I remember friends that I really loved from that age -- Charity and Tina were sisters and had been my friends for years. They are sort of the bright part of that era. I remember being with them and discovering all kinds of cute actors (Charles in Charge in anyone?) from movies and TV shows. Since they were somewhat older than me, I still deemed them cool. Unfortunately, I went through a pretty horrible phase where I was not kind to my little sister and my younger friends -- like my dear sweet friend Vanessa who had been a best bud for a long time, despite being 4 years my junior! They just weren't cool enough for me.
I got a perm at age eleven -- right after my birthday, I believe. So many people told me I had pretty hair, and let me tell you, I hardly needed help building up my pride! I look back at that age with such grief, knowing that I really wasted a precious year of my childhood. It grieves me to remember my sin and pride. I'm sure it grieved my parents. I recall one time when my sister told me I looked pretty and I answered "I know" really quickly just because I wanted to go on doing whatever it was I was doing. Mom rebuked me for my arrogance -- obviously it made an impression on me since I still remember it!
In the spring of 1990, my parents told us we were moving again -- this time to Billings, Montana. My dad had gotten another promotion and would be the president of the division of that SuperValu office. I DID NOT want to move. My parents flew to Billings a few times to look for houses and things, but I didn't want to go along. My sister Anna went with them one time -- she was excited about it, I remember -- and came back filling me in on everything. Our new house had a pool, and at the church my parents were visiting the pastor had 3 daughters and they were our age and they had Anna over to their house even.
My interest started to build, somewhat. I think I was kind of making myself miserable in my sinfulness, and even at eleven years old, moving to a new area, with new friends seemed like a good way to sort of start over. Built in friends already waiting there for me!
I remember flying into Billings for the first time so well. I remember thinking the air smelled like the beach -- kind of dry and salty or something. We celebrated Emily's first birthday in a hotel, once again waiting for our boxes to come on the moving truck all the way to Montana. It was a gorgeous huge hotel built with all the rooms around an 8 story atrium, and had a glass elevator, which we enjoyed riding all the way to the top. The swimming pool had a waterfall in it! I noticed things in Montana were built using local resources, so many buildings had lots of rocks, sandstone and wood in or on them -- it made everything seem very western to me!
If the hotel was great, our house was even better. Very airy and open and western feeling to me, built into the side of a hill in "Emerald Hills" (the only thing green was the trees!). It had a gorgeous pool and we put in a hot tub, and 2 levels of decks. Anna's room was in the "exercise room" -- we knew it was that because it had a whole wall that was just mirrors and had a sauna off of it (we used the sauna to store our stuffed animals and dolls which made them smell like cedar). I got my own room, with my own desk (it was really exciting to me!) and my own phone! Looking back at how good my parents were to me, how they blessed me with love and trust after all the grief I brought them, I see how they painted for me such a good picture of God, who loves unconditionally and gives grace and healing.
It started slowly, but as I ended my eleventh year, I was able to see my rebellious attitude for what it was, and reconcile myself to my mom and dad. Night after night I'd lie awake, ridden with guilt and afraid of God's judgment. I'd rise from my bed, go find my parents and confess whatever sin was heavy on my heart. At the time I was so frightened of not really being a Christian, but now, looking back, I believe that I was so miserable with my sin because I was truly a believer. I would pray for forgiveness almost every night, but it took a while before I could begin to rest and trust that God wasn't angry with me. Again, I think it was my parents' love and forgiveness that enabled me to understand God's love and forgiveness. I remember Mom crying and praying for me at my bedside -- it brings tears to my eyes to think how she must have wrestled for my soul!
I am so very very thankful that I can look back and see the conclusion of this difficult year in the light of forgiveness and a new beginning!
|Me, Nathan and his friend Jimmy in the pool|
This is chapter 8 in the story of my youth -- I'm linking up to Mommy's Piggy Tales.