Gwendolyn Green

A Shepherd with a Caring Heart and a Motherly Spirit

May 2023 IssueGwendolynGreen 0523

by Edwina Hoyle
Photography by T.R. Love,
T.R. Media World

“I was raised in a large family with 10 children,” said Gwendolyn Green of Bluffton. “I was the second-oldest and ran the household. My mother worked two jobs but she had a caring heart. Our house was the house where all the neighborhood children came. I got used to caring for the neighbors’ children, too, and picked up a motherly spirit.”

Gwendolyn married young and dreamed of becoming a mother and having a large family. During this marriage, which ended after 11 years, she had two jobs in which she worked with children as a substitute teacher and in a daycare.

Unfortunately, her lifelong dream was crushed after two miscarriages and an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy that resulted in an emergency hysterectomy. “I was pretty angry at God,” she said. “I’d get angry when I saw a pregnant woman, or a mother with her children. I’d ask, ‘God, why not me? I want children…’”

Eventually, she met her future husband, Lonnie. He had two sons, aged 5 and 1. Gwendolyn and Lonnie dated for four years, and Lonnie proposed to her twice. Her response was the same both times: I’m not ready. Then something changed.

“I was angry for a long time. Then my sister had a baby out of wedlock, and I started helping her. That softened my heart and made me love again. I told God I’m willing to do whatever I can to help children. My sister’s baby gave me back my sense of direction and my first love—caring for children. I love to hear children laugh and watch them grow.”

Gwendolyn said, “Lonnie had already won my heart, and then his oldest son asked, ‘Are you gonna be our Mommy?’ So, I bought three rings and proposed to Lonnie and his sons, and the four of us got married.”

God’s plan for Gwendolyn to have children in her life had begun and it was revealed again when her brother’s wife became extremely ill. As her health declined, the couple entrusted their daughter to Gwendolyn’s care.

Gwendolyn has been a pastor at St. John Baptist Church in Bluffton for 18 years, where her joy is the youth ministry. She is also a volunteer guardian ad litem for the Department of Social Services. Over time these roles presented opportunities for her to expand her family.

The child that became her second daughter was living in an abusive home, and the courts awarded custody to Gwendolyn and Lonnie. The child was nine years old. She is now 34 and works for the American Cruise Line in Australia.

Gwendolyn had prayed for a baby for 20 years. “When the court awarded me a baby girl only three weeks old, my prayer was answered.” She now had five children, and no idea she wasn’t finished.

“The last four we adopted,” Gwendolyn said. As time passed she experienced empty nest syndrome. “I’ve got to fill it back up.” So they adopted a seven-year-old girl. When Lonnie said he’d like a boy. “I found three children in foster care who wanted a mommy and daddy, and I didn’t want them to be separated, so we adopted all of them—a boy and two girls.”

In addition, Gwendolyn has helped raise 23 children through the schools and the youth ministry. “I do it from my heart. Children need support. They all came to me from different backgrounds, broken, scarred. They don’t care about deadbeat parents. All that child sees is that they’re being pulled away from their mother. I explain that time wasn’t suspended or frozen when you left; time goes on. So I put on a splint and help them heal until they have wings to fly. They know me as a shepherd with a caring heart.”

“I’m part of something in these children’s lives,” she said. “I’ve been through a storm with them sometimes, but I never once gave up on them.” Gwendolyn joked, “Sometimes I feel like the woman in the shoe. I had so many children I didn’t know what to do.” She added they all came with a lot of hurt and issues, but they worked through it as a family and a team.

Her compassion and commitment to all of these children is just what they needed. They show their appreciation by making cards, calling her every day, visiting, and living well. Gwendolyn and Lonnie have two dining rooms in their home to accommodate their nine children and six grandchildren. The moral of this story: Be prepared to get what you pray for; God hears you and answers.

Up Close:
Words from the Heart:
Gwendolyn wrote a poem about her endeavors—Am I Not Woman? Read on below and take the journey along with her.

Grandma said what? Gwendolyn grew up in Florida and visited her grandmother in Bluffton as a child. She couldn’t understand what her grandmother was saying and thought she was from a foreign country. She later learned she was speaking Gullah.

Studies: Gwendolyn studied sociology at the University of Central Florida.

Career Move: She moved to South Carolina in 1985 and opened a beauty salon on Hilton Head.


by Gwendolyn Green

Every curve  and  blossoming of my femininity
Young, immature entering into holy matrimony 
The fantasy of a little image of me and hubby
Pink or blue, he or she, just let it be a healthy baby
Children makes a family complete, that’s my belief
But the thought of not birthing one, brings me grief

Emptiness cries from the deep dark unbarren womb
Dead and dusty, cold and crusty, as a stony tomb
Wishing to feel little human feet, kicking as a sign of life
Empathetically being told no babies, not once but twice
That your female reproductive tools not working right 
It's hard to fight back tears in the middle of the night

Mentally, many days I fought for answers with all my might
Now dragging waking up lethargically to the morning light
Struggling physically fatigue the doctor will perform more test
Crossing fingers and toes hoping for a yes to this long quest
Good news! You’re pregnant, you’ll be on total bed rest   
 Very carefully I tried so hard to do all the doctors’ suggest
Waking up in a pool of blood caused by a miscarriage
Four months of joy has ended with no baby in a carriage
For crying out loud! Why can’t I be proud

Each day it got harder and harder to drag myself out of bed
Skinny as a rail, had no desire to eat nothing, not even bread
Months after months my family and friends would beg 
Please go see what’s going on before you go over the edge
Sitting in a dark room sinking deeper in a hole of depression
Trying to have a baby the counselor thought it was an obsession

Okay! Okay! Enough of this! Girl pull yourself together 
Finally looking in the mirror, I told myself you can do better
Dressing in a tight dress and heels, husband and I went on a date
months later, feeling nausea, sick to my stomach and my period late
Home alone, I can remember hearing , 911 whats your emergency
in the ER I can faintly hear the doctor say she have a Tubal pregnancy
The Phlebotomist drawing blood, the nurse puts in an IV so Doc can operate
Let's do a pelvic examine and ultrasound, I don’t want to make a mistake
Reading the test, the Radiologist said its showing two Fetus’
The excruciating pains mixed with cramps, calling on Jesus
Waking up in the recovery room, sore, halfway conscience with an attitude
There were two embryos, one in the right place and one in your fallopian tube
Doc! doc! You mean I’m pregnant? None saved the sacks were to thin 
 Lord! with twins? Am I being punished for sin? Will I ever win?

Where’s my husband? At this time I need him the most
Sad, he’s not a father, no babies to pass out cigars and boast
He started hanging out later and later, leaving me in despair
Some nights he didn’t come home. I found out he was in an affair
Heartbroken! My husband and his mistress gonna have a baby
No! No! Why God? That’s a slap in the face and that's crazy
He found his so-called comfort in another woman’s arms
The thoughts of them in my head set off fireworks and alarms
Seeking revenge! Kill! Swinging a knife! as I started to yell 
In a rage! Wild out of control! Was I under an evil spell? 
Blacked out! When I came to my senses I was sitting in jail
Attempt of murder, waiting for someone to make my bail
All charges dropped! Is it because the judge is a female?

Devastated and hurt, I felt like my life was caving in
Every night turning up on Hennessy, vodka, and Seagram gin
In my heart I couldn’t find no joy, no laughter, not even a grin
Heartache and pain, using alcohol as anesthetic to numb my mind
Oh God! Why me? Or why not me? The answers I couldn't find
A glass of alcohol became my confidant and best friend
Trying to drown out the thought of my husband’s betrayal 
His outside affair made our marriage and relationship very frail
Divorce papers were served on the ground of his infidelity 
Judge awarded me alimony. I declined, all I want is my integrity 
Wrestling not to think evil towards him and how he cheated
I didn’t deserve his lies and certainly not to be mistreated
Dead or alive! I just want the heartaches to be deleted

Now single, pulling the fragments of my life together, so I tried
The mistress he made his wife, A few years later she died
Making him a widower, leaving him to raise a small girl child
Though they hurt me, but her death didn’t make me smile 
An eye for an eye and tooth for tooth, truly that isn’t my style
The unthinkable phone call, he said, haven’t seen you in awhile 
He had the audacity to think I would help him raise his child 
Do I look stupid? He better man up and stop acting like a boy!
That’s the last straw! What? He musta been thinking I’m his toy

Delete my number! His phone call gave me strength I can’t explain 
Two can play the game, I have nothing to lose but everything to gain 
Packed up, moved to South Carolina where I first visited at age thirteen
Grandma's hometown of all her Gullah stories, I would magically dream
Starting a fresh new life,  I’m up for the challenge, whatever it bring
I made up my mind and vowed to myself never again be another man’s fool
It's all about my accomplishments so I enrolled in a Cosmetology school 
Years later; welcome to my beauty supply store and professional hair salon 
Laughing and joking with clients to hide my inner secret pains.
I thought I won
Faking to be happy for pregnant women, still mad with God. I felt scorn
Mothers celebrating their gift to birth little ones, with joy I couldn’t respond

For years heavy menstruations, clots and cramps aching my belly
Walked across the street for lunch I started bleeding
profusely outside the deli
Once again to the hospital ER I go. Bring her straight back, we can’t delay
Ummm, I’m feeling something in the Uterus, a baby?
Medically there’s no way
While the doctor is speaking, my legs high in the air, my feet still in restraint
His voice began to fade, my head spinning, blurred vision; heart feeling faint
The ER Doc, apologetically saying he had to do an emergency hysterectomy 
I felt crushed! Now all hope is gone! Haven’t I been through enough agony?
The sensation coming back in my legs, Lord Help me to understand I beg 

Does God give miracles, then take them away? Is my life a screenplay?
Just when self-pity started to set in, I began feeling helpless and gloom 
An admirer, with a glowing smile and roses in his hand, lit up my room
I remember him after a fresh cut, coming to get a shampoo and manicure
My spirit was uplifted! Him thinking of me seem to be the magical cure
I knew he had feelings, the way he looked in my eyes
and the pleasant conversation
Two more days of hospital stay, he always came to give me inspiration
Now I’m getting nervous, because he’s getting to close and doing the most!

Will I ever be able to love again?
The thought of a man’s trust makes my head spin
The thought of knowing I would never be able to birth no babies
A sudden knock at my door, it’s him with a bouquet of beautiful daisies
He was very persistent, get dressed! You don’t have to be neat
He said he really love me and have two special people for me to meet
Two handsome little boys. The youngest was one and the oldest five
He made jokes, we all laughed and giggled, while we took a scenic drive
The little manly five out the clear blue sky, said are you our new mama
There was dead silence, even the baby stop giggling, my heart sensed trauma!

Four years I have been in their lives. Would you be my wife?
He has proposed twice!
Scared! Am I letting my past marriage experience rob me of a good life?
After dinner I built up courage with two rings in my hand, I got on one knee, 
I popped the question to the now nine-year-old.
Do you still want me to be your mommy?
The whole restaurant clapping. The one now three says yes!
While both hugging me!
Their dad, the two of them and me, we entered into holy matrimony
After one year God started adding children to our loving family
We have celebrated twenty-eight years of marriage with love and respect
We have legally raised nine children through care
and bonding with no regret
They were raised as brothers and sisters looking for each other being sincere
They have blessed us with six grandchildren whom we love so dear
Our relationship couldn’t be any stronger even
if they had come through my birth canal

You see that’s why I closed your natural womb,
to open the womb of your heart
I had some special children who needed a stern caring MOM
to give them a fresh start
A baby doesn’t have to come through your birth canal to give motherly love 
These are some of the mothers God designs from above
Birth-Mother; Surrogate-Mother; Godmother; Bonus-Mother;
Adoption-Mother; Play-Mother; Spiritual-mother; Stepmother; Grandmothers and Mother-n-laws

We are all women! Happy Mother’s Day