I grew up in a very loving environment with both of my parents. I’m one of six siblings so family has always been important to me. We’ve always been a very strong family, but there was also a lot of dysfunction. Both my parents worked in the restaurant business and there were many late nights. I was home many times with just my older siblings and a housekeeper.
Anytime we would have family functions there would be a lot of drinking and I saw my parents smoke cigarettes for the first time when I was 13 years old. At first, it was heartbreaking for me, but as I got older it became normal. Then…my dad was unfaithful to my mom. It was a very painful season as my mom and I, along with my sisters, found a new place to live.
I was confused, heartbroken, and lost.
From there, I struggled with peer pressure and hanging out with the wrong crowd. I stopped caring about school and the things that mattered. I knew my parents were dealing with their emotions, so I would take advantage of that and stayed out late with friends. After several bad decisions, I became pregnant at the age of 17.
All I felt was fear and shame. I knew in spite of my parents dysfunction they would be disappointed and angry. I didn’t know what to do, and in that season of fear and doubt, I considered ending the pregnancy. I didn’t know how to pray, I didn’t know Jesus, but I began to cry out to God…and what happened next still amazes me.
God gave me the courage to make the right decision.
He met me in the darkest moment of my life and responded to my cries for help. My daughter, Sophia, is a beautiful girl who has brought so much joy to my life and to those around her. Everyday I thank God for the gift she is to our family.
I’d love to be able to say that my life has been perfect from that moment on, but no matter what…I know God is with me. I’m now married and have three children, and God continues to work in my life. Whether it’s the pressure of owning a restaurant chain (Cristina’s Mexican Restaurant), marriage challenges, or supporting siblings that are battling addictions, I know that God has me in the palm of His hand.
I’m making the right steps and moving in the right direction so that my children and generations after won’t have to battle the same things I did, and I’m overwhelmingly grateful for my spiritual family at Milestone. We were never meant to carry the weight of life by ourselves, and I couldn’t have done it without some amazing women who have walked with me through every difficult season of my life.
Now, God has given me a heart for others. I’m drawn to struggling mothers or someone who has a family member dealing with addiction. There’s always hope with God and there is something greater that He’s working on that we don’t see. Life is messy sometimes but God is always there to lift us out of our circumstance and set our feet on solid ground.