Hi! My name is Christine. I am 29 years old, a wife, a busy working mom, and a follower of Christ. I grew up in Burbank, went to Burbank schools, and went on to graduate from CSUN with a Master’s degree in Speech Pathology. I work as a Speech Language Pathologist, and I really love helping others to improve their speech and communication skills.
I didn’t realize until just last year, how much my father loved me.
When I was 4 years old, my parents divorced. My Mom, brother, and I moved in with Grandma and her boyfriend. My father stayed around town for a few years, but I didn’t see him very often. I don’t remember much about him from those early years. When I was 5 years old, my Mom started dating someone. He was good to us and he treated Mom well. We always called him, “Jim”, but in my heart, he was “Dad”.
A couple of years later, in a “freak” accident, Mom suffered a traumatic physical injury, and she lost her sense of balance and ability to do everyday tasks efficiently. After a while, she was able to walk more independently and figured out ways to adjust to taking more time to do things like make our lunches or get us to school. This unexpected event made me grow up very quickly. I helped Mom to get around, holding her hand, and I was much more involved in taking care of my family and the needs of the household. While my father did not come around often, he surprised me when he moved to the Midwest when I was 8 years old. I wouldn’t see him again until I was 20 years old.
My Mom, understandably, did not have very good thoughts toward my father. He struggled with alcoholism, and could not keep his job. He left his family because he couldn’t rise above his addiction, leaving us without an income and without hope for a future. His actions and the way people spoke about him made me grow up thinking that my father didn’t love me.
Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to go to church. My family didn’t go to church, and they couldn’t understand why I wanted to go. The Gideons1 were passing out Bibles at the local market, and so my Mom, thinking of me, took the Bible and brought it home. I can remember sitting down with that Bible, and pretending to “read” it, even though I hadn’t learned how to read yet. Before I learned how to read, I already had a sense of the presence of God in life. I don’t know where that feeling came from. Sometimes, my Mom’s friends would take me to attend Catholic Mass, but that was only 2 or 3 times. In Middle School, I had a friend invite me to attend her church; I loved it, even though I didn’t understand the Spanish language. Then, Grandma bought me a “Precious Moments” Bible. That was so neat! I loved the Precious Moments illustrations. I started reading the shorter books in the Bible (Joel, Obadiah, and Haggai), but I didn’t understand what I was reading.
It was after the 9/11 disaster in 2001 that I felt a real need to pray; but, I didn’t know how to pray. I sought out my Great Aunt Carol, whom I knew to be a Christian. She not only taught me about prayer, but she found a Christian church for me to attend in Burbank. At the time, that church was meeting in a small sound studio. I remember the song which the congregants were singing that day: “Breathe”2.
“This is the air I breathe
..Your holy presence living in me
This is my daily bread
..Your very word spoken to me
..And I’m desperate for you
..And I’m lost without you.”
(Excerpts from the song, “Breathe”3)
The lyrics so simply described my personal longing to know and to be touched by God. I sensed God’s presence here, and felt very comfortable and safe. Finally, I was in my heavenly Father’s house!
The pastor’s message, that day, was about water baptism. The thought occurred to me: “I want to be baptized!” There was an announcement about help needed in the Children’s Ministry. I thought, “I want to get involved with that!” They also announced that there would be a Bible study called, “Foundations for Growth”. I signed up for it and attended faithfully. I found that it was so easy to be decisive about the things of God. I guess my enthusiasm was me acting on my desire to obey my heavenly Father, God.
As I was teaching the young Sunday School children, I, too, was learning the stories from the Bible for the first time. The stories were wondrous and exciting. I didn’t need to be persuaded about their authenticity; I simply believed, just like my young students.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, NKJV). Just like my students, I simply believed.
Last year, my father passed away. My father’s family told me that he loved me. I had only believed it superficially but never deep down in my heart. Then, my father’s sister sent me some pictures that my father had displayed in his home. One picture, which came from the mantel, was of me when I was 7 years old. Another framed picture was of my brother and me when we were young. It was only after my father’s passing, that Mom spoke about my father’s love for his kids, about him working overtime to support us, never tiring to be around his kids, and getting down on the floor to play with us. She told me that I was a “Daddy’s girl”. I never knew that. Maybe I unconsciously forgot about those things to protect my heart. As suddenly as I had discovered God’s love for me, so also did I discover my father’s love for me. It now was not difficult to accept. I simply believed.
1 Gideons International (www.Gideons.org), an Association of Christian business and professional men and their wives dedicated to telling people about Jesus through sharing personally and by providing Bibles and New Testaments.
2 Michael W. Smith. “Breathe.” By Marie Barnett. Worship. Reunion, 2001. CD.
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