By Penelope Atkinson, Chief Marketing Strategist
Over the last few months I have been agonizing what to write on the first blog of our new website.
After all… it’s a new website. New impressions. First impressions.
What I write really has to count!
So I wrote… Well, I wrote… Nothing… For days, weeks, months.
My website designer was going crazy.
My husband & business partner was fed up of me whining.
And then my journalist son & tech for the business came up with it: Get personal! So, here goes.
I am going to tell you our story of how and why we came to the States.
AMERICAN AND BRIT MEET
Glen and I met in the UK. Glen has British parents, but is American born. His parents decided to retire early back to the UK and took him with them. Fast forward a few years to 1986, and that was when we met. We married in 1988 and had two sons.
One day our Pastor announced that he was off, with his family, to start a Christian church in Orange County. Who wanted to come with him? We jumped. We knew God was telling us to go, even though we had just bought a beautiful house in the Leeds suburbs.
LET’S GO THEN
So, with our green card in hand (believe me that was an ordeal to get!), without a job to go to (we both had great jobs in the UK), we sold our new house. With only $1000 in the bank account (thanks to that same house purchase) and no job, we left our friends and family. With no place to live, we arrived in California with 2 very small children to start our adventure!
WAREHOUSES AND MORE
Life was tough at first. We had no credit history, so it was hard getting a place, but we finally secured one. Glen, the astrophysics major, was out scraping concrete off floors, sweeping warehouses, and other menial jobs. I got what work I could in between his hours as we wanted the children to have at least one parent to care for them at all times.
FAMILY PIZZA DELIVERY
We all would deliver pizzas at night - yes, the whole family!
The kids in their PJs with books and toys would scramble in the back of the car. Glen would go into the pizza place and pick up the deliveries. Then we would drive off chatting, singing and telling stories ‘til they went to sleep. Then Glen and I would get some ‘date night’ time! Good times!
THE THINGS WE ATE!
Rice and beans were our mainstay. Almost every day. One year I found out that I could get a free turkey and I was also given one. I am telling you, I cooked turkey rice, turkey pie, turkey stir fry, turkey burgers… For weeks!!! We ended up feeling ill when the word ‘turkey’ was mentioned! We still do sometimes, it’s affected Thanksgiving in our home for years.
Many years our children had garage sale presents for Christmas, wrapped in newspaper. They loved it. (They were young!)
We were so blessed by many friends and family’s generosity to us. I still have a Kitchen Aid mixer that someone was getting rid of – every time I look at it I remember her. Those pieces of kindness add up. Never believe that caring goes unnoticed. Always know that those little things touch people’s lives in a way you will never know.
MAJOR FAST FORWARD TO TODAY
We nearly own our home outright, we have our own business (which we love!), we have many friends and ‘family’, our boys are amazing men of integrity (who each have a wonderful girlfriend/fiancée), and we hope to retire early to travel and see the world!
But… We worked hard. Very hard. We sacrificed. We grew in humility. We had fun, so much fun - we laughed at the garage sale buys and the crazy things we ate. We learnt to entertain without money. We did a lot of things as family. We relied on God probably more than we ever have. Life was simpler.
We kind of followed the American Dream… kind of…
And… we are so glad we are here.
And our word to all of you:
During those early times, our particular thanks go to: Jack & Yolanda Atkinson, Don & June Silber, Steve & Sherry Williams, Michelle Palmer.