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Surrendering to the Season

A special conversation with Tammy Franklin

MB Magazine is honored to share Tammy Franklin with our readers in this anniversary edition. From holiday celebrations, to navigating complex and intricate rhythms of life, this special edition page-turner will no doubt have you riveted with anticipation of what lies on the next page! I encourage you to earmark this edition as a keepsake. One from which to draw guidance as you navigate the different seasons of life. 

So, grab your favorite holiday drink, kick back, and let’s dive into these life-changing enlightenments that Tammy Franklin shares to help you, our readers, discover the benefits of surrendering to your own life’s season. 

To celebrate our inaugural year and holiday publication, MB Magazine has tapped the roots of one of the most grounded, intelligent women of faith this world has known, the incomparable Tammy Franklin. Tammy is a philanthropist, encourager, supporter, and the renowned wife of multi-talented, Grammy award winning, contemporary Gospel artist Kirk Franklin. Tammy is a woman who fully understands the mantel she carries as the rib that protects her husband’s heart. She does this not only by understanding who her husband is, but also by understanding the intricate processes that come with the anointing that defines why he is. 

When such an iconic maven as this walks into the room, you have no other choice but to sit up and listen. That’s exactly what MB Magazine did so as not to miss a single word coming from such a prolific woman of wisdom. It will become obvious in the pages to follow that Tammy Franklin is a life-giving vessel with passions of her own, yet through her gentle strength not only is the crown of her husband’s glory but dispenses what is needed to hold his arms up through all seasons of life. 

Tammy Franklin is the perfect image-bearer God designed to be His hands and feet in the life of her husband, their children, and everyone who experiences the end result of works made possible by the Franklin family. So, the next time you find yourself tapping your feet or going into worship with the latest sounds of Kirk Franklin, know that it was made possible by a loving and supporting wife who lifts him up through understanding and providing just what he needs to hold his chin up and walk in confidence. 

If the season is not matching what you are trying to do, you are going to be frustrated. What is the season calling for?

SEASON OF PREPARATION

Beyond her outer beauty, Tammy Franklin is a surrendered woman of distinction who has gained greater clarity about her role in others’ lives through her own life experiences. Notably, she is a first-born child in a family of seven children. While Tammy innately possesses the passion of a leader, her commanding presence is infused with a palpable peace that calms the spirit and warmly invites you into her space. When MB Magazine sat down with Tammy, she shared that “God prepares you for life and what you are ultimately going to be doing.” Not realizing the significance at the time, Tammy grew up being the wind beneath her mother’s wings. As the oldest child, she helped her mother nurture and provide care for her siblings. In Tammy’s mind, it all came naturally. However, God knew that He was using Tammy’s homelife to prepare her for her future state of life. 

As an adult, Tammy fondly recalls asking her mother, “How did you do it with seven of us?” Her mother replied, “Girl, you. You were my nanny. You were my help.” This is relevant because soon after high school, Tammy became pregnant at the age of 19. Giving birth to her first-born child, Tammy was challenged with caring and providing for her daughter as an unwed, single mother.

While the world worked overtime to deliver a blow of guilt and shame, Tammy would later find that giving birth to her daughter was God ordering Tammy’s steps. Tammy describes this season of her life as one of her darkest moments. However, now looking back she can see how it was one of her finest hours of spiritual growth and maturation. God was increasing her in wisdom and knowledge. 

In retrospect, God was maturing Tammy for the days and years ahead. Becoming a teenage mother gave Tammy the time that God ordained to cultivate His way in her. In effect, it provided the time and experience necessary for Tammy to develop the godly standards to fully build the sense of protection she needed for success in her eventual marriage to Kirk. Thus, while the world sought to produce shame in Tammy, God sought to produce a foundation of belief. 

Being born and raised in the black Baptist church, I became pregnant shortly after graduating from high school. My father was a Deacon, and my mother was a Deaconess, so you know it was like a headlining story for the National Enquirer. It was a very, very difficult and dark time for me. I had to sit under the judgment of the very people that should have just put their arms around me and surrounded me with God’s love. The worst part of all is that there were ladies in the church who would come up to me and say, ‘How could you have done this to your parents? Shame on you.’”

In God’s plan, the husband whom He was preparing for Tammy was born of a teenage mother. Like Tammy, Kirk was born in the state of Texas, but the two did not meet until they were adults. Also, the two were born just a few weeks apart. But unlike Tammy, who refused to allow anyone to take her child from her, Kirk’s teenage mother abandoned him during his infancy to a trusted family member. 

So, when you put all of God’s work and plan into perspective, you can see that at the convergence of this beautiful love story, God covers Tammy’s guilt with Kirk’s understanding, born from his own pain. From birth, God was preparing Tammy and Kirk to love, honor, and understand one another beneath the surface. This is why during their season(s) of friendship and dating other people, the power of divine connection would not allow Tammy and Kirk to remain apart. 

Can you say, made for one another?! It could not be any clearer! Not only did God equip Kirk to understand Tammy’s plight, but He gave Kirk a plight of his own. The core memories embodied by the two were divinely orchestrated so both would understand how and why they complete the marriage mold that God intended for them as husband and wife.

When God whispers your love story, it may not sound like a love story at the time, but trust … even in a whisper. “Before I even had her [my daughter],” Tammy remembers, “God just started whispering little things to me about the importance of me bringing her into the world and how it was going to be me alongside Him in cooperation with the Holy Spirit.” 

It goes without saying that the commitment Tammy demonstrated for accepting God’s gift of motherhood as a teenager resonated with Kirk. Through the example of her life, Kirk could easily see that, as his wife, Tammy would be the life-giving strong tower that he needed to thrive. 

TAMMY’S TOP 5 ENLIGHTENMENTS FOR LIFE
  1. God will transform the situation that man used to cultivate guilt and shame into a therapeutic healing balm that grows your faith in Him. 
  2. Trust your experiences because this is how God prepares you for life and what you are ultimately going to be doing. 
  3. God’s timing is everything! Get in sync with His rhythm to grab hold of everything He has planned for your life.
  4. There is no amount of time, space, or distance that can defy the plans of God. ALL things happen in the fullness of His timing.
  5. Syncopation between a husband, a wife, children, and God is not always easy. However, when surrendered to God, it becomes a melodic rhythm that feeds the spirit and is by far worthy of process. 

Season of Singleness 

MB Magazine asked Tammy what insight and advice she would offer to singles as they are waiting for the one. Her response: “Society makes the end goal for women marriage. That’s the big prize. Marriage is amazing and to desire it is an amazing thing. But I think to be completely focused on that can lead to frustration. Instead focus and work on yourself. Make sure that you are surrounding yourself with community so that when it is time, you are prepared. You don’t have to be desperate. You don’t have to be clamoring. Rather, walk in your self-worth and just be. Make sure that you are worthy of being that good thing that God says you are.” 

There were times in Tammy’s singleness that she had to pause and work on herself. However, during the process, she did not abandon her friendship with Kirk. Oftentimes she operated as his sounding board. Helping him grow spiritually and naturally in the eventual marital relationship that the two were destined to share. It was during this season that Tammy became Kirk’s confidant. She recalls one conversation with Kirk when he was contemplating dating another young lady exclusively. As much as it hurt Tammy to hear it, she surrendered it to God. Later, as Kirk continued to confide in Tammy about his relationship with this other person, he shared that he sensed he was making the wrong decision and heading down the wrong path. Tammy recalled Kirk’s words, “I cannot stop thinking about what we’re supposed to be.” 

When Tammy shared with Kirk that she felt the same way, he asked her why she didn’t say something when he first shared his thoughts with her. She responded, “I just want you to be happy.” From there it was a wrap! God moved in that moment, and the two committed to defy the odds against their relationship to really see what was there. As His plans would play out, here we are 25 years later, still celebrating the gift of God’s love between these two amazing individuals.

I had to recognize that I have several callings, and my main calling in that season was to singleness and to be a support. There are single women out there that need to recognize that maybe this is your season of singleness. Whether from divorce or you just haven’t gotten married yet. The key is surrendering to the season and trusting God in the process. 

TAMMY’S TOP 5 ENLIGHTENMENTS FOR SINGLES
  1. Marriage magnifies baggage. So, take the time you need in your singleness to work on you and unhealed trauma within you. 
  2. You need to be with somebody that understands the calling on your life and what it takes to dispense the calling.
  3. It is okay to pause and just be friends. Realize that even though it was meant to be, the timing may not be right now. So, trust the process and allow things to happen in God’s timing. 
  4. Invest in premarital counseling. 
  5. Commit to learning each other’s rhythms through observation and understanding.

Season of Marriage and Family 

“I remember my dad’s words to me when I got married. He said, ‘Love is a fact, not a feeling.’ It did not make any sense to me until after I got married.” 

Tammy took some time with MB Magazine to unpack the marriage advice that she received from her father that she lives by today. “There are feelings that come with love, but love is a fact. In times of conflict, you might not be feeling your mate, but you must remember to choose to love them.” Tammy further expounded that if you are not growing in marriage, then things will go downhill quickly. Meaning, if you have been married for 25 years and you are the same person you were 25 years ago, something is amiss! Change reflects maturity, increased understanding, and growth. The commitment to love covers one another through the changes that should be expected in every marriage. 

When MB Magazine asked Tammy if she ever felt herself losing her identity as she was raising her children, here’s what Tammy had to say: “When we were empty nesting, after dropping Kennedy at school with one child remaining home, I realized that my role was shifting. I was overcome with fear. I began asking myself, who am I beyond my husband and my kids? The reality is, my dreams and my desires were really attached to theirs. As wives and mothers, we become our family’s biggest cheerleaders. I believe as women, we must learn to be our own biggest cheerleaders. We must learn to strike that delicate balance of not forgetting about ourselves. You also have to learn how to surrender to the season that you are in. Fulfill your dreams, but surrender to the season that you are in. If the season doesn’t accompany what you are trying to accomplish … it is not that you can’t do it, but it may be a struggle. So, the key to striking balance is knowing what season you are in, prioritizing the moment, while at the same time planning for the next season.” 

TAMMY’S TOP 5 ENLIGHTENMENTS FOR MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
  1. Love is a fact, not a feeling.
  2. Choose to love.
  3. Take an annual inventory of your marriage: 
    1. Where have you been?
    2. Where are you going? 
    3. How am I doing? 
    4. What could you do differently? 
    5. What do you need more of? 
    6. What have we accomplished that we are proud of?
  4. Commit to continue to grow and change together.
  5. Prepare you children to be self-sufficient throughout their childhood by equipping them with the necessary life skills they need to thrive.

HOLIDAY SEASONS WITH THE FRANKLIN FAMILY

While every season gives rise for holiday celebrations in the Franklin household, Christmas is an all-time family favorite. Picture this … with tunes of “This Christmas” by Donnie Hathaway playing lightly in the background, Tammy is in the kitchen putting the final touches on a festive feast for the family that includes every dish imaginable (#nochittlings). Kirk and the kids are dressed for the occasion and ready to usher in the true spirit of Christmas. From wearing collared shirts, ties, and heels to matching jammies, the Franklin family welcomes the Christmas season as a time to create tender moments of love for one another and Christ. 

Our first Christmas together as a family, my husband did a scavenger hunt for the kids. Rather than put the toys under the tree, he hid them all around the house. The kids were literally running all around the house to find the gifts. After a while, we began doing three gifts for our kids. We did this because we realized that they had so much. We started finding Christmas gifts still wrapped after Christmas. So, we began doing three gifts symbolic of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and the fourth gift was a gift that the kids would give for Jesus. So, whether it is time, money, or something that the children give to an organization, we prioritize the gift of giving to Jesus. We made that switch early on to ensure that our family honored what Christmas is truly about. 

For those who do not know God for themselves or are struggling in their faith, Tammy shares the following words of encouragement: “God is real. He desires to know and have a deeper relationship with you. It’s as simple as that.” Tammy encourages believers that God is love, and as believers, we should not complicate the Gospel to make it an unsavory plethora of rules and regulations. Keep it simple. “Even the Word says that they will know us by our love, and we are not always loving. So, realizing that we are the living ,walking Word ourselves, we must also understand that it is impossible for a believer to introduce others to a faithful, loving, unconditional God when you yourself are not. It starts with relationship. That is the entire reason why Jesus came.”

ENTERING NEW SEASONS 

As a recent empty nester, Tammy felt the pressure of entering a new season of life. She shared with MB Magazine moments when she was presented with many new opportunities to follow her passions and pursuits in faith, fashion, and fitness, including an opportunity to write a book. While all these sound like great opportunities, the pressure of the shift produced a mental fog that ultimately had a positive benefit; it allowed Tammy moments of stillness so God could be God in her life. Tammy shares her thoughts during her time of being still: “The pressure of what’s next can be daunting. I remember a friend of mine complimented me on how cool it was that I took the time to just figure it out. She commended me for not succumbing to the pressure. The reality is, before she drew my attention to it, I hadn’t thought of it that way. It was really a God-ordained moment. So now that God has had His time with me, things are truly happening organically. When we stop striving, God has a way of making things happen organically, just the way He intended.” #surrendertotheseason

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