Monday, October 20, 2014

Happy Couple Highlight: Yvonne and Tiffany


Yvonne 


Tiffany Harrison



New York, New York

This month we are revisiting and celebrating with one of the Create Love couples that we featured in February 2013. Yvonne shares her and wife’s views on parenting and offers advice for other same-sex couples. Thanks Tiffany and Yvonne for sharing your wisdom with the CL family and the world. And most of all, congratulations on the birth of your beautiful daughter, Zoe Doll.

Deciding to start a family for most couples involves a lot of heart searching. But for most same-sex couples it requires an additional amount of intention due to laws, legal protections and expense. How did you decide that it was time to add to your family? And, what advice would you give to other couples who are also considering parenthood? We both wanted to be parents and after being legally married, removing all debt, restoring our credit, pursuing our educational goals and becoming stable in ministry, we felt it was time to seek God on the addition(s) to our family. As soon as we developed stability, balance and financial security, we prayed for direction and God released us to begin the process.


We would advise other couples to communicate your desires, moral ethics, spiritual ethics, financial goals, career goals etc. before starting a family. 

What were the hardest conversations about co-parenting and why? And how did you navigate through those discussions? What areas do you think are potential land-mines that couples must be aware of during the pre-planning pregnancy process? Ironically, we were raised in two completely different spectrums but yet we have commonalities in parenting styles and we both believe that our child will be greatly influenced by the reciprocal interactions of both of us. The number one priority is co-parenting in a healthy way which will allow room for patience, open communication, boundaries, and spiritual guidelines that will foster training our child in the fear and admonition of the Lord. We believe couples must be aware of areas of child rearing that need to be discussed prior to stating the process. (Who will discipline, who will provide structure, who will lead spiritually, who will provide financially, what schools the child will attend). We were able to answer these questions through prayer and supplication. We are both equally navigating through each area.


I have many friends who have started a family together. Most of them say that they totally underestimated the impact of both of them having strong maternal instincts. What are thoughts and how do you anticipate addressing the 2 "mommy bear" dynamic? We've never been a couple fascinated with or bound by titles or roles in our marriage, therefore, our children will only know us as their mother. As 2 women with maternal instinct, that is the only role we can or have a desire to fill. We are both qualified, prepared, and led by the Holy Spirit.



I know sometimes in the lesbian community there is expectation about who should carry the baby, and the assumption is that one should carry over the other. I applaud you for honoring your relationship and not getting caught up in the fem/aggressor dynamic. But I am interested.....Did you experience any comments around "roles" and what advice can you give to other couples? Yes, more than I actually expected. In fact, when we decided to tell family and friends that I was carrying they couldn't believe it. We assessed who had the most astounding response. It was way too many to keep track. I told my church something profound. When I announced I was carrying, people were shock, surprised and taken aback. I said, "God will use who people LEAST EXPECT!" There was a blessing in the response of others. I told them to tap themselves on the chest and say, get ready because God is getting ready to use you because people least expect you. The people least expected me, the Pastor, the more aggressive. Our advice is, we were created to reproduce and that's not tied to a title or role. When you are married, you don't care who carries, you go above and beyond to extend your family. You don't get caught up in the stigma of roles in same-gender loving relationships. Motherhood is a blessing and if God made it possible for both, then why wouldn't we capitalize on the blessing and opportunity? 

Being a pastor and a minister, how do you feel parenthood will impact to your ministry? And, what have you put in place to provide support and to set boundaries so that your family does not become a casualty of the church. (I am a preacher's kid).The greatest impact will be the model that we set. We are legally married and we did it Gods way. Family is very close to God's heart. In fact, family was his idea from the very beginning. He has a divine purpose for our family and we have to recognize that what we model will ultimately set the standard. So, we can impact the church by representing a model that can positively affect our families and congregants aspiring to start a family.

Developing boundaries is crucial and critical to maintain a healthy family. We have a motto at church, "Family First" Now, we are not expecting change overnight, because we have trained the church in very ingrained patterns. In other words, our availability has been a top priority. We plan to reform it in a very progressive pattern. We intend to present a balance for our daughter which will allow her to decipher who we are in church and who we are outside of church. When we are home, we are parents and we will not bombard her with church life at home. 



Yvonne, I know that you plan on stepping back from the church for a few months while you and Tiffany get adjusted to your little bundle joy. I know as a career woman it was hard for me to slow down and step aside to nurture my relationships with my son, spouse and my own soul. What are your thoughts about balancing being a partner, parent, person and a pastor? One of the greatest blessings that I have is the understanding and patience of our church leaders and members. I don't feel obligated to be present because in my time in ministry, I've learned that Jesus set boundaries. Jesus had personal needs that he put priority on sometimes even over the needs of other people and he did so without feeling guilty. Motherhood is as important if not more important that Pastoring. I have to excel at managing my household and providing an example. I am very in tuned with my responsibilities, I take each of them seriously and I plan to be thorough and effective in all areas. Anything less would misrepresent God.



What can your congregants do to support you? 
To be honest, they've done enough. Their patience, understanding, provisions, presence and prayers have edified us beyond explanation. In a literal sense, they can continue to be present, active, faithful and responsible to care for the church in my absence. I have some of the best leaders in the kingdom and they are well equipped and prepared to be on the front-line for our church. 

What did you learn about yourself and about each other during the pregnancy?Tiffany: I learned that God could trust me to dedicate a child back to Him. I learned that my wife put us extending our family before herself and that's admirable.

Yvonne: I learned that I am trustworthy. To think that God entrusted me to carry and birth his child is indescribable. 

We learned that we are more suitable than we imagined. We don't have a perfect marriage but we have a purposeful marriage. This pregnancy has given us a new perspective on life, God, our marriage, and our families. God used our miracle to unite both sides of our families. It's inexplicable. 

You ladies are definitely role models in the community, and especially in the ministry. How do you ensure that you continue to walk in your purpose and not succumb to the tyranny of popularity? In ministry there is no such thing as popularity. Carnality seeks popularity. We are as the scripture says, "a peculiar people" If you remain in His will, and walk steadfast in humility, there's no room for our spirits to be subject to the world and popularity. As long as we keep Christ as the head of our marriage, our family, and our church, he will guide us in the way in which we should go. If your marriage points people to Christ then you are effective. We are committed to living our lives in a manner that will be pleasing to God and his followers.

What does family mean to you and why? A good Christian family is one which lines up with biblical principles and one in which each member understands and fulfills his or her God given role. Family was created by God, and we believe that we have been given the responsibility of exemplifying good stewardship over our family. Families differ in terms of economic, cultural, social, and many other facets, but what we consider family is operating in unconditional love despite of our differences, choices or circumstances in life.

What is your most important prayer and desire for your family? That we live and model a Christian family exemplifying the gifts of the spirit. That we extend the same grace that God extended toward us to his people. That we don't succumb to sin, or the desires of the world. That we love each other sacrificially and unconditionally. We desire to be a constant, consistent family to aid and support others in their desire to start a family.

In our communities, what can we do to better support same-sex families? We need to develop avenues that would create equal access to legal protection and social support for same sex families. We need greater visibility which can help to change the stereotypes that afflict our community, and make people aware of the structure and success, of same sex families.
On a very serious note, as it pertains to state and local laws we have to support nondiscrimination laws and utilize efforts that would have an impact on equality for our families.

We plan to be extremely vocal and active in enhancing the exposure of our family dynamic and the importance of integrating who we are into our community and those outside of our community.

What values do you hope to impart to Baby Zoe and why? The obvious values such as reverence for God, biblical principles, honesty, respect, compassion, forgiveness, unconditional love, responsibility, appropriate behavior, proper morals, ethics and the ability to be who God has made her to be.

You can also find Tiffany and Yvonne at:
Restoration Temple Ministries: 
http://www.rtmnyc.org
www.womencanpreachtoo.org
https://www.facebook.com//OverseerYvonneHarrison

Look for Yvonne’s soon to be released book: The Pain, The Process & The Promise

Please check out the first article on this wonderful couple: http://createloveforwomen.blogspot.com/2013/02/happy-couple-highlight-yvonne-tiffany.html



We thank you for sharing your love with us at Create Love! Your story will encourage, inspire and uplift other couples. We wish you continued success and happiness.www.createloveforwomen.com

Create Love Founders

Imani Evans and SharRon Jamison



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