The year was 1989. I was seventeen and set to graduate high school in a few months when my life took an unexpected change. For weeks, I had been quite sick, experiencing nausea and lethargy daily. A close friend from my church youth group had died in a car accident, so my mom thought I was sick because of grief and stress. For a while, I believed her because I didn’t want to face the alternative. Yet, as I sat on the bathroom floor fearfully staring at this little stick that would behold my future, my body shook and my stomach churned. I didn’t really have to see the plus sign to know I was pregnant. The positive pregnancy test only confirmed what I already knew to be true.
Later that night I would have to tell Richard. We sat on the church parking lot curb. I can’t remember if it was before or after youth group. All I remember is Richard hearing the news and sprawling out on the lawn in unbelief. Shocked and upset, we decided to simply not talk about it. Too much was going on to face the hard facts. Prom and high school graduation was coming up for me, and Richard was a freshman in college, with plans to attend a summer drama program in Michigan. He was banking on that program to open doors in the theater world. Taking care of his pregnant girlfriend just wasn’t in the plan.
Weeks passed, and we ignored the truth. However, it became quickly clear this baby wasn’t going away, and we had hard decisions to make about our future. Terrified to tell my parents and struggling with having to make life-altering changes, we decided to have an abortion. I wrestled over this choice because I knew abortion was wrong, but fear gripped my heart in an ugly way, and I felt I had no other choice. So, the appointment was set for a Friday. We needed money to pay for the procedure though, so Richard decided to sell an old Mustang he was working on. It was a heap of junk in my mind, but Richard knew his best friend would buy it. We scheduled to have dinner with him and his girlfriend.
While we ate and conversed, my heart raced anxiously. Richard was making a great sales pitch to David, who was getting more and more excited by the second to purchase the car. Then suddenly, out of the blue, David looked at us and asked why Richard was so desperate to sell. What did he need the money for? Richard proceeded to tell him that didn’t matter. But for some reason to David it did. Then he made a decision that would forever impact us. He chose to not buy the car. He said he couldn’t shake the fact that the money was for something he couldn’t support, and we ended that night deflated and afraid.
With no money to have the abortion, we canceled the appointment and headed to the crisis pregnancy center, which was next door to the abortion clinic. That day the counselor listened to our story. She told Richard he was the first guy to come to the appointment with the girl in twelve years of her counseling pregnant teens. She talked about adoption and told us the hard statistics of staying together if we chose to keep the baby. We listened, and we cried. Then we prayed with this lady for God to help us.
After that appointment, we knew what we had to do. It was time to tell our parents. Adoption never was a consideration for some reason. That meal with David had convinced us it was time to grow up and face reality. This baby was ours, and it was time we started acting like it. Afraid to face my parents, we decided to write letters and tape them to the front door of our homes. We then ran away to Lavonia, Georgia to get married because Georgia allowed for seventeen year olds to marry without parental consent. Concerned for both our parents, I asked Richard to call them after arriving at the hotel. I wanted them to know we were okay. Those phone conversations were hard, but we decided running away wasn’t going to help us. We needed to face our parents and work this out with them. So in the wee hours of the morning, we picked up Richard’s parents and went to my home. We then begged them to let us get married.
One of my most favorite memories of that time is the night before we married. Richard was driving me home for the last time and surprised me by pulling over to walk a lake. While standing on the gazebo, looking out at the lake, Richard got on one knee and asked me to marry him. At first I thought he was being silly. We were getting married the next day, but then I realized this really mattered to him. He wanted me to know he was committed. He proceeded to make promises to love and cherish me through thick and thin. He wasn’t solely marrying me because I was pregnant. He loved me and wanted our marriage to make it. He vowed to not walk away when it got hard. It’s a night I would reflect upon often, for it revealed the heart of the man I was marrying. Then the moment came, and on June 17th, 1989, we said “I do” before a small group of friends.
Monday, Richard and I will celebrate 30 years of married bliss. 30 Years! I simply can’t thank God enough for bringing us together. Six months after marrying, we had Kyle. That little guy was a gift from God. He really changed everything for us. For years, I’d drive by the abortion clinic and cry, thanking God for keeping us from taking that step. No doubt, God led David to say no to us that day. There’s no other way to explain it. David didn’t know I was pregnant. He wanted that car too, but he knew something wasn’t right. David paid attention to the nudge within and saved a life! Amazing how one selfless choice can make such a lifelong impact!
Richard and I have had our highs and lows. We are two very stubborn individuals who like to be right. 😂 But God is gracious. He always has helped us to sort things out. We’ve had great mentors over the years– godly men and women that have pointed us to Jesus. We also have extremely supportive parents, who have helped us every step of the way.
Along with Kyle, God gave us our beautiful girls: Molly, Emily, and Audrey. Each of their stories are precious as well. Being a mom is a gift that I cherish daily. As a family, we’ve been through a lot. There’s been lots of joyous moments and some really hard ones too. I honestly wouldn’t change a thing. Through all the ups and downs, I’ve seen the love and grace of God in mighty ways. He is faithful, and all His ways are good! When we’ve walked through deep waters, His promise to be present is true. He’s not just walking beside us either. There were days He literally carried us through.
I love being married to this man. I pray we have at least 30 more years together. There’s so much more we want to do and experience as a couple. Solomon got it right when he wrote in Ecclesiastes that the best thing we can do is have fun and enjoy life (Eccl. 8:15). Here’s to 30 wonder filled years!!