Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thank You, Mom

I received a thank you note from my 8 year old daughter, Aimee, today.  It was taped to my bedroom wall, from a pack of simple thank-you note cards she found while cleaning her bedroom. Inside, in red Crayola marker, she had written, "I love you so much Mom, thank you for having me."  I chuckled when I read it, and thought about how cute it was and how much I love her.  And then I thought about what she had written.  Simple words, with so much weight behind them.  Weight she is completely unaware of, and couldn't possibly have thought of when she wrote it.  I'm sure she was trying to think of something loving and "grown up" to write.  But those words took me back...

When I was 17, I started dating a guy that was two years older, and had lived across the street from me since I moved in my 6th grade year.  We had never been friends.  Too be honest, I was always a little afraid of him.  I was a "good little Christian girl" who had been sheltered most of my years, and he was a drinker and a party-er, had been on the high school football team, and belonged to a world in which I knew nothing about.  Looking back, I'm still not sure why he was interested in me.  I can only assume I was incredibly boring to him.  But he paid attention to me (no one ever had), which made me feel very special.  He even went so far as to make sure his friends didn't swear in front of me or do anything that might offend me because, as he told them, "Liz isn't like that."

Four months after we were officially "dating," he left for Parris Island, S.C. to join the USMC.  My mom has said that she thinks I fell in love with him while he was gone, through the letters we would write back and forth.  Looking back, she was right.  But it was "love" all the same.  He arrived home just days before my high school graduation.  I remember walking into his kitchen, seeing him tan and fit and transformed the way only Marine Corps bootcamp and MCI can do.  If I hadn't fallen in love over letters, I did right then.

It didn't take long for our relationship to change.  He was still a party-er, and since i was 18 and had graduated high school, he thought it was time I "grew up" and left my old, boring ways behind.  I wasn't willing to do that.  But I really liked him and didn't want to disappoint him.  I was really torn.  We settled for "middle ground."  He came to church with me and hung out with me solo, and I never questioned his activities when he was with his friends.  After a month or so, we started talking marriage.

I'll summarize the rest.  We talked marriage.  I was in some pretty deep puppy love.  He wanted to move our relationship "forward" but I wanted to wait until we were married.  I gave in after a while.  I was going to marry him anyway, right?  After a couple months, my guilt was too much and I tried ending the physical part of our relationship.  It wasn't as simple and easy as I naively thought it would be.  I tried scaring him with the possibility of a baby, but his response was always that we'd be a family then and would get married.

It went on for several months.  I'm sure you can even guess the rest.  I finally ended things with him, as hard as it was.  I knew in my heart that we were different, and that I really did want to marry a Christian (which he was not interested in becoming).  We tried to remain friends, because we still loved eachother, but it was hard not to then want the relationship back.  A few weeks after my 19th birthday, a close friend came to me in tears.  She thought she might be pregnant.  My heart dropped in that moment when I realized i might be, too.

I went to him and told him my suspicions.  I didn't even have the money for a pregnancy test and had to get it from him.  I was so unbelievably scared (how would I tell my parents?  What would people say at church?  How would I not die of mortification?).  I will never in my life forget telling him.  All those months of him telling me we'd be a family were comforting me as I crossed the street to his house.  He met me at the door and greeted me with, "Well?"  i told him I was, and hope swelled up inside of me.  Hope that he'd take a breath, process what I said, and then we would get through it together.

He didn't.

He sat down and put his head in his hands.  After a moment, he looked up at me and said, "I can't have a kid, Liz.  I'll give you the money to go get an abortion."

Looking back, I should have expected that response.  But I didn't.  I honestly thought we would get through it together, no matter how scary and huge it was going to be.  I felt so heart broken and alone.

I understand the fear and desperation of that moment.  I understand the intense need to make life what it was only days before.  And I can tell you that God never makes a mistake when He creates a child, no matter the circumstances surrounding the child"s conception or birth.

She's 8 now.  Phil officially adopted her when she was 5.  She is sassy and beautiful and I cannot imagine my life without her daily presence.  And Phil, even though we will soon be divorced, loves her more than anything.  She is his princess.

So to her, it was a simple "thank you" she wrote to feel grown up and show her love.  But it was something even more meaningful to me.  And from a woman, who was once a scared teenager, alone and facing some pretty big will be okay. And you will never regret having the baby.

Monday, July 12, 2010

It has been way too long. I'm so sorry!!

So...if you have read my previous posts (or even read my blog title), you know that I am a country girl at heart.  :)  I want a farm, I want some land (like, 80+ acres.  Someday...).  I love to learn the old ways, and I am pretty conservative.  Well...we have had quite a few changes around here, but I am fully confident that it is all the Lord's doing, and I am so excited!!

I want a farm.  This is one of my dreams.  I want to grow my own crops, preserve them, and eventually be able to say that all our food was grown or raised by our own hands (yes, this means I want a cow or two, chickens, goats, etc).  I don't have my own land yet (don't even have my own house), but i have a garden.  A huge one.  It is the very first garden in what will be a community garden program in the city of Warren, and I have the privelage of being a part of it all.  The first garden is on an acre or so of empty land behind my church, and we have converted it into a vegetable garden and what will soon be a certified monarch station / butterfly garden.  :)

I will not bore you with details.  I wouldn't even know where to start, anyway.  SO much has happened so fast, but it is all by the Lord's Hand, so I know it is Blessed.  This garden, the Hope Garden, will donate a portion of it's produce to Hope Center, which is a local food bank that allows it's clients to choose their own groceries (as opposed to bags filled with food they might not use).  Some of the produce will also go to places where we see a need for free, fresh produce.  And some of it will come home with those who have helped work the land.  We use organic methods, and so far have recieved almost every plant or tool through donations (God never fails us.  Sometimes He gives in abundance).
I'll stop describing, and start adding pics.  They say it all so much better anyway.  :)

Lexi, sitting in between two rows of tomatoes.

Aimee and a friend, planting onions

This is the front of the garden, in the back you can see the start of our vegetable beds (some pics are a couple weeks old)

Another view of the property, although it's hard to tell how deep the land really goes.  My kids love running all over when we are there.  :)

Just a few of the MANY flowers, fruit and vegetable plants we have received.  We even have two fruit trees!!

This is the crew that has been out in the 90+ degree heat, planting, tilling, digging, and sweating simply out of love and dedication.  :)  I'm in blue, in the middle.  On the left are my best friend Bethany, holding her daughter Kennady, and her husband Rob. On my immediate right is Ralph (Bethany's oldest brother), who dreamed this all up 2 years ago.  To the right of him is Rob's brother Alex, holding Rob and Bethany's daughter Anabeth, and his girlfriend Amy.  We have had many other volunteers, also.  And yes, down in front are my babies hanging out in the wheelbarrow.  :) 

First butterfly garden bed, although I have to add that it is much more developed now.

A closer view of the butterfly bed.

Bethany helping the kids in the children's garden.  We didn't think to have a children's garden until our kids, and the several pastors' kids, who all live behind the garden, wanted to help without an adult monitoring their every move.  Alas, the Children's Garden.  :)

Amerie "helping" in what is now strawberry beds.

A view from the back of the property.  I'm realizing now how badly I need to take more pictures.  :-/

Andrew "helping" hang the Hope Garden sign.  He was quite thrilled when Rob and Ralph pulled out the power tools and he got to watch and "help." :)

A row of volunteers, planting tomatoes.  Thank you!!

And I conclude with my favorite photo...

Andrew, who loves his guitar and making up his own songs, decided to sit in the middle of all the action, right beside the tomatoes.  He played us all some country tunes while we worked in the sun.  I loved every second of it.  :)

That's it for now.  Hopefully you can see why I haven't had time to blog!!  I will take more pictures and post them soon.  I love this garden, and everything that is happening through it and with it.  And I LOVE when God is in control!!