lost & found

There is a particular part of me that is very significant to who I am. I find to be worthy of its own recognition. I have an extraordinary story to tell..

..I was lost and now I’m found.

This blog was founded on a fearless conquest to express myself openly and boldly before my peers and strangers alike. Through the encouragement of loved ones and inspiration of so many who have blogged before me, I vowed be myself, to not hold back, and to strive for excellence. I want to voice things that matter to me. I want to create a safe place for people to stop by and get something from my posts. I wanted to strive to be extraordinary and in return cause others to want the same. Therefore I must stick to my vows and expose this part of me publicly.

One thing I never wanted to do is press my faith onto anyone. Allow me to explain; it is not that I am ashamed or seek to please my readers by  keeping everything socially acceptable. I  try to allow my actions, words, and lifestyle to display what I believe within my day-to-day posts. I do so without the need to mention the source of my love, wisdom, or influence.  However, I plan to lay it on the table here and now on this page. A crucial extension of my blog.  In order to keep it real with you all the way, I will tell you how I was lost and found. Therefore it is with great honor I will dedicate this page to God. Entirely and whole heartedly to my Heavenly Father. To my savior, JESUS CHRIST.

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This is optional for you to continue reading. This is a true story that can be accounted for by many witnesses in my life. This is my testimony.

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I cannot start my personal story without first laying down some background information. My older sister was the first Christian in our entire family’s history. As the first grandchild she was born with a greater purpose than one could imagine. A generational stronghold was unknowingly about to be broken as a young hopeful couple left their country behind to head to America.

My older sister spent 7 years as an only child before I was born. She was always significantly different from our family. In high school she dated a young man that was a proclaimed Christian. Some say that there are people that come into our lives for a purpose greater than what we can understand at the moment. I find that statement to be very true. Naturally, the young man invited her to his church. He was a Brazilian-American attending weekly services in Portuguese. My sister was only bi-lingual in Spanish, yet she gladly accepted every invitation. One day my sister raced to the church alone. She desired something greater than the frequent disappointment and depression she was dealing with. That day a pastor prayed with her in a language she barely understood. The love of God translated it into her heart perfectly as she shattered years of oppression with a bold decision to say YES to Jesus Christ. Soon after my sister was baptized. Next, she invited my younger sister and I to attend church with her. Barely understanding the words being spoken, or the culture of church, we obediently stood there uncomfortably dazed. After months of church services, bible studies, bonfires, and Christian exposure we were almost starting to see why these people cried as they raised their hands and sang to God. We began to become involved in the church. Soon after their relationship ended yet my sister’s love for God did not. That young man unknowingly fulfilled his purpose in God’s plan for our family.

My story
I always knew God exsisted, because I was told about Him. As a child I was told to pray when I was scared. I was taught to ask Him for protection, and to thank Him for everything. I mostly talked to God when I had a bad dream. I went to Catholic Sunday School throughout my childhood. My mom never stayed too long at any particular church. God was introduced to me as the one who saves us from “El Malo”; “The Bad One”. The first time I saw a movie of Jesus I could not understand why he died at the end. My curiosity was not quite large enough to seek for answers.
Once I began tagging along with my older sister to her new found church, I started to see “church” differently. I began to understand that church meant family. They would be at church for hours and then leave and go home to have a huge dinner together. They would sing, pray, and hang out all the time. I never saw anything like that. Every time I saw them they would compliment me and ask how I was doing. I was fascinated by them and would daydream about a home like theirs. A loving mom and dad, siblings that loved each other unconditionally, and well, peace. I’m sure they had faults as well. I saw them argue among each other a few times. I still wanted what they had. Most of the people around me came from broken homes and had chaotic disorderly lives. That’s what I had. My dad left us when I was barely 3 years old. My mom was a champ who had to do it all, but she wasn’t equipped to successfully run a household. She was set up for failure since the beginning. She had an even worst upbringing with no guidance of how to properly be a mother or an adult, for that matter. She tried very hard, but we were doomed to be dysfunctional.
So there I was slowly entering my pre-teen years when we left that church after their break-up. We were  brought to a new church. This one was unconventionally small. They held services in their back patio on Sunday mornings. It was really hot being in the Florida heat, but at least it was in English.  I was dragged to church every Sunday by my older sister. Not a semi-respectful little girl anymore, I rebelled to the fullest. I would try any attempt to get out of church. Most weekends I slept over my best friend’s house to avoid being asked to go. It’s not so much that I was being forced, but expected to go since I was a minor with no real rights.
One day, and this day is kind of blurry, I went with my best friend. My sister asked us to sit in the front row, because she knew we would get distracted in the back. There I was, obediently standing up as they sang songs to God. I stood there barely amused. I’m  pretty sure I had my arms crossed or something. I had been going for a while so I actually knew most of the song being sung, but I hesitated to sing out loud. All of a sudden, I could not explain it, but I began to cry. Endless tears streamed down my face faster then I could wipe them off. I could not stop crying! I was so unaware of what was occurring that I went to the bathroom to avoid the awkward feeling of my best friend judging me. In the bathroom I cried some more. I wiped my face battling with myself to get it together. I talked to God in a way I never had before. I asked Him, “God, is this you”? I wiped my face and returned to my seat. To save face, I told my sister my stomach really hurt and I needed to go home. I truly believe that was the first time I really felt God.
The years that followed are even more of a blur. I was a teenager finding my way and along that journey I found myself in trouble! I don’t want to sound boastful, but I did just about everything on the “Rebellious Teenager Check List”. I skipped class, skipped school, and got suspended. I failed classes, lied frequently, and I snuck out of the house. I argued with my family almost on a daily basis. They were sick of me. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. And that is no exaggeration. Even among the frequent disappointment my sister and mother felt there was hope.
Something would happen every now and then. I would turn into this totally different person. This would usually occur during church. See as the years passed my older actually became the official Youth Leader of that church. Dragging me to church was still happening and I was forced to be involved in everything! During this time I would be asked to pray. There I was holding hands with everyone in a circle with our eyes closed and then it would happen. First, I would start off by pushing through my words so that I could finish already. I knew my sister wouldn’t let me get off too easy so I knew I had to extend my prayer just long enough to show effort. Within that effort I would start to pray. No, I mean REALLY pray. I would pray for things not even relevant to us. I’d pray in detail for specific places or people. I’d lose track of time and said things that carried such compassion and faith. Afterwards people would tell me I had something special. I would have these random moments during plays or youth outings. There was a small flame that was beginning to burn.
As I finished up my Junior year I met my husband. Now, I didn’t want to add him to my testimony, but I must. We were insanely reckless and toxic together. All summer was like a thrilling roller coaster as I fell hard for him. Approaching Senior Year I remember my friends advising me to leave him. He was going to walk me on field as I was nominated for Homecoming Queen and to me I had prince charming. I was in love. I was constantly torn between God and him. We were being unsafe with our choices and every Sunday I’d ask God for forgiveness. I was helping more in church yet I was still not ready to fully commit. Nevertheless, senior year I tried to be a better student. I was heavily involved in clubs and I was coordinating school events. I was finally realizing what I wanted to do in life. Right before Prom he left to Army Boot Camp. I graduated class of 2006 and soon after, I landed an excellent job. I enrolled in college and was saving up for my first car. As he was away I noticed my focus redirecting on the right path. That August, as school started, I found out at 18 years old that I was 3 months pregnant.
It’s okay, do the math, I won’t be offended. I went to go visit him and then the Stork visited me in return! I was the first one to get pregnant out of all my cousins. I was the first to make my grandmother a great-grandmother and my mother a grandma. Yep, disappoint flooded the air for the next 6 months. This completely changed the course of my life. I was scared, doubtful, and very ashamed. I went to church wearing my sin on my body. My church welcomed me with loving arms, but I had a hard time believing that God did too. We were forced to live together. I was mortified. I kept thinking of living with a man while not married meant God was far away from me. I would cry every  night is despair. I dropped my classes and took night classes at a further campus. I had a dysfunctional relationship and I was about to have a baby. We were two kids trying to be adults and it was barely working.
And then there were three. February 23rd, 2007 I gave birth with him by my side. Tatiana Lily. She absolutely took my breath away.  Even at her birth I knew there was something so special about her. She was more than perfect. Her eyes were clear blue with black sleek hair. We had to get it together for her, we just had to! As we went through our ups and downs I tried going to church. Unable to face my childhood church of 7 years, I ended up at a Mega church where I was able to creep in and out without judgement. I tried, but I was unhappy and reckless again. A year passed and we bought at house where he proposed to me at. Life did not seem as planned. I was doing everything backwards. Although I had happy moments, I was devastatingly empty. Life felt out of order.  He was leaving overseas on his first deployment and I was at my lowest. I had slowly stopped going to school, I had endless crappy jobs, and I was lost. Completely and utterly lost.
You may think to yourself, “How were you lost? Didn’t you go to church for years? You probably went up for a few alter calls and got baptized. Why is this testimony taking so long!” Okay dear friends, hold your horses. Yes, I went up on plenty of alter calls. I was also baptized at 14, but I was definitely lost. A few times I was even suicidal despite being a mother and a wife. I was convinced I had no purpose. I kept thinking of what I could’ve been and who I had become. I knew I was a sinner and I viewed myself as unforgivable. Even with love within my family and friends I was depressed.
When I was found
I was bored out of my mind. My husband was overseas and it was just my daughter and I. I was pestered by my older sister (as usual) to go to this new women’s meeting at her church. I dodged her as much as I could until one day I went. It wasn’t too bad. I kind of had fun. I started going each time. Eventually I felt comfortable enough to also go to their Sunday church services. I was being consumed by it more and more. I was lighter each visit. I was finding myself each service. This part is emotional for me to relive. It was like a light was turned on and I could see. I started to see my calling. All my attributes were being highlighted. I became more and more confident. Depression was being shattered with every step I took. As I interacted with the children and teens my purpose in life became known to me. I began to [willingly] get involved in EVERYTHING. I became the one telling, well, begging people to come to church.  I loved it. I spent day and night at church with my daughter. I eventually took on leadership positions and started to vastly change. I didn’t want to fall into temptation so I stopped speaking to most of my friends. I cautiously tried to stop a lot of my bad habits. It was the hardest part of it all. There was a fierce transformation occurring; a rebirth. As the months came closer to my husband’s return I prayed. I had us all pray. How would he react to me? I was completely changed and genuinely had no interest in the same things anymore. I remember God’s word. I knew if I continued forward my husband would follow behind to his own salvation.
Friends, I want you to know that the road I described wasn’t easy at all. It wasn’t in an instant, it was a process. I was being healed from the inside out. I was challenged in so many ways. Facing my husband was also challenging, but I didn’t do any of it alone. God was by my side each and every time. I want you to know that I’ve never been the same since that year. I’ve never fallen so low. I have been on this journey for 7 years now and my salvation means more to me than ever. In these past years we have experienced amazing grace and mercy, but we have also experienced pain and doubtful times. Depression tries to sneak in, frustrations happen, and there has been countless “rough times”.

I know who I am now. I stopped looking for my identity in other things and started to look for it in the One who Created me. God gave me my identity, so in order for me to find it I had to look to Him first. The more I seeked God, the more I knew who I was.

I am happy to announce that my husband did in fact find God. [On his own] His testimony is a beautiful and tragic one, but that’s his story to tell. All I can say is that he is a Man of God and the Head of our household. He is a magnificent father and phenomenal husband. We have both suffered many difficult seasons and moments of sin. Nevertheless we continue to push forward towards God. We have now been together 12 years with 8 years of marriage. God has looked over our family and He can look over yours.
Have you asked God to be part of you life?  Has it been a long journey for you too? Have you been in that low place I spoke about? It’s lonely and dark.  I was lost and I was found. I found that God is the way, the only way. God was waiting for me to run back into His arms the whole time. God loves you. You are not un-forgivable! You are wanted.
I pray the words I wrote to you have fallen upon your heart just as I intended them to. I pray that God has spoken to you in some form through my testimony. I pray you are found.

Dedicated to Vianey Paulina

I dedicate this to my older sister. Her role in my testimony was crucial. From her accepting God to her continuously “dragging me” to church. She never gave up on me. Even through my rebellion she called out the leader in me. She continuously told me I was special. She would read the Bible to me until I fell asleep. She would pray for me everyday. She loved me with all her being. She loved unconditionally and showed me how to love back. She held me as a baby and held me through my youth. She is my rock. She is the rock of our family. She is anointed. I love you popo. Thank you for never giving up on me. It was the greatest thing anyone can ever do for someone else.

“Imagine a love so vast, so wide, so deep, so all-consuming, so infinite that you could do everything in your power to deny it, and spit on it, and treat it like trash, but it would still want you with a passion deeper than you’ve ever known.” – Anonymous Author

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4 thoughts on “lost & found

  1. Wow!!! If you remember me? My name is Wanda! I was in that brasilian church, and you make me crying with your testimony , Just tô let you know … I’m a grandmother for that young Brazilian guy! God bless you for being so obedient and received all that gift from ours Lord! My regards to your family ,special for your sister Paulina! Beautiful and very emotional testimony ! The word of God is never empty ! Sorry my inglês ! 🙏🙌❤️ Thank you for sherring your history

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  2. Beautiful and inspiring testimony. I find myself in low places at times, And though for the most part i am at peace with God , I lack consistency which makes me feel like i fail him daily. I pray to one day reach that place in which you find yourself now. Not to say your life is perfect but you clearly found yourself in him , and not only do you know your Purpose but you actively pursue it.

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