My Testimony

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I wrote this while I was living in the shelter shortly after leaving the hospital I had stayed at for 28 days for my depression. I wrote it with the intention of reading it to my church congragation. I have changed the names in this version to protect people identity.

Testimony

Why does God put us through difficult trials? Why does God put us through times that make us feels like we wont get through something that seem so unbearable, both emotionally and physically. Wounds that cut so deep that we truly believe that we won’t make it to the next day. That you just want to run away and pretend nothing happened. Or wish that there was a rewind button so you wouldn’t have had gone through it at all, or done the things we had done and later regretted. Made some of us just simply want to end it all.
A lot of you guys here in the congregation have known me off and on through out my entire life. When I was a toddler and attended with my parents, my sister and my four much older brothers. Some more of you remember me from when I returned as a rebellious teenager to Spokane and attended with my brother Ron, his wife Hormioney , my sister, Meradith, and their growing family of now two beautiful girls. Or even more recently, Me, with my two handsome and rambunctious little boys, sitting with Jack and Jill with  their now rapidly growing grand children playing and learning about the love of God there in the back pews.
This question. “WHY”, has been a question I have been asking myself, and through both prayer and anger, God. I am by no means the model christen who lives and follows all of his rules, I have sinned A LOT, but  I have always known about God, and I have always know that he was up there, with some grand plan for me. That was my only explanation for all the trials I have put myself through, and in my own twisted way my only comfort, for these series of events some not in my control, like my father passing away with brain cancer, not talking to him for years out of both anger and confusion, but being blessed with seeing him one last time a week before he passed to say how sorry I was and that I loved him. My sister Serenity going back into foster care, never to be seen again when my mother chose a life of Alcohol and drugs, to getting clean and accepting the help from my then somewhat grown brothers. My sister Meradith and me, having to then be raised by my young adult brothers, suddenly dumped with the task of two very broken 8 and 9 year old little girls. Why would he do this?  Then their where my own foolish choices, being a VERY stubborn, emotionally broken girl, never listening to my brothers and their wives, never arguing, but not doing my chores, homework, showering on a regular basis, the list goes on for all the things I put my family through, subconsciously testing them I believe, to see if they would give up on me like I felt my mother and father had. Or, if they would love me unconditionally. As a result, I had lived with three of my four brothers in my school years, lived one year during the school  week with the Smiths, weekends with my brother, where I excelled, but was given the ultimatum of staying with my sister and brother when they moved to Ellensburg for work. Even though we fought more then got along, but not wanting to be separated for my only sibling who I KNEW loved me despite all of our bickering, my sister, who had been with me through my entire life up till that point, I chose Ellensburg, over the love and acceptance I felt from both Mr. and Mrs. Smith
Even though I had gone through all this in my life, I still believe and loved God. Admittedly, I only prayed to him when I needed or wanted things, like for a guy to like me, a girl to stop picking on me, and at this point of my life, I never had a conversation with God. I never prayed to him for what I was thankful for. Like I did as a child, I knew he was there, and still tried to treat others as I would like to be treated, still believed that he had some sort off grand plan for me even if I didn’t know it. But, it wasn’t until I was in my  Sophmore year of high school, my brother Ron and his wife Hormioney had, after years of trying to get me to listen, and me, just all together ignoring them, given up on me and my other brother and his wife Romeo and Juliet had decided to take me in. Not having my sister in the same room with me, someone I had shared a room with my entire life, feeling like I could do nothing right, unloved, I had been living with Romeo and Juliet for a few years by this point. In the efforts to try and help me, they had sent me to spend one summer with Juliet’s parents, her mother being the kind of women who tends to take in stray children anyways, and 9 times out of 10 they become the model live in maid, none rebellious broken girl I was, but since I just felt even more like I was shipped off to yet another home, even more unwanted, it had the opposite effect. Keep in mind I was in high school at the point when I REALLY seeked out God,  so being liked by guys was very important at this point of my life, but no guys seemed to, not like my gal friends. I had plenty of guy friends, but never any boyfriend. I felt alone. I felt like an unwanted burden to my family, unattractive, and unloved and not accepted for me being myself. Being me. My grandfather had passed away from liver failure and my grandmother, who I had been very close to as a very little girl, had also committed suicide a year following his death, and this form of escape had planted a seed in my mind, become a very real form of escape for me. The only thing stopping me was the thought of my family thinking I was selfish for taking that route out. So, late one night, I prayed. For nearly an hour, tears streaming down my face, I got down on my hands and knees and prayed to the lord that he would bring someone into my life that would love me, accept me for me. With all of my faults and all.  A few short months later I meet Tom. He was my coworker at Arbys and we quickly fell for each other.  Few weeks later my brother kicked me out, and Tom and his family graciously accepted me into their home for as long as I needed. Driving me 30 minutes every day into town to continue high school, and a few weeks after that, he and I got a two bedroom with his best friend, and for a year it  was  great, but all great things must come to an end, even “First loves” . Even though I do not advise this to ANY ONE , I can not say that I regret these very foolish actions, because every single moment up till then, my family being for all intents and purposes a foster care, all the schools I had gone to (11 before the 4th grade) my mother abandoning my sisters and I, feeling like I had  no one but myself to depend on, loosing my sister Serenity , all of these terrible moments, these trials, led me and PREPAIRED ME for the best moment of my life. The birth of my son T.J. THIS BEAUTIFUL boy was why I had been tossed house to house, helping my brothers to raise their children. THIS precious gift was the person who would always love me, who would never give up on me. I knew I would NEVER give up on him. This wondrous child wasn’t the direction I had wanted my life to go in, not by any means, my original plan up till finding out I was pregnant to finish high school, get a degree at collage, find a man, get married, THEN start a family. But we all know that God always has other plans.  He, T.J. and through him, God, literally saved me from another path of destruction as well. All of my “friends” at this point in my life where beginning to experiment with drugs and drink excessive amounts of alcohol.  Shoplifting. They were beginning to create a competition of one night stands, three of my close friends becoming pregnant around the same time, two aborting, and one giving her child up for an adoption. The list goes on with what my once innocent middle school friends, that where now becoming the kind of people, that if I had not Tom to occupy me, and then T.J., I would have undoubtedly put my son down the same path my mother and father had put myself, my brothers and sisters through. A life I desperately did NOT want for my children. So, deciding to provide a better life, complete opposite of the life I had had, I decided to move my son and I here to Spokane. I moved back in with my brother Romeo and Juliet, they deciding to give me a second chance, and as a result, rekindled old friendships with Jack and Jill and the Smith’s. Moving to Spokane also ment another very import part in my decision. It brought me back to my home church. Church of God 7th Day. My life was still far from perfect, and I was definitely still far from the perfect Christian, I had joined the FYC for a short period of time as well, but after reading half way through a novel we would studying, got scared due to my decisions up till that moment, afraid of going to hell, I felt out of place. Every one around me was still children, and I felt years older, a single mother of a little baby, every one who knew me from before with Hormione and Ron still welcomed me with open arms, it both felt like I was coming back home and like I was out  of place. The ONLY place I felt truly welcome, and the only place that my son seem at his happiest, was at Jack and Jill’s “The Tucker’s “. They had been close with Hormionie and Ron, and the Smith’s, so I knew they actually KNEW me and all my faults, well most of them at least. They accepted my son with open arms and T.J. took to them instantly, never happy with my own family that I had had watch him while I was at work.  It wasn’t planned, it definitely wasn’t intentionally by any means, but slowly,  through the years, my family had began to talk less to me and I them, and I began to feel like the Tucker’s where more of a family to me then my own family had ever been to me. I began to feel loved for me, I knew I had my son T.J.’s unconditional love, and I love him more then I love anyone else, but I was beginning to feel WANTED again. Loved again, the furthest thing from a burden. Once T.J. began to speak, we naturally began referring to Jack and Jill as Papa and Grandma Jill. And they T.J. as their grandson. They and their children invited me to family events, birthdays, weddings, holidays, events that my own family would not. It felt amazing. It wasn’t what I had meant when I had prayed to God those years ago, but it was an answer to my prayer none the less.
I still suffered from depression though. I still felt like something was missing in my life. Trying to fill this gap, I started dating. Then, I met Peter. Definitely not the best guy I could have settled with, but he understood and was ok with me having T.J.. He had a stable job, didn’t drink, smoke or do any drugs, wasn’t a party animal, and even though I still allowed him to emotionally mess me up even more by cheating on me with his own ex girlfriend who he had a child with before we had met and moved in together, sleeping with her on a somewhat regular basis, she texting me and further emotionally wounding me, I still stayed and lived with him. Telling myself it was because I wanted to keep a roof over my sons head, didn’t want to move in with yet another crazy random roommate from Craigslist. That it was only temporary until I finished school, until I could afford a place of my own. I made sure to be on birth control to try and prevent being forever attached  to him, to not be forever stuck in this nightmare I had gotten myself into, yet again, focusing on my only  bright moments, seeing my son smile, learn how to walk, talk, learn, giggle. My life literally evolved around him and me makeing a better life for him. Then, right when I thought I was getting my life back on track. I saw two pink lines on a thin white stick, and my heart dropped. WHY GOD! Why now? Why give me a child to this man who did not truly love me, or me him, WHY! WHY make it so I would forever have this man I was growing to despise, forever in my life. To always make me feel insignificant? To always make me insecure about how unbeautiful I am? WHY?!? I was already struggling just supporting my one 2 and a half year old, and now he was expecting me to raise two? My family was already hardly talking to me after the one, what would they think now that I had TWO boys? The  Tucker’s accepted me and T.J., and I knew where also not pleased in my choices in staying and living with Peter, but how would they feel when I told them I was pregnant AGAIN. Would they do the same thing as my own family and stop talking to me, stop loving me like I felt my own family had? The ONLY positive I could think from this was that my son T.J. would have a sibling. Someone to grow up with and always at his side, no matter what like I had with my sister Meradith as a child.
Once it was revealed to my family, they all pressured me into putting my child up for adoption, in order to provide a better life for my current child T.J.. To choose T.J. over my new growing one. , a man who’s opinion I also highly respected, more then my brothers, shared this opinion. So, I did it, with the help of Cathy, Hormionie’s mom and Jill, who was the ONLY one who said she would stand by any decision I made, with these two women, I met with an adoption agency, I chose a family, and went nearly all the way of signing away my rights to being my childs mother. And my family, the family who had rarely talked with me, was suddenly messaging me saying how proud of my decision to go through with this. In the back of my mind though, the thought of suicide was dancing in my mind, T.J.s father had grown to be a amazing man, a great father, was married to an equally great women who loved T.J. as her own, was also pregnant with her own child one week behind me, so, in my mind, I pictured myself giving birth to this child, give him to an amazing family who couldn’t have one of their own, and have T.j. be raised by his equally amazing step mom and father. To then end my life so that I would no longer feel this pain, this misery I was going through.  But, my child’s father Peter, would not agree to giving him up for adoption. It was not even a possibility to him. He refused to. And to be honest, I was thankful for this. I knew if he had, I would have given yet another gift from God to a family who financially would have been able to take better care of him, and despite the fact that he had also gotten his other childs mother pregnant as well, or so they both believed, I still wanted this baby. And I am forever grateful I didn’t. X.k.p to this day fills my life with even more happiness then I could have ever imagined. He was the nudge I needed to move out of that  toxic household and into my best friend and coworker Maries, who coincidently also had a roommate abandon her with a rent she could not afford on her own, making it the perfect timing for me. It was truly yet another blessing a blessing in disguise.
Unfortionatly, Marie and I make GREAT friends, and still remain best friends to this day, but, TERRIBLE long term roomates. We lasted for almost a year and a half before I finally found a place of my own, a place for just me and my boys. I had my own craft room, my boys where healthy and happy. I KNEW despite all my other faults, I was a great mother. I felt it was the ONLY thing I really had going for me. I still felt insecurer about myself, my looks, my body, I knew my sons knew they where unconditionally loved. That I would do ANYTHING for them. I knew my boys knew they where wanted. And I did everything to make sure they where achademically on track, where emotionally stable. TRIED to stuff all the food I could into them. And, I admittedly spoiled them with toys.
I was getting on track as well, despite all the hurdles I had to over come. I had a great job I loves that provided me with enough money to make all my bills AND have a little extra for clothes and other bare necessities. I had a reliable vehicle, I was getting everything settled and figured out with T.J., who was now needing to attend a program called “Best” at sacred Heart in order to find out why he was struggling so much at school and daycare, but be a typical 5 year old at home or places he was comfortable at or had know his entire life. In the middle of this 6 week program, I lost the job I loved so much, having missed too much work from T.J. previous suspensions and being sent home early from daycare/school, and now having to miss a lot of work to attend all the counceling sessions, parenting classes, team meetings, ect. But, I powered through it. I got his diagnosis, changed my life and routine to better accomadate T.J.s needs, was attending weekly counceling and occupational therepy sessions to give T.J. the tools and skills needed to over come and deal with his needs. Needs that I believe he inharited from me, but never had the support system, was never long enough at the same school, to get it diagnosed instead having to cope with everything all on my own. To this day, I can’t stop thanking God for T.J. I know that I was blessed to be his mother because I would be able to understand him better than anyone else, because I have the same issues. He knew that I would be able to notice his needs at an early stage and would be active in trying to figure out WHAT was happening in his bright mind, that I would do everything in my power to help him succeed in life. And I did.
Then, shortly after getting everything figured out. Getting him into thereapy, counceling, fighting with his Elementry school to get his needs accommodated, I felt like I was doiong evething I should to provide and love my sons.  Then, all in one week, my life came crashing around me.  I had a F.A.R. case opened against me (a step  down from cps) I had an eviction notice, my car was repossed with my wallet inside, I had no phone, EVERYTHING I had tried so hard to put in place to provide for my boys where suddenly gone. And I was tired. Emotionally, physically, and spiritually. It felt like God had given up on me. I was tired. Tired of my constant fights and inner struggles. Never ending ever since I was a young girl. Loosing my sisters, feeling like my family had disowned me, feeling like a disappointment and a burden to everyone involved, including the Stranburgs, I was tired. I just wanted to give up.  And I gave up on myself.
I gave up. I made plans. I had my sons fathers pick up my boys, told them the bare minimum, that I was evicted, lost my car, had no money, that I needed two weeks to pack up, find a new place and move into said new place. And since it was mid December, almost winter break T.J. wouldn’t miss any school. Then once they where both gone and safe with their fathers, I had planned to commit suicide.
Then God stepped in. My and T.J.’s counselor surprised me at my door, saw through my guise of saying “I was ok” even though inside, I had given up and was ready to step into the warm tub and end my life. I’d never been open up to anyone about my inner turmoil to anyone but Emily, my counselor, not even to who I now considered my mother and father, Jack and Jill, instead 90% of my conversations where about my boys, the other 10% just the struggles I was going through, but not how I truly felt. How I felt like a burden to the world. That T.J. would be better with his father. How my family didn’t love nor want me and how much that broke my heart, a wound that I taught myself to bear, but never truly really ever healed. How I feel like I would always be alone, a single mother for the rest of my life, always that I will either cause my children to have bonding/relationship issues in their life when they grew up because of break ups, fear that no man would really love me because of how broken I am or my children as more then nesciences that came with the package, all these fears, all these trials, and I was just TIRED. So, Emily, knowing me, knowing my bond with the Tucker’s, called them and told them the situation, they then rushed to my apartment, and they convinced me to continue fighting, to check myself into the hospital to get the help I needed.

To me this was scary. I was not use to sleeping alone. It was too quiet. I was use to having my pup Luna always at my side. I was use to having one if not both boys following me at my heals and needing me to take care of them for one reason or another. I was use to constant snuggles, laughter, car sound effects, constant tiny bundles of joy in my life every day. And suddenly, my boys and my Luna where gone. Instead I was surrounded with nurses and techs telling me when to eat and sleep, I was either surrounded by silence in my room, or someone screaming or crying in the hall for one reason or another. They themselves going through their own inner battles. Again, I found myself asking “WHY! Why God? Why would you not let me end this battle once and for all. Why would you not let me go? Why did you bring me to this place?” people where telling me to stop worrying about my children, the previous center of my world, and focus on myself, on getting better. Yet another impossible act. How was I supposed to do this, when aside from me not having my suicidal thoughts, my depression, I did not have anything to work on? I wasn’t an alcoholic, I wasn’t a drug addict. I just didn’t know how to do what they where asking me to do, no matter how desperately I wanted to get better. It was beyond me.
Then, at one of the craft sessions, they gave us a composition note book and a folder to decorate, they didn’t really tell us what to use these items for, but there was nothing else to do, so I joined in. Then, that night I began writing. I began writing about my past. Without meaning to,  I began to novel about my entire life. It was very therapeutic, starting where all novels do, in the beginning, my childhood, I remembered how despite all of the negative things that had happened in my life, I had also a lot of good. I remembered how me and my brother Romeo  used be inseperatable, I remembered all the fun things Hormione  had done with my sister and I, hikes at Bowl and Pitcher, a family trip to Disneyland, a two week road trip to North Dakota, I remembered all the fun times I had with Mr. Smith, our trips to the movies at the North town mall, stopping at taco bell before hand, late night trips to Zips for an ice cream and a few games of 21, all of our game nights with the Pollocks, Smiths, and Tucker boys. I remembered not only all the people God had taken from my life, but also brought INTO my life, the people who had shaped me into the person I am today. All my friends and family that may not be in my life now, but at least I had the chance to know them. And most importantly, the people who are still to this day, by my side. Who came to visit me on a regular basis while in my hour of need. Hormione with my sister Meradith,  Mrs. Smith (occasionally with Luna), my best friend Marie, my boss of Six years now, and owner of Pizza Rita, but mostly, my TRUE family and parents. Jack and Jill.
That wouldn’t be the last time God would make a revolation to me either while in the Hospital. As you can probably imagine, the mental stabilization hospital is full of a variety of very colorful people. People who are coming down from hard street drugs, and as a result of years of it, now talk to themselves, people who are recovering alcoholics and lost their children and where just depressed and trying to make it through to next day. People who think they are able to speak to the spiritual world. People who think, they have come back to life 6 times, and if they were to die one more final time, the entire world would burst into flames. Some of these people cracked me up, (which I was always able to keep to myself and not laugh at them in their face) some irked me, some I hung out with and heard their stories to both kill time, but also, to try and help them. I discovered, that by helping others, like I had as a child in elementary school and there was a special need boy who was always picked on, so I befriended, like the random acts of kindness I would do with my son on Wednesdays with T.J., like all the times I had helped my coworkers at work, I discovered that by helping them, that I myself was feeling better too.
There was one boy. Jacob, but preferred to go by Adam, every meal, he would pray  to himself, bowing his head, palms pressed together and vertical, then would do a cross on his chest. It was a sight I was used to doing as a child, aloud and with my family as a group, at church, with the Tuckers, or at night with my child. But here was a boy in a mans body, extremely depressed, and still was thankful to God. It amazed me. Another day, a catholic raised teenager sat with us and asked if he could pray with Adam, yet another wonder to me. One man who I somewhat became close to, knowing I had gone to church off and on my entire life, began asking me questions about God, why he would do these things to happen to him. Why he would allow his entire family die, let his daughter be taken away from him, why this was all happening to him. And to be honest, I don’t really remember all that I told him. I did give him my own person experiences though. Told him that, even though I had not talked to my father for years as a child, in the end, I did eventually forgive him and even though I didn’t talk to him, I did still love him. I told him to write letters to his daughter, I told him my beliefs, some stories of the bible that I knew from my childhood and reading the bible myself, that God doesn’t give us more then we can handle. That God has some sort of ultimate plan for all of us.  The next day, he had a friend bring him in a bible, and that day forward, I never saw him without it, and he began spouting out verses to others to bring them up. A man who had never really known God before, wasn’t raised to love him, had more faith in him then I did. Someone who had always trusted in him up till then. This was when I called up Pastor Brian. And then he started meeting with me on a weekly basis. His second visit, he brought me a few books, daily devotionals, notepads, and some pens (wasn’t allowed those though lol) From that day forward, I began reading “Steams in a Desert”, for those of you who haven’t read it, I highly recommend it. It has worked wonders on me spiritually. It has been a major contributor to why I am up here today in fact. Every night, I would read that days devotional, write about what that passage meant to me, then further my own self therapy and journal about my day. This book, gave me a reason beyond my children to live. Gave me the answer I was looking for. The answer that others where telling me to seek out.
Isaiah 40:1 “Comfort, Comfort my People, says your God”
Store up comfort. This was the prophet isaiash’s mission. The world is full ofhurting and comfortess hearts. But before you ill be competent for this lofty miinisrty, you must be trained and your training is extremely costly. For to make it complete, you too must endure the same afflictions that arer wringing countless hearts of tears and blood. Consequently, your own life becomes the hospital ward whre you are thaught the divine art of comfort. You will be wounded so that in the binding up of your wounds by the great physitian, you may learn how to render first aid to the wounded everywhere. Do you wonder why you are having to experience some great sorrow? Over the next ten years you will find many others afflicted in the same way. You will tell them how your suffered and where comforted. As the story unfolds, God Will apply the anesthetic he once used on you to them. Then in the eager look followed by the gleam of hope that chases the shadow of despair from the soul, you will know why you where afflicted. AND YOU WILL BLESS God for the discipline that filled your life such a treasure of experience and hopefulness.

This. THIS was why God was and had put me through all these trials. THIS was why I had a broken family, So I could help Courtney and his relationship with both God and his daughter. This was why I was in a toxic relationship with Peter, X.K.P.’s father, so I could help my future roommate at the Union Gospel Mission who was also in a Toxic relationship, if not worse. THIS was why my children have been removed from my custody, be it temporarily or long term, on the ground that I had neglected them and was a danger to them being in my care because of my mental health. THIS was why, So that I could help future men or women who would be in my situation, would go through the torment I had. This was why God had given me a selfless heart, the need to take care of other before myself, even if that was considered unhealthy by some. THIS was why I was given the gift of compassion and empathy. The ability to not judge others. THIS was why I was given my childhood, so I could take care of my son T.J. the way he needed, when others thought he was just being a spoiled brat. Why, even though he is no longer in my care, he is having said needs met.
Once I was stable, no longer suicidal, arrived to the Union Gospel Mission, started helping others like I would my own children, doing what I think has put me here to do, as well as do EVERYTHING I can to get my children legally, I made another observation, another thought dawned on me. That no matter how many people have come in and out of my life, no matter what has happened in the past, that no matter what, this church, Church of God 7th Day, and all of its followers and attendee’s that have known me since I was a baby, saw me get babthatized by Paster Brian Palmer, Right here behind me in this bath behind me with my sister Meradith, has ALWAYS been here. Has ALWAYS accepted me. This church has always protected me. Always loved me and my children. This church has given and introduced me to my family, the Tucker’s. And I just want to thank you. If it was not for you, for your continual love and support, I probably would not be here today. I wouldn’t have the strength to help others who are walking through the same path I had. I wouldn’t have the faith that I do, that my children will go where God thinks is best for them. Wrather that be with me or their fathers.

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