Chris Rice Cooper

Chris Rice Cooper

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A Woman's Faith Story: From a Life of Sex, Drugs, Alcohol, Despair & Suicide to Complete Joy In Christ . . .

Chris Rice Cooper 

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Anonymous Writer’s Faith Story:
“Becoming A Woman After Jesus’s Own Heart!”

I grew up going to church.  My mom always made sure we went even when we didn’t want to. As a child my sisters and I would get involved in children's choirs, VBS, Sunday school, etc. Up until I was a teen this was a lot of fun and I always had faith that God existed.  I knew Jesus was my Friend but still didn’t understand how He was my Savior. (Right - Oldest surviving panel of Jesus Christ - 6th Century)
When I was 13 and living in Fayetteville, North Carolina my older sister and I attended a youth church conference where there were lots of different speakers and musical artists. It was a blast. We got to leave home and stay with a host family.  Each day for about 3 days we would meet up and go to this huge event. That was the weekend I was overpowered by the Holy Spirit and came to understand who Christ was. (Left Holy Spirit as a dove depicted by Gian Lorenzo Bernini)
When I returned that Sunday I scheduled my baptism. My whole family was baptized at this Southern Baptist church near our home. But did I really know what I was doing? Did I know what kind of commitment it was? Or was I just doing it because everyone else did? My sister had also given her life to Christ that weekend so I could have been just following her lead. I will say I don’t think I did fully get it because nothing in my life really changed. (Above "Baptizing the Jordon" attributed to Silas X Floyd)

My dad was in the Army so we moved a lot!   A year later we moved to O’Fallon, IL.  Once we landed here in the middle of these cornfields, we found the First Baptist Church of O’Fallon. That was way back in 1996!
Pastor Doug had been the preacher about a year and I met his lovely wife Vicky  (Right) at a youth event they held there. I didn’t really know anyone so my sister and I went.  I do have two lovely sisters and I’m stuck in the middle.  My younger sister wasn’t a teen yet.  Anyway, at this event Vicky sat down with me personally and asked me if I knew who Jesus was and what He meant to me.  I kind of answered her question but mostly answered with things I have heard others say. And because I wasn’t sure if the last baptism washed away all my sins, I got baptized again that year when I was 14.
So here I am, once again, didn’t really feel like anything was changing. By this time my family life was turning to a war zone. We had all seen it coming over the years and my sisters and I always wondered if divorce was in our future. Sometimes we would wish for it because maybe it would make the fighting stop.
By this age I had started smoking cigarettes because I thought it was cool, which it is totally not cool.  Then I had my first drink at 16. It’s what I thought everyone did that was trying to make the bad in their life go away. Well it didn’t work and my appetite for it only grew.
When I was 16, my uncle committed suicide and it only made my sadness and anger grow tremendously. I was truly lost. But wait, wasn’t life supposed to be all sunshine and sparkles now that I was saved? Wasn’t it supposed to all get better? That’s what I thought being saved and a Christian meant; that life was supposed to get easier. By the time I was 18 I was smoking marijuana and guess what?  It still didn’t work.
Boys were also a fixation of mine and there I went throwing my precious virginity out the door that year as well. It was downhill from there.
My dad had left for a tour in Korea while my mom stayed home and took care of us girls.  My dad being gone was the hardest year. It was awful. I couldn’t wait for him to come home.
By the time I graduated I had dabbled in a same-sex relationship that I thought I wanted and when the end of the school year and graduation came I ended that. I knew deep down inside that it wasn’t right. So I broke it off. My parents found out and, of course, flipped out. But now, as a parent, I would probably do the same.
By this time my dad had returned from Korea and everything had changed. My parents were more distant from each other and fought more frequently. The summer came and went for me, filled with cocaine and acid.  More drugs, more relationships I shouldn’t have had. Boy, I was a mess.
The fall arrived and it was off to college because that’s just what people do. So I left and moved into a dorm, not really wanting to be there. My parents had no clue what I had been up to. Nor did I want to tell them. Unfortunately, my first few days there were filled with alcohol and became a haze. I started my classes but quickly decided I’d rather get high than go to class. So I did. Not having money, I would use my charm to get the boys to buy them for me in exchange for what they really wanted. I tried new drugs for the first time and it made me go deeper down the rabbit hole than ever before. (Above Painting attributed to Christal Rice Cooper)
Come the end of that first semester I was failing classes and truly hit bottom when I tried to commit suicide. I still remember my roommate and another girl across the hall carrying me out to their car and driving me to the hospital.  They got me inside and then the doctors had to pump my stomach to get all the pills out. Scariest thing ever!
That night my mom and family showed up, terrified for what they would find. Considering my mom’s brother had just killed himself two years earlier, it really hit her the hardest.
I was broken and hurting and couldn’t even look them in the face. I told them a little of what I had done but not the whole picture. I dropped out of school and came home. You would have thought after all that this cycle of craziness would have stopped. It didn’t. My parents sent me to rehab, but that didn’t last long. I wasn’t ready to quit. So I didn’t. (Self Portrait of Mental Illness attributed to Christal Rice Cooper)
They moved me to my grandparents’ house thinking that would help to give me my own space. That didn’t work either. You can find drugs and boys anywhere; did you know that? Wasn’t stopping me.  Eventually I did come back home. I still feel terrible sometimes because of the way I treated my grandparents, but I was so lost and they all knew it. I dug myself further into a hole that I so desperately wanted to get out of. I just didn’t know how. (Above Christina's World attributed to Andrew Wyeth)
By that summer my parents divorced. It was long waiting but it came nonetheless. I had gone to my friend’s house to hang out and was going to stay the night. I called home to ask mom and got my dad instead. He was crying. He said he was moving out. I couldn’t believe my ears. As much as I knew this day would come I didn’t think it would happen now. I will say there was a lot I learned in the days to follow of what led up to that but I will not disclose that here. My parents had both made lots of mistakes in their marriage and decided it was best to end it. I couldn’t stay either. I had to leave.
I forgot to mention that I had already met the man of my dreams that year I just didn’t know I would go on to marry him and have his child, my beautiful baby girl. Well, she isn’t a baby anymore.  She’s 11 going on 25!  Well, I moved into his house. He had just graduated from Chiropractic college and was opening a business. Thankfully he needed help and there I was. We started a beautiful relationship and I fell head over heels in love with him. I had never felt that way about a person before and since my own family was falling apart I desperately needed something to hold onto. We had our flaws too, but honestly it was the first real relationship I had ever had. I thank God for bringing us together. (Above "The Bride Under the Canopy" by Marc Chagall")
I still dabbled in things I shouldn’t but one day I woke up and said “No more!” and I quit; at least the hard stuff. I still smoked cigarettes and marijuana, and drank from time to time but it was slowing down.

Eventually that wonderful man and I got married when I was 21 and by the time I was 23 I was pregnant with our daughter. She truly is the gem in my life. She gave me a whole new purpose that I had never known was possible. And the love in my heart grew so much. ("The Waiting and the Reward" attributed to Anna Rose Bain.  Copyright granted by Anna Rose Bain. https://www.artworkbyannarose.com)
I will say that by this point I was starting to realize that God was still there. For the longest time I wondered if He was. Or if He even cared.

After our daughter was about a year and a half old my husband and I took a trip to Panama (Right). Yes, the country. It was beautiful. Aside from our honeymoon it was the longest trip I’d ever been on. And the longest time away from our baby. I learned a lot about myself on that trip. Seeing other sides of the world I’d never seen. I grew just a little.
When I returned I quit smoking cigarettes for good. It
took five tries up until that point but I finally did it.   About two years later though I experienced the worst summer ever: I had still been smoking marijuana up until that year. I was 28.  Would I ever know what it was like to not be dependent on any substances?
My younger sister had been trying to talk to me about God more, and encouraging me to come back to church. I knew what I should do but I still wasn’t sure why. I was ashamed.  I was still broken from all the things I was trying to do to fix myself. I finally realized I couldn’t do it alone anymore. (Right Sad Woman attributed to Johann Heinrich Fussli)
In fact, to get ahold of me once more, He gave me this overpowering anxiety that I had never experienced before. I literally thought I was dying all over again. Three months this lasted. I went to doctors, sought out a pastor friend I had, talked with friends, but still God was saying, “Come to Me.” So I did. That was the summer I went running back to God full speed. And I haven’t stopped since. (Mixed Media of woman running with the birds attributed to Christal Rice Cooper)
That was the summer I found my Savior, the One who could truly wash away all of those ugly sins. I found my God, the Living Water that I so desperately needed to quench my thirst.  I found the One who would heal my broken heart, the One who would cleanse me and make me whole:  the One, my God, my Jesus. (Painting of Jesus attributed to Christal Rice Cooper)
It took me 15 years of heartache and straying from where I first met Jesus to actually come to know Him.   I have done a 180 about 50 times since then.  I know I am forgiven, and loved, and cherished, and worth saving.  It just took me a long time and a very crooked path to figure that out.  (Left sketch attributed to Christal Rice Cooper).
I have grown so deep in my faith, and that growing continues every day. I have joined my church again, gotten involved in women’s ministry, singing with my choir and praise team, gone on a mission trip across the sea, and it won’t stop there. 

I now have a passion for Christ and sharing with others how He has moved in my life. He will continue to move in me the more obedient I become. I never want to go back to the days where I tried to live without Him. He fills me and gives me the strength I need. Every day. I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back! He is set in my heart and I in His! I want Him to use me in ways I never dreamt possible. I want to follow His will for my life. And that...is just the beginning! (Image of Heart attributed to Christal Rice Cooper)
It’s not to say my life has become easy and without problems. Because I still have tons of those. However, now when I need to handle something I learn to pray about and seek Him first. I’m still not perfect at it, but I don’t think I ever will be until I am one day standing face to face with Him. All He wants is my heart. And I’ll tell you dear brothers and sisters, He’s got it!  (Image attributed to Christal Rice Cooper)


Monday, November 13, 2017

Spanish Edition People Magazine Editor ARMANDO LUCAS CORREA writers his first novel - the New York Times Bestseller THE GERMAN GIRL

Chris Rice Cooper 

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The German Girl
By Armando Lucas Correa
“The Convergence of 12-year old Anna from New York City and 83-Year old Hannah in Cuba”

Most people assume Jewish girl Hannah Rosenthal is the perfect specimen of Hitler’s ideal German girl:  blonde hair, blue eyes, porcelain skin. This gives Hannah the freedom to roam Berlin’s streets with her best friend and confident Leo without being afraid of the “Ogres,” Hannah’s term for the Nazis.  
 
In March of 1939 a photographer from Das Deutsche Madel makes the same assumption, takes her photograph, and places her on its March 1939 issue cover. Hannah assumes the photographer is an “Ogre” who knows her secret and runs away. 
She forgets about the incident until days later when she returns home shocked to see Das Deutsche Madel, a publication she knows her father despises, on the family dinner table.                              
Papa paused and looked up.  Now he was staring at me.  He turned the magazine over and pushed it toward me with suppressed rage.

Two months later on May 13, 1939, Hannah and her parents along with Leo and his family board the St. Louis (Right) in Hamburg, Germany; their destination, Cuba.  
A total of 937 Jewish refuges seeking asylum from Nazi Germany board the St. Louis; and finally on May 27, 1939 at 4 a.m. they reach their destination Cuba only to be told by the Cuban President Federico Laredo Bru (Left) that Cuba has changed its mind and will not give asylum to the 937 passengers.
In the end only 28 passengers, 22 of them Jewish, were allowed to leave the St. Louis and enter Cuba.  Hannah Rosenthal, 12, and her mother are two of the 22 Jewish passengers allowed entry into Cuba. 

       Hannah and her pregnant mother whom she sometimes calls the Goddess, leave behind Hannah’s beloved best friend Leo and her father on the St Louis and embark on a new life in Cuba residing in a house in Vedado.  (Left - Home in Vedado)

       It was a solid two-story house that was quite modest in comparison with the mansion next door, which occupied a plot twice the size of ours. . . .

       It is in this house that Hannah will live, always dreaming of moving to New York where she could be an American and free.  

       The German Girl is Armando Lucas Correa’s first novel http://www.armandolucascorrea.com, translated from Spanish to English by Nick Caistor https://www.facebook.com/nick.caistor, published in hardcover on October 18, 2016 and in softcover on September 21, 2017 by Atria Books http://atria-books.com.


The German Girl tells the story of two 12-year old girls Hannah and Anna.  Hannah’s story begins in 1939 in Berlin (Left) at age 12 and continues well into her old age. 

       Anna’s story begins in 2014 in New York City where she lives in an apartment complex with her mother, who has been in a deep depression since Anna’s father died on that fateful day of September 11, 2001. 
Both Anna and her mother deal with her father’s death in different ways – her mother is unable to function, seeking solace in her own bed of gray sheets and gray pillows near a window that has a view of the courtyard. (Left attributed to Rachael Westbrook at  http://bipolarcaregivers.org)

From the day I discovered what had really happened to Dad, and Mom understood I could fend for myself she shut herself in her bedroom and I became her caretaker. 

Anna has never met her father – her mother was pregnant with her when 9/11 happened.  Her most treasure possession is her favorite photograph of her father that she keeps at her nightstand next to her bed.  She describes her father as the most handsome man ever with black hair, dark eyes, and black eyebrows.  She finds her father mysterious in the photo, especially since he is wearing rimless glass and has a hint of a smile on his face.   

       I go into my bedroom to tell all the day’s events to Dad, who is waiting on my beside table.




       Then one day Anna goes about her regular routine, she gets up, serves her mother breakfast in bed, attends school, comes back to check the mail, and goes back to their apartment.  This specific day is different – in the mail is a yellow, white, and red striped package from Canada, originating from Cuba.  Anna makes her mother get out of bed and look at the package. 

       When she sees the sender’s name, she picks up the envelope and clutches it to her chest.  Her eyes open wide and say says to me solemnly.      
“It’s from your father’s family.”

       There is an envelope inside and it is the March 1939 issue of Das Deutsche Madel with a blonde, blue eyed girl on the cover.

       “The German Girl,” says Mom, translating the title from the magazine.  “She looks like you,” she tells me mysteriously.

      
Anna learns about her father Louis, her grandfather the Cuban Revolutionary Gustavo Rosenthal; and more importantly about her grandfather’s sister and her great-aunt Anna Rosenthal. And through this learning she claims an identity that is German, Cuban, English, and Jewish; and more importantly she finds a peace within herself about her father, and about herself – she may be only 12 but she is on the cusp of becoming a woman that her great aunt Hannah had always dreamed of becoming. 

Hannah finally meets the only the person on this whole earth who shares her DNA, Anna.  She falls in love with Anna and finds the courage to open the mysterious package Leo gave her back in 1939.  It is having a relationship with her great-niece Anna and the contents of Leo’s package that enable Hannah to finally claim a full and complete identity at the age of 87. (Above Right attributed to Johannes Antonie Smith)