Of course, there are many places you can serve. One of the places I’ve chosen to volunteer is through a group called Teen MOPS. Teen MOPS is part of MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) International. Teen MOPS is a support group for young moms.
While I think Teen MOPS is amazing, each of us should choose to volunteer in a place where your passion meets another person’s needs. I thought I’d share with you just how teen moms became my passion.
As many people who know me know, I found out I was pregnant my senior year in high school. My boyfriend was someone I dated off and on since my sophomore year. It was a horribly dysfunctional relationship. He’d cheat on me. Or I’d cheat on him. Then we’d get back together. It was almost as if I felt all my worth was based on his approval of me. My parents didn’t like him. My friends didn’t like him, but I kept going back.
When I found out I was pregnant, he was already dating another girl. I told him in the McDonald’s parking lot as she sat in the car waiting—so romantic!
After that, I dropped out of school. I didn’t want to go back pregnant. I lived in a very rural town in Northern California. Our whole high school had 200 students—there was no hiding, so instead of going back, I finished my credits in an alternative program with other kids that were having trouble in school.
I was extremely depressed. On most days I’d sleep until noon and never want to leave the house. It was my mom and grandma’s friends from church that drew me out. They invited me to their functions and threw a baby shower for me. The loved me when no one else did. That’s why I realize the importance caring women can make during unplanned pregnancy. And that’s why I mentor teen moms today, because I remember the love and concern of those older women and it made all the difference.
I had my son Cory on June 21, 1989, I was 17-years-old. He was a beautiful baby and my boyfriend had moved out of town. My mom was my birth coach.
The SAME DAY my son was born, I went home from the hospital. That night, someone from church stopped by. It was the pastor’s son and he just wanted to let me know he’d be around if I needed anything. We started dating and got married when Cory was nine-months-old. I attended college for a few semesters but raising kids and trying to balance school work was too hard. I had two more babies . . . I had my third baby when I was 22!
As a stay-at-home mom I couldn’t sit idle. I crafted teddy bears for a while and sold them to gift shops. Then, I started writing. I attended my first writer’s conference when I was 22-years-old and pregnant with my third baby. The classes taught how to write for publication, and I went home and tried it. It worked because I sold my first article that year. I’ve been actively seeking publication since 1994. I wrote articles first, then in 1999 I started working on book projects. I have no degree, no credentials. I basically went to workshops and got books that taught me how to write. I just finished my 8th book, and I have contracts for three more (with more in the works!).
In 1999, I also started working in our town with people who faced unplanned pregnancies. At 27-years-old, I helped to start a pregnancy care center. And the next year started the support groups for teen moms. I’ve been working with these moms since 2001. Kayleigh was one of the first girls I worked with. She had just given birth to MaCayla—who will be five in November. Kayleigh attends the meetings EVERY TIME the door is open. I can’t even estimate the number of girls we’ve helped over the years.
Once I started working with the teen moms, I noticed there were no books written specifically for them, helping them to meet THEIR needs—so I wrote one. That’s how Life Interrupted was born. Other Teen MOPS groups around the country now use this book, which is a great feeling!
So, that in a nutshell is my story. Again, I help teen moms today because of the women who reached out to me. Teen girls are emotional as it is. Add pregnancy to that and whoa. I understand how much of difference having caring people in your corner can make, and I love people one of the people that do that for these girls.
All of us should serve in an area we’re passionate about, and I found mine. If you would like more information about Teen MOPS, go to: www.mops.org/teen