It’s First Lady Friday Featuring…Denedriane Dean, First Lady of Word Ministries Christian Outreach Church in Harrisonburg,Virginia!

Hello World,

During Women’s History Month, I’ve launched a new feature featuring First Ladies! In thinking about my mother who was the First Lady of Central Christian Church in Atlanta, Georgia for 38 years before my father retired in 2017 and after reading Kimberla Lawson Roby’s final Rev. Curtis Black book “Better Late Than Never” which explored Charlotte’s desire to not be a typical First Lady, it dawned on me that I should feature First Ladies, which are revered positions particularly in the black church. Everyone is always talking about what the pastor of this church and that church is doing, but First Ladies are equally as important as the pastors to whom they are married! So once per month, on a Friday of course, I am featuring a First Lady. So if you know of a First Lady who should be featured, please e-mail me at jacqueline@afterthealtarcall.com because I’m looking for notable First Ladies to feature!

So with that being said, let me present to some and introduce to others the First Lady of Word Ministries Christian Outreach Church in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Pastor Denedriane (Dee Dee) Dean…

Below is her biography followed by my interview with her. Read, enjoy and share!

Pastor Denedriane (Dee Dee) Dean is a lover of God and of people. She is a native of Hampton, Virginia, and a 1992 graduate of James Madison University. JMU is where she met the love of her life, Pastor Art Dean. They wed in 1993, and have three smart, funny and creative young adult children: Tre, Dominique, and Adia. Pastor Dee has co-pastored Word Ministries Christian Outreach Church in Harrisonburg Virginia, alongside her husband, since 2004. She oversees the ministries of Worship & Arts, Intercessory Prayer, and Thrive, a ministry to women. Together, Pastors Art & Dee are commissioned to build people, build community, and watch God change lives by the power of His Word!

*note: Denedriane is pronounced Dee-KNEE-dree-en 🙂

1. How do you feel about the term “First Lady” and is Word Ministries Christian Outreach Church the first church where you have served as First Lady? 

So I will answer it backwards. Yes, it is the first church that we have served as co-pastors. First and only. We started in 2004. It has been an adventure and a blessing. We started out as co-pastors right out of the gate. It was something that my husband really wanted so when he was installed as lead pastor, senior pastor, he recognized that I was in the trenches with him so to speak. I was ministering to people as well, not necessarily on the same level as him because he was the one who was called and appointed to be a pastor. By that same token, I was alongside him, ministering, going to visit people. You know, just very active. So he wanted a title for me that reflected that involvement in ministry. We started attending our church as college students. Eventually, we were invited to be youth pastors. It was right before we got married.

Now, as far as the term ‘First Lady’ is concerned, I think any woman who serves alongside her husband should be honored with some type of title. But I’m not hung up on titles at the same time. I’m just for giving honor when honor is due. We learned from our spiritual parents. I didn’t want to be too casual with our interaction with our spiritual parents, and I learned to give honor even in a title. I’m very comfortable with that title, but we don’t happen to use it that much at Word Ministries. They just called me co-pastor right off the bat. I think the term ‘First Lady’ is a bit regional too. Like in this part of Virginia, it’s not so popular. We’re in the northwestern part of Virginia so it’s a little bit rural and a little bit city. But the term co-pastor stuck so that is their term for respect and honor.

 2. What is the “job description” of a First Lady?

She is a ‘co-carer’ for the flock. For me, it’s distilled down to that. I lead various ministries but that is going to be different for each First Lady because each woman has different strengths or different callings with respect to her gifts. But when it comes down to it, I think our best job description is to care for the people alongside my husband.

 3. What is the best part and what is the worst part about being a First Lady?

The best part is to be able to influence and bring opportunities to other ladies. As God is giving me opportunities to see and experience new things, He’s also given me a heart to share that with the ladies, not only to ladies, but primarily with ladies in the church. I can share there is another way of operating, whether it be spiritually or practically, in life. I’m not perfect, but as I learn more, I want to share that with the ladies and be a positive influence. I share what God has done for me and where He has brought me from.

I think ‘worst’ is a strong word. But sometimes, being in this role can be a little bit isolating so I have to make intentional steps to be very connected to my family and other women who are in similar positions, other First Ladies, other co-pastors. There are things that we walk through and experience that you just cannot land with just anybody. They have to be strategic people that God has placed in your life who can handle what you are carrying or bearing.

4. What are some misconceptions that people have about being a First Lady?

I think sometimes we can be misunderstood in terms of approachability. People may think I can’t really talk to her because she’s the First Lady or co-pastor. She’s up there and I’m still working through my own stuff. Maybe I can’t be as open or as vulnerable as I need to be. But I think that me being willing to be vulnerable with them makes them more able to be vulnerable with me.

Some people may think we’re stiff, like I’m only going to wear this or think this way or whatever. So each First Lady has to be who we are genuinely so people can know, just because you’re in leadership doesn’t mean that you don’t enjoy life. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have things that you just gravitate toward. Like I love NASA! I’m interested in anything that has to do with space and my whole church knows that!

5. You are over the Worship & Arts Ministry at your church. Tell me more that ministry and your involvement.

I became worship leader the year before we became pastors. Over the years we’ve had arts involvement, but it’s mostly been worship. So we have seen different iterations of our worship team. We’ve had a full band. We’ve had a not-so-full band. It’s been an adventure. But we praise Him with whatever we have.

6. You blog on two different websites – your website refreshingtalk.com and travelingmom.com. How did you get into blogging and tell me about these two websites? 

That was related to my homeschooling experience. I homeschooled all three of my children at different points of their lives: the oldest and youngest all the way through and the middle one went to public high school in ninth grade. In saying that, I wanted them to write more so in 2010, I thought well, I’ll start a blog and they can write for the blog. Their blogging lasted for a hot minute, but mine continued. I discovered that I liked blogging and here I am, nine years later, still blogging. With the travel blog, it was something that I looked into. I found that it was a good match for what I wanted to do. I wrote for that blog for a year, but my children  started going through different seasons, like going to college, so I had to focus my attention elsewhere. But recently I have reconnected with travelingmom.com so I hope to do more travel writing.

Recently, I went to the NASA Space X launch out of my love for all things space. I was born and raised in Hampton, Virginia so if you know anything about the book ‘Hidden Figures’ and the people who that book is about and even the author, they are from the NASA Langley area or Hampton. We were kind of surrounded by NASA and all things space just growing up. It was a part of my  upbringing.  So NASA has what they call ‘Socials’ and you can apply to attend an event. If you get selected, you get to witness a launch or whatever the focus is and you get the opportunity to speak with people who may have missions on that particular launch, who have been working on something for a decade and now their particular mission is launching into space. I was able to tour the facility at Kennedy Space Center which was really a treat because that’s where all the history of NASA and all of the Apollo missions are located. It was a great blessing just to be able to go and feel that for myself. This is the second social that I’ve attended.

Click on THIS LINK to see a news report about Pastor Dee Dee’s NASA experience!

My first one was in Hampton, Virginia earlier this year. When NASA made their big Moon to Mars announcement when they laid out their plans to go back to the moon and then from there to Mars. So I was selected to attend that event. It was a one-day event. I’ve been bitten by the NASA Social bug so I plan to apply others as they fit in my schedule. My family and church schedule comes first so it was a blessing that this last event worked around my two priorities.

7. As you have three young adult children, are you an empty nester? 

They are still here. One just graduated from college. My oldest son is Tre and he’s 23 years old. He graduated from JMU this past May. Our middle and oldest daughter Dominique is a rising senior at JMU so she will be coming out in 2020. Our baby daughter Adia will be 19 in August. She’s trying to figure out what she wants – if her path will look similar to her brother and sister’s path at JMU. That is where Art and I met and that is how we got to Harrisonburg period. We met, finished school, got married and never left the area.

How sweet!

Again, if you know of a First Lady who should be featured, please e-mail me at jacqueline@afterthealtarcall.com because I’m looking for notable First Ladies to feature! And if you would like to have conversations about faith, relationship, pop culture and more, please click on this link to subscribe to my blog 🙂! Finally, if you missed the second post of First Lady Friday, please click on It’s First Lady Friday Featuring…Kirstyn Mayden, First Lady of Mt. Zion United Methodist Church in Upperco, Maryland!

Any thoughts?

Sherri Shepherd Responds to Ex Lamar Saying He’s ‘Praying’ For Her, That She’s ‘Bitter’ & Should Go to Therapy!

Hello World,

So two posts ago I posted an excerpt from an article summarizing what Sherri Shepherd said about her ex-husband Lamar Sally in a recent interview on the The D.L. Hughley Show. Below is how Sherry explained why she married him when she said many of her friends and celebrity colleagues warned her not do so.

“I was in a place in New York by myself, lonely,” she said. “At the time I was in my 40s and scared. I was like, ‘I’m getting older, who’s going to want to be in a relationship?’ It was a lot of stuff done out of fear. I was also raised to in the church to believe you can’t have sex before you get married, so I was horny! The whole celibacy thing, this idea that it’s better to get married than to burn. So I got married too because I was horny, and look, we never had sex.”

Well, Lamar clapped back, penning a letter that he released to TMZ! He accused her of abandoning the son they agreed to have together via a surrogate. However, the son (who is biologically Lamar’s son but not Sherri’s as a donor egg was used) was born after the couple broke up. Still, according to People magazine and TMZ, Sherri pays $4,100 in child support to Lamar each month! Although she is keeping up with her payments, he claims she has abandoned the child, called her bitter and recommended that she go to therapy – despite all of this, he says he is “praying” for her! Additionally, he claims that she blackballed him in Hollywood and has not has any TV writing jobs as a result.

(Aside: Regarding his claim that she abandoned the child, Sherri told me herself via this blog that his claim wasn’t true. She said, “…I have a son w special needs that I talk about incessantly… do I seem like the type of woman who would ‘abandon’ a child? A woman who would shirk her duties where children are concerned – if you have followed me at all- you would know that isn’t the case at all…must be more to the story, yes? Well I stop there, because I can feel the Holy Spirit tip tapping me on my shoulder; and it’s also too quiet in the family room which means Jeffrey is doing something he ain’t suppose to be doing! God Bless.” She commented on a post “Sherri Shepherd Jokes About Giving Her Surrogate Baby to Raven Symone & More on ‘The View’” that I wrote in 2015.)

Now I can understand that what Sherri said hurt his pride, but her truth is her truth whether he likes it or not!  Furthermore, if someone was paying me thousands of dollars a month, I would suck it up and chalk it up to a contentious divorce. And of course, TMZ had a get a response from Sherry after Lamar’s clap back! She said she didn’t blackball him at all. In fact, she said she hopes he does get some writing gigs so that her child support payments can be reduced! I hear that!

You can check out Sherry’s full response to Lamar’s response HERE on TMZ.

In other Sherri Shepherd news, the comedic duo of Sherri Shepherd and Kym Whitley will serve as hostesses for for the Multicultural Media Correspondents Association Dinner. The dinner is being held today at 6:30 p.m. at the National Press Club in Washington D.C. With music by DJ D-Nice, the exclusive, invitation only gala is attended by media influencers, policymakers, executives, corporate and advocacy organization allies and Hollywood VIPs.

The event will honor the accomplishments of media industry legends and luminaries of color, including “The Fly Jock” Tom Joyner, NBC 4 news anchor Eun Yang, EMMY Award winning journalist Veronica Villafane, and digital media executive Parker Morse. Congresswoman Val Demings(D-FL.) will also be honored for her seminal work to increase media diversity, and there will be a special tribute to John Singleton including family members.

MMCA is a nonpartisan/nonprofit organization leading a call to action to increase media diversity. In just its fourth year, MMCA has become a trusted convener and facilitator of thought leadership, resource and information sharing and strategic engagement between multicultural media stakeholders, tech and media decision-makers, policymakers and private entities committed to increasing the percentage of diverse media stakeholders and content. www.mmcadc.org; @mmcadc on all platforms.

Any thoughts?

P.S. Know this…Just because someone says they’re “praying” for you doesn’t mean it’s a good thing…

3 Reasons Why I’m Glad Michelle Williams & Pastor Chad Johnson Are Reportedly ‘Working on Things!”

Hello World,

Last April, I was so excited when I heard the engagement story of Michelle Williams & Pastor Chad Johnson that I wrote “7 Reasons Why I Love That Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child is Engaged to Pastor Chad Johnson!” Below is an excerpt:

1. Michelle Williams had to wait on the Lord…We’ve all heard that God is an on-time God, and He is. But the caveat is He may not come when you want Him to come, but He’s always on time…I must confess that I hate that sometimes…God’s timing that is…But there are so many verses that address waiting on God’s timing that I have to conclude that waiting is a part of the Christian life…Below are three of these verses:

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

“The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” Lamentations 3:25

“Therefore I will look unto the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.” Micah 7:7

I bet it was hard to watch Beyoncé get married 10  years ago, Kelly get married 4 years ago while Michelle, who is making gospel  albums, was just waiting for God’s best to arrive! She had even gotten to the point where she was bitter about love. This is a quote from  her Instagram page: “I used to be so bitter and a hater when Valentine’s Day  would come around. I even found myself tweeting things like “Valentine’s Day is for suckers!” Welp….I’m a sucker! The Lord has been kind!” But her “someday my prince will come” story started last year and from what I’ve read, he is an admiral man of God, a pastor no less! But like I’ve learned”“Eye has not seen, nor  ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

Read the rest HERE.

Since last April, unfortunately, a lot changed. The main thing from what I can tell is that the two of them decided to share their road to the altar via their OWN reality series “Chad Loves Michelle.” Lord, why did they do that?  I watched every episode and really enjoyed it but seeing all of the online dissection of every exchange they had and the day-to-day events of their lives was just toxic. I truly believe that no relationship, even the most stable relationship, can truly flourish if its being scrutinized and picked apart by people outside of the relationship. I mean, according to the Bible, even our very own parents, the ones who loved us first, are not supposed to be in a couple’s relationship because what goes on in a relationship is sacred and must be protected. #LeaveAndCleave That being said, below are my 3 reasons why I’m glad that Michelle Williams and Pastor Chad Johnson appear to be “working on things” according to Page Six although they broke up at the conclusion of their reality show.

They were spotted together at the Kentucky Derby over the weekend. Check out this Instagram post from The Jasmine Brand. They look really happy 🙂

 

View this post on Instagram

 

#MichelleWilliams enjoys the #KentuckyDerby festivities with #ChadJohnson #ChrisTucker #Amerie and more

A post shared by the Jasmine BRAND (@thejasminebrand_) on

1. Some relationships don’t start out smoothly. It was evident by watching “Chad Loves Michelle” that were issues to work out. Michelle has admitted she had some mental health concerns. They are an interracial couple so there were assumptions and belief systems that had to be worked through. Michelle seemed to be skittish regarding commitment. These are just the things that I observed not to mention the fact that Michelle is a major celebrity.  From my own experience, I know for a fact that some relationships are not easy from the onset. One person commented online that this part of their relationship was supposed to be the easiest part…According to whom? Prior to my relationship with my husband, I had never been in a relationship longer than 8 months! I realize now that I choose men who didn’t want to be committed to me and subconsciously, I didn’t want to be committed either. But when my husband came along, I knew he was special but commitment felt foreign to me. I started a lot of arguments with him as result. Thank God he was patient with me, but had this all played out on television, I’m sure folk would be telling him to run and fast…LOL…

2. How they came together looked like how God works. If you’ve been a Christian for a while, you start to recognize when something is just not good, it’s God. This is not something I can explain, well, maybe I can, but I don’t have time to this morning, but maybe on another day when I have time, I will. But the engagement story of Michelle Williams and Pastor Chad just seemed like it was divinely done. One fact that sticks out to me is the fact that Pastor Chad started saving for an engagement ring that he would present to his fiancée 11 years ago. This is what he told PEOPLE magazine: “On my 30th birthday, everybody came and celebrated me. The next day, I woke up alone. I was so lonely. I had a little pity party. My personal life was lacking so much, and I  was living so single,” recalls Johnson, who turns 41 in July. “So as a response to that moment, I opened up a ring account, and for 11 years, I put $150 into a ring account.” As the old saints say, I don’t believe He brought me this far to leave me. I don’t think God lead his servant (a pastor, mind you) to save for an engagement ring for 11 years only to have him present it to the wrong woman. When my hubby came into my life, I had declared myself done with dating. I had concluded that it must not be God’s will for me to get married because every relationship I had just disintegrated. And not longer after that declaration, God did what He does…

3. My hubby said Pastor Chad was a good dude. I know you must be rolling your eyes at this one, but hear (read) me out. Hubby and I have have very different TV viewing tastes. For example, he watches car shows, “Incredible Hulk” reruns and basketball.” I watch “Sex and the City” reruns, “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” and Wendy Williams. Well, one Saturday night, he decided to watch an episode or two of “Chad Loves Michelle” with me. Every once in a while, my hubby will watch what I’m watching but will be criticizing things the whole time. He thinks the housewives are catty and that Wendy Williams is mean and nosy. But as he watched “Chad Loves Michelle,” he said that the pastor looks like a good dude. I turned and looked at him and said, “I know.” I told him that various people online were criticizing him and I couldn’t figure out why. He told me that he didn’t know about all of that but that Pastor Chad seemed like a genuine guy, the kind of guy you could introduce your sister to because he was nice. I.WAS.SHOCKED. My hubby isn’t perfect, but my hubby and my father are the kindest men that I know. If they say you are good people, I believe them.

So these are my three reasons. Have I proved my case? What do you think?

And thankfully, Michelle and Pastor Chad are taking a different approach now that they are “working on things.” Apparently, Michelle has noticed that people have noticed they are spending time together again. This is what she said on Twitter about it…

Yes, I know that Michelle and Pastor Chad opened their relationship to the public before, but now they’ve decided to close it. That’s why you can open AND shut a door. People are allowed to change their minds and praise God, I hope they continue to mind their business and not let outsiders in it…

Any thoughts?