Just Call Me Milagro

Nancye F. Rivera

© Copyright 2020 by Nancye F. Rivera

Photo by Jan Kaluza on Unsplash
Photo by Jan Kaluza on Unsplash

I'm going to live to 103," I prophesied as a six-year-old. Now at 65, I’ve added “a strong life” to the mix so I can finish well. Actually, it is a miracle that I am alive, and I often joke that I should change my name to Milagro, which means miracle in Spanish.

My upbringing was cold, loveless, and fearful. I am the middle child of 11 children and my parents divorced when I was 10. We were poor, lived on welfare, government food, and second-hand clothes. Life obstructed all light of hope until I was accepted at DePaul University, Chicago at the age of 16. The family was quick to disown me, claiming that I thought I was better than them. That was fine by me.  However, they still found ways to infiltrate their negativity. I finished my bachelor’s in three years and fled to San Francisco to work on my MBA in Accounting where I started my career and discovered sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. They quickly became my priorities.

One evening, a married co-worker, who was my lover, and I drove to Oakland where he introduced me to crack. I do not recall getting back to San Francisco where I awakened the next morning in my bed with my lover roommate. So, although I cared about my education and career, my social, spiritual and physical life was a shamble.

During these years, the contact with the family was minimal as it was always very stressful and negative. However, in my late 20’s because I was single, they summoned me to Puerto Rico to take care of my ailing father. I went as it was an escape from my high-risk lifestyle. I never did return to San Francisco. After my father passed away, I moved back to Chicago, where I still live today.

I pursued another master’s degree and implemented a career change to communications. However, I continued my addictions, which eventually forced bankruptcy. In the depth of my soul, I was miserable and desperately seeking the purpose of my life that would fill the void in my existence.

I had received the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior when I was eight, but I had shelfed Him for over 30 years. One early Sunday morning, while drinking a beer, I was watching a TV ministry program. The minister was teaching and suddenly he pointed his finger and shouted, “You, with that beer in your hand, the Lord is calling you.” I almost choked. At the end of the program, he presented the salvation and recommitment call. I dropped to my knees.

It took nine months before I was drug-free and changed my lifestyle. I began to learn how to take care of myself and nurture my spiritual life. The discovery of God’s love for me and learning how to love myself was the turning point. I was tying the laces to my running shoes one afternoon when it seemed like heaven opened with the revelation and I exclaimed to the Lord, “you love me!” I knew it was Him working in me.

That was 25 years ago. It has taken diligence and discipline to overcome addictions, cancer, other odds, and to remain steadfast. Today I am a very grateful, happy and strong woman who takes great measures to safeguard my life of peace. One extremely important safeguard is I do not tolerate the familial caustic and cynical remarks, “Are you a millionaire yet? I would think by now….”

While in prayer for the family, the Lord said, “I cannot come down there and tell people how to treat you.” So, I did! After a couple of “You are not going to speak to me that way,” their calls stopped.

I never married and I am not lonely. I feel complete and dedicated to fulfilling my calling in the field of Christian communications. I also teach at the Hispanic Bible School and have mentored hundreds of students emphasizing how to take good care of themselves in all regards.

I’m still prophesying that I will live to be 103. Self-love, self-respect, and knowing your identity in Christ are keys that lead to a long and strong life. The routines of exercise and nutrition are critical. Remembering the outcome of overindulgence of chocolate and Italian foods provides the necessary temperance. When I saw the number on the scale creep up to 180 pounds, I said, “no más!”

Executing tough love and surrounding yourself with like-minded and positive individuals creates a healthy social, emotional and intellectual life. Establishing goals that keep your dreams alive provides happiness and the ability to share meaningful experiences with others, while being an example especially for the next generation.

When challenges and disappointments arise, the scriptures are my guard rails and medicine. Staying close to what makes me happy and keeping the vision before me provides strength and compels me to run the race to the finish. I have learned that the words I speak have the greatest authority and determine the manifestations in my life.
My redeemer’s constant guidance, wisdom and promise of a long-satisfied life guarantees and creates the faith that I can live to 103. After all, I am Milagro.

Nancye discovered her love of writing in grammar school and was told by many teachers, in college as well, that she was a good writer. But when she discovered that writing exposes the self,  fear temporarily gained the victory. However, she realized that the one thing she must do before she dies is write. So here she is!

 Nancye got her master’s in arts from Columbia College Chicago and is currently working on her Doctorate in Preaching and Media Ministry. She is a passionate communicator of the transforming power of the Word of God. Called to preach the gospel in Spanish, she also teaches at the Hispanic Bible School in Chicago. 

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