My name is Nadine and I am the youngest of 4 siblings, born & raised in Miami and born March 4th, 1990. Both my father & mother are Haitian descendants that came to Miami for a better living. Growing up, life was great until I witnessed my father struggle with an alcohol addiction on a regular basis. Always noticing a bottle of alcohol on the coffee table half full, allowed me to put two and two together that he'd been drinking again. I'll never forget a night when my mom came home from work and before she could even sit to rest her feet, my dad began to physically, emotionally and mentally abuse her out the house. Outside, she ran to our bedroom window begging my siblings and I to take the house keys from the kitchen table without my dad noticing, and sneak it to her.

But sadly, as we were talking to our mom, my dad came bursting through our bedroom door with a long machete stating that "if anybody opened the door or touched the keys he would cut our hands off!" After witnessing what he had  did to his wife, the mother of his children; no doubt about it we did as he said. We all feared and believed him from that moment on and left my mom outside, in the cold all alone. The following day as I headed out for school, I found my mom under the garage on top of the hood of the car; sleeping with a raincoat as her blanket. Watching her crawl off of the car, face full of embarrassment and humiliation broke me internally, and things didn't get any better from there. My mom took my 2nd oldest sister and I to live in an apartment away from home having to leave behind my 1st oldest sister and my only brother with my dad. I watched my mom weep, cry, yell and pray on her knees for God to help her. Wegrew up in a catholic church, but when the separation of my parents took place we bounced from church to church and I only attended because my mother dragged me. I didn't want to be there and I wanted to go back home to my sister, brother and dad.

    One day things began to change and we moved back home. I couldn't have been more excited, kind of like a kid in the candy store. Most kids were happy to have new clothes at school but I was just happy my family was back together.

Until it happened. One night as my mother was preparing dinner, my dad walked in the house and didn't say a word to any of us. He made his way into their bedroom, grabbed a handful of clothes from the closet and walked out the house. Realizing what was taking place, I ran outside behind my dad but he didn't care, he continued to head towards the car. He walked out on his family and drove off. He left my mom who barley spoke English, had no education, working a $4 dollar minimum wage job, carless, with a new house mortgage, 4 kids; to figure life out on their own. I couldn't understand why my dad would ever leave me? He called me "Princess" and said he loved me; how could this be? With no answers, I began to place all the blame on the one person that was there; my mother. And for that reason, I made her life a living hell. I was the troubled child out of my siblings. I took everything that happened to us and the divorce the hardest. No one showed me attention, my mom's bed wasn't the same to sleep on at night and our home wasn't the same. I wasn't the same.

    I began fighting with my brother and sisters; ruining their personal things, breaking things in the house, cursing out my mother & also physically fighter with her. Running away from home was second nature and I didn't care if my mom was home worrying. She filed missing child reports with the police on many occasions because I refused to come home and she was afraid something terrible may had happened to me. I was clearly lost, full of rage, pain and hurt. Fearing that I would end up dead in the streets, my mom placed me in a bootcamp where I learned the meaning of becoming a champion and being disciplined at the time. But it didn't take long after being released to going back to the same bad behavior. My mom could not control me.

I remember getting the news that my dad got re-married and started a new life with his new wife. On the weekends, we would normally go to our dad's house and it became so uncomfortable.  He tried to have us call this woman we never met "mom" and It didn't take long for me to tell my mom that I had enough and wasn't going back there anymore. Though I could see the hurt in my mothers eyes, she looked at me and said "no matter what, he is still your father & you need to love him and still show him respect". I looked at her as if she were crazy because she was defending the sam man that beat her, leave us, start a new life and has us struggling to keep a roof over our heads. I thought to myself, "how is she giving him grace like that? So I began to hate them both. I told myself if I ever have a family, it would be a perfect one & I'll never allow a man to treat me how my dad treated my mother.

I went to the streets, hanging around gangs for the love I wasn't receiving at the place I once called home. My mind was so f*cked up from this point. I vowed to hate all men and to never fall in love or allow anyone to get close to me. Until I met a guy. I was 16 years old and he was 3 years older than me. He treated me to nice things and nice dates. I thought he was the perfect guy, up until he started to physically abuse me. I had been choked to sleep, had black eyes, the whole nine yard. I figured hey, I watch my dad do it to my mom, so I guess this is the meaning of love. So we continued dating and on my 17th birthday March 04, 2007, we had unprotected sex. An from that moment, my whole life changed. The man I loved gave me a std on my freaking birthday, an std that had no cure, but only medication to reduce symptoms and make it less likely to spread. I found out a week later while going to my first gyn Dr. for a check up and being rushed and admitted to the hospital. While in the hospital I called him and informed him that I didn't have aids or H.I.V. but that he gave me an STD. And his response was "so you saying I gave you something?" I wanted to murder him through the phone. He didn't even come visit me at the hospital. I figured no one would ever want me now, I will never be a wife, or have kids.

    I went from being the coolest kid in school to not having any friends anymore. They called me all types of bad names and no one wanted to hang around me. If they did talk to me, it was all negative. All I could think was, "these kids don't even know my story or what happened to me and they're judging me." My heart turned cold from there. I began abusing alcohol, smoking marijuana, hanging out in the strip club, getting arrested for stealing and not caring what happened to me. I tried committing suicide by over dosing on 19 capsules of pills. I had to be rushed to the hospital and got my stomach pumped. I convinced myself that no one else would ever want me, I might as well stay with the guy. A few months later I found out I was pregnant and had the urge to start to want change in my life for my son CJ who is now 6 years old. It was a battle getting out of that relationship, but I did it. I began turning my life around, attending church on my own, signing up for college and graduating on the Dean's List with my Associate Degree in Paralegal Studies.

    But then I met another guy and this relationship was different. He was working, going to school, attended church and had respect for his mother which was rare from the past guy I was dating. Before things got real serious, I sat him done to inform him about my health. I was so nervous & full of shame to have to repeat the words I was about to say. Fortunately, at the time he accepted me for who I was & we began to date, attend church together and suddenly moved in together but the relationship sure was a roller coaster ride. Nine months into the relationship I became pregnant and gave birth to Jordan who is now 3 years old. At the time I was attending Trinity Church but was just an attendee. One day in 2012, I attended their summer conference called "Broken, Minded & Second Winded". I had never been to a church conference & after hearing Pastor Rich Jr. preach, I felt a tug on my heart and a voice saying "It's time to change my life and that I still had a second chance" so I decided to give my life to Christ that night and got my first Bible. After this commitment, I thought my relationship would get better but instead it got worse! We were on & off, fighting, he stopped attending church and he allowed the fast street life to take a hold of him. After pleading for a change, we tried to give it another try. I refused to give up and I thought I could change him. He ended up proposing to me by sliding a beautiful diamond ring towards me on the dinner table, refusing to get down on 1 knee. I still accepted the proposal though. But something in my heart knew that it wasn't right. The man of God that God created to be my husband would have been honored to get down on one knee. I thought I was worth that much, but I guess to him I wasn't.  We never made it to a wedding day and it left me even more broken and embarrassed in front of my family, friends, church members, etc. I realized that I couldn't change a man, only God could. The relationship left me in a rout. He made me believe that no man will ever want me with 2 kids and no life would ever compare to the fancy house, cars, money, clothes, shoes, jewelry he gave me. I believed him since those words came from the man I almost married. Plus he was right, I wasn't worth anything, I mean for goodness sake my own dad left me. 

    Now alone, I was left as a single mother with two kids, two different fathers and my faith was all I had. I began seeking God and building my relationship with my mother. If there is one woman I knew was strong, was my mom. She welcomed me back with open arms and not one time did she say "I told you so". Instead she sat me down and with grace began to guide me on becoming a better woman. She told me to never let go of God, continue to pray, go to church, keep a job, take care of my kids and change my life. I began serving wholeheartedly at Trinity Church, joining connect groups, changing my friends and looking to what was ahead. But my addiction to sex still had a hold of me. I was secretly in different unhealthy relationships and still having sex, having 2 abortions, watching porn; the whole shebang. I then started to realize that I was diminishing my value and worth and that I can't expect a man to respect me if I'm not respecting myself. So I began to carry myself differently and cried out to God after experiencing so many lessons that unhealthy relationships wasn't pleasing God.

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I'm worth more than a piece of a**, and I deserve more; heck, my kids deserve more! That led me to letting go and giving God one full year of my life, allowing Him to expose and remove any evil or un-forgiveness out of my heart and confessing any sin that's been hidden. I needed to make my life right no matter what the consequences were. As I begun to mature in Christ, things began to shift in my life and I am now at peace and full of joy raising my 2 beautiful handsome boys with a great support team. I learned to have a new perspective in life and to wait on God in all areas of my life. I'm now starting a connect group called "Beautiful Souls". The purpose for this group is to seek the inner-person no one physically sees but instead is expressed. Helping individuals to understand that they are not their mistakes! We all make choices that either better us or hinder our growth.. either way, we learn. This connect group is to capture this upcoming generation into accepting whose they are within, not what life has categorized them in. No matter how mouth-dropping your life may be, always remember with God, you'll always have and be a "Beautiful Soul".

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"I'm no longer a slave of fear! I am a child of God!", "I'm no longer a slave of fear! I am a child of God!" As I sit here and think, "where do I begin," tears of joy begin to flow down my cheeks reflecting back on how far God has sustained me through. -Nadine