What makes you feel beautiful?
I feel most beautiful when I'm dressed up and on a date with my husband. His smile is all the reassurance I need to know that I am loved and that I'm the most beautiful woman in the world to him.
What do you enjoy most about being a woman?
The best part of being a woman is the fashion. I love clothes and shoes!
What would you tell your teenage self?
If I could, I would tell my teenage self to wear that darn bikini.
What is the best thing about being your current age?
I love being 34! Mostly because people think I’m mature now and are more likely to take me seriously. Little do they know.
How do the images from the photo-shoot make you feel?
I’m so proud of how I look. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt this good about myself!
I am 34 years old, mother of three and spouse of a Soldier. I grew up in East Texas and that is also where I met my husband when we were kids.
I’d say that I have a very normal childhood. My parents loved us (I have a younger brother) and never shied away from telling us that. We were all very involved in our church, my parents taking on several leadership roles within. They were both very well know and respected in our community. We were your typical middle class, nuclear family. All that changed when I was 16 years old.
May 3rd, 1998, My dad had worked the graveyard shift at the coal mine where he was a supervisor at. It was a Sunday and typically he would already be back home and asleep by the time I made my way out of my room. This morning was different. I had gotten up earlier than normal to get ready for church. I came downstairs and found my mom and dad talking in the living room. My dad was complaining of indigestion/heart burn. My mom was concerned and wanted him to go to the hospital, but he said he’d just keep taking Pepto and he’d be fine. I hugged my dad that morning, gave him a kiss on the cheek and told him I loved him. He then went off to bed. That was the last time I’d ever see my dad alive. We went to church as normal while my dad slept. That afternoon when he didn’t wake up, my mom went to check on him. She found him dead in the bed. He died of a massive heart attack. His Pepto tablets strewn all around him. I was home when my mom found my dad.
The next few days and weeks were very chaotic. Friends and family from all over visited us. My mom planned the funeral. It was the biggest funeral anyone had ever seen. My dad touched so many lives and his death was deeply felt by everyone.
I was 16 before my dad died, I was a lot older after. I became a rock for my mother and other family members. I worked, went to school and did everything around the house that I could to help my mom out. I learned that death was not the end. Before my dad died I was scared of dying. I knew I’d go to Heaven, but I didn’t want to die. I wanted to stay here and do all the things teenagers love to do. The thought of death was terrifying. After my dad died however, I learned that death was sweetest conclusion that life has to offer if you’re a believer in Christ. I envied my dad that he was now getting to walk arm in arm with Jesus. Oh the things he must be seeing now! I was no longer afraid to die.
May 3rd, 2000, My mom, my brother and myself had just marked the two year anniversary of my dad’s death. We all went out to the cemetery and visited his gravesite. It would also mark the last time we were all together.
May 6th, 2000, I was 18 years old. My mom and I had both worked all day and decided that after we got off work we would go shopping for my upcoming senior class trip. We met at the mall and spent a few hours together shopping and having a great time. We were very close, we even walked around the mall holding hands. It was a great night. As we left my mom followed behind me in her car. As we were driving home, I came to a right turn green arrow, I was making my turn when a stalled out pickup truck, that was turning in to a gas station parking lot, slammed into the side of my Mustang and threw my car across four lanes of traffic. My mom parked her car in the gas station parking lot and bolted across the highway to where I was. I was fine, but my car was totaled. The road was littered with debris. A large crowd had gathered to see what was going on. My husband, Jason (fiancee at the time) was there with us within an hour of the accident happening. The two of us were getting my car cleaned out since a tow truck was on the way to haul my poor Mustang away. The accident site was still very chaotic. People were everywhere, Police Officers were trying to get the road cleared up and running back and forth across four lanes of very heavy traffic was slowing the progress down. At one point a Police officer almost got hit by a passing motorist. Traffic was slowed down, but there were still many cars coming through. My mom had to walk across the road to go get her car so I could put all my stuff in it. As she was walking across the intersection, a man in a truck stopped to let her walk by. As my mom was on the other side of his truck, a Police Officer who was on a nonemergency call, but was going 70 mph (30 mph over the speed limit and through a debris littered accident site) hit my mom. She was flung into the air, landing on top of her head. Her arm was severed off as well. I’m told she died instantly. I hope to God that is true.
The chaos that ensued was the stuff out of nightmares. Dozens of people saw what happened. Everyone was screaming. The Police Office that hit my mom left a skid mark trail that was many yards long and finally came to a stop dozens of yards away. I had to be held back. I started praying that my mom was alive. My prayers went unanswered.
At the hospital my brother and I got to say goodbye to our mom. We were told to stand on her left side and not move the blanket covering her up to her neck. We didn’t know then that her right arm was gone. We talked to her and told her we loved her. Some of her hair had fallen out into a clump so I took it. I still have it.
I was about two weeks away from my high school graduation and 7 weeks away from my wedding when I lost my mom. I wanted her there with me so badly. I was blessed to have family and friends surround me during that time. I got through. I’m still getting through.
Little things that my mom taught me as I was growing up helped me stay on the path God designed for me. I’ve never hated God. I’ve never thought of my new reality of being an orphan as God hating me or punishing me. I just took it for what it was and I made the best out of an awful situation. My life’s motto is, ‘It is what it is.’ I used my loss to become closer to Christ. I freely share what I’ve been through in hopes that my story will help others.
My mom was the wisest person I knew and she was always giving me little nuggets of wisdom. She told me on numerous times that everything happens for a reason, we may not ever know what that reason is. It is not our place to know, but God’s only. She told me that it was okay to be angry with God, but we shouldn’t turn our backs on Him when bad things happen to us. She also told me that bad things happen to all of us. It is not God punishing us. He loves us unconditionally.
I once led an Esther bible study. Esther was an orphan and Beth Moore (the author of the study) said that as a child, the worst thing that could ever happen to you is losing a parent. As a parent, the worst thing that can happen to you is losing a child. How true that is!
We all have our story. We’ve all suffered tragedies. It’s how we handle those tragedies that make us who we are. Do we blame God for what’s happened to us? Do we turn our backs on the faith we once held so dearly? Do we become bitter, angry, resentful? Do we turn to drugs, alcohol or other self harming behaviors? Or, do we turn to God? His loving arms are always open to us. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. James 4:8. Let your story define you in a positive way. Let your story help others to heal and move forward. I have forgiven the man that killed my mom. I have accepted her death. God needed her and my dad more than I did. I will never understand why, but it isn’t my place to understand. I have accepted it and I will continue to live my life to the fullest without the weight of angry weighing me down.
Thank you for letting me share my story.