Why I Don’t Respond To Shade That Comes From Trees That Don’t Bear Fruit…

We live in an opinionated society but do the opinions of others really have a direct bearing on your life or mine? Probably not. You can please some of the people some of the time but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.

I choose to ignore “Negative Nancy’s” on a regular basis because their opinions have no impact on my life or my clients. A handful of these haters are my own family members. Don’t be shocked. I’m not. After years of defending my client base at family gatherings I finally decided to cut these toxic people from my life and I’m happier for it.

The holidays are right around the corner. Do I care that I won’t be visiting family members who bring me stress and anxiety? Nope. I’m going to save money this Christmas.

I’m also going to focus on people who matter in my family which gives me a far smaller circle.

Years ago, my aunt started an argument with me regarding officiating LBGT weddings at a holiday get together. Being attacked in front of other family members regarding my belief that love is love angered me. Who was she to “butt in” on my business or my clients? What possessed her to use an opportunity where stress is at an all time high to “tell me what she thinks?”

Good Lord, after all of the money I’ve spent on gifts year after year on my family members without so much as a thank you, I’m out on asking my brother or his wife “if they received my gifts or the money I sent through PayPal?” Is it really that hard to acknowledge someone who went out of their way to send you something every year when you’ve never sent even a birthday card or much less a thank you card?

The truth is that my clients have replaced my ungrateful and opinionated family members.

Yesterday, my twin sister, Cindy told me that while talking to our sister in law, Michelle suggested sending her son to live with Cindy. What the? How convenient to assume that my sister who has been raising her twin granddaughters for 16 years would want another responsibility under her roof? Our brothers son has never had any degree of a relationship with us. He’s an adult and nearly 30 years old. Trying to push her son onto Cindy didn’t play out the way Michelle thought it would.

Years ago, our father and his sister “dumped” their mother onto my twin sister by shirking their responsibility and moving grandma into Cindy’s house for eighteen years. Eighteen years of grandma taking two rooms of Cindy’s home. Not paying any rent. Taking control of the television. Complaining if Cindy went somewhere with me. Manipulative and controlling grandma made Cindy’s life a living hell for 18 years until Cindy finally kicked her out. FINALLY.

Our dad and our aunt were angry for years that Cindy gave grandma the boot. Neither of them were angry enough to open THEIR home for their mother though. They both “had their own lives.” Even after Cindy found an apartment for grandma near her house and for the five years grandma lived after being moved from Cindy’s house my sister was still expected to drive grandma to doctor appointments 2-3 days a week, grocery shop for her and go over to visit while dragging them twins along. Cindy became a prisoner of responsibility that wasn’t hers while raising her twin granddaughters. Our dad didn’t care. Our aunt didn’t care.

After my grandmother died, our father tried to move into Cindy’s house. She had learned to say no by then and did. He then tried to move in with me. I let him have a piece of my mind. “We were homeless at 15. We were eating out of trash cans when the police found us and took us to a shelter. Our first apartment we couldn’t even afford electricity. No one in our entire lives has done anything to help us. Ever. I don’t owe you anything. Cindy doesn’t owe you anything. Our children have had no relationship with you or aunt Shirley. Our grandchildren have had no relationship with you or aunt Shirley. We have raised our children and grandchildren without any involvement from you or our mother. Never a birthday card for us or our children or grandchildren. Never a Christmas gift for us or our children or our grandchildren. The only time we hear from you people is when someone wants something from us. My brother never calls or even bothers to thank us for money and gifts we send to him. We are literally invisible to this family unless someone wants or needs something. This family took advantage of Cindy by dumping grandma on her. She didn’t owe grandma anything. Like the rest of you, grandma never helped us. Never acknowledged our birthday or Christmas either. For our entire lives we have been doing things for this family while this family never once stepped up to help us while raising our children between divorces alone with only each other to depend on. Don’t even try to tell me I owe you. I don’t owe you anything.” I meant it. My dad would NEVER live with Cindy or me. EVER.

Our dad wound up living with our brother and now our brothers wife wants to dump her problem son on my sister? I was outraged that she even suggested this idea. Cindy had heart surgery last November. Cindy is raising her granddaughters. Cindy has her hands full already.

It’s not our fault that our father is living with our brother. You don’t owe parents caring for them in their old age when they never took care of you. Period. Cut Em loose.

Our mother was a heroin addict. She never sent a birthday card or a Christmas card either. We never had birthday parties other than the one disastrous birthday party when Cindy and I were 6 years old. Left alone with our grandfather, we were both sexually assaulted. Our grandmother was angry when she came to pick us up that we were crying. So angry that she told us “you are ungrateful and you will never have another birthday party.” We didn’t. For the next 9 years the abuse continued. No one in our family stopped it. Not our father. Not our aunt. Not our grandmother. No one. We ran away from home at 15 and never looked back.

The fact that Cindy had to take care of a grandmother who never took care of us for 18 years is and always will be so preposterous that my anger as well as hers is still with us today.

My son and his wife moved in with me when their house caught on fire several years ago. This lasted 3 months. At the end of those three months, I told him it was time to leave. A few years later, between homes again, my son wanted to move in with my husband and I a second time. I declined. Why? My son had moved his wife’s cousin and his wife’s cousins son in with them as well as four dogs. I wasn’t about to move four people and four dogs into my home indefinitely. They moved in with my daughter in laws father instead while their house was being built. Was my son angry about this? Most likely but, I work 7 days a week as does my husband and our home is our sanctuary. You don’t owe anyone the luxury of moving into your home at your expense.

Cindy and I have a friend, Britney. Britney threatened to divorce Eddie when Eddie’s mother became too old to care for herself. Eddie was an only child. Eddie put his mother in a nursing home where she died several months later. Eddie went to see her on weekends. Britney was given her suv to take her to doctor appointments and visit. Britney never did. She took the car and neglected to go visit or run Eddie’s mother to doctor appointments. Eddie’s mother died waiting for a visit with her grandchildren and Britney.

You need to choose your battles. There will always be someone somewhere “throwing shade.” To hell with them. If they bring nothing to your life other than misery, they don’t belong in your life. Cut them out of your life and keep them out of your head.

The holidays are a stressful time and while federal facilities have reinstated visitation, TDCJ has yet to reinstate visitation. Abbott says he’s going to reopen Texas but when? As we continue to wait for visitation, the anxiety, stress and depression of not being able to visit loved one’s continues.

Last week I was back at Walls Unit marrying clients I couldn’t marry while the inmate was in TDCJ. I will continue to meet any client who is paroling and get you married. Keep me updated on your loved ones status and if they are chained to another facility let me know so I can update our records.

Focus on the people that really matter. If we’ve learned anything during this pandemic it’s what’s really important to us and what isn’t.

I hope to see all of you very soon and please don’t worry about me going to Fort Worth FMC. Every precaution is being taken to ensure that Cindy and I are healthy and ready to meet you at your prison weddings…

“COMPARING A New Love to An OLD Love Is Like COMPARING A LADLE To A SPOON.” Cindy Daniel

A lot of folks wonder where “we come up with quotes.” There’s really no “we.” My twin sister is the “quote Queen.”

Cindy is a self professed redneck. She spent years working on a dairy farm. Her hilarious quotes always contain truth and transparency.

Today’s blog title is better understood with a definition between the ladle and the spoon so here it is…

“a ladle is a deep-bowled spoon with a long, usually curved, handle while spoon is an implement for eating or serving; a scooped utensil whose long handle is straight, in contrast to a ladle.”

You can’t look behind you at a former lover. You must focus on your current love story. Don’t compare apples to oranges. We all learn from our mistakes in relationships past. I learned that I will never tolerate infidelity or violence. Cindy did too.

Yesterday while on BlueTooth with a client planning to marry an inmate, my niece Stephaney listened in while I went over the paperwork process. She then asked me “can I do prison weddings? I think I would be good at it.”

My niece like many people “thinks what I do is easy.” It isn’t. Ask Cindy. I need to have all of the answers. I need to know all of the policies, procedures and guidelines. “I don’t know” isn’t in my vocabulary. I research continuing changes to marriage laws across the country. I know the family code and I understand State, Federal, ICE and County guidelines pertaining to inmate marriage.

I didn’t just “wake up” one day and have all of the answers. I educated myself. No one contacting me wants someone else to conduct their ceremony. Everyone contacting me wants me.

Explaining this to my niece as I did to my son and my other niece, Leigh Ann who handles California weddings since she moved there about a year ago isn’t an easy conversation.

To my family what I do looks easy. They aren’t with me when my phone rings all night long or while my husband sleeps as I answer emails and DM’s on social media. They have no idea how much time I spend walking clients through a complicated process. My husband does.

I’m awake at 5:30AM reviewing emails 7 days a week. What I do requires commitment. What I do requires knowledge.

What I do requires a huge amount of my time and dedication. I don’t talk to or email a “traditional booking” 20-30 times. A traditional booking generally requires me on site for a rehearsal and the wedding and a few phone calls to set everything up if I’m only officiating the ceremony. I rarely take on a booking for a planner AND officiant these days.

Why? My time. Planning an event takes a huge amount of my time talking to other vendors as well as meeting them with a client. I learned 4 years ago that planning ONE event takes far too much of my time.

Prior to Covid, I easily officiated up to 8 weddings a week. Why tie myself down with phone calls and meetings for ONE CLIENT when I could be addressing several? From a business standpoint, planning an event outside of a prison just wasn’t worth my time. I’ve been in this business over ten years and grew tired of working with divas who were unreasonable.

Comparing a “traditional client” to a client marrying an inmate is like comparing a ladle to a spoon.

“Traditional clients often ask me for an apple and expect a pie.” No thanks.

The clients I “choose” to book over any other type of client booking are marrying an inmate. They are thankful. They are amazing. They are also marrying an inmate.

There won’t be cake or flowers. There won’t be guests or music. There will be my client, their loved one and a few correctional officers.

The variation between being on site at a prison or at a venue are REALLY significant. There isn’t any of the “fluff” at a prison. I wish my clients could bring a family member or exchange a ring or carry a bouquet or wear bouteniers but these luxuries of traditional ceremonies aren’t allowed within TDCJ.

There is intimacy at a prison wedding.

I won’t be dealing with “other vendors.” I won’t be dealing with “the venue.”

I am only dealing with my client and prison authorities. I PREFER PRISON WEDDINGS.

There is no drama. There are no drunks. There isn’t anyone standing up and trying to object while screwing up my carefully scripted ceremony.

There are two people in love who went through all sorts of red tape to stand with me.

There are two people who are so committed to marrying that they patiently waited through a paperwork process that took months. The photographer isn’t a professional. The photographer is a correctional officer. No one can complain about the quality of unit photos because they are the only photos we will have with the inmate in them.

My client and I will leave the prison and find a nice place for me to unload an suv full of bouquets, furs, tiaras, fascinators, veils, fun signs and inventory to set up their photo shoot with me.

I want their wedding day as special as they are. That makes me different from anyone else. I care. Cindy cares.

Our prison clients become our friends for life. We baptize their babies. We orchestrate and officiate their vow renewals. I have also conducted funeral ceremonies for family members of my previous clients.

Yesterday, I had several emails from people anxious for TDCJ to reinstate visitation wanting to hire me. I currently have several clients at several TDCJ Units that will take priority when visitation commences. I never line jump anyone onto my schedule.

I’m currently addressing Federal client bookings because Federal has reinstated visitation. There are and have been a handful of State Facilities that reinstated visitation months ago. Please follow preregistration guidelines.

Once we get the all clear for TDCJ, my clients who were previously booked will be scheduled first.

Many TDCJ Units have several clients waiting so adding you to an existing Unit with other clients isn’t going to be an issue. I cannot take on anyone at this time at a Unit that is not already on my existing schedule though. Please be aware of this.

What are my existing Unit booking sites? Beto, Gurney, Powledge, Ferguson, Scott, Allred, Cole, Roach, Clements, Robertson, Middleton, Wallace, Stiles, Lewis, Polunsky, Estes, Estelle, Crain, Holliday, Darrington, Jordan, Briscoe, Michael, Coffield, Byrd, Hobby, Marlin, Hodge, Crain, Wynn, Garza, Hutchins, Moore, Eastham, Hutchins, Hobby, & Luther. If your loved one is at any of the above Units, we can stack you into the existing list. If they aren’t, you will need to wait until my existing clients and Units are addressed first or book my twin, Cindy to conduct your ceremony.

TDCJ bookings will be addressed first prior to other states being considered. Why? Texas is my primary booking state and other states were addressed in February as Cindy and I travelled outside of Texas. Also most states only allow inmate weddings 1 or 2 times PER YEAR. Because of the policies in other states, I stack clients planning to marry and cover numerous cities a few times a year.

In March, the only bookings I had were in Texas. 17 clients were cancelled. 38 clients were waiting to marry within TDCJ. These clients are my priority and focus moving forward for obvious reasons.

Stacking clients and Units does not constitute “group weddings.” I do not perform group weddings in Texas. Each client has 20 minutes. If your loved one is a G2 or G3, you should have a contact wedding but I have no idea if TDCJ will change this due to Covid as the issue hasn’t been addressed yet.

Contact verses non contact… hold hands and one closed mouth kiss. Non contact is a separation of glass or steel cage.

There are no ring exchanges in Texas due to the Administrative Directive. Guests are so rare that in several hundred weddings within TDCJ only twice has a warden made the exception. Once at Estes and once at Estelle high security.

Your guests can wait and join you in your photo shoot with me but it’s highly unlikely they will be authorized to enter and witness your ceremony. Witnesses are not required at Prison Weddings.

You must be an approved visitor. I am not a visitor. Please don’t list me as a visitor as doing so creates a problem.

We will most likely be required to wear a mask. If you don’t have one, let me know and I will bring one on wedding day.

You must be 15 minutes early. Please plan accordingly and do not forget your marriage license.

Media inquiries must go through TDCJ. I have had many journalists contact me regarding following my client and I into a Unit. My client must agree to this AS WELL as the inmate. Be aware of this.

I will not allow anyone (journalist or production companies) to accompany me to a Unit Wedding without my client and their loved ones consent and their permission. It’s THEIR wedding day after all.

Last year a journalist did accompany me to 4 units in one day. TDCJ would only allow the journalist into one Unit with me. She chose Polunsky.

TDCJ will not allow a journalist or anyone else into every unit I walk into. Pick one. I often go to 1-4 Units in the same day due to the fact that Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are TDCJ scheduling days for ceremonies.

I look forward to meeting all of you at your prison weddings.

“Take time to make time. Make time to be there.” Little River Band

Juggling my schedule to accommodate clients who have been waiting for Federal prisons to reopen, I had a call Monday from someone wanting to marry “as soon as possible.” Her reason was that her fiancée would be shipping out today to Anderson AFB in Guam.

I took a moment to double check my schedule and suggested meeting me at the Salvation Army in Fort Worth. The location may surprise you so I will explain. Wednesday’s are half off days at the Salvation Army and whenever I have time, I shop for items that women and children at the shelter might need or furniture for those in need.

My niece is moving from Lompoc to Fort Worth next month so I’ve been on the look out for end tables, a love seat and bedroom furniture.

My sister, Tammy is coming with Kori and Fernando who have already rented a house in Saginaw, Texas near my son and his wife.

A bride I had married at Beto Unit a few years ago sent me an email asking if I could reprint and send her wedding photos? After searching Instagram and FB and copying the photos to my phone, I picked up my niece, Stephaney from the group home she’s living at and headed to Walgreens to print the photos while Stephaney waited on me.

My son had called to ask about my schedule and if I would have time to meet him and “look at Oliver’s diaper rash?” I dropped Steph off at work and went back to Walgreens to pick up my brides photos and headed to the post office where I called my son to tell him I was due at Salvation Army at 11 but could meet him later. It was 10:15AM.

At about 10:30 while waiting in line at the post office and getting concerned about the distance from the post office up the Salvation Army, I had a text from my bride asking if we could move our 11 o’clock meeting to 12 so her mother and the grooms mother could attend the wedding. I said “sure, see you then.”

I called my son back to let him know I now had time to meet him earlier as opposed to later. My son asked me to meet him in Lake Worth at 10:45 to take a look at his son, Oliver’s rash so I headed there first.

Oliver had what appears to be a yeast infection so I suggested my son go ahead and take him to the pediatrician. It’s not uncommon for my niece, Leigh Ann or my son to send me photos or FaceTime videos to look at Maddie or Oliver.

Often Maddie has a bump from running into something. She’s a precarious little daredevil that jumps off furniture on a regular basis. Oliver is now eating prepared organic foods and this may be why his little body is reacting to the foods my son and his wife are trying out on him for the first time.

After filling up my sons truck, he headed to the pediatrician.

I rolled out of the QT in Lake Worth and headed to the Salvation Army. I had loaded my suv with furs, fascinators, hats and an assortment of bouquets and bouteniers as well as tiaras for the wedding photos of my couple.

I pulled into Salvation Army and sent a text that I was on site and ran in to look through the store quickly.

At exactly 12PM, three cars pulled in beside me. My couple and both of their moms and I met for the first time in person. I opened my trunk and showed them the treasures I had packed for our short notice wedding ceremony. We couldn’t come up with anywhere we liked in the area so I decided that the Fort Worth courthouse would work well and we caravanned our way from the Salvation Army to the courthouse.

I had typed up a wedding ceremony script for the couple and passed out LV and Chanel face masks from my inventory as my bride wanted one “Covid photo” for a keepsake.

The mothers were so much fun and although it was warm, my bride wore two of my fur stoles for her photo shoot after the ceremony. We had a great time.

I’ve had several calls and emails regarding inmate weddings. Currently, State, ICE and County have not announced when visitation might be reinstated. Federal is leading the way by reinstating non contact visitation no later than October 3, 2020. Please understand that I will be addressing Texas clients first then Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisianna. I’m not going to be addressing California and my other service area states until next year. I expect TDCJ to reinstate visitation within a few months and since I have 57 TDCJ clients who were cancelled in March and April, TDCJ clients will take priority when visitation is reinstated.

My longtime secretary, Virginia is and has been blind in her left eye due to a surgery to correct a cataract. Her cornea slipped and a subsequent year long infection left her permanently blind in her left eye. Her right eye was operated on several months ago and she’s been having problems with that as well so between juggling work and family, I’ve been taking Virginia to specialists in the hopes of getting her “good eye” repaired. Virginia has been with me thirty years and we both appreciate your prayers for healing.

Saturday I’m on site in Mineral Wells at a wedding with a bride who has decided to have her dog give her away. I love pets in weddings as many of you are aware and while this may sound odd to a few people, the brides dog is her best friend.

Last week I was trying to locate 60 chairs and 8 tables for this event since the original vendor cancelled. We have now found tables and chairs for the October 3rd wedding. Thanks so much for all of the vendor suggestions.

One of my TDCJ clients, Vickie tagged me in a Palo Pinto post for a mom trying to find another Officiant after their original Officiant became ill but due to my schedule in Mineral Wells then at Belltower Chapel this Saturday, its impossible for me to squeeze in Palo Pinto so I sent a message to Vickie thanking her for thinking of me but my schedule is so crazy and unpredictable that it’s rare to squeeze in a short notice booking. Wednesday worked because I was scheduled to file marriage licenses in Tarrant County and after the wedding Wednesday, I had my newly married couples jump in my Sahara so we could file their license immediately and get two certified copies. One for the military and the other for my bride to change her name.

This morning while preparing to drive to Parker County from my East Fort Worth Appraisal Appointment, I was overjoyed to find that the test results for my former bride, Deanna (who located a surrogate several months ago after a failed a IVF attempt) had exciting news that the baby is Trisomy negative which is something she has been worried about. It’s a blessing. Deanna lost DeLilah to Trisomy two years ago. I baptized DeLilah immediately after birth as we had a very short window. Two days later, I conducted the memorial for baby DeLilah.

My son called me. “Mom, you remember helping Angel get her grandson from Crain Unit whole Lexi was in prison?”

How could I forget? There are many babies born in prison. Families of the inmates take on the role and responsibility of raising these children.

My mind went back to the updates of Angel expecting the release of Lexi from prison after 6 months. Angel has been raising her grandson as her own child. He’s a happy baby.

My son asked “mom are you still there?” I skipped a beat anticipating less than happy news from the toms of his voice. ”

Yes. What’s wrong? I saw where Lexi was released last month.”

This wasn’t going to be good news. I could hear it in his voice. “Mom, Lexi was only home for 6 days with Angel and the baby. She’s in Houston now and she’s back on drugs. She’s posting videos on FB. I saw them. Bad videos. Angel is afraid she will come back and try to take the baby from her. Asher is 6 months old. Angel can’t afford an attorney. What can you do to help her?”

Because Angel has had possession of the baby for 6 months, she’s in a position to request custody. Family court in Texas rarely allows pro se litigants though so trying to help Angel locate an attorney to help will be challenging. Like my twin sister, Angel gave up her job to raise her grandson. My sister gave up her job to raise her twin granddaughters 16 years ago.

I was getting dressed to meet a client bartering in East Fort Worth at an Appraisal Appointment through my sister site, The Pawning Planners and Cindy was tied up on Parker County meeting another client at Willow Lake Event Center. I sat my coffee down. Ugh. I thought prison had changed Lexi. I thought the birth of her child and support of her family would force her to straighten up and fly right. I felt a pang in my heart for her mother and her child.

I decided to go grab my Texas Family Law book and review grandparents rights. I was sitting in my office when Angel answered my message to call me. “Asher has his 6 month check up and I’ve got a dentist appointment after that for my youngest daughter. Can I call you.” Me “absolutely. I will do what I can to get you help in obtaining information to protect your grandson from your oldest daughters choices. I’m so sorry she’s back on the streets. Sick really over it. Heartbroken and saddened.”

Angel had called me three years ago. “Can you help me? My daughter is in the streets and I have no idea where she is. I know you are familiar with searching the streets because I follow your updates about your niece. I know you’ve found your niece several times. I’m afraid my daughter is dead.” Angel had sent me recent photos of Lexi. I examined them and printed 2 to keep in my suv.

Amazingly a few days later, I did find Lexi. I found her off Calmont and Camp Bowie. She had dyed her hair. Her clothing was dirty. She had been talking to a group of other people who didn’t respond well to a stranger walking up to the group. I was the stranger.

Lexi didn’t recognize me. I rolled up and said “Lexi, it’s Wendy Wortham. Robert’s mom. Your mom worked with my son years ago. You know me. I’ve met you before. Your mom is worried about you. Can I take you to get something to eat and have you call your mom?”

Reluctantly, Lexi got into my suv. A few of her friends wanted to join her. I’m not stupid and declined having strangers sitting behind me in my suv. “Sorry folks I’m only interested in taking Lexi. Maybe next time.”

She was just obviously on something. “What are you doing in this area? You don’t fit in. You could get hurt. My friends wanted to come with me. “Your friends aren’t my friends and I don’t want strangers in my car. I have a family depending on me. I have clients depending on me and quite frankly I have a husband expecting me to come home tonight so putting your friends in my suv wasn’t ever going to happen.”

I thought about the nearly 16 years my twin sister and I had spent back then trying to find her daughter, Stephaney. It was Hell. We’ve been in dangerous places to drag Steph out and put her back in treatment. We both had late night calls from jails with Steph screaming at us.

We’ve both aged trying to save Steph. No one and I mean absolutely no one understands where we’ve been or what we’ve been through UNLESS they have a loved one with mental illness and addiction issues. Don’t judge people who do whatever they can to try and save a loved one. We don’t need your negativity. We need your understanding.

Normality is the one thing every parent of an addict lacks and desperately wants.

I had driven Lexi to a restaurant. I handed her my phone to call her mom on FB messenger. She didn’t know the phone number to reach her mother. I had offered to take her to women’s haven. I had offered to help her get off the streets. Lexi wanted none of my suggestions. I had tried. God knows I tried to help Lexi. She wanted me to take her back to where I had found her. She wanted cigarettes. I bought them. I feared then Lexi would die in the streets. I recall seeing her wave goodbye in my rear view mirror happily walking back to her group. Lexi had made a decision. She wouldn’t return home to her mother. She wouldn’t accept my offer to get her off the streets either.

Leaving the apartment complex I dropped her off at, I was pulled over. “What are you doing in this area?” It’s true I didn’t fit in.

“My niece, Stephaney is missing. I filed a report. Here’s the number. I’m her aunt. I’ve been trying to find her and another mother reached out and asked if I could look for her daughter, Lexi. I found her but she won’t let me take her to the women’s haven.”

Both officers look at the missing persons report on their computer. One of them walks back to my suv. “This is a dangerous area. You don’t belong here. People who are here want to be here. Go back to the suburbs. Get out of here before you get car jacked or robbed or killed.”

I’ve heard it before. For years. In desperation to find my niece, I’ve heard similar things many times from officers. My sister has too. We just couldn’t give up on Steph. We would find her. Put her in treatment. She would get out again and we would lose her again. I’m crying as I admit how hellish it’s been. How painful. How tragic. It has been the hardest thing I’ve ever been through in my life to save Steph. It was even harder on Cindy. She gave up her life at 40 to raise the twins. She tried over and over to fix Steph but she couldn’t. We couldn’t. My niece has done so many things to hurt our family that my husband won’t allow her in our house. The twins won’t speak to Steph. I recall driving her back from treatment in Oklahoma 6 years ago and flat out telling her “if you don’t straighten up one day your children won’t have anything to do with you. Get your life together.” She didn’t believe me. But I knew that at some point the twins would give up on their mom and I was right.

Two years after finding Lexi, she was arrested and a year later sentenced. Her rap sheet is a mile long.

Lexi was pregnant at her sentencing. During those years of Lexi lost to the streets my niece was in and out of psych wards and treatment centers when she wasn’t back on the streets again. I wouldn’t give up hope for Steph even when Cindy did. I couldn’t. I believed I could save Steph. No one could convince me otherwise not my husband, not my twin. No one. When I wasn’t working I was driving into dangerous areas trying to find Steph. Cindy would call me and say “don’t you go look for her alone.” I would tell my twin, my best friend, my other half “I’m not don’t worry I won’t go look alone.” I would then go look alone driving through the areas I knew homeless people often congregated.

Six months ago, while Steph was still in rehab in Grove, Oklahoma, Angel contacted me again. “Lexi is going to have my grandson while on prison. What can I do to get my grandchild?” Angel picked up Asher exactly 6 months ago. She hoped prison would change Lexi but it didn’t. Angel chose to save her grandchild.

Sixteen years ago, my twin sister saved her twin granddaughters. We both hired an attorney and sought custody of Maryssa and Makenna. If we hadn’t at any time my niece could have stormed in and demanded the twins.

Lexi is in the wind. Angel needs to get legal custody of her grandson. She’s had him in her care for 6 months. Helping Angel to protect her grandson from having Lexi show up and try to take him won’t be easy but it’s necessary.

My niece is now stable. She’s working. She’s living in a group home. She’s focusing on finally getting it together. She was 15 when she became pregnant with twins. I was 15 when Cindy and I ran away from home. I was also pregnant. Unlike Steph or Lexi, Cindy and I lived at the women’s haven. We got our lives together. We escaped the streets, homelessness and poverty. We came from nothing. A heroin addict for a mother and a family who didn’t care about us. We survived. Work became our passion. We had each other.

Cindy and I have raised our children and grandchildren as a team. We have dedicated our lives to being the parents we never had. I believe Angel has done the same thing. Saving her grandson from Lexi’s choices has been difficult financially and emotionally. Angel prays for her daughter to straighten up and fly right while she cares for her grandson.

Like many grandparents, Angel is about to do whatever is necessary to give her grandson the stability he deserves…

“TRIM the FAT with TOXIC people, BEFORE your LEFT with only GRISTLE.”

Only you can cut people out of your life. I can’t do it for you. What I can do is insist that you ask questions. Why? Because secrets can and will hurt you.

Some of you may be wondering “what types of secrets?”

Over the past three weeks I’ve had someone contact me about someone I married after she realized that the bride had died in an effort to contact her ex my now grieving groom).

I do not share client information to ANYONE. In fact I’m regularly contacted by journalists or production companies trying to get contact information from me.

Another bride contacted me this morning regarding a paternity suit against her new husband. Shocking I know.

“My now husband was recently served with paternity papers from a child born before we were married. He doesn’t want anything to do with the child, let alone the woman. What are his options?”

He will be forced to undergo a DNA test. If it’s proven that he is the father of the child, he will be ordered to pay child support and medical insurance for the benefit of the child. Whether he “wants anything to do with the child or not” he has a financial responsibility to care for the child if in fact the child is his.

Many parents of children who don’t pay their court ordered child support face severe penalties. In Texas, failure to pay child support can and does result in imprisonment for criminal non support. The ability to renew a drivers license can be taken away. Income tax refunds as well as his wages are also be garnished.

Occasionally the non custodial parent will attempt to sign away parental rights to skirt child support but a judge as well as the custodial parent must agree. The non custodial parent doesn’t make the decisions or “have options.”

Because your husband “doesn’t want to have anything to do with the child,” you should be aware that what he wants to do and what he is legally obligated to do are two different things and educate yourself.

Under the Texas Family Code chapter 161 a parent can file a petition to terminate his or her rights. The most significant result of terminating a parent’s rights is that the parent no longer has rights to access the child through possession or visitation periods and the parent’s support obligation is terminated.

There was a time in Texas where it was NOT difficult for a parent owing child support (an obligor parent) to terminate his or her rights to avoid paying child support after a divorce or other suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR).

In almost every family court in Texas the judges now decline to permit an obligor parent to terminate his or her rights voluntarily unless there is also another person adopting the child to ensure the child receives the benefit of two supporting parents. The Texas Family Code requires any termination of parental rights to be in the child’s best interest. It is usually not in the best interests of the child to eliminate the financial support of one parent without compelling reason.

Family judges have discretion to determine whether a voluntary termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interests but their discretion almost always falls in favor of maintaining two supporting parents.

You may want to prepare yourself for what lies ahead in terms of your household income. Why? Because his financial responsibilities and obligations will affect your household income whether he takes advantage of court ordered visits regarding this child or not.

I can’t say this enough to people planning to marry…. ASK QUESTIONS.

What you don’t know can and will impact your marriage. Snap out of it. If you don’t ask questions you will never get answers.

Next question. “My husband’s step daughter who he has no legal responsibility to is inviting us to her graduation party. He divorced his ex because she cheated on him. Should we go to the party and subject ourselves to this uncomfortable situation?

I would. The ex cheated on him the step daughter didn’t. While this may feel uncomfortable to you, take the higher road by either attending and if you just can’t bring yourself to do so, send a check. Marriages merge families. The step daughter may have had a good relationship with your husband that compelled her to invite you both to her graduation. It’s a victory and accomplishment that she wanted you to be a part of.

Put your feelings about her mother aside and talk to your husband (civilly without bias or your feelings about his ex) as to whether he would like to attend or send a check. Get his input. Ask what he would like to do and support his decision.

We can’t blame children for the parents actions. What we can do is celebrate their accomplishments with them or congratulate them for their accomplishments.”

I now have a November bride who recently discovered she was pregnant AND that her fiancée was cheating AT THE SAME TIME.

I met her this morning to help her file eviction papers. Why? Her fiancée is living with her and she’s about to give him the boot that’s why.

What is the difference of community property? Do I need a prenuptial agreement?”

A traditional marriage merges both assets and debts of the couple. This merging creates community property. If the couple were to buy a home together, cars together, stocks and bonds together as well as other assets, these become community property as well.

A prenuptial agreement separates one parties assets as separate property and the other parties assets as separate property.

Prenuptial agreements can also separate debt incurred prior to the marriage to the debtor rather than both parties. In essence, prenuptial agreements protect the property of one person who may have significantly more assets than the other person.

A prenup is an agreement made by a couple before they marry concerning the ownership of their respective assets should the marriage fail.

Meaning if the marriage doesn’t fail, the prenup has no bearing.

These types of documents are used specifically in the event of a divorce or dissolution of the marriage.

Important to note is that marriage is the only way to merge debts of your partner legally. Often called sexually transmitted debt, the merging of debt is a very real possibility when marrying without a prenup that specifically separates the debts of one person from the other person.

People are generally uncomfortable regarding prenuptial agreements because they feel their partner doesn’t trust them enough to marry without one.

The truth is that divorce without a prenup is an equal split of assets and debt. The assets are often acquired throughout the marriage in most cases but if one person has far more assets going into a marriage, that person needs to protect their assets with a prenup in the event the marriage doesn’t endure.

No. There’s a reason for this though I’ve been married before. It’s difficult to appreciate a good husband unless you’ve had a bad husband. I have had both. My husband has too.

We are both older. I’m 55 and he’s 68. We have been married for many years. I like structure and order. I’m OCD. He accepts this and we work together to keep our home. We both work a lot and I travel constantly.

Our marriage is solid because we want to grow old together. We respect each other and are thankful for a solid and predictable life ahead of us.

We’ve struggled through my illnesses due to thyroid cancer and we’ve overcome him losing his business in the real estate crisis of 2007–08. We have weathered many storms. Financial and medical issues popped up within one year of our marriage. Many people would have ran. We didn’t. Instead we have learned the value of teamwork.

My husband views me as his hero. I in turn view him as my hero. Our marriage wasn’t easy in the beginning faced with my health issues at the same time we encountered his loss of income but we made it through the storm.

Every marriage will have challenges. How you handle those challenges is going to enrich your marriage or end it. Choose wisely.

“NEVER allow your TEARS TODAY to DETOUR the HOPE you have for TOMORROW.

Leaving San Antonio to return for a memorial in Parker County today, my heart was heavy. For several days now I’ve been hearing from three brides that are upset about letters being sent from inmates that are running from hot to cold. It’s not uncommon for my clients to call me because many of them don’t have family and friends who support their decision to love an inmate. It’s not an easy path and it’s far harder when you don’t know what to believe anymore from an inmate.

A lot of people are surprised I’m so comfortable in prisons. I’m going to share a little background with you to enlighten you. My mother was a heroin addict and effectively in or out of jail or prison most of her life. She forgot my sisters, brother and I on a regular basis. The police station was familiar to us. We spent a lot of time there while officers tried to track down our mother, father or grandparents. Actually, we were comfortable at the police station from a very young age. There were donuts and vending machines and a building full of officers concerned about our well being. You could say we grew up in police stations due to the amount of time we spent waiting for someone to come pick us up. When we were left at the park for hours and another parent noticed, we had the luxury of riding to the police station in the police car.

About ten years ago while in California, I was asked to perform a wedding at Lompoc. Since then I have performed weddings at State, Federal, ICE and County Jails nationwide.

Today while at lunch preparing to go to the memorial for Garrett who was married in June this year, Cindy and I discussed a few emails from brides and grooms planning to marry an inmate as well as a pesky journalist who somehow managed to find out that I am the TDCJ Approved Officiant scheduled to marry a high profile inmate to a woman rather than a man. No thanks. My clients and their confidentiality are important to me. Go fishing somewhere else Pal.

I don’t discuss details of inmates. I don’t share personal information about my clients either. My clients are on the outside. The inmate isn’t my client. The person on the outside is. I’m protective of personal information of my client and the inmate because the inmates crimes often affect perception of my clients from the general public. I’ve never asked why someone is incarcerated. It’s none of my business. Sure, I could look and find it but I don’t. Why? Because my opinion of an inmate is based on their behavior towards me. I don’t want a preconceived idea about an inmate. I “go into every Unit” fresh and without any opinion as to why an inmate is incarcerated just as I would with any client who isn’t incarcerated. Everyone is treated with respect and dignity regardless of where they are marrying.

I’m going to share with you that back in 2007, my twin sister and I literally did everything we could to discourage a relationship with her daughter Leigh Ann and a con artist she bumped into at Target in Lake Worth while we were buying bathing suits for my twin grandnieces on our way to NRH20.

This guy followed us several aisles. I didn’t like him right off. Cindy didn’t either but within weeks Leigh Ann was madly in love with a guy who claimed to be a war hero.

Coming from a military family ourselves, these war stories were fishy to say the least and yet we had no way to disprove everything David said that Leigh Ann believed. This scenario came up at lunch today for a few reasons.

First, because I was discussing a bride who caught her fiancée in a fling with another woman at her house.

Secondly, because she’s pregnant. I don’t want her to marry this guy. I’ve been really pretty vocal about this. I’m always really vocal when I feel strongly against anyone whether it’s my clients or my own family members marrying. I’m a very protective person. I couldn’t win against David. Cindy couldn’t either. Whatever we found on this guy Leigh Ann refused to read.

Playing with her food and probably remembering the drama of David in her life, Leigh Ann looked over and asked “are you going to go as far as you did with David?”

My answer was “I might. He’s going to hurt her and break her heart. This isn’t husband material she deserves better.” I meant it.

Marriage records are public in Texas. Leigh Ann and David had bought a marriage license in McClennan County on their way to his hearing in Amarillo. A reporter would later call Leigh Ann to ask about that marriage license. Thank God she didn’t marry this guy.

Richard David McClanahan knew or must have had some idea that he would be arrested and yet he goes in the opposite direction to Waco to purchase a marriage license with my niece before backtracking to Amarillo? I know the distance because there are prisons near both cities that I have conducted weddings at. Why would he choose Waco? Was it because he was familiar with the clerks office there? Why would he want to buy a marriage license knowing the sentencing he was facing for his stolen valor and financial lies on a bank record? I will never know but I will always wonder.

Leigh Ann didn’t know that David would be arrested at that hearing. She didn’t know she would be driving his car back to drop it at the dealership and turn it in or find a home for his dog or empty his apartment and store everything while he went straight from that hearing to a prison. FCI Yazoo City to be exact.

Even after being called by someone telling her that David was going to prison, Leigh Ann didn’t believe it. She didn’t attend the hearing. She waited at the hotel. I’m glad she did. David was her first real boyfriend. The first person to ask her to marry him. The first person to take her breath away. She believed she loved him. She believed he was telling her the truth. Cindy and I didn’t.

Leigh Ann and David had planned to marry after the hearing. That never happened. She still has the marriage license.

After the hearing, David’s attorney called Leigh Ann to tell her he wasn’t coming back. She called her mom, my twin sister who called me. The details were sketchy. We wanted to fly her home. David’s attorney wanted her to return his car.

The thought of my hysterical niece driving back to Weatherford from Amarillo was horrific. She was overwhelmed. She was shocked. She was finally seeing through the faux life that David had created.

Something was always off about David. He moved fast. Really fast.

After the Amarillo arrest, we helped Leigh Ann drop off David’s car and find a home for his dog and loaded all of his possessions into a UHAUL and into storage. There was a box of medals. Another box of state issued license plates. There were weird things that supported his charges.

He still called from prison and even talked Leigh Ann into visiting him in Mississippi. She took one of my grandnieces, Makenna with her.

As usual, David claimed to be innocent. “This is all a mistake. I will get put and when I do we will get married.” Cindy and I were both anxious about this and had already begun skip tracing David and his history. David has quite a colorful history.

To those who met him, Richard David McClanahan was quite the hero, an attractive man with an impressive military career. Three Purple Hearts. Three Silver Stars. Two tours in Iraq. One tour in Afghanistan. He was a POW being considered for the Medal of Honor.
The only problem was none of it was true.
Ms. Beard, who has filed for an annulment of her marriage, is now trying to help other would-be victims of Mr. McClanahan’s scams. She contacted my niece. Leigh Ann (at the time) wasn’t willing to listen.
“My perspective is more of a victims’ advocate,” she said Friday. “I just want people to know so they can make an informed decision. I don’t want them to be stuck with a $30,000 debt.”
Since learning about her husband’s habitual lying, Ms. Beard has received e-mails from girlfriends he had while married to his first wife. She’s also been in touch with some of his more recent girlfriends – women he has dated since he and Ms. Beard broke up in April. One bought him a car and a cellphone, she said.
“I’m up to six, if not eight” girlfriends, she said of the women she’s been in contact with.
David literally was living a double life during the time he spent wooing my niece as Cindy and I collected more and more information about David that Leigh Ann wouldn’t read.

McClanahan was arraigned June 13, 2007 in Amarillo, Texas, for the charges pending against him in federal court. He pleaded not guilty.

The felony charge, which accuses McClanahan of misstating and inflating his income on a financial statement in order to get a car loan, carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million, Drake said.

The charge of falsely claiming he had three Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts and the Legion of Merit carries up to six months in prison and a $5,000 fine.

The final charge, falsely claiming he received a Medal of Honor, carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

David spent about a year and a half in prison. He had a 3 year prison term but was released early on good behavior.

While in prison he told Leigh Ann to use his account to pay for phone calls and put money on his books. We still couldn’t get rid of this guy no matter what we tried. Leigh Ann did everything David told her to do THEN David accused her of bank fraud. This idiot had finally laid out enough rope to hang himself.

Horrified, Leigh Ann told me about this accusation. I immediately began collecting information and evidence regarding where the money was sent and on what as well as letters from David instructing Leigh Ann what to do with the money. I created a defense so strong that the bank went back on David.

Con artists don’t care who they hurt or who they use. David didn’t. He finally showed his true colors. We thought it was over but a year and a half later, David called Leigh Ann after release from prison and she decided to go to lunch.

2-3 years of David in and out of her life had worn her out. Did he love her? Was he a sociopath? Could he change? Our answers were no over and over again. David had a furnished apartment. He also had a two year old car.

Leigh Ann asked “how and why he had obtained these things after just being released from prison?”

His answer? “People give me things and do things for me. Do you want to get married?” Leigh Ann left and never contacted him again.

She didn’t date or anything and later bumped into her current husband while traveling to a Microsoft meeting in Seattle.

Alex is everything that David wasn’t. He’s military and in the Navy. He’s a good father and provider. He’s honest and determined to be the best husband he can be.

David is still living somewhere in Fort Worth. He’s also probably looking for his next wife if he hasn’t found one already.

The best advice I can give anyone is to find out more about who you are marrying. Ask questions. Get answers. Run a background check. Do what you need to do to protect you.

My role is to protect you from things you may not see or notice that I do. My role by far exceeds simply showing up and marrying you. I’m your friend and will always be your friend. I care about your future and your happiness.

For Love Or Money? Why Opinions From People Who Can’t Accept Your Love Story Don’t Matter…

A journalist called me Saturday who obviously had some unfounded opinions regarding marrying inmates being “all about the money.” How and why this biased belief exists I have no idea but I know this, the people I marry to inmates are dedicated, determined, resilient and do it all alone on the outside. They are warriors. They prove that love is more than a 4 letter word.

Many of you don’t have the support you deserve from family or friends. Many of you feel isolated regarding your decision to marry an inmate. Many of you feel you don’t have anyone to talk to but you do. You have me. I take calls, texts, emails and DM’s 7 days a week from 8AM-9PM. I’m here to listen and I’m here to offer you advice. I’m old and I’m wise and your concerns are important to me.

I had a bride ask me about a prenuptial agreement. She’s planning to marry at Garza East. I can prepare this document for you and understand the need to have one if the inmate has outstanding debts going into the marriage. You need to protect what’s yours. You also need to know that the ONLY way to “catch” your spouses debt is by marrying. Be cautious. Ask questions. Too many people don’t ask about their partners debt. Sexually transmitted debt occurs when a marriage happens. Marriage merges debt.

While many of you might think you don’t have anything to protect, what you are doing is isolating your future spouses debts from your own as well as your assets.

Years ago, twenty to be exact, I was opening my mail when a tax lien popped up. I had never ever had an issue with the IRS. In fact, I’m afraid of very few things but the IRS is one of the the things I’m so terrified of that I overlay my taxes. My ex husband had presented his taxes to me and instructed me to “sign this. We are married now.” By signing that document, I unwittingly assumed half of a $378k tax debt.

It took me months to successfully file an Innocent Spouse case with the IRS. In fact, to educate myself, I took a job at H & R Block to learn more about tax debts in order to represent myself. My ex had a tax attorney. I had myself. Many of you are unaware that I’ve been through some serious shit in my lifetime and had no one to ask for help. No mother or father. No grandparents, aunts or uncles. Cindy and I have always had to “figure it out.”

We have “figured it out” since leaving home at fifteen years old. Cindy and I lived at homeless shelters until we were 16. There has never been an “easy button” for solving problems in our lives. We’ve always had each other and it was Cindy who suggested filing Innocent Spouse. She had heard of it from someone else. If not for Cindy, I would have had no idea how to get rid of that lien or where to start. My credit would’ve been ruined and any money I earned taken to satisfy the debt. I had no choice other than to fight and so I did. I learned a lot about tax law. I enjoy learning about the law and spent many years in courtrooms.

A lot of people wonder why Cindy and I started Texas Twins Events. We created an opportunity that didn’t exist for anyone to enjoy a dream event. We want others to have the wedding we didn’t. We want you to have the flowers the fun photos and the wonderful memories of your life event.

I often advise you of things you need to know when committing yourself and your life to marriage because I don’t want anyone making the same mistakes Cindy or I have in our previous marriages. EXPERIENCE MATTERS. Protecting all of you is my greatest concern.

Many of you feel guilty if you don’t write enough letters or miss a phone call. You shouldn’t. You are living on the outside. You have a house to keep, kids to raise and bills to pay. Your needs should be your primary focus. You can’t save anyone else until you save yourself first. Putting too many people in your boat will drown you. Set limits. Establish boundaries.

I have 2 dealbreakers in my life and in my marriage. Violence and infidelity. I would’ve simply fought the tax lien and stayed married to my second husband if he hadn’t been being unfaithful during the entire marriage. The tax lien was the cherry on top of the cake. I had limits. We all do.

This journalist attempted to advise me of why she thought my clients chose to marry an inmate. I answered her with one of Cindy’s iconic quotes known as Cindyism Quotes.

“I would appreciate your advice and insight if I could overlook your lack of experience.”

I meant what I said although she was surprised I said it. I’m transparent. I’ve been dirt poor. I’ve ate of trash cans as a homeless teen alongside my twin sister. We lived without electricity in our first apartment because we could afford the rent but couldn’t afford electricity. I know what hard times are. I’ve been there and done that.

If you are a journalist, casting producer or media person, what you don’t know and assume to know when talking to me with an attitude will be quickly addressed and quashed. Your ignorance regarding my clients is a sure fire way to light me up. I’m being serious. I know them you don’t. Save your opinions Skippy.

For years now I’ve had production people contact me. My twin and I filmed a television pilot five years ago, Pawning Planners. We’ve also filmed numerous projects and are familiar with creative editing and frankenbiting. Our clients aren’t. Our clients don’t understand media contracts. We advise them about production companies and media portraying them in a less than positive light. We educate and protect them. For reasons I may never understand, media believe that anyone marrying an inmate is a weirdo. They aren’t. People marrying an inmate are warriors. Read that again.

Marrying an inmate is a sacrifice. My clients spend holidays alone. They carefully budget to afford expensive phone calls. They drive long hours to Units. They often put the inmates needs before their own. They are selfless. They are givers.

Many of the media people contacting me are takers. You want to take their story, their journey and their lives and twist their story into a train wreck. I won’t let you. Prey on someone else. I’m well aware of creative editing and fabricating sentences that weren’t spoken. I’m well aware of how production companies twist the truth and create “faux personalities.”

A few years ago, I was contacted on Instagram in March by someone claiming to be casting a prison show. This person wasn’t casting a show because there wasn’t a greenlight. It was March I was busy as Hell in season with clients from all three of my businesses and this jackass wanted me to do his job for him while claiming he had been cleared for a show with funding. I know what a greenlight is. I know what questions to ask. My clients don’t. This guy wanted “beautiful people.” All of my clients are beautiful. This guy wanted names and phone numbers. I told him “I don’t give out my clients information. What I will do is post a flyer and if they are interested they will contact you.” Old Chris was fishing. His job was to find the talent and with my burdened schedule, this idiot wanted me to do his job for him. How convenient. Chris thought I was a hillbilly without realizing that I was filming commercials for Whataburger at 17 years old and well aware of media and production. I’ve worked in the film industry for years. Cindy and I listened to his crazy demands for a few days while we were busy as heck before calling him out on the contract he sent me. He didn’t sign it. Chris thought he was smart. In reality he was a smart ass.

Your stories have value to media outlets. Your lives warrant protecting. A standard reality contract is entirely and wholly one sided. If someone sends you a contract and they are in a hurry for you to sign it, send it to me. I will review it and revise it to protect you. If someone isn’t paying your travel and hotel accommodations, they can’t afford you. Be aware of contracts that take everything you have and give you nothing in return. They exist. They are also called “standard reality contracts.”

Many years ago, Cindy and I were told to fly to LA for “pitch meetings.” Pitch meetings are where your production company introduces you to the network. They want to meet “the talent” AKA, you. Your the talent. I asked “who is paying for expenses?”

The production company answered “we can’t afford to cover travel but we really need you here.” If a production company can’t pay your travel, they can’t afford you. Remember this. It’s important.

Now, back to protecting yourself and your assets and assuming no liability with debts of your fiancée, if you need help creating a document that accomplishes this, contact me. Your money matters.

“Don’t EXPECT to CHERRY pick a WITHERED branch, FROM a BARREN tree.”

“My father wants to be invited to my vow renewal. I don’t want him there. Miss Wendy what should I do? Am I obligated to invite my parents to my wedding?”

Oh no. Oh no. Here we go again. There are reasons that certain relatives aren’t invited to weddings and vow renewals. What are they? Conflict and chaos. I could add to that parents who were never there for you that suddenly want to “be there” for you although they don’t deserve to be.

I’m going to share with you my parents. Two idiots. One a heroin addict. The other so self involved that he never once put my sisters and I out of the path of his father who sexually abused all three of us for years. Were either of my parents at my weddings? Not just no but hell no.

“You could give some people a free steak dinner and they would still complain that they had to cut and chew it.” Feed yourself first before you starve to death trying to please everyone else.

In old age, I’ve learned wisdom and priorities. In old age, I’ve often been told by family members who weren’t effectively thrown under the bus to “forgive my parents.” How convenient and PS no thanks.

I will never forget about 15 years ago, my father showing up in Texas and expecting my sister or I to move him into our homes. What in the hell was he thinking by assuming either of us “owed him?”

We didn’t owe anyone in our family anything. We left home at 15 with no money, no car, nowhere to go and nothing other than the clothes on our backs. We were found digging in a trash can for food and taken to a homeless shelter. We had run from the abuse of our grandfather that no one in our family would stop from happening. We stopped it by running.

Hard times can define you or empower you. “If the school of hard knocks had a paid internship, we would be rich by now.”

Here’s the deal, if your parents are miserable excuses of being parents, you don’t owe them anything. You certainly don’t owe them being celebrated at your wedding.

Over the years we’ve had clients guilted into inviting their shitty parent or parents. This never ends well. The father in California pretending to have contributed to the expense of his daughters wedding acting like the cock of the walk. The drunken mother at a wedding in Fort Worth barking orders at the groom who nearly divorced his wife over her controlling alcoholic mother. Don’t bring that baggage into your marriage. Save yourself. Cut parasites out of your life, your wedding and your marriage. You will thank me later.

One of my clients contacted me about her husband wanting to move his mother into her home. The background of the bride was shocking. Her mother had given her up for adoption and yet had kept her sister. Her adoptive mother was a hero but this bride kept trying to establish a relationship with her birth mother AKA the zero. Throughout her marriage she had deliberately not established a relationship with the mother in law who over and over again financially helped her husband and effectively her own family. She told me “moving in his mother is a deal breaker. I will get a divorce.” Knowing all the background on this situation, I “enlightened” my bride with a reality check was in order and the truth was going to be ugly. “You had an affair and a child from another man that your husband accepted. You have treated your birth mother like the saint she isn’t. You have chose the wrong people in your life to stand beside. One of the right people was your husband. He has raised your daughter as his own. He is an only child. His mother has always supported him, you and even your surprise of bringing another man’s child into your marriage. Are you prepared to raise three children as a single parent? Are you prepared to think or believe that your worthless birth mother is going to help you now when she has never helped you? You don’t work. Where will you work? What will your future look like? Snap out of it!”

This conversation was last year. The husband had suffered a heart attack. The wife had decided that she “didn’t want to be a nursemaid to her husband.” I had stepped up and stepped in to advise her that marriage isn’t wine and roses. It’s weeds and reality. I forced her to go visit her husband at Baylor. Hell, I even bought flowers and went with her.

Now, let’s go over what your parents expect of you and what they forget you should have been able to expect of them as a child. If your parents were abusive, cut your losses. If your parents allowed you to be abused, cut your losses.

Your wedding is a time and place for friends and family to be present and share your joy. It isn’t a place to invite people “because you felt obligated to invite people you aren’t comfortable being around.” Choose carefully.

All of the people guilt tripping you into believing you owe them need a wake up call. If you need help waking them up, call me. I’ve learned to say no and you can too.

“Everything looks worse in black and white” Paul Simon

For months now visitation bans at nursing homes and prisons has affected the ability of the people who need visitors the most to have in person visits.

As State, Federal, ICE and County facilities “pass the buck” to Governor’s, the number of Covid cases continue to climb in detention facilities and nursing homes. WITHOUT visitors Wendy? Yes.

Abbott is planning to reopen schools. Will this reopening of the state reinstate visitation? I’m not sure but I remain hopeful.

For years now I’ve had numerous clients lose their visitation. Appeals filed timely with the DRC continue to be denied. Another six months another appeal.

Meanwhile the inmate is isolated from a loved one. Meanwhile the loved one is isolated from the inmate.

I’m on location in Oklahoma and Arkansas this weekend and still dealing with my bum knee trying to drag myself around in a dreaded knee brace. Three of my clients sent me text photos of yet another denial letter in Texas. Another rejection letter. Another six months. It’s a tragedy for them and their loved one. My heart breaks over these denial letters. It’s so frustrating all the way around.

Last Thursday I had a bit of family drama. As my dedicated readers realize, my family and my businesses often overlap. I’m transparent about these overlaps. Why? Because I answer calls, texts and emails as well as DM’s 7 days a week from 8AM-9PM. The possibility of dealing with my family or other clients when dealing with correspondence is my reality.

I had put my niece (the twins mom) in rehab for six months and picked her up from rehab in Oklahoma on May 5th. She returned home to my twin sisters house that evening. At the time, Steph seemed okay without her medication. She’s bipolar. However over the course of the next few months, isolation due to Covid and a host of other factors may have contributed to the mental breakdown my niece experienced on Thursday.

Last weekend I was working events in Missouri. Returning to the DFW area last Monday, Cindy noticed that her daughter “was talking to herself.” From Monday to Thursday repeated efforts to get Steph back on her medication ended in arguments.

By Thursday I had decided to drive Steph to be evaluated in Fort Worth at JPS. Three miles from Cindy’s home traveling around 10-15mph as I was slowing down for a red light, my niece jumped out of my Sahara and started running down the street after dropping and rolling.

My heartache at consistent attempts to keep my niece stable has been an ongoing debacle for nearly 16 years. My fury over these setbacks cannot be described in words.

I had 2 options. Chase her with a bad knee or call the police and request an ambulance for a 51/50 to get her evaluated. I chose to call the police and wait on an Ambulance.

Why people who require medication refuse to take it I have no idea. My mother self medicated with heroin most of her life. My stepdaughter, Ann who died last year would do fine on meds then go off them and disappear for weeks. I don’t understand why people who function well on medication stop taking it. I may never understand it. Their choices affect their families though.

Friday morning I picked up my niece and took her back to JPS to pick up her medication. I spent several hours with her going over the fact that her choices have affected my twin sisters health as well as my own. I explained that her choices have affected her twin daughters lives too. I then went out on a limb and reminded her that next week she will be 33 years old. At what age would she start being responsible and independent? At what age could her mother and I stop worrying and monitoring her ability to take her medication on her own? I’m hoping my conversation sank in. I’m old. I’m tired and I’m exhausted from trying to keep my niece on a path of stability.

Jumping out of a moving vehicle was a new one for me and something I hope never occurs again. I nearly ran over my own niece. Bipolar people off their medication are highly unpredictable. Bipolar people on their medication can and do function well. But how to keep them on their meds?

I’m at an event where once again there are guests refusing to wear their masks. This frustrating reality has been occurring more and more frequently.

Whether you are pro mask or anti mask, I pray you stay safe and must dash off to go address an unruly guest that believes wearing a mask violates his civil rights…

Dying Alone. How Nursing Homes And Prison Visitation Bans Affect Loved Ones…

Last night the funeral of Bobby Brooks Caffey took place at Hawkins Funeral Home in Boyd, Texas.

His daughter, Debbie cried as she told me how many months it had been since she had seen him. Her grief expanded describing phone calls from her father begging her to come pick him up. She was helpless due to a visitation ban put in place by our Texas Governor.

Since mid March Texas along with many other states that have put visitation bans in place have left seniors to die alone without family nearby in their final moments. You won’t see this on the news because the reality doesn’t fit their agenda.

Inmates and seniors are in the same boat of no visitors due to Covid-19. They are cut off from the anchor of in person visits. Our government fails to address this situation month after month after month.

TDCJ has “hinted” at video visitation but only 12 Units in Texas are equipped for video visitation. What about the other Units? What about Federal or ICE Units? This band aid won’t solve problems for millions of loved ones across the United States.

I’ve been asked about video weddings. While it’s true that I conduct video weddings in other states it’s critical to understand that these ceremonies follow strict guidelines. You don’t just hop on a video call with an inmate to marry and assume that the Unit that has a procedure in place will recognize the marriage as valid. In order for the Unit whether it’s State, Federal or ICE to accept the marriage as valid, the guidelines must be followed to the letter.

In Texas, the I60 Request For Inmate Marriage is a REQUIREMENT. This document starts in the law library then travels to inmate records before moving to the DRC. It leaves the DRC and goes back to the Unit. The Warden is the last signor before handing the document to the Chaplain to schedule the ceremony. Going around or circumventing the protocol isn’t a good idea. Why? Because the Unit doesn’t have to recognize the marriage as valid if guidelines weren’t followed wholly and entirely.

Last weekend Cindy and I were in Missouri performing County Jail Weddings. Oklahoma, Missouri and Delaware are the ONLY states in the United States to have so far reinstated visitation. However, these states also have guidelines for marriage ceremonies to occur within State, Federal and ICE Facilities.

On the one hand a County Jail Ceremony is and can be more difficult to achieve due to the paperwork. Why? County Jails do not have law libraries or notaries. Texas and Missouri allow the use of an Absentee Affidavit. This document is valuable in states that allow it because states that don’t charge the inmate a transfer fee to the clerks office. These fees can amount to several hundred dollars. The expense is often cost prohibitive to clients wishing to marry an inmate. Without the use of a notary, the Absentee Affidavit is invalid. Meaning it isn’t legal. Missouri has a page 3 associated with the Absentee Affidavit pertaining to inmate marriage. This is a required part of the Absentee Affidavit. Without it the clerk will not issue a marriage license.

The difference between a County Jail Ceremony can be significant. I’ve had clients tell me for years “I wish I had waited to marry once he was moved.” Why? The ability to have a contact ceremony is removed entirely in County. There is no kiss. There are no photos.

Obtaining the necessary paperwork to buy the marriage license is also a hurdle unless the inmate has an attorney who can access a notary for the Absentee Affidavit. Mobile notaries are expensive and Tarrant County for instance requires an attorney accompany the notary inside the Unit. This can be really tricky unless the inmate is transferred to Green Bay Unit where this requirement is waived.

For four months now I’ve been mailing checks to clients who were cancelled or never scheduled at all at venues and prisons across the United States to cover 1/2 the cost to replace their first marriage license with a second marriage license. With my client load this is and continues to be a “hefty expense.” But, we are all in this together.

I’m going to revisit the many people trying to get into your pockets by requiring a deposit for a wedding we don’t know will happen within the shelf life of the marriage license. Be aware that anyone requiring a deposit during this unprecedented time is deliberately taking money right out of your pocket during a time when you need money most. I haven’t been taking deposits since late April upon realizing that a two week shutdown would be extended over and over again. Keep your money. You need it.

A number of people have contacted me regarding paying someone only to find their phone had been disconnected or the officiant refused to answer their phone. I answer my phone 7 days a week from 8AM-9PM. Loyalty and transparency are critical. Know who you are hiring and do research about who you are hiring. It’s out there. It’s easy to find. You are a single income household and as such need to provide for your family first and foremost. My fees aren’t due until 7 days prior to a scheduled ceremony. I’m waiving booking deposits and have been for months.

Because there are so many loved ones of seniors fighting these visitation bans as well as loved ones of inmates fighting them, there is strength in numbers. Both sets of people are in the same situation. There are many organizations fighting these visitation bans. Oklahoma, Missouri and Delaware folded to the pressure.

I want to address the client base of previous inmate weddings who are scheduling Vow Renewals upon release as a group. Currently many counties have a group limit of 10 people. These limits are subject to change. We are happy to move your dates to accommodate a date beyond the current limits. Stay calm. We will get this worked out.

Masks at ceremonies. The strong possibility of this requirement is a reality when visitation is reinstated. However, I’m going to encourage you to lift your mask for the kiss at the end of my ceremony. I’m also going to encourage you to write your own vows to extend or timeline inside the Unit. There are no special visits after a wedding in Texas although many of our other states allow one. Texas does not. Because of this and the fact that we have a minimum of 20 minutes and my ceremony lasts 12-14 minutes, please consider writing song lyrics, heartfelt memories, scripture or poetry to buy us more time on the inside.

Unit Photos- We cannot Request Retakes. Because of this, I buy 3 Units photos if they are available as a courtesy.

Guests- No guests are authorized however, guests are encouraged to wait in the parking area as they are welcome to join you in bridal or groom photos with me once we leave the Unit. I will have enough additional inventory of bouquets, tiaras, fascinators, veils, signs and fun props for up to 10 additional people.

Rings- Ring exchanges are not permitted in Texas. Oklahoma, you have a limit as to the value of $50.

California, it’s imperative you check your audio for video weddings. Please do this prior to your scheduled video wedding. Audio problems are continuing to get weddings rescheduled. Call a friend. Call me. Check your audio settings.

New York- I have emailed you on changes. Please check your email.

Louisianna- We have no idea when in person ceremonies will resume however we have emailed updates this morning.

Arkansas- Please check your emails.

All other service area states, wait to buy the replacement licenses until we have more information to prevent your second marriage license expiring.

It’s important to remember that while we worry about inmates that they are worrying about loved ones on the outside too. Although it’s difficult, please try to remain positive and hopeful when calling or writing your loved one.

I’m in Dallas County today and will check emails, phone calls and texts between clients.

Love Will Find A Way. Setbacks, Steps Forward & Seeing Hope…

Since mid March, correctional facilities across the United States have cancelled in person visitation.

Isolation from loved ones has been and continues to be difficult for inmates who are concerned about their loved ones and lonely at the same time. Loved ones are concerned about inmates incarcerated and isolated. This type of separation is and continues to be difficult mentally for those on the inside as well as those on the outside.

Oklahoma, Missouri and Delaware are the only states to have finally reinstated visitation. The Marshall Project has been closely following the visitation ban and reporting on it. Why isn’t any other media outlet? Short answer? They don’t care. Media is so biased and one sided that other than reporting on Covid running rampant throughout the criminal justice system without pointing to the direct fact that it’s obvious visitors aren’t bringing this virus into prisons due to banned visitation that whoever is reporting on the situation fails to grasp how and why these cases have continued to flourish although families have not been allowed to visit for months now.

How is Covid getting into prisons? The employees. Correctional officers are either refusing to wear masks or wearing them incorrectly. In Anderson County, Texas Covid was so prevalent that TDCJ was blamed for the outbreak. Beto, Gurney, Powledge, Michael and Coffield Units are all located within close proximity of one another from Palestine to Tennessee Colony. The number of employees working at these 5 Units in a very small area could explain the shocking number of cases but do they?

It’s not visitors. It’s not inmates. Covid-19 in Anderson County was non existent in March. How do I know? I was at several Units in the area in March. Prior to visits being removed entirely for months. In Texas, visits are still banned.

In May Anderson County had 968 confirmed cases. As of July 8, Anderson County with a population of less than 60k residents has 9,979 confirmed Covid cases.

Media would have you believe these cases are due to the number of inmates incarcerated or blame the visitors for this spread but the media would be wrong. Why? Because these 5 Units have thousands of employees coming and going daily to Units. A number of corrections officers refuse to wear masks or wear them incorrectly. These numbers aren’t due to families unable to visit they are due to employees. It’s a fact.

TDCJ issued a statement refusing to chain (move) inmates into TDCJ months ago so it isn’t county inmates being moved to state that are “upping the cases.”

While inmates face stress and anxiety of not knowing when they will see their families again, loved ones worry that the inmates will become another statistic of Covid-19.

What can be done to change the course of Covid in Prisons? Masks properly worn are a good start. Sanitation efforts are and have been under way for months within the criminal justice system.

Whether you are pro mask or anti mask, the fact that this virus has continued to affect everyone and anyone whether they are incarcerated or not should be a warning to you that it exists and it’s non discriminatory.

Covid doesn’t care where you work, where you live, what color you are or what faith you follow. Covid is real.

One of my husbands sales ladies was anti mask in May. In June, her daughter flew to see a boyfriend in New Mexico. She brought Covid home to her mother and grandmother. My husbands shocked office staff began staggering working from home and going to the office. Everyone began wearing masks and sanitizing every surface of the office, model homes and even their cars. Viola was in the hospital struggling to breathe and wondering if she would survive for nearly two weeks.

When I tell you this virus is real, believe me. In April I knew no one Covid positive. It’s July and I now know 42 people. Wear your mask. Do it for others if you don’t want to do it for yourself.

I’ve heard that TDCJ is working on video visitation. I’m hoping that they don’t plan to replace in person visitation with video visitation. They are not equal regardless of who wishes to argue the point. Human contact is and always will be preferred by not only inmates but also their families.

As for my Oklahoma and Missouri clients, we will be required to wear masks. We will be required to undergo temperature checks. We must be on location a minimum of 15 minutes early to shakedown and screen in.

Delaware client’s, Cindy and I will see you in 2021.

Clients in all other service area states, we hope to see you soon and continue to mail checks to split the cost of a replacement marriage license as a courtesy to our previously booked clients.

I was taken back by another vendor contacting me regarding their stupid and selfish idea to charge a “rescheduling fee.” This type of money grubbing is offensive and opportunistic. Don’t fall for this type of stupidity. In over ten years in the events industry I have never charged a rescheduling fee and anyone who is or tries to is unethical.

Be aware such ridiculous tactics. Also be aware of people selling parole packets or letters of support. I will send you links to free services for both.

Stay calm. We will work through this and we will get you married. Wear your mask. Try to limit being in large groups. Love is resilient. Love is the strongest emotion and it will find a way…