If Miranda could summarize her call in life, she’d tell you, “I’m a full-time mom. These kids are everything to me.” Though she’s been through life-long cycles of trauma and pain, Miranda’s identity is elsewhere: “Sharing my story is important in defining my new life. I’m not a victim anymore. I’m a victor. ”
“My parents are residential school survivors. They went through so much,” she explains. “So we’re victims of the survivors. I started drinking when I was six, about a year after some pretty serious abuse. While I don’t remember a lot, I do know that I chose toxic relationships, one after another, because it just seemed normal to be abused.”
Miranda found herself dropping into UGM in Mission for the first time several years ago. By then, she was a mother of two, in and out of abusive relationships. “My kids loved playing with Karen and Yvonne, two women on staff,” she says. “UGM became a second home to us.”
A few years after her third child, Ciara, arrived, Miranda had to make one of the bravest decisions of her life. “I was in a relationship that was abusive and I hit rock bottom. I was using drugs. I couldn’t take care of my kids.” Miranda called the ministry three times before summoning the courage to say, “You need to come get my kids. I’m using pretty badly and I can’t stop. I need help.”
“I think that staying on the phone with that lady was one of the strongest things I’ve ever done,” she says. “For me and for my kids.”
Once her kids were in foster care, Miranda went to UGM in Mission and told them she wanted help but didn’t know how. “I’d left my ex with just the clothes on my back,” she explains. “I needed to get away from all the beatings. Karen and Yvonne helped me into Lydia Home, UGM’s Alcohol & Drug Recovery Program for women.” Throughout recovery, Miranda was asked to think of a “higher power” that could help her overcome addiction—something or someone to give her strength. Miranda thought of her children.
After her first stay in Lydia Home, she never used drugs again. However, the addiction to alcohol was harder to shake. “Yvonne from UGM was supervising family visits with my kids so I could eventually have them come home. She brought me another application form for Lydia Home. I went back for a second time. I knew it would work.” Miranda’s second experience at Lydia Home was profound. She felt compelled to make some permanent changes. These changes were wrapped up in a desire to choose a new beginning.
“Choosing to come back to recovery for a second time meant choosing new life—it meant being able to let go of all of those things inside me that made me sick. I can let go of the life I didn’t choose now: a life of addiction and abuse. I didn’t know who I was until I came back to Lydia Home.”
“I live and breathe through these kids. They’re my pride and my joy, the reason I don’t think about doing drugs or drinking anymore.”
Today, Miranda leads a strong and sober life, with full-time custody of her four children, who are each so full of life. “I live and breathe through these kids,” she explains. “They’re my pride and my joy, the reason I don’t think about doing drugs or drinking anymore. With all the stuff they’ve been through, they’re the most respectful kids you could ever meet. I promised myself I wouldn’t let them go through what I went through.”
Part of UGM’s Camp Sponsorship program is to work with whole families, making sure holistic support is available for parents and kids throughout the year. That’s why, every summer, UGM’s donors sponsor Miranda’s three oldest kids for a week at camp. “They’ve been to Camp Luther, Camp Jubilee, and Camp Squeah,” Miranda shares. “I love when they come home and don’t stop talking about it. I think camp gives them more freedom. Freedom to have God be a part of their life too, on their terms. That’s important.”
Miranda’s story may be a difficult reminder of some of the worst injustices. And yet, when you watch her play with her kids today, none of this pain seems to dictate their interactions. More evident than her past is Miranda’s present strength—and her kids’ joy. “This life that we lead now,” Miranda says, pausing. “This is where our home is.”