I was born and raised in South Philadelphia. I was raised mostly by my grandmother. Both my mother and father were addicts and while my mother lived in the same house with me she was not the one who did any of the parenting with the exception of discipline.
During my childhood I was exposed to violence, sexual, mental, and physical abuse and a form of neglect that I couldn’t readily identify until much later in life. I would “zone out” to cope with the problems in my home.
There was a light and a hope in my life even back then, my grandmother gave me a children’s Bible when I was younger than 5 and I was an early reader. Because of this it wasn’t long before I would come to love God and His word and to accept Jesus Christ as my Savior.
It also wouldn’t be long before I began to rebel against God with the justification “if you can’t beat them join them”. I felt and was treated like an outcast in my own family and by the time I was twelve years old I was in full rebellion against my grandmother’s authority.
As a result of my rebellion I was pregnant three times before my 18th birthday. The first was aborted when I was 30+ weeks pregnant and this just caused a root of bitterness to take hold in me and I made a vow to myself that no one would ever be able to make me kill another baby.
I had two children by the time I was 18 and my grandmother had enough. She gave me the choice to either go to live with my mother in Harrisburg or go into the shelter and get my own place. I chose my mother over the shelter and at the close of my 11th grade year in Philly my children & I moved to Harrisburg.
Once in Harrisburg I learned that my mother was now addicted to crack cocaine and in active addiction. I called my grandmother and she refused to believe me which just increased my anger and my foolish rebellion. One night my mother and I got into a fight and I hurt her badly. She went to the hospital and I went to jail. That would begin my contact with Children & Youth and a downward spiral into my own addiction, neglect, and abuse of my children.
In 2001 my mother died as a result of injuries she received in a car accident. I was furious with God. People look at me strange when I say I was angry with God. Like how dare I admit it? It’s like trying to hide in the middle of an empty field, impossible. Before I ever admitted it God knew I was angry with Him. He also knew I wouldn’t allow Him to be God of my entire life. I just wanted Him to be my Savior and my Buddy that I could rely on when things were rough. -you know not going the way I’d planned-
After my mother died I spiraled down faster. In 2002 pregnant for the 8th time with my 6th child I did the unthinkable and I beat my oldest two children. They were placed in foster care and I was charged with Endangering The Welfare of Minors.
For the next 2 and 1/2 years I fought to get them back. Only I had a secret that I wasn’t ready to give up. When I moved to Harrisburg I began to drink and smoke marijuana. I quickly learned that I loved everything about marijuana and I made every effort to have it and smoke it often.
Needless to say I lost my children. Two remained in foster care, one was adopted, and the remaining three were sent to live with their father. Shortly, after my rights were terminated to my oldest three children the father of my youngest three children was at my door dropping off our three children. I was so desperate to prove to myself that I wasn’t a failure as a mother I took my children and ran back to Philly.
Only the problem with problems is that unless you confront them they become unresolved issues. So I set off for Philly in 2005 with the same issues I’d left with and a few more I’d gained while I was in Harrisburg for good measure.
I worked, went to school, took care of my daughters to the best of my ability. My son was with their father. In 2007, everything I was running from finally caught up with me and I was arrested on a warrant to face the charges of Endangering. I pled guilty because although I hadn’t done exactly what they alleged in my charges I was guilty of abusing and neglecting my children and they weren’t safe with me when I was in that frame of mind.
Originally, I was to be sentenced to 7-17 years. Thankfully, God had mercy on me and I spoke to the judge and told him what I’d been doing in the last 4 years. He did a pre-sentencing investigation and found that I’d told him the truth so he reduced my sentence to 14-28 months. I went to SCIMuncy in February of 2008 and I was released in April of 2010 completely maxed out. I had a few options of people to live with when I came home and I knew none were good options so originally I chose to go into a transitional housing program with a Christian foundation because I knew it was the best option for me.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t done rebelling against God or running from my issues. In prison I could have went on meds and ignored my issues only I really didn’t want to wind up back in prison so I forced myself to face a lot of things while I was incarcerated. Once I was free to come & go as I pleased I had too many ways to escape and I chose to run instead of staying and allowing God to work in me.
God is faithful and through it all He has been gently and at times not so gently shaking me to get my attention. In 2012 my youngest child was hit by a car crossing the street and killed. Out of so much hurt God brought beauty into my life. I am now employed part-time. My next to the youngest child has been living with me since 2012. I’m rebuilding my relationship with my oldest two children and I’ve gotten to see all of my children at least once. I’m now a grandmother of a beautiful little girl and God is healing the hurts and drawing me closer to him.
I don’t pretend to know God’s plan for my life. I don’t claim it’s always easy, I always enjoy it, or I’m always grateful. I do know this all things work together for the good of those who LOVE God and are called according to His purpose.