Love Is An Action Not An Idea. More Kids, Clients, Chaos & Celebrations…

Tomorrow I’m marrying a couple I had planned to marry at TDCJ Ferguson Unit. Over the next three months I’m marrying several other couples who have finally made it beyond prison walls. Couples who have made their love story last.

Dana contacted me regarding February and her loved one paroling to a Fort Worth transitional home. I’m as excited as she is that after two years we are finally going to get her married.

Michelle sent me a text about finding Mr Right after I had married her to Mr Wrong at Bridgeport Unit.

Amanda is finally free of the man she thought she had married who wasn’t what she had believed her would be after paroling to her home.

Valerie’s divorce from the Ellis Unit inmate who had wooed her and Brandi in North Dakota at the same will be finalized next month. She remains hopeful of finding love. Valerie and Amanda as well as Brandi and Michelle deserved better.

Brandi has entered treatment. For a time she was suicidal over Raul. For a time she was self destructive. I stay in touch with all of my clients and when there is chaos, try to direct them to support or help. For months, Brandi continued to have setback after setback. The only thing she had of value was her truck. She had no license and had to sell it in order to start over.

It’s been a year of setbacks for many of my clients who have continued to wait on TDCJ as well as ICE and County Jails to reinstate visitation.

Meanwhile, my twin grandnieces, Maryssa and Makenna are arguing about the amount of time Makenna spends with her boyfriend when she isn’t working while Makenna tells Maryssa she’s always on the phone with her boyfriend when she isn’t at school since Maryssa isn’t working because her job was shut down a few weeks ago.

My friend, Julie contacted me regarding locating a sliding scale or free counselor. Her marriage is on the rocks. Julie was left unable to walk after back surgery two years ago. Her anger about this caused issues with her husband. His inability to be sympathetic and supportive have done nothing to improve the situation. Tonight she called me while I was on site with clients at Chateau Forest Park. I walked outside to take the call. “I know you’re busy. You’re always busy. But, Jim isn’t interested in counseling. I don’t think he realizes how much of my happiness depends on him. He’s inattentive towards me and overly affectionate in front of me with our daughter. I feel invisible and cast aside. What should I do?”

Issues with Jim have been apparent to Cindy when Julie was watching Makenna’s hamster as we were traveling with the twins to CA, NY and LA over a three week window during the summer and Julie offered to watch Makenna’s pet hamster. I wasn’t with Cindy when she and Makenna dropped Charlie off. Cindy “her husband isn’t friendly. I felt unwelcome and weird there. He was yelling at the dog and we are paying them to watch Charlie?” Me “Julie is a mom and will take good care of Charlie. She won’t take charity and is excited to have something to do.”

I met Jim again at a photoshoot to promote a GoFundMe for Julie to get an MRI. She had no insurance. GoFundMe accounts are hit or miss. I never know what people will or won’t donate to.

A few years ago, my friend, Glenda died in Colorado. Her daughter, Tara contacted me because Glenda had no insurance and there was no way to get her back to Texas. Within days the money to bring Glenda home had been donated.

A few years ago, my clients Burt and Deanna lost baby DeLilah born with Trisomy 18. I baptized her immediately knowing we only had a few hours. Two days later, I conducted her memorial. Three months later, Deanna contacted me to do a GoFundMe for IVF. Like Julie’s campaign, there were very few donations made.

A few months ago, Deanna called me to baptize a baby that is being carried for her and Burt. I married them five years ago and have stayed in close contact as I do with all of my clients since then. Burt and Deanna have a happy ending. Julie and Jim are headed towards a slippery slope of trying to save their marriage. I’m deeply concerned. Julie can’t make Jim go to counseling or even take an interest. She qualified for SS Disability and insurance but it won’t be enough to support her and Aubrey in the event of a divorce. I suggested going to visit her brother. Julie and her mother don’t get along well. Julie, Jim and Aubrey are living with Jim’s parents. This isn’t the first time. Since the surgery, Julie has lost her job and last month, their home. Jim blames Julie and his animosity is obvious. What part of “for better or worse for richer or poorer” didn’t Jim understand?

Maryssa and Makenna aren’t used to sharing their time together with the inconvenience of work, school and boyfriends. Frankly, Cindy and I aren’t too pleased with the twins having boyfriends but we are keeping close tabs on this new development.

Amanda was married by me at Ellis Unit. My family and I had met her prior for a photo shoot with her three boys in Eastland. Because her husnand was paroling, her landlord suddenly decided to evict her causing an undue hardship on her with three children. Amanda made sacrifices but her new husband didn’t appreciate them and the fact that she had three children who were her priorities.

Marriage is a merger. Sometimes things aren’t what they appear to be. Other times we don’t really know a person until the chips are down. I married young. I didn’t know what to expect. I wanted to be a good wife and mother. I did all the right things. But throughout my ten year marriage, my husband found reasons to be angry. Reasons to be violent. Reasons to make me fearful of hearing that garage door close wondering which version of my husband was going to walk into the house? My divorce and child custody battle took 5 years of my life. I never planned to marry again. My custody battle was a war. It left scars.

I was working when Guy walked into my building. I wore a wedding ring because I didn’t want anyone hitting on me. I pretended to be married. It made me feel safer. He found out I wasn’t married and asked me to dinner. I took Cindy with me. I was still fighting my ex for custody. I was working two jobs to pay my bloodsucking attorneys. He offered a solution “marry me. I will hire the best custody attorney and end your war.” He kept his promise. But he never promised to be faithful and he wasn’t. Fort Worth is a small town in certain circles. Laurie would be at the Fort Worth house while I was in Arkansas or traveling. I could smell her perfume. I could tell she had worn my jewelry and put it back in the wrong place. Laurie was a ghost who haunted my 6 year marriage. After receiving a circular from the Fort Worth Club with a photo and the caption “Guy and Wendy McCollum enjoying a candlelit dinner on Valentine’s Day” I filed for divorce. Laurie was in that photo not me. I was humiliated and embarrassed. I moved out with my son. For months he begged me to come back. Promised to change. Finally, I believed him. Nothing changed. Things were worse. On the 5th year of my second marriage, Guy had me sign a joint tax return. Within months a tax lien of over 300k was sent to the house in MY NAME. They split it he owed the other half. I was furious. The affair and now a tax lien? How would I rent an apartment? Buy a car? Get a job? I fought the tax lien and won. I also filed for divorce again.

Because Guy didn’t think the car I owned when I went in the marriage was good enough, he gave my car to his nephew and put me in one of his cars. I didn’t know it wasn’t paid for. When I left him, he told me to make the $558 payments on it. I balked. $558? I was paying for my son to attend a school that helped with developmental issues that cost $750 a month. How in the Hell was I going to afford that car payment? I went to Frank Kent who serviced the McCollum cars and applied for a job. I had never sold cars. But I needed a car, income and insurance and clients. Using my modeling background, I hired a photographer and ran print ads in country clubs. I targeted my clients through photo ads. I was successful and independent when my current husband bought his first car from me. As usual, I was also wearing a wedding ring. I didn’t want anyone hitting on me I was at work to make money and support my son. A year later, Matthew walked back in to trade his SRX. I tried to talk him out of it. He was upside down. “I’m getting a divorce. My wife took my suburban and I hate this car. I want an Escalade.” Ugh. I had a demo on the lot and worked a deal. While sitting in my office, he looked at the smiling photo of my husband beside me at a Betsy Price fundraiser and said “your husband must be really proud of you.” I burst put crying and walked out of my own office. I was a two time loser. Marriage wasn’t my strong suit. I tried hard. I did all of the right things but twice I had failed to make my marriages work. I had never dated. I had always worked. I walked back into my office and told the truth. All of it. Why I wore a wedding ring. Why I was selling cars. Why I kept a happy looking photo on my desk of someone who had an affair throughout our entire marriage then tried to throw me under the bus with the IRS. Weeks later, my sister, son, nieces and grandnieces went on a date with Matthew. Months later, we were married. If he could handle my family, he was worth a shot. We’ve been together 14 years. It wasn’t always easy. He lost everything within a year of marrying. Real estate crashed. He lost his business. He lost his self esteem. He didn’t know how to do anything else. He was unemployed for 3 years. I sold everything on EBay except our house. Texas Twins Treasures became my flipping site. I replaced our expensive furniture with garage sale and thrift shop finds. I reupholstered items and worked two jobs. I swam uphill. At the same time, Cindy’s husband was laid off after 25 years at Albertsons AND her 16 year old daughter, Stephaney was pregnant with twins. Like me, Cindy sold everything too. We found furniture on the fly. We either reupholstered it or flipped it. We circled our wagons and made it through the storm. We didn’t have parents to ask for help. We didn’t have family to ask for help. We had each other, our husbands, our children and grandchildren. Our circle was small. Cindy gave up her job to care for the twins.

In early 2012, Matthew and I finally sold our house. I decided to start a business to give people the wedding I didn’t have. Cindy joined me. We brought the twins to events with us. By the time the twins could walk, our clients hired them as flower girls and ring bearers. When client’s wanted affordable photos, Cindy, my son, my daughter in law or my niece took photos for them. When clients couldn’t afford bouquets or flowers, I decided to start making my own floral designs to loan clients. My goal is and always will be to make my clients day as memorable and special as humanly possible. My family is committed to the same goals.

Not all marriages work out. The tragedy is that we don’t know this ahead of time. If we did, we would spare ourselves the pain and loss of a divorce.

I continue to hope that Jim will realize his wife needs him and understand that Julie isn’t responsible for a botched surgery. You can’t blame a partner for an unexpected health crisis.

I continue to hope that Brandi sticks with her recovery and that Valerie eventually finds someone worthy of being her partner.

Life and love are messy. For those who weather the hard times though the investment of your determination, resilience and faith pays off in having a partner committed to you long after the luster of marriage wears off. Life partners are rare but they are out there.

As a reminder to Federal Clients… visits are currently non contact. Please be aware that we cannot overcome or object to Covid visitation changes. We can’t.

State, ICE and County clients, as we continue to wait for visitation, if you haven’t emailed Gov Abbott regarding how this visitation ban is affecting you and your loved one, please do so. He shut down visitation and he has reinstated nursing home visitation as well as reopened schools while completely skipping over County, TDCJ and ICE.

Certain State facilities outside of Texas have reopened visitation. These facilities are non contact similar to Federal Facilities. Please be aware that as my client, Cindy’s client or anyone on my staffs client, Wardens expect us to be able to control our clients. What this means is that outbursts, drama or unexpected behavior reflects on us. Please don’t be disruptive on site. We have worked months to get you to wedding day. If your ceremony is non contact we must accept the things we can’t change. Thank you.

Planning, Preparation & Perseverance. You Don’t Need Perfect Because You Can Still Eat With A Bent Fork…

I’m OCD. I make lists. I review these lists over and over again. But even I cannot predict people. Since Wednesday I’ve been on the road bouncing from one event to the next city while on conference calls with the kids or my clients.

On Thursday, I traveled back to DFW to meet Cindy after stopping by my home to have a quick lunch with my husband who had been “cooking all day because he was bored. I’m so used to working everyday that a day off especially with you traveling is boring.”

My husband is a really good cook and while I’m still working on losing the few pandemic pounds I’ve put on the past 8 months is important to me, I indulged “just a bit” in my favorite holiday foods before I picked up my niece, Stephaney at the group home on my way to Parker County.

My niece had always been close to my son prior to his marriage. She blames his wife for the rift between them rather than her own behavior and choices. Listening to her complain about my son choosing his wife over her is an ongoing headache for me. I pulled up in front of the group home and called Stephaney who wasn’t there. Ugh. I called her. “I’m at the park down the street. Pick me up over here.”

Driving to the park in a not so nice area of Fort Worth, I pass homeless people. I see several men standing around the only convenience store open drinking out of paper bags before spotting Stephaney walking towards me. I’m instantly depressed to see my niece carrying a paper bag containing a forty. It’s Thanksgiving. Cindy and I are the only people who will even speak to my niece and she’s drinking?

I look at her and say “there are open container laws in Texas. You aren’t getting in my suv with that drink in your hand. Go throw it away.” My blood pressure is already going up.

Stephaney gets in but she isn’t happy about my rules. I don’t care. She reaches for my radio to change my favorite 70’s channel. This always annoys me. Why do passengers feel entitled to taking over the radio? I have no idea but I ignored the channel she decided on.

“Where are we going first?” I tell her I’m doing an elopement at the Parker County Courthouse then planning to meet Cindy at Film Alley. Cindy has been cooking with Steve. The twins are picky eaters. Makenna is working 4-midnight at McDonald’s. Maryssa is off until Friday at her job. It will be her first full day on the job. Neither of the twins are taking calls from Stephaney after her past relapse. In fact, Cindy and I are “catching flack” from my niece, Leigh Ann, my son, Robbie and the twins about having anything to do with Stephaney. We are both sick and tired of everyone who isn’t doing anything to help Stephaney complaining about what we do to try and help. This conflict has been going on for years now amongst our family members. Cindy sends a text “Leigh Ann is on the phone complaining that Stephaney is going to the movies with us. I’m so sick and tired of dealing with their anger. We are the only ones in the family that she has. If she relapses again, I’m out. I can’t handle any more of this. Last year I was in Harris Hospital not expecting to leave. I want peace. I want the other kids to stop complaining too. I’m doing the best I can. I look at FB and see happy families who are happy to be together then I look at our family. I’m depressed.”

I think about this. She’s right. Social media would have everyone thinking or assuming that other people have perfect lives. No one has a perfect life. I remind my twin sister of her own quote “things don’t have to be perfect to work. You can still eat dinner with a bent fork. You nearly died last year. I’m thankful you didn’t. We cannot control Stephaney or the other kids. We can control how we react. We can control being enablers. We must let her know we are drawing the line and stick with it.”

I leave the gas station in Willow Park that’s closed. Stephaney needs cigarettes. I know I shouldn’t be buying cigarettes for her but what the Hell. I prefer she smokes cigarettes than weed or meth.

My clients are already at the courthouse and excited. They have been together for 8 years and have 3 children. I’ve packed my suv with everything they need including a 5ft veil for the bride and a baptism gown for her three year old son.

The courthouse in Parker County is a beautiful building that somewhat reminds me of the Munsters House. I have no idea why but it does.

Leaving the town square to head to Film Alley, my niece wants to go to IHOP. I didn’t know they were open and we are an hour early for “War With Grandpa” so we roll in. The Christmas tree in the lobby with face masks for decorations depresses the heck out of me.

I answer texts, emails and DM’s from client’s. One of my clients tells me that “CDCR promised video visitation would be working and it isn’t. What can I do?” I send her the information she needs and move to the next DM. It’s from my Green Bay Unit bride telling me happy Thanksgiving and thanking me for getting her married. Many of my clients contact me on Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years as well as my birthday to wish me well. My clients are amazing, thoughtful, and a gift.

One of my clients who was duped by a Don Juan and wound up on a path of self destruction for several months also sent me a DM. “Miss Wendy I’m entering treatment. I’ve decided to get sober. Thank you for always taking my calls and messages even when I was strung out and especially when I was suicidal at all hours of the night. You are the mother I never had. I’m going to get clean this time and stay clean.” My heart hurts reading this as I sip my IHOP coffee. I pray for the best but always prepare for another relapse with Brandi. This isn’t her first time.

Brandi reminds me of my niece, Stephaney with the difference being that Brandi has no one. Stephaney has Cindy and I. Brandi changes her phone number constantly so I update her latest cell phone number in my phone.

Brandi was one of two women who fell for an Ellis Unit inmate who upon release was physically violent with Valerie who called me immediately even though Cindy and I were in California for information to get a restraining order and divorce.

Valerie celebrated Thanksgiving with “a new love.” I’m praying he’s Mr Right for Valerie. I will marry them if he is. Valerie has three children and a mother she also supports so the last thing she needs is yet another Mr Wrong in her life. I glance at her FB post and smile. She looks happy. I’m happy for her. Valerie works two jobs to take care of her family. She deserves happiness.

The journalist who traveled with Cindy and I to several Units last year sent me a text about my Polunsky bride. “She’s not responding to my messages and I’m getting everything ready for the editor to publish. Can you message her?”

I send a quick message to Lastacia. I’m so proud of her. Like all of my client’s Lastacia is independent, driven and dedicated. A loving mother and devoted wife whose husband finally came home a few months ago. They are happy. I’m happy for them. Lastacia immediately answers my message and will contact Ella. I then remember that Lastacia sells weaves and ask “if she can order weaves for Cindy and I? Everything we buy online is the wrong color.” I’m mailing Lastacia a piece of a broken weave Monday. I believe in supporting my clients.

Misty sends me a message. Her husband came home last year. They are happy and well adjusted. I’m happy for them. I’m mailing her a few of our designer face masks Monday because she like me “believes this mask mandate is going to be going on for awhile.”

Misty asks about my grandniece, Maddy and Leigh Ann who took her bridal photos. She is proud of the twins who are now both working. I am too. The twins are planning to buy their own car. They are independent. Makenna already pays her own cell phone bill.

I have an email from Deanna. Burt and Deanna lost their baby, DeLilah to trisomy two years ago. They’ve found a surrogate and are expecting in the next 6-8 weeks. I’ve been asked to baptize their daughter. Of course, I’m thrilled and honored.

My other couple who quite sadly lost their baby last year have a new healthy boy this year. I couldn’t be happier for them.

Juggling client’s from Federal Prisons back onto the schedule is and continues to be an issue at Fort Worth FMC. Please be aware that Tiger King is at this facility. Allow enough additional time to be screened and checked in and remember that we cannot control Covid guidelines. Do not become visibly upset about non contact limitations. We must always follow guidelines, policy and protocol. Emotional outbursts are upsetting to staff and other inmates. As my client, I’m expected to keep you calm and within the guidelines.

Press and journalists aren’t your friends. If someone is contacting you, get a contract outlining what they can or cannot publish. Limit interviews. As usual, there are production companies posting that they are “casting a show.” Folks there’s a tremendous difference between “casting” and “pitching.” If someone is contacting you because they found you in a prison support group or on other social media such as Instagram, be cautious and don’t sign anything simply because the person contacting you pressures you to do so. Production companies secure the talent and often do so by using an entirely one sided talent agreement. If you have questions, contact me.

This Thanksgiving was odd because it was different but walking into the movie, one tradition was still being followed. Cindy and I have always gone to the movies on Thanksgiving and Christmas. We skipped the popcorn.

The movie had a few funny moments but the concept of a grandson doing things that were hurtful wasn’t funny to me. We have an elderly man who lost his wife moving in with her daughter and family and a grandson upset about giving up his room. The funny parts were with the husband getting “flashed” by the grandfather.

The dynamics of families today and especially families moving in a parent isn’t lost on me. My brother and his wife moved my father in with them. Having another family member live with you IS AN ADJUSTMENT.

This is our first holiday without Foxy. I miss him but we won’t be getting another pet. Matthew and I both work too much and the freedom of being able to travel since we are now truly empty nesters along with the fact that my husband “cannot handle losing another pet in this lifetime” are why we both decided not to get another pet.

Leigh Ann called me last night while I was in the Hill Country at a wedding where (as usual) the florist forgot bouteniers. “I can’t FaceTime mom without the cats getting in front of her. It’s so funny.”

Cindy was always “anti pets” at her home UNTIL the twins both wanted cats last year after her surgery.

Of course, Cindy is very fond of both cats and became the cat lady quickly. She prepares special meals and loves on the cats the twins wanted but have no time to feed or care for while working and going to school. Cindy buys cat toys all the time. Maddy and my grandson still play with Foxy’s toys. My husband and I decided to leave Foxy’s things in all of the rooms of our house. I know it sounds odd but my grandniece and grandson prefer Cindy’s cat toys and Foxy’s dog toys to the toys we both keep for them. I have no idea why.

One of the cats is so ugly that people visiting Cindy ask “what happened?” My sister calls this cat “street cat” because he looks like he’s had a tough life. Makenna adopted him because she knew no one else would. Street cat is a fat cat. He’s loving and follows Cindy everywhere.

If you are FaceTiming Cindy at home one of those cats is going to jump in front of her or on her lap. I never expected my sister to “warm up” to pets. Her motto prior to these cats was always “I take care of everything around here. I don’t need another responsibility. No pets.” She’s changed and she spoils those cats endlessly.

Cindy is also as excited as I am that Leigh Ann and Maddy will be back in Texas Christmas Day.

Bookings with Leigh Ann for mini photo shoots are being scheduled through Leigh Ann. You can find her page on FB, Maddie & Me Photography.

I can’t wait to see my grandson, Oliver again. He’s almost crawling and my son (like Cindy and I did for so many years) takes Oliver to work with him. Robbie and Stephanie are rocking parenthood and their clients like ours have accepted that bookings are a family affair. The twins traveled with Cindy and I for years until branching off and booking Princess parities prior to taking on their jobs outside of Texas Twins Events.

Working with family can be chaotic, fun and sometimes stressful but we’ve always worked it out. Maddy thinks any camera on location is meant for her so get ready for my grandniece to jump in on those wedding photo’s saying “cheese” on location from December to February while Leigh Ann and Maddy are “back home.”

As always, I’m thankful for my clients, my connections and creating a business that allowed me to share your joy at your life event.

Bookings for Vow Renewals and early release inmate weddings that had been planned on the inside that are now being planned on the outside, January still has a few openings for Fort Worth and Dallas. I’m in Beaumont twice in February.

As we continue to wait for visitation to reopen at State, ICE and County Jails across all of our service area states, I pray that your holiday weekend is blessed AND not stressed…

When People Make More Withdrawals Than Deposits In Your Life, Close The Account…

Last night after watching my niece, Stephaney’s behavior grow more and more erratic, after my sister had so many upsetting phone calls from her daughter behaving like a lunatic and after realizing that the “odds” of the police picking her up on their own were slim, I decided to get an involuntary hold for Stephaney put into effect.

At 7:05PM, the manager of the group home I found for Stephaney called to tell me “she ran when the ambulance came. Where would she go? Can you send me recent photo’s?”

My niece normally likes to walk to a park nearby the group home. I suggested the police search the area. Knowing that if they lost her I could easily lose her for months to the streets AGAIN, I frantically searched FB and Instagram for photos to send to officers searching for her. I have very few. For 17 years my niece has been in and out of our lives. My niece is Bipolar One and often goes off medication. She is also addicted to meth.

At 8:16PM, the police had located her. She was fighting going to the hospital. The officer required a phone interview although he admits “she appears unstable and unreasonable but being crazy doesn’t warrant an involuntary hold. Is she suicidal?” I answer “yes.” For another 27 minutes I wait to see whether or not the police will enforce an involuntary hold. They finally do.

At 2:34AM a psychologist from JPS calls Cindy to ask “are you aware of any drug use?” Of course we are as are they since Stephaney has been admitted 19 previous times at the same hospital for meth induced psychosis. Don’t these people check their own records?

My twin sister and I celebrate our birthday every year by scheduling stress tests, dental cleanings, eye exams, physicals, mammograms and well woman check ups. We go to all the same providers as we have our entire lives. Prior to Cindy’s heart attack and surgery last year on this same date, we didn’t do stress tests but we do now. For families that love an addict, health issues are only one of the many ways an addict effects their lives. I’m (as usual) worried about my mammogram as I have had not one but two surgeries due to lumps. Thankfully, both were benign. My mammogram is the one check up every year that makes me nervous.

“What’s a day in your life like Wendy?” Holy cow if people knew the only predictable thing in my life was my work they would be shocked. The reality is that my niece has caused such chaos within our family that trying to save her over and over again had caused my sisters health to decline and many family members to turn against us. My own son is angry that I didn’t allow her to get kicked out of the group home or lose her job by getting her committed to dry her out and get her back on her meds. “Mom stop trying to save her.” Me “that’s your cousin and I won’t lose her to the streets again. I can’t go through it. I can’t let Cindy or her twins go through it. I can’t not try to stop what I know is coming. She will lose her place at that home and the job I spent two weeks finding for her.” He hangs up. I don’t care. I can’t. I have to at least try. I have to do everything within my power to try.

Thirteen messages are on FB waiting for me. One of them from Amanda. I’ve seen her posts and I know that things aren’t working out. If I hadn’t been dealing with Stephaney off the rails again and my daughter in laws lunatic family refusing to cremate her uncle who shot himself over a week ago refusing to even consider cremation and demanding a funeral along with my many other ridiculous suggestions from family members regarding Stephaney, I would have contacted Amanda sooner.

I finally had a chance to message back and forth with my Ellis Unit bride, Amanda yesterday.

Her husband paroled a few months ago and rather than being thankful for her loyalty during his prison sentence, he moved into her home with three children and thought he would be making the rules.

This husband was in for a surprise. Amanda is a strong and independent woman. Amanda has been doing it all and doing it alone for years. Amanda drew a line in the sand with this newcomer to her home and laid down ground rules. She didn’t need another mouth to feed that talked back. She needed a partner. She sadly accepted the fact that she had married the wrong man.

People behaving one way prior to marriage and another after marriage are “courting” their partner. They are acting in a sense to convince the other party that they are something they aren’t.

Many of my clients believe that the inmate is innocent. Many pay exorbitant attorney fees to fight the charges. Many sacrifice money from their households to pay attorneys because they believe wholeheartedly that the inmate is innocent. No one not even evidence and discovery will convince them otherwise.

Other clients are well aware that the inmate committed the crime which is why they are doing the time. Sure, they hear the cries of innocence from inmates that they love and care for but the majority of my clients knew the inmate prior to incarceration. I recall standing in Coffield Unit with one client prior to her marriage and the seriousness she displayed as she turned and said “Miss Wendy is this SOB gets out and goes in a third time he can go straight to Hell cause I’m out.”

In a prison courtship, the inmate has far more time to write romantic letters and focus on the person on the outside.

The person on the outside has far less time. Why? Because they are working, raising children, running households and doing everything alone on the outside including paying for expensive phone calls and prior to this visitation lockdown, driving long distances to visits.

A prison relationship is remarkably one sided. One person is making far more sacrifices than the other. One person is pulling the wagon alone on the outside. These people are my clients. The inmate is not my client. I don’t speak to or correspond with or even meet the inmate until my client and I are standing inside a prison for the ceremony.

Many of my clients have a lot of weight in their wagon weighing it down. Where does all this weight come from? Well for starters my clients are cheerleaders for the inmates calling them. Then there’s the bills rolling in they pay alone on a single income. Then there’s their children. Then there’s the empty bed they exhaustedly roll into alone at the end of long day to wake up and start all over again. Many of my clients work AND go to school while raising their children. Others take care of their aging mother or father or both in their home while raising their children and working.

The inmate is often upset about being incarcerated or the conditions of incarceration.

The person on the outside didn’t seal the fate of the inmate though. Anger directed at my client’s is misplaced. Inmates angry about their situation often forget that the only support system they have are my clients. I address this fact with my clients on a regular basis.

My clients are in a position of power, custody and control. They are effectively giving up their finances to put money on the books and pay for phone calls. I remind clients of “who is holding the cards” on a regular basis. Why? Because they need to assert themselves with an inmate far more often than you might think. Frequently an inmate assumes they have control when in fact they don’t. This role reversal is common for an inmate who is in the prison wedding planning process. They believe that by marrying they have a position of power even from behind razor wire.

Pom Poms can and do run out of streamers. The person on the outside in the free world has a wagon full of responsibility’s.

Soothing the inmates concerns are only one of the many things they are dealing with. Loving an inmate and committing to marrying them is one Helluva commitment. A person committed to marrying an inmate is giving up any and all of the frivolity a marriage to someone on the outside entails.

I’m often asked when someone realizes that I marry couples inside prisons, “why would they want to marry an inmate? What’s in it for them?” I can’t answer these questions. Only my clients can. A handful of them like Amanda question their decision.

I had shared a “memory” on FB of the wedding that took place at Ramsey Unit last year congratulating my bride regarding her one year anniversary. This isn’t unusual. I frequently share these types of updates.

This particular shared post however resulted in a DM from my client asking for information to file a divorce. “Miss Wendy things ain’t working out with Roy. He’s trying to control my money from prison. I don’t need somebody questioning me about how I spend my money. Can you send me the things I need to get a divorce?” Roy assumed because he was married that he would be making the rules. My client decided to let Roy find someone else to boss around.

I was a little surprised about this couple since my bride had been so happy on her wedding day. But, the actions of ownership from inmates who are finally married to someone on the outside in the free world are often the result of the divorces that occur within the first or second year of marriage. Normally if my clients make it to a third year they are in it for the long haul unless the inmate paroles and assumes to take control of my clients household. My clients have been running and paying for their households all along. They don’t hand over the reins to a newcomer whether this newcomer is their spouse or not. This particular power play is the #1 reason for divorce with the second reasons being post incarceration syndrome or drug use. Domestic violence is rare but also has occurred to 2 of my clients who immediately contacted me for information pertaining to a restraining order and divorce. I immediately got them the information they needed as well as emergency contact information for counseling and shelters for one former client fearful of returning to her own home “until she was certain he was gone.”

Inmates who “assume that they own their spouse” or that they can control their new spouse are in for a wake up call. This assumption is a mistake.

My clients are independent, educated, resourceful and well aware that if an inmate tries to control them inside, the inmate will be by far more controlling on the outside.

Marriage may be a merger but marriage doesn’t mean the person you married is your property. They are a person, a very independent person who is doing it all on the outside.

All of my client’s in all of my states whether their LO is in state, federal, ICE or county custody are independent, intelligent and decisive.

For my Texas clients who choose the option of divorce, here’s a self filing link to download… Texas Divorce Paperwork.

Amanda moved her husband to another building on her property and out of her home. She will most likely divorce him because this inmate “isn’t the person I married.”

I can’t blame her for demanding peace under the roof she pays for. The home she bought entirely on her own is her personal property.

A few of my clients in other states as well as Texas need to consider a prenuptial agreement.

Here is a link for a free download prenup that you can change or edit… Prenuptial Agreement Paperwork.

Why would you need a prenup you might be thinking? First because all of the property you own is your property that’s why.

I will always educate you about what’s in YOUR best interest.

Post Incarceration Syndrome is another scenario many of my clients aren’t prepared for but a few have experienced.

What exactly is Post Incarceration Syndrome? Here’s a link for your review… Post Incarceration Syndrome.

There are a number of clients contacting me regarding marrying who were planning to marry on the “inside” who have notified me that their “LO made parole” or “is being moved to a halfway house” who are contacting me to “marry them on the outside.”

Many of you are unfamiliar with the locations of Residential Reentry Center’s in Texas. Here’s the link for TDCJ locations… TDCJ Residential ReEntry.

I’ve been meeting couples outside of Walls Unit in Huntsville to marry them as well as in parks, downtown areas near halfway houses and other locations for months now.

The festive environment outside of Walls Unit is something that cannot be described without experiencing it firsthand. Families, balloons, cheers and more accompany the releases of inmates who have the support of their families and my client’s anxiously waiting for them to walk out with bags of personal belongings in their hands. It’s a literal block party.

Many of my clients have made their love story last after incarceration. How? They knew the inmate prior to incarceration.

Call me cynical but I don’t believe that a pen pal relationship has the same resilience as a relationship that existed prior to incarceration. Why? Because these couples have an established history. Others may argue that pen pal love stories can and do “stand the test of time.”

However, I’ve never married a couple who met through a pen pal scenario while one person was incarcerated so my view may be biased. My clients tell me how they met. How they knew the person prior to incarceration and often how they are the only person involved in the inmates life. I know far more about my client’s marrying an inmate than traditional bookings. Why? Because the prison planning process takes months. I speak to these clients far more often and intimately than I do a traditional client. They share everything with me from letters they received from an inmate to parole to problems to preparing letters of support and more. If there are problems during the planning process, I hear these problems and give my clients the same advice I would give my own children about “slowing things down. Reevaluating. Asking if this type of relationship is what is in their best interest.” My allegiance is to my clients first, foremost and always.

There are very few pen pal relationships that can stand the test of time although there are such relationships that can somehow survive incarceration.

This week I’m meeting two clients to marry in downtown Fort Worth who were Covid positive a month ago. Both brides work in the healthcare industry.

The reschedules continue in Texas. Whether the inmate is released and you choose to marry at Walls Unit or within close proximity of the halfway house your LO is assigned to or whether you have decided that your love story wasn’t what you expected when you signed up for it, only you can choose your future. Only you can decide what’s best for you and your children.

For my many couples who are living happily ever after walking away from prisons to start a life together, they prove the statistics of prisons marriage wrong. They also continue to thrive on the outside.

My niece called my sister this afternoon while I was on location. She isn’t angry, confrontational, talking in the third person or acting crazy. Why? Because she’s medicated and coming off Meth. The hospital or treatment centers are the only places my niece can safely come down. I know this I’ve had years of experience. I’m sick about it but I’m not going to pretend there’s a safe way for an addict to dry out. There isn’t. An addict outside of a controlled environment will continue using.

My son is upset about my “interference” by getting Stephaney admitted on an involuntary hold but my son is a new father and it’s easy to turn a blind eye. Between his wife’s crazy family and chaos, his work and his new son, my son is overwhelmed.

Our entire family other than Cindy and I have all turned away from Stephaney. They have all given up.

My son brings up his wife’s “Uncle Robert” who shot himself once again to me and then moves to his wife’s cousin, Donald who is back on the bottle again but he’s trying to help.

This entire conversation lights me up (as usual) but I’m on location and need to go outside to voice my dim view about her crazy family wanting an expensive funeral for a guy who spent most of his life in prison then kills himself prior to demanding a full funeral his family cannot afford before going over why helping Donald over and over is no different than trying to help my niece. My sons answer about Donald had me reaching for a Xanax. “He’s had a hard life their entire family is a mess. Donald is the youngest. He has a chance.”

I respond with “your cousin has made mistakes too. Show some empathy especially when talking to Cindy about Stephaney while you consistently try to help your wife’s family.” I meant it.

My daughter in laws entire family is full of “dope heads” this is my sons description not my own. I don’t use this type of language to describe addicts.

If I did I use the type of language my son does to describe addicts I would’ve been referring to my mom with the same term years ago.

My son and his wife have moved so many of her crazy relatives into their home over the years that I can’t keep up with all of their names. I remind my son that having these people around his son is not only stupid but to not even consider allowing them over for a visit. He agrees with me. Even he knows that these unpredictable lunatics aren’t welcome in his home for valid reasons. He no longer allows his wife to let “so and so stay until they can get back on their feet.” What changed? The birth of my grandson.

For seven years of their marriage my daughter in law moved in so many of her relatives that my son was literally supporting every Tom, Dick and Harry that walked in the door.

The arguments I have had with him over this “stray dog situation” went on for years. Stephanie’s family is the biggest train wreck of chaos I have ever seen.

Donald is living in a trailer with Kathy (his sister that lived with my son and his wife along with her Deadbeat boyfriend until they finally moved out owing rent years ago) and thirteen other family members in a trailer.

My son had allowed Donald to stay at his home prior to his sons birth. However, he quickly learned Donald has a drinking problem.

My son is intolerant of addicts as am I. His intolerance is due to my niece and her antics. My intolerance is due to my mom and my niece.

My son was considering “helping Donald.” I advised him to let Donald help himself and not involve himself with that family.

My son is too empathetic with his wife’s crazy family. I’m really working on distancing him from them. Seriously.

The uncle who shot himself is yet another “window” that opened for my daughter in laws ridiculous relatives to contact me to share a GoFundMe Campaign that is so outrageous no one is donating. I didn’t bother asking who set it up. “Aunt Margie” and her argumentative phone call telling me “what her brother wanted” although the guy is dead just irritates and annoyed me.

The campaign outlining “what he wanted was a nice funeral and not to be burned” posted in the middle of a pandemic, right before the holidays and for someone who shot himself with graphic photos isn’t doing well because it’s unrealistic to assume people are going to donate a large sum of money for a suicidal guy that didn’t want to be cremated.

Logic flies right out the window with my daughter in laws crazy family.

My sisters famous quote about entitlement immediately came to mind talking to Stephanie’s “Aunt Margie” who informed me “you are wealthy and have a huge social media following if you would just share the campaign and support it we could reach our goal.”


Quite frankly the main reason I was against my son marrying Stephanie all those years ago WAS his wife’s crazy family.

Eight years later they are happily married, living in a new house with a new baby, driving nice cars and STILL giving handouts to her relatives.

I couldn’t believe my son told me that he HAD donated to that GoFundMe Account for “Uncle Robert.” Seriously. I couldn’t.

My son has a family to think about and his wife’s family will suck every nickel they can out of whoever they can get it from.

I told him “I’ve been checking that campaign and didn’t see your name. I now know why after he explained that the daughter trying to raise money is specifically trying to hit a lick by doing so since she isn’t the one planning burial arrangements. “Aunt Margie” is.

This “news” about my son and his wife “matching” what another relative had donated upset me. After all, they were both exposed to Covid going to visit this guy on his deathbed.

My son sighed and explained “we wrote a check that we matched with Stephanie’s aunt. We didn’t donate to the campaign. We did it so they would have enough money for cremation. They won’t do the cremation though. Mom he was a drug addict who spent most of his life in prison but he was a good guy. I met him many times and gave him a ride or food when he needed it. I donated money because I felt that they would go on with the cremation because they had the money to do so but that family is unrealistic.”

Even my son knows this full funeral is unrealistic.

“Aunt Margie” and her phone calls are never a welcome delight to me, my son or his wife. This lady is only calling me to tell me what her dead brother wants and demanding she gets nearly $10k?

After over a week, the donations on the campaign are less than $400. My son and his wife along with another relative have all donated $1500 for cremation.

A paupers funeral is free. It’s nearly Thanksgiving. People are out of work. Come on. Aunt Margie yelling “my brother specifically did not want to be cremated” is unrealistic and entitled. How can you expect everyone outside of your family to donate to a campaign that is selfish. By the way, suicide is selfish. People who commit suicide literally leave their loved ones holding the bag.

“Uncle Robert’s” family probably didn’t want him to shoot himself either. They certainly weren’t prepared for the financial repercussions “of what HE wanted.”

I have refused to share this campaign due to the graphic photo’s as well as the explanation as to why a paupers funeral or cremation aren’t welcome suggestions. I didn’t share it last week. I won’t this week either. I told my son why.

My son read the same details. He saw the same horrible photos of a man who shot himself in the face for the main photo?

Who posts photos of a man who shot himself in the face on a public campaign. It’s so shocking and disturbing. His family needs to take the money my son, his wife and another relative have donated and cremate him then move on. I cannot unsee those horrific photos. The man is dead and that family is too demanding.

You can’t force someone to donate to a campaign. I can’t believe GoFundMe doesn’t review photos on these campaigns. Good Lord.

Tomorrow I will call Stephaney’s job to tell them she won’t be at work this week.

Tomorrow I will pay her rent at the group home. We have no idea when Stephaney will be released THIS time. She had an interview Monday that I will need to reschedule because she was trying to find a better job but she’s obviously not up to a second interview in her current condition.

Tomorrow I will file marriage licenses from this weekend and go to my annual mammogram screening hoping they don’t find a problem again. I’ve had two lumpectomies in 8 years. Thankfully both were benign.

Tomorrow I will call “Aunt Margie” who contacted me last week demanding that her brother have the funeral he wanted that his family cannot afford and once again tell her I’m not sending $10k to pay for a funeral for a person I’ve never met who decided to kill himself and then left his broke family to try and find a way to “honor his wishes.”

My opinion about this entire scenario AND the family telling me what a guy who shot himself wanted is getting on my last nerve. Aunt Margie messaging then friend requesting me in order to get me to donate this campaign isn’t swaying me one bit. The guy shot himself.

Trying to reason with unreasonable people with the holiday coming up and deciding to go virtual this year after my son and his wife were exposed to Covid going to see her uncle who shot himself in Tyler, I’m shaking my head about another ridiculous fiasco with my daughter in laws family while dealing with my niece and my clients.

At least it won’t be raining Wednesday as I have 5 weddings outdoors. I’m hoping my sister can get some sleep tonight after worrying once again about her daughter, Stephaney while raising Stephaney’s twin daughters, Maryssa and Makenna and trying to remain hopeful that Stephaney will get back on her medication and become a stable and productive person. It’s hard. I’ve had so many setbacks with her. She should’ve been married by now. She should be in her own home. She could have been anything she wanted. Addiction destroys families.

Prison marriage may but be for everyone but for those who make their story last, the commitment, loyalty and determination of their unions continue to surprise their friends and families who didn’t support the decision to marry an inmate…

An Addict Will Celebrate Anything Even If It’s The Grand Opening Of A Pack Of Cigarettes..

I knew my niece would relapse. I expected it. No matter what her mother and I did to rehabilitate her, no matter how much money we spent on rehab or how much time we spent trying to find her in shady and dangerous areas to beg her to get help, we could not change Stephaney’s choices or her addiction.

On December 5, 2018, the police called to tell me they had found my niece, Stephaney living in a box on Camp Bowie. If you missed the blog, here’s the link.. Addiction Destroys Families- Girl In A Box finding my niece out of her mind and trying to convince her to re-enter treatment as I stood on a busy road was an escapade in futility. We lost Stephaney to the streets for another year. No one and I mean no one who doesn’t have an addict for a loved one can understand the depths of despair you fall into.

I once had someone tell me “don’t hate the addict hate the addiction.” How I kept from slapping that guy I have no idea. Addicts have s choice. No one is holding a gun to their heads to destroy everything around them. I hate the drug and the addict. People telling you to forgive someone who consistently hurts you and your family don’t have a clue of what they are asking or expecting. How my mothers mother dealt with her addiction for forty years I have no idea. I can’t do this another twenty years. I can’t do it another year with Stephaney. I’ve lost any ounce of hope I formerly had. I’m now hopeless. Void. Empty.

My sister called me tonight upset about another “crazy phone call from Stephaney.” Why Cindy doesn’t hang up and suffers through these abusive phone calls from a daughter we’ve tried to help the past 17 years I have no idea. I would’ve hung up. I wish Cindy would learn to.

During my first divorce and five year custody battle, one attorney finally gave me advice about phone calls from my ex that I needed to hear. What was it? “Hang up.”

My niece, Stephaney has been hitting the sauce again. I’m guessing for at least a few weeks now based on her behavior. Last week after being screamed at in my own vehicle over telling her to pay her own rent , I strongly suspected that Stephaney was using again.

The violence and anger of someone on meth is difficult to describe unless you’ve experienced it. I wasn’t afraid of my agitated and angry niece yelling at me from the passenger seat. Instead I was angry. Mad as heck I spent money on 9 months of rehab AGAIN. She should have been afraid of me and the 17 years of her antics that have affected our entire family. I have no idea how I didn’t have an accident. I even called Cindy on my Bluetooth so she could hear all of this screaming my niece was doing while riding in my car.

Years ago, in Cindy’s home with yet another escapade of Stephaney out of her mind on drugs, I called her out on it. She grabbed a knife and held it to my throat in front of my shocked sister who called the police. The things we’ve been through with Stephaney are shockingly sad. Things that we can’t forget but she doesn’t remember. How convenient.

Stephaney is and always has been the biggest challenge our family has faced. From punching holes in the walls to stealing credit cards or even our cars and wrecking them to saying horrible things to us, Stephaney has no idea why no one other than Cindy and I bother to help her. Even her own daughters won’t speak to her. They are 16 and sick of her relapses. We all are. Our husbands can’t understand why Cindy and I keep trying to Save Stephaney. Our other children can’t. Her own children can’t.

Tonight while leaving Greenwood Cemetery, a text from Cindy confirmed my suspicions. Stephaney had called Cindy’s house and demanded to speak to her kids. Cindy was busy trying to comfort Makenna who was holding her dying guinea pig. Her twin sister, Maryssa was making dinner. Cindy was alone with the twins when a call from a cell phone that Cindy pays for destroyed her night. Her daughter, Stephaney was on the other end of that cell phone screaming and demanding to talk to her kids. More upsetting than the screaming is the fact that we know when Stephaney is using. We always know. Crazy talk from a crazy person. My niece has been committed over and over because even the police think she’s insane when she’s using.

In 2010 on Super Bowl Sunday, Stephaney overdosed. Cindy was preparing to sign the death certificate when a doctor walked out to announce that “he had saved her.” My sister looked right at him and screamed “why?!” She meant it. We knew she would never change but like other families we tried over and over to change her. We hoped. We prayed. We paid for rehab after rehab after rehab. Inadvertently we enabled Stephaney. We didn’t know what tough love was. We never have. That Dr gave our family another 10 nearly 11 years of dealing with Stephaney while raising the twins. Cindy knew it and I knew it too.

Many of our friends have lost their kids to drugs. They post how broken they are with their son or daughter gone. They mourn the child they knew without knowing how an addict sucks every bit of joy out of your life. Without experiencing the painful merry go round of them being clean then using over and over again.

One of our friends, Sherri lost her son to heroin. She was forced to kick him out of her home after he broke several of her bones. He died of an overdose. She mourns his death everyday. I talked to her about accepting he made his choices. She needs to stop blaming herself. She needs to move on. How many parents and loved ones blame themselves and suffer through physical and verbal abuse are finally relieved that the addict they couldn’t reform is finally gone? There are parents relieved “it’s over.” Sherri isn’t one of them. The guilt she carries has caused her many health issues.

I walk into prisons on a regular basis. Often I’m thinking “would prison have reformed my niece, Stephaney?” She spent 6 months in Jacksboro at the state jail after breaking into Cindy’s house. Stephaney blames Cindy for pressing charges.

Stephaney stole a semi in Oklahoma and spent another 6 months in Cotton County Jail. These “stints” didn’t reform my niece. I saved her from a 20 year sentence in Oklahoma. Looking back, I wish I had let her go to prison.

I wish I had the past 6 years of Stephaney being out of of jail back.

Nineteen involuntary commitments because she was out of her mind on meth over and over and over. Ruined holidays with her upsetting the entire family.

Three years ago, Cindy and I spent two years spent searching the streets for her in Fort Worth. The angst of these emotionally debilitating scenarios with Stephaney literally broke my sisters fragile heart. Addicts don’t care. Over and over again buying “psych friendly clothing” to drop off at the nut house. We hated going to visit her at psych wards as she demanded to “come home.” The first opportunity she had to use again she did. The pain my niece has brought to our family is as big as Texas.

Trying to act normal while wondering if she was dead or alive. Addicts are the most entitled, narcissistic, demanding, self absorbed, irresponsible, reckless, self indulgent idiots in the world. I hate my mother for being a heroin addict. I hate my niece for being a meth addict. I hate what both of them have done to our family. HATE IT.

6 months months ago, Stephaney returned from treatment in Oklahoma. For three months she lived with Cindy. Laying around and refusing to look for work. Then one day acting so irrationally that I called the police to have her committed due to her behavior.

When she was released this time, I advised her that she wouldn’t be returning to Cindy’s house. This created an argument. I held firm.

Stephaney “believes” Cindy owes her a place in her home. Stephaney is misinformed. She had ruined every opportunity in her life that we’ve given her over and over again.

My sister didn’t need anymore drama. The twins didn’t either. I located a group home. The rent was $650. I paid it. I spent a week driving Stephaney to job hunt. I found her a job. The following month, I paid half the rent. The ONLY bill Stephaney had was the rent. Cindy pays her cell phones bill. I buy her bus tickets. The rent is due next Wednesday. Stephaney has been so erratic at her job that they sent her home for four days last week. She’s only saved $300 towards the rent. I picked her up this morning to tell her to find another job. I picked her up this morning to tell her to start being a responsible adult. I was yelled at. “Don’t upset me when I’m going to a job I hate. Don’t upset me when I’m living in a place I hate. I need to be happy and not worried about paying rent.”

When did we become enablers? I have no idea. I wish I knew. Why did we overcompensate as mothers to our children? Our own mother was a heroin addict. A loser. A miserable excuse for a mother. In fact, she sold all four of her children for $50 each to go buy heroin. My grandfather tape recorded this deal. He kept the tape to remind us that no one wanted us. He also sexually abused my sisters and I for years until we finally ran away. Tammy was four years older than Cindy and I. We ran away at 15. We had no one. We lived in a shelter until we were 16. I obtained a hardship drivers license and we saved up and lived in a $200 car after we left the shelter until we could afford an apartment. We never did have the money for electricity at that apartment. But we had a roof over our heads and by 19 years old we moved to an apartment and finally had electricity. Cindy was pregnant with Leigh Ann. She was followed home from IHOP to that first apartment with no electricity. She was raped in the dark. We raised Leigh Ann together. We moved from the first apartment in the middle of the night behind on the rent because we were using it to move away from the apartment Cindy would never feel safe in again. Leigh Ann was born at JPS 8 months later.

Arguing with Stephaney in my car about her only responsibility being to pay the rent, she screamed “you’re lucky and my mom is lucky. You have homes, businesses, cars. You’re lucky.”

Whenever I’m told I’m lucky or I’ve been lucky, I want to slap the shit out of the misinformed idiot telling me I’m lucky. I’ve never been lucky. I’ve always worked my ass off to take care of my sister and Leigh Ann. Cindy was in a hospital bed for two years after an accident. She had two kids, Leigh Ann and Stephaney, no child support and me. She didn’t have help from our shitty family. We never have. We’ve always had each other. We’ve never been lucky but we have always been willing to work, thankful for the opportunity to work, devoted, loyal, determined and steadfast. We had to be.

Stephaney was pregnant at 15 with the twins. After their birth, Stephaney moved from marijuana to meth “to lose weight.” I will never forget having to find an attorney at Harris willing to come to NICU to keep the state from taking the twins. I found someone and knowing we were in a bind, he was expensive. Attorneys are always driven by greed. Cindy and I committed together to “saving the twins and giving them the life we never had.”

There were tough times the first few years. Stephaney would drop by high as a kite demanding to take the twins. We would call the police. We never let her take the twins because she was never sober enough for the responsibility. Protecting the twins has been a 16 year investment.

Stephaney has never paid rent in her life. She’s never paid her own car insurance when she has had cars. She has never paid her own cell phone bills. Cindy always buys a new phone when Stephaney loses the old phone. She pays the phone bill because it’s the only way we can try to find Stephaney when she disappears again.

Last year, Cindy and I flew to NY to film with CBS. Stephaney was clean and doing well. For the first time in the twins lives, we trusted her to watch them for two days. Our flight landed at Newark and a text from Maryssa read “she’s acting funny. I think she’s on something again.” Getting off that plane, Cindy clutched her heart. This was the first sign that my twin had heart issues. We were under contract to film and always honor our obligations. I suggested going to the hospital. Cindy declined and said “if we aren’t on that set, they will sue us. Give me a Xanax.” But the Xanax didn’t take away this pain. For the duration of our commitment in NY, Cindy had chest pain.

Getting on the plane to fly home, I gave Cindy 6 aspirin and a bottle of water. Her heart Dr later told me “the aspirin and water most likely kept her from having a heart attack on that flight.”

We returned to Texas and I informed Stephaney I was putting her back into treatment after she failed a drug test at Cindy’s house. I had a full schedule as usual and a heart doctor appointment for Cindy the following day so I put Stephaney on the bus. Hours later, Stephaney called halfway to treatment. She had gotten off the bus and I had to drive and pick her up to take her to Grove, Oklahoma myself. Cindy insisted on going with me. I wish she hadn’t. Finding Stephaney singing and dancing at a truck stop wasn’t what either of us wanted to see. We’ve seen it before. She’s either happy or angry.

It was an awful drive to the facility. Happy went to angry pretty quick. I didn’t care. I couldn’t get to Grove, Oklahoma soon enough. Cindy’s chest pain continued.

The following day I took Cindy to the ER. She was having a heart attack. She had 3 blocked arteries. She was transported while I picked up the twins from school to Harris Heart Center.

A year ago, I almost lost my sister. A year ago saving Stephaney finally made me realize that she didn’t want to be saved.

A year ago, my attitude changed. Stephaney would have to support herself and be a member of society. She would have to work. She would have to be responsible. She would have to grow up. None of these things happened. Instead, after picking her up following 9 months of treatment, Stephaney moved into Cindy’s home until her behavior became so erratic that I had no choice other than to call a 51/50 on her to get her out of Cindy’s house.

Stephaney will tell you that the 19 times she’s been involuntarily committed were everyone’s fault but her own. JPS told us every time they kept her “she’s positive for meth.”

Stephaney never admits to drug use. Even when see fails a drug test, Stephaney insists “it’s wrong.”

We know when she’s using. She thinks we don’t. Everyone knows. Her jobs, her friends, her family. Addicts think they are sneaky and no one’s the wiser. Sneaky and stupid go hand in hand. I’m so sick of Stephaney’s antics.

Tonight’s phone calls forced Cindy to take her heart pill, nitroglycerin. Tonight’s phone calls left Makenna mourning a guinea pig slowly dying. My worry about Cindy continues.

Months ago, my husband announced that Stephaney isn’t allowed into our home. This hurt me. She was doing well at the time. “Your niece ruins every holiday or family get together. I’m sick of watching you and Cindy on the merry go round of Saving Stephaney. She’s clean and normal. She’s high and agitated jumping in front of my car screaming she’s God and embarrassing us when a neighbor stops me to tell me that they saw Stephaney bathing in the fountain at the park. I just can’t take it anymore. I want normality and Stephaney ruins every shred of predictability there is. She will relapse and when she does, I don’t want her in our house. I’m uncomfortable around her. I don’t like screaming and yelling under my roof. I’m sorry but this decision is firm. I want a normal holiday.”

Of course I was hurt by this but he’s right. Every single holiday is ruined by my niece. Her sister, Leigh Ann can barely speak civilly to her. Stephaney’s stolen from Leigh Ann over and over or called her names. Stephaney has simply done too much.

My son tried to help by offering to let her stay with him. Stephaney started calling my daughter in law names and knocking holes in their walls.

Stephaney is unpredictable. Stephaney on meth is angry, confrontational and unpredictable.

I can’t do anything more to change the shape of things to come. I must pull back and stop trying to run to the rescue. I hate to admit that I’ve finally realized that my help is actually enabling my niece.

I dropped her off this morning after driving through McDonalds to buy her a coffee with her screaming her order from my passenger seat at the cashier. Being around someone on meth is and can be dangerous to others. You cannot predict what they will do or how they will behave. I was relieved to drop her off at work but concerned about her getting fired if she didn’t stop being hateful and rude.

Based on this evenings string of phone calls to Cindy’s house, my niece, Stephaney is back on the sauce and off the rails. I’m heartbroken but I must harden my heart and focus on my sister, my husband, my son, my twin Grandnieces, Maddy and Leigh Ann as well as my clients. It’s difficult to stop worrying about Stephaney and her choices but I no longer have a choice..

The Less You Respond To Negativity, The More Peaceful Your Life Becomes..

For eight months now the stress of not being able to visit a TDCJ inmate continues. As of yet and regardless of the “chatter” AKA gossip, TDCJ is not releasing thousands of inmates due to the number of inmates transferring from county jails into state prisons.

There are so many rumors out there giving false hope to people who need hope the most that I’m writing this blog while in a truck stop parking lot to stop the rumor mill.

Last weeks conference call didn’t even touch on in person visitation. Instead the focus was on Covid cases. As of yet, we still have no official word on in person visitation in TDCJ facilities.

Meanwhile and since my other clients follow this site, Fort Worth FMC as well as other Federal Facilities has reinstated visitation with preregistration requirements. Please be aware of these requirements.

Lompoc clients, there is a large number of inmates with projected release dates. I will not be returning to Lompoc until February or March of 2021.

Normally, I’m in California several times a year but due to client rescheduled event dates of Texas Twins Event’s and The Pawning Planners as well as Federal Clients, traveling to California at this time is improbable if not impossible.

2 of the three clients I was scheduled to marry this week have tested positive for Covid. Please be aware that this virus is still out there.

My daughter in law, Stephanie was at a hospital in Tyler last weekend and apparently exposed to Covid while visiting her uncle who was on life support due to a self inflicted gunshot.

The issues of this tragic event have caused great anxiety to my daughter in law as well as the possibility of being Covid positive after spending two days at the hospital.

In fact, an argument regarding a GoFundMe account to raise money for a funeral rather than a cremation started an argument between my daughter in law and I at a birthday lunch this week.

My daughter in law was arguing about what her uncle wanted. I was arguing about him wanting a $10-12k funeral because “he didn’t want to be cremated.”

I advised my daughter in law that we are in a pandemic with Christmas right around the corner and people aren’t in a position to fund a full fledged funeral for someone who chose to shoot himself. I then reiterated that my daughter in laws focus needs to be on her son and her husband as well as her job and not at the demands of someone expecting their surviving family to fund an expensive funeral. I’m a realist.

Today while on messenger, “aunt Margie” my daughter in laws aunt and sister to Robert (who shot himself but wanted an elaborate funeral) sent me a message and FB hid it since we weren’t connected.

The message was somewhat cryptic and had a sense of urgency which led me to suspect it was from one of my clients planning to marry an inmate so I responded. “Aunt Margie” wanted me to share the GoFundMe for $10k in funeral expenses for her brother. I suggested donating the body to science. Then I suggested a paupers funeral. I then suggested the Mayo Clinic. Margie is determined to have a “real funeral as her brother wanted. He specifically didn’t want cremation.”

For the record, I’m sick and tired of hearing what this guy wanted. He had no life insurance and even if he had, most insurance companies have a clause regarding suicide. Everyone in his family wants to honor his wishes but none of them have the funding to do so. Quite frankly, this guy and what he wanted when compared to what his family can afford aren’t going to happen but I gave up trying to convince his sister, Aunt Margie.

Moving on with her though, she needed help with TDCJ forms as she wants her other son to attend the funeral that their family can’t afford. I know. It’s ridiculous. Seriously.

Apparently, Margies son is at Cole Unit in Bonham, Texas. She wanted me to send her the forms to request a Reprieve For Family Emergency.

Please be aware that due to Covid, the odds of TDCJ granting a reprieve are slim. Why? Because releasing an inmate to attend a funeral can expose the inmate to Covid. I then sent her a parole packet and letters of support template. She asked me about the forms for a Hardship Transfer which I also sent. Hardship Transfers are tricky. Margie lives 90 minutes from Cole Unit.

TDCJ doesn’t allow you to choose the transfer unit based on convenience to you. But convincing Margie of the improbable scenario of a hardship transfer to Bridgeport “because it’s closer to her than Cole Unit” had ME reaching for my Xanax while arriving on location at Belltower Chapel. This lady just doesn’t listen to reason. I’ve never talked to a brick wall before but now I at least have something to compare the experience with.

Have you ever tried to reason with someone unreasonable? While they were sitting around and you were on a timeline and on the clock with clients? If you want to REALLY try my patience, the best time to do so is when I’m busy. Margie was literally hitting all of my buttons, not listening and making demands most likely because I haven’t donated to this fund. Why? Because it’s ridiculous to expect everyone else to pay for an expensive funeral. My own husband doesn’t want me to pay for a funeral and waste money. I plan to be cremated myself. Why burden your surviving family with an expensive funeral? If cremation is good enough for my own family why isn’t is good enough for “Aunt Margies brother?!”

The argument over whether TDCJ will allow her other son to attend a funeral that the funding isn’t in place for raged on.

Bridgeport is closer to Margie, there is no guarantee that TDCJ will choose a Unit closer simply because it is closer. She argued about this. “Obviously they are going to realize that Bridgeport is closer.”

Folks, prisons aren’t in the business of making things more convenient for loved ones as we are all aware of except “Aunt Margie.”

Further, Bridgeport while operating under TDCJ is one of the very few privately owned Units in Texas. Because of this fact, Bridgeport has different guidelines and does not require offer Unit Photos which is why you never see Unit Photos from Bridgeport unless they are from the parking lot and non authorized.

I then suggested a paupers funeral to Aunt Margie AGAIN or donating the body to science and was told “I’m not cremating my brother. That’s not what he wanted.”

Folks, I’m going to be blatantly honest about the fact that no one expects death. No one expects suicide. Texas provides paupers funerals for indigent deaths that occur in this state.

Another option is cremation. Even if the deceased owns property, the expense of preparing a body along with the casket and other factors can easily run $5-7k.

In the “suicide situation” that presented itself upon my daughter in law the day she and my son were returning from the Colorado Wedding, I found it more than a little selfish that “uncle Robert was adamant about not wanting to be cremated.”

For reasons I don’t understand, trying to explain to my daughter in law that this wasn’t her problem resulted in an argument. My son however saw my point.

I spent the rest of my birthday making food deliveries for our pantry recipients and wondering why on earth my daughter in law thought or expected that strangers would miraculously donate enough money to cover a costly funeral?

Texas has what’s called a Body Disposition Affidavit. If you aren’t married or the next of kin, the decision of what to do with your body can be required with a Body Disposition Affidavit. My father didn’t have one for Gretta. Because he didn’t, Gretta’s sister, Kathy contacted Greenwood and stopped my father from planning and paying for the funeral. For thirty days, Greenwood waited on Kathy to take over funeral planning. For thirty days, the bill to store Gretta grew. After 30 days her body had deteriorated to such an extent that it took me three hours to prepare her for an open casket ceremony. Gretta owned a plot at Greenwood. The cost to prepare, store and bury her was $12k.

Whatever your feelings are regarding death and expenses, if your survivors cannot afford to carry out your wishes, the options left to them are somewhat limited. After all, your family members have bills to pay and families to support.

Today my son called me to tell me about Stephanie and Covid. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to deduce that she was exposed going to visit this uncle who had shot himself. I saw photos on the GoFundMe Campaign of several relatives not wearing masks. In fact, yesterday I asked my son “why wasn’t anyone wearing a mask?” Whatever your feelings on masks are, being with a group of people is and can be an event that exposes you to this virus.

This evening while traveling back from a wedding elopement ceremony in Dallas, Cindy called me about one of our former clients, Debbie’s daughter, Hannah calling her about moving in. Hannah is pregnant, 21 and living at home with her mother. Things aren’t going well but moving in with Cindy isn’t the solution to this problem. Cindy is raising her twin granddaughters. For years when her adult daughters, Leigh Ann and Stephaney were in school, their friends would move in with Cindy over and over again. In fact, my sons friend, Jeremy lived with us off and on for a few years. His mom was an alcoholic. But, Cindy and I are older and have commitments that prevent us from housing someone because they’ve been kicked out of the house. Our pantry provides food and clothing but not shelter. We can refer you to a shelter and assistance but we cannot move you into our homes. I’m sorry but we have husbands that don’t even have children of their own and want privacy. In fact they are entitled to some degree of privacy because being married to us is a literal circus of our adult children and grandchildren already. I’m being honest and transparent about this topic.

Hannah balked at my suggestion for family counseling with her mom but Hannah is expecting a child and needs to understand that living with her mother requires attempting to get along with her mother. I have no idea if there’s a relationship at all with Hannah’s mother but I know this, I’ve met Hannah’s mother and she opened her house to her. Hannah needs to follow her moms rules and attempt to get along.

Many of you are already aware that Tiger King is incarcerated at Fort Worth FMC. It’s a media circus there. If you are scheduled for a ceremony at FMC, PLEASE give yourself at least an hour to wade through the traffic. We must arrive on time.

Many of you are contacting me because your LO has made parole. Ceremonies outside of Walls Unit are a celebration of freedom and perfect opportunity to marry after release. I’m happy to meet you in Huntsville.

For everyone else as we continue to wait on visitation to be reinstated at your Unit, please do not send an absentee affidavit. This document is only valid 30 days once notarized. Law libraries get crispy about having to continuously notarize these Affidavits. Hold the affidavit until we are certain visitation has been reinstated and we can move forward.

Please be aware that although Missouri Affidavits have a longer shelf life that Texas will not accept a Missouri Absentee Affidavit.

Stay safe and try to stay positive. This cannot last forever. For client’s who were scheduled in March and April who were cancelled at TDCJ Units, when visitation is reinstated, contact me and I will split the cost of your replacement marriage licenses.

Please be aware that proxy marriage was banned within TDCJ in 2013. The new Administrative Directive pertaining to inmate marriages within TDCJ requires protocol and procedure to be followed. Meaning there have been no changes to the procedure. TDCJ must approve the marriage. You must be an approved visitor. Marriages must take place in person at the Unit the inmate is located at.

There have been no changes to procedure that allow for phone or video call weddings. In fact, THREE way calls are strictly prohibited.

TDCJ will not change an inmates status to common law married unless this status was claimed going into the system. Undoing a CLM is hit and miss within TDCJ.

An inmate cannot be common law married if he isn’t living with you. CLM Affidavits are no longer an option after incarceration.

If your ceremony was not approved, it is not valid per TDCJ’s policies and procedures.

TDCJ will not approve any wedding until visitation is reinstated as being on site is a requirement according to their guidelines.

If someone is telling you otherwise, they are misleading you. Be aware of con artists. They are out there.

I follow all policy and procedure in every state and can assure you that trying to go around mandates isn’t a good idea or one that will work. We must follow all policies strictly and to the letter.

Regarding ICE ceremonies, there are still no visitation changes that have occurred. We must be on site and in person to get you married. If we cannot get access, we cannot get you married.

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.