My name is Joe Chavez and I am 24 years old. When I was 18, I learned that I was going to be a dad. I felt nervous and sick to my stomach. Carmen, my girlfriend, was also scared; she cried and went to sleep. At the time, I was also facing 15 years in jail. The charges against me were staggering: three counts of assault with a deadly weapon, home invasion, robbery, and breaking and entering. I was into drugs and had gone with a group of guys to retaliate against some guys who had beaten up one of our friends. I did not participate in the fight, but I damaged some property.
When six police officers came and took me out of class during my first year of college, I confessed to the crime, and they took me to jail. A short time before then, I had started going to the youth group at my church and made a decision to always tell the truth. Thus when the police officers asked if I had done the crime, I said, “Yes.” The day that I was taken away was the end of my old life. I did not know it then, but restoration and a wonderful life lay ahead. My girlfriend and I dove in head first to a life of teen parenting at 18 and 19; with no jobs, being a convicted felon and only a high school education.
Needless to say, we have had our ups and downs, but we are still standing firmly together, by the grace of God, married, with 2 kids and we run a blog/podcast called Empowering Young Families to share our “Hows” and “Whys” of being a young family with other young families. We talk and write about what has helped, hurt and empowered us to start smart as a young family. We publish a fresh episode every Friday that you can read about and listen to on the EmpoweringYoungFamilies.com.