Sunday, July 8, 2018

What does "freedom" look like?

This 4th of July I tried to celebrate the day like I normally do but I really couldn't get into the spirit of the holiday. Every year I knew what to expect and it was usually a carefree day filled with lots of people, lots of food, a parade, fireworks, etc..
I tried to stay thankful for all my blessings but yet my mind kept trailing off to a place of feeling great sadness. Like something was very wrong.

I thought that maybe it was from my daughter not being home for this holiday but no, that wasn't it. Being separated from her wasn't the internal ache I felt because I knew she was safe and enjoying her time with her cousins.

This feeling of hovered darkness and deep depression are not new to me but I've gotten to a point in my life that I can, usually, pinpoint where it originated from and am able to combat it. Hard but able to be done with great focus.
However, no matter how hard I tried, this time I didn't know where the darkness was coming from so I went into prayer and asked for direction in what way to fight off this ache that wouldn't go away.

This is the image I got while praying. These children separated from their parents. Not at all enjoying this holiday of freedom.

I wonder how they celebrated their 4th of July in a country considered "The land of the free"??
Two weeks ago when I was told about these kids being held in, what I consider, human kennels I couldn't believe it. I don't normally watch the news for many reasons but I had to find out if it was true and when I saw the images I, literally, got sick to my stomach.  
However, with all the "fake news" circulating I had to make sure that it was real and current.
It was indeed real, current and, unquestionably, on American soil.
Sadly, it's been going on for many years and has only gotten worse with this new administration.

Like most child advocates I became irate as a pain for these kids shot through my body. With every image I saw and report I read I got angrier.
Even after reading both sides of the political spectrum, I didn't care. I didn't want a reasonable explanation or excuses, I wanted these children set free from these cages and back with their parents. I didn't care if they broke the law. To me, they are innocent children seeking safety who are now sitting in prison like settings. It's disgusting.

In my zealous pursuit to link up again with local advocacy groups pursuing justice on their behalf, I felt a "check" in my spirit. I knew it was the Lord trying to reveal something to me.
Honestly, I hate these times with Him but I was willing to be still and listen.

He reminded me that there is a God that made these children in His image for a purpose and that what I was seeking to do would contribute to the noise and calamity of this current culture and would only be exactly that -- CALAMITOUS NOISE. 

A resounding gong absent of His presence.

He then reminded me of His story that I have been entrusted to hold and share. He reiterated to me that there is a more proactive way to advocate for them that would not demolish my faith to a mere title of "Christianity". His "better" way.    
His will has to be my focus. No matter how I feel.

Now, mind you, I'm not trying to make this a political post but just wanting to share the ache that sits in my chest as I tried to pray for understanding of how to get involved because I can't ignore what I now know is happening with these kids. And as someone who personally knows the ache of an abrupt separation from the only parent I knew, I can't walk away. 

I have been lax in my blogging because I'm exhausted from sharing my testimony.
Every story I share is always shared with a great amount fear. Not one of people judging me but of the memories that I have to open up in order to tell it. It's painful. I keep it hidden to save myself from myself.
The dreams (more like nightmares) and memories I have before, during and shortly after scare me. Sometimes I feel like I'll never survive them.

But, as I write this, I know this to be a lie from the devil himself because God always steps in when I cry out to Him to shine His light on that memory and show me the good He intends for it. And He always does. ALWAYS!!

So instead of standing with a crowd picketing outside some government office or feeding my anger amongst other angry advocates, I found myself writing to my representatives and humbly pleading for mercy. 
I added a portion of my testimony to hopefully help them see that what I'm asking isn't to break the law but to show mercy for the children and the trauma that they will incur during this process.
All humans will go through something traumatic at some point in their lives but, by the mercy of God, we are not consumed by it if given hope.
That hope... I have only found in Jesus Christ. He is FREEDOM.

I sent this letter out to my representatives. Whether they read it or not is up to God. I'm doing my part and will continue. My focus was to advocate for the safety and sanity of the children. Not asking to break the law.

 Christian leaders must serve with a bend towards the same mercy they have been given by Jesus Christ.
No matter what a child goes through they need a sense of hope towards a better life. They'll remember it as adults because the "bend" of mercy Christ following leaders extend will point them towards the God that loves them and the Savior who came to extend to them the ETERNAL FREEDOM they are really looking for.
Never again will they need to search for freedom because Jesus Christ is it. He is what "FREEDOM" looks like.

In my next blog post I will share the good that God has revealed to me about the trauma I experienced as a separated child and how He was able to make it something beautiful and glorifying for His kingdom. But for now... I will rest and enjoy the freedom of what He has extended to me. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Why would a 13 year-old try to kill herself?

Answer: The same reason I stopped talking to my dad for 18 years. The same reason I went from being a silent, robotic, subservient young girl who obeyed the adults in her life to being a destructive, suicidal, belligerent nightmare who trusted no one.

One word:
I didn't plan for my first YouTube video to be on this bench but I just realized that this seat was in memory of a Ms. Potter.
I believe that at the end of the day every human wants to know:
  • where they belong.
  • why they belong there. 
  • and... to whom do they belong to.
I believe that if you can't answer those three questions within yourself and have it be THE CORE FOUNDATION for how you operate in every day life, then a sense of hopelessness begins to grow VERY DEEP ROOTS within your subconscious until you see no reason to belong anywhere. NOWHERE.
If you belong nowhere, then no one will miss you. You don't matter. Your existence is futile. Death is best.
My first suicide attempt was at 13 years-old. Before that I had only done things to numb the pain of the life that I had received (i.e. pills, alcohol, smoking, cutting, etc..).
I believed that I belonged to my parents and that as long as I belonged there I needed to just survive and keep trying to be available to them when they NEEDED me.

I was very well trained to obey whatever I was told by elders because my parents needed me to be respectfully obedient. No matter what.
I was very well trained to serve and meet the needs of others without ever thinking of my own needs because my needs are really their needs.  
Servants serve. They have no need to receive. I was to have no needs but to be needed. That was my purpose because of who I "believed" I belonged to within the family I was given. They were my parents and I was their kid. My purpose was to obey them because I belonged to them. Right??

I was Wrong!!

Everything that I was very well trained in was not a bad thing because it taught me perseverance and hard work, however;  I was never given nor shown any boundaries that were beneficial to my well-being. I was raised to give and any form of receiving came at a cost. A cost that stripped away my ability to feel.

I believe that I was not given beneficial boundaries because first you need to be SEEN as someone that not only was needed where you were but that you also belonged there.
The purpose of you being somewhere is because you belong there and when you belong there (anywhere) you are then GIVEN a reason to grow and thrive by the ones who SEE your purpose of being there.
That "seeing" of belonging is an affirmation of your place within that group or family. It is then supposed to be acknowledged to the outside world that you belong to this group or family.
It's supposed to show that you have a home. You belong there with them. They are your people.

Unfortunately, I and most kids that are abandoned to the mercy of this world miss out on this sense of belonging. It's a pain filled existence. 

BUT... that's where my hope and faith in Jesus comes in.

Every time I sat down to write this story I couldn't put into words what happened that day without bawling and I would pull back and so... I made it my first YouTube video.

Since it was the day my whole life changed I might as well share it in my own words.
Besides, I was once told that if I can share my story without crying then I have been healed. I WANT TO BE HEALED! I want to speak of my past without ever shedding a tear. I am so close...

"as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand" ~Jeremiah 18:6

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The "Madonna Room"

This Mother's Day I got up early and was preparing to get ready for church as always and for some odd reason something didn't "feel" right. I was doing my usual routine of prepping and I noticed that I had gotten into a habit. My habit (although, not a bad thing) had become -- church.

I was then reminded of my dad and the concern he had for me when I told him that I had converted to Christianity.
His concern was that I would try to fit into what ever church environment that I was a part of and not think for myself on "why" I was there. That I would forget Who I was following instead follow whatever pastor I was listening to. He never wanted me to follow someone or something without thinking about my why. As a professing atheist, he even encouraged me to question his beliefs. And I did.

So today, as a mother and a follower of Jesus Christ, I took my kids on a journey to rediscover my WHY and to teach them to think about their own "WHY" of faith.
Like my dad, I want my kids to think for themselves and have a belief of God that is their own. Not manipulated by me, their father, or their surroundings.

Today I took them to a place where I spent a lot of time at as a teenager trying to understand why I was still alive. I call it the Madonna Room.
There is no longer a sculpture of Madonna and child. It's been removed but I still remember it.

The last time I was here it was when I had just met Paul in 2000 and I wanted him to see the Madonna Room because it was a place where I would go to do my homework or just think. I don't know if I ever prayed in there as a teen because I didn't know who God was but I just loved the view. 

It had been almost 18 years since I had last been in the Madonna Room and it has changed a lot. 
It has been modernized and the statue of Madonna with child is now gone having been replaced by Mary and Jesus. The seating has also been changed from benches to plush chairs. However, no matter what changes they've done, I have always loved the view. It's absolutely beautiful.

If people could only see in this one photo all that I see. It's a view of my life.

As I stood in the Madonna Room looking out into the beauty of all that I had seen before, I couldn't help but see all that God had done in my life and all that He had brought me through. My children rarely ever see me get emotional to the point of tears but as I stood in that room, I was reminded of all the times I would come to that room to do my homework because it was dry and it gave me a safe place to work and think... I couldn't help but cry. The LORD has brought me a LONG WAY.

As I saw my children enjoy the view and take in all that I had seen years earlier as a teenager I could not help but be brought to tears. He has been so faithful to me and I know that He will be faithful to my children because He loves them more than I do. What more does a mother need? 

I don't think I have ever prayed in this Madonna Room but today I did. I thanked God.

 "In the fear of the Lord there is strong confidence,and His children will have a place of refuge." ~Proverbs 14:26

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Dad, are you still an atheist?

Growing up I always knew that my dad didn't like clergy. His references towards them were always negative. I really didn't know why but I do believe that it had something to do with his upbringing and training.

My dad comes from a family line of Navy SEALs and I was told that back in the first days of SEALs they were taught NOT to believe in a god so that it would be easier for them to do their job which usually consisted of killing men, women, and children - no matter their age. 
Without a belief in a god there would be NO conscience moral accountability and their #1 focus would be to complete their mission. Their full allegiance was to the United States.
America was their queen and she was to be fully protected - no matter what.

Now, I don't know if that's what caused him to not believe in a god but at any rate, my dad was very vocal about his atheist belief and his disgust with church leaders.

So, how did he end up with my mom who was a devout catholic committed to her religion??
He rescued her from my first dad who was literally beating her close to death. I've heard stories about how he literally went in and brought her out. Yep, like a badass.

He was her "knight and shining armor"...well almost. More like her boss turned bodyguard husband. Their partnership and marriage was beautifully unique. 
He took it upon himself to protect her and, in exchange, she cared for him and his son. He was a single dad.
And when I was seven years-old he became the man who would raise me in my most formative years (7-14) before leaving home.

"Rina, remember how I raised you! Don't force your god on people!" - Dad
My relationship with my mom's second husband (looking back as I write this) was satirical and to some, unique. My dad was a complex man and I, unknowingly, challenged that complexity.
I was the typical step-daughter that tested his boundaries to see how much this man loved me, yet, hungry for as much approval as I could get to match the approval from my first dad.

As I sit to write this, I can honestly say, he couldn't approve of my ways because he didn't understand me but he absolutely loved me.
He didn't love me in the ways my first dad did but he did love me in his own way and because of that I wanted to share the gospel of Jesus with him. No matter what.

In Janurary of 2015 I got my chance.

As I was scrolling through Facebook I saw that one of my siblings had shared that he was in the hospital and was asking for prayers. I quickly texted her to inquire details and to get their contact information. When I left home, I left everything. So, I didn't have any information about my parents or their whereabouts.
However, that day something deep inside my gut said "Surina, it's time."

Before calling him I asked a team of prayer warriors to pray for me to have an opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus. It was my hope that he had changed his mind about a belief in a possible god and that maybe he could consider Jesus Christ from the Bible.

When I was a young girl I asked him why he didn't go to church and he told me that "there is no god" and if there was one he wouldn't want him because he had done "too many bad things". And if he did go into a church "the walls would crumble."
Now, as a little kid I believed him because he was a man of war...BUT... as I grew up and got to learn more about WHO Jesus was and WHY He came, I knew MY DAD WAS WRONG!
I wanted to let him know that Jesus came for stubborn wayward asses just like him.  
He was the perfect example of WHY Jesus came.

I was really nervous to call my parents because I hadn't spoken to my mom in almost a decade and my dad in almost two decades.
My relationship with my mom was always strained and I was use to it but I expected more from my dad and he failed miserably. He knew it, I told him. He hurt my heart and at eighteen years-old I stopped talking to him.

Over the years I would hear of him being sick, losing body parts or having surgeries and I still wouldn't call him.

One Christmas (a decade into our separation) I sent him a very personal gift and I was told that he cried upon opening it which made me cry and, yet, I still wouldn't call him and he wouldn't call me.
This was our uniquely personal relationship.

I honestly believe that because our relationship was so uniquely personal God was giving me an opportunity to share the gospel with him.

So, with all that was in me... I made the call.

Facebook is like a time capsule of your daily life. Somewhat like a journal. I'm grateful for it.

On my first call my dad was asleep and so I caught up with my mother about his health. It was definitely time for me to call home. He was very sick. I told her that I would try again the next day.

The next day I called and had a conversation with my dad that I will never forget. It was definitely time for me to speak to him. He was refusing all treatments and was willing to suffer the consequences including death.

For 18 years there was silence between us and now we were trying to play catch up. He had so many questions for me.
He didn't know that I had given birth to a daughter and that I had married the father of both my kids.  He asked me if my husband treated me well and I told him that I was safe and was being treated very well. I made him laugh when I emphasized that my husband was "a white man" because as a young angry teen I promised him that I would marry a black man and have black children just to piss him off.
Our relationship was always so sarcastic and hearing him laugh brought back so many memories.

After we stopped laughing I finally got to ask him the one question I had been waiting to ask:

Dad, are you still an atheist?

After a long pause he said,
"Rina, it's complicated but I can't say that a god doesn't exist."
I then shared with him that my family goes to church every week. He asked me if it was Catholic and I told him no, it's nondenominational Christian and that my husband was a Christian and that we were attending his church.

There was a longer pause, so much so that I said "dad?"
And then it came:
"Rina, you can't listen to those preachers. We've talked about this. They lie. All of them........."
As I sat and listened to his list of concerns for my choice and trying to think of a way to defend it, I felt the need to ask him: Dad, have you ever read the Bible?
"Yes, Rina. I've read the whole thing."
Of course, I already assumed he did because my dad was sort of a history buff and so I felt stupid asking the question. But I continued on anyways: So, then you know about Jesus Christ?
"of course."
Dad, who do you think he is?
  "he's one of the great prophets."
So, if you've read the Bible and it says that he is god then what makes you not believe that?
"Rina, the Bible is a book written by men. Moses would be more likely to be god."
Why do you say that?
"You know I've been all over the world. I've lived in both Israel and Egypt. During my operations I saw everything that Moses wrote about up close. I've walked through all the biblical ruins and I've been into areas where the common public doesn't ever get to go. That's why I believe in the Old Testament. I've seen it. What did Jesus ever write about to be seen? Nothing!" 
Dad, Jesus didn't have to write anything because all the writings penned by the Old Testament prophets, including Moses, were about Him. His job was to fulfill ALL that was written about Him. He didn't have to write about all the miraculous healings he performed -- He just did it. And there were witnesses. They all saw His work. The New Testament was the fulfillment of the Old Testament. That's why you can't separate them. If you believe the first portion of the Bible because you saw the writings to be true, then how can you question the validity of the second portion when it's all in one book? It makes no sense.

There was another long pause...
 "I don't know, Rina, I'll have to think about it. But just remember how I raised you. Don't believe anything that anyone says, not even me, but if you end up believing something... you better know WHY."
Dad, that's why I believe that Jesus is God. I know my why. I've read the book from cover to cover and I don't understand it all but I do believe it all.
 "Okay, Rina, he's your God but just remember how I raised you. Don't force your god on other people. Let them choose for themselves." 
As he was talking I heard my mom in the background (who must've been listening to our conversation) say:
"Daddy, it's okay. You know Rina has always done her own thing. So, she's not Catholic. Let her learn."
 And with that a sigh of relief came over us both as we ended our conversation chuckling over the priest that just entered the room and my dad saying:
"love you kiddo but I gotta go. Your mother just brought me a priest."
 So much for choice. LOL!!! 

Acknowledgement of a god is better than denying that any such god exists. Jesus can work with that and in the life of my dad, I believe He did. He had the faith of a mustard seed.
Growing up my dad always told me to question everyone especially religious authority. I don't know if he was even aware that he was actually teaching me one of the most important scripture warnings in the Bible. 1 John 4:1 states:
"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world."

That day I learned something very important -- my dad understood the POWER of a belief system. He knew that whatever a person believed would MOVE them in that direction.

For me, I believe in Jesus and the POWER of His Spirit to MOVE me into His direction.

Thanks for the warning dad! I heard you loud and clear!

Friday, March 2, 2018

My Billy Graham memory

As I sit to write this blog I have the memorial service of Billy Graham playing in the background.
I have so many questions for the Lord but I know that I will get all my answers met as I continue to walk my life out faithfully with Him.
I know this because I have received answers about my life that I couldn't have gotten any other way than by following Him to receive them.

Every time that I was obedient to surrender my ways to His way I received my reward of revelation and each revelation brought healing to that specific area of my life.
That healing was also extended out to my children to help break generational chains of despair.
One link broken from bondage and one step closer to freedom.

As I hear the message and memories of Billy Graham I can't help but remember the first time that I heard his voice.

What was it about this man and his message that DIDN'T capture my dad?

As a young girl, one of my many memories of my dad was always of him watching television and eating his meals in the living room, on the couch, across from the television.
As a family we've never had meals together.

As I'd pass through the living room, I would sometimes stop long enough to see what he was watching. One day I briefly passed by and heard a voice that was, well... different. There was something about that man's voice that stopped me to look. 
When I stopped to look at the television I saw large crowds of people and a man standing on a pulpit shouting something about God.
My dad was a professing atheist and very critical of clergy. To see him watch anyone talk about God without getting mad, was really weird. Movies that talked about God was sorta okay but preachers? Not okay.
When I looked over to my dad, he kinda had a quizzical look on his face. But he wasn't mad.
It was the first and the last time I ever saw this man growing up.

Almost 12 years later, when I was twenty-two, I heard that voice again and recognized the man on television. My boyfriend (whose now my husband) told me his name and shared who he was. His name was Billy Graham and he was a preacher for Jesus.

And that is my first and only childhood "Billy Graham memory". 

  • Did my dad have a change after that day? Not that I saw.
  • Did my dad proclaim Jesus as savior after that day? No.
  • Why? I don't know but I have an idea of why... 

Maybe the message and memory of this man wasn't for my dad but for ME. An 11 year-old girl who seriously needed Jesus.
 In my next blog I will share the first of three conversations that I had with my dad before he died.

By the grace of God, our first conversation after eighteen years of not speaking was about the deity of Jesus Christ and his concern for my choice to be a Christian.

“Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord … that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.” —Revelation 14:13, NKJV

Thursday, February 15, 2018

The power of ONE decent adult

As a young girl and teen I was in trouble a LOT during my schooling years.
I was a walking time bomb. 
Very rarely did I fight with my peers but every adult I encountered I fought with. And THEY FOUGHT BACK.
These adults that were "supposedly" trained to handle kids... couldn't handle me. (And, honestly, as I look back I don't think I was that bad a kid.)

The more detentions, suspensions, and expulsions I received the more I fought, the angrier I got, the more violent I became and guess what??? The angrier the adults got, the more vicious their words were, the rougher they physically handled me and the LESS they were able to teach me anything of value.

With every punishment I received I was also being beaten with meaningless words. All the words that could have been good for me to hear were made WORTHLESS with every syllable uttered by their hypocritical mouth's.
I trusted and listened to NO ONE. 
I pulled them down to my level of communication and they stayed there. These "adults" were no better nor wiser than me but should've been. I grew more cynical from those experiences and laughed at their lack of composure and maturity as the "adults".
As the authority figures they would try to use their "power" but always succumbed to my anger, rendering them the title of a "bully". They eventually disappeared and were replaced with more bullying adults.

Between private schools and public schools almost every nun, priest, teacher, counselor and principle couldn't stand me. They didn't know what to say to me other than to resort to being mad which made it even harder for me to control my anger. 
My ability to feel, hear, and see humane emotions were numbed. 

All my young life I was told how worthless I was and so I saw no need to get better nor did I want to because I didn't see a reason. I had NO HOPE of seeing a better future for myself.

I had nothing to lose in living recklessly while hurting others....... until Mr. Mitchell.
IT ONLY TAKES ONE PERSON TO CHANGE A WHOLE LIFE. You don't need to be "perfect" just decent.

 Mr. Mitchell was my first ever "black" teacher. This was a big deal for me because I was raised in a home where blacks were spoken of in a very derogatory manner. My dad preferred that his kids didn't associate with blacks. He eventually grew out of it in his elder years but as a young girl blacks were off limits and I learned that the hard way.

Anyways, Mr. Mitchell was an older gentleman who was one of my teachers at an alternative school that I had been sent to due to my ever growing destructively, distractive manners. The school was specifically made to house "troubled students".

When I first met him he shared that some students called him "teddy bear" because he was kinda "fluffy" and liked giving out hugs. I thought it was because he looked like a teddy bear since he was always wearing a brown sweater and had brown skin. I was not receptive to his hugs.
I did, however, notice his proactive willingness to help me stay academically on course.

For ninth grade alone I attended four (or five) different high schools in three different states and I was considerably behind.
My family didn't know what to do but shuffle me around until I could stay out of trouble.  

It was the beginning of my sophomore year and I had been caught smoking again on campus by the security guards. I was with a group of other students but for some odd reason I was the only one who got picked on. I won't say that it was because I was the only minority within that group but I was and I decided to mention it to this guard. He ignored me and handed me a detention slip.
In exchange I threw my lit cigarette butt into his vehicle. He then said something about suspension and I upped the ante by not just getting myself expelled but getting my own personal guides off the property in cuffs.

Nothing was new and nothing suprised me, I was in trouble again and I, honestly, didn't care. I would just end up somewhere else with different faces and names. I didn't care.

I had nothing to lose... except for ONE thing.

Before I got cuffed Mr. Mitchell asked my uniformed escorts if he could have a minute to say something to me and they allowed him a short moment and that moment changed something in me.      

He took me out of the room I was being interrogated in and sat me down on a bench. He looked at me and tears welt up and ran down his chubby brown face. He could barely speak but eventually asked if I had acted alone for what I was being accused of because it was impossible for one person to do it alone. I said nothing then stared forward into the courtyard. But at the corner of my eye I saw him remove his glasses, hang his head and heave a sob.

To this day I remember that moment very clearly because it was the first time that I had seen anyone cry for me for getting in trouble. I was use to adults giving me the cold angry stare while I'm being removed. But this was different and new. 

His tears made me question if I had some sort of value. 

To me, tears always cost someone something and it was NEVER insignificant. It always had a value attached to it. 
As a young girl, I had a very emotionally hard mother that I had only seen cry twice and it was so rare to see her show any emotion that I took a mental note of it.

The greater the heartbreak, the greater the tears, the greater the value.

Who cried for this kid? Who showed him that he had value enough that he didn't have to steal tears and souls?

There are so many of us "trouble-makers" out there who society has thrown by the wayside and all we need is ONE DECENT ADULT TO GIVE US HOPE THAT THERE IS A BETTER FUTURE IN STORE FOR US.

But, of course, this is gonna be a political upheaval on gun control or lack there of.

Here is where I stand with gun control:
  • I will always protect the 2nd amendment. If a person really wants to kill someone they will kill someone whether the gun is legally owned or not. They don't need a gun to kill groups of people anyways. They can use a semi-truck to bowl people over. They can stand on a bridge over a freeway and drop large rocks on cars causing multiple crashes. They can use small box-cutters to high-jack planes and crash them into buildings. They can collect groups of people in a building, lock them in and set it on fire. There are so many ways to kill people, how far are we going to go into legislating it??
  • Gun control education and regulations on how guns are propagated for entertainment value should be highly legislated. Kids should not be made to think that pulling a trigger on a video game to kill innocent bystanders is normal and that violent movies where guns are recklessly utilized is normal. In other word, normalizing reckless gun use in entertainment should be heavily regulated.
  • I don't own a gun and I don't believe I ever will because I don't want to ever have to choose that as an option over walking away from a fight. Maybe one day I will own one but not today.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Happy birthday baby girl!

Lord, let the story that you have entrusted me with be a showcase of Your love for us. Let my survival display Your sovereign care. Let no enemy on earth or hell steal what you have given me to share with Your children. May You be glorified with every word that is written.
In the mighty name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

One of the lessons that I've had to learn when I came to grow in my knowledge and relationship with Jesus was that I needed to EMBRACE my past for what it was and push forward towards the future with the knowledge of what I had been given, all while being obedient to surrender to His call on my life to share my journey with Him.
It's a tall order but God has been faithful to light up the path He has ordained for me to walk and He has been very present.
In the beginning...
My birth parents named me Natalia. Today my name is Surina. 

The journey between those two names is 5 other names and exactly 39 years of struggling to discover:
  • who I was
  • where I came from
  • who I belonged to
  • why was I born
 I have discovered throughout my journey that sometimes the truth is, unfortunately, more painful than the lie I was told about my beginning.
However, I choose to except that pain because I know that God's got a reason for it.
In 2006, I met my biological mother and she gave me this picture of me. I want to love this baby girl well.

When I was almost twelve my mother sat me down at the kitchen table to tell me that we were going to be moving again and that before our next move she needed to share with me her version of my adoption.
She felt that it was important for me to know since we were moving to a place where my presence would stir up gossip. She wanted me to be prepared.
Well, she was right to warn me. Unfortunately, her version was not all truthful.

At that kitchen table my mother delivered to me a story so incredible that it's no wonder that I worshiped her for many years. To this day I love my mother dearly but the story I was told robbed me of any worth that I could have had as a twelve year-old girl. It has taken a lot of years to restore in me a sense of TRUE worth.

Story #1: The version I heard as a child.
Once upon a time there was a teenage girl skipping school and she came across a baby sitting near a pile of garbage. That baby was me. 
I was found with scabs covering my body and only wearing a diaper and I was holding a bottle of rotten milk. I was old enough to sit up but not move.
The girl didn't see anyone around and decided to stand from afar to see if anyone would come for me. As the day was closing towards night, the girl decided to take the abandoned baby home with her. When she brought the baby home to her parents the parents decided to call the police to see if someone had reported a missing baby. There was no report of a missing baby.
The girl's parents then asked the police if they could keep me until they found my real parents.
A week went by and they finally found my biological mother. When they tried to return me to her she did not want me back. My mother was a prostitute who could not care for me.
When the girl's parents were told that she had declined my return, they decided that they wanted to adopt me.
When my biological mother heard that this couple wanted to keep me she became greedy and decided to make a deal with them. She would make the adoption process easy for them if they bought her a travel ticket and a carton of cigarettes.
The couple made the deal with her but then they found out that I had a "very loving" biological father who would refuse to sign the papers but they gave him money too and that was it... the adoption was made.   
However, when my biological mother saw that I was growing healthy and beautiful she decided to kidnap me to sell me to a different family. She was found and beaten and I was returned back to my new family. 

In conclusion, I was rescued from a life of poverty and my hero was my new mother.
The End.

For two decades I lived believing this story and it always became the justification for why I didn't fight when I was repeatedly abused. I was made to believe that I deserved everything evil that came my way because of who my parents were and the conditions of how I was found. I was garbage and no one wanted me. The daughter of a prostitute who traded me for a carton of cigarettes and a ticket to leave town.

I was a curse.

It has taken a decade for God to slowly reveal to me the TRUTH of what really happened and who He intended me to be.

I strive to be a better human being. :)

Story #2: The version I've discovered thus far...
 Once upon a time there was a baby born to a couple who were having marital problems. That baby was me. I was their second child of three girls.
One day the wife was so overwhelmed by the stress of motherhood and her cheating husband that she gave his favorite child away without his permission.
The father became so distraught that he threatened to divorce her if she didn't get me back.
When she tried to get me back her request was denied. In her desperation she resorted to kidnapping. She was found and beaten and I was returned back to my adopted family.   
The defeated mother went on to divorce her husband and abandon her other two daughters. 

Isn't it amazing what ONE HUMAN BABY can do before their first birthday??

1.      Yes, I was found but not in a pile of garbage. I was left on a bench near a stop sign at a farmer's market.
2.      No, my mother was NEVER a prostitute. She was a lesbian, which was worse to my Catholic mother.
3.      Yes, there was a trade of material and monetary value but it's inconclusive what that was. Cigarettes was definitely a part of the trade.
4.      No, my biological father was not "loving". He was a womanizer.
5.      And.... my biggest discovery was that both my mothers were childhood friends. They've know each other all their lives. They are very distant relatives.

The reason it was difficult for my biological mother to regain custody of me was because I was adopted into the most affluent group in our culture and when they wanted something (baby or not) they got it. Power took priority. 

When I look back at my life and the people who had a hand at molding me into the person I am today I can not help but look at both of my mothers and their journeys. Their story and pain weighs heavy on my heart. 
Sometimes I ask myself "Lord, was there no other way for them?"
I can't help but wonder how different their lives would have been had they both had husbands who loved them. Instead they were abused by the men who promised to love them and whose children they carried. 
They were made to fight battles for their children that they should never have fought.
I have been BLESSED.
I don't look back at my story anymore and see an abandoned baby or a young life riddled with abuse.

I look back and ask myself:
  • How can I make sure that what happened to me never happens again?
  • How do I make sure that a woman is NEVER so overwhelmed by motherhood that she throws that baby away??
  • How do I make sure that abandoned children understand their value as a human being when their own parents tell them that they're a worthless mistake??
The ONLY answer I got is JESUS CHRIST.

He showed me that I was born for a purpose and with a plan that ONLY HE can unveil.

He is my Hope and why I share my story. 

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity" ~ Jeremiah 29:11-14