I am single and never married or bore children of my own, yet God provided for that particular void in my life. For years, I worked with girl groups such as Brownie Girl Scouts, Pioneer Girls, AWANA and Missionettes. I even volunteered in a neonatal Intensive Care Unit and held newborns! I loved kids, and best of all, they loved me! I was always the “coolest leader” and would get silly with the kids. In spite of working with other’s people’s kids, and always there for everyone else, I never felt like I was needed. I tried to find my worth in doing for others but only grew exhausted and empty because I gave and gave till there was nothing left to give. I was lonely and despondent.
In January of 1993 I had a hysterectomy and knew that there’d never be a chance of ever having a child of my own. (Being single, I chose not to adopt) But you know what? God heard my heart’s desire and intervened in a way I would never have expected. Actually, the surgery was a good thing for me, and I felt much better once I recovered, and that year was one of the best years of my life!
At the time, I was attending a Pentecostal church that had a girls group known as Missionettes. I worked through the 4-year workbook that the girls did, memorizing all the verses to become known as an “Esther.” In April, there was a special ceremony in a far away city and I went alone to receive my honors. That was okay, because I felt proud of my achievement! In May, my church honored me as “Woman of the year” during the annual women’s luncheon.
This is Stefanie on our
last outing together
before she moved to another state
Our first Christmas together. Stephanie had turned 11 in November
The greatest event of the year occurred June 5th when my 10 year old niece, Stephaniecame to live with me! (The reasons are very complex.) I’d previously built a relationship with Stephanie when she was younger, but after she moved to another state, I lost touch. A lot of trauma happened to her in that span of time, and God knew that she needed me, and that I needed her. I call this the second greatest Gift God has given me. (The first being His Salvation)
It was not easy suddenly becoming a single parent and I’m so grateful that my parents were able to help out. I worked at a job that began at 6:30 in the morning, so we had to get up very early so that I could take Steph to my parents home, which was about 22 miles away, then go on to work. They would take her to school and pick her up. (Depending on my schedule as I got off work at 3:00pm and had days off during the week.) They kept her all day on weekends.
Stephanie had emotional issues that needed to be worked through and it took a few years for her to emotionally catch up to an appropriate age level. She was love-starved. (So was I.)
We’d cuddled in my big recliner chair and watched TV or read or just chatted. I took her to church, and she accepted Christ as her Savior about two weeks after coming to live with me. My church was very supportive of us and was there for me when I needed advice.
Stephanie was a strong-willed child and was not a girly-girl. I had to amend my lofty visions of being a Mary Poppins type parent!
I think I bribed Stephanie to dress alike just one time- for the mother-daughter tea!
This little lady was very bubbly and outgoing, and talked nonstop. She was also extremely sensitive and was easily hurt. She had many girlfriends and never lacked for male friends. That kid was funny and so very entertaining. I still smile thinking about some of her antics!
Taken at Knott's Berry Farm
I was there for her throughout Jr. High and High school and helped in the challenges she encountered. Stephanie was active in the church youth group and most of her friends were from that group and would sometimes come to our home. She was generally a good kid, but her biggest problem was talking too much rather than attend to her school studies!
Of course, life with a child was not perfect! The stress of my job, my stretched financial situation and dealing with an emotionally needy young girl made life even more difficult; especially since I myself, was emotionally needy! There was a very rough patch of time when Steph was going through adolescence and I was dealing with an early menopause. Oh boy…. Not a pleasant memory!
But I fondly remember the fun and silly times we had.
When she was 23, Stephanie met a man on the Internet and married him after only knowing him for a very short time. The marriage lasted just a few months; however, she got pregnant during that time. She left the abusive situation and returned home with me.
When Samantha Lynn was born in 2005, I was there for her birth and helped in her care the first two years of her life as they continued to live with me. I have a special bond with that little girl, who will be six years old, come December 13th. (Notice the middle name!)
I called them “My girls."
In 2008 Stephanie married a saint of a man she met at church. Unfortunately for me, they moved to another state and Tristan legally adopted Sammi. I go visit as I can and joined Facebook just to keep in contact. The entire family will be coming here for a visit in November! I’m really looking forward to that time.
I always worried that when Stephanie had to leave the nest, I would be devastated, but God took care of that! Shortly after she and Sammi moved away, I was given a job that required much of my time, attention and energies so had little energy to think about my loss. That made for an easy transition.
Stephanie has come so far in her life and now enjoys being a stay at home mom with 3 little girls who are all December babies. Steph also home schools' Sammi and plans to do so with the other two girls: Liliana Jayne, who will be two on the 5th and Lucille May,who will be one on the 8th.
She is so busy these days and I rarely get the chance to talk with her, but she knows I will always be there for her and will never ever leave her. Sammi frequently phones me and she talks. A lot. Just like her mother did!
Because Stephanie came into my life, I never again experienced loneliness and she encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone to try new things. I became more outgoing and confident of myself. I felt needed and wanted because I had someone who needed me as much as I needed her! Every time Stevie Wonder’s song “For once in my lifetime” came on the radio, I would sing along and point at Stephanie. I said that it was our song!
Yes, Stephanie is someone else’s child, but for a season, she was my child and even though she is now a grown woman, she will always be my Stephie! I am so very proud of her.
I've not had the opportunity to build relationships with the youngest kids, however, I will always consider them all