So in part 1, I left off with my family getting settled in rural Illinois after our big move from Montana, living a rather quiet life. My brother had been our main set of wheels before we moved, but alas, here we were in a state that required you to be 16 to drive, so after 5 months of him getting us around, we had to either walk or have Mom drive us places. One time we walked from our house into the tiny nearby town for our piano lesson. It was just a little over a mile, so not bad at all, but we certainly didn't enjoy having to walk!
We visited a larger church in Danville, Illinois -- Calvary Baptist. I remember so clearly that Sunday that my brother wore a suit and his cowboy boots (this was NORMAL attire where we came from), and they were certainly the source of some attention. Right away, I had high hopes for our joining this church. It had a large youth group, and several of the kids were homeschooled (a small number in comparison to Montana, but nonetheless, it was a bonus). People sat by us that first in Sunday school, and even though we didn't know the songs they sang or the motions that went along with them, there was a friendly, genuine vibe that I really appreciated. What a blessing this church turned out to be. We found a home there with those people, and instead of our homeschool group, our youth group soon became the center of our social world.
At this point in my life, the Lord really gave me the grace to learn and know Him more dearly. The preaching I was sitting under at the church was opening up my mind and heart to understand God and his Word. Pastor Joe was just full of grace and focused so directly on Scripture. I am so thankful to this day for the teaching I received there. This was just the very beginning of it, but praise the Lord he worked in my heart at this time.
The youth group had lots of great activities -- many based on serving the members of the church. Our first activity was yard work for some of the widows and senior members. I looked so forward to coming to youth group on Wednesday nights. During the holiday season we spent several weeks baking cookies to take with us when we went Christmas caroling to the shut ins. One night during the baking time, I took note of a girl who is still one of my dearest and best friends, and watching her scoop that cookie dough and manage the kitchen, I conscientiously thought "Misty is a gem". It would be several years before we really gelled, but my first impression turned out to be right.
It was at this point that I entered my "Janette Oke" phase. The church library was teeming with her titles, and lots of the girls liked to read them, so of course I sucked them up. They fed my growing appetite for romance. . . what young teenage girl isn't rather obsessed with romance? I was living in my own world much of the time, writing stories, and working in the kitchen like a fiend (Mom probably appreciated it) because those pioneer-era girls were always cooking and things in the stories. I was constantly daydreaming. It was actually probably a bit unhealthy, and I recall Mom telling me that I needed to join the family sometimes because I was frequently off on my own so I could write and daydream. She was right. I wrote this series of stories set right before the turn of the century about a girl name Chassie who worked a nanny for a widowed young rich man named Weston (you'll never believe it but they fell in love). Over time, I added on to the series by writing about Chassie's daughter Becca who was brilliant and went to Harvard and married a baseball player who she thought died in the Spanish-American War, but ended up playing for the Red Sox in the first ever World Series.
At some point in January, I could tell my brother's friend Steve kind of liked me, and we started writing notes to each other all the time. We were way too shy to talk in person, though. We probably said 2 or 3 sentences in the course of several months! I think we possibly said who we thought would win the Super Bowl and that was about it. Seems strange for a romantic 14 year old, but looking back, I'm pretty happy that we were so reserved. In May, Steve called my dad and asked him if he could sit with me at the teen formal the youth group was having. I was super impressed that he asked my dad and was given permission. Mom made dresses for Anna and me to wear, according to our choosing. These dresses are still hanging in a closet at my parents house, and have come in handy for costumes for my little sisters along the way.
As summer came, and my 14th year wound down, I got to be a part of one of the most exciting things in my life: a musical. I had always longed to be on stage, and our youth group was putting on a performance of the "Let's Go to the Rock" which was a 1950's Christian musical with lots of morals. We performed it at this restaurant in downtown Danville and it was one of the most fun things in my life. I played the daughter of the main character, which meant I had lots of lines and even a song where the guy who played my brother and I did a "rap" about how our parents didn't understand us! Classic. For my costume I wore clothes from my parent's closets, including my dad's letter jacket. I LOVED acting. Loved it. Wanted nothing more than to do another show and another and another. I'm so thankful that the Lord has channeled my desire for drama to using it as a gift to enhance my teaching when I work with kids! In college, a drama teacher once referred to me as someone who had "abandon" to her drama class -- and I wasn't even in the class!
So here ends my 14th year. At the same time as the musical, Molly and Jessie, our besties from Montana, flew out to stay with us for a week or so. And we had a grand time with them -- but truly my life was miles away from where it had been the year before.
Linking up to Mommy's Piggy Tales!