God Had a Different Plan

A daughter's perspective, by Courtney Ewell

My mom had me when she was 16. I turned 16 on March 10, 2011, and I could not imagine having a kid at this age. My mom has sacrificed a lot for me and she has not missed a volleyball or basketball game. She has always supported me in everything I have wanted to do. There have been times when our lives were not perfect, but I have an abundant amount of respect for her because she had me and there is no greater gift than the gift of life.

I remember going to Young Lives camp with my mom and she seemed happier when she let God into her heart. Inviting God into her heart was a battle because my mom had a hard time trusting anyone, but whenever we would go to Young Lives her personality changed and it was a safe place for her to go and be a kid again. I also remember that all the staff and volunteers were very nice and welcoming, which made Young Lives a fun place.

If my mom was not involved with Young Lives, I do not think I would know God. Her involvement in Young Lives has showed her how to trust and love, which were two things my mom really struggled with when I was younger. My mom and I are very close and since she had me when she was 16, it has allowed me to see her grow and change over the years and I think Young Lives helped her change for the better. I know my mom would do anything for me and I think she went to Young Lives because she knew I needed her to be able to love unconditionally. Young Lives helped her put her guard down and love me unconditionally.

I have volunteered for Young Lives because it has a positive impact on my life and I want to return the favor to a teen parent to be able to go to camp and be a kid again.

I am proud of my mom for graduating from high school and going to college to become an accountant. I am a sophomore in high school and I hope to move to North Carolina and graduate from one of the best schools in America — Duke University. I want to become an anesthesiologist. My mom has supported me through everything and I want to do everything I can to make her proud. I have learned from what most people call my mom's "mistake," but I am not a mistake. I do realize, though, that having a child is hard work and I do not plan on having any kids anytime soon.

A mother's perspective, by Amber Stamps

The last time I wrote an article for Young Lives was 16 years ago. The title to my article was, "Why Me, God?" That is exactly how I felt. I couldn't understand how there could be a God. Why did God let me get raped, molested, abused, and emotionally tortured? My life is exactly like so many other teen parents. If I were to describe my childhood, I would say, "I survived." That is what I remember. Picking myself up after each horrific incident and moving forward.

My life changed the day I got pregnant. My life was no longer without purpose and I finally saw a glimpse of God. Instead of thinking, "Why me, God?", I realized that God was giving me one of the most precious gifts in life — a baby girl who I named Courtney. God was trusting me with a baby girl. I knew from that moment on I wouldn't be a victim any longer. I legally emancipated myself from my mother and got my own apartment. My father died before I was born and I thankfully had Supplemental Security Income to rely on. I didn't just want to survive, though. I also took a part-time job as a housekeeper. I took honors classes in high school and graduated with a 3.89 GPA.

My first Young Lives camp was in Corbett, Ore. I didn't know anyone but I decided going to a Young Lives camp was going to be better than staying at home and dealing with my life. My daughter was only 2 months old when I went. She cried the entire night and I remember a woman coming out into the hallway and asking if she could take Courtney so I could get some sleep. I nearly cried at the offer and I was confused why someone would want to help me. My entire life had taught me not to trust or let anyone into my life, but God had a different plan that day. The woman could see the fear in my face and she promised to stay right outside my room with Courtney. This was the first time I realized what Young Lives was all about. They are women who want to build relationships with teen moms who are broken.

Camp was amazing. I was able to be a teenager and laugh and play games and go on the zip line and pamper pole. Young Lives camp challenges us as teen moms to overcome our fears. Many girls were scared of heights or of being in bathing suits or going up on stage or of simply being silly. At camp, we learned about God and His grace and were around leaders, mentors, and staff who all modeled God's love. Camp is a safe place where the world isn't judging us for being so young and having babies. Instead, it is a place to be loved and cared for and to learn to let others into our lives. It took five years for me to finally commit my life to God, but I remember it as though it were yesterday. My rock is placed in the huge rock pile at Washington Family Ranch, and the day I finally gave my life to God a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.

My life today is great. I'm engaged to a wonderful man and Courtney is a sophomore in high school. She is in the International Baccalaureate program at Columbia River High School and wants to go to Duke University and become an anesthesiologist. After obtaining my associate of arts degree and several accounting certificates, I decided to go back to school and complete my bachelor's degree at Washington State University. I have one semester left and plan to obtain my CPA license and start my own accounting firm.

Young Lives changed my life and I volunteer and work with teen parents because I know this program can make a difference. One teen parent at a time. ​