Today, Sandra speaks to us about healing, faith versus emotions, and how God can use us. Hers is a story of incredible strength and resilience.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I was born in Las Vegas, and my family and I lived there for a few years until they separated. My mom and I moved to Temple City where my rough childhood began. My mom ended up with the father of my brothers, but he then killed her. I was a witness to everything. Thank God my grandmother adopted my brothers and I. From the few days I was at a foster home I could tell they didn’t really care for the kids, and I don’t know how different my upbringing would have been if we had stayed here. I grew up very angry and sad, I had a lot of hate in my heart because of what I had witnessed. I always felt uncared for and alone growing up for various reasons. No one my age understood my grief process, my family’s attention was on my brothers more than me because they were babies, and they all dealt or chose not to deal with grief in their own way, and lastly, we are a Latino family. Talking about our emotions in a Latino household is not something usual or expected, in fact, it is looked down upon and many don’t take it seriously. Granted, it’s because they grew up with parents who were very tough on them.
“No one my age understood my grief process, my family’s attention was on my brothers more than me because they were babies, and they all dealt or chose not to deal with grief in their own way, and lastly, we are a Latino family.”
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: An inspiring biblical passage of the moment is James 1:2-18:
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position. But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wildflower. For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.”
Committing your life to God doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy; it’s not. Trials and challenges come, but it’s important to remember that we serve a mighty God who knows what’s going on and trust that He is working. We have to go to Him and have faith that whatever we’re going through He will use to mold us and ultimately use it for His Kingdom. We are living testimonies and have to go into this walk with the same mentality on the good days and not so good days. It’s not about our emotions; it’s about the faith we have in God.
“It’s not about our emotions; it’s about the faith we have in God.”
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: At the moment, there are a lot of spiritual growth focuses. Months ago, I asked the Lord to reveal the status of my heart in what needs to be surrendered. So my spiritual growth focuses are in being vulnerable with the Lord because without vulnerability and transparency I cannot experience the full goodness of God. Another is to be bold and courageous in my faith. I have fallen into fear and not taken full steps the Lord has asked of me and I’m done with that. I want the Lord to use me entirely for His glory.
Profession: At the moment, I am a college student, I attend CSULA, and am majoring in Psychology and plan on minoring in Communications. I hope to work in Human Resources, but we’ll see, I know the Lord has the last word.
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? If I wrote a memoir I would title it, “Beautiful things do come out of disasters.” This is a summary of my life. The Lord has always been my hope.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? Freshmen year, I was walking home from school, and I heard Him. He told me to let go of my boyfriend (at the time) and come to Him, but I made the foolish mistake of saying no.
How would you describe Jesus? There are many ways and many words to describe Jesus but the first one that comes to mind is loving. I think we can all confirm that Jesus showed us what it looks like to love one another but in the times we’re living in I think it’s rare to truly find someone who loves like Jesus. What I mean is Jesus loves us enough to tell us the truth and not stay silent about our sin. He corrects us and leads us to better places. After all, He did not come to condemn the world but to save it. (John 3:17)
“What I mean is Jesus loves us enough to tell us the truth and not stay silent about our sin.”
How has your relationship with Him changed you? The Lord has changed me in many ways. I can sit here all day and give you examples but to summarise it I went from being an angry, unforgiving bully to a happy, loving, and encouraging friend. He healed me and set me free from my past sin and struggle.
What has been the darkest time in your life, and how did you see God in it? The darkest time in my life was sophomore year. I grew up in a Christian home, but it was one of those situations where you choose a boy to fill a void, rather than committing to God. It caused me to become anxious and depressed and to feel lost. I didn’t want to hurt anymore, and I regretted my actions but I had become so used to what I was doing, where I was at, and every night I would cry and pray for help.
God revealed Himself to me little by little as I kept praying and He gave me strength and joy. He brought confirmation, answers, and eventually people to help me come to know Him. And here I am now. God is good.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? What has helped me grow spiritually in this season is prayer and discipline.
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I’ve recently read the book of Jude, which is very short but straight to the point. I appreciate how straightforward Jude is in reminding us that sin has consequences, and we should not invite sin into our lives. We have been set free from sin and have to live a life that brings honor and glory to God.
Top three essentials: The top three essentials are Bible, notebooks, and pretty highlighters.
How did God speak to you recently? God recently has been speaking to me about friendship and love. Not worldly friendship and love, but Biblical and what that truly looks like.
Hobby: I like to write and/or make video edits.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Prayer, discipline, and transparency within the community
Favorite person in scripture? Joseph, coat of many colors. I relate to him, I’ve always been so amazed by what the Lord did through Him despite the hardships and unfairness he faced in life.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? What I want people to learn about God when they look at me is that He is the only way. You’re not really living until you come to know the giver of life.
“You’re not really living until you come to know the giver of life.”
How do you engage with your community? I engage with my community by words of encouragement. The book of James talks about how the tongue is the strongest muscle. And I like using mine to encourage people to keep going and seek the Lord. You never know what someone is going through and the Lord can use you.
“You never know what someone is going through and the Lord can use you.”
Favorite holiday? I used to have a favorite holiday but not anymore. Although, I do enjoy celebrating my friends’ birthdays.
A goal you have? A goal of mine is to read the Bible in a year.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: My aunt and I have the same birthday, when we were younger we would always go to Disneyland together to celebrate.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? In all honestly, I don’t have one question, I have many and they all begin with “why”, and “how.” I’m a curious person, and He’s the Mighty God.
Thing you want to raise awareness about: I’d like, and I try to, raise awareness about the effects of pornography. And awareness on sex trafficking.
What does your morning routine consist of? I honestly don’t have a morning routine. I’m more of a night owl.
What is on your nightstand? My nightstand includes my Bible, notebook, and usually some food. (I get hungry at random times of the day and night)
Define Christianity in a sentence: A marathon, not a relay race.
For more Sandra:
Until next time, keep witnessing!