When I started this “mini-series” leading up to Bethany’s birth, I had no idea I would cover such emotionally charged ground. Since I do plan to write a book, it is probably wise that I stop telling the story at some point.
Before I stop let me share a few highlights. Bethany came home just in time to join me at a shower that the church had for me. I remember the woman who hosted it, and where she lived. I can’t remember her name. I remember Jane took us in her white Cadillac.
I wanted to breastfeed Bethany. I tried to express milk to bring to the hospital. I had little luck. One day I went in and they told me they had just given her some of my milk. I didn’t have any milk there. Whose milk it was, I have no idea. Nevertheless, it didn’t harm her. After weeks of struggling with nursing, in the middle of the night I uttered a simple prayer. I asked God, if you want me to nurse this child you’ll going to have to help me. Literally, from that moment on, she and I figured out breastfeeding.
I lived with Jane and Duane for about a month. I will forever be grateful for their love and hospitality. They were just people I happened to meet at church. Yet, they were so much more. They were my lifeline. As I’ve said before, they were Jesus in flesh to me.
Two of my support team, Dr. Mausch and the social worker Peg Williams, came to my house not with a gift for the baby, but some new clothes for me. The shower blessed me with clothes for my daughter. The Wardrobe, a social service agency in Columbia, gave me diapers and clothes for the whole family. In the fall of that year, I would stand in line, referral in hand, to get new clothes and shoes for Nathan for school. Food stamps and WIC vouchers bought our food.
One day, I picked up the local newspaper to read that Alvin was engaged to the woman he brought to the hospital. We were not divorced. In a story you won’t want to miss, I called the father of the girl. After his investigation, he ordered his daughter to break the engagement. Alvin had told her family many lies including denying two of his children. He had charmed the girl. She gave him money many times to file for divorce. He never did. Ultimately, that task would fall to me.
In a rage one day, Alvin shot a hole through the front of the trailer. Had his sons been in their bed, they would have been shot.
In the process, somehow, by God’s grace and mercy, I figured out how to apply for financial aid. By the time Bethany was 3 months old, I was an official freshman at the University of Missouri Columbia. Between classes I would come and nurse her. At night once the children were in bed, I would do my school work eating a box of Kraft Mac & Cheese and a bottle of Diet Coke. Some nights I was up all night.
Three and a half years later, I graduated. December 1978, married to my husband of now 32 years and pregnant with our first child, I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation and Park Administration.
During those years, people would bring me food. I became a master at using the system to get out of the system. I relentlessly pursued child support from Alvin, but never got it. I heard he married before we were divorced. I don’t know if that is true.
Two special women came into my life during this time. Single and working they befriended me. One day one called and said they’d decided to pay for me to have a phone in my trailer. A young single man in the church sent me his tithe check to help with supporting my family. Like the loaves and fishes Jesus multiplied for the multitude, Jesus took care of me. We never went hungry.
These are just the highlights. The details will wait. There is still so very much to tell. I hope this small section of my life story has given you hope. What God has done for me He will do for you. That’s not just words. That’s truth. Truthfully, I have needed to hear my own story again. I need hope too. I need to be reminded that the same God who got me through that, can get me through everything and anything.
I’m not closing this blog. I will continue to write here and share glimpses and stories of hope. What has God done for you? I’ll bet you have a story to tell as well.
But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not cling to life even in the face of death.