving her to Sanders Estes for her ceremony and upon leaving the Unit, had a great time with her at the Botanic Gardens getting some fun bridal photos for her. 

I’m different. You will hear me say this over and over because it’s true. I care about my clients and their journey. It’s not an easy journey for TDCJ clients.

At 9:30AM Thursday, I had already been to the post office to mail photos and contracts to clients, filled up my SUV, hit the bank for quarters, met with my Saturday client to go over vendor details and driven through a Starbucks for egg white bites and a non fat latte. My Beto bride was to meet me at 9:30 and leave her car at my home. 

The drive to Beto could run two hours and fifteen minutes to two hours and thirty minutes based on traffic and road construction. 

Sitting in my SUV and responding to emails regarding Roach, Darrington, Hutchins, Bradshaw and Garza East Units while sipping my latte, I checked the time, 10:01AM. Alarmed, I sent a text to my bride to ask where she was? 

A few minutes later, she responded “my son was late to school and I need to leave him with my inlaws. They live in DeSoto.” I quickly checked the distance from DeSoto to Beto and DeSoto to my location to Beto. 

There was no way my client could get from DeSoto to me and me to drive to Beto and arrive by 1PM. Because of this, I suggested meeting me at Beto. I would arrive first and if my client was runnng late, explain her tardiness to the wardens secretary. I also immediately left my driveway headed for Beto.

With my preselected stack of cd’s beside me, it would be a day of music from artists with the first name of John. I noticed this before jumping on 20 to head to 287. Usually, I just grab a stack from my case and apparently, my husband had organized cd’s in the order of the first name. I thought I was OCD lol. 

From Johnny Cash to John Cougar Mellencamp to John Denver and John Fogerty, I opted for Fogerty and thought about the hearing and lawsuit he had won regarding being himself. For those unaware of the irony or the story, here’s the link– John Fogerty Plagiarism Suit 1988. Plagiarizing himself? How could he be anyone else. The case went before the Supreme Court. 

With “Here We Go Rocking All Over The World” blaring on my radio, I jumped onto the highway. I would be “on the dash” because I had planned to leave at 9:30AM with my client. I operate on strict timelines that allow a “cushion.” I’m not a last minute anything type of person. 

The drive through Waxahachie is often time consuming due to traffic but, I was making good time and checked in with my client on her GPS estimated arrival time. 

Taking several phone calls during my trip, Cindy and Stephaney were at her second interview at Petro. Steve was in New York. 

My son was in Arkansas and my husband was back at the “Stinky Skunk Development In Springtown.” Leigh Ann was editing photos for three clients. The skunk development has been an ongoing escapade. Everyone in my husband’s office questions “why Matthew is handling it himself?” John, the builder had never encountered a problem of this magnitude. In fact, no one had. My husband has tried everything to get the smell out of the house and if he can’t, will be the person forced to deal with the homeowner returning from Japan May 4th. The same day I’m out of town with clients and my team. Ugh.

Driving through Eureka, Texas and thinking to myself “there should be an exclamation point after the name,” I check back in with my client. She’s due to arrive at Beto at 12:47PM. I’m rolling in (according to navigation lady) at 12:32PM. 

I changed my cd to Elton John and paid attention to the words as I sang along to “let us strive to make a way to make all hatred cease. There’s a man over there. What’s his color? I don’t care. He’s my brother. Let us, let us live in peace” as I rolled on over a long bridge with a peaceful lake that no one is ever using on my trips to Tennessee Colony. Why doesn’t anyone use that lake? I wonder this on every trip across the bridge. 

Twenty minutes out from the Unit, I call Cindy before popping in John Cougar and laughing about his “hey, hit the highway!” Its funny to me because I’m always hitting the highway and “finding a lover that won’t drive you crazy” while stating that you want them to “hit the highway” is somewhat offensive and blunt to say the least. It’s also funny. John Cougar is a real character. 

The joys of road construction in Tennessee Colony continue. Now the “follow me” truck has moved from Coffield/Michael to Beto/Gurney. Jeez. I call my bride. She’s about ten minutes behind me. I remind her not to speed and get pulled over. 

As I stand in the parking area looking for my client, I decide to go to the entrance and alert the tower of my arrival. She arrives a few minutes later looking beautiful in slacks with blonde hair. I wonder if she had colored it since I had last seen her? I love the cut. As usual, I consider growing my hair out and trying to go with a new style but, who are we kidding here? I constantly try to cut my own hair and lack the patience to grow my hair out. 

Walking into the Unit, we screen in and wait. As usual, my bra sets off the metal detector and we take a seat. I’d skip the underwire but, I’m far too busty. One day, maybe when I have time, I will get a reduction.

My friendly guard comes to escort us and asks “how is your twin doing?” Cindy’s basement has flooded yet again from heavy rain and I’m headed to Parker County today after filing licenses in Tarrant County to help her mop up. The Daniel Diva house consistently floods in the basement. We’ve had twenty years of flooding at Cindy’s. It’s an ongoing escapade.

Walking in, I look for the phone or a hole under the glass. There isn’t one. The steel mesh above the glass is how the inmate will hear us. It’s difficult to get a clear photo with the glass and the area we are in is somewhat cramped. My client is doing well under the circumstances. She’s not crying or upset.

Leaving the Unit, I suggest stopping at the General Store for her to use the restroom and offer to buy her a cola. I was surprised to hear that she doesn’t consume caffeine and bought her a cranberry juice instead. 

We head to my favorite new abandoned building outside Tennessee Colony on the way back to Corsicana. I love the peeling paint and forgotten “look” of this building right off the remote back roads.My bride is joyous the wedding is over and she can now have some fun. Most of my clients have the most fun with me on location photography shoots. As I go through my rolling photo booth switching out props and changing areas, my Saturday client, Brok sends a text to confirm Saturday at 3PM. I answer “my team and I will be there with bells on.” 

Brok responds “we are so excited!” My team and I are too. I’ve been looking forward to this wedding and celebration for a month now. They are incorporating hand fasting into their ceremony and I love creative input. Brok and Ruben are so much fun. My bride loved the props I had packed and I asked “how much gas do you have? Do you have to stop for gas on your way back to DeSoto?” She did so I handed her an extra roll of quarters from my SUV and gave her a hug as I headed on to Hodge Unit to meet my next client. 

I want only good things for all of my clients. My TDCJ clients often face a difficult journey because they are effectively “pulling the wagon alone.” For many of them, the inmate faces many years but, for my Beto bride, the inmate is due for release in three. I’m happy to hear this because at the very least, she will have an opportunity to experience married life “on the outside.” 

A very large percentage of my clients will never have the opportunity. My heart is heavy for the journey they will face without ever having an opportunity to hold their partners hand. Their passion and resilience is unmatched by most couples. The sheer dedication of my clients is amazing. They don’t give up. For them, live isn’t only a four letter word. It’s their life. Love believes all things and bears all things for my TDCJ Clients. 

My husband sends a text from his office that cracks me up near Corsicana. The staff had sprinkled powder and purchased a stuffed skunk to surprise him. It’s hard to laugh about the skunk that’s caused so many problems but, my husband did.Hopefully, in the coming week, the smell is resolved before the homeowner returns. My husband saw an Elk near the new home and was amazed at the wildlife out in Springtown. I remind him of my encounter with a black bear on the patio of the lake house in Arkansas. I’m not a “country person.” If I never encounter another bear, I’m “good with it.”

Rolling back onto the highway outside Corsicana, I pop in Melissa Etheridge and “Everybody Has A Hunger No Matter Who They Are.” Melissa is right. I’m hungry for dinner back home and looking forward to sharing supper with Matthew before running off to Marty Leonard Chapel to meet clients. 

I hope my clients and connections enjoy a beautiful weekend of sunshine and enjoy a few good times, great music and Spring weather… 

Your INFLUENCE On Others Can Make THEIR JOURNEY A JOYFUL TRIP Or A LONG HAUL…The Choice Is Up To You…

This morning while grabbing a quick coffee prior to “hitting the road,” my husband asked me the same question he asks everyday “is there anything I can do for you?” Sounds like a simple question but, the depth and the meaning aren’t overlooked by me. My husband would do anything for me and I know it. The same is true of me for him or my twin sister, my grandnieces, my son, my nieces and my clients. 

I’m just as driven, determined and dedicated to making my clients day as worry free and pleasant as possible as I am with my own family. 

Everyday is a “no repeat” day. There are no re takes or do overs. Being the best version of yourself might sound silly to anyone who hasn’t faced death. The fragile nature of life is lost on them. It isn’t lost on my twin sister, my husband or our children. Why? Because my twin sister nearly died in an accident at 23 years old. 

For fifteen years now, I’ve faced several surgeries to fight “the C word.” I cram as many “moments into each day” as humanly possible. I don’t take any day of my life for granted. Instead, these minutes, these moments, these opportunities are viewed as the gifts they are. I’m “C free” and have been for several years but each and every check up, I literally “brace myself for bad news.” By the grace of God, I haven’t heard any in five years. 

Laying out my usual array of CD’s for my drive to TDCJ Coffield Unit, Donna Summer, Elton John, Lenard Skynard, Rod Stewart, Chicago and Jim Croce would be keeping me company on this trip since Cindy was busy in Parker County, Leigh Ann had a booking on the courthouse steps and my son was on his way to Houston. 

I don’t mind driving alone on Texas highways or anywhere else for that matter. Music occupies my mind and keeps me company. I know all of the words to all of my favorite CD’s. 

My husband only knows the beat or rhythm to music and nearly never pays attention to the words. I find his favorite AC/DC song to be the only song he actually does know the words to hilarious. What is it? Thunder Struck. It cracks me up. 

Checking in with my Thursday Beto bride to confirm timelines after passing through Corsicana and hoping rain wouldn’t ruin my Tuesday and Thursday photo shoots after Unit weddings, my 2 hour and fifteen minute trip to Tennessee Colony was running closer to 2 1/2 due to the usual road construction. Heavy sigh. 

Sitting in a line of traffic, I had time to review email requests for Goodman Unit, Middleton Unit, Garza East, Ellis, Estelle, Clements, and Dominguez Units. I review at least 5-8 new requests every 2-3 days for prison weddings. 

Even I am often surprised at the sheer numbers of clients wanting to marry an inmate. Texas is our highest booking state with California running second and Louisiana third in requests for an Inmate Officiant. 

Since I was driving without a copilot, I called the prospective clients back rather than emailing them. 

Road construction to Tennessee Colony is a virtual mess of mazes through small towns. I often wonder where everyone works or why people just abandon old farmhouses and leave them to decay. What happened? 

In Texas towns that have a Prison, nearly everyone works for TDCJ. The number of employees who have retired and returned to TDCJ is impressive. 

One law library clerk told me “2025 is my retirement year and I won’t be coming back like everyone else does. I will leave the bars behind me and find something to do outside of the prison.” I am fairly sure he means it. My husband checked in several times along the way and let me know he had a dentist appointment today. Like me, Matthew hates going to the dentist but, it’s a necessary evil. 

Listening to Chicago “being without you takes a lot of getting used to,” I remind my husband to take an Aleve to prevent a headache at the dentist. 

I then reminded myself to call Cindy since she’s the one “I was without” on my Tennessee Colony trip. 

Cindy doesn’t enjoy riding with me to Tennessee Colony because “there’s nothing to do.” She’s right. There are no shopping centers or cafes and the only drop off point is the General Store. There are five Prisons though and I make the trip here at least twice a month to one or more of the five Tennessee Colony Prisons. 

Rolling into Tennessee Colony with my bride a few minutes behind me, I sent my husband the “greeting” sign featuring TDCJ Units located in the city that features only one General Store. 

Nearly everyone in the General Store either “knows someone employed by TDCJ or is related to someone employed at one of the Units.” 

Five Units house inmates within fairly close proximity of one another in Tennessee Colony. Coffield and Michael are both located behind the same guard entrance gate. The close proximity of Coffield and Michael are convenient for me because I can move from Coffield wedding ceremonies starting at 9AM to Michael which usually schedules me in at 10:30 or later which is how I literally “bounce” from Coffield to Michael with fluid frequency to meet my clients and conduct their wedding ceremony. 

Often I “stack” clients if I have more than one client at the same Unit with thirty minute intervals for each client. After I complete wedding ceremonies at Units, my clients and I find a place for their bridal photos. 

Bouncing from Coffield or Michael to Beto or Gurney wouldn’t be quite as convenient as you would need to leave the Coffield/Michael Units to drive “back through town” and down another two lane road to get to Beto, Gurney or Powledge. 

Coffield and Michael schedule inmate weddings on Tuesdays. Other Tennessee Colony Units prefer Thursday’s. I’m in Tennessee Colony so often that I could literally drive it blindfolded. In fact, I’m back in Tennessee Colony on Thursday. This time at Beto then on to Hodge Unit. Hodge Unit is in Rusk, Texas and forty five miles from Beto. 

I’ve left Tennessee Colony Units to drive to Huntsville Units on more than a few occasions. Huntsville is also a city of Prisons and one hundred and two miles from Tennessee Colony. It’s a very long day to leave Fort Worth to Tennessee Colony to Huntsville but, it’s doable. 

I’ve spent up to eighteen hours driving from Unit A to Unit B and occasionally even Unit C before heading back to Fort Worth to rise and shine at 3AM and start all over again. Whatever I can do to keep from renting a hotel for prison weddings, I do during the week as weekends often find me at Destination Events and staying at hotels. With my schedule, finding time to be home at night and see my family during wedding season is difficult at best but, I give it my best shot. Having a copilot helps tremendously as my twin and I take turns driving to locations over 6 hours from the DFW area. 

Arriving at Coffield Unit, I was thrilled to see my beautiful bride wearing a wedding dress. This is a rare treat. I loved the entire ensemble. Her bouquet was perfect match to her dress. 

Although my bride wasn’t allowed to bring her bouquet into the Unit, I couldn’t wait to incorporate it into her bridal photos after we left Coffield Unit. Her smile said it all. 

My TDCJ clients are nervous, excited and exhilarated to finally be getting married. It’s a long and arduous process. Michael Unit won’t allow dresses or skirts of ANY TYPE inside the Unit. Advising my Michael Unit brides that only slacks are allowed isn’t an easy conversation but, it is necessary. The Rule at Michael is unbending. 

The “wait” at Coffield is always surprising. Occasionally you can “get right in” while other times the wait can run anywhere from 1-3 hours inside the Unit. My bride and I checked in together at 8:50AM for a 9:00AM scheduled wedding ceremony. I had expected to be out of Coffield by 10 at the latest. Instead, it would be after 11 before we finally walked out of the Unit together. 

“Screening in” can be a time consuming ordeal. I always screen in first. I decided that while my bride was being screened, I would head to the Wardens Office to sign in and pay for Unit photos at $3 each. I always buy three photos for my clients as a courtesy.

Luckily, I had bought 2 rolls of quarters rather than one since I’m at Beto on Thursday as my Tuesday bride had forgotten her quarters and realized it in the parking lot. To solve the problem, I emptied my Beto quarters into the Coffield baggie to cover us for 6 photos at Coffield. I’m nothing if not prepared. 

I can (and will)  get quarters for Beto on my way to Erath County on Wednesday for Beto on Thursday. 

I never go to a Prison without quarters. Often my client may forget to bring quarters for photos and a wedding ceremony is the one event where clients want as many photos as they can get although the quality of the photos is often “questionable.” 

If we all have our heads in the photo, it’s a good day. Guards are not professional photographers and “you get what you get.” 

Amazingly, Estes Unit by far has the best Unit photos. This is saying a lot from me because all of my clients want Unit photos. 

Privately owned Units rarely (if ever) offer wedding day photos. Sanders Estes takes the best Prison photos I’ve seen from any Prison in Texas. 

Sanders Estes is also the only Unit where a guest or guests have been allowed to witness the ceremony. 

Sanders Estes Unit
Sanders Estes Unit

Clear or “in focus” photos are rare at Prison Weddings. Allred actually runs a close second with Hodge Unit coming in third regarding photo clarity and quality. 

Allred Unit
Hodge Unit
Beto Unit

Back to the waiting area at Coffield, my client and I would continue to wait while another bride waited on her “other Officiant.” 

I’m well aware of this “other Officiant” because she is almost always late and always unfriendly. I pay little or no attention to her intentionally although I WISH she would pay more attention to her clients and arrive on time. 

The entire Unit accommodates prison weddings and her work ethics are embarrassing and inconvenient to not only her own clients but also myself and my clients who are “effectively forced to wait on her to ride in on her broom with an attitude.” Prison Weddings aren’t planned overnight. The process is time consuming and stressful to clients who anxiously await wedding day. 

From start to finish, planning a Prison wedding can take anywhere from three weeks to months. The “person on the outside” will send an Absentee Affidavit and the “person on the inside” will request a TDCJ ID that can take several weeks. 

Once the “person on the inside” has the Absentee Affidavit and ID Notarized, the “person on the outside” will use both documents to purchase the marriage license. The “person on the inside” will then file an I60 Request For Marriage Form listing the TDCJ Approved Officiant on the paperwork. 

The I60 requires up to 6 signatures. Once approved, the Warden will hand the chaplain the paperwork to set the date and time for the marriage. The TDCJ Officiant will then confirm the date and time assigned. I.E. Prison wedding planning is a lengthy process. 

I created a video to walk prospective clients through the process. Here’s the link– TDCJ Approved Officiant Wendy Wortham Explains The Prison Wedding Planning Process. 

One of my clients, Mary, waited months to get approved for her wedding. Another, JoJo, waited over a year. Still another waited six months at Stiles Unit. Part of the issues these clients faced that made their journey more difficult involved Unit transfers or a CLM status or other “hiccups.” I spend months walking each of my TDCJ client facing “hurdles” through a confusing process. I also become everyone’s mother when a Prison wedding has hurdles. 

I spend FAR more time talking or corresponding with TDCJ Clients than I ever will with a Texas Twins Events, Pawning Planners or other client booked through a venue that I’m on staff with. Prison Wedding Planning is by far more complicated than a “traditional wedding.” 

On weekends and evenings, I’m often working with “traditional clients” or on site at a venue when a call from a TDCJ client may come in. I juggle everyone everyday and return calls every 2-3 hours. 

My “job” never ends with any of my clients because they offer re book with myself and my staff for other services including Vow Renewals upon release of the inmate or Baptisms and these clients ALWAYS refer their friends and family to my staff and I. We have earned our reputation of excellence by exceeding our clients expectations. These clients are like family to my staff and I. They are far more than a “Gig” or “Booking.” 

Waiting on “another Officiant” is the last thing any client needs on wedding day. Having everyone else on site for their wedding wait on “another Officiant” who obviously has a blatant disregard for everyone else’s time continues to infuriate me. 

The “other Officiant” needs to buy a watch or find a new business that isn’t based on being timely, organized or articulate.  

At Allred, my clients and I were forced to wait yet again due to this same “other Officiant.” It’s aggravating to me that people don’t view being late as stealing because it is. You are taking something you cannot replace. These brides or grooms have waited months on their wedding day. 

The last thing anyone wants to do on wedding day is to wait on “another Officiant” who is unprofessional and uncaring. When “another Officiant” consistently being tardy to a Unit subsequently forces my clients and I to wait on their arrival for my clients wedding ceremony to take place, such conduct annoys my clients as well as pissing me off at the same time. Some people take no pride in their work ethics. 

Hire someone with a stellar track record and responsible behavior. It will save you a lot of grief. It can also save you money. How? Well, if you’ve hired someone who doesn’t return your calls or answer your emails, you might very well have also hired someone so unreliable (obviously not affiliated with Texas Twins Events) that they won’t bother to show up on wedding day! 

How do I know about NO SHOWS? Because I’ve been hired as second and even the third Officiant or Planner or BOTH over and over for years by clients who had “hired the wrong vendor to begin with.”  

That’s right. I’ve taken calls from hysterical brides or their mothers or members of the wedding party for YEARS who found themselves wishing the  had hired Texas Twins Events in the first place but instead, found themselves ALONE at a Unit or venue with a MIA Officiant or Planner (obviously not affiliated in any way, shape or form with my staff).

These “emergency requests at the 11th hour” have been going on for so many years now that I now have emergency fees in place based on our availability. After all, my staff and I DON’T HAVE EMERGENCIES. The client who hired the WRONG VENDOR is HAVING AN EMERGENCY. 

I will never forget the TCU wedding party calling me years ago about “two hundred guests waiting and we can’t get in touch with our Officiant. We need someone here as soon as possible.” I had been working on a Texas Twins Treasures trunk and obviously unprepared to “run off and save the day” but, due to the hysterical phone call, changed my clothes and dashed over to the church. 

Arriving with everyone upset and agitated, I had no idea what they wanted for their ceremony, names of the wedding party, who was giving the bride away or anything else for that matter. Also and more importantly, who was paying MY FEE? Upon inquiring about my fee in the midst of the circus environment of chaos, I was told “we didn’t bring any money because we paid the other Officiant.” 

Oh, you mean the person who DIDN’T bother showing up? I advised the wedding party of the facts since paying the No Show Officiant doesn’t benefit me one iota. “I received a hysterical phone call on my day off begging me to drop everything and run over here to save YOUR wedding. If you don’t have funding to pay my fee, I will be leaving now and ya all can have a great party.” 

Turning to leave, someone managed to come up with my fee. I am not a volunteer. I’m a staunch professional who effectively “goes to work” in exchange for consideration. If you have no money, you can submit a bartered item proposal through my sister site, The Pawning Planners.

After the “TCU incident,” and similar escapades that included excuses pertaining to paying the “other Officiant” that prevented these hysterical folks from paying me or anyone in my staff who ACTUALLY DID SHOW UP when the initial vendor hired and more importantly, PAID DID NOT, all of my sites were updated with “emergency fee structures” as well as holiday fees. I don’t have emergencies and no one on my Team does either. 

I abhor tardiness. Worse, are the “consistently tardy people” who assume that by being tardy that their behavior is acceptable to everyone else who are effectively forced to wait on them. 

I’m never late. Ever. I leave a minimum of 30 minutes to an hour earlier than necessary for every commitment I have. I plan ahead. Not showing up at an event? NEVER. But, I’m not like everyone else. My staff aren’t either. Our booked clients are OUR PRIORITY. 

Since the other Officiant was MIA and most likely running 20-30 minutes late (as usual), her client was alone and feeling somewhat insecure about “screening in” since the alarm kept going off when she attempted to “clear in.” 

The “hold up” at screening due to the other client bringing a ring box and ring into the Unit. Ring boxes have metal hinges. Metal interferes with the metal detector. Whether it’s jewelry, a watch, a girdle with boning or a bra with underwire or even a ring box, YOU MUST CLEAR the machine to enter ANY TDCJ UNIT. 

I strongly advise all of my clients not to bring anything other than their current state issued ID, Marriage License, car keys and quarters. It will save you and I time screening in and make our visit far more pleasant on wedding day.

Having someone walk in bewildered and alone while wondering if their “other Officiant” is going to bother showing up is just too much for me. I often wish they had someone reliable in their corner during what is often already an emotional process but, again, I cannot save everyone from hiring the wrong Officiant. I’ve seen it happen before and I will see it happen again. I’m not only referring to Prisons either. 

My office “fields” emergency Officiant calls on a regular basis because someone hired the wrong Officiant, Photographer or Planner. You know, the “other Officiant or vendor who were paid to show up but didn’t.” 

Getting a call from a frantic bride, groom, mother of the bride or groom to one of our  Texas Twins Events cell phones from someone in a panic because “our Officiant didn’t show up” or “our planner isn’t here” or “our photographer isn’t here and we need you to send someone over immediately” are the types of phone calls no one wants to take. 

Don’t these frantic callers assume that we aren’t already on location? You know with the clients who booked with us. We can’t save everyone. What we can do is put our clients needs first and if I have any available staff, send them to the “emergency” caller. But, these emergency services come at a higher rate. Also, emergency services are based entirely on availability. Our clients don’t have emergencies because they booked with Texas Twins Events. 

I’m booked up to 2 years out and no longer take on emergency Officiant bookings. The reason for this is that you are effectively “going in cold” with clients you know nothing about who are often angry, anxious and upset because “someone else” had let them down. It’s an awful situation for the client who trusted the “wrong person” but again, I cannot save everyone. My staff cannot save everyone. Our priorities are our booked clients first and foremost.  Everyone else is secondary. 

Emergency Officiant situations are redirected to my staff and their availability. I work 7 days a week and can’t run off from my existing clients “to save the day” for a “stranger” simply because they ask me to. 

I strongly urge people who have been wronged AKA “STOOD UP” by another vendor to get a refund before calling Texas Twins Events and expecting us to drop everything because “we help everyone.” We help people who hired us in the first place. File a small claims lawsuit against the person who knowingly and willfully “ruined your wedding day.” Why? Because you paid them to show up that’s why. You trusted them to honor their end of the bargain and they failed you. This my friends is called “Breach of Oral or Implied Contract.” It you have paid for a service you didn’t receive, it’s also called “Theft Of Services.” Study up and know your rights as a consumer. 

Booked clients take precedence over anyone else coming to us at the 11th hour in a panic because they initially hired someone else. Not OUR luggage- Not OUR trip. 

No one on my staff has ever and I mean never will not been on site at a booked event. It will never happen in my lifetime. I have a full staff for this very reason. If someone becomes ill, there is always a backup that will not be scheduled on the same day. I have never missed a booking in my life, if I’m sick, I go to the ER or Urgent Care and get a shot before heading to my booking or after my job is through.

At Sanders Estes Unit, I had three brides and immense pain. Why? Kidney stones. I waited hours to go to the ER to ensure my clients needs were met first. I was also flying to California 36 hours after this photo was taken and terrified my pain was due to a ruptured appendix but, my bloody urine actually eased my mind. Kidney stones again. Ugh. 

Would I have gotten on that plane following an appendectomy? Yes. Against doctors orders I would have. I would also have sought medical treatment in California if I experienced any complications from surgery in Texas. But, by the Grace of God, my pain wasn’t due to my appendix. My smile on the railroad tracks literally masks my discomfort. No one has the work ethics that I possess other than my twin sister, Cindy. 

There are no sick days or emergencies in the events industry. Whatever is going on in my life or my staffs lives takes a backseat to our clients needs. There’s always an ER or Urgent Care facility open after hours. 

“Work ethics AND morals are like a good set of tires. Everything you have is riding on them.”

Cindy Daniel

The ring at Coffield shouldn’t have been there. Since many of my clients inquire about rings, I’m going to go over Section K of the Administrative Directive because the question regarding rings comes up frequently with my TDCJ Clients. 

I’ve memorized the Administrative Directive and no, I don’t call wardens and ask them to make exceptions because they are running a Prison and very busy and also because as a TDCJ Officiant, it’s expected that we know and understand the rules and guidelines set forth pertaining to inmate marriage and, I do. 

Offender property prevents ring exchanges and yet… the other bride was unaware of the limitations that would require her to leave the Unit with the ring she had brought. 

I suggested that the guard remove the ring from the box setting off the metal detector and that the  bride wear the ring herself as I also explained to this young bride that wedding ring exchanges are strictly forbidden. The bride then told me “the Warden said I could put it on but I would have to take it off when I left.” Oh, so someone called a Warden to ask to bring a wedding ring into the Unit although it’s unauthorized? Wow. It’s tough to surprise me but, calling a Warden to ask for something because it isn’t allowed isn’t a good idea. In fact, it’s something that I strongly suggest no one does. 

I’m just going to put this out there because giving someone a ring on wedding day only to have to remove it and effectively “take it back” is perhaps even more emotionally traumatic than not presenting it in the first place but, that’s my opinion. 

My clients are strongly advised against calling the Warden to ask for something that’s prohibited in the first place. It’s far better to follow the Administrative Directive. That’s why there is one put in place giving inmates the right to marry in TDCJ Units. 

By the time my client and I were called to go to the Visitation Area, my bride and I were more than ready to “get the show on the road.” After all, we had been waiting for quite some time and having the “other Officiant” haughtily stare at me enjoying a conversation with not only my client but also her own client was more than a little awkward for her I’m guessing. 

I can talk to anyone and I can certainly befriend anyone who is unaware that a ring box is going to set off the machine. “Clearing” a machine is essential to entering the Unit. Whether you need to disrobe, take your hair down, remove a ring from the box or whatever else is setting off the machine, compliance is required. My bride had to take her beautiful updo down. It’s very distressing on wedding day but, clearing the machine isn’t “optional.” 

Walking through the heavy doors into the visitation area, I decided to use both backdrops for photos because lighting is often an issue at Coffield. I wanted my bride to have the best possible photos from her wedding. 

The groom was nervous and thrilled to see his bride. These moments are emotional. My client and her beau have been through phone calls, confusing paperwork and long wait times to stand with me to marry. They are excited and yet, apprehensive. No one knows what to expect. I lay out the rules. “You can hold hands. You can hug. You can kiss twice but no open mouth. No groping. We will be respectful and stay within the guidelines.” I also remind both parties “although this wedding is taking place inside a prison, once I sign and file this license, you are legally married and dissolving your union will require a divorce. Do you both agree to continue?” They always do. I’ve never had anyone change their mind on wedding day but, I have had a few people hyperventilate and even vomit. I’m not specifically speaking only about Prisons either. I’ve seen pretty much everything in my years of the events industry.  

My hair was a mess with humidity and my usual ponytail pulled most of it out of my face. I had cut my bangs again while waiting on a client at Green Bay Unit and as usual, messed my hair up AGAIN. I need to throw my cuticle scissors out of my SUV and stop taking whacks at my bangs but, for years I’ve been guilty of attempting to cut my own bangs and botching it. Time is something I don’t have. 

My couple looked fantastic and although the groom was a little nervous, he relaxed before posing for photos. 

My bride was a delight in every way. I love my clients. My “client” is the person on the outside. This confuses people but shouldn’t. The person on the outside is responsible for finding their TDCJ Approved Officiant. I don’t advertise and I never have. 

Frankly, my reputation is why and how I stay booked. Referral business is a gift. If you are doing your job right, you won’t need to advertise. Moving over to the other backdrop across the visitation area, the groom wanted to see the license after I had signed it. Occasionally, the groom or bride want to view the license and I found this to be a “sweet moment.” I had no idea that this wedding had been something the couple had planned for years. The reason the groom wanted to see my signature was to know “the deal was done.” 

My bride had told me something that was not only real but also raw with honesty as we stood waiting on a guard to unlock the heavy steel door. I turned to face her as she said “Wendy, I’m doing time too while he’s in here. For years I’ve thought I can’t keep doing this. He has to want to get it together and, he finally does.” She was absolutely right. I thought of the line in a song on one of my cd’s and just as the heavy steel door was being unlocked “I can’t wait upon a lovers cross for you” Jim Croce. No one can wait upon a lovers cross forever. I understood completely what my bride had meant. 

The person on the outside is a warrior. They make all of the sacrifices. My bride had waited because she wanted light at the end of the tunnel and I pray she finds it. 

Her new husband went before parole last week and I’m hoping he makes it. I love happy endings and will also be officiating their Vow Renewal upon his release and looking forward to seeing them both again. 

I had packed my make up kit but had no time to put on any make up other than lipstick which is why I wore my “no make up” tinted glasses. Time. I have so little of it. I live every moment and I love working. I love meeting new people and I love my job.

I now have 3 pairs of glasses for my “on the dash” days where lipstick and a smile are all I have time for. Makeup? Who has ten minutes for that? I know I didn’t. My bride and I said goodbye to her new husband and walked back to wait another hour near the metal detector. Why? Because the second bride and “other Officiant” were buying photos too and rather than print our photos first, the guard was back in the Visitation Area with the same camera and SD card. It would’ve been far more convenient (for us anyway) to print our photos first but, we wait patiently. 

My client and I would wait on the other bride who would come out to wait alone with my client and I on her own photos while the “other Officiant” stomped off and walked right out of Unit leaving her client to wait alone. I felt sad for her. Sitting alone and abandoned after waiting on that “other Officiant” she was now watching leave as my client and I waited with her on the wardens secretary to print out our photos first. 

Weddings aren’t a “drive through.” I was glad my client and I were there to keep the other bride entertained with some good company. 

Life Events aren’t “on the dash” and yet, arriving late and leaving early, the “other Officiants” behavior didn’t surprise me at all. Frankly, I’m used to it with this “other Officiant.” I always feel sorry for her clients. She doesn’t care about how important their “moment is.” She doesn’t take into consideration how long they’ve waited or what they went through to get to their wedding day. It’s a tragedy. 

I can only imagine how lonely a long drive to a Unit for a Prison wedding would be. Driving home after a Prison wedding without your new spouse by your side? Even lonelier.

I had wished the other bride was able to join my client and I to celebrate her wedding and take photos with us but, I can’t save everyone. 

My role is with my client. I must address the person standing in front of me although I’m old and wise enough to see how so many things that could make a day brighter for others would only take a moment of compassion, care or understanding if only the person they had hired would make more of an effort. Sigh. 

Driving to Tennessee Colony, I had seen an old building I wanted to use as our backdrop and my client followed me as the mist turned to rain. No matter. My hair was already a mess. 

I love how these photos turned out! My beauty and I braved the rain and had a great time together. My bride was a natural and I always try to find a unique background to give photos depth and this building was perfect. 

As we both wiped the rain off our faces and I changed signs and floral arrangements, I was so glad to have the opportunity to capture my clients joy on film. 

I had told the groom that I would send my beautiful bride double prints in order for him to have a set. God Bless this beautiful lady and as always, I’m honored to meet such incredible and resilient people who overcome any and all obstacles to make their relationship work. 

I’ve got jam packed few months ahead and wish all of my clients, friends and followers many minutes and moments of joy. They are out there ya all. Grab them. We are all on a short window. Tomorrow is but a promise.

Take a moment to smell the flowers or grab a coffee. Remember that clients are people too. They aren’t numbers. Put yourself in their shoes and I can assure you that you will make them feel as important as you would like to be treated yourself. My clients are worth it to me. They are the fabric of my life. 

Don’t forget to put your needs in the same order of importance as the people you care about. I’m hoping to find time to get my hair cut…

People, Prisons & Places- Travels Of A TDCJ Officiant And My Twin Sister…

Leaving Fort Worth Tuesday morning at 3:45AM with my twin sister complaining “we should have left at 3:30,” the Texas Twins hit the highway. 

It would be at least two hours before Cindy’s twin granddaughters, Maryssa and Makenna even began to roll out of bed in Weatherford, Texas at Cindy’s home. Cindy’s daughter, Leigh Ann would call complaining about Maryssa running late somewhere between 6AM and 6:30AM. How do I know? It happens each and every time we have a “red eye run” to a distant Unit. 

Cindy’s husband, Steve is a long haul truck driver who is rarely home more than one day a week. I can give Steve a mile marker and he often knows exactly where we are in Texas. Steve literally has been down pretty much every road in the US and Canada the last fifty years of driving. 

Cindy always spends the night with me when we are headed off to a Texas Prison before daybreak. 

Our destination? McConnell Unit in Beeville, Texas. McConnell is located near Garza East and Garza West as well as being in close proximity to Connally Unit. 

Texas Department Of Criminal Justice operates numerous state owned facilities. There are a few privately owned prisons in Texas as well as Federal and ICE Detention Centers. TDCJ oversees both state and privately owned facilities. Texas ranks first in the nation regarding the number of people incarcerated. It’s a shocking statistic. 

TDCJ McConnell Unit is a little over five hours one way from my location in Westover Hills, Texas. A few months ago, Cindy and I made the journey to McConnell in exactly five hours. My Tuesday bride had opted to stay at a hotel as my previous McConnell Unit bride had. 

It’s rare for Cindy and I to book a hotel for a number of reasons. First, Cindy has the Twins at home. I have a husband and feisty Beagle as well as numerous commitments with venues that I’m on staff at and Client bookings for Texas Twins Events and The Pawning Planners. Destination trips can get tricky so whenever possible, I skip booking a hotel. 

My Tuesday bride and her soon to be sister in law were meeting us at Goodwill in Beeville where I would drop Cindy to search for bargains while I was at McConnell at 9:30AM. McConnell was a 6-8 minute drive from Goodwill. 

I always find a nearby location for Cindy to “junk shop” for an hour or two. Flipped items are listed at our storefront where Texas Twins Treasures items are sold worldwide. The inventory can either be refurbished items originally taken in trade through The Pawning Planners or something Cindy and I have found in another state at a Destination Event or at a resale shop near a Texas Prison. We know what we are looking for. How? Cindy and I have been “flipping items” since we were in our 20’s. 

Cindy and I have thirty years of resale experience that when combined with our extensive product knowledge from dueling careers in sales, makes us both knowledgeable appraisers. It is rare for my twin and I to “take a hit on a flip, swap or trade.” We have had a few “bust barters” but, they were learning curves. Like anyone else, we learn from mistakes. 

I no longer accept non running vehicles that require a hefty investment on our end through The Pawning Planners. Such barters have frequently and nearly always “bitten us in the a$$.” When you lose money on a barter- you remember why and how you “took a hit” and are subsequently, far more cautious. We are. 

Many people are surprised to learn that we not only barter but that “we do Prison Weddings.” Often, our traditional clients will call or email during the week while Cindy or I are driving to or from a Texas Prison. The cell reception on back roads is always the “first clue.” My phone never stops ringing. Brok had called about his upcoming wedding while we were headed to Beeville and wanted to incorporate hand written vows. Asking if “I had time to talk?” I advised him that we had at least two hours to talk since we were driving to a Prison. I’m really looking forward to finally meeting Brok and his fiancée next week. I always take client calls while driving. It’s truly the only time I’m not juggling a client standing in front of me or emailing me. In any given month outside wedding season, I can be juggling 10-20 clients. In season? Upwards of 20-25 booked clients while fielding new client requests on a daily basis. 

Between Texas Twins Events and TDCJ Weddings, I literally HAD TO add more staff to address our burgeoning client bases. Our growth has stunned others. After all, I’ve never advertised. “How does she do it?” Well, when I started Texas Twins Events, I priced our services far below our competition. When a few people still couldn’t afford to book with us, I rebranded and expanded by merging Texas Twins Events and Texas Twins Treasures to create the barter option of The Pawning Planners. When someone came to me because she couldn’t find anyone to marry her at a Texas Prison, I AGAIN expanded Texas Twins Events to include Texas Prison Weddings. Exceeding client expectations has earned us referral businesss each and every year we’ve been in business. Previous clients re book for Vow Renewal Ceremonies upon release of their loved one from a Texas Prison or a Baptism, birthday party, Quincinera or even Memorial for a family member. It’s not uncommon for a previous client or one of their family members to book several times for different events with us. In fact, it’s quite common. Previous clients become threads of our journey and the door never closes.  

I’m not a “country person” although many assume that Cindy and I were born and raised in Texas. Cindy and I were born in California. We’ve left Texas twice to move to California and back again as adults. 

For a number of years, I kept a home in San Clemente and Fort Worth. For another number of years, I kept a home on Beaver Lake in Arkansas and another in Fort Worth. I’m out of the vacation home in another state business. Everyone wants to stay at your “vacation home” at your expense. I now book Cindy and I or my Team at luxury hotels instead and let someone wait on me instead. Don’t be offended. I’m honest. Having a holiday home is the biggest way to have everyone and their dog wanting to “stay at your other home” while you are working your a$$ off to pay for it. The lake house was an ongoing escapade of “friends” not only borrowing the house but also the boats and eating the food without replacing it or putting gas in the boats. I will never own another lake home unless of course it’s my primary residence. I don’t need friends who use me for their benefit. 

I’ve traveled the world extensively and prefer to live near the heart of the city. Cindy and I are Compensating Personality Twins. My twin grandnieces are as well. 

I’m always asked what “Compensating Personality” means. Literally though the definition means two halves make a whole. If you are unfamiliar with Compensating Personality Multiples, I’m adding a link– Twin Studies Compensating Personalities.

Why one twin would be more driven or bossy while the other twin is more complacent or happy to go along with the stronger minded twin continues to be something that confuses scientists. 

Part of the issue is that many assume that identical twins are identical thinkers. This isn’t true in our case, Cindy’s twin granddaughters case or any of the nine other sets of twins in our family. 

Also, for the many who assume that twins aren’t genetic, Twins have been born every other generation on both sides of our family for over 200 years. Identical twins are genetic. Fraternal twins are not. 

Identical twins are almost always  “closer” than fraternal twins although the variation has been studied over and over again. 

Twin studies are “big business.” My twin grandnieces love gift cards and other “perks” for being involved in twin research. 

Cindy and I have very little time to devote to twin studies although on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis, a researcher will contact us begging for Cindy and I to spend hours filling out questionnaires. 

A far better approach would be for researchers to call Cindy and I while we are spending hours driving together to a Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Arkansas, California or other state Prison. 

Neither Cindy or I have the time or the inclination to spend hours we don’t have filling out forms regardless of what the “perk” offered might be. Why? Cindy and I work seven days a week. Cindy and I juggle TDCJ Clients, Texas Twins Treasures Clients, Texas Twins Events Clients and Pawning Planners Clients. Time is priceless to Cindy and I. 

Cindy is funny, witty and never without something to say. I am far more reserved, reflective and detail oriented. Together, we are the perfect team. 

My sister and I are happiest when we are together and due to our unique ability to “merge our talents,” capable of overcoming damn near anything on location. Wherever that location might be. Our mini me twins, Maryssa and Makenna closely mirror Cindy and I. Maryssa isn’t driven and far more social than Makenna. Makenna is a stellar student and far less interested in having a social circle. 

Maryssa and Makenna have worked with our clients since they were two years old as flower girls, ring bearers & ushers. At fourteen, they now book with clients as princess characters for fundraisers and birthday parties to “save money for their first car.” 

The “tiny Texas twins” are no longer tiny and are now taller than Cindy and I. Maryssa and Makenna are both comfortable on camera and have been filmed for numerous media projects. 

Maryssa and Makenna are by far “lighter skinned” than Cindy or I. The reason for this is that our grandfather was a full blood Cherokee Indian and also, an identical twin. Our grandmother was Scottish with milky white skin, green eyes and red hair. I’ve been asked “why do most of your businesses have the word twin in them?” The reason is that we are a twin family. 

Cindy and I “came up with” the name Texas Twins Events moments before my surgery at Baylor Hospital. Not expecting to survive, I had told my twin “if this doesn’t kill me, I’m hanging up my courthouse heels and doing something I enjoy.” Cindy had asked me “what would it be?” 

Thinking about a great way to have fun and meet people that my twin could join me doing while also bringing her twin granddaughters with her, I decided to create a People Over Profit based business and, Texas Twins Events was born. 

Cindy had given up “her day job” to take on the responsibility of raising her twin granddaughters fourteen years ago. Isolated and overwhelmed, Cindy needed a way to get out of the house and we created one. 

Within one week of my website going LIVE, Discovery Communications contacted me. The difference between Texas Twins Events and other event vendors was significant. Why? We helped anyone. We didn’t care what made you different or if you had extraordinary circumstances. We became the people we had never met. 

Our versatility was based entirely on our own experience when planning our weddings. 

We didn’t have family or friends to help us years ago and subsequently, became the people we wished we had known but had never met. We are “different” and “being different” is also why we are so successful.  Our success surprises people but, as children, we learned at a young age that caring about someone else’s journey was rare. Why try to be like everyone else? That market was saturated. 

Driving to McConnell, Cindy and I took calls and checked up on the twins. Cindy’s daughter, Leigh Ann was texting photos she had edited from the weekend before at a wedding and complaining that “Maryssa was making everyone late again.” Cindy and I both did an eye roll. 

Midway through our drive to Beeville, I had Cindy screen shot a navigation pic to my beautiful bride to let her know where we were and that we would be arriving between 9:15AM and 9:30AM at Goodwill in Beeville.

Rolling onto the 130 HWY with a posted speed limit of 85MPH, Cindy laughed and said “only in Texas.” I’m not comfortable driving 85MPH although for many years I was a General Motors Certified salesperson familiar with Ride and Drives and various vehicles. 

At one XLR-V Ride and Drive in Texas, my driver amped up the speed to 120MPH. Was I comfortable at that speed? Not really. I prefer to drive 70-75MPH quite frankly because stopping distance and other factors are involved. 

Put me in an evening gown next to an XLR and I’m far more comfortable. I don’t enjoy “going real fast” in anything. I’m a safe driver because I don’t take risks. 

“Every Valero gas station restroom looks the same.” Cindy has become a public restroom connoisseur. It’s rare to “wow us” with an exceptionally clean rest area or public bathroom but, it has happened. The rest area near Huntsville, Texas is sparkling clean but, also has a rooster chasing you around. Once again, only in Texas! Cindy and I always laugh about the Huntsville rest area.

Rolling into Beeville, Leigh Ann calls to see if “we’ve looked at the photos she sent to our phones?” I pull over and take a quick look. It’s 9:03AM and I’m two minutes from Goodwill and our meeting point. 

The bride (a traditional client) wasn’t comfortable about wearing a tiara. I talked her into it. Her mother however, loved the idea! I have amassed an inventory specifically to loan clients for photo shoots. Why? So they don’t have to buy items they will only use once. I know, it’s different but, I’m different. I care remember? 

“Creating an inventory to LOAN CLIENTS AT YOUR OWN EXPENSE? ARE YOU CRAZY?” No, I’m not crazy but I am committed to “changing the wedding and events industry one client or barter at a time from Fort Worth, Texas.” The smile on the bride “wearing her very first tiara” thrilled me.I buy tiaras from many countries in numerous colors. I also either create my own bouquets or buy them. My rolling photo booth can also feature clothing from one of my 6 closets, boas, mink coats, jewelry, and more. 

Unloading one of our suvs while a surprised and delighted client sees everything we’ve brought to make their photo shoot special is a sight to behold. 

My McConnell bride jumped into my SUV and together we drove to the Unit. Every TDCJ Client is nervous at a Prison Wedding. 

Whether I’m in Texas or another state officiating a Prison Wedding, I’ve yet to meet a client who wasn’t a bit apprehensive. Why? Because no one “plans” to marry inside a Prison.

In August, Texas Twins Events Prison Weddings will be expanding into California. My niece, Leigh Ann will handle California Prison Weddings as well as photography and traditional bookings. Cindy and I will continue to address Destination Events and occasionally, if needed, I will continue to handle a few California Prison Wedding bookings myself. Yes, I’ve officiated numerous “high profile” Prison Weddings and many of these particular clients only want me to handle their Prison Wedding Planning Process and subsequent ceremony. 

Before anyone starts panicking that I won’t be performing California Prison Weddings or Destination Bookings with Cindy, calm down kids, I’m still going to book in California but, we need someone living in California and that someone is Leigh Ann. My niece enjoys working with all types of clients and is looking forward to her move.  Leigh Ann will be based out of Oxnard, California. My niece is also a Notary, experienced photographer and TDCJ Officiant and enjoys creating memorable ceremonies and moments with clients. 

I personally trained Leigh Ann and know she will thrill you with her stellar work ethics. When needed, Leigh Ann will fly back and forth to Fort Worth for Client photography bookings in Texas. Leigh Ann is always the “first choice for photography” bookings although my son and his wife also do their own photography and Officiant packages. Cindy and I will continue to do our own photos with TDCJ Clients and are buying new equipment to begin offering professional photography with either Cindy or myself handling your photos at traditional bookings. Leigh Ann is training my twin and I about professional photography before leaving for California. 

My McConnell groom had written his own vows. I love creative input. It makes the Wedding Ceremony far more personal and unique.Visiting with the Chaplain and guards in the visitation area while my clients had a few moments for a visit after the wedding ceremony, I was thrilled to learn that one of the guards was from Fort Worth and familiar with TCGPWA and the parade. 

Every year, Texas Twins Events and my Team look forward to being sponsors of the parade and seeing all of our friends in the LBGT Community. Leaving the Unit, I check in with Cindy and head back to Goodwill. As usual, Cindy has a shopping cart full of treasures. I rarely list new items at Texas Twins Events “in season” because I simply don’t have the time. 

Instead, during the winter months, Cindy and I walk our storage units and pull silk flowers to create new bouquets and pick or choose items to either send out to refurbish or list as is.

Unloading my SUV, my bride and her new sister in law are thrilled with the wide array of options I had left packed in my main SUV from the Saturday wedding. 

Everyone loves my tiaras. I have several more coming that are currently in customs and ladies, ya all are going to love them! Leaving the photo shoot, I check in with my husband regarding the “Stinky Skunk Development.” For weeks now, Matthew has been trying to remove the smell of skunk from his Springtown, Texas development. I’ve bounced ideas while he has sent crews to tear out walls, the bathtub and even hired someone to leave ozone machines. So far, every effort has failed.

Cindy googles for a solution that we haven’t tried yet. I order something on Amazon wondering whether it will work or not? The amount of money spent on trying to solve this “stinky problem” would shock you. 

Although I had suggested not replacing the tub, yesterday my husband had to tub pulled and ordered a new one. The skunk had somehow gotten under the tub and died but not before spraying a wide area in the master bath. 

My husband is depressed trying to find a solution for the “Stinky Springtown Skunk” issue. After all, in fifty years this is a situation that he has never encountered yet. 

Matthew will be relieved when we finally close out the Springtown Development and effectively say goodbye to the skunk problem. It will be a “two-fer.” 

Being a builder and developer isn’t an “easy job” but, my husband has far more patience than I do. Matthew can effectively “draw a development on a cocktail napkin.” He sees possibility in a field. I see a field. 

My husband tries to explain why “keeping those trees and leaving nature is the best way to develop land” while I prefer to stay safely in the SUV while he walks the land. I worry about poison ivy while my husband puts on hiking boots. I’m not really a “nature walking type of person.” 

In fact, I didn’t even own a pair of sneakers until after marrying my husband. We were in Austin, Texas “walking” a possible development. I was wearing Stuart Weitzman high heeled sandals. I will never forget trying to navigate my way while stylishly attired through a forest and my husband probably won’t either. 

My husband had laughingly asked “are you going to walk this property in THOSE SHOES? Listen, I know you’ve been a model and commercial actress most of your life but, in the real estate world we aren’t on camera and you need to buy jeans and sneakers.” 

Offended, I had responded “why would I spend good money on ugly clothing and accessories?!” Years later, I have jeans and sneakers. True story. Could the Amazon order of Natures Miracle solve the stinky problem? I have no idea but, it arrived last night while I was at a rehearsal with clients. 

This morning, my husband couldn’t wait to get to Springtown and “give Natures Miracle” a shot at solving the stinky problem. Warily, I predict that nothing is going to fix skunk house. Ugh.

Heading off to the courthouse this morning before meeting clients at Dallas North Tower, Parker County Jail and Tarrant County Jail, my calendar for months is intimidating to say the least. 

A day off for the Texas Twins isn’t coming any time soon but, Maryssa and Makenna are looking forward to the Easter break from school. 

This weekend will be spent on location with foster children at an Easter Egg Hunt that Cindy and I along with my Texas Twins Events Team are sponsoring. I look forward to meeting our new clients on location soon and wish you a Blessed Weekend full of family, fun and adventure.., 

Travel? I’ve Had My Share Because I’ve Been Everywhere…

This morning while dashing off to meet my gorgeous brides, my husband told me the “Stinky Skunk Scenario In Springtown” still hadn’t been solved. We’ve tried chlorine. We’ve tried Killz being painted. We’ve tried knocking down walls and replacing them. We’ve removed bathtubs. We’ve done everything at the “Stinky Skunk Development.” Not surprisingly, every idea has failed miserably. My husband’s latest idea is to put 6 ozone machines in the house. To date, the expense involved in trying to remove the smell is so far over 4K. The number continues to grow. Heavy sigh. 

Dealing with the stinky development has really upset my husband to no end. In fifty years of developing and building custom homes, my husband has never dealt with anything like this before. Only time will tell if this latest idea will work. A few months ago, our roof caved in. The insurance sent 6 Hepa machines to get the dust out of our home for the repairs to begin. I had assumed Hepa and Ozone to be the same machine. Apparently, they aren’t. 

Thanking my lucky stars that we no longer live in each development and subsequently move every two years anymore, I was anxious to make “a run for it from WorthamWorld” in order to miss morning traffic on my way to Tennessee Colony, Texas. A literal “City of Prisons.”

I know, ya all think Huntsville is the only city full of Prisons but, it isn’t. Tennessee Colony isn’t the only “other city of Prisons” either. Gatesville, Texas is “home of the female prison” city. I’m there frequently with male clients marrying females and female clients marrying female clients. 

While others were fighting the traffic to get to an office job, I was fighting traffic to get to my first prison. 

“Thank God for Toll Roads. I have no idea what I would do without them. Whether it costs me $100 a month to use the express or a thousand, they are worth every penny due to the amount of travel I do across Texas highways.”

Wendy M Wortham


TDCJ Coffield Unit is remarkably close to TDCJ Michael Unit. Convenient right? I thought so too. Close proximity Units are how and why I can “cover several Units in the same day.” Michael and Coffield are even behind the same guard gate meaning there was no need to drive out and re enter either Unit. I was cleared for both upon entry. 

My first bride, Blanca, had brought her mother and the grooms mother with her. You will hear me complain about photo quality at certain Units and wonder why? To better show you, I’m adding the photo from Coffield Unit with Blanca. 

There’s a reason I do my own photos. The reason is to give my clients an opportunity to celebrate and have clear photos of their wedding day. 

Sadly, I can’t take my own photos at Units and also, the inmate can’t leave so, Unit photos are a must have for clients whenever they are available for purchase at $3 each. I always buy at least 2. 

Blanca and I waited for a little over an hour to finally meet her fiancée who was hilarious. Seriously. He should be a stand up comedian. I’ve never laughed so hard while conducting a wedding before. Due to the wait to perform the wedding at Coffield and another wait for the photos to be printed, I left Blanca at Coffield to drive right over to Michael Unit and meet Bridget. 

Heading out of Coffield, I stopped to update both moms on what Blanca was doing and that I would meet them again after meeting Bridget at Michael Unit.

Arriving at Michael Unit, I checked in with Bridget and ran back to my SUV to grab the handwritten vows the groom had mailed me. Bridget went back to her car for quarters. 

The amount of walking I do at Prisons should have me losing weight I often think. However, a sonic corn dog and Diet Coke or other “road trip” snack items prevent me from getting skinny. Heavy sigh. 

While back at my SUV, I check in with my husband and Cindy who is busy in Weatherford with the twins, Maryssa and Makenna who were both “less than thrilled” about STAAR Testing today and tomorrow. 

The twins hate STAAR Testing but what student doesn’t? Maryssa is not nearly as driven as Makenna when it comes to stellar grades. 

In fact, Maryssa (below left) is social. Makenna (below right) has a meltdown if she doesn’t make A’s 100% of the time.

Little Madyson is loving speech therapy so much that she’s now talking in sentences which is a great leap from where she was only a few months ago. 

All three of my grandnieces are looking forward to getting ready for more adventure together this summer. Maddy loves Hurricane Harbor and the twins love not waking up at 5:30AM.  Stephaney is settling in to her new routine at home again and looking forward to finding work to keep her busy. 

Yesterday, I had a call from the Attorney General about Stephaney and how she wound up in Valdosta. I involved not only the DA but also the Sheriff’s Department and Attorney General to get Stephaney home. I’m also committed to preventing this from happening to anyone else. A poster wasn’t going to bring Stephaney home. Law enforcement did. 

It’s shocking to me that something like this “Valdosta situation” could happen to our family but, based on emails from readers, not uncommon. 

Families lose loved ones to mental illness and addiction everyday. The only difference between our family and the family members contacting me were that eventually families gave up. We didn’t. We threatened to for years.  Nearly seventeen years. It’s a very long time to deal with chaos. During that window, my twin sister developed hypertension and high blood pressure. During that nearly seventeen year window, my sister also had a heart attack. 

In the same nearly seventeen year window, I developed a lump in my breast that had to be removed and thyroid cancer in the same year. Two years later, precancerous lesions in my ovaries required a full hysterectomy. 

If you think dealing with a loved one who “has problems” won’t affect your health, you couldn’t be further from the truth. Ask me, I know. Ask Cindy. Stress can and does kill people. It hasn’t killed us but it’s because we are fighters. We smile to hide our pain. Cindy and I are resilient.Perhaps my twin sister and I were unwilling to give up on Steph? I don’t know but, I do know that trying to “fix Stephaney” has taken nearly 17 years of our life so far and when you invest that much time in something, it’s harder to walk away. Ask me, I know. 

For most of my life, I’ve never turned down an opportunity to travel. As a teen, I traveled Texas for Whataburger Commercials with Mel Tillis. 

Later, I went into print and commercial modeling. I never said no to an opportunity to see a new place. I loved adventure and being paid to travel made my life far more fun. I don’t mind living out of a suitcase and never have. I relish the adventure! 

I was a frequent flyer for the the better part of my life. At 9 years old, my son was also a frequent flyer. We traveled so much that the Admirals Club was as familiar as our own living room. 

I believe part of the reason I found a trip to Georgia appealing was that it would give Stephaney a chance to explore and get out of Texas. I didn’t see danger. I’ve never seen danger and I’ve traveled out of the country to Europe and Mexico with only a few hiccups in Mexico mainly due to driving the pink Jeep identifying myself as a tourist. 

I don’t drive Las Brisas Jeeps anymore and discourage anyone else from doing so either. 

However, having cash on hand to the people pulling us over claiming to be police officers in Acapulco was a great way to get yourself out of a sticky situation. 

While Cindy panicked, a couple fifty dollar bills got us back on the road “high tailing it” right back to our luxury resort and taxi cabs. Leave the driving to someone else abroad. It’s safer. 

Bridget was beautiful, bubbly and hilarious. I had so much fun with her that it was as if we had known each other all of our lives. 

Walking in to the Visitation Area, Bridget told me about how she had know Pip from years and years ago. In fact, they had met in school. Bridget hadn’t seen him in thirty years. 

I’m always fascinated by the back story because every client has one. These TDCJ Clients are warriors. How so? Because for one, I’m not sure if I went to Prison my husband would still be around and two, they make daily sacrifices to make their relationship work. Hence the term “warrior.” 

Today, I told my Coffield groom “you are lucky. She has been driving for hours and your mom as well as her mom came with her today.” He said “lucky? How so?” I said “you are lucky to have someone who loves you enough to sacrifice for expensive phone calls and long drives. You are lucky because you have someone who is resilient and has perseverance. There are people on the outside that cannot find anyone to commit to and they aren’t even in prison. Count your blessings and thank this woman because she went through a lot to stand before you here today.” Not surprisingly, he did. I’m honest. I’m blunt and I tell it like it is. 

Handing Pip his handwritten vows while he looked at his blushing bride, knowing they hadn’t seen each other in thirty years was a fascinating back story for me. I don’t even remember who I went to school with thirty years ago. 

I kept the handwritten vows to send to Bridget with her bridal photos as a wedding gift. I’m corny like that. Here are Bridget and Pip happily married at Michael Unit.Leaving Michael Unit with Bridget behind me, I called Blanca and met her at the Tennessee General Store. I had over 300 emails since last night and ignored them all. When I’m with a client, the best way to reach me is text or phone call. Sorry but, get in line. 

Blanca and her new mother in law and mother drove across the street to the Tennessee Colony Church for photos. Bridget met us there too. 

I had packed my usual array of fun stuff for photos and had a great time with both of my new brides. Bridget waited for me to get several fun shots with Blanca and her family before they headed back home. While going through my items, Makenna (one of the twins) sent a text. “MiMi, I think I really did great on my STAAR Test today.” 

I quickly told Bridget “it’s one of the twins, I need to answer her.” Bridget like all of my clients realize that my family and especially my grandnieces or twin sister are a part of my life and waited for me to not only answer Makenna but also take a call from one of my 7 Beto Brides regarding printing her Twogether In Texas Certificate. 

Thank you Bridget. You are an angel and I really appreciate your patience. Here’s my favorite photos from your photo shoot today. As soon as I can find time, we are going to go have that drink! Bridget had to get back to The Colony to take her daughter to work or I would’ve loved to grab a quick bite before heading back to Fort Worth. I decided to head to The Colony instead and check it out. 

But, time wasn’t on my side with a phone ringing off the hook in my SUV and a husband who still hadn’t solved the skunk infestation at his Springtown development. I’m suggesting baking soda and hydrogen peroxide next. Jeez, I will be relieved when this skunk situation resolves itself.

The Colony is actually near the airport and I’ve been by many times. I recognized The Dallas Market where I had modeled for years for so many different designers that I can’t even recall all of them. 

No, I don’t miss “those days.” Twenty to forty pound bags of shoes while pulling 1-4 racks of clothes in one day? I’m good. In fact, I was thrilled to drive by the Dallas Market to such an extent today that I sped up while doing so. 

No more being a hangar for me ya all! Those days are gone forever with half naked models being mean to each other and designers screaming “on the track and out of the racks.” 

I won’t miss any of the years I spent in dressing rooms and on catwalks. There isn’t any real glamour as you starve yourself to be the perfect sample size and are fighting the headaches your hungry stomach gives you. I did my time and I still own many amazing couture clothes that were never “given to me” as many believe. Nothing is free. I worked in exchange for nice clothing. I also bought and brought my own shoes. There is no free lunch. I used my designer clothing to obtain high end sales positions. You must look the part and I did. 

If you ever try to sell anything without having pride in your appearance, you will fail. I didn’t. I prepared. I created an amazing wardrobe by working very hard to get it for many years. No one buying from me ever knew this. They assumed that I was rich because I looked the part. From crocodile boots to fur coats and $2k silk suits, when you walked in to buy anything, you bought it from me. Not the wrinkled shirt wearing half bored salesman beside me. It’s the truth. I couldn’t afford beautiful clothes so I became a model and worked for beautiful clothes instead. Yep, I’m a pioneer. 

Driving to The Colony in the event Bridget had time to meet me, I pulled over to Texas Roadhouse for an appetizer and glass of wine and sent a text to Bridget. Moments later, I would realize they don’t open until 4PM during the week? On a busy access road? Surely they must be losing business? I will have to catch up with Bridget soon as she is equally busy too and a celebratory drink just wasn’t in the cards for either of us today. 

I’ve had a few questions about “action shots” on location. Leigh Ann loves getting action shots. She’s the only person on my team who is good at it. 

The photo of the groom jumping was also taken by Leigh Ann. I cannot do “action photography” very well I’m afraid. Here’s the pic.

“Why do you wear suits to Prisons and Vestments to other events?” Because vestments are “flowy.” I wear suits because wearing a poncho styled garment into a Unit wouldn’t be practical or within the dress code guidelines.

Thr Administrative Directive pertaining to the visitation dress code is specific about attire and especially oversized attire. Why? An open or flowing garment can hide many things that’s why. 

My Vestments are imported from Europe. Traditional Clients love choosing from a wide array of my many closets full of Vestments and suits. Last week, my TDCJ Holliday Unit bride was “shook down” due to her dress. Like a Vestment, it was flowy. Really oversized. I knew when she approached me that a shake down was coming and fully expected it. 

The Warden advised me of a “shake.” Knowing why a strip search would be warranted, I offered to join my client for a “strip down.” 

I’m adding the photos below to show you why I expected a strip search upon meeting my client in Huntsville. I.E. never question a Warden. I don’t and my clients don’t either. 

If you are asked to strip- do it it’s not a request. Quite the contrary, it’s a demand required to enter the Unit. 

The other “alternative” is to wear a cafeteria smock backwards. Effectively this “walk of shame” is the LAST RESORT for female clients so, I suggest being complacent and going along with the shake instead. 

Clothing is solely at the discretion of the Unit. The AD outlines attire but the Unit has the final call on what’s appropriate and what isn’t. Flowing or oversized clothing is prohibited. Generally, all clients send me photos of what they plan to wear. The TDCJ Holliday client (above) didn’t. 

“What percentage of your clients are LBGT” Well, off the top of my head and while being confused as to why this question is asked so frequently, the answer is 30-40% and that applies across the board. 

What this means is whether a client booked through Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners, TDCJ Officiant or even bought from Texas Twins Treasures, a large percentage of all of my clients are LBGT.

“What percentage of your clients are rednecks or hillbillies?” Well, this question wouldn’t even be being asked if a few people hadn’t seen my shotgun/Camo themed attire. Seriously, it wouldn’t. 

It’s actually not that unusual for clients to ask me to dress a certain way or “in theme.” I can’t count the number of times someone has asked me to dress as Elvis. 

But, the answer is less than 5% of our bookings are Pawning Planners Clients.  “Why are all of your clients so different?” Different to whom? Pawning Planners Clients have little or no money so they barter their event services. Texas Twins Events Clients are booking by paying. 

Venues I’m on staff at keep a percentage of my fee. Often the percentage is more than 50% but, worth it to me because the venue is a non profit and I believe enough in the non profit to forfeit a large percentage of my fee. 

I don’t HAVE to work. I choose to work. I enjoy working. TDCJ Clients are an extension of Texas Twins Events. I rebranded and expanded Texas Twins Events to include TDCJ Weddings. 

The answer to these “percentage questions”  is that we help ALL people from ALL backgrounds. From rich to poor and everywhere in between, no two clients are alike. 

The variety of our client bases raise eyebrows. We don’t care. Our clients don’t care either. Opinions of others will never have an impact on our client bases. 

In fact, I turn down at least 15-25 new requests for services each and every month all year long or move them to another date down the road. You can either choose someone else on my staff or find someone else to help you. There is only one of me. 

It’s not uncommon for clients to be so determined to book with us that THEY CHANGE THEIR EVENT DATE TO ACCOMMODATE MY SCHEDULE. 

I have never advertised and I’ve never needed to. I went into the event business to exceed expectations and based all of our fees on people over profit. I don’t have to work and can therefore “write my own ticket.” 

I don’t take every job because I don’t want to and also because the last thing I would ever do is spread myself too thin for my booked clients who are and always will be my first priority. I’m particular. I only work as a planner by referral. Period. Planning takes months of my time. MONTHS that can be spent addressing numerous other clients. 

Planning is a time consuming task. It’s not and never will be my first choice. I’ve been a planner for years and I’m excellent at it but, I can do 30-70 weddings in the time I spend “planning one.” Shocking right? It’s true. 

Cindy and I work together as twin event planners. Large events need a minimum of both of us. We enjoy working together. In fact, we are happiest when we are together.

Smaller events can get away with one planner but, we often work as a team to ensure that we are over staffed rather than under staffed. “I heard you on the radio and you’re a little salty regarding language now and then.” Hmm, well, I prefer to be real and honest than fake and dishonest. I grew up on Vandenburg AFB. My first word was most likely “salty.” 

Many of family members are active or retired military. I don’t apologize for a little “salty” language now and then. I work hard and I’m driven. I also am a very passionate person. Being “salty” gets my point across. No one expects it but, I’m frank. If I’m speaking salty to you, I’m probably annoyed or irritated to begin with or I’m so comfortable with you, I effectively let it all hang out. In general it’s one of the two aforementioned scenarios that my saltiness will “shine through.” Hopefully, it’s because in comfortable around you. 

If I use expletives now and then, don’t be offended by my doing so. I tell it like it is and occasionally, my family life isn’t always pretty. I’d rather say something than hold it inside. But, that’s just me. 

“Are you a Christian?” Yes. Absolutely. I was raised to praise numerous different religions. I’m a minister and not only believe in God but also in the power of prayer. My husband is also deeply religious. My entire family believe not only in God but more importantly in giving back. 

My faith has been tested throughout my lifetime but, my faith has held true through the good and the bad through the difficult and the easy.

I listen to a lot of old Gospel music as well as country, swamp music, classic rock and even classical music. Often, it’s Johnny Cash who will sing a line that perfectly sums up the way I’ve felt at one time or another in my lifetime. Cindy and I saw Johnny perform at a California prison at a very young age and it’s something that I will always remember vividly. 

When he walked out on that stage and said “hello, I’m Johnny Cash,” it was the simplest and yet the most powerful statement I had heard anyone make. As a child, I knew every lyric to the songs he sang with a touch of bitterness one minute that easily transformed to love, hope and promise in the next song. My go to music is Johnny Cash more often than not when driving to a Texas Prison. 

“If I gave you time to change my mind, I’d try to leave all the past behind. Knowing that you lied straight-faced while I cried. Still I look to find a reason to believe.”

Johnny Cash 

Throughout my lifetime, I’ve lost my faith on more than one occasion. My mother was a heroin addict. My grandfather was a child molester. My first husband beat me and my second husband was unfaithful. 

The best way out of a difficulty is through it.” – Will Rogers – 


At this stage of my life though, I’ve learned that God was never punishing me. Instead, God was preparing me. I would need faith and resilience. I would need strength and wisdom in my life. My hardships would teach me compassion and empathy. 

“Listen to the words written down when the man comes around. Whoever is unjust let him be unjust still. Whoever is righteous let him be righteous still. Whoever is filthy let him be filthy still.”

Johnny Cash

I live and work by a very high set of moral standards. My family does too. There are no grey areas with me. It’s cut and dry. Black or white. My clients are the family I wasn’t born with. They are all like my children. 

Long after a Clients event service, these former clients also become our friends. Their loyalty is also why I’ve never needed to advertise any of my businesses. Don’t be surprised, we earned our stellar reputation the hard way. 

Cindy would say “close the tent- there are far too many clowns in here again.” I don’t. I can’t control the clowns. 

I try to control the chaos but at the end of the day, my life is a unique combination of both my family and my business… 

The clowns of course are my family. Cindy doesn’t point that out because our readers already realize this… 

Taken. You Hear The Stories But, You Never Expect To Be Involved In One Of  “Those Stories”..

Last Saturday, my twin sister and I said goodbye to my niece Stephaney as her journey to Valdosta, Georgia began. Stephaney was excited and looking forward to spending a few months on a beautiful ranch with horses, rolling meadows and atv’s. 

Cindy and I felt surely the change of scenery in Georgia would be good for my niece. Our entire family were “on board” with this decision for Stephaney to give Georgia a try but, within days we would greatly regret sending Stephaney to Georgia.

My niece is 31 years old. She is beautiful and she is Bipolar One. Stephaney also struggles with meth addiction and self medication. For 16 years, my twin sister and I have tried to “save Stephaney.” 

It would be while trying to save Stephaney (yet again) that would put my family far too close to losing Stephaney to “the wrong person.” A person who wanted her solely to benefit financially from having her. 

I’m including a photo of my niece because being pretty was an asset to Jane Doe. The person who tricked my family into sending Stephaney to Valdosta, Georgia.

After putting Stephaney on the second bus bus to Valdosta last Saturday, (I will explain the first bus fiasco momentarily), Cindy and I walked back to my SUV after saying goodbye to Stephaney while double checking she had plenty of money and two suitcases with everything she might need at the Dallas Greyhound Terminal.

I remember watching my niece get settled into the bus and praying for a safe journey. Cindy and I walked back to one of our black suvs and finally felt that “worrying about Stephaney” was something that we could stop doing on an hourly, daily, and weekly occurrence for the first time in 19 months  as we waved goodbye to her on the bus. Or so we thought. 

Cindy and I left Dallas to drive straight to Eastland, Texas to meet our Saturday client and begin a jam packed weekend of 6 events for my main company, Texas Twins Events. There wasn’t time to grab a bite as we began a long day after several days of staying at a hotel with Stephaney waiting on the second bus that would eventually take her right into the greedy arms of Jane Doe. The person we believed had a beautiful sprawling ranch and who also helped people with mental illness and addiction problems. The person who had convinced our family of what an “angel” she was. Umm hmm. Jane Doe was nothing if not elaborate regarding convincing our family to send Stephaney to Georgia. 

“Traditional bookings” occupy my nights and evenings year round but, during wedding season, the combination of Monday through Friday inmate wedding services at Prisons and Jail combined with my “traditional” weekend and evening bookings gives me no spare time at all. 

Cindy and I could finally put all of our tears, anger and frustration regarding “fixing Stephaney” far behind us as we headed to Eastland or so we thought. 

The Texas Twins were about to embark on a journey so surprising and shocking while we continued to juggle our TDCJ Clients, Texas Twins Events Clients and our lives that the details of losing Stephaney will enlighten and astound you. We would effectively be “balancing a juggling act of looking normal for clients” while dealing with trying to save Stephaney by Monday when her bus finally arrived in Valdosta.

I “fell” for the “trap that I was led straight into.” Jane Doe should have used her talents for the entertainment industry because she would have made one helluva actress. Her fluid flare for dishonesty would be unmatched by anyone that I have ever encountered. 

Cindy and I were “easy targets” for Jane Doe though due mainly to our transparent nature. We have always been honest about our lives and our journey. It isn’t an easy path but life doesn’t have an “easy button.” Dealing with Stephaney had literally worn my twin sister and I both to the bone. 

Looking normal for clients and our existing family would be the hardest thing we’ve managed to do in years but, we did. My husband had other issues at a development while Cindy’s husband was dealing with issues at Cindy’s home. 

Cindy and I have never hid the fact that Stephaney and her choices have created a carnival of chaos for us both. 

At 15, Cindy and I were homeless and eating out of trash cans. It’s important you know this. We had nothing at one time in our lives and worked to becoming something. 

Because of our history, Cindy and I also knew that desperate people either take the right path in life or they don’t. Jane Doe had NOTHING. We wouldn’t know this though until it was too late. Jane Doe also chose the wrong path in life. Jane Doe was an opportunist. A parasite. A person who looks for “opportunities” regardless of who is hurt. 

Jane Doe is the most devious person that I have ever encountered or may ever encounter in this lifetime. She wanted Stephaney and like idiots, we had delivered her. 

For people who have nothing, everything is worth something. A half eaten sandwich in a trash can years ago was worth something to two homeless and starving teens. We felt lucky and blessed to find that half eaten sandwich without mayonnaise. Why? We had learned not to eat anything from a trash can with mayonnaise because we would get sick. 

Without understanding our own background and struggles, you will never know why Jane Doe wanted Stephaney so badly. Luckily, one day, the police found Cindy and I digging through the trash and saved us by taking us to Women’s Haven. We were truly blessed on that day and finally off the street. 

Jane Doe would create and fabricate a false life and false reasons to get Stephaney to Valdosta. Jane Doe had nothing but, Jane Doe took the wrong path. Jane Doe chose two fighters. We would fight back after learning the actual details too. 

Most everyone is aware that Cindy and I have had more than our share of heartache with Stephaney. While other thirty one year olds are taking their parents to dinner, my thirty one year old niece was dragging my twin sister and I through one emotionally traumatizing escapade right into the next. From jail to Psych Wards and everywhere in between, any degree of predictable behavior effectively flew out the window when Stephaney relapsed. 

A few months ago, Jane Doe “reached out” to help Cindy and I with Stephaney by offering a change of scenery. This invitation was what I had thought at the time, a literal Godsend. But, Jane Doe had other reasons for wanting to “help us with Stephaney.” At the time Jane Doe contacted me, Stephaney was back in a mental institution again. We’ve had nearly two years of the Merry Go Round that Stephaney’s addiction and mental illness have brought into our lives now. Jane Doe was about to use her knowledge to an advantage regarding my niece. 

The phone calls and messages between Jane Doe and I went on right until yesterday. It would be the last time I would ever correspond with her again. It would also be the last time I would trust someone without checking their “story” and “background” out myself too. 

Jane Doe was the “Devil In Disguise.” She’s where she won’t be able to hurt anyone anymore and she belongs there. Jane Doe should have tried to earn an honest living. 

Had I gone to Valdosta, Georgia myself and seen in where I was really sending my niece, I can promise you that Stephaney would never have left Texas. 

But, Jane Doe was smart enough to know that Cindy and I work seven days a week and that Cindy is the custodial parent of Stephaney’s twin daughters, Maryssa and Makenna who are both currently enrolled in public school. I couldn’t fly to Georgia due to my schedule. Cindy couldn’t fly to Georgia due to her responsibilities. 

Cindy, Stephaney and I were “the perfect marks.” Jane Doe chose my family because we were also effectively “easy targets.” 

“I’m a fantastic actress. My sister is too. The majority of our clients have no idea that we can effectively forget the chaos in our lives in order to focus on the client standing in front of us. My role demands that I turn my back on the choir to focus on the congregation.”

Wendy M Wortham

The “choir” is and always will be my family. Throughout my life, I’ve shifted focus when working directly to my clients. The “peanut gallery” of my life regarding my family is behind me rather than in front of me intentionally. What you are about to read will surprise you just as much as it hurts me. Shifting the focus from my family to my work put me at a disadvantage. 

Trusting the “wrong person” also put my niece, Stephaney in a very dangerous position. Jane Doe knew my habits, my schedule and my thought process. Jane Doe had followed my posts and blogs for years. Jane Doe had researched me. 

Jane Doe had also claimed that she wanted to “help Stephaney” by inviting her to Georgia and she expertly “soothed every fear or concern” we had with the talented cunning of an incredibly smooth con artist. How so? Jane Doe was fully aware that Cindy and I were at our wits end after 19 months of trying to get Stephaney on track. We had effectively tried everything humanly possible and we had failed over and over again. 

The fear of losing my niece yet again and one day having to bury her if Cindy and I couldn’t “fix Stephaney” were the sole reason that I even entertained a “change of scenery.” 

Maybe Jane Doe had been hoodwinking her way through most of her life by taking advantage of others? I don’t know but, I know this, Jane Doe had plenty of time to execute a plan to get my niece several states away. I should add that isolation was part of “the plan.” 

Jane Doe was in deep country miles away from the nearest store. At the time she initially contacted me, the distance from “town” wasn’t an issue as Jane also claimed to have transportation to “take Stephaney to MHMR on Tuesday after she got settled in.” Jane Doe had also convinced JPS that getting Stephaney a counselor immediately wouldn’t be an “issue.” 

Jane Doe knew Stephaney wasn’t on Social Security Disability due to mental illness. How? She asked me. I told her we would send money every Friday and that Stephaney would find a job within days. Stephaney enjoys working. She always has. 

There’s a reason Stephaney isn’t on SS Disability. Stephaney wants to work. It was an odd question but, Jane Doe had her reasons and they were entirely based on the amount of money Stephaney could generate right into her hands. The fact that Cindy and I would also be sending money to Jane Doe while she sneakily attempted to  sign Stephaney up for food stamps and SS wouldn’t “surface” for 24 hours after Stephaney arrived in Valdosta. 

We had no idea how or why Jane Doe would become so upset at setbacks getting Stephaney to Georgia. Who would? What was the hurry? But, Jane Doe had nothing. No food, no water, no electricity, no job, no car, nothing. Jane Doe was great at fabricating the life she would never have. Jane Doe was also planning to use my niece to obtain the financial freedom she was unwilling to earn the hard way. 

After 16 years of dealing with the unpredictable and often chaotic behavior of my niece, Cindy also took the time to take photos of Stephaney’s medication and the location for MHMR in Valdosta. 

Our entire family had believed my niece was going to a “luxurious ranch.” Jane Doe is a convincing liar and manipulator. 

We document everything. Cindy and I always have with Stephaney. She loses her medicine, her cell phone, her clothes, her ID and everything else all of the time. 

Cindy and I have spent thousands over and over again replacing all of the items Stephaney loses for years. Stephaney’s medication is incredibly expensive. She has no health insurance. 

Jane Doe made several promissory statements to JPS regarding Stephaney’s release that would later literally “uphold everything” I would be forced to explain to both the DA and AG. I never say anything I cannot prove. 

Cindy and I effectively had a paper trail. Jane Doe never anticipated that Cindy and I both would document everything about this “wonderful and relaxing excursion to Georgia” but, we did. 

Alleging someone is being held against their will is a serious crime. Before you even consider making such a statement to law enforcement, be certain of the facts. I was. 

Cindy also included in those faxes to the DA and AG numerous screenshot messages and unkept promises from Jane Doe. 

Cindy and I could easily prove my niece was released from JPS Trinity Pavillion to the care of Jane Doe and when Jane Doe would have Stephaney with her rather than us. Within days of leaving Texas on a Greyhound bus, my niece would effectively be fighting for her life in Georgia. 

Within days, I would be fighting to get my niece out of the filth Jane Doe lived in. But, I would get my niece back and while doing so, I would also hold Jane Doe accountable. 

While I was saving Stephaney, I would also save Jane Doe’s children from her too. 

Those children had been through numerous CPS investigations. I would open another investigation myself within 48 hours of my niece arriving in Valdosta. Hearing and understanding why I contacted CPS will shock you. 

Jane Doe was abusive to not only her own children but also the most negligent parent I’ve encountered aside from my own mother who also starved and later sold her four children for $50 each to go buy heroin. I’m not “unfamiliar” with negligent parents. In fact, I’m more than “familiar” with them. 

Stephaney’s counselors have always regularly “checked in” with Cindy or I as to where Stephaney was and whether she was taking her medication. Like her mother and I, the counselor also believed “a change of scenery would be beneficial to Stephaney’s recovery.” We were all terribly wrong. Not one of us but all of us including Stephaney. 

Jane Doe had convinced JPS that “Stephaney would be in good hands.” Jane Doe NEVER took Stephaney to MHMR on Tuesday. Why? Because my niece wasn’t ever going to be allowed to leave once she had arrived. Jane Doe wanted Stephaney for financial gain alone. 

Jane Doe was so convincing about her beautiful home and idea about a change of scenery that even the psychologists treating my niece didn’t question her. Stephaney’s medications are nearly $1k. 

On March 26 @ 10AM, Cindy picked up Stephaney while I was headed to TDCJ Michael Unit with my son. Cindy would buy Stephaney whatever she needed for her trip to Valdosta the following morning. Together, Cindy and I would take Stephaney to Greyhound in Fort Worth. Stephaney was excited about her trip. She loves nature and horses and was looking forward to “getting back to nature.” 

There would be setbacks getting Stephaney to Georgia as Jane Doe rubbed her hands together waiting on Stephaney to leave Texas. 

Stephaney was nervous about leaving her family behind. We all were. We hoped for a positive 2-3 month visit but, after four days with Jane Doe, my niece would never be the same again. 

It would take great lengths to save my niece but, I did. Cindy and I went to any and all means necessary to get Stephaney back. We were lucky Stephaney wasn’t moved. Had she been, we may never have seen her again after sending her to Jane Doe. 

Stephaney was called “my human” by Jane Doe. I wouldn’t know this until after she had arrived in Valdosta. The first time I heard this term, I was furious. But, Jane Doe had Stephaney. Cindy took the above photos to specifically remind Stephaney daily to take her medication and when to take it. Cindy has also paid over and over to purchase cell phones for Stephaney. 

My twin sister and I have spent so much money on treatment for Stephaney the last 16 years that we could both buy two houses. We don’t give up easily. We never have. 

Cindy had bought yet another cell phone for Stephaney on March 26th while I was in Tennessee Colony at Michael Unit the day before our first fiasco of trying to get Stephaney on the original bus to Valdosta. Read on. 

On Monday April 1st (ironically April Fool’s Day) at approximately 10:37AM after months of being “groomed” by Jane Doe into sending Stephaney to Valdosta, a call from “Jane Doe” came in. “Stephaney has arrived. I’m so excited. She’s really going to love it here.” 

Because Jane Doe had called me while Stephaney was midway through her trip about conveniently “having a car accident,” I asked “who was driving?” This is important as Jane Doe wasn’t even at Greyhound in Valdosta. Her cousin was. My niece was getting off a bus to meet someone she had never even spoken to. Someone my niece was completely unfamiliar with. A cousin that knew my niece had “just left a mental facility.” A cousin that also knew “the crazy girl has a rich family in Texas.” 

Jane Doe had told her entire family about Stephaney. Jane Doe’s cousin told my niece who thought she was going to a luxurious ranch that Jane Doe was also a prostitute. This would be Stephaney’s first glimpse into the reality she was heading into. 

Why didn’t Stephaney return to Greyhound and call us? Because her mother and I had told Stephaney to “work it out in Georgia. Prove yourself. Show your family that you are ready to get your life on track.” 

I can only imagine what Stephaney was thinking as the cousin drove her further and further into the woods. It’s horrifying to comprehend. Headed to a prostitute? A pretty girl who thought she was going to a wonderful ranch? 

For hours I wondered why my niece wasn’t calling but had another call coming in each time I planned to call and check on her. 

Within minutes of Stephaney’s arrival at Jane Doe’s “residence,” the words “make this work” from my sister and I would ring in Stephaneys ears over and over again. She knew she was far from help or even a neighbor. Jane Doe had taken Stephaney’s money, toiletries and more importantly, her state issued ID and SS Card as well as her cell phone. Stephaney was stuck. 

My niece would later admit that she was also panicking. After Jane Doe had removed any and all of Stephaney’s personal belongings that Cindy and I had carefully packed into two suitcases, Jane then bartered them to her accomplices AKA her relatives. Jane Doe was like a buzzard. She took her time attacking her prey. 

Walking into a filthy home with no food or running water, Stephaney would later describe slipping in dog feces on the floor. The filth covered one end of the trailer to the other. This wasn’t a luxury ranch. There never was a “luxury ranch” for patients with mental illness to “get back to nature.” Jane Doe was no longer the happy and festive person we had come to know either. She was mean to her children and my niece. The older children said menacing things to my niece. Where had they heard such threats? Their mother, Jane Doe who also didn’t send those children to school. 

Jane Doe told my niece “you are mine now. I own you.” Jane Doe had children living in the filth without food, water or electricity. The filthiest environment my niece had ever encountered in her life. One of Jane Doe’s older children threatened to cut off Stephaney’s toes if she tried to leave. 

Going through my workday on April 1st, I continued answering incoming calls while headed to Jacksboro, Texas to begin my day of county jail Weddings. I was hoping Stephaney was getting settled into her room facing a beautiful lake. With a stunning veranda surrounded by pine trees. Jane Doe really went all out with her description. As far from reality as you can imagine in fact. I waited for a call from my niece. 

It would be Cindy that Jane Doe would have Stephaney call rather than me Monday evening some 10 hours after arriving in Valdosta and I’m certain trying to understand how she was going to leave or escape what a situation that must have been more than a little traumatic for Stephaney while Jane Doe ordered her to “call and get Wendy or Cindy or both of them to send me more money. Tell them I need $450 to turn on the electricity.” 

Hours after arriving at a Hell Hole, my niece was now being “put up” to calling her mother to send several hundred dollars? Yes. What would happen if we refused? Now you are catching on. Jane Doe HAD Stephaney. Her mother and I were no longer in control. 

Not having to worry about Stephaney and knowing she would be in good hands at a “beautiful ranch” was (I thought) a luxury for our entire family. In my mind I thought “Stephaney isn’t calling because she’s having so much fun.” Omg. I cannot believe how far off I was on the truth. That phone call was our first wake up call. No electricity? But, things would get worse. 

With Stephaney’s bags ransacked, her money taken, her life at the hands of Satan, my fragile niece assumed that she would never escape. Who could blame her? 

Jane Doe wanted Stephaney because she knew once she had Stephaney that Cindy and I would do whatever we were told. Jane Doe would underestimate Cindy and I though. People often do. We came from nothing ourselves and are far more resilient and determined than most folks. 

Jane Doe had assumed that Cindy and I were stupid but, Jane Doe and her dirty plan were about to backfire between Monday and Friday. Sure we would send money but only to keep Jane Doe from hurting Stephaney until we could get her out of there. I would stop at nothing to remove Stephaney from the situation she was in solely because we trusted Jane Doe. 

I had envisioned my niece horseback riding and unpacking, my niece was actually trying to find a way out. I never have a day off. Cindy doesn’t either. We have “full plates” 24/7. When we aren’t dealing with clients, we are dealing with our own families. It’s a lot to handle. Assuming Stephaney was happily adjusting in Georgia  came to an abrupt halt that Monday hours after her arrival with a phone call for $450.

Cindy and I were about to be in for one of the most incredible encounters with someone willing to do anything to get what she wanted that we would never forget trusting the wrong person again. Experience is one helluva teacher. 

My niece doesn’t “act insane” on a daily basis and would later tell me that “everyone called me crazy and accused me of talking to myself.” Jane Doe was a bully. I wouldn’t know this from her previous phone calls, texts or emails though. 

Cindy and I would realize the depths of Jane Doe’s deception when Stephaney continued to find her hidden cell phone and attempt to call. Jane Doe would be screaming at my niece before grabbing the phone and hanging up. 

I don’t believe Jane Doe ever even had a car to be honest with you. The entire car accident claim after we had said goodbye to Stephaney in Dallas was fabricated. My niece said a broken down car was on the property but it hadn’t run in years. 

I don’t believe that taking Stephaney’s clothing, hygiene products, perfume and other was as “confusing” as Stephaney thought it was either. “Everything is worth something to people who have nothing.” Cindy says this all the time because it’s true. Jane Doe had nothing. She would take whatever she could from Stephaney because it was worth something to someone. No water? No problem. Jane Doe would trade Stephaney’s possessions for something else. Stephaney wouldn’t tell us about the water until Wednesday while Cindy and I were in Huntsville. 

Originally, Cindy and I had planned to fly Stephaney to Valdosta but, Stephaney has only been on a plane twice in her life and although we had a setback trying to get her on a bus Wednesday March 27th that resulted in my niece being taken to Dallas County Jail due to a felony warrant regarding a probation revocation in Cotton County, Texas. This was the “original setback.” Stephaney had boarded the first bus in Fort Worth to Dallas. During the layover in Dallas, an argument escalated resulting in blunt force trauma to my nieces head. The injuries went unchecked until after bonding her out of Dallas County Jail and taking her to Harris Hospital while waiting on the next bus. This time Cindy and I drove Stephaney to Dallas and waited with her in the event of yet another brawl at the Dallas Terminal. 

By the time Stephaney finally boarded the second bus in Dallas, Texas on March 30th at 8:30AM in Dallas bound for Valdosta, I was relieved to finally stop worrying about my niece. RELIEVED. Maybe we could finally get Stephaney back on track. 

Maybe this time we had a shot at being a normal family? Fresh air and sunshine. Working on the ranch and attending counseling sessions were the “plan” for Stephaney her mother and I had envisioned. 

Surviving would be the plan Stephaney was living out in Georgia. Tuesday, Stephaney did make one attempt at escaping. Tuesday, Stephaney also became lost and cut by briar bushes in the deep country. Things would unravel within hours and the following days. Realizing that she couldn’t escape or run away, Stephaney would use brief phone calls to tell her mother or I what was going on with Jane Doe in Valdosta, Georgia. 

It would take time for my niece to honestly “enlighten” Cindy and I to the extreme poverty Jane Doe lived in but, eventually Stephaney would tell us. Had she told us sooner, we would have found a way to get her out before Friday. 

By Monday evening at 6:27PM, Jane Doe had Stephaney call Cindy. “They don’t have any electricity out here. I need you to wire $450.” This was the first red flag. Cindy could hear Jane “coaching” Stephaney in the background. Angrily coaching I might add. 

While I was sleepless in Fort Worth and Cindy sleepless in Weatherford again regarding Stephaney, the curtains to this charade with Jane Doe that we had fallen into were beginning to be pulled aside to let the real show commence. Less than 24 hours after arriving, Jane Doe had Stephaney calling us for money? 

Cindy called me. I advised her that I was confused as to how anyone on a 40 acre ranch could be without electricity. Who on earth doesn’t pay their electric bill? 

Jane Doe said she knew me from years ago. I had apparently met Jane Doe years ago on location at an event for TCGPWA. I couldn’t remember her. I meet hundreds of people at events. 

Jane Doe knew a LOT about me. I knew nearly nothing about her. “Oh you remember me don’t you? I’m contacting you because I really would like an opportunity to help your niece, Stephaney. I’m in Georgia and it’s just beautiful here. A change of scenery will do her good. Ya all have tried to help Stephaney. I’ve seen your posts but, maybe it’s time to try somewhere else.”  

Jane Doe was an acquaintance. If she was anything more than an acquaintance, I would have remembered her. She wasn’t a friend or even close friend. 

These “Jane Doe” messages and phone calls would go on for weeks in fact, nearly two months. “Friendly and loving while saying all the RIGHT THINGS,” Jane Doe even called Stephaney while a patient at Trinity Springs Pavillion. 

Jane Doe spoke to Cindy and I for hours for nearly two months. Jane Doe had invested her time wisely by playing all of us for what SHE wanted. 

Jane Doe had finally convinced me, my twin sister, Stephaney and even one of Stephaney’s twin daughters, Makenna, of what a wonderful person she was who “only wanted to help our family with Stephaney” by the time Stephaney agreed to go to Georgia. 

My family was being “groomed.” We wouldn’t even know what grooming was until losing Stephaney to Jane Doe. I had never heard of “grooming” before explaining to the DA what was going on and why I needed my niece to be “extracted.” 

By then, it was far too late to change the dynamics of a trap we had stepped right into. 

Cindy had doubts. “Why would she want to move Stephaney to live with her for the summer” I had waived my sisters concerns aside. “She’s a nice person who wants to help people. Why question the kindness of someone reaching out because they care about our family and want to help?” 

I saw this “invitation” for Stephaney to explore Georgia during my busiest time of the year as a gift. I was also naive and so happy to have a few drama free months with a burdened schedule that I never really questioned the reasons Jane Doe was so anxious to get Stephaney to Georgia. 

Hell, I was more than happy to send money to Georgia if it would keep us from looking for Stephaney again and again. Cindy was too. But, we were never willing to put Stephaney in harms way.  

The original setback was when Stephaney had originally left the Fort Worth terminal headed to Dallas to layover to Georgia. Unbeknownst to me, a warrant in Cotton County regarding a probation revocation had been issued on Stephaney. 

A “scuttle” at the Dallas Greyhound Terminal was why my niece was arrested rather than taken to a hospital after being beaten by another passenger. This would be a setback of several days for Jane Doe to get her Golden Goose. Jane Doe was VERY upset about Stephaney being arrested and detained at the Dallas County Jail North Tower. I had thought Jane Doe was so upset regarding the arrest because she was actually concerned about Stephaney. It never occurred to me that Jane Doe was waiting with baited breath on her “golden goose.” 

The “setback” of Stephaney’s arrest in Dallas would have sent Stephaney straight to prison in Oklahoma. Acting quickly, Cindy and I immediately found an attorney to address Oklahoma and pay off the bonds and fines. Stephaney was excited leaving Fort Worth to Georgia and terrified at Dallas County Jail when she had called her mother and I after being arrested. We were both angry. Another setback? Another surprise? Again? But, we took care of Cotton County. We also picked up Stephaney and rented a hotel. We were exhausted. I bought another bus ticket online. The next bus didn’t leave for a few days. Jane Doe continued calling and asking “when Stephaney was leaving for Georgia?” 

Jane Doe assumed she had lost the golden egg when Stephaney was arrested. But, the “shipment” AKA my niece was delayed only for a matter of days. 

Meanwhile, Cindy and Stephaney were enjoying life. We had a few unexpected days with Stephaney to go to the movies, shopping, and even drive to Hobby Unit with one of my clients on a road trip. 

Stephaney was having a great time with her family. Stephaney’s daughter, Makenna also joined her Mom and told her “I’m proud of you. Get your life together and we can be a family again Mom.” 

Makenna was inadvertently reinforcing telling her mom to “work it out in Georgia.” We all did. We all made a mistake. We all assumed that Stephaney was going to a beautiful place with the possibility of getting her head on straight. A chance to finally get my niece back was worth whatever the cost to me. But, nothing was worth my niece being abused, starved or forced to live in filth. 

Looking back, all of the signs were there. The flags. I couldn’t see them. I was far too busy and quite frankly, exhausted. Cindy and I have spent nearly 17 years trying to find any degree of normality with Stephaney.

After a week of working while trying to get Stephaney to Valdosta after her Dallas arrest at Greyhound, Cindy and I had taken turns keeping an eye on Stephaney waiting for her to board the second bus to Georgia. 

Stephaney regularly goes off her meds and gets lost. We regularly have spent days or weeks trying to find her again. Now you know how mentally exhausting having a relative with mental illness actually is. Unless you have a loved one with mental illness and addiction issues, you will never begin to comprehend the emotional and financial devastation loving them brings to your life. I do. Cindy does. Stephaney’s children do to. 

Now you understand why I didn’t question a break from Stephaney with “clean air, rolling meadows and a safe and loving environment.” I saw a window of a few “drama free months” and I wanted to open that window. Did I see danger? Absolutely not. 

After 16 years of Stephaney, Cindy and I were thrilled to have found a solution. Stephaney enjoys working. Jane Doe told her she had talked to a Mexican restaurant that would hire her. 

Jane Doe had each and every base covered. Jane Doe had an answer for every question. A solution to every concern. 

I believe Jane Doe has done this type of scenario before. No one would be as smooth and cunning without experience. 

I had tried to call my niece by Monday at about 4PM since I hadn’t heard from her since she had arrived. Jane Doe answered Stephaney’s cell phone and said “I’m cleaning out the master bedroom for her. I want her to have the best room in the house. She’s fine. She’s enjoying the beautiful backdrop and wildlife of Georgia. I will tell her you called.” Like an idiot, I believed Jane Doe. 

By 6:34PM, Jane Doe was coaching Stephaney into demanding several hundreds dollars on the day Stephaney arrived from my twin sister?! Stephaney sounded nervous my sister had said. Something was wrong. I was getting nervous and suspicious. 

But, Cindy and I had told Stephaney “have a good time and don’t get into any trouble out there. Please make this holiday work.” It was an actual problem. We wish we had never said this. 

We’ve had so many setbacks with Stephaney that what we meant to say was “not to go off her meds or get involuntarily committed again.”

It would take another 24-36 hours for my niece to tell us what she had been duped into. 

Cindy and I decided to wire money Tuesday from Huntsville. We were both concerned. This is highly irregular as we had told Jane Doe we would send money on Fridays. Also, we had sent Stephaney with money to Valdosta. Where was THAT money?” How was it that Jane Doe claimed to have a home in Fort Worth and a ranch Georgia and yet had no electricity??

9:31AM Tuesday morning, Cindy and I headed to Huntsville, Texas. My husband was having his own issues. My husband is a developer and custom home builder. 

For fifty years now, my husband has pretty much “seen it all” in the homebuilding business but, he had never encountered a skunk problem. I’m going to refer to this incident as the “Stinky Springtown Skunk Debacle.” 

Apparently, the skunk had died while the house was being built. Using infrared cameras while tearing into Sheetrock, the skunk was found and removed. The new custom home was repaired and an ozone machine was left in it to remove the smell last week. But, the issue wasn’t solved. Stay tuned. 

My husband was agitated about an issue he had never encountered and would be forced to educate himself about. 

Meanwhile, I was going through something that I had never encountered with a very different set of circumstances regarding my niece and my complete and total ignorance of a situation I have never thought would happen in my lifetime to either me or anyone in my family.

The home buyer had contacted my husband saying “the smell is stronger than ever. Could there be ANOTHER skunk?” Tuesday morning, my anxious husband assembled a crew to return to Springtown and again tear the house apart searching. There was another skunk. Removing the bathtub, the other skunk was found dead beneath it. I was in Huntsville when he called me. My suggestion was to add more concrete under the tub and effectively “seal the smell.” 

My husband went back to the drawing board and considered this idea. Infuriated about a stinky situation in Springtown, my husband was getting as little sleep as Cindy and I while trying to get Stephaney to Valdosta. 

Leaving TDCJ Holliday Unit, my grandniece, Makenna called. I should add that my niece, Leigh Ann and my grandniece are both hypochondriacs. Makenna said “my blood pressure is high. Can I go to the hospital when you get to town? I think I’m having a heart attack.” 

Instructing Makenna to go take her blood pressure and drink more water, Cindy and I agreed to take her to Harris Hospital. It should be noted that we regularly take Makenna to the hospital because she consistently googles new diseases and then believes she has “all of the symptoms.” 

For years now, Cindy and I have taken Makenna to a doctor of hospital to continually “alleviate her concerns.” We also have Makenna in biweekly counseling. Yes, we are overwhelmed but, our family crisis situations have never interfered with our work flow. 

Cindy and I are like two clowns juggling too many balls. Thank God we have each other!

Tuesday evening. My husband is diligently attempting to find a solution for Springtown. I’m answering emails and taking client calls. I will be up most of the night doing research myself on the stinky situation to find a solution while wondering what the hell is going on in Valdosta? Cindy and I call each other. 

Cindy and I are back in Huntsville early Wednesday morning to go to 3 Units for weddings with clients. Makenna is now relieved to know that rather than having a heart attack, she is actually dehydrated. Cindy’s husband, Steve is now home from his OTR job with Ryder. Steve is rarely home. 

Wednesday morning 5:31AM, Cindy and I leave my home AKA WorthamWorld. I spot a raccoon clinging to the chimney outside my leaded glass kitchen window at the three home estate next door that’s now been abandoned for seven years. I advise my husband about this “zoo situation” next door. 

My dog, Foxy Wortham is walked three times a day by my husband or I including his last walk at night. A family of raccoons in that estate next door highly concern me. 

I’m now on full alert for a possible “raccoon attack” in the city. I hate country living and if my lazy ass neighbor would sell that estate, I wouldn’t be living next door to a zoo. I call all of the time go get the city to mow the yard next door. I pay to repair the fence and for all of these years, I eventually pay yard men to mow the lawn next door. Three homes on one estate left abandoned? What’s wrong with that guy? He could sell the lots and tear down the three houses on that estate and sell the lots for over $600k. It doesn’t make sense to me. I simply can’t stand watching that estate fall apart but, I’m helpless to change it. My OCD tendencies prevent me from ignoring the lawn summer after summer. Ugh. My idiot neighbor must have more money than sense. The taxes alone are well over $30k a year. Every year, I check to see if he has paid the taxes or not. Quite frankly, my husband and I would buy that lot solely to develop it if my lazy neighbor would only fall behind on the taxes. But, he doesn’t. Instead, he allows the property to literally fall apart while paying the taxes. My husband and I are both baffled about this.

5:49AM, stopping at Shell to fill up, I’m outside my SUV when Makenna (one of the Twins) calls Cindy complaining that “Maryssa won’t wake up. She is going to make us late for school again!” 

Cindy advises Makenna “tell Maryssa if she doesn’t get out of bed and get ready for school that she won’t be getting her nails and hair done this weekend.” 

Maryssa unlike Makenna is entirely focused on elaborate nails and the latest clothing and hair. Maryssa is a fashion Queen and Social butterfly. 

Makenna is a stellar student who views being late for ANYTHING as the worst possible situation she can fathom. 

7:29AM, Steve (Cindy’s husband), sends this text “I’ve put my clothes in the washer and I’m in the driveway waiting to take the twins to school. While sitting in the driveway, I saw a giant raccoon climb from the fireplace to the hole in the roof Jessie fixed last week. You are gonna need to call Jessie.”

While Cindy reads this text as we are passing through Corsicana, I go on my usual rant about Jessie. “For twenty years now that guy has done the sloppiest work ever at your house. He’s always in jail for public intoxication and he’s a lazy and shiftless bum. Why can’t we find a reliable handyman that takes pride in his work to go to your house? If you hadn’t paid Jessie, there wouldn’t be a hole for the raccoon to crawl into!” This is an accurate statement. Jessie had just went to Cindy and Steve’s a week earlier to fix a squirrel hole. Now a raccoon was climbing into a squirrel hole? 

Cindy: “Our house has been a money pit for over twenty years. I know you don’t like him. Hell I’m not crazy about him myself but, eventually he shows up and does his usual shitty job. I will call him. Maybe he isn’t in jail again.” Grrr. I can’t even describe just how much Jessie irritates me. He doesn’t take ANY degree of pride in his work. Jessie is shiftless and shady. He takes money then disappears again only to return later and up his bid to get more money. Jessie is a con artist. My niece, Leigh Ann slams the door when he comes over which I find hilarious. Cindy somehow someway tolerates Jessie and his slovenly work habits. I have no idea why.

8:59AM, Steve calls and advised us to wait on calling Jessie because we now need to wait on trapping the raccoon before sealing the hole in the attic the squirrels created. Cindy tells her husband to “buy canned dog food.” 

Steve is upset that with perfect wind conditions that he COULD HAVE shot the raccoon if he wasn’t in his truck waiting to take the twins to school. Steve Daniel regularly shoots squirrels and throws them over the fence. 

Steve and Cindy live in the country. It’s a regular occurrence to see a flock of buzzards flying around their home when Steve is back home for a day or two from Ryder. Even in the country, the buzzards within city limits are highly irregular. Cindy wishes her husband would throw the squirrels in the trash. This ongoing debate between them has gone on for years. You know like Jessie and his horrible handyman jobs. 

9AM Huntsville, Texas. Cindy and I roll into Motel 6 to meet my Wynn Unit Client. I’m still complaining about Jessie. Cindy is still complaining about Steve throwing squirrels over the fence. We both realize the dead squirrels may very well have attracted the raccoons at about the same time. Matching stink eyes about Jessie, the raccoons, Jane Doe, arguing twin teenagers and the stinky skunk situation stop the moment my beautiful bride walks out of her room. 

The moment she walks onto the balcony, we are dazzled by her beauty. It isn’t just the dress either. Anyone else seeing her at that hotel was as jawstruck as we were. She was truly a vision of beauty, grace and style. Cindy and I forget about the raccoon, the skunk, Jessie, Jane Doe and everything else when we are with a client. Instead, I tell Cindy “we will be back in about an hour.” 

9:07AM, I jump into my clients car as Cindy takes my SUV to go “junk shopping.” Cindy and I still have a storage unit of items to list for Texas Twins Treasures but lack the time to list the items. We are “inventory rich.” Cindy and I simply don’t have the time to flip anything “in season.” With raccoons, squirrels, shady handymen and everything else going on including a full schedule, it may be winter before we go through inventory and list items in the storeroom. 

9:41AM Wynn Unit, my gorgeous bride and groom are married. We wait for their wedding photos to print while counting quarters to purchase them. 

My cell phone is in my clients car. Cell phones are prohibited at Prisons. I had “checked in” on FB at Wynn Unit to let Cindy know where I was and Jane Doe (who was following me on FB) knew I would be unavailable. 

Jane Doe “used this window to call Cindy and demand that she wire more money.” This time for food. 10:04AM, Cindy is now at Walmart in Huntsville “wiring money to Jane Doe.” While I was at Wynn Unit, Jane Doe called Cindy stating urgently “we have no food here. I need you to send us money.” Jane Doe has Cindy stay on the phone with her causing further stress. 

Cindy has NEVER wired money. Cindy also couldn’t call me about this “urgent money need” as I was at Wynn Unit. I would have insisted on sending money ONLY to my niece and Jane Doe most likely knew it. 

With Jane Doe on speakerphone, Cindy attempts to use Walmart to Walmart to send the money. Cindy also suggests sending it to her daughter, Stephaney as we know she has a valid ID because we took her to get it before sending her to Valdosta. 

Jane Doe gets agitated and says “send it to me and use a code word.” Walmart requires ID. Jane Doe then says “send it to my cousin #### ######.” A few minutes later, Jane Doe says “send it to my aunt ##### ########.” Jane Doe doesn’t have an ID. Hmm. 

Cindy was losing her mind trying to comprehend why she cannot simply send money to her daughter? Cindy is beyond stressed. Cindy is confused and concerned. Other employees and shoppers continue to ask my twin sister “are you okay? Don’t send money to anyone you don’t know.” Even strangers recognized there was a problem. 

The urgency Jane Doe is suddenly exhibiting regarding “needing more money for food immediately” on Tuesday after just having had Stephaney call Cindy for money to turn on the electricity Monday evening would be how Wendy and Cindy finally recognized there was a problem in Valdosta, Georgia. Had we known ANY of this, we would have never sent Stephaney to Georgia.

Leaving Wynn Unit, I call Cindy to meet my bride and I. Cindy doesn’t tell me about Walmart or Jane Doe. She waits. Upsetting a client on wedding day takes precedence. 

11:05AM, Cindy meets my bride and I for photos following the wedding ceremony at Wynn Unit. I’m still unaware of the Walmart money. I’m with a client and when I am, solely focused on the client. Cindy knows this. We begin unloading my SUV full of props together. I’m on a timeline. I’m meeting my next client immediately after at  Byrd Unit.

I arrange the bride, her mother, her stepdaughter and her best friend in numerous photos while Cindy hands me various items including tiaras, bouquets and other items I’ve brought with me in order to make their photo shoot beautiful and memorable. I’m also “on the clock” to get to my next Unit.11:28AM, Cindy and I roll out of Motel 6 to head to my next Unit. I’m dropping Cindy at Salvation Army as planned to dig through trash searching for something “flip worthy” for Texas Twins Treasures when Cindy finally tells me about Walmart Money Transfers to ANYONE OTHER THAN HER DAUGHTER who has a valid ID and that Jane Doe has no food. I hit the brakes. Wtf? 

Me: “she doesn’t have electricity or food? What the hell is going on in Georgia?” Cindy: “Jane Doe says she has Stephaney’s purse, her ID and SS card. Jane Doe is signing Stephaney up for food stamps and SS Disability. Stephaney found her cell phone and told me they don’t have water either and haven’t in a very long time based on the filth in the bathtub and sinks. They use the bathroom in the woods. Omg what have we done?” OMG WHAT HAD WE DONE?! We had sent a mentally ill person, a fragile doll to hillbillies who were going to do God knows what to her while bilking Cindy and I for thousands of dollars. I needed a plan.  

I google the address of Jane Doe from the Walmart to Walmart receipt. I search property records. Jane Doe was living in an abandoned house. SOB. Jane Doe was worse than anyone I have ever encountered in my entire life. This is saying a lot. My grandfather molested my sisters and I. My mother left us locked in closets and cars and regularly “forgot about us.” My first husband beat me half to death. My second husband had mistresses. I’ve been lied to. I’ve been deceived. I’ve trusted the wrong people to do the right thing. 

I had never been in a situation with a loved ones safety in jeaopardy from my own hand. I had trusted Jane Doe. 

I think what can I do as I drive on to the next unit? I wonder how I can get my niece out of a bad situation that I’ve inadvertently put her into? I kick myself for falling right into a trap. But, while at Byrd Unit, I also devise a plan.

Picking Cindy up after my second Unit, I tell her “Jane Doe has us under her thumb. She has Stephaney and knows she is in control. There are children in that house with no running water, electricity or food. It’s child endangerment to have children in that type of circumstance. Stephaney was just discharged last Tuesday from a Psych Ward with PTSD and Bipolar One. Jane Doe knows Stephaney has been involuntarily committed 16 times in less than 2 years. Jane Doe assumes you are well off and somehow knows I’m affluent. Jane Doe wanted Stephaney to benefit financially. We have to get Stephaney out of there. We must also save those children while we are at it.”

12:32AM, I call CPS Valdosta, Georgia and request a visit to Jane Doe’s address. It’s an address that I wouldn’t have had if not for Cindy wiring money at Walmart. 

2:02PM, Stephaney finds her cell phone and calls us. “Listen, I’m hiding in the woods here. She lied to you. This is a hell hole. The kids are starving. I believe I’m going to die here. They won’t let me leave. I’m watched all of the time. Jane Doe said that if I try to leave, I will get lost in the forest and never find my way back.” Me: “listen. We are going to get you out. CPS is coming for a welfare check. When they arrive be where you can see a car enter while hiding in the woods. Go with them. Get out of there. We will get you home.” The line went dead.

8:41PM, Stephaney has seconds to tell Cindy from her cell phone “CPS came and I’m still here. Please tell the twins I love them. I will never get out of here. They won’t let me look for work. Jane Doe lied about everything. They want you both to send money and sign me up for food stamps and SS Disability. I’ve given up. I’m miles from town. No one has a car here. These people are so poor that I’ve never witnessed poverty this bad in my life.” Jane Doe screamed for Stephaney to get in the house. Jane was angry about CPS coming to the trailer and wouldn’t allow them inside. For reasons unclear to me, CPS does not pursue the issue. The line went dead. Jane Doe had taken Stephaney’s cell phone again.

I decided to call Jane Doe and “dummy up.” When she answered she was agitated “I know who called me in. They don’t even know my real name. We have a lot going on here.” She hung up. Her real name? There was a name other than what she had given me? Cindy and I (as usual) call each other. This IS A PROBLEM because Jane Doe might hurt my niece if she knows we are in Texas “stirring the chili.” I need a better plan. 

Wednesday evening 11:12PM, I email the Haven in Valdosta, Georgia. I also “explain the situation.” I email ANYONE I think can help us. My niece is mentally ill and being held against her will. She cannot leave and we cannot go get her. 

Thursday morning 6:21AM, the Haven administrator emails me to call her. I do. She tells me “she must call us herself. We can only act if we hear from her. We cannot act on her behalf without her consent.” 

6:24AM, I call Cindy while making my husband breakfast. I haven’t told my husband that I’ve made a tragic mistake sending Stephaney to Georgia. I can’t. He has a development with a skunk problem. Instead, I research “human trafficking for financial gain.” I need to know who to contact to get my niece out of that situation.

7:02AM, I email the DA in Valdosta. I also call Cindy to fax all of the records pertaining to Stephaney to the DA. Jane Doe spoke to JPS and made arrangements with MHMR in Valdosta for Stephaney. Jane Doe has no idea that we can prove all of this either. Cindy and I document everything. We are willing to contact every government agency necessary to get those kids and Stephaney out. 

In 2012, I sold Debt Survival Solutions LLC. I’m nothing if not dilligent and articulate. Did I ever in a million years imagine I would find myself in a situation where I was completely at the mercy of someone else? NEVER. Yet, I was and when I can’t solve a problem in a straight line, I resort to a circle. I would cover every base. I would bring my niece home. 

Failure is never an option. I could never forgive myself if something happened to Stephaney “on my watch.” For years, Stephaney has consistently put herself in harms way. For years, her mother and I have tried to save her. This time was DIFFERENT though. I needed a successful extraction. I couldn’t do it myself. I would need help. I had to find the right help. I would do just that. 

8:22AM, I leave to head to Green Bay Unit and meet my client. Cindy is already faxing the DA from Office Depot in Weatherford, Texas. 

My niece isn’t answering her cell phone. Jane Doe probably has it and I know it. I wonder if my niece is still alive? 

9:03AM, Jane Doe now wants me to send more money. “Stephaney eats more than anyone I’ve ever met. I can’t keep enough food in this house. Send whatever you can and do it now!” 

9:12AM I’m sitting in my SUV thinking. I have no days off to go to Georgia myself and save my niece. I consider paying my son to do it for me. I call him. He can’t. He’s moving into his new home. 

10:34AM, I pull into Tarrant County Clerks Office. I’m filing marriage licenses before I walk across the street to meet my next client. While waiting with my number in hand at the clerks office to file a stack of marriage licenses, I have another idea.

10.48AM, I email the Attorney General of Georgia. I call Cindy to fax the same documents to the AG she earlier faxed to the DA. I still can’t get ahold of Stephaney and I’m now fearful she’s chained to a bed being beaten or raped. I’m panicking. I’ve inadvertently put my niece in a horrific situation solely because I trusted the wrong person. 

11:09AM, leaving the clerks office, I send a FB message to Jane Doe. “If anything happens to Stephaney, I promise I will use any and all means necessary to hold you accountable to the fullest extent of the law. You lied to me. You lied to her. You lied to her mother. You even lied to her daughter. You know damn well I would never have sent her out there under these conditions. Where is my niece?! You had better pray she’s safe.”

Jane Doe waits to respond. She’s wondering how I know what’s going on. She has no idea that Stephaney keeps finding the cell phone her mother bought less than a week ago to contact us. Jane Doe keeps someone watching Stephaney at all times. 

12:11PM, Jane Doe calls me. “Look, she’s safe I’ve got my aunt and my mom watching her. She isn’t allowed to leave. It’s unsafe. It’s to protect her. She isn’t hurt. I’m in Macon, Georgia and I’m going to send my cousin to bring her here.” I say “no. You leave her where she is and you had best not hurt her in any way, shape or fashion.” 

I need Stephaney at that house. I’m on a timeline. If Jane Doe moves her, I may never see my niece again. There are law enforcement officers preparing to go to Jane Doe’s address. I cannot have my niece moved. I’m firm about this. I even agree to send more money but not if Stephaney is moved. I’m buying time. 

1:27PM Weatherford, Texas. Cindy is in my SUV, I call the DA. The DA is contacting the PD to “send someone out there.” 

Cindy and I have no idea if Jane Doe has moved Stephaney or not at this point. We have both googled “Macon, Georgia human trafficking” and are shocked as to what we learn. We are also terrified. 

2:14PM, Valdosta PD call my cell phone. The Sheriffs Department has Stephaney. 

2:37PM, Cindy and I buy a bus pass for Stephaney with while walking into Walmart to wire her money. 

Stephaney is safe. She’s out. She wasn’t a statistic. The Sheriffs department transports Stephaney to the Valdosta Bus Station. We wire money to Walmart for Stephaney. We are relieved and thankful Stephaney is okay and coming home. 

But, Cindy and I will never be as trusting as we once were…by the way, Jane Doe is exactly where she needs to be. 

Jane Doe won’t be doing anything like this to anyone else. Jane Doe underestimated her “marks.” Jane Doe deserves everything she has coming to her…

“COURAGE is being SCARED to DEATH but, SADDLING up ANYWAY.”

John Wayne 

NOBODY Can BREAK Your Spirit UNLESS You HAND Them The REINS…

I’ve been working in film since I was eighteen years old and filmed my first commercial with Mel Tillis in Fort Worth, Texas. Other members of my family AKA Team? Not nearly as long. Certain members of my client bases? Rare if ever. 

I worked as a commercial model for twenty plus years. While some might think this job was exciting, the truth is that I was basically a hangar. I was better at selling high end clothing, jewelry and luxury cars than any of my other coworkers AKA models were. How so? I had the unique ability to have been “born to sell.” 

While other models might have had a better body, I had a by far better personality. Selling is about relationships not seeing someone frowning at buyers and behaving haughty while walking a runway. 

Only twice has my current husband ever seen me “own a room” on the catwalk. The first time he was amazed at how I managed to notice every buyer in the room. I pay attention to details. Walking off the stage, I also walked the buyers tables and gave them an opportunity to touch the fabric or my opinion on why this fur or that evening gown would be a good investment as a timeless treasure to “the right buyer.” I have always learned every aspect of any product that I have ever sold. I still do. It’s essential to be knowledgeable. 

If I believed in a product, I could sell it all day long. If I didn’t believe in the product, I refused to attempt to sell it. I have never been desperate enough to sell a product I wouldn’t buy myself either. I’ve never had to be. Why? Because I’m a helluva salesperson that’s why. 

I don’t see clients as numbers. I see clients as relationships. Friendships with my clients have lasted for years after a sale. My clients are like family to me. 

In today’s world, trying to find anyone in a store that even knows their own inventory is an escapade in futility. A few weeks ago, I went to Academy searching for camo clothing. Three salespeople told me “we don’t have anything because the season is over.” I continued to search and found an entire aisle of camouflage pants, shirts, jackets and accessories. Did I buy? No. But the reason was fit. The pants were cut for a man and I’m an hourglass shape. Why buy something and pay to have it altered? Instead, I went to my tailor and had an outfit made. Manufacturers need to realize that most women are not built straight up and down because we aren’t. 

As a retailer though, it’s essential your staff knows your product. Sadly, this “I don’t know what’s going on” type of scenario has been happening for years within the retail industry due to a consistent high turnover or inadequate pay or even both. 

Go out to a store on your lunch break and try to buy something while asking questions regarding the product and see how it works out for you. No one on the salesfloor has a clue anymore. It’s no wonder why people shop online because at the very least they can find what they are looking for. Think about it. 

In 2004, I was the top Cadillac salesperson over and over for years until I decided to hang up luxury car sales. How did I do this? By educating myself about the product and then bringing clients to me. Not the dealership but specifically my office.

I was willing to think outside the box and did. While other salesmen were reading newspapers or outside smoking or taking personal phone calls, I hired a photographer, bought evening gowns in various colors and ran my own print ads in country clubs. 

Making money takes money. I was investing in myself and knew I could make a profitable return on my investment. 

I was effectively direct marketing consumers who could afford to spend $110k on a Cadillac XLR. That’s right. I studied advertising and marketing and knew that “bringing just anyone” into the dealership wouldn’t sell high end cars. Why? The majority of consumers don’t spend $50k-100k on a vehicle. 

Bringing the “right person” in to the dealership would sell high end cars and, I was right regarding an “idea” that the other salesman found hilarious. I let them laugh. I’m a businesswoman and smarter than the “peanut gallery.” There’s a reason they have the “cheap seats.” 

I am a pioneer. I don’t “fit in any box” and I never will. I laughed all the way to the bank while other salesmen laughed at me. They weren’t laughing long. People often laugh at my ideas or concepts until they realize how thinking outside of the box works. Then, they want my expertise. Then, they want me to train them. But, I don’t work for free. Knowledge is power. Experience is priceless and without risk there are no rewards. 

The number of times someone has contacted me to ask me to “teach them how to do what I did” would astound you. From venue owners to salespeople “who heard about the lady that was a model and created her own print ads” to others who recognized that my success was based entirely on being different. As a child, being different was never “a gift.” As an adult though, my resilience and strength were my formula for success. 

Others have contacted me for years because they “want to learn how to do what I do.” It is surprising. But, the people “asking for an apple and expecting a pie” cannot understand why and how I make anything I involve myself with successful. It’s actually the “key” to my success. 

I am fearless. I’m not afraid. I’ve never been afraid to fail first to succeed second. Ever. I can afford to take risks. When you learn anything the hard way by doing it yourself, you remember every detail. 

Sure, I’ve taken a fall now and then on a bad investment but who hasn’t? I get right back on my horse and ride on. Fear is failure.  

The stock market literally bores me to death. Put me in a casino with lights, music and excitement. I’d rather gamble than watch the stocks. My husband does the long term investments. 

#cindyism “FAILURES are the SEEDS you SOW, before REAPING a HARVEST of SUCCESS” God bless us all.

I have a photographic memory. I’m also dyslexic. I taught myself to read and escaped by reading. I’m different. People who want to do what I do aren’t. They cannot be me because they have never endured the struggles I’ve overcome. 

My sister and I weren’t afraid to leave home at 15 with the clothes on our backs. We weren’t worried about where we would go, where we would sleep or how we would survive. At 15 we were also eating out of trash cans behind convenience stores. Now you can comprehend and fully understand why I’m not afraid to be different. Cindy isn’t either. We had nothing and I mean nothing to go back to. No one to help us. No one who cared about us. Our family? Humph. They didn’t care if we starved. We ran from the Hell we left behind. RAN. Cindy and I don’t owe anyone anything. We are survivors. 

We both jumped into our first marriages and we both regretted our decision. If someone were to try and hit either of us today, I can assure you that it would be a mistake. We left a violent home as teens and assumed every wife was beaten because we didn’t know anything else. Violence was a normal fact of life for us as children. But, we learned as adults that “our normal” was in fact “abnormal.” So, we left again. 

Years ago, other models could not for the life of them understand how I outsold over and over at every single show thought they should sell more solely because “they were thinner.” Being thin doesn’t make you an incredible salesperson whether you are in print or at a style show. It wasn’t unusual in those days for a buyer to purchase whatever I had worn strutting down that catwalk right off my rack. In fact, it was a frequent occurrence. Everyone wanted to be me at a style show. I was the most confident and carefree model I’ve ever met. 

Often I was also wearing heavier makeup to mask a bruised eye or swollen cheek from my jealous husband the day before. No one knew this other than my dresser. I wore Christian Dior butterfly sunglasses daily to hide most of my face walking into make up. 

When I wore something while modeling, I owned it. I made it more than soft, luxurious fur or a piece of expensive fabric or high end jewelry. The moment my dresser said “go,” I was transformed from all of the problems waiting for me at home (I had a violent first marriage) and because of my inate ability to compartmentalize, when I was on a runway or in front of a camera, I was in also in another world. 

Modeling was a world where no one would hit me or call me names. In a world where I was the star of the show while others assumed that they were. I was a chameleon who shed my beaten down victim shell the moment I walked my rack with my dresser. The second I knew each and every change on my rack or racks, I had already decided what liked best about this or least about that. Buyers would ask and I would answer. I knew the fabrics and I knew the products. 

I became an actress rather than a hangar and I walked through those backroom drapes and half dressed models to a room full of buyers as if they had been waiting for me all of their lives. I was “on.” The other models never stood a chance with me. It took time for them to realize this but, they did. 

I’m a paid consultant and whether I advise you for ten minutes or twenty, my bill rate is by the hour. That’s right I get paid to talk and the buyer listens. I’ve marketed and represented Kodak, P&G, and many other other household name based brands that are highly recognized. If you want my advice or insight or direction on how to sell something you call me. But, you also pay me. 

Cindy is a pioneer too. We both had to be our entire lives. Years ago, Cindy was working at Hawk Electronics. She had broken her back in a horrific car accident and couldn’t walk a salesfloor so she took a job scheduling home security alarm appointments. Like me, she was an innovator. Cold calling sucks and to get $25 per sale, Cindy read newspapers and got crime reports to directly find areas of high crime and called them instead of wasting her time and her breath calling the “wrong people.” Cindy had a 99% closing rate but, the “old dogs” aka salesmen she handed the leads to cut her out of the sale and collected $150 for “finding the lead.” Within weeks, Cindy noticed her commissions were going down and went to payroll to question why. When she was told the names of confirmed sales and recognized them as her own leads, she “whipped out her own records.” Because the old dogs “had already been paid on Cindy’s sales,” my sister learned a valuable lesson. 

A few days later, one of the salesmen walked up to her desk and said “have you got got any leads for me?” Smirking Cindy said “no but, I do have a news flash. I’m working with payroll and from now on, I’m giving payroll a list of all of my leads names and phone numbers and addresses as well as the date I contacted them. You won’t be stealing from me anymore.” Two days later, the unethical scoundrel quit. My sister though continued to CYA and got paid to do so.

There aren’t any “friends as coworkers” in the sales industry. Sales are a cut throat business. While other coworkers attempted to copy, replicate or duplicate our ability to outsell them, Cindy and I laughed all the way to the bank. 

Originality and creative thinking as well as our ability to think outside the box are only a few of the reasons we have always been successful in ANY sales based industry. If we failed, we went hungry and we both knew it. 

My experience in film and print modeling propelled me into the strongest selling high end luxury car bracket there was. I also left Cadillac “on top.” 

Looking back, those “old dogs” on the salesfloor needed a wake up call. I literally gave them one by bringing my own people into the dealership rather than waiting for the people to come to the dealership and hoping to “snag” a possible client in a position to buy who was actually only “pulling up to window shop” and effectively wasting my time or my “up.” 

My ads weren’t for the dealership. They were for me and if you saw my ad, you ONLY came to ME. I worked solely by appointment. Yes, I was THAT busy. 

By the way, prior to Cadillac, I had never sold cars in my entire life either. I can look at a business any type of sales driven business and find a niche. 

I’ve been a brand ambassador for so many brands that I’m also an expert consultant for GLG and have been for many years. What people don’t know about me shocks them. But, I’m a survivor. I saw a need for affordable event services and created a People Over Profit based event business. No one else was willing to take such a risk but, I could well afford to and I did. Maybe to a few that was a crazy idea but, while they laughed, my business model became stronger and stronger year after year. I laugh now as I have many times before. I laugh because I’m driven, I’m passionate and I’m determined. I don’t give up. I’m also a twin. Yes, together we actually are unstoppable. 

The continued interest in my client base or even my life garners phone calls, emails and site inquiries week after week after week. The problem? Trying to educate someone who knows very little about me. It’s a really time consuming task. While talking on the phone to them, I almost always have a client attempting to reach me. In other cases, I am on location with a client when one of these inquiries “roll in.” 

I’m the type of person who researches everything. I’m OCD. I’m articulate and I always have a back up plan for disasters in location too. I think in a circle. Literally. 

Today’s blog will go over the most unusual and invasive questions I’ve come across yet. A few of them may surprise you. Others may offend you but, I can assure you that I have no problem being honest, transparent and completely open about my life, my clients and my businesses. I have nothing to hide and neither do they. 

Leaving my office after going through yet another round of inquiries from production companies and Europe based networks, I am going to literally “kick off” today’s blog with enlightening news you can use if you are not BOUND TO ME BY BLOOD OR BUSINESS. 

Listen up and pay attention as I rarely if ever repeat myself. I would repeat myself but I simply don’t have the time during wedding season. I’m far more inclined to be patient when I don’t have a burdened schedule to be honest with you.

Contacting me and assuming that you are going to schedule a Skype interview or conference call at YOUR CONVENIENCE is one of the craziest ideas that I’ve ever heard of yet. You’re busy? You are asking me to drop everything to accommodate your schedule? If I have time for YOU outside my own schedule, such Skype or even phone interviews will be scheduled AT MY CONVENIENCE NOT YOUR OWN. 

Furthermore, asking me to “Face Time” you from the road while traveling or while I’m on location, isn’t going to happen today, tomorrow or forever. The ONLY time I use Face Time is with my grandnieces. 

Frankly, no one (unless you are in your 20’s) looks good on Face Time. I have no desire for anyone to use film from Face Time to either “pitch or promote” me. 

I’m hoping that I’ve clarified the best way to get what YOU want from ME, I will also take a moment to once again ask that anyone attempting to contact me STOP contacting venues I’m on staff at and instead use one of my sites, my email or the same phone number I’ve had for fifteen years to contact me rather than continuing to call me at a business I do not work at on a daily basis. 

I.E. the number you are calling isn’t to CONTACT me instead, the number listed on the internet is to BOOK ME. The venue is busy too. After all, it’s wedding season. 

This “calling me at a venue I’m on staff at” continues to happen and also is continually disruptive to the business you are contacting. Please stop. 

I have five websites with contact us links and my phone number as well as my address are literally “all over the internet.”

Now, let’s get down to today’s parking lot blog and reiterate that all of my blogs are typed with one finger on an iPhone in a parking lot waiting on a client. For those who assume I pay a writer, you couldn’t be further from the truth. I do not hire creative content writers. I create my own content. Also, I have no interest in blogging for someone else because “you need an experienced blogger.” 

Please do not use any of my sites to contact me to either pitch a product or for any reason other than Event Services through Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners or TDCJ Weddings in Texas and outside Texas. 

I don’t need “more clients” or “marketing” or “engaged social media.” I have all of those things and handle my own social media. 

I’m an overachiever and a workaholic that hasn’t needed to work to earn a living in years. I’m also not “relatable” to most people due to the fact that while others were working as little as possible in their twenties, I was working 2-3 jobs. 

Most people don’t put 120-150% into their career. Why? Because they are lazy and entitled. Also, they have a family to fall back ON nearly all of the time too. I didn’t. My sister didn’t. We are DIFFERENT but, the difference between our stellar work ethics and others is based entirely on our unique circumstances and ability to survive and thrive. We thrill our clients. We treat them like the family we weren’t born with. Our clients are and always will be our first priority. Personlized service is difficult to come by these days but, when you book with the Texas Twins, you are the star of our show. 

If you have hired my sister or I in any capacity over the years, you were always surprised at our stellar work ethics. Cindy and I were thrilled to “become the employee you wished you had ten more of.” We were also honored and ecstatic to exceed your expectations because you also paid us to “perform.” This type of dedication is rare. 

However, for my former employers that cut our commissions “because we were making too much money,” we also left you and worked elsewhere. Loyalty is earned. I’m always amazed that expecting someone to sell your products without offering them and incentive or adequate compensation continues to “confuse business owners as to why their numbers are down” but, if you have a helluva salesperson, be smart enough to keep them by compensating them rather than punishing them and effectively “cutting their income.” It’s common sense. 

“Pigs get fed and hogs get slaughtered.” Cutting your sales staffs commissions is the stupidest and greediest thing I’ve ever encountered. It’s happened to me many times though by managers who were upset that I earned “more than them.” 

If I quit to take another job, you forced me to do so by affecting my earning capacity. I don’t look back. I look forward. 

Work is my salvation. I’m happiest when working. My twin sister is too. 

The Texas Twins Events “umbrella” for Prison Weddings and/or other states outside of Texas inmate Officiant services also fall under Texas because I am based in Texas. I’ve been asked “why don’t you have different sites pertaining to different states you operate within?” The last thing I need is to add more sites for each state I operate within. I already write blogs for five sites and juggle numerous clients and have no need to redirect traffic to another site. I also work solely by referral and always have so there is no need for me to create a new site for a different state we service. In fact, destination event services have been booked through Texas Twins Events for YEARS. 

If you are contacting me or having your freight company contact me regarding a purchase or pick up for Texas Twins Treasures, please do not use TDCJ Officiant to do so. This particular site has nothing to do with Texas Twins Treasures. Items sold at Texas Twins Treasures are scheduled for pick up or delivery through my site or via direct email or phone. Thank you for your attention to this matter. 

Let’s get started on why anyone in the entertainment industry assumes that a bride or groom planning to marry an inmate is either a hillbilly or biker and in either description also uneducated. This “preposterous idea” of anyone marrying an inmate leaving the trailer park to do it is not only offensive to my clients but also myself and my staff. 

My clients know the decision they are entering to marry an inmate is serious. They realize that it will be one sided and they are willing to accept those terms. In nearly all cases, many of my clients never actually “planned to marry a Prisoner.” 

Because of the continued ignorance of others, I’ve decided to use my production site, Texas Twins TV to specifically share the stories of clients who have an interest in even considering auditioning for any type of television format pertaining to their lives, their journeys and their decision to marry an inmate. For a link to Amanda and her journey, click here- Wendy Wortham Interviews TDCJ Client, Amanda.

These individuals are educated, wholesome and passionate. They are also brave, strong and resilient. If you are unaware of this and assume that our California Prison Clients are “beach bums” or that our Texas, Louisiana and other adjoining states Prison Client Bases are hillbillies or swamp people, save your ignorance and spare my time. You are incorrect on all “assumptions.” 

I had one production company ask me last month “can they talk though? Do they speak intelligently?” What? Are you kidding me? Turn off that television and recognize that they have obviously spoken to me and therefore can and do hold intelligent and articulate conversations on a daily basis. Can they talk? WOW. 

I could not believe yet another idiotic statement last week that ironically came (as usual) at the worst possible time for me while on location with a bride having a meltdown at a high end venue from yet another production company “we saw you with shotguns and wearing camo in Texas on the internet. What do you mean you aren’t a hillbilly? You looked like one.” 

Let’s add the photos shall we? I’m the most versatile person you are ever going to encounter. I can go from a barn to an exclusive venue within hours and I do. First- the  camo client had hired my staff specifically for a themed wedding. Do your research. Second- Dream Events are just that. The client wanted to incorporate her daughter into the wedding as the groom had been acting as her father since birth. This was a very emotional ceremony for all concerned. 

The bride had asked me to wear camo and like anyone else asking me to do something outside my usual scope of services, was a referral. I had never previously owned anything camo in my entire life. So, no, I’m not a hillbilly. I don’t live on a farm and I don’t ride a horse to work either. 

I thinks it’s interesting that people jump to conclusions without doing more research but, they do. What is this “I’m a hillbilly” or my clients are “hillbillies” synopsis coming from? Could it be based solely on living in Texas? I’m confused. 

Here are other photos of more “traditional clients” solely to enlighten you. Yes, they are “regular” clients not to say that any of my clients are “irregular” I am actually quoting yet another production company. “But, Wendy do you have any regular people? You know that aren’t LBGT or marrying an inmate or so poor that they have to barter? You know like regular people?” Obviously, that production company employee was either 21-27 or had miserable grades in English and Literary Composition. 

Usually, a production company has someone so young asking the questions that I almost feel sorry for them. Almost. Why? Because they live in a bubble and obviously need to get out more that’s why. Maybe if these “youngsters” would put down their computer or phone and meet real people in real life rather than trolling Instagram, they might realize that being different isn’t weird or antisocial? Just a thought. 

Maturity in your 20’s is obviously not easy to obtain when your world is on social media rather than out in the “real world.” 

Anyway, we do destination events on a regular basis. These are scheduled on weekends and evenings of course because during the week I’m at a jail or prison. I don’t find this nearly as “unique” as production companies do. Why? Because I’m meeting clients I’m simply meeting them at a different location. I book high end end events too. Surprised? Don’t be. I’m not cheap either. If you want to book me or get on my books, you get in line. I’ve had clients reschedule THEIR EVENT to ACCOMMODATE MY CALENDAR. It’s a fact. 

If you want honor, integrity, and a team committed to making your Dream Event a reality regardless of your income because we also barter, then you come to us. We don’t advertise. We never have. We have also never needed to. If I’m cocky- bet your butt I earned the privilege. No one GAVE me a successful business plan. In fact, I created it myself. My family joined me. I wasn’t trying to be like everyone else because obviously that market was entirely saturated. 

When I’m asked about my affiliation with the LBGT Community, it isn’t because I’m LBGT. But, one production company assumed my entire family was? “I saw you and your family at a gay parade on the internet. Does homosexuality run in your family?” Hmm. Again, WOW. Common sense is like breath spray. Most folks don’t realize they actually need it. By the way I did answer “no” before waiting with baited breath on the next question while my twin covered her shocked face. PS- it’s LBGT not gay. That word is offensive to the community as a whole. 

Let’s go over this stupid assumption in a question format regarding my sexual orientation one more time. Production Company– “are you a lesbian? I saw you on CW33 at a LBGT event.” And you assumed everyone there was LBGT why? What about mothers, siblings, friends? Do you believe that every LBGT event is solely for LBGT people? Hmm. 

The photo below was taken by Adam Bouska immediately prior to being cut off attempting to visit friends I recognized at the event by a CW33 NewsFix team and subsequently, they barn stormed my family and I with a camera and microphone stuck right into my face while my grandnieces and sister were being pushed out of the way by CW33 NewsFix at the same time. 

If you HAVE NOT seen the CW33 interview, you missed seeing how terrified my grandnieces were. Don’t look at me. Look to the right at them. Maryssa and Makenna were both shell shocked while Cindy angrily looked on. To enlighten you, in adding the link– Wendy Wortham CW33 NewsFix Interview NOH8 Dallas, Texas.  

The safety of having Cindy and I beside the twins is most likely is why the twins both didn’t start crying or screaming when that herd of reporters came running at me and effectively, pushing at the twins and Cindy at the same time. 

Children who are unfamiliar with reporters are always “uncomfortable.” I can say this though, every production company that we have ever and I mean ever signed with was kind and friendly to our children and grandchildren. It’s very important to me and my twin that film crews understand we have family that includes younger children and even pets that are an intricate fiber of our lives and business. God bless the production companies for realizing we are a family and often with our grandchildren since reporters obviously don’t for one second consider that I have children with me when charging into the scene.

Our children and grandchildren are no longer intimidated or uncertain with barn storming reporters, cameras or microphones. Why? Because they have spent a large amount of time with over 9 production companies and also have been on location for numerous other film projects. The twins are seasoned and no longer concerned about cameras or microphones although someone charging at them might rattle them, it will not intimidate them anymore. 

The difference between the CW33 NewsFix Interview for my grand twins then and today is experience. The twins and my entire family are now (years later) not only familiar with cameras in our faces and microphones in our bras but also more than “used to the process” of filming. It’s just another day for us. 

Reporters this is for you- children are not accustomed to barn storming. If you would like to interview me or my sister, for God’s sake do not corner us when we have our granddaughters with us on location. 

My youngest grandniece, Madyson is 3 and like the twins years ago, completely and wholly unfamiliar with reporters, microphones or the type of barn storming the twins encountered on the CW33 interview. Did they think I planned to run to the nearest exit for a quick getaway? Who knows. I don’t run with children in tow. No one does. 

A few years later at the same NOH8 Campaign, the twins were not nearly as nervous when KTVT approached us at the event. Why? Because by then they had filmed a television pilot and numerous other film productions. I.E. the twins were now “familiar” with cameras in their faces. See photo below…

I’m not a lesbian but I have thousands of friends who are. The “other woman” was my twin sister. Ironic that everyone assuming that we were partners failed to realize we were twins isn’t it? 

For years now, I have sponsored the Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association Parade. You should know that the parade for YEARS was held in the red light districts of LBGT clubs. To make the parade a “family friendly” event where children felt welcome, a group was established, Fairness Fort Worth to fight politicians and get families the opportunity to bring their children. My accountant, Tom Anable started Fairness Fort Worth. Sadly, Tom took his own life after the Raid At The Rainbow Lounge. I miss him. I will always miss him.

“I’ve never met anyone like you and find your use of foul language to be something I didn’t expect.” F Off. I don’t need your approval. My clients don’t need your approval and I don’t give a shit about what might offend you. After all, you contacted me remember? I grew up with a heroin addict for a mother and bumped around with my siblings for years. If you want “fluffy,” find it somewhere else. I’m not fluffy because I’m real.  

“What does “bound to you by blood or business” mean?” It means that unless you are part of the primary concerns in my life, you are a fly in my soup. Don’t attempt to “guide” me during an interview into making me something I’m not. You can’t pay me enough to be fake or phony or worse, your version of what you expected. 

“How do you manage to keep one client base of yours from being offended by the other?” Offended? Hmm. By what I wonder? That I’m in a Prison one day and in location with affluent people the next? They aren’t going to be at the same event together are they? Well then, why would it matter? 

Unlike “other people” who aren’t my clients, the majority of my clients do not and have not ever compared or judged each other or their differences. Except once in all of these years. That’s right. Once. 

In one (that’s right ONE) instance, I had a TDCJ Client effectively fire me due to my affiliation with the LBGT Community. Because of this and the apparent confusion since I’m a well published and public supporter of LBGT families, I refunded the former client and updated each and every Wendy Wortham site to address ANYONE trolling that I not only perform LBGT ceremonies but ALSO PRISON WEDDINGS. If my occupation or client bases offend anyone, it’s NOT MY LUGGAGE NOT MY TRIP. Get over yourself. 

I hope this blog not only educates but more importantly enlightens everyone who spends 2-5 minutes googling me without spending the time to do more research.

As for this weeks brides and grooms, congrats kids! We made it. It wasn’t easy but it’s now time to celebrate. I look forward to seeing you at Units and sharing your joy. 

To all of my Texas Twins Events & Pawning Planners Clients following TDCJ Weddings, I will see ya all in the coming weeks at backyards, venues, and PS, my team and I are excited to once again be back on the tarmac at Carswell AFB on a C-130 officiating another unique and creative wedding ceremony. If you missed the video of our C-130 Wedding on our last visit to Carswell AFB, click here- Wendy Wortham Carswell AFB On Location With Texas Twins Events.

God Bless America and although my staff and our amazing clients may not be what you either assumed or expected, I can assure you that we are all GOING TO SHINE ON regardless of what you think or assume… 

Traveling In Four Different Directions- Texas Twins Events Team On The Road Again….

It’s unusual for me to call Kevin at Agency to drive me to Shreveport but, it’s been an emotional and exhausting week. Normally, the “draw” of slot machines and bloody Mary’s would keep me in the casino “falling in love with a machine (as usual) and trying to hit a lick.” I can’t help myself. I love the lights, the music, the aptmosphere of a casino. I always have. 

This trip is different though for a number of reasons and my orchestrated agenda has been changed to accommodate my niece, Stephaney who for two years has consistently been an unexpected carnival of chaos to my twin sister AND her twin daughters.

For nineteen months now, my niece Stephaney has been not only back on meth but also involuntarily committed 16 times. I’ve aged more than anyone realizes as has my twin sister throughout this window while continuing to address our clients and putting on our happy faces for Stephaney’s twin daughters. It has been horrible. It has been painful and convincing Stephaney to get help on her own only occurred this past week. Finally, I thought it was over. Finally I had hoped that the normality of our lives would return but, an incident at the Greyhound Terminal while Stephaney waited to board the bus to Georgia would be yet another setback for the Texas Twins. 

Last Tuesday, my niece was beaten at Dallas Greyhound Bus Terminal and subsequently arrested due to a felony warrant in Cotton County, Oklahoma due to a probation revocation. 

Why? Five years ago, my niece was on yet another meth fueled disappearance from Fort Worth with a bum she met along the way and also a passenger in a stolen semi truck. As usual, at the time five years ago, I was also working a large event with two hundred plus guests at 3 different locations with 3 sets of vendors at each location DURING WEDDING SEASON. 

I also needed and more importantly, the client had also BOOKED a bilingual translator, my niece. I don’t speak Spanish. Stephaney does. 

Nothing infuriates or upsets my schedule during the year than a “problem” DURING WEDDING SEASON. 

But, try telling my niece Stephaney that you are working with people who hired you over a year ago. I do not have emergencies in my life other than my niece, Stephaney. 

I’m normally booked out with “traditional clients” one year and frequently up to two years out. I also regularly turn down new bookings or requests for services if the person contacting me “only wants me.” I have a Team. The reason I have a Team is solely because I cannot be everywhere all of the time. 

If I’m not available, I bump you to another member of my staff. Cindy and I work together as a Team. We are inseparable unless of course, Stephaney screws up my schedule as usual. For years this has been a frequent, infuriating and regular occurrence. Read on. 

In order to get Stephaney “off the streets” five years ago after Cindy kicked Stephaney out of the house yet again for getting back on meth, Cindy and I rented her an apartment in an effort to stop looking for her and attempt to get her stable. This expensive endeavor didn’t work. In fact, Stephaney moved in a bum unbeknownst to Cindy or I. While we paid the bills and dropped off groceries every week begging Stephaney to go to work, this bum was hiding out in the apartment we were paying for while eating the food we were buying. 

Because we couldn’t find Stephaney over and over again although we paid for and provided cell phone after cell phone to her, it was decided that we would rent Stephaney and apartment and furnish it in the hopes that my niece would seek and obtain a job. She never did. 

The apartment for Stephaney was about ten miles from my home AKA WorthamWorld. The apartment was about 20 minutes from Cindy in Weatherford. 

On the weekend long event in question, I had also just seen my niece, Stephaney the night before, a Friday right my weekend long booking the day prior. I also had bought clothes (again as usual since she consistently loses or gives away everything her mother or I have continued to buy) for Stephaney to wear over the weekend on location with me at the event and taken her back to the apartment before driving with Cindy & Anne to the rehearsal for my big event that “kicked off” at Rahr Brewery. 

My usual discussion fell on deaf ears. I had firmly instructed my niece to “stay home. Don’t go anywhere. I will pick you up at precisely 9AM Saturday. We must be parked and on location at the Water Gardens by 10AM.” 

The following morning, I drove to Stephaney’s apartment and found she was not at home. I called the cell phone her mother has always paid for since we always lose Stephaney when she’s on meth and it “rolled to voice mail.” 

Alarmed, I went to FB AND LinkedIn to locate a bilingual translator in less than an hour to meet me at the Fort Worth Water Garden. 

Pissed off that as usual, Stephaney had once again disrupted my carefully orchestrated life. Deeply saddened, I also was forced to call my twin sister. Another crushing blow to my twin. We’ve had so many because of Stephaney. I wish it was different but, it hasn’t been in years and years. 

Cindy and I adopted Stephaney’s twin daughters at birth. Why? Because Stephaney is a meth addict. Our mother was a heroin addict and we were both determined to prevent Stephaney’s twin daughters from the violent and abusive childhood that we endured as children of a heroin addict. Thank God we did. 

I literally “paid through the nose” for a “last minute translator” at that event. I worked all weekend and, I didn’t bother trying to find Stephaney because I was working and also because I was madder than Hell about my niece once again screwing up my life, my sisters life and affecting my business. 

What if I didn’t have hundreds of other vendor friends to call during a crisis? What if I hadn’t found a back up translator ON THE DAY OF AN EVENT?! Now you are catching on. No one else on my entire team speaks Spanish. 

On Monday after that weekend long event, I (as usual) filed a missing persons report on my niece. By Wednesday when meeting a client with unusual circumstances, a call from Oklahoma was directed to voice mail by me. 

Laurie was explaining that she had bone cancer and had contacted me solely because she didn’t want to die without seeing her son married first. Laurie was a two time cancer survivor. Laurie wanted a big party. 

The party? Her son’s wedding. Laurie not only had a great party but is also and miraculously still alive. Laurie is (and always will be) a lifelong friend because we helped her when no one else would. Laurie had been working at Walmart. 

My client meeting with her was at the Subway inside Walmart. Not all of my Texas Twins Events bookings are with “rich folks.” 

Although many assume this to be the case, you are mistaken. Laurie wasn’t wealthy but, she didn’t need to be. I don’t “have” to work. I enjoy working. There is a tremendous difference. 

In my opinion, whoever was calling from Oklahoma during a client meeting could go F Off. 

Leaving Laurie, I checked my voice mail. My niece had been arrested and was awaiting a bond hearing in Cotton County Jail for a felony charge. Be me. If I sound angry, rest assured that I’m entitled. 

On the following day, Thursday, I was with Cindy crying all the way while driving to Cotton County, Oklahoma. My niece, Leigh Ann was caring for my twin grandnieces, Maryssa and Makenna in Weatherford, Texas. 

Driving six hours to get to the hearing with my devastated sister beside me, I was also confused. Stephaney didn’t know how to drive a semi. Although Cindy’s husband has been a truck driver for 45 plus years, Stephandy had no idea how to operate that type of a vehicle. My brother in law can drive anything with wheels. My husband will tell you that getting his pilots license was the hardest thing he has ever done and he did it for fun. 

To me-Stephaney attempting to drive a semi or a plane wouldn’t ever be even a remote consideration. What was my niece doing in a stolen semi in Oklahoma? Stealing a semi is similar a stealing a plane. Criminally speaking that is. 

Arriving at Cotton County, I had to help my sister out of my SUV. I was still confused but knew that hiring an attorney would be in Cotton County. There’s a reason. Hiring an attorney outside a country town is a mistake. Why? They have no relationship with the locals. If you unaware of this “hurdle,” the reason that I’m aware is because of my niece, Stephaney who has consistently for nearly 17 years been arrested over and over and over again. 

By the time I located the DA and fully understood the ramifications of the charges, the bond amount would cause me to grab a chair to keep from fainting. The DA looked right at me and said “the bond for your niece is $200k and the bond for her accomplice is $200k as well. She’s also advised me that you are rich and can therefore, bond both parties.” 

I looked right at the DA and said “I’m not doing shit. We are raising her twin daughters and she can rot here with whoever that dumb ass accomplice is.” I meant it. Stunned, shocked and devastated, I have no idea how I made it out of the building without falling down the stairs back to the courtroom for Cindy. 

Walking into the courtroom dazed and confused, I went to get my sister from the chair she was holding with both hands while Stephaney laughed to her accomplice in an orange jumpsuit and chains saying “I told you they would come” and left the building. 

My confused sister wouldn’t ask why until I hit the highway to begin my six hour drive to Fort Worth. When I did tell Cindy what was going on, she fully understood. We also realized that getting Stephaney that apartment had been a mistake and now we would be forced to get rid of all of the furnishings and pay off the last six months of rent too. 

More responsibility and expense because of Stephaney. Wasn’t taking on the responsibility of raising her twin daughters ENOUGH? No. Stephandy will tell you we stole her children. The truth is that we effectively, saved them. 

It would take months for me to decide to “Save Stephaney” as she sat in Cotton County Jail. Months. I finally did and after considering that we had my niece back for the 3 1/2 years probation that “she was on paper,” it was worth it to me. The twins finally established a relationship with Stephaney. 

For the first time in years, Cindy and I were no longer afraid to answer our phones for yet another collect call or go looking for Stephaney yet again but, we could have never guessed in a million years that when the mandatory drug testing terms of Stephaney’s probation stopped that we would lose Stephaney to meth again but, we did. I cannot even put into words how devastating this choice was to our entire family. Even today, Cindy and I are absolutely furious about Stephaney “back tracking.” 

Throwing a rock in the pond causes ripples. Stephaney was the rock. As her devastated twin daughters watched her pack while Cindy supervised Stephaney’s eviction from her home, the somber silence was similar to death. How so? My sister and Stephaney’s daughters were grieving her loss although she wasn’t yet dead. Wearily, all of us recognized that one day drugs would kill my niece. Why she chose to give up free room and board with the opportunity to be a part of her children’s lives after years of choosing the wrong path before winding up in Oklahoma I have no idea. Stephaney loved meth more than her family. My mother loved heroin more than her family. I hate addiction. HATE IT. 

You will often hear me say “people step I shit and expect me to clean their shoes.” Don’t be offended it’s the damn truth. 

Last Tuesday while my son and I were headed to Tennessee Colony, Cindy was headed to pick up Stephaney from “yet another Psych Ward stint.” 

Wednesday morning after staying up all night to keep an eye on her daughter, Cindy took Stephaney to Greyhound Fort Worth to put her on a bus to Voldasta, Georgia. This was our last hope to “fix Stephaney.” We cannot leave Stephaney alone at any time because we fear she will run off and find meth and drag us through more sheer, raw Hell again. 

Cindy literally watched Stephaney get on that bus because we cannot trust her. Not after the past 19 months of Wild and erratic behavior. Hours later, Stephaney was physically attacked at the Greyhound Station in Dallas during a 3 hour layover from Fort Worth.  The Cotton County probation? Revoked. I couldn’t believe any of this happened but, it did. Cotton County had issued a warrant and not “just any warrant” either. A felony warrant was issued. 

After I paid off the felony bond and had Cotton County rescind the warrant at midnight Wednesday evening with Cindy by my side, we picked up Stephaney from the North Tower. 

I then drove Stephaney to Harris Hospital. She had numerous bruises to her head and her knees were battered and bruised from being pushed forward while struggling with two suitcases. 

Yesterday morning, Stephaney was released from Harris Hospital. Tomorrow morning, Stephaney is flying to Valdosta. Cindy and I haven’t slept in days now. 

Last night, my twin sister who hasn’t been home since Monday, checked into another hotel to stay up 24/7 and keep an eye on Stephaney in order to prevent her from disappearing before we can get her on that plane. 

I’m exhausted. Cindy is exhausted. Cindy is fragile. I’m the strong one and even I can’t imagine how I will get through today and tomorrow. 

This is why I chose to hire a car to get to Louisiana. Emotionally and physically I needed to hire a driver. I’m a realist. Rescheduling a booked event isn’t even a consideration for me. It never has been. 

I can’t sleep. I can’t even gamble. I have more ahead of me with no reason to believe it will “flow smoothly” with Stephaney than anyone realizes. I must protect my sister, Cindy but, I’m on location and working. 

I have a Baptism, Vow Renewal and Wedding today in that order. Tonight a car will take me back to Fort Worth to help Cindy by relieving her overnight and watching or keeping an eye on Stephaney myself. 

Tomorrow, we will be at DFW to watch Stephaney enter the airport. Then we are driving straight to Eastland, Texas to interview one of my TDCJ Brides, Amanda to show the world that their perception of “people who marry inmates” is as far from the reality as you can imagine. Amanda is a girl next door. 

Leaving Amanda’s, we are headed to Stephenville for a wedding then on to Willow Lake Event Center off Mineral Wells HWY. This week we are back on the road to 5 Texas Prisons and then next weekend, on location again with “traditional clients.” There is no rest for the weary.

Tomorrow, God willing, the last nearly two years of Stephaney and her choices will finally and hopefully end with a new beginning. A fresh start. A chance at being part of our family again. I pray. I cry. I wail about the years we’ve lost and I hold hope that my niece will realize the mistakes she has made one day and begin to repair her relationship with the twins, her mother and I. I’ve tried everything else over the years and now need Stephaney to try on her own and PUT in the work. But, will she?