birthright gifts

“We arrive in this world with birthright gifts- then we spend the first half of our lives abandoning them or letting others disabuse us of them, ” (Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak)


So, here we are going into my fifth grade year and my parents have started a non-denominational church and we are pretty much poor. My dad took up whatever side jobs he could get- even delivering photos for Olan Mills Photography. (Side note: They set up and took photos in hotel rooms. Does anyone else find that creepy weird?) Mom taught at the private school that Matt and I attended, which is good because I got my period in the middle of taking SATs that year. I had just turned 11. I wore gigantic plastic framed welfare glasses, and I was pretty sure everyone was talking about me all the time.

Boy, that sucked.

At the same time, my mom noticed an abrupt absence of her monthlies, and so my parents took Matt and I to the fanciest restaurant we could afford- Olive Garden. They had an important announcement.

At 40 years old, with her youngest child 11, my mom was pregnant. My parents were freaking out in all kinds of ways, but all I knew was that I wanted a baby brother.

Matt and I had our rooms on the opposite end of the house as my parents. One of those cool transparent phones was mounted to the wall between our rooms, and it had a really long cord so that we could take the receiver into our rooms for conversating with friends. We had a tiny 12″ black and white tv- WITH NO REMOTE, CHILDREN- that somehow we had gotten cable onto. I don’t ask questions about this. But Matt and I were each allowed to pick 30 minutes of television to torture the other with each day. I usually picked Kids Incorporated…


Matt got caught stealing a neighbor’s hood ornament that year. We also would sneak to the cul de sac to play Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer on the boom box.

Mom taught that whole school year, and the doctors were very strict about how much weight she could gain and how far overdue they would let her go because of her age. We walked a lot. I found her birth books at some point and could not stop reading . I think I mostly did it in secret, but that birth stuff fascinated me. I was particularly struck with the water birth pictures and details.

The new school year began and since mom wasn’t working at our school, we went to public school. This was our first time outside of private schooling. Florida was still very segregated during that time, and I went to the “white” middle school, and Matt went to the “white high school” as a freshman. He always had an urban flair though, and I think he got beat up for it. I don’t remember much of my sixth grade year there, so it must have been uneventful. I do remember playing a lot of Oregon Trail in computer lab. 

Eventually they decided to induce my mom at the big fancy hospital with its birth suites. The plan was that I would get to watch  my little sister be born. My mom was adamant about not wanting an epidural (both my older brother and I had been born with no drugs, and she meant business), so they sent the anesthesiologist home several hours into her induction. The Friday night line up of television shows came on (remember that? Remember all the fun family sitcoms that would come on Friday nights?), and my mom’s doctor headed down the hall to chill. Mom started screaming and hollering, and Matt and I headed up to another floor because we couldn’t handle it. No one believed her at first, but her baby was coming really super fast and she had changed her mind about that epidural.

Unfortunately it was too late, and just before 10 pm a little boy was born. God had heard my prayers apparently, and my parents also apparently had a whole bunch of pink stuff to return. David Paul joined our family on October 16, 1992. The doctor was so touched by my parent’s love for the Lord that he covered the entire birth. They paid nothing.

We were still pretty poor for a while. There were times when we didn’t know where the next meal was coming from, and mom or dad would find a check in the mail box or someone left some groceries literally on the doorstep. I learned a lot about trusting God to provide during this time. I can’t imagine how terrifying it was for my parents, but they always displayed complete faith. Since David was a baby, we qualified for WIC food stamps, and took full advantage.

Before we knew it, it was summer time and my parents had been ordained with Foursquare Ministries International and we were being sent to Atlanta to plant a church! Shortly before 4th of July weekend, we packed up and moved. My job during the move was mainly to keep David happy, and I was much obliged to do so since he was so cute and stuff.

We moved  in to a rental house in Morrow, Georgia and got all set up to start attending the local public schools there. Matt integrated fine into Forest Park High School as a sophomore, but I struggled at Babb Middle School as a seventh grader. On top of the culture shock of being moved to a South Atlanta middle school, it just down right sucked. Most days the teachers just yelled over the students, there were lots of fights, and I kept getting sick and having migraines. By Christmas break my parents could see that I couldn’t take any more and withdrew me.

This is me, Matt, and David around this time, with our Papaw. It was around this time that we started to teach David to call the Easter Bunny the “Easter Monkey”. We had a lot of fun taking care of him and helping raise him.