Fight One More Day

"Do you believe he's a king of good intentions? I have to stand on that even when every bit of my circumstance looks the opposite."

Podcast links

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/episode/2iJbJtCQDUf3Ehb8j0gyYR?si=8SxWTA8qQBajd1HSNvzBkA

Apple: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/e6-fight-one-more-day/id1536527419?i=1000506574208

Transcript

Mary:

I would dare to say that some of the most important stories go untold that many deep hurts that are hidden behind closed curtains never come to light. I hate that they're suffering in silence. I hate that some people never feel understood about how they grew up. And I hate that some people never knew the abuse they experienced wasn't right. The Untold Story project is a collection of stories from people who've said, yes, I want to speak out to bring education, empathy, and hope to those around me. My name is Mary and I hope you were blessed by this episode of The Untold Story project. 

Hi, Angelica, I've been so excited to connect with you. You know, even before meeting, I just want to say thank you for being loyal to pray for me and encourage me and reach out with scripture anytime when I really needed it. And so, I just know that says a lot about your desire to love others in the way that the father would. So, thank you and I'm glad we finally get to meet.

Angelica:

Absolutely girl, same. I'm so excited for this

Mary:

And so, can you kind of explain what your passions are? What do you do in your everyday life?

Angelica:

Yeah, Sure. So currently, I'm employed full time in ministry. I work with an organization here in Atlanta, Georgia called Out of Darkness. We are a safe house for women who are victims of sex trafficking and exploitation. And our job is basically to rescue them and reach them with the gospel and with love and to just let them know that they're fully known and fully loved the same way that God loves them. A lot of them come from extreme trauma pasts and extreme trauma just in their day-to-day life from childhood usually up. And so, my role as a residential assistant is to be with them in the evenings, half of the week. And so, I spend the night at the safe house and live there with them full time. 

So that's pretty incredible. And we just have girls’ nights every night. Whatever the ladies want to do, if they want to watch movies or if they want to do nails or if we want to do hair, whatever it is and we just pour into them with love and encouragement. And that's kind of just a reflection of really where my heart is for the world. And just the kingdom is I think that so many of us in the world and myself included for a long time just forget that God is there with us, and that he loves us. And I think that's where we lose our purpose is we forget that we are loved by the Creator of the universe and by Jesus or we don't know. Maybe we haven't learned that yet or I've been told that yet.

And so the same way at the safe house, that's kind of how I am in everyday life is my goal every day is to be loved to people, to let them know that they're loved and to encourage them in any way that I can, whether that's through comedy or through scriptures or through conversations or to genuinely make eye contact with the person at the grocery store and ask them how their day is to know and not just to ask but to really connect with people and let people know that they're seen. I think that that's what Jesus did and that's kind of my goal in life is however, I can do that in my day to day. That's what I want to do.

Mary:

That's such a rewarding job. And I can just see as you're talking about it, how much your heart is in it, and how much you light up for that. 

Angelica:

It's good stuff. 

Mary:

And I've heard of ‘Out of Darkness’ when we were in Atlanta. So, it's kind of cool to see someone who's you know, like actually working for the program.

Angelica:

Yeah. It's amazing. God's really faithful.

Mary:

Is there anything that specifically prompted you to go into this line of work?

Angelica:

Well, it's a funny story. So actually, it was the one line of work that I did not want to go into with ministry. I never really saw myself being in full time ministry. That was not what I saw for my life. I got my degree in acting. I never saw myself being in full time ministry whatsoever. But I went on the world race. And my one fear, I'm a pretty bold, fearless kind of a person. I always say over and over again, almost daily, perfect love casts out fear. So I'm like, fear doesn't exist in my life, right? The one thing that scared me on the race was going to be working on Walking Street or doing ministry on Walking Street in Thailand, which is one of the biggest areas for sex trafficking and it's kind of just a hub. I was like, Lord, I don't think I can do that. Like sexual crimes are just so traumatic and they're so brutal and they're so evil and horrifying and I'm a very glass half full. I love to see the world through rose colored lenses, which is a good thing sometimes and a bad thing sometimes.

But I was just scared to do that. And so, I just really been hoping that God wasn't going to put me in a place like that where I would have to do that kind of ministry. And we were in Thailand and we got called home because of COVID. And so, our 11-month world race turned into a two-and-a-half-month race and we never made it to, well we made it to our ministry site in Thailand but we had to leave. I was like well, you know, got out of that one. That was great. Like I didn't have to worry about that. Came home and a series of legitimate God miracles that just fell into place. One thing after another. A mutual friend knew another friend who knew about this job opening who randomly told me about it at coffee one day, who then prophesied and prayed over me that this would possibly be my future and where God was calling me into. All the while I'm like this is not for me. Like I know this is not what I want to do. This is scary.

My now shift partner and best friend at the safe house prayed over me for open doors and closed doors that someone who didn't know me would speak this into my life. And that scriptures would start to come to life that would confirm my calling there. And she prayed this over me when we met for coffee just to talk about the job. And two hours later, my house church leader preached from 1 John 1&2, which is all about coming out of darkness into light. The following week, a friend set me up on a FaceTime with one of their mutual friends who I'd never met before. Within the first five minutes she's like, “look, I don't know you but I have chills all over the left side of my body. The Lord's for sure calling you into this” and meanwhile hyperventilating internally. And then we got our email about the race, about what our options were, as far as COVID was concerned. And I remember opening the email reading it and just had this closure in this peace that I was done with the race like that. That was my two and a half months was what it was and that was it. And I had applied for out of darkness maybe two months, or no, two weeks or so prior to that and hadn't heard anything back.

So I was like, you know that's maybe that ship has sailed. And I closed out of the world race email with this overwhelming piece of that's done. Like you're finished with the race. And exactly one minute later, I closed the world race email at 4:25. At 4:26, the email from my now supervisor came in to set up my first phone interview. And she had been sick and she said “so sorry, it's taken me so long to get back to you. We love to set up an interview with you. And I just wrapped in your promises are yes and amen was playing on my shuffle on my Apple Music. And I just held my hands out that God whatever you want, wherever you want me, I'll go. Like take my life, it's yours. Wherever you want to send me, even if it scares me. I'll go. Yeah, two months later, I was hired and been there almost six months now and it has been the most challenging, most life changing, most incredible thing I've ever stepped into in my life.

Mary:

Well, I love hearing how people end up where they do just because God always you know, when we say yes to God, it's always a crazy path and somehow he makes it clear. So I'm so happy that he did that for you all. Are you from the Atlanta area?

Angelica:

Yes, I was born and raised in Gwinnett. So Lilburn is my hometown. Lilburn, Georgia, we also call it thrill burn Georgia, for the real Oji kind of people from Gwinnett. It's not thrilling but we call it thrill burn. So I grew up there and I went to school at Ole Miss, got my degree in acting and then moved back to Atlanta. And now I live in Atlanta full time.

Mary:

That's awesome. Is your family still in the area?

Angelica:

Yes, my mom is still here. My godfather is here. I have a couple of cousins and a couple of aunts that are still in Georgia.

Mary:

Now, could you tell me a bit about your family?

Angelica:

Yeah, for sure. I grew up with my parents split up. I always said that growing up, I had a very broken family life but I also never lacked anything in my family, which I just attest to the grace of God. I was very blessed. When I was in school in elementary school and middle school, I usually always had a duffel bag with me because every day either my grandma would pick me up, my other grandma would pick me up, my mom would pick me up, my dad would pick me up or I would go home with a friend. And so constantly, I was always moving around. But it was because I had four separate homes that really loved me and then several really incredible friends who became family really quickly as a child. And so, it was a broken life in a lot of aspects of what like the world would maybe call you know, a typical home life, whatever that means. But yeah, I just always was at a different house. And, you know, one grandma was a very like Southern Baptist grandma who made buttermilk biscuits and read the Bible all the time and preach to me all the time. 

My other grandma was she was a southern belle, but she was a little more boujie, a little sassier. and so we would like make fudge together and make toffee together and we would you know go to Saks Fifth Avenue because that was where you went when you were an elegant young lady at age 12. You know, and we would do fun stuff like that. My mom was a single mom that grinded her life away working so that I could have everything that I needed. As far as doctor's office visits, dental appointments, braces, tennis lessons, swimming lessons, my mom wanted me to be in everything possible. And then my dad was kind of the fun dad. He got to do a lot of the fun things that my mom didn't completely always get to do with me because she was working very hard. We would go on great vacations occasionally with my godfather.

Mary:

Yeah, what a blessing it is to be able to look back on life and realize your life is scattered in so many different pieces. But to realize that all of those pieces were beautiful and did make a hole. I think that's a perspective that a lot of people don't have. And I'm glad that you were blessed with so many amazing people in your life and that kind of micro families in a way. And I know you had shared with me previously kind of something we've bonded over because of my personal experience over the past couple weeks. It's crazy how God brings us the people we need and the stories we need, right when we need them. And you had mentioned that in college, when you were having a very positive relationship with your father, that you got a call out of the blue one day that he had committed suicide. And so that's really a lot to take in. I know the moment you receive a call with some tragic unexpected news like that. It's this moment of, wow, my life is actually never going to be the same. If you don't mind me asking, were you ever able to receive clarity on why your father committed suicide? 

Angelica:

Not really. No, which was actually one of the biggest challenges I think, for me. Looking back, I think that my dad was on diagnosed bipolar, manic depressive but in my brain and what I've learned about the Lord is I think that diagnosis can label us with certain things that the Lord never intended for us anyway. So, I kind of praise God that I didn't really know that he had a diagnosis. And so now I can look back and speculate but he never was diagnosed with anything.

Yeah, he was always very eccentric. He was always either very happy or he was like very chill and very kind of low almost like frustrated, almost angry or he was just on top of the world. And he loved concerts, loved music, he loved giving to people. And it's funny now in my life, I'm very much so my father's daughter, for sure. The things that I have as characteristics and trade are very much so him. And so yeah, he was always very high or very low. It was kind of one or the other. He had really started like balancing out at the end of his life. There was things looking back now that I can see sort of that kind of maybe pointed to him being depressed or him battling something. But Louie Giglio preached last year a message called I'm not okay but Jesus is. And in that message, he talks about suicide and depression. And he says that when someone's suicidal or when someone is depressed that it's not that person but it's a version of that person ravished by darkness.

And the more that I've learned about mental health and just the Holy Spirit and demonic activity even though that's such a scary word to people, it's just Satan in spiritual form. I really think that mental health is very deeply connected to our spiritual life. I very much think that it is an attack on our spirit. I think that it is the enemy's easiest way to get to us is through our mental space, our headspace, through our soul, which is our mind, body and our emotions. And if you think of like the way that the enemy attacks it's usually through those outlets but he can't take our spirit, right? Looking back there was different things. My dad had started talking about cloud angels a lot. He was very focused on heaven and very focused on ethereal kind of things. He was very immersed in the word at the end of his life. The last two years of his life were probably the closest that he had maybe ever been in his life to Jesus. And I know that definitively. He loves the Lord. Actually, when he committed suicide, he had a gospel album playing on the CD player. And so, I really think looking back that I think he just wanted to go to heaven. I think he was really done with the pain of earth. And I think that there were things that I would never know till this day and I'll never have answers to. And one of the biggest things I wanted to understand when this happened was why. Like I wanted answers from God. I wanted answers of did he not know that he was loved? Did he not know all these, you know that so many people would be hurt and that so many people would miss him? And I really had to wrestle that out with the Lord and realize that there are answers that I'm not going to get. And there's a peace that comes with that as much as there's a frustration because there are certain things that we will not understand on this side of heaven. I think it's in Colossians 1 where it talks about the mystery of the gospel, which is Christ in us the hope of glory. And so the mysteries come within the person of Jesus. And so, there are things that I won't understand. But I can look and see the suffering that Christ went through legitimately on the cross and see that there are suffering that's supposed to be a part of our life that a good God sent His Son to die on a cross to do a miracle for us.

And so, I don't understand the whys of why this suffering was in my dad's life. I don't understand why the pain has come of losing him to suicide in my own life. But I can look to Jesus and know that the hope of glory is in the mystery that is unveiled in Christ Jesus himself. And so I don't have to understand that. Yes, it's frustrating for my flesh. But for my spirit, it's just something that's actually freeing that I can release that to God and not have to question it because I'm not God. So I can fixate on Jesus instead. Trust that I'll get those answers one day. And I received a vision actually, during World race training camp. We were listening to lean back one of the nights and I remember hearing the lyrics, I'll lean back in the loving arms of a beautiful father. And I immediately got really sad because I thought, well, I can't do that I can't lean back in my dad's arms anymore. And God just gently reminded me, no, but I'm here for you to lean back into. I'm here for you to rest in my presence. And I immediately had this vision. I have not a lot of visions from the Lord but I had this vision of Jesus, just standing on this big white cloud just surrounded by light and surrounded by what I guess was Heaven, I assumed was heaven. And my dad walked up behind him, put his arm around him and he was dressed in all white just restored. I mean, smiling as big as he could like he always did. And he just put his arm around Jesus and started waving at me, this vision. And it was so sweet because it was during lean back and during these lyrics of your love is better than all the others that I need, or all the others that I've seen. I remember thinking like my dad's good, like, he's restored. He's in heaven even though a lot of people have differing views on you know suicide and suicidal attempts and things like that. I feel like that was God letting me know, like, he's okay, he's with me, he's with Jesus. And so I have peace and knowing that I'll get answers on the other side of heaven, you know, and I don't have to worry about those things now.

Mary:

Yeah, thank God that He gave you that peace. You know, I think it's so beautiful that you know, when we're worried about something and we reach out to God for that confirmation of peace that he gives it to us whether it's new visions or dreams or prophecy or scripture itself. And it's such a freeing feeling to realize we're not in control. 

Angelica:

  17:31

Amen.

Mary:

  17:32

You know, I think something God's been talking to me about is he's like Mary like you're not equipped to be in control. You shouldn't want to be in control. So just let me take this, you know. And it's beautiful to hear you walk through the journey of like, you know, I might not have the answers but God does and he's good. And he's taking care of everything. 

Angelica:

Absolutely! I completely agree. We don't have that much power, you know, to be in control. I've learned that and I rest in that so much as you know, when you're thinking about, oh, well, I'm just worried about this or I'm concerned about this or what if you know should I feel guilty about that? Or should I feel shame in this specific thing? We don't have that much power, you know. We are not God and praise him for that you know so I agree completely.

Mary:

I think there's a stigma around suicide. There's so many stigmas. But I think one of them is that you don't have a good relationship with God. I love that you shared love for God and the connection that he had with Scripture and worship and things like that. Because, you know, there's so many reasons why people go through something like this. It's not just like a one generic answer. I just will be smiling with you that your father like is meeting Jesus even though he's not here right now. And that you and so many other people want to be with him but to celebrate the fact that he does know the Father's love. What was your favorite quality about your father?

Angelica:

Oh, that's such a good question. There were so many. Oh man, his giving heart. He gave away so many things. He would buy gifts for people all the time just to shower them with love. I remember, we left my PTSA I think it was our awards night, my senior year of high school and my good friend Cory was there. My dad had a plant that he had gotten for Cory and he literally left the PTA meeting and followed Cory out of the parking lot to honk at him for Cory to pull over because he wanted to give him this plant. And he didn't touch him at the BGA awards night and that was just his heart was like “yo man, I got you this plant dude like congratulations on graduating.” Or he'd get custom made pocket knives for my guy friends or he would, you know give $50 in the car to one of my girlfriends just because he wanted to give. He loved music. He loves the arts. He loved creativity. When I was in college there were plays and shows and dance theater that we had at Ole Miss that I wasn't even in. And he would travel over to Mississippi to come and see Mississippi the dance company to see a dance show to see a concert to see a live band play down at the Oxford square. And I wouldn't be in them. And he would just come because he wanted to be a part of like music and culture and art. And that's so my heart as well. He loved the Lord. He loved preaching the gospel.

The last, like I said two to four years of his life, he was so on fire for Jesus. He was the only person I knew that would drop the F bomb at the same time he was preaching the gospel to you, and it was endearing. It wasn't, you know, like, well, I don't know how God feels about that. But he was so passionate about sharing it with you that he didn't care that he had the mouth of a sailor, you know. He knew that God knew his heart and he was there to share it. And however that came out was how it came out. Yeah, there were so many things I loved about him. He was a wild man. But he was a very kind man and a very outgoing man. And he wanted people to know they were loved and that they were seen and cared for.

Mary:

That's so incredible. And I know that, you know, traumatic events like suicide really affects not only like you personally but your relationships with other people. So, how did that affect your family dynamic?

Angelica:

Well, my parents were split up as it was. My mom was definitely burdened in more ways than I can say and very heartbroken. For her it was more of, and you know, she has her own story of grief. But for her, it was hard for her to look at pictures. It was hard for her to listen to music. It was hard for her to really face it completely. And they weren't together. But she still obviously, you know, made me with him. And so they love each other deeply. And definitely had gotten closer at the end of his life as well and had kind of started restoring some of their relationship.

As far as I was concerned, I wanted to immerse myself self in the pictures. I wanted to see the photos. I wanted to hold on to the tangible reminders. I wanted to hear his songs and his music that he listened to with me all the time. And so, for me, I think I went through a very different grieving process than a lot of other people did. It made closer with my aunt. My aunt is a rock in my life now. My brothers and I, after several years of kind of being pretty distant after my dad died have gotten closer. We're now closer than we've ever been in my life at age 30, which is just incredible. And like I said, they're 20 years older than me. And so I think it's just remembering that God's going restore things in his own time. And the dynamics might look really messy and really painful at first. But there is restoration, I think. A lot of fervent prayer went into that on my end of just hoping that God would work things out the way that he needed to with different relationships that we're connected to my dad. God has been faithful in the little sweet things like that, to keep relationships growing and restoring even in the midst of pain and in the midst of brokenness. But yeah, it's been a wild journey but also a strengthening journey, you know. I think we always have a choice of how we look at stuff, right. And I praise God that he's given me a heart to find the strength. And it doesn't mean that I don't have days where I break down and just sob myself to sleep missing him so much. Those days come. 

But I heard a sermon last year about not unpacking in the places that you feel pain to remain with your faith over your feelings at all costs. Because if you unpack your bags in a place of sadness or you unpack your bags in a place of pain and you decide to move into that space, you might not move out for a while. It doesn't mean that you can't walk through that room with your bags and know that you're feeling down or know that you're feeling heartbroken or know that you're missing someone. But just don't unpack and live there. Remember that there's another room that's, you know, where the Holy Spirit is and go back to that.

Mary:

I like that example of unpacking bag. And kind of like, how do we process something like this? You know, something that I've been kind of questioning is how do you take, like, how do you allot your time for a grieving process but then also kind of in some ways celebration and you know, kind of thinking about normal life and everything that's going on? Do you have any insight as to that balance?

Angelica:

Absolutely! Yeah. When everything first happened, we had a celebration of life service. I knew that he would have wanted that as opposed to a funeral. He wanted his ashes scattered in a very specific spot. He had mentioned that to me prior which looking back now was strange that he had told me that but I never like put two and two together. And so we had a celebration of life service. I had everyone were like band memorabilia or tie dye or grateful dead. We had all of his favorite snacks from the farmers market there. I had pictures up of him everywhere. My aunts and family helped me set that up at one of his favorite pavilions in Stone Mountain Park. And then we hiked up Stone Mountain, spread his ashes afterward with rose petals. I had a bunch of friends there and really just had this beautiful celebration of life service how I thought would best serve Him and represent him and represent his life well. And then after that, it became this kind of just deciphering of what to do. How do you grieve? And I remember talking to one of my counselors. I started counseling shortly after he died. 

And I remember saying like, I'm just not sure if I've fully grieved my dad's death. Like how do you know if you're fully grieving something or if you're not. And I remember her saying that there's no right or wrong to the way that you grieve something, you know. There's like the seven stages of grief quote unquote. But what really is that I've never gotten angry with my dad still till this day. I've never been mad at him for what happened. I get angry sometimes that he's not here. Like, I want him to be here. But I've never been mad at the situation or anything. And so my grieving process looked like doing things to honor him each year. So the first year anniversary, myself and my friends got together. We wrote him notes, friends and family. I had them all write my dad notes to send up to heaven. We put them inside of balloons and release balloons on the 50-yard line of the Ole Miss stadium because he loved Ole Miss football. And so we did that out on the stadium grounds which was awesome.

Fast forward, Father's Day sometimes I hike up Stone Mountain and one year I wrote him a card. And one side was a note to him. And one side was a note to whoever found that card, about just like loving the people that you have in your life while you have them and just kind of an inspirational message. And I left a balloon next to it. On the five-year death anniversary, I went back to the Ole Miss Stadium by myself and release balloons on the 50-yard line solo. So, without any friends but I just did that to honor him the same way that I had on the first year. Next week to honor him, I'm going to eat with his best friend. And then we used to go to the butterfly house at Callaway gardens when I was younger. And so, I'm going to go by myself the week after to just take a trip to Callaway gardens where I grew up with him. And so, grief I think like looks like whatever you want it to be, you know. If you grieve by crying into your pillow and journaling then that's your grief process. If you grieve by going out into the woods and you know hitting sticks against trees because you want to get out the anger that you're feeling, then that's your grief process. If you grieve by going and releasing balloons on the 50-yard line of a stadium that he loved then that's your grief process. And you feel like you're supposed to feel a certain way. I was talking to several of my coworkers about this the other day based on some trauma we've gone through at the safe house. And there's really no way that we're supposed to feel. You just feel how you feel and you have to accept that. 

Elizabeth Elliot wrote a book called be still my soul. And she talks about an acceptance, life, peace. And so we find peace from just accepting ourselves, accepting our circumstances, accepting our feelings and accepting what's happening around us. And in that space, we can find peace and the peace comes in and how we respond to it. So however you grieve, however you want to respond is okay, I think. And you know, I cried my eyes out the first day that I found out that my dad had died. Came home sob the first day and then I didn't cry the rest of the week. I gave his eulogy and didn't shed a tear for all intensive purposes. Got back to college, I always called him when I came back to school. And I got back to school and I couldn't call him and I was wrecked over again. But yet the week before and giving his eulogy, I didn't cry at all. But when I couldn’t call him, it hit me in a different way. So it's like, I think we just need to take the pressure off of what the world wants us to grieve like and if there's a right or wrong and just allow ourselves to feel and trust the Holy Spirit to steward the way our emotions are going to go, you know and see where he leads us. Because crying on someone's shoulder. You know, we all have different ways. And I think just remembering that we can do whatever we need to do to get through things.

Mary:

Hearing you talk about like the balloon releases and the things that you've done to honor your father are making me cry. It's so beautiful. I love and I'm sure he's looking down thinking how beautiful that is too. So were you ever mad at God throughout this process? Throughout this process, have you ever been mad at God?

Angelica:

You know, I really can't identify a time when I've ever really been mad at God. I think I've definitely questioned God. I've been frustrated at certain things, annoyed may be bothered. But I feel like the Lord has blessed me with some sort of a special kind of faith. I don't really know where it came from or why it happened to me or why I still have it. Because I've gone through some challenging things. But I really do think that God has given me this ability to consistently fall back on the fact that he is good, period! And to not question that. I think that it is very easy to get into our own versions of the gospel based on what the world teaches us and what society teaches us. And I really, I always connect with God through worship music and the last few years that's been just one of the ways that the Lord has spoken to me and really drawn me deeper and drawn me closer into what a real relationship was with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit and with God that I had never known really until the last couple of years. And in that space, I really started just, the Lord started speaking to me about believe the things that you're singing about. 

And if you're worshiping and you're singing these lyrics, do you really believe what you're singing that you're a good father, that's who you are. Do you believe that he's a king of good intentions? Do you really believe that because you sing it every Sunday morning, that he has an overwhelming reckless love that there's not a shadow that he won't light up or a mountain that he won't climb up coming after me? Do I really believe that? And if I do, then stand on that. And I have to stand on that even when every bit of my circumstances look opposite. You know, I think in the beginning when my dad first died that I felt like I had a reason to rebel and just to put God on the backburner. I don't know that I was ever mad at him but I wasn't. 

I wasn't really wanting to keep him as a priority really at the time. I wanted to do my own thing because I was just kind of wallowing in a lot of pain. And even though I stayed close to the Lord, for, you know, certain things. I still had a prayer life. I still trusted God. I still knew that he was with me. He was definitely just not priority in my life. I was living for myself and my own desires and such. And so was I ever mad at him? No, but he definitely took far last place in my life. And I didn't really get transitioned or transformed by the Holy Spirit really until the last two years just in sanctification and understanding what an intimate relationship was. I grew up going to church, going to Vacation Bible School, going to FCA and young life and all the things. I was in a Christian sorority for one of my years at Ole Miss but I did not know who the Holy Spirit was. I did not really understand a relationship with Jesus. I hadn't encountered Jesus yet. And then once that happened, everything started transitioning but yeah, even in the process, I think I rebelled and turned away from Him. But I don't think I ever was angry with him. And I don't think I ever fully doubted his goodness. I knew that I was the one that was kind of running wild. God didn't fall off his throne because my circumstances got crazy. You know, God's character didn't change because my life changed. And yet, I'm learning that more and more now as I'm getting older. And one of my favorite worship songs right now is Kari Jobe, your nature. And just holding on to the fact that it's like there is no desert that your streams can't run to. There's no ruins that your love won't make new. I know this wasteland will be whole again because it's your nature. And so even if it's a wasteland even if it's ruins, it's going to be whole again because that's who he is. It's what he does, you know. And I've gripped onto that more and more as I've processed through and grieved through the loss of my dad.

Mary:

And I think it's crazy how we can know who God is for so long. But there's a difference between knowing him and freedom in Him. You know, and so sounds like you've been on a bit of that journey too. 

Angelica:

Knowing him and finding freedom, yeah. Both were things I was lacking in their entirety. And still, right your life journey is if God is an infinite God, you know, I'll never know everything. Even when I feel like even when I'm in in heaven, like, will we ever really know all of God? I don't think so. I think there's always more. There's always deeper depths. There's always new levels which is so exciting because you literally can't get enough. It's great.

Mary:

Yeah, he's so good. That's incredible. Thinking back to especially, you know the time when you found out about what happened to your dad, what did you need, personally?

Angelica:

Oh, I needed to know that there were people that weren't going to leave because I didn't expect him to leave. And so I think there became this like innate fear that other people would leave and also amped up my care for other people. I became pretty codependent after my dad died because I was just so scared that something unexpected will happen to someone else that I loved. And sometimes even people that I didn't really know or love. If I met a stranger and they were in need of something or they needed a happy person in their life, I wanted to be that for them. And I kind of took on this savior complex in the midst of that and the Lord really had to strip me of that you can point people towards the Savior as an empty vessel but you are not going to save their lives. And that's really strengthened me a lot in ministry now is that I can go into the safe house and I can pour my whole heart out. But it's not me that I'm pouring out, it has to be the Holy Spirit otherwise, it's out of my own strength and that's not going to do anyone any good. But I can pour him out as much as I can and then when I leave that house, I have to surrender that they are his daughters and it's not up to me anymore. 

And at the beginning when my dad died, I could not surrender that God had control. I felt like I needed to have control and I needed to be the one that was going to save everybody else because I couldn't save him and that was very challenging. So, I needed to know that there were people that were going to stay. And I had, I mean an army of friends and family that by the grace of God surrounded me and held me up in some of my darkest days and still do till this day. Like I said, his best friend still calls me, you know, every other month and still checks in with me and we talk all the time. And so just know that there was people that were in my corner at the time, I think. Whether it was a text message or a phone call or a message on social media, it was those little things that really just kept propelling me forward. Messages of encouragement and community really was what I needed. 

And then counseling, you know, to be frank, I didn't really want to go to counseling. And I went to our like University Counseling which wasn't the greatest because it was you know, master's students that were training to be counselors and not all of them were the best. So, I wasn't the biggest fan of counseling at first and now it's a huge part of my life. Now I'm an advocate for counseling and I have a sweatshirt and a mug that says ‘it's okay to have Jesus and a therapist too.’ And I think that the Lord empowers us, you know, in certain ways to be able to counsel people through difficult things. I do a lot of that in my own life nowadays. And so to just see the fruit of the Lord empowering people to be able to help us. 

Mary:

Yeah, and we need each other, you know. Like he built us in community and relational for a reason. I know making so many connections. Yeah, those words of encouragement and scripture and whatever it may be, someone there to listen or someone there to counsel means so much. So just really shows the relational nature of who we are and who God is and who he designed us to be. 

Angelica:

Absolutely. And I think even thinking back to like that was my need. And so now when I hear people you know, going through certain situations, for instance your situation, I don't have to know who you are. I don't have to know your situation intimately to have the Holy Spirit pour through me and try to encourage some other people and other people walking through the same stories. I always say like I'll never fully understand what anyone else feels like because everyone's story is intimate but I can relate to your feelings. And therefore, if I can relate that gives us some sort of a common ground of connection, right? And so, then we can step into that space of relatability and connection and be able to like meet there even if we don't know each other deeply. 

I love that, like God knows what we need before we ask. I love that scripture. The Lord spoke to me last year, when I really started just praying really bold prayers for a lot of people in my life. You don't have to know their need to intercede. And so, I don't have to know you intimately. I don't have to know your story intimately to trust that the Lord is going to give me a download of what you need in that moment. And I think he's always speaking to us. It's just a matter of if we're listening or not, you know. There's a verse I want to say it's also in Colossians, if I'm not mistaken and it says “to this end, I strenuously contend with all the energy that Christ so powerfully works within me.” And I love that verse because it's not my energy. It's the Holy Spirit into me and into us as empty vessels. And it's his energy that powerfully works within us. Like I strenuously contend but with the energy that Christ works in me. So, I can be fighting and I can be contending for people in faith but it's Jesus's energy that's going to actually do something and make change. Angelica can't make change. You know what I mean? Like Mary can't make change but us as vessels with his energy and us stewarding it well, can change and transform people.

Mary:

That's so good. And clearly it is because like I mentioned at the beginning, God's given you wisdom and experience and you've pulled that Holy Spirit down to speak to me and I'm sure you're doing that through your job and through so many different things. So beautiful how it all comes full circle, right?

Angelica:

It really is girl. It really is. And what are the odds of your story right now, you know, lining up so much with mine and just, I think it's so crazy of even just our difficulties in planning a date for this to happen, and then Wi Fi disconnections and all these different things. It's like the enemy doesn't want stories of God's goodness to be shared. You know, he doesn't want us to connect. Like he doesn't even in a pandemic, he doesn't want us to virtually connect either. Because it just dismantles his power every time we share you know hard truths or hard things or vulnerable things that really bring glory to God through our brokenness. I think the enemy just hates it. I mean, he doesn't want those things to happen. And then when they get to happen in his face it's like, well, we knew that God was more powerful than you all along, you know, you just need to keep being reminded.

Mary:

Because hearing testimonies like this just like lights my heart on fire and makes me so excited. And that's why we started that. 

Angelica:

Amen. So real. So good.

Mary:

Well, Angelica, is there anything else that God has put on your heart to say? 

Angelica:

Man, when you think you don't have any fight left, fight one more day. I think that's been man, so much of my story, and so much of so many people I've met in the last nine years since my dad died. And if I could go back and say one thing, then it would be like, man, if you don't think you've got any fight left, just fight one more day dad. You know, I would go back and share that with him and just say, hang on one more day. You know and I think that we were in such a time in our lives where everything is you know instant gratification and everything is rushed. And everything is we need it now and we want answers now and want to understand now. But sometimes we just have to hold on for one more day. And like we forget the beauty and the weightedness, if you will of just taking life a day at a time and being present. 

And you know, in Matthew, it says, ‘don't worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will have enough worries for itself,’ or whatever that scripture is. And I just think that's so true because we're so fixated on the future. I'm very guilty of it. I'm an over thinker. I'm an over planner. I get stressed out about something that's happening in 2022, that hasn't even you know we're not even barely into 2021. But I'll be thinking, well, you know what about this plan in my life and if we can just take it one day at a time and remember that today might feel like the doubts. But if we can fight one more day, His mercies are new every morning, you know. There's going to be a strand of hope. If the only hope we hold on to today, if we're having an awful day, the only hope we hold on to today is that you know we had a conversation with a friend, then that's the hope. 

I actually met a friend of mine in the hallway that lives in my condo complex, middle aged kind of man. We've chatted several different times. I don't know his background or his beliefs or his faith but came out of the elevator and this man was in tears and just started just kind of opening up to me about where his life was. And you know, I stood there and listened and asked him I said, “what are you holding on to hope right now? Like what's your string of hope?” And he said, “right now I don't really have any.” And it shook me to my core, I said, “you don't have any hope right now, like no string of hope.” And he said, “not right now.” And I was like Lord, give me something to give to this man. Like, give me something to share with him, you know, and we continued to talk and stood there for 20 minutes and he ended up I gave him a hug. And he cried on my shoulder for a minute I asked him if I could pray for him? I prayed for him. We ended up having this like really beautiful end to the conversation. 

And at the end of the conversation after I prayed for him, I said, “listen, man, like, if your string of hope is just this interaction in this conversation was different than the rest of your day, then this is your string you hold on to today. If for only the 17 minutes that we've stood here, your eyes were lifted off of your circumstances and the weight was carried with someone else. Whether I really matter in your life or not, then this is your hope that you hold on to and you fight until tomorrow.” And God gave me Scriptures for him that night that I sent to him. And I prayed for him this past weekend and we've chatted since then. And so he's holding on to hope for another day, whether he felt like he had a knee or not. There's always a string of hope. There's always a silver lining of the Lord somewhere in the midst of our pain. And so yeah, that would just be my heart to share is when you think you have no fight left, just fight one more day. One more minute even, one more hour and find your string of hope, whatever that is. Maybe it's a cheeseburger from McDonald's with the 99 cents that you have in your car, of your car change because you're broke right now and you're a missionary or you're in college. Maybe it's eye contact with someone who smiles at you. Maybe it's seeing a bird outside of your window. Find that hope and hold on to it. Get to tomorrow. Get to the next day, get to the next hour and then keep fighting because we all have more fight than we believe we do. The enemy would want us to believe that we're alone. He would want us to believe the lies that we can't fight. One more hour, one more minute, one more day, but we can. And if Jesus is in us and whether we know that he's in us or not, he is you know, God created us. And so we've known the Lord at some point, whether it was in our mother's womb or whether it's now. That design of being made in His image is who we are, whether we realize it or not. And so there is a little part of God's somewhere in us. And if we can just find that out, if we can just trust that whether we believe our claim Jesus's Lord or not, it's there. And so if we can fight one more day, fight, you know, keep fighting. 

Mary:

Oh, that's so good. What an encouragement! I love that.

Angelica:

Absolutely girl.

Mary:

I would love to go ahead and pray this, especially this last message of just fighting one more day over you over me and over all of our listeners before we go. 

Angelica:

Amazing. I would love to. I will join you in that.

Mary:

Jesus, I just thank you for Angelica story, I thank you for just the joy that she has found in you, found in knowing you and found in freedom and your God. I thank you that she's able to share the testimony of your goodness and how you have saved her father, maybe not a way that we would expect or had even desired. But you come after all of your children. You're fighting for them and I thank you that you're fighting for her father as well and that he's with you, God. And I just pray for all of our listeners that they really hold on to the hope of fighting for one more day God, that they're able to see you in the small things, you know. Whatever it is, maybe it's a small treat like an ice cream cone or in a good conversation or the mountains and the view. Father, I just thank you that you're showing up in everything and that our eyes are just continually open to see that and see your hope. So, thank you and Amen. 

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