Bonus Epilogue for Queen's Surrender (To A Higher Calling)

 

“Philip, are you sure?” Queen searched his eyes for the truth as they enjoyed a midday brunch in the Central West End. “I mean, I’ve already quit my job and moved my stuff here to St. Louis.” 

“Yeah, babe. I know. We’ve fasted and prayed. I heard God speak to take the position at Resurrection Church. When I asked for clarity to be sure, I requested two signs—to see a rainbow where there had been no rain and to send an angel with a message from Him.”

 “What was the message?”

He didn’t answer right away. “That I had picked Total Surrender Church, not God.” What minister wanted to admit that “self” had gotten in the way of God’s truth? 

“Really?” Queen seemed to study him, then frowned. “I thought Jesus tells us what to do.”

Her innocence about God’s Word was one thing that made Queen special to him. “No, babe. God guides us in His righteousness, but at the end of the day, the Lord leaves the choice up to us.”

“Oh, but I feel guilty.” She bowed her head. “I’m sure the church is disappointed and blaming me for swaying your decision.”

Philip reached across his plate of chicken and waffles and squeezed her hand. “It’s not your fault about anything. Some will be sad to see us go.” It would take dozens of hands to count them. “Others will probably hire a moving van.”

It was meant as a joke. Queen didn’t smile. She missed his punchline. “I thought you would be happy.”

Queen patted her chest. “My heart aches for their rejection. Don’t think I’m not ecstatic about going back home, but your parents moved here to help you in the church. Are you sure about this?”

“Yes.” He chuckled. “My parents moved here to be close to their grandchildren.” Philip looked away, gathering his thoughts, which suddenly became raw. “The day we were in the cemetery, I felt your every goodbye. My soul bled because you were hurting. In that moment, I knew my love for you meant giving you the world, no matter the cost. So, Queen Jamieson Dupree, this is your wedding gift if you want to go back to Tulsa.”

“Queen Dupree sounds better.” She beamed. “And I can’t wait. Are you sure God told you this? In a sense, we’d be starting over with a new house. I can get my job back…”      

She liked the idea. Queen was making his decision easier. Philip watched emotions play across her face. “No. God has given me a choice. I choose to make my wife happy.” Cupping her hands, Philip admired her sculptured nails. “God never intended for me to stay here. I don’t know if it was a practice run or not, but I learned a lot about myself and God’s people. I already had an established relationship with Resurrection Temple. Let’s plan our wedding and move back when we return from our honeymoon.”

Philip wasn’t expecting the tears. 

“I can never say thank you enough,” she mumbled through sobs and hiccups.

“Saying yes to my proposal was enough.” He paid the bill, then they left for a stroll in the nearby park. It would do them both good to clear their heads.

Phillip told the Duprees, then Queen informed the Jamiesons. Both families were dumbfounded. 

“If God told you to go to Tulsa, I can’t argue with Him,” his father conceded.

“Thanks.” He wanted his father’s blessings. “I think Queen and I will make a happy life for us there.” 

As an evangelist for so many years, Philip had learned to become a chameleon and adjust. He was in the business of God’s business. If the Lord sent him, he would go.

The deacon board didn’t seem surprised by his decision.

“Maybe that’s the reason God was causing us to request extensions,” Deacon Larson said.

No, don’t blame that on God. That was all y’all, Philip kept to himself.

“I understand,” Nathan said after the meeting. 

“I have clarity now from the Lord. I had doubts when I came here,” Philip admitted for the first time to his friend.

“You were a humble servant. I feel like I’m losing a brother.” Nathan chuckled, glanced over his shoulder, then lowered his voice. “Maybe one day, I’ll meet a lady love who will shake up my life.”

 Philip did his best to keep an “evangelist” face. When people revealed their secrets, he couldn’t show judgment, but compassion. In this case, Philip recognized the longing. 

“You’ll always have an open invitation to every family function. There are plenty of beautiful women in the family harvest for the choosing.”

Nathan’s eyes brightened as a smile stretched across his face. Although practicing Christians didn’t play the lottery, one would have thought this deacon just won a fortune.

“Word to the wise, man. You have to be prayed up to put up with their shenanigans.”

“Challenge accepted.” Nathan shook his hand, and they parted ways.

A week later, retiring Pastor Franklin offered Resurrection Temple for their wedding ceremony. “Elder Dupree, as your new church family, we want to be included in the celebration.”

Philip told Queen, and they both agreed they didn’t know if that was going to work. Their families had already put so much work in planning the wedding in St. Louis. 

Then Pastor Franklin sweetened the pot. “We’re so excited about your upcoming nuptials, my members are willing to personally come and move your belongings back.”

He and his fiancée couldn’t say no and accepted their generosity. Even with the change of plans, Queen and her organizers didn’t seem to miss a beat.

Queen’s bridesmaids were a family production: Talise, Eva, Gabrielle, Cheney, Hali, Kami, Victoria, Gigi, Lacey, and Candy, then Cori and Trice.

The Robnetts, a talented bunch, provided the music selections for the ceremony and at the reception. Queen Bee, Rejoice, Sapphire, and Duchess’s vocals harmonized with Princess and Jewel’s musical strengths on piano and violin.  

Drexel and Dashan Dupree were Philip’s groomsmen. Philip asked his dad, Dr. Dupree, to be the best man. Philip could think of no other man who was his role model, best friend, and supporter all in one. Nathan and the rest of the Jamiesons completed his wedding party.

The Jamiesons had extended an olive branch to some of the Robnetts. Hopefully, Nathan would find his match at the ceremony.

Wedding plans now dominated family gatherings. Philip and Queen were online perusing photographers’ portfolios when Kidd dropped by Ace and Talise’s house.

Kidd headed to the kitchen for a sandwich, then joined everyone in the dining room. “By the way, sis, who is walking you down the aisle?” 

Queen’s eyes teared. She was quiet. When she answered, her words choked. “Since Mom and Dad are gone, I’ll be solo.”

Philip wrapped his arms around her. His mind scrambled for words of comfort.

“Say the word, and I’ll have Chip or Dale escort you,” Grandma BB volunteered from the kitchen. The woman had to be eavesdropping.

“Ahhh, that’s okay,” Philip answered for Queen.

“Maybe I need a family Zoom call for this one.” 

When her siblings—all of them from Connecticut—signed on, Queen told them her dilemma. 

“Hey, I’m sure my father wouldn’t mind walking you down the aisle. You’ll be his first daughter.” Philip coaxed a smile out of her.

“Thanks.” She gnawed on her lips, considering Philip’s offer.

“Hold up. We haven’t surrendered Queen yet to the Duprees. Brothers,” Jayson said, “she’s our baby sister. We can all escort her.”

“Are you serious?” Queen frowned. “There’s six of you.”

“And?” Kidd said, folding his arms after taking his last bite.

She looked at Philip. He kissed her lips. “Whatever makes you happy.”

By the time they ended the call, Queen agreed to Jayson, Mayson, Benjamin, Zaki, Kidd, and Ace giving her away. “I don’t know how this is going to look. I would be honored to have my brothers.”

“Well that’s settled,” Dr. Dupree said, patting Philip on his shoulder. “I’m proud of you, son. God has brought you on a journey, and I’m glad you chose Queen to walk alongside of you. And I would have been proud to escort my daughter down the aisle.”

Queen squeezed her father-in-law tight and sniffed. Philip let her have her moment as his father hugged her back.

On his wedding day, when Philip stepped into Resurrection Temple’s sanctuary, he recognized many faces of those who had attended the tent revivals. They were packed on the groom’s side. The Jamieson side was a tight fit with no room or air to spare.  

Philip smiled. 

The double doors seemed to open on their own as Queen appeared like a vision from heaven—angelic, glowing, the perfect bride. 

He locked eyes with her and pulled her closer until she was within reach. Thanking her brothers, Philip placed her arm on top of his. “Ready?”

“Yes,” she whispered back. 

The love in her eyes was unmistakable. Yes, he had made the right decision to return to Tulsa—to make his Queen happy. 

Standing before Pastor Franklin and witnesses, Philip reflected on his blessing—Queen was easy to love once he got to know her. She didn’t want him because he was a preacher or craved leadership in the church. She cared about him as a man, and that’s all Philip could ever want he realized as he was about to repeat his vows.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the sight of God and these witnesses to join together this man and this woman in holy matrimony.” He paused, then looked over the rim of his reading glasses. “Who gives this bride away?”

The Jamieson men stood and saluted their sister.

Philip recited his vows while staring into Queen’s pool of brown eyes. He noted a dusting of shimmer on her face and her skin glistened with beauty. “I, Philip, take you, Queen, to be my lawful wedded wife. I pledge you my faithfulness, my love, and all my worldly goods, if that will make you happy…”

The guests chuckled, but Philip was serious. He didn’t bat an eye as he slipped the ring on her finger and kissed the inside of her palm.

Queen’s voice was shaky. “I love you, Philip, and I always will. I promise to be faithful, respectful, obey your guidance, encourage you, and comfort you until my last breath.” He had to steady her hand in order for her to slip the band on his finger.

“You did it.” When he winked, she blushed.

“What God has joined together, let no man or no woman separate you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. Philip, you may now salute your wife.”

This was their one moment in time Philip wanted to remember as he memorized every facial feature, then his lips possessed hers in a powerful kiss. He wrapped his arms around her waist and lifted her off her feet.

The crowd roared with applause. The kiss was short but left them breathless. They faced their guests and waved as they exited the sanctuary, counting down the hours to the honeymoon.