My uncle had a circus pony; my life is so bizarre.  She wasn’t much taller than my legs were long, but she was round enough that my Adidas didn’t quite hit the ground.  Neither of us belonged on that horse ranch, and I’d like to say that we became friends, but we never really warmed to each other because she only liked to walk in circles and she nipped at my ankles when I pulled her in the other direction. 

           I was twelve when we went to West Texas.  For almost a year I had been secretly calling my uncle with monthly reports, mainly consisting of what groceries we had and didn’t have, what drugs my mom was currently on, who had been sleeping in our house, and how much she had been hitting us.  When I mentioned as an aside that one of the guys who had been crashing in our living room thought I was cute, he came to get us. 

           He drove straight to us in the middle of the night with his wife and kids in the truck.  At about three in the morning, prime party time for my mom, he knocked on the door and yelled out for me to get our stuff together.  There were probably ten people in various states of wasted in our living room, one of them being my mom.  She was shocked and angry, screaming and crying, but never threatened to call the cops for kidnapping because she and her friends would have been the ones who got arrested. The whole thing was jarring and scary, even for me and I had planned it all.  My sisters were ten and six at the time.  I told them before we went to bed that night that he was coming but neither of them had any desire to leave the awfulness that was our home.  It was all they had ever known, and they were scared to death to leave my mom alone in it.

           We rushed around our filthy house and Amanda and I threw as much of our stuff as we could into a couple of trash bags.  It couldn’t have taken more than fifteen minutes.  My mom held Alisa, the six year old, and they both wailed the whole time.  My uncle refereed the crowd of confused druggies in our living room while we packed and then helped us toss our bags in the back of the truck. 

           I will never forget pulling Alisa out of my mom’s arms that night. Neither of them had any idea what I was trying to do.  They didn’t understand that I was trying to give us all a chance.  My mom didn’t see that I was trying to give my sisters back some of the childhood that she had robbed them of.  My sisters didn’t see that I was removing them from an increasingly dangerous home.  None of them understood that our normal was way not normal.  So I pried my baby sister out of my mom’s arms and rode for four hours back to my uncle’s house in West Texas with the two of them on either side of me, heads in my lap crying.  They sobbed until they slept and then whimpered in their sleep.  I stayed awake the whole way, thinking of what I had left behind and wondering about what was ahead.


           We lived on that horse ranch in that tiny West Texas town for about a year and a half.  And good and bad things happened, mostly good though.  I think it did help my sisters and I have a better understanding of what childhood and family were meant to be.  We came home to a much more terrible situation with my mom who had basically used the time to perfect her party skills.  But the time spent there changed us.  One of the great things that happened while we were living at my aunt and uncles, good people spoke good things into our lives.  We were looked in the eyes and smiled at by people who were sober.  Our hands were held literally and figuratively. 

           Time and again we were given opportunities to try new things and we were encouraged in our efforts.  And so when we went back to live with my mom, as awful as it was, there were these little seeds planted in us, awareness that there was indeed some good in us and growing little buds of something great. 


           We went to church with my mom a little when I was younger, not much, but enough I guess.  I have been, almost as long as I can remember, aware of the presence of God.  When people ask how I can have survived the childhood I did and still believe Jesus loves me, I think- how could I not?  He held me and protected me, all the time.  He saved me, all the time.  His Love was tangible to me.  He was my Friend and Father.  I’m still not exactly sure when that awareness kicked in, but I am ever so grateful that it did.  I did not survive my childhood.  Honestly, if you knew some of the things I lived through you would see, there is no other explanation than Jesus.  He is amazing like that.   

           For that year and a half in West Texas though, other people were Jesus to us in very tangible ways. Life was spoken over us.  Love was shown and felt.  Time and care were given.  And not having to scrap and strive to take care of myself and my baby sisters gave me room and time to Just. Be. Loved. 

           Family, teachers and friends and youth pastors, if you were a part of that little section of my journey, I am forever grateful.  I am forever changed.  The seeds that you planted, they grew I think.  The words you spoke, they did not fall on deaf ears.  Something about growing up in a rough home where there is maybe less love evident than there should be, you get good at sniffing it out and soaking it up.  And so in big ways and little, the love you showed me filled my hungry heart.  It gave me hope and strength.  Changed the way I saw me.  Changed the way I saw Him.  Changed the way I saw the whole world.  Jesus loves me, and you, this I know. 

Keep shining. 

Love, love,





One Comment to “Seeds”

  1. Amber,
    I read your story “Seeds” above last night and again tonight. I had no idea this existed until Ashley showed me yesterday. Your photography skills are over the top, but this story was far better that any picture you ever took. I read the story twice, and I cried twice, as still while I am typing this.
    I have always thought the world of you and often think of you today. I have seen and heard of the many things you have done and am very proud of your many accomplishments in your life. Mostly of the four adoarable children you now have. Also, I am glad that with the oppertunity given to you, that you took advantage and was able to build and fortify your like to the point that you also gave so much joy and frienship to the people in your life. You CAN make large impressions on people, and I know you always will.
    I could always see very good qualities in you back to when you were three years old. No matter what happened in your life, you always had a very level head and you cared deeply for people, especially your sisters. When their mother was not there, they always had a mother there looking out for them, that was you. You were very mature and it seened that your main goal in life was to take care of your sisters, no matter what it took.
    You are an adult now, and through all the years, I can tell that you have not lost those qualities that you always had. In fact, I think you have continued to grow and flurish. The beautifull flowers above are a direct example of how you affect other people in your life.
    When you and your sisters arrived at our house, our family instanly grew. We had three daughters and now three nieces. Six girls in one house, now that was an estrogen ocesn! I am glad I was there for you and your sisters when you “secretly planned” contacting us for help. But, I have a secret too, we were also “secretly plannig” a stratagey to get you and your sisters to our home in West Texas but unfortuantly it took a little time to make all the arangements. I would do it again today in a heartbeat.
    With Love,
    Your Uncle Kenny

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