“Keep your promises and be consistent. Be the kind of person others can trust.” – Roy T. Bennett

I’ve been up most of the night mainly because I’ve never been a good sleeper and also because I’m not allowed to stay in ICU with my husband.

Going through my emails and DM’s one of my brides for April 3rd became so overwhelmed with friends demands about her wedding that she’s now flying to Vegas.

Let’s review what’s important to you on wedding day and it isn’t what your friends OR family members want…

1. Your ceremony should be catered to your wishes. If you don’t want a religious ceremony and your friends or family do, speak up. It’s your wedding. 2. If you don’t want a large group at your wedding say so. You don’t have to invite everyone you know. Weddings should be as intimate as you want them to be. 3. Don’t cave in and feel pressured to please others on your wedding day. Weddings are Life Events meant to happen only once. 4. Your friends and family shouldn’t have nearly as much influence as they think they should have. Again, it’s your wedding.

The April 3rd bride in question was so beat down about pressure from her friends and family that she is now running off to Vegas. Who could blame her? Weddings should be about what the couple want not what everyone else wants.

Why was a small gathering so important to her? Because a few months ago she contracted Covid and is now fearful of large groups. People have reasons for desiring an intimate ceremony and reception. Don’t make a wedding for someone else “about you.”

Moving on to my June bride who had a surprise letter sent to her by her fiancées ex girlfriend claiming she was pregnant. The lengths some people will go to are shocking.

I had one ex boyfriend show up mid ceremony with a banjo serenading my bride. At first I thought they had hired a singer with bad timing but no it was a party crasher.

Occasionally there is a crazy ex out there determined to destroy your happiness. I’ve encountered several.

From the mother of the groom who drove her Suburban around and outdoor venue screaming “don’t marry that B” to the banjo playing boyfriend, the lengths that lovers scorned will go to are shocking.

Back to the June bride. I read her text moments before my husband collapsed right in front of me and wasn’t able to respond until arriving at the ER following the ambulance with my husband in it. In many cases and especially things as upsetting as this issue is, responding quickly is important. Normally if I’m not on location with another client, I respond immediately 7 days a week. The text from my bride came as I was on the phone with 911 calling an ambulance for my husband. Remaining calm was difficult for me. His color and dropping to the floor unable to breathe were something I had never anticipated happening. Fear in life or death situation grabs hold of you. One minute everything was fine. The next minute I was watching my husband convulse while trying to listen to the 911 operators instructions. While doing so, text messages from my bride continued to come through my cell phone. I wanted to call her and calm her fears but in that moment I couldn’t.

Her fiancée isn’t here to defend himself about this allegation. His mother died last week from Covid and his father is in the hospital. He’s in Maryland planning the funeral. His fiancée is also pregnant. Upsetting news and especially what I’m fairly certain is fake news from a lover scorned could cause a miscarriage. I talked at length to my June bride about what I feel is an erroneous allegation. She doesn’t want to confront her fiancée already dealing with a traumatic and emotional situation until he returns and I don’t blame her. Instead, we are focusing on demanding a paternity test. Allegations of parental responsibility should always involve a paternity test. Trusting your partner is a critical aspect of building a life together. This isn’t the first encounter with the crazy ex we’ve dealt with either. She called me to advise me my client was a “Deadbeat” months ago. Like I said, the unstable lovers scorned will go to any lengths so I’m not surprised that a few months before the big day we are hearing from her yet again. But bouncing the ball back into her court by suggesting a paternity test will (in my opinion) prove that yet again this poor woman will try anything to break up the plans of this wedding. I will keep you posted on the outcome.

Now moving on to Brandi. Some of you may remember Brandi as the lover scorned in the “Don Juan Scenario at TDCJ Ellis Unit.” Brandi was planning to marry Raul. The problem? Valerie was also planning to marry Raul. Men and women who love an inmate are often on Group platforms for support. Both Brandi and Valerie were which was how Brandi found out first that Valerie was planning to marry Raul. Ironically both women had contacted me regarding this prison wedding but I hadn’t sent a contract to either or I would have quickly noticed that the inmates name and number were replicated to two different women. Valerie was contacted by Brandi on FB one Sunday morning as I was preparing to officiate a funeral at Greenwood Memorial. Brandi didn’t contact me first choosing to contact Valerie instead. I wish she had because no one wants a “sucker punch” in their DM box. Brandi then contacted me with photos and even a video of the love letters Raul had sent to her including the envelopes listing his name, inmate number and TDCJ Unit to prove he was playing both her and Valerie.

Valerie wouldn’t no matter how hard I tried to convince her deviate from her plans to marry Raul. I knew this marriage was destined for failure and with a heavy heart along with a smirking Raul sadly conducted the ceremony at Ellis Unit after whispering to Raul “if you hurt her I promise I will help her divorce you.” He laughed. A few months later while in California performing prison weddings, Raul had hit Valerie. Valerie was as shocked as I was that Raul paroled within a month of their wedding. But it didn’t take Raul long to show his true colors.

Valerie is now single but Brandi has been in and out of one bad relationship after the other. This past week she contacted me from rehab to tell me she was pregnant. I’m worried about Brandi and her instability. I have also broached the subject of giving the baby for adoption. Brandi is four months pregnant. Only time will tell if she can make the best decision for this child. The father is entirely out of the picture.

My clients, Burt and Deanna finally brought home a baby a month ago. The road they traveled to finally have a child was difficult. Burt and Deanna lost DeLilah to Trisomy a little over two years ago. Deanna was devastated. She was also unable to do IVF as she had planned. For over a year con artists had contacted her attempting to extort money claiming to be pregnant. One of these people contacted me. It didn’t take long to find out that this lady was not only dishonest but also not pregnant. Sadly the people wanting children the most are often at a disadvantage by putting their desires on public platforms. People prey on them making promises they don’t intend to keep and the demands for money pile in. This type of manipulative extortion is far more common than you might think. Luckily, Burt and Deanna finally found a surrogate and are thrilled new parents to a baby girl. I will be baptizing her in a few weeks.

I’m still worried about my friend, Julie whose husband announced he wanted a divorce. Julie has had a very tough road after a back surgery left her unable to walk a few years ago. Her husband and his announcement were a crushing blow to Julie. She’s still trying to find an affordable place to move to with a young daughter to care for. If you have a work from home opportunity or a small place for rent in the Fort Worth area please let me know. Starting over again after all of these years is frightening for my friend who thought she had “found a life partner.” I’m always stunned when a spouse chooses to run when the going gets tough. A botched surgery, a cancer diagnosis, a car accident or other life changing incident is never planned. It’s never expected. Julie’s situation certainly wasn’t. I will never forget seeing my once athletic friend in a wheelchair. I was shocked. At first Jim was supportive. He now claims that his wife’s bitterness is why he wants a divorce. I don’t believe him. Running when you’re spouse needs you most is cowardly and self serving. You don’t abandon someone when they need you the most. Being a single parent is difficult. Being a disabled single parent is incredibly difficult.

No one marrying plans to deal with job loss, health issues or death. Planning a marriage is an exciting time full of promise and excitement. Sometimes the joy of planning overshadows the warning signs of red flags flying in a relationship.

Throughout the past year, many inmates have become demanding and controlling to my clients from behind the razor wire. I’m going to once again stress that my clients are doing it all and doing it alone. Don’t let an inmate control your money. You have children to raise and bills to pay. Prioritize your responsibilities and make your needs as well as your children’s your main focus.

This past week TDCJ finally reinstated visitation with changes. My clients had not seen their loved ones in a full year. The excitement of even a non contact visit was profound across the board to inmates as well as my clients. A few clients lost their visitation privileges this past week.

All of you know the guidelines. All of you are aware of what’s inappropriate. If you are removed from the Approved Visitation list, we have 14 days to file an appeal with the DRC. I can tell you that an appeal is not a guarantee of reinstated visitation. In fact, I have 8 clients who have been appealing for years. Please don’t allow an inmate to ask you to do something that will jeopardize your visitation. Subsequently, if an inmate does something inappropriate, you will not only lose your visitation but the inmate will also “catch a case.” Be responsible. Say no.

Moving on to Federal. Guidelines to marry a Federal inmate require like any other institution, permission from the Unit. Please follow guidelines and don’t call the Unit over and over again. Marrying an inmate is a lengthy paperwork process of procedure. There isn’t any way to avoid policy or procedure.

Further, please don’t file a complaint regarding the length of time you were on hold at a TDCJ Unit trying to schedule a visit with the DRC. Your complaints are not anonymous. The warden will be advised of the complaint along with your name and the inmates information. Be patient. These Units are overwhelmed trying to get your visit scheduled.

I’m hoping that we can clear up the issues my June bride is facing and that Brandi makes the right decision for her child but Brandi is unpredictable. Bringing a child into the world is a commitment. You never stop being a parent. You never stop putting the child’s needs before your own. Brandi has relapsed several times and left other treatment facilities so I’m hoping she stays with the current program she’s in but can only offer guidance and sage advice at this point.

Nothing after a yearlong pandemic prepared me to nearly lose my husband yesterday. Life is fragile. Your health is priceless. Prioritize your life and your relationships. Tell the people who need to hear it that you love them. Regardless of how stressful your day was at work try to leave it in the car as you pull into the driveway. Tomorrow’s are a gift and today is what really matters.