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Both M and E worked at the grocery store successfully for several months before starting a search for new jobs. I encouraged them to stay, to stick it out, to build a job history. However, they were insistent that, although they couldn’t put their finger on it, something was wrong and they needed to find new jobs. And, they did. E got a job working as a teaching assistant at a daycare and M got a job at the local dry cleaners. A few months after working their new jobs, the grocery store closed its doors with only a 4 day notice to employees and customers. The other employees were scrambling for work but M and E were fine!

Although they didn’t make much more than minimum wage, they were able to save some money living frugally, not much different from when they lived on the streets. It was amazing hearing M talk with B about his new job. He had done a complete 180 degree turn around in terms of his work attitude.

“Can you believe he complains about working all the time?” M would say about his co-worker. “He has no idea how lucky he is that someone is giving him a chance. If he doesn’t want to work, I’ll take his hours. I told my boss that, too.”

M got his driver’s license and they bought a car. It sat in their parking lot for 6 weeks until they could afford to fix it up and purchase car insurance but they did it.

E sort of reconnected with her family. She began to see her mother occasionally. We also got to witness some of her father’s behavior towards E. It hurt me deeply to watch it. I can’t imagine how E feels. (Dads: please don’t tell your daughter that she is an idiot and that her only value is in her body. Don’t tell her she is too fat or too skinny. Don’t tell her she has ugly arms or hideous feet. Don’t tell her that her nose is enormous or that her eyes make her unlovable. It is so inappropriate and devaluing. Please tell her only the good things you see in her. Make her feel important. Show her what it means to be valued as a human being, not a piece of chattel. Anyway… I digress.)

M’s mother showed up and tried to get ‘free stuff, too.’ She thought it would be great if someone would be willing to take care of her so she could simply concentrate on getting high. (And her addiction wasn’t her fault, you know. She told me herself.) Luckily, M sent her packing. M reconnected with the birth father who lived across the country (more of that story is in part 3.5). They started calling each other monthly when M and E were living in our house. Now, they were skyping weekly.

M and E weren’t coming to church with us. They still weren’t sure about Christianity although they were not as disdainful towards Christians. “I don’t know what to think anymore,” E told me. “You and some of these people who have been helping us out have completely blown my mind. You aren’t anything like the other church people I’ve known but… that doesn’t take away from all the condescending, judgemental and frankly, cruel things other Christians have done to us. I’m going to have to think a lot about this.”

They saved some more money and then … they started planning their wedding. They know they are very young but they have been a couple for seven years. They have helped each other and supported each other through some of the worst things that a couple can go through.

E asked K to be a bridesmaid.

M asked B to be his best man. When we were shopping for suits, the salesman asked how we were related. M said, “This is T-sizzle and she helped me when my fiance and I were having a temporary housing crisis.” (Did you see what he did there? It was blaringly obvious to me. He shifted from describing himself as a homeless kid to describing himself as a person with a temporary but solvable problem. 🙂 )

At the wedding, M gave me a hug and told me I was the closest thing to a real mom that he had. He gave me a corsage and had me sit in the second row, right behind his birth father who had flown in for the ceremony.

I made their cake. E’s aunts made some food. Someone knew someone who did hair and makeup and, after hearing their story, she volunteered to do E’s hair and makeup for the wedding for free. Someone knew someone else who was a photographer. He heard their story, flew in (he was not even from the same state!) and took their wedding photos for free.

It was beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

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A few months after their wedding, they came over to talk. They had been thinking and had decided that they weren’t really going to go anywhere working minimum wage jobs. They wanted to take their GED tests and consider college. They wanted to save enough money that they wouldn’t have to worry about the what ifs any more. And, they were thinking that if they could save enough for a down payment, one day, they might be able to buy their own house.

So… they were going to couch hop again. But this time, it would be different. It would be intentional, with a plan and with family. There would be no more relying on strangers or sleeping in parks.

They gave away Django.

They sold their household furniture and other things saving only a few wedding gifts.

They bought airplane tickets and the day I started this series, they flew across the country to try living with M’s birth father who has offered them support and a place to live – as long as they are moving forward, moving up.

They let us know they landed safely. M is actively looking for a job. E has already started her job as a teacher in a day care (she arranged for a transfer before they left). M is getting along much better with his father and half-brother than he had the first time he tried living there. Getting to know them first helped immensely.

Emma give me life

And M was right. They aren’t the homeless kids anymore. They are simply a young married couple working hard to be successful at their new life.

Emma and Markus