It Started With a Dream-Guest Post by Jen Orona

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I vaguely remember the conversation. My oldest daughter, 8 at the time, was telling her dad about a dream she had. The rapture had happened, and her WHOLE family was there. She had an uneasiness in her voice, she was torn. It wasn’t just her immediate family; Mom, Dad, and sisters. Her Grandma and Grandpa went to Heaven with her. The way she spoke stuck out to me most. There was questioning in her voice. “Dad, how could that happen? Grandma and Grandpa aren’t saved.” My husband hesitated for a moment to collect his thoughts, his response… something along the lines of the dream being God’s placement upon her heart and we need to continue praying for them because God can do miracles.

We had been praying, our whole marriage, my whole life, desperately wanting my Mom to find Jesus. I had become so jaded with unanswered prayers that I honestly had somewhat lost hope. Nothing I could do would be enough to bring her salvation.  When I began working at 14 to earn my own steady income, I lost hope. When I handed over paychecks because the rent was short, I lost hope. When I agonized through cold showers because, once again the heat was turned off, I lost hope. In those times when I hoped she would become who I wanted her to be, and she didn’t I told myself it was because I wasn’t enough. She must not love me enough to stop her addiction.

It started when I was around 13. My Mom began going to Bingo with my Grandma, harmless, right? Then she went more and more until eventually, if I wanted to see her, I had to go, too. I never would have believed someone if they told me they were addicted to Bingo, but I now know firsthand that if a person has a hole that needs to be filled, they will find SOMETHING to fill it. I got used to the cycle, so did the rest of us.

Bingo turned into Blackhawk. Our relationship deteriorated. I spent as much time away from home as I could. I felt guilty for being away from my little brother, but I wanted so much to be free from it all that I left as soon as I could. I needed to be a part of something important, and I also needed to be far. At 17 I left to the Marine Corps.

My own journey towards salvation was somewhat simple. I was raised Catholic, but my relationship with God truly began as a Junior in high school when I read the “Left Behind” series and navigated my thoughts and questions about God on my own. I went on to foster my new beliefs in a new part of the world and tried to let go.

Things with my Mom got worse while I was away, her problems piled higher and her hole got bigger. I have never begrudged my Mom for being overwhelmed with the pressures of her life. She was dealt a tough hand and struggled with her own feelings of emotional neglect from her parents. At 16 she gave birth to me and raised me as a single mom until she met my Stepdad. He was young too when they met, so together we all were trying to grow up. Now, as a mom myself, I sympathize with her struggles. She did what she thought was her best and gave what she was capable of giving.

My commitment to the Corps was close to over and I had no intentions of living again in Colorado. However, my new husband was determined to be near the Rocky Mountains so, pregnant and newly married, I returned. For seven years, there were consistent ups and downs. My parents adored my children and I saw my Mom share affection with them I didn’t know she was capable of expressing. I heard her say “I love you” freely to them and each time my heart ailed because I wanted it to be directed towards me. My husband and I tried hard to establish boundaries with money, but, just like the addict, the enabler has difficulty saying “No.”

Around the time my daughter had the rapture dream, we were coming off one of the most painful incidents we had been through. I felt so betrayed and damaged that I went through depression. My Mom and I were barely on speaking terms, almost all communication centered around the girls. I had written off all hope but continued to pray out of routine, expecting my prayers to continue to be unanswered. When my daughter shared her dream, I was as befuddled as her, my parents weren’t saved, why did she dream they made it to Heaven?

The circumstances surrounding her finding God moment I reserve for her to share. What I will share is that when my husband contacted me on May 13, 2016 and told me my Mom called him earlier in the day and said she was ready to accept Jesus, my heart stood still. Really? Is it possible? With a tinge of hesitance, I called her and heard her out. For the first time, I said “I love you,” she said it back, and I knew she meant it. The dream my daughter had wasn’t a fluke, it was God’s foreshadowing. When she heard that Grandma was saved, she became so full of emotion she excused herself to another room to cry and praise God, her dream came true. After her grandma’s baptism, she insisted on cake and a party.

My Mom has been coming to Mosaic faithfully since that day. I’ve seen her mature in her relationship with God. Her hole is finally filled and I can now put into perspective that she didn’t withhold love from me, she simply didn’t have love to give. The agape, selfless love that only Jesus shares has persisted and found its place within her heart.

If you’ve taken the time to read through all this- thanks for your patience, I can get kinda wordy. I appreciate the opportunity to share my story, others might be in a similar situation and I hope that my happy ending gives you hope, especially if you’re feeling hopeless. God hears your prayers and can do miracles!

Just…Try – Guest Post Caiti Mondragon

“Every accomplishment comes from the decision to try.”

Last May, Ray graduated from UNC. As I was sitting there watching my kids’ reaction to him walking up on stage and getting his college degree, I vowed to myself that I would go back and finish as well. But, there was a catch. I would only go back if I didn’t have to retake the public speaking class that I received a “D” in during my first go round at UNC. How did I get a “D” you might ask? Easy. I wouldn’t show up on the days of my presentations.  Well, I showed up for my first two, I believe…and that’s it. Not sure how many of you know this about me, but public speaking terrifies me. My two biggest fears are snakes and public speaking. That’s it. Terrifies me.

Anyway, I decided to meet with a counselor, and found out that I didn’t have to retake it! Music to my ears! Also, the icing on the cake was that I could probably finish my degree in 18 months to two years. Even better. I enrolled, and I am now in my second semester back at UNC.

I know for a fact that God has a sense of humor because as I was sitting in my first class (last semester), the professor began going over the syllabus and as I’m skimming at the same time I see in bold letters, Oral Presentation. Wait…I said I wouldn’t do this if I had to get in front of people and speak. Yet, here it says oral presentation? I stressed the entire semester over this presentation. But, when those 6 minutes and 40 seconds were over, I felt so proud of myself. I did it!

On to my current semester!! Feeling like a million bucks, the first week of classes I found out that I have a presentation in Every. Single. Class. Immediately, the balloon of confidence I was riding in popped. No way I can do this. I thought for sure somewhere in the syllabus I would find the word SNAKES too! Might as well!

Switching gears for a second, this year, Elijah decided to wrestle. He has grown so much as a person and as a wrestler. It’s been pretty amazing to watch his progress. My Elijah is so much like me, sometimes it hurts. He gets down on himself very easily, so when the arm of his opponent is raised, you can see his “balloon of confidence” slowly start to let out air every time.

Saturday was a rough day for Elijah. He did pretty good his first match, but his second match, it was a totally different boy on the mat. He was backing away from his opponent and every time he would get on his back, he would cry out to me or his big sister, Emaleigh. He was trying to do anything to get the ref, or his coaches to stop the match…but it kept going. It was really heartbreaking to watch as Elijah has never done this before.

He came off the mat, completely scared, defeated and deflated. He immediately called Ray. Now, I’m not sure exactly what Ray told him, but from what Ray told me later, it went something like this: He told him that his coaches or the refs would never put him in harms way. He told him that he has got to believe in himself because if he goes on the mat already defeated, he will lose. He needs to go out there, confident in himself, and he can win! He told him he has the tools that he has learned in practice to be a great wrestler…he just needs to believe in himself. And, most importantly, he told him that he is always with him. Although he can’t be there physically because of work, he is there in his heart…always.

The next match, Elijah went out and pinned his opponent in 57 seconds.

Just as Elijah needed a pep-talk from his Daddy, sometimes we all need that same word of encouragement from our heavenly Father. As I watched Elijah sitting on the bench after that awful match, I couldn’t help but think of how I started this semester feeling already defeated and how much I could use a pep talk myself.  No, I don’t want to do presentations, but I know that God is teaching me something. It would be easy to just quit, or find other classes. But, I’m not learning anything if I am constantly sitting in my chair of comfort. I knew gong back to college wasn’t going to be easy…but I will finish on top, just like Elijah did.

Yesterday at church, I got the same piece of encouragement that I needed. Our pastor preached on having a vision. In a nutshell, there are 4 steps of vision:

1.The Spirit’s Prompting

2. Uncertainty

3. Resistance

4. Divine Clarity

Can I just encourage you (probably because I need to remind myself) that when you get to the uncertainty and the resistance of your vision (because you will get there), don’t let that stop you from completing the vision that God has put in your heart! Push through, persevere because seeing your vision come to pass in God’s timing will be totally worth all of the sweat, tears (and presentations)!

Thank you to Caiti Mondragon for giving us permission to repost her blog! Click Here to visit Caiti’s blog: MrsMomdragon and read more.