I wasn’t raised in a Christian home. We went to church every now and then as I was growing up, but it didn’t mean anything to me. I moved to Ocala the summer before ninth grade, and within six months my dad left. No one ever told me I was a princess, no one ever told me that God loved me and had a great plan for my life, and he wanted a relationship with me. I didn’t know that my parents were having problems, but Dad was gone and I was kind of looking for love in all the wrong places.
A few weeks after that I really found out that I was pregnant. Nobody ever brought up parenting. I was 15. It seemed that abortion was the solution to the problem, and that’s what it was, my pregnancy was a problem. I really didn’t allow myself to believe it was much more than that.
And so, on a summer day, my dad drove me to Winter Park and took me to the abortion clinic, and I willingly allowed the life of my first child to be snuffed out. I came back home and tried to pick back up and act like life was normal, and I don’t think I allowed myself to believe it really was a baby. I stayed with that boyfriend, which is kind of unusual. I was 20 years old, really young. We were married, and my child was born a couple of years later.
And I totally believe it was the influence of my grandparents and their prayers are why I knelt down in front of a television set at my home and gave my life to Jesus Christ. It was the real deal. It was the real deal, and I was a changed person. I was a totally changed person.
I found a church, and I started taking my little toddler, my oldest daughter, and we went to church every time the doors were open. My husband was not on board at all, but I didn’t care, I went anyway. And it was about six years later, we had started attending a church together here in Ocala, and he gave his life to Christ.
So we started living our lives together as a Christian family, and we really didn’t know what that looked like because neither one of us were brought up that way. Fast forward, and my oldest daughter has graduated from high school. It was an incredible celebration of her accomplishments in high school, and we were just so proud and excited to send her to college. And three weeks before she was to go to college, we found out she was pregnant.
It was a long, hard fall. So suddenly, we had to look at, “Well, how do we handle this adversity?” I started reading books, started reaching out for help, went to a women’s pregnancy center to get help, where we really learned about open adoption and how wonderful it could be. And that’s the way my daughter felt led, and we supported her in that way.
Walking through that crisis pregnancy with our daughter was really redemption for Mark and me because she chose life. And God’s grace was there, we felt it, we felt the prayers of all of our friends and loved ones. He’s forgiven me, I’ve forgiven myself, my husband and I have found forgiveness together, and we realized that God was, in a way, giving us a second chance. But I know I’ll hold that baby in heaven. I know that, that was a baby. It wasn’t just a problem, that was a baby, and I’ll hold that baby in heaven.