With a previous marriage, two beautiful little girls biological to me, chosen by Denny, and only two years into this new reality, we are in the thick of what I like to call real life. It is beautiful and messy. Throw in school for all four of us, on top of jobs and newly added multiple sclerosis, and it makes for a pretty interesting conundrum. More like the most wonderful adventure of all time. Here’s chapter one of our story.
It all began when we were kids. While we may have grown up in the same town, the same school, and the same church, we are certainly not from the same side of the tracks. My mom was single when I was young, and worked around the clock to make ends meet. I remember being drawn to the healthy, happy, crowded home of the Durons. I often visited Denny’s older sister, Destiny. Even then, they made an impact on me. They epitomized what I wanted in a family. Who would have known, who could have painted such a beautiful story that one day they would be mine?!
The circumstances that drew me back to my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana as an adult were that of derailment and brokenness. I had long moved off, gotten married, and walked through a painful season that included divorce. I recall crying the whole way home, feeling that I had been chewed up and spit out by the world. During that time, Dez Duron had competed on The Voice and did incredibly well. He made the top eight, and put out a single called Sara Smile. This very song facilitated a powerful healing moment for me. The first time I listened to it, I wept bitterly as I sensed God telling me by name, literally, to smile.
With my two precious girls in tow, I had no idea what future awaited us. I had always sworn that my kids wouldn’t go through what I had been through with divorce. Yet, here we were. I remember thinking, “Who could ever want a divorced, single mom?” I felt I was donning the “Scarlet D”. My sudden isolation in the world left me feeling my way through the darkness of pain. All the while, God had such a beautiful plan.
Denny and DeAnza Duron did not hesitate to take me under their wing again. One providential day when we were hanging out, they decided to pick up Denny Rodney. I will never forget the very moment we drove up to his house and he walked up to our vehicle. The sight of him literally took my breath away. We connected so instantly, and I recall praying in the back of my mind, “He is way too good for me, but God, if you could just give me someone like him, that would be awesome!”
I drove home that night with a full-on crush. I totally sensed God, and sensed something significant, but determined not to be that creepy older divorced girl, so I tucked the feelings away. A year later, Denny’s dad hired me at the church. On my first day I was told, “Oh, by the way, you’ll share an office with Denny Rodney.”
Denny and I became great friends. After a year of lunches and time together sharing a workspace, he finally shared his heart with me. He confessed that he has had a crush on me pretty much his entire life. As one typically idolizes that older high-schooler growing up, he had always named me as his ‘ultimate’ girl. Ha! So, since he broke the ice, I finally admitted my feelings, too.
Skipping ahead through the greatest season of my life so far, he proposes! I’m smitten on a ridiculous level, and we had the crazy idea to do a surprise wedding. We sent out invitations to a black-tie, Gatsby-themed engagement party. The event was complete with a roaring 20’s vibe, formal wear, and jazz music put on by the Duron talent. Dee would sing, then DawnChere. After a few songs, Dez stepped up to sing none other than Sara Smile! This was my cue, and I snuck away to change into a wedding dress.
About halfway through the song, Denny Rodney took the mic from Dez and said, “Come on out here babe. Let’s get this thing started!” He then proceeded to sing the rest of Sara Smile. That is when I was suddenly seen at the end of the aisle wearing a wedding dress with my two girls in hand. The crowd went wild! The energy and joy of that moment were indescribable!
After Denny finished singing, which I couldn’t hear through the crowd’s cheering, the wedding party had inconspicuously slipped onto the stage and I began to walk down the aisle toward the man of my dreams. The presence of God was overwhelming. His redemptive love so tangible, I could barely keep my composure. Few others did, as there was a sea of joyful tears.
God’s goodness was felt by everyone in the room that night. It was the most magical experience. God was glorified. I, along with my girls, received the greatest blessing, second only to Jesus, that we could ever imagine: Denny Rodney.
And then the adventure began! Coming soon: Our experience as new youth pastors and then: Southeastern University!