Monday, July 15, 2013

MY TESTIMONY

A few people have shown an interest in hearing my testimony.  So here it is.  I have already prayed that God would use my testimony to help others.  I have prayed that he will let me be as honest as possible, and not let shame or guilt keep me from keeping it real.  So here it goes.  I was born Sept. 16, 1985 in Brawley, CA.  I have one sister who I know and one brother, I have never met.  He was adopted before I was even born, so it’s very unlikely that he even knows I exist. My sister, Tasha, is my half-sister, same mom different dad.  She is an amazing big sis, and I am thankful for her.  One year after I was born, me and my sister were taken by CPS.  The CPS report stated that they had received a call from someone saying that two little girls were hungry and alone.  I guess my sister had gone next door and asked a neighbor for two sandwiches for her and her sister.  We had been left for a week.  I was covered in feces and when I was taken to our first foster home, in Palermo. I was soaked in a tub for hours to loosen the feces off of me enough so that it wouldn't peel my skin.  We were only in that foster home for a short time.  Then we went to a new one.  We were there until I was 3 and a half years old.  We thought that we were going to end up living there forever, since they showed interest in adopting us.  My biological mom had already basically realized that she was unable to care for us the way another family would be able to.  She tried, she got a job, and did her best but her best wasn't enough.  She had had struggles in her life as a child, and she had some drug and alcohol issues.  She finally consented for us to be adopted, and didn't need permission from my bio dad seeing that he wasn't even on the birth certificate and she had left him already.  When I was 3, we started getting visits from a couple that was interested in adopting us.  It was kind of confusing for us because we thought the family we were living with was going to adopt us but after a while we found out that this new couple was going to be our new mom and dad.  We then moved to Yuba City and moved in to a nice house with our new family.  I would like to say that we all lived happily ever after, but that was not so.  After we had gotten adopted, they noticed strange behaviors in me which caused suspicion that I had been molested in the foster family I had been in before my adoption.  I couldn’t remember anything, but I did notice that my sister who was older than me was angry with them and so I assumed that meant it was true.  After being adopted things didn't go very well.  I had a hard time attaching to my new mom. So we struggled for years to get along.  I felt unloved and unwanted, and there was nothing anyone could say or do to change the way I felt.  They raised me well; I was raised in church and was taught everything.  I had good grades in school but I would get in trouble for crazy behaviors.  I was a mess.  My mom and dad started sending me away to group homes.  This only made me feel even more unloved and unwanted, but the crazy thing is I was acting like someone unlovable and made it very difficult for my mom and dad.  I would be great at group homes, a little angel, and nobody could understand what was wrong with my parents and why they were so unhappy with me.   It was also mixed with other things.  I didn’t want to get close to my mom because I figured one day my biological mom would be coming back for me.  I felt like I would be betraying her if I liked my new mom.  Later on I found out that my biological mom had passed away at the age of 37.  She had died in 1997.  I basically was making myself miserable by hoping she would have returned.  When I was 16 my mom and dad sent me away to Sacramento Job Corps, well, I ran away and moved in with a friend.  From there I met a guy and got pregnant.  I found out I was pregnant the day after my 17th birthday.  I decided I wanted to get married, and my mom and dad signed consent.  I was now an emancipated minor.  This made it kind of difficult for me to go on with my education, so I decided to get my GED, after I got that I decided to go a step further and get my High School Diploma.  I graduated in 2003 from Albert Powell Independent Studies with straight A’s.  My son was at my graduation.  A few months later I got pregnant again and had another son.  My marriage had fallen apart, and my ex-husband served me with divorce papers, a move out order and a restraining order.  I had to leave without my boys.  At first I had thought about moving in to the apartment my parents had put a deposit on for us.  You see my ex-husband and I thought that if we just moved we could get a fresh start and everything would be better, so we had applied for an apartment and my parents put down the deposit.  So, I called the apartment manager and told her that my husband and I had separated but that me and a friend were interested in being roommates and living there.  She told me that my ex-husband had already picked up the deposit.  (My parents took him to court and got their money back.) Well, now I didn’t have anywhere to go and it took a while to convince my parents to let me move back in, they were very disappointed seeing that divorce is not what God wants.  I moved in with my mom and dad and got a job, I also got a car, and joint custody of my boys.  My mom and sister would watch the boys so that I could go to work.  I thought that by getting a job, and a car my ex-husband might want me back, but one day soon after I found out that he already had a new woman in his life.  I was devastated.  I started drinking and soon learned the numbing effects of alcohol.  I would drink to go to divorce court so that I could make it through.  The pain was unbearable.  I started smoking marijuana and slowly but surely lost control of my life.  I lost custody of my boys, and was only allowed to have supervised visits.  One week I showed up and the lady in charge had let me know that my ex-husband had switched days and so now I had missed a visit.  This did not look good on me, and I gave up, I couldn’t keep it together anymore.  I couldn’t even go to court.  I was scared and so unhappy with my life.  I attempted suicide and started getting extremely depressed.  There is no feeling like being away from your own children.  It was my own fault; I had turned to drugs and alcohol.  I started dating men to make me feel better, and started stealing.  One day I took my mom and dad’s credit card and planned on only taking out 20, but then realized I wouldn’t be able to put it back in my mom’s wallet before she noticed.  So I figured since I was in trouble already I would go shopping.  I was terrified but I turned it into a joke, and smoked lots of weed so I could make it funny and not feel guilty.  I was told by my little group of friends that if I spent less than 500 it was a petty theft and I wouldn’t get in much trouble.  Well, I didn’t know yet, or pay attention to the fact that there would be fees every time I withdrew and I went over $500.  Now I was looking at a felony.  I didn’t go back home and so I was sleeping in my car.  When I realized it was going to be a felony I took off to San Francisco with my then boyfriend.  I went and stayed a night in a hotel and handed out 100 dollar bills to the homeless.  I tried to make the most of it all, it showed the limit on that card as being about 1500, so I spent it all.  While I was in San Fran I had gotten a parking ticket which only helped them prove that I had stolen the card.  My parents I guess didn’t know it was me and they called the police and all of that.  I ended up eventually getting arrested.  I knew I had a warrant but I ran, which made it impossible to go to court for my boys for sure.  I ended up getting arrested and convinced my sister to help bail me out.  So I got out and was put on probation.  I had to meet up with them once a month.  Well I didn’t make it, so I was put in jail and did some time. I was then released and continued to not be able to stay sober and so I ended up doing about a year off and on in county jail.  I stayed sober for about 5 months and then I went back out.  I started drinking which encouraged my then sober boyfriend to drink too.  He was a jerk when he was drunk and would treat me horribly.  I wasn’t capable of being a good girlfriend which just made matters worse.  We were extremely dysfunctional.  One day the cops got called out because my then boyfriend had gone crazy and destroyed everything in our house there was glass everywhere.  Next thing I knew there was my probation officers standing over me.  I had lied and told them I had only drank one beer which they later found out was a lie and I was arrested.  I was given the opportunity to either go to prison or Teen Challenge.  I went to prison.  I figure that way I would be out sooner and be able to go back to my boyfriend and drink as much as I wanted because you can drink on parole.  So I went to Valley State Prison For Women.  I received 16 months and since I had already done about a year in county for the same case I only did about 2 months in prison.  My boyfriend wrote me every day.  I got out and went back to him and I drank.  I got off parole 18 months later.  I then drank more, I started liking whiskey.  I was a mess.  I could keep going on in detail but I would really like to fast forward through all of this part.  We got evicted, moved and a couple days later I ended up finding me and my boyfriend’s roommate dead and was traumatized so I drank more to cover that up.  I pretty much could not stay sober because I couldn’t stand my reality.  My boyfriend had started doing meth and was violent and angry.  I had left him and came back so many times.  He could no longer trust me and yet we still loved each other, but mistreated each other.   Eventually I just called the cops on him and he was arrested.  I served him with a move out order and restraining order.  Instead of taking this as an opportunity to get help, I took it as an opportunity to screw up more.  I turned to hard drugs now, I tried meth, boy oh boy that stuff is no good.  I got in a horrible relationship worse than the one before, I was beat and cheated on constantly, I stayed with the guy so that I could get drunk and high and have somewhere to live.  I drank so much hard alcohol to where if I went more than a couple hours without it I would shake from DTs.  I would feel up a water bottle with Bacardi Superior because it was clear and would throw it in my purse.  I ended up arrested again for resisting arrest with force or violence and assault on an officer.  I went to prison again.  This time I was all alone.  It was horrible, that place is just absolutely terrifying.  I got 16 months and did 8.  They were really long months.  I got out and took a train home.  On the train I had a guy buy me a single shot of Bacardi because I was going to celebrate being out.  What a mess, I basically ended up drunk before I got to Yuba City, had nowhere to go and did meth again.  I showed up to parole high and gave them a dirty drug test. I decided to try to stay sober and moved in with a friend I had met at church.   Well that didn’t last long, I hadn’t changed my friends and I surrounded myself with people who still used which cause me to use as well.  I gave parole another dirty drug test and they put me on an ankle monitor.  I was on that for not very long.  I had taken my ankle monitor off and left it at home. My parole officer violated me and gave me an opportunity to go to rehab.   I was to show up the next day at 4 to turn myself in to go to rehab.  I showed up late, and but by the grace of God my parole officer still drove me to Sacramento to go to rehab.  Later I found out that many people were praying and fasting for me, including my ex-boyfriend who had found Jesus in prison, and was turned into a whole new man.  When I arrived in Sacramento I was so sick.  I was so skinny, and was shaky.  I couldn’t make it to groups because I would be faint and dizzy.  I wanted to run away but I was coming down off of meth so I had no energy.  I would scream in my sleep have terrifying nightmares and went through a living hell.  Finally I realized I needed help.  Finally I admitted I was powerless.  I got on my knees and begged God to please just take away my desire to run away.  I got a sponsor, and started working the twelve steps.  Next thing you know I had been there for a couple months.  I got baptized and turned my life over to God, I completely surrendered.  I was still far from perfect, and had tons to work on, but God is faithful and shows us things we need to work on step by step.  All I had to do was just the next right thing.  The Rehab I was in was called Bridges, Female Residential Multi Service Center (FRMSC) it was actually funded by Parole.  I lived with about 25 other woman and attended tons of classes.  VIA, (Victim Impact Awareness), Domestic Violence, Loss and Grief, Trauma, Trauma Informed, Women Empowerment, Co Dependency, Parenting, Anger Management, Forgiveness, and probably more that have slipped my mind.  These were long classes.  We had to do so much work.  We had tons of staff.  We had a licensed marriage family therapist on site, a vocational developer, housing coordinator, family counselor, and many other counselors.  I had so much one on one counseling.  I finally was given the opportunity to work on issues that made it hard for me to stay sober, I had to dig deep, I went through so much pain it was unbelievable.  I saw other woman who had gone through even more than me, and was fortunate to be given the opportunity to change my life.  I completed all of my steps, and went to tons of meetings and worked with a sponsor.  I developed a support team.  I regained relationships with my family.  I forgave everyone that had hurt me.  I then decided I wanted to go back to court and try to get visits to see my boys.  It was so scary and humbling to show up as I was.  Having gone to prison a couple times, and not seeing my boys in years.  It didn’t work out the way I had hoped.  The judge said that I needed to maintain sobriety longer. I continued to stay sober and stay in the program. I got back together with my ex-boyfriend.  God had changed him.  It was a miracle; he was going to Craftsmen for Christ, and the Bride Church.  I couldn’t tell the program about him because of our past, but I felt like this was who I wanted, who I had always wanted.  We kept our relationship a secret, and would sneak and see each other.  We were sinning; God makes it clear that he doesn’t like liars.  So we admit we were living in sin, we allowed our sinful desires to consume us.  I enrolled in Sacramento City College and began my major in Psychology. I then started looking for a job.  I got hired as a cashier at the college bookstore, but when they learned of my record they told me they couldn’t hire me.  I had it on my application and my hiring manager was okay with my past, but the school district was not. I kept looking for a job and finally I got a full time job at Grocery Outlet in Downtown Sacramento.  I worked a block away from the state capitol and a couple blocks from the program.  It was perfect.  I was a cashier and had told my boss my story she told me that she wasn’t worried because they had loss-prevention.  It had taken me a very long time to get a job with my record, but here it was the answers to my prayer s and dedication.  Then my ex-husband served me with papers, he was requesting to terminate my parental rights.  My lawyer told me that he was probably going to win.  You see, by now I hadn’t seen my boys in about 5 years and so legally my rights could be terminated regardless of how good I was doing.  I ended up going to court on February 5th, 2012.  My ex-husband had remarried and wanted his new wife to be able to adopt the boys.  I had to completely give everything to God; this was the biggest pain ever.  I finally realized that God might not want me in their lives right now.  I thought about all of the other woman that get sober and then have their kids back in their life.  I thought about the way it would disrupt their lives, they hardly even knew me.  They had lived without me.  I thought about the fact that I was still so new to recovery I had less than a year sober.  I finally decided that I would sign a consent for a step-parent adoption.  The new mother I heard was a preschool teacher and I thought about how much I like the sound of that.  It was so hard.  The LMFT counselor went with me.  It is not every day that you get the opportunity to go through something like this with a professional there with you through it all.  I remember hearing the song “I won’t let go” by Rascall Flatts on my way there and felt like God was singing me the song.  He was my strength.  My lawyer and I requested to receive yearly updates, just simple pictures and a letter saying how they were doing.  My ex-husband said no.  Ouch.  It was horrible, I just prayed when I signed those papers that God would take care of them and bring them back in my life someday.  I thought about giving up after that but on the drive back home to Sacramento, I decided instead to become the woman I wanted them to find.  The next day, I decided to meet up with my boyfriend, and we went to a hotel room and had sex.  I was still keeping him a secret.  This was such a block in my relationship with God, but somehow I was still close to Him.  I ended up completing the FRMSC program.  I had chosen to stay as long as I could, the full 12 months.  I knew that in order to succeed I needed a secure foundation.  I then transitioned into a transitional living environment in downtown Sac.  It was still in walking distance to my job.  The day I moved out of Bridges and I was at work, I walked and got a pregnancy test from CVS on my lunch break and peed on it.  The test was positive.  There were two lines, wow. I was scared, I thought for sure my parents would never talk to me again, and that parole would violate me and send me back to prison.  I decided I had to come clean.  I told my boyfriend I was pregnant and he was happy.  He supported me completely.  I was scared.  One day when my parents came up to visit me, they had told me how proud of me they were, and I had to end our visit by telling them I was pregnant.  I said, “Mom and dad, please be merciful on me.  I have turned my life to God, but I have still continued to sin, and I snuck around and saw my boyfriend, and we had sex and now I am pregnant.”  I thought for sure they would hate me, but they said they loved me; they were disappointed, but that they were here for me.  I then told Bridges.  I had been going there for after care.  I told everyone, all of the staff, I confessed completely.  I let them know.  They were so understanding disappointed as well, but they told me they were proud of me because I had managed to keep my life together.  I was working full time and was a student at the college on my days off.   I still graduated FRMSC, and was living in transitional for a while.  I then began praying every day that God would bring my boyfriend and me together.  I didn’t want to move to Yuba City though.  I had started a new life in Sacramento and couldn’t stand the thought of going back there.  One day when my mom and I were talking I was telling her how mad I was at my boyfriend for wanting me to move back to Yuba City, she then asked me, “If God told you to move back to Yuba City, would you be mad.”  And I thought about it, no, I wouldn’t I wanted to make him happy and go with His plan because He always knows best.  I told parole about my pregnancy, they didn’t violate me.  They told me that if I decided I wanted to move back to Yuba City they would put in transfer.  I told them I didn’t want to go I was going to stay in Sacramento.  I started getting morning sickness and had to call in to work a lot; my hours were then cut, because my employer thought it would be easier on me.  Finally I decided I needed to move to Yuba City.  My boyfriend was living in a sober living environment, called Buddy’s House and the owner had agreed that I could come live with him.  I moved to Yuba City and got married to Sean.  We had our baby, Sean Ryan and began our new life.  God is changing us every day and showing us new areas of our life he wants us to change.  I transferred to Yuba College, and continued taking classes throughout my pregnancy, my son's birth and now.  I decided that I was going to replace meetings with church and bible studies.  Because I knew that God was truly a part of my sobriety story.  I go to the Bride Church in Yuba City and a women's bible study.  I stay connected with woman of faith, and continue to work on myself.  I am of service, when I can be and I am enjoying my new life in Christ.  I love being a mother, and I am grateful that my Savior has saved me from a life of hell.  He has forgiven me, and I have forgiven myself and others.  I have watched life change, and watched promises come true.  I simply invite God into my life on a daily basis and pray for his help, to get me through every situation.  I have stayed away from old people, places and things, and developed new healthy relationships with woman of God.  I love being a mother, and I am just so grateful, because even though I have failed God over and over again, he has heard my cries, saved me and graciously given me a life full of so many blessings.  My sobriety birthday is March 11, 2011.  I have over 3 and a half years sober and I am no longer on parole. My husband and I our renting our own little home and raising our almost two year old son.  He has brought so much joy into our lives.  I am in love with my life right now.  I have no desire to drink or use any more, and it is very clear in my mind without a doubt that I am an alcoholic and addict, I am nothing without Christ.  But with Christ, all things are possible and I am able to not only stay sober, but be a great wife, mother, daughter, and friend.  None of this would have been possible without Christ.  He gives me strength and gets me through!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Red, White and Blue Strawberries



I saw this idea on Pinterest and decided I had to give it a shot.  We are going to a fourth of July party later on and I knew these would be great to bring along.  So, I went to the grocery store and bought everything I needed.


Strawberries, 


            Blue sprinkles...                                                               

White chocolate melting chips...
and Parchment Paper.

Next I came home, and washed and dried the strawberries, 
then I put about a cup of the melting chips in a microwavable bowl, and melted them in the microwave.  I used a low power setting and stirred them frequently.  Next I laid out some parchment paper on a cookie sheet and put my sprinkles in lil glass bowls.  Then I grabbed the strawberries by their stems and dipped them into the white chocolate, being sure to leave room at the top for the red to show through, and then dipped the tips in the sprinkles, and then put them on the parchment paper.
I let them cool and then put them in the fridge to cool!  I loved the way they turned out, so festive!  :)

HAPPY FOURTH OF JULY!