This reflection has taken longer than expected to pen (type). Mainly due to planning a wedding, changing residences, travelling, and GETTING MARRIED, just to name a few. However, reasons aside, I am beginning this, sitting in my hotel room in Australia and I find no clearer time to recap and gather the blessed moments of 2010 that have brought me to this point. Walk with me through a blessed year of ups and downs, super highs and some lows, kisses and hugs, laughs and tears, revelation and blessing. All in all, I thank God every day for this journey.
The year opened with a New Year’s celebration at a friend and mentor’s home in New Jersey. The gathering was intimate and it felt like home even though I was miles away from Florida. Richard and I toasted the New Year and were excited about our budding relationship.
The beginning of the RADiKL (Richard Albert + Divine intervention + Kristen Lauren) union was really beginning to take shape as RP3 and I joined a new church together. This step was major in our relationship, but it has proved to be purposeful and more importantly fruitful.
Richard and I attended a book discussion of, “The Conversation,” by Hill Harper at my best girlfriend Toya’s house in Maryland. We joined a mixed group of men and women to discuss relationships. Being deeply engaged in my own budding relationship, hearing other’s point of views including my own partner was very enlightening.
Fresh off the heels of the book discussion, RP3 and I began engagement ring shopping which ended in he and I designing a beautiful engagement ring together. While it was not the easiest process, I take my hat off to Richard for allowing me the privilege of being a part of the process.
Congratulations to the newly engaged couple! Richard proposed to me on February 1st at 1pm. My sweetie planned a surprise proposal at my job with the help of my co-worker, Dorean. Immediately after I said yes, he took me on a ride through Central Park and then lunch at a fabulous restaurant. In pure RP3 form, we stopped by the local State Farm to insure my engagement ring. The day didn’t end there. Being the consummate planner that RP3 is he made time for him and me to call our parents and let them know the great news. Shortly thereafter, we stopped by my place to prepare for his next surprise which was an engagement party at our friend Ashley’s place (who would later give me a place to stay during our engagement).
A couple of weeks later, Richard and I celebrated our first Valentine’s Day together in Phoenix, Arizona! We stayed at a scenic resort where we rode horses; sun bathed, drove to the top of a mountain, enjoyed dinner and dancing and filled the trip with much romance.
Later that month, I began an acting class at NYU which helped me hone my on stage skills and build my performance confidence. It was a wonderful, creative release every Wednesday after work that helped me shape my natural ability.
The tug of war within me regarding spirituality, changing churches, being engaged, and my calling versus my occupation was in full force. It caused great discord between RP3 and me. This began the testing and trials of many kinds.
I continued my acting class and battled the warring within me that the stage and on-air is where I belong. The spiritual isolation that began this month was a hard wilderness of preparation for so many life changes. Unfortunately, I was not ready to accept this season, and the kicking and screaming was leaving battle scars.
I took my first trip to Miami, Florida since being engaged. It was a fun trip accompanied by three of my favorite gal pals, Toya, Jina and Diondra. As a couple and family, we decided that the wedding would be in Miami outdoors. During the trip, my Mom and I picked the save the dates and created a mock invitation. Next, we took a group trip to shop for bridal gowns. We visited the wedding venue, had dinner on the beach and ended the wedding with worship at church on Sunday. The trip was a great start to the planning ahead of us.
My acting class came to a close. My final project consisted of me memorizing and reading a scene from the play, “Doubt,” played by Viola Davis in the movie, with a partner. My instructor said she was unable to give me constructive criticism, but left me with these words, “That was the best read I have seen at NYU in all my years of teaching this play. You’re a natural. Keep it up.”
Richard and I began planning for each other’s birthdays which are both in June. We now share many mutual friends, and ended up calling on most of the same people to plan our different birthday celebrations. We have AWESOME friends!
Before we celebrated our birthdays, I made my way to Maryland to celebrate Toya’s birthday with a group of great ladies. We started the weekend with a roller skate party. The following night we danced and toasted the birthday girl! The weekend ended with brunch and hugs the next time.
My birthday celebration began at the end of the month with surprises from my then fiancé, including spa appointments and wedding planning with the girls. The same night, Richard and the girls, hosted a surprise birthday dinner for me. The night was oozing with love and celebration. The following day Richard took me on a dinner cruise in Newport, Rhode Island. The scenery was breath-taking. Throughout the weekend we visited wine vineyards and explored the beauty of Rhode Island and Eastern Connecticut. After all that fun, we had to take care of some business. On my actual birthday, I renewed my driver’s license at the DMV! Richard and I ended the day with a double feature at the movie theater; Sex in the City 2 and Shrek 3.
Happy Birthday to RP3 and me! (and all of our Gemini friends)
My birthday was particularly special this year, because I became a published author. A story, I wrote was included in a compilation book called, “Souls of My Young Sisters: Young Women Break Their Silence with personal Stories That Will Change Your Life.” It was completely surreal to be able to go to Barnes N’ Noble and pick up a book in which I wrote a story. Writing has been my deepest passion since I was a little girl. Having a published work was a huge honor.
The beginning of the half point mark of 2010 began with my memorable birthday celebration. This month, Richard and I took our engagement photos on Coney Island with a superb artistic team. The shoot was some of the most fun I have had with Richard. The pictures told a really jubilant story.
Next up, we celebrated our twin Diondra’s birthday at a dinner planned for her. The love was flowing! After all of her hard work making sure that Richard and I had successful celebrations and events, it was a real honor to celebrate our friend. We were half way through the month and the birthday celebrations. This also began my weeklong celebration of Richard’s birthday.
However, we paused to toast another Gemini, Lawrence Saint-Victor, who was surprised by a birthday dinner by his beautiful wife, Shay. It seemed like June was adding up to be one of the most joyous and celebratory months of the year!
On the eve of Richard’s birthday, I had a long awaited meeting with my future mother-in-law, Mrs. Combs. It was a special time that brought my relationship with Richard full circle. She was the missing piece to the person I had grown so fondly of. This was one of the sweetest, richest moments of the year. She possesses the exact same sweet spirit that I have learned to love and know within RP3.
We ended RP3’s birthday week with a group dinner at his favorite NYC restaurant, Whym. RP3 is not very fond of group settings; however he was a good sport and went along with the spirit of the night.
The decision to participate in pre-marital counseling was a joint decision that was encouraged by my parents, but decided upon by Richard and me. We agreed it should happen earlier than originally planned. Since we still had seven months of engagement left, the constructive guidance was needed. We began our first trimester of counseling that proved to be very beneficial.
The month ended with a very important June birthday. My Mom turned 50! My Dad did a great job of pampering her as she entered a new season and decade of life. I could not think of one more deserving.
The annual girl’s trip was one of the BEST and most memorable of trips to date. A dynamic group of ladies vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard for the Fourth of July weekend. It was so much fun! We stayed at the house of family friends. The house was the perfect vacation home. The weather was outstanding. We beached, tanned, dined, shopped, danced and laughed non-stop.
When I returned home from MV, Richard and I continued counseling and the wedding planning began to really get started. The combination of all these things created fireworks, some good and some bad, but we weathered all the storms we came up against.
At the end of the month my little-big brother turned 15! (This makes me feel old!)
I had the privilege of celebrating another soon to be bride. Toya’s brother Tracey became engaged to his girlfriend Sonya and this month her bridal party hosted a bridal shower for her. It was a lovely afternoon. I felt the excitement for Sonya on the verge of being a bride and uniting with Tracey in marriage. She looked beautiful and I was blessed to attend.
The transition in my life continued as I moved in with my friend Ashley. For the next four months, I spent my nights on an air mattress in her living room. At the same time Richard moved into a shared living situation. This was all a part of a strategy for Richard and I to save money and sacrifice in the last quarter of our engagement for bigger things to come. Needless to say it paid off!
Labor Day Weekend was spent wedding planning in Miami. My planner, mother and I had an aggressive schedule in which we were extremely productive. We didn’t sleep much, but the outcome proved to be worth the hard work. In addition to wedding planning, I got to spend time with my new family, The Pope’s and it was refreshing to gain a deeper, greater connection to my future in laws.
My church, FCBC, hosted a series of dinners to share the details and give an up close and personal overview surrounding the “Nehemiah Campaign & Project.” The NC/P was an effort to faith-raise for the renovation of the church’s interior edifice. FCBC is housed in an old theater. The original building is beautiful and filled with charm that the leadership would like to preserve, but it definitely needs to be restored. Having only been members for a short while, Richard and I felt honored to be a part of a larger vision outside of ourselves.
At the end of the month, I visited some of my favorite people, Desiree and Aydin (my goddaughter) in Michigan. The trip came on time, as I needed the break from my everyday life. Tension and emotions were high between Richard and me. The time away gave us room to breathe without the wedding details. The simplicity of moments with Aydin and the thrill of hanging out with my best buddy “Elmarita,” (Desiree) were like medicine.
Richard and I ended our “pre-pre marital counseling” and began our formal pre-marital counseling with our Pastor at FCBC. This experience was endured with much introspection and a lot of revelations about us individually and of course as a couple.
Three and half months away from the wedding and my excitement was definitely building for the most important day of my life; second to entering into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
One day in October stood out vividly. This particular day, I had breakfast with a former boss, Lynne McDaniel. She was in town visiting her daughter and we made plans to meet. Our conversation was very refreshing and confirming from her wisdom that my life was on track and in line with God’s will for me. Later that same day, I had lunch with Toya as she was in town on business with her firm. There is never a dull moment when we get together and it never gets old.
When I returned to work, I had the privilege of conversing with a well seasoned journalist and professor who gave me some great advice regarding my media and journalism career. The day was filled with fulfilling conversation and was not finished yet. It ended at a restaurant with my cupcake backing, entrepreneur girlfriend, Joan Davis at one our favorite Harlem restaurants. The day was a rich reflection of God’s hand on my life.
My Aunt Hettie planned the most fabulous high tea - bridal shower I have ever attended and anyone could have ever asked for. The pictures tell a royal and enchanted story. We called the day, “The Makings of a Lady,” and the day represented just that. The afternoon was one of the most memorable events of my engagement. Half of the guests travelled from out of town to attend, some of which had known me since I was in the 1st grade. Michigan, Maryland, Florida, CHICAGO, and Georgia were all represented. I felt so special. All the ladies were dressed like princesses with a smashing hat to match. The day was unforgettable.
My passions are many and run very deep, but what I know best is media, broadcast and print. I began re-shooting and re-working my newsreel with videographer, Josh Senior. We shot our first story together in Harlem. We had really good chemistry and the story turned out pretty good. It was a solid starting point with room for improvement. Expect more to come this year. Much more!
Richard and I spent our first Thanksgiving together in Connecticut with friends of our family. They used to live in Miami, Florida next door to my parents, but are now residing in Greenwich, CT. They live in a huge 3 floor, maybe ten bedroom house on a hill in what feels like the woods. We stayed for most of the holiday weekend. It was a relaxing weekend, as I rested up for another big project ahead of us.
We signed the lease to our new apartment in Stamford, CT. Not only did we sign a lease, but we signed the lease of the exact place we wanted. We had expressed our initial interest in the place in October. We put the request on our prayer list, and as we stepped out on faith, we watched God work and answer our prayer. Richard moved in and I joined him later. He prepared a wonderful place for him and me to dwell together.
The last month of the year – wow! It was hard to believe, we were here so quickly. Richard and I took one last trip to Miami before the wedding. This was our final push to tie up any last major details before January. As always, we had a heavy agenda. God showed us immense favor. We accomplished everything on our list and left feeling the joy of our wedding day approaching.
We finished our pre-marital counseling. When it was over there was a lot of healing that happened. By this point, we spent a combined 6 months in counseling and I was thankful for every session. I don’t make many relationship recommendations, but pre-marital counseling is a recommendation I stand behind.
Richard and I spent our first Christmas in Connecticut together. It was a peaceful day. It was also my first Christmas apart from the Rogers family. It was certainly bittersweet, but with all the planning, transitions and business of life, I was thankful not have to travel for the holiday. We spent the evening with our friend Jina and her family. It was a perfect ending to a blessed day in celebration of our Savior.
On the eve of NYE 2010, I spent most of the day prepping for a small and intimate gathering of friends at our new place in Connecticut. I woke up, took Richard to work, went grocery shopping and continued coming to the realization of my reinstated suburban life. At 5pm, my prayers had been answered to finish everything I needed to accomplish before meeting RP3 at the train station and heading to Harlem for the Night Watch service. RP3 stayed at home to finish his work and to greet Toya and Doug as they arrived to bring in the New Year with us. After service, RP3 picked up Diondra, N’Keisha and me up from the train to join the party and get the festivities started. We had a fun night, filled with laughs, toasts and New Year’s kisses. We welcomed the New Year with love and joy, just the way I envisioned it.
BONUS – JANUARY 2011
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!
Just two weeks away until I become Mrs. Pope and I am eternally grateful and I am filled with overwhelming joy!
However, I as we grow nearer to the big day, it is not without adversity. Richard and I had a lot on our plate with last minute details, work and moving residences. Naturally, it caused tension, but it illuminated God’s hand on our relationship that much more. We relied heavily on the tools we learned in counseling and prayer and by the time we were set to leave for Miami, we were empowered to complete this part of the journey.
During the week that we were scheduled to travel to Miami, a major snow storm was predicted to plow through the Northeast. Richard and I had been praying for very specific things throughout our engagement. One being, the weather in Miami during the MLK weekend which is typically not the greatest. With the looming weather predictions upon us, we began praying and rebuking the storm from preventing any of our guests travelling from the affected areas from coming. Not only did RP3 and I make it out of NYC with no issues, but we did not have any cancellations of guests due to weather. Our wedding was a fairytale and the most perfect day. God was with us and is always with us.
2010 was a year of personal transformation. By the end, I felt secure in Kristen Rogers and ready to press forward as Kristen Pope. Change was constant, but the one thing that never changed was God with me. 2011 will be another year of great evolution and super natural power. I am inspired and motivated to walk out all that God has purposed for me in this new season of life and marriage!
Mrs. Kristen L. Pope