I was born on November 30, 1974 in Bridgeport Connecticut to teenage parents who met each other at Harding High School in Bridgeport, CT.
My mother, Linda Evelyn Moore, was only fifteen and my father, James Edward Jennings, was seventeen.
My mother’s parents divorced when she was 2 years old and she went to live with her paternal grandparents. Her father worked a lot and although he didn’t live far from his parents, my mother saw him only once in a while. My mother’s mother chose to “move on with her life”, having other children and visited my mother only occasionally.
While still in high school, my mother’s paternal grandparents decided to move to another state. My mother was given a choice to either go with them or remain with her dad in Bridgeport. She chose to stay and live with her father. As a result, her lifestyle immediately changed from structured to unsupervised.
Within a short time my mother met my father and not long into their relationship my mother became pregnant. Feeling confused and scared, this fourteen-year-old girl turned to her own mother for advice. Her mother’s solution to the “problem” was to abort me!
Fortunately, this didn’t sit well with my mother and shortly thereafter, she told her father. She was surprised when her father gave his support, but he also told her that he was busy and wouldn’t be around much to help.
I’m told that upon my arrival to this world, when my paternal grandmother, Shirley Jennings, set her eyes on me, that she instantly fell in love with me. Concerned about my living situation and my mother’s age, Grandmother Shirley asked if I could live with her. Mother agreed, but only if she was able to come along. Grandmother reluctantly agreed. My grandmother initially played the role of primary caregiver, but my mother was always there co-parenting alongside her.
After the birth of two more children, my parents moved into an apartment of their own. This was in the 80’s, when the crack cocaine epidemic had infiltrated numerous urban communities and ours was no exception. Sadly, my father was a victim and became addicted to crack, this took a traumatic toll on my parents’ relationship and us kids. Seeing my dad at his lowest, I’d ask my mother, “Why don’t you just leave?” Mom simply responded, “Because I knew your father before the drugs and this isn’t him”.
I’m glad my mom hung in there. In 1986, after spending some time in a drug rehabilitation center, my father finally got clean and sober. He made some changes and gave his life to the Lord. My parents got married and Christ was introduced to our entire family. My father has been clean and sober ever since. He’s not perfect, but he’s had no relapses and no backsliding!
As mom began to grow in her relationship with Christ, she was able to forgive her mother for what she felt was abandonment. As she healed, a healthy mother and daughter relationship began to flourish between the two of us. I no longer had to serve in the role of a sister, mother or comforter to her; I was able to be just her daughter.
Today, my mom and I are very close friends. She is an awesome grandmother of eight and a young great-grandmother to one. My mom has made it her business to “intentionally” be a blessing to my siblings and me. One of many examples is the fact that while we worked my mom cared for our children until it was time for them to enter Kindergarten. She sacrificed her own household to do this!
Truly, it’s not over until God says so. As I look over my life; I can say that I AM BLESSED! Where the statistics speak negatively regarding the lives of those raised by teenaged parents, I can say with authority, NO, not me! We know the negative story that the world tells us of children who grew up in poverty and in homes with parents addicted to drugs; I can firmly say, by the grace of God, that’s not my story!
My parents are still happily married. They love one another and especially love serving the Lord together. My mom and dad realized that with Christ they have MORE THAN ENOUGH. Glory be to God!