I am blessed to invite Jennifer Cook along on our blogging journey. She has continued to bless me with her heart for others and her desire to serve God. When I asked her to write something about what she learned as a young mom, she jumped at the opportunity. Her life is such a testimony of how God can take something that could be incredibly difficult and turn it around to speak of His overwhelming love and faithfulness.
Thank you so much Jen for opening up your life to us. I pray huge blessings on you and your family as you head into the full on teen years with all of those wonderful children. It's nice to know there are women who are going ahead of us who can cheer us on and give us a heads up!!! I look forward to getting a family update sometime in the future!!!
Don’t let anybody else write the story of your life.
By Jennifer Cook
April 8th1995 was the date that my whole world shook. My future began a new path, one I never thought I would walk! 4 days before my 16th birthday I found out I was pregnant. When the doctor told me, in the same breath he also said “we can make sure your parents never know..” The next few days were such a roller coaster of emotions, but the one thing knew was that I was keeping my baby! Admittedly, I was one of the “lucky ones” as my baby’s daddy still wanted to be involved.
November 3 1995, after 23 hours of labour which ended in an emergency c-section during which we both almost died, I gave birth to my son Jason Jeffree Trevor. My time in the hospital was horrible! I was treated like a tramp and little care was given to either of us, and because of this some serious health issues were neglected that were later caught by Jason’s family doctor when he was a week old. Long story VERY short - he was VERY sick. The day he was admitted into the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), they never expected him to live through the night. Over the next few days I sat in the NICU holding my son expecting each breath would be his last, AND it was my fault! I knew sex before marriage was not God’s best for me but I didn’t care. Never once while in the NICU did I pray or cry out to God or beg Him to heal my son. I knew this was my punishment and I would have to deal with the consequences. Thankfully my fiancé’s mom was a godly women and she had her church on their knees for my son. I honestly didn’t think it would matter, I “knew” what god was like. He was always watching, waiting for us to mess up so he could “get us”. I was SO wrong. After a few days the doctors laid my son in my arms and said “it is medically impossible for your son to be alive; there is nothing we did to cure him!”
I decided I wanted to learn more about the God who healed my son, and I asked Jesus into my heart. Life wasn’t easy! Becoming a Christian didn’t make everything “all better”, it didn’t erase the stigma of being a teen mom. I decided that I was not going to become a statistic. I wasn’t going to let anybody else write my story. I felt like I had something to prove to the world. I felt my children had to be clean and well behaved at all times, because if they weren’t that would reflect on me. I had to make sure I had it “all together” all the time! I had to be a great mother and a great wife - if I didn’t others would win and they would be right about me. I had so much to learn, but thankfully some women in the church took me under their wing and taught me how to be a godly women, wife and mom. I had set a high standard that I felt I needed to achieve in order to fit in or belong. It was hard!!! I was only 17 and trying so hard to fit into an adult world.
Shortly after becoming a Christian I remember thinking I couldn’t offer anything to anybody because I was so young – really, what did I know?!?! One day I was reading Jeremiah 1:6-9:
I felt this was written just for me. I have something to say that God is giving words for me to speak to people. I still struggle with thinking I have nothing to offer anybody, what value do I add to others lives.I replied, “I am not a good speaker, LORD, I am too young.” “Don’t say you are too young,” the Lord answered. “If I tell you to go and speak to someone, then go! And when I tell you what to say don’t leave out a word! I promise to be with you and keep you safe, so don’t be afraid. The LORD reached out his hand, then touched my mouth and said I am giving you the words to say.
On April 27 1996 Trevor and I got married. The best thing someone said to me was "live your life how you want and not how others think you should!" So on October 27 1997 we welcomed Jonathan to our family, who was quickly followed by Julie and Jessica on January 24 1999, and finally Joshua on January 5 2001. I determined that I was going to write my own story! September will mark 20 years since Trevor and I started dating, and in April we will celebrate 17 years of marriage. We have come a long way from being teen parents! I am so grateful for what we have learned on the journey so far, and excitedly wait what the future holds for us and our children.