Everyday People Interviews will give you a glimpse into the lives of everyday people with struggles and triumphs in their journey through life. You are everyday people. I am everyday people. We are all everyday people. Every person on this planet is a gem waiting to be discovered and valued. We can learn something from everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from, as long as we are willing to listen. They are the stories of our relatives, our friends, our neighbors, and even the stories of perfect strangers. The hope is that in sharing them, others will be inspired, challenged and/or encouraged in their own walk.
Tell us about yourself.
My name is Cindy Navarro and I am a stay-at-home grandmother. I have been raising my 12 year old grandson, Cody, for the past ten years. I have three adult children and two other grandkids. We all live in Cullman, Alabama. Cody and I attend Crosshaven Church. I volunteer at the store/library and Preschool Worship once a month. I also volunteer at the food/clothing ministry of my former church and I am very involved at Cody’s school. My interests include Bible studies and Christian media. I love music, movies, and books! I also must confess that I am absolutely addicted to Facebook and other forms of social media. I never play the games, but I have met many wonderful people who share my interests. It has been a great networking area for friendship, prayer support, and sharing with others about the latest in movies and books.
You have been through several losses, one being the death of a child as a young mother. Would you share your heart with someone who may be in despair over the loss of a child?
Losing a child is one of the most devastating things that can happen to anyone. My son died in 1974 when he was 9 weeks old and I was 18. There are still days when I miss him as though it were yesterday. Matthew died just hours before he was scheduled to have surgery to correct a problem that had been discovered the previous day. There was never any doubt in my mind that Matthew went from earthly life to eternal life with Jesus in an instant. That did bring me much comfort. I have never viewed death as a punishment or an end. Of course, even today, I speculate what his life would be like if he were alive. It is only natural to wonder about what could have been. However, I choose to focus on the joy my child is experiencing. Heaven is a promise to those who have accepted the gift of salvation offered by the death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus died so we may live! I just want to remind those who have lost a child through miscarriage or abortion that your child is also in Heaven. You too can be reunited with the child you never had the opportunity to hold in your arms. We mourn our loss on earth but there is a promise of great joy to come!
You have another child that is caught in an addiction. What would you say to the many parents out there going through a similar situation?
This one I feel needs to be handled more under the “What Not To Do” banner. David began drinking and some drug experimentation while he was in Junior High. To this day, I have no clue how he got his hands on the stuff. I seldom drink and have never kept it in the house. David would drink until he would pass out. It was frustrating because I knew what he was doing and how much he was doing. I just could not make him stop.
I would say that a supportive network of concerned people would have been useful. I was working either two jobs or jobs that allowed overtime when he was younger, so he had no supervision. I finally decided to move from Birmingham, after a few times of him staying out all night and me finding out later. We had lived in Cullman before, so I chose to return there. Since alcohol sales are illegal here, I thought it may at least thwart him for awhile.
Unfortunately, we had a wreck that weekend and now I was home, but still unable to give him adequate supervision. Once he turned 16, David dropped out of school. He had made THAT decision the first day of kindergarten. After my reaction to a drunk driving arrest, he also chose to have himself declared an adult by the court.
Basically, unless someone wants help, I do not know what to do. This all happened at a time when he was permitted too much freedom. He went to one alternative school and one “boot camp”, but neither helped except for the time he actually attended. Other facilities I knew of were not affordable and I had no hours left for yet another job.
David has been a functioning addict. He can always find a job and keeps it until he chooses to quit. When his son, Cody was born, he also made a huge change in his life, but began to drift back toward old patterns. He did always see to it that Cody was safely with me before using drugs or drinking, and eventually agreed that Cody needed to live with me.
All I have ever really been able to do is to hand David and his life to Jesus. I could not force him to get the help he needed and worrying changed nothing. While he eventually did stop drugs, he still does not see alcohol as a problem. He can be trusted to keep Cody for several days, but agrees that Cody needs to stay with me. He is an adult now. I just keep praying that he will grow up and become the person I tried to raise him to be. I wish this had a nice fairytale ending, but life can be messy.
Having survived a wreck that left crippling injuries, what would you want people to know about living life with a disability?
Actually, my wreck could have been much worse, although it did leave permanent damage. The broken wrist and sternum and various scrapes and bruises healed. The worst injury was a crushed ankle that has left nerve damage, a limp (which is worse on some days than others), and the fact that I have not had a pain-free day in nearly sixteen years. Considering that the doctor made a last minute judgment call NOT to amputate, I feel blessed.
Recovery took nearly a year and really opened my eyes to what some people face on a daily basis. Due to the extent of the injury, I had to spend many months in a wheelchair. It was stunning to me that you could approach a sidewalk with handicap access, but when you would get to the end of it there would be a curb or stairs! I could balance on one foot, but not everyone can.
However, the most discouraging part was the reaction from other people. If anyone spoke to me, they would speak slowly and in a raised voice. Usually my son, Jason, was with me. People would speak to him and just refer to me as “she” or “her.” Sadly, I was not always gracious or amused by this. My son shares my sense of humor though, so we did let it entertain us at other times.
Another impact of this wreck was going from being the sole support of my family to having no job. My daughter, Brandy, was expecting a baby when we wrecked. After Zac was born, she went to work and I baby-sat. One year later, I was recovering but her marriage ended. She moved back home with an 11 month old, and 8 months pregnant with her daughter. Brandy, Jason, and I made the decision that the two of them would work and I would take care of Zac and Caitlyn. I loved them, but also felt trapped. I had made plans for when my children were old enough to leave home. Being dependent upon others for my support and changing diapers was NOT my plan. However, God’s plan for allowing me to spend every day with these precious grandchildren has been a blessing beyond belief. Not long after Zac, Cait, and Brandy moved out, Cody needed me. I have been privileged to teach all three grandkids not only about God, but to pray with all three when each realized their need for a Savior!
Divorce has become more common, even among Christians. What did you learn from your experience that you can share with other women and men?
My divorce has been one of the more difficult areas for me to deal with. I once read somewhere that divorce is like the suicide of a marriage, and that has seemed true to me. There are Biblically acceptable reasons for divorce, but that is not the case in many. No one seems to care that marriage is a covenant relationship. It should nott be entered into lightly nor thrown away unless there is no way it can be resolved. Again, let me clarify, that there are sound excuses for divorce.
The excuse that bothers me the most is “I no longer love…” Love is a decision you make. People rush into marriage because they are attracted to someone, for companionship, convenience or any number of reasons. When that purpose has been fulfilled they think the commitment is gone. Personal happiness means more to them than holiness.
In my case, and in many others, the divorce is unwanted. I did enter into my marriage with the expectation that it would not last. I was 17, and frankly, married because I was pregnant. I felt that my child and the father of my child were owed my allegiance and a chance for a life together. After Matthew died, I did consider ending the marriage, but chose to honor my commitment. We matured and worked on our marriage for the next few years.
We quit trying and when Michael chose to leave the marriage, there was nothing I could do to stop him. I guess what I am saying is that as far as it is up to you, try to make your marriage work. If your spouse chooses to leave, sometimes you just have to accept it. I know of many people who have gone to second marriages that had the commitment, respect and honor required. If you focus on pleasing God and unselfishly loving your spouse, the marriage should succeed.
Many people ask, “Why does God allow suffering?” How have you answered that question for yourself in light of your personal experiences?
The question of why God allows suffering is a difficult one to answer. For myself, I believe it has helped me to become a more compassionate person. It is also much too easy for me to drift from God when things go smoothly. Sometimes I would like to have less character development, but when I look back at my life I can see how God walked with me and drew me nearer to Him during the hard times.
People tend to blame God and ask, “Why me?” Why not me? God did not cause any of the problems in my life. I have rebelled at things that have happened, I have pitched temper tantrums worthy of any two year old, and I have tried to turn away from God. Yet, He never let go of me and I knew He would never leave nor forsake me. He disciplines, not punishes, those He loves. I have no doubt that He loves me. When He permits me to go through any type of trial, I know there is a reason. I simply trust Him to walk beside me throughout it all.
One of the most thought-provoking books I have read is Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, a Jewish Holocaust survivor. What book, movie or music has had a life-transforming impact on your life and why?
There have been so many books, movies, and music that have impacted my life! Christian media is a major ministry and I love watching it improve and grow. The men and women involved continue to amaze me as I watch their commitment to not only strengthen and encourage the Body of Christ, but to also reach out to those who do not have a relationship with Christ. Entertainment with a purpose!
I will highlight one from each category:
1. Movie: BEYOND THE FARTHEST STAR. This hasn’t been released yet, but I am following it with great interest. This is a family drama that I believe has the potential to impact both the churched and the unchurched.
2. Music: WHAT IT FEELS LIKE by FFH. This could be the theme song of my life. I just recently discovered it and it feels like it was written for me.
3. Book: ROARING LAMBS by Robert Briner. This book is one that reminds us that our faith is not only for church on Sunday. My Christianity should affect all areas of my life. We could and should be making a difference in the world. Jesus commanded us to go and tell others about Him, not to huddle in little groups hoping others will approach and ask what makes us different.
What one act or words did someone do or say during a difficult time in your life that you will never forget?
There were no words. A hug and simply listening are all I and many others need during difficult times. That has always been what I needed and I try to remember that whenever someone comes to me during their difficult times.
How would you describe God to a person who is suffering who does not know Him personally?
Honestly? I do not believe most people who do not already have a relationship with Him are open to hearing about God when they are going through difficulties. It has been my experience that I should do my best to represent Christ when a non-believer is going through hard times. Then, I have had that person ask me later why I am the way I am or do the things I do. That is when they are open to hearing about God. I hate to sound trite, but ACTIONS DO SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS.
The only thing I have to add is the importance of parents, especially dads, in a child’s life. My two older children have not seen their dad since February of 1982. My son, David, visited him for an awkward weekend in July of 2004. They have no concept of living with a father. They did not even have a grandfather or uncle available for a male role model.
My two grandsons were toddlers when they last lived with their father, and my granddaughter never lived with hers. Cody has lived with me as long as he can remember. All of them have had step-fathers and step-mothers (some through marriage, some live-in), but the family dynamic changes every few years.
When we teach our children to think of God as a father, what concept do you think they have? It is so important when you have children to remain a part of their lives, even if there is a reason you cannot live in the same home with them.