We are very excited to have Susan Casillas as a guest contributor today. In the spirit of "keeping it real", Susan is giving us an open and honest piece about being devoted to her faith and grateful.
My name is Susan Yvette Casillas. I am one of five proud daughters born in the Inland Empire to two loving Mexican immigrants. In my 33 years on this earth I have faced many different situations, but there has always been thing that has helped me, LOVE. Even before I was born, God had the most love for me. The love my husband and I share has blossomed into much more than I ever imagined. In my teaching profession a plethora of love is a necessity. Friendships and hermandad consistently bring love into my life. Growing up, I never in my life thought that I would have such wonderful experiences, such as going away to college, studying abroad in Spain, finding love, consciously choosing to join the teaching profession, and entering the daunting world of motherhood. God is so great that he gives me the strength and grace to face all of my roles with a full heart.
There are a lot of secrets I can share. I will share what is in my heart. It is time to make my confession.
I am a very religious and spiritual person. Religion, spirituality or whatever you choose to call it is the most important relationship in my life. I am one of the fortunate ones that have felt God's love in a very deep and profound way. As a young girl, while I was preparing for my first communion, I was filled with curiosity for God. I remember asking my mom questions about where colors come from and where God is. During my high school days I belonged to a church youth group, where I learned many skills and came to know God in a more personal level. I served on the church choir where I learned to sing for Him and play a little guitar. My time was also spent serving God by visiting the sick at the hospital. Without God in my life I could not have gotten through high school. There were so many prayers and tears over homework, sports and relationships, or lack thereof.
My college experience at UCLA was possible only with God’s grace. He was with me as I struggled academically and emotionally. With His help I was able to get help. I literally thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown so with the guidance of an AAP counselor I saw a psychologist. This is something difficult to confess even as I sit in my living room typing away. Being so religious, I felt as if I was doing something wrong by seeing a therapist. In my youth group they had always said that Jesus is all you need. He can be your psychologist. Well, I needed more than prayer at that point in my life. Looking back, there are many strategies I learned from my appointments and workshops. Stress management and time management are still areas of improvement in my life.
Finding Hermanas Unidas at UCLA was one of the greatest blessings. The support I received from my hermanas helped me have the best college experience. Here I am almost 11 years after graduation and one hermana is already my son’s godmother and another hermana will soon be my daughter’s godmother.
God placed a calling in my heart to serve and what better way to serve than being an elementary school teacher. It is only through God’s grace that I have been able to continue to teach. He is so amazing that I am teaching back in the city where I attended church. To a certain extent one can say that teaching is in my blood because three out of five of us in our family are teachers. Without love in teaching it is merely a job, but I am a professional and that is only possible with love. Along my teaching journey I have faced many struggles. My first year was the hardest because everything was so new.
At UCLA, I was an America Reads tutor at an elementary school in East L.A. It was here that my love for teaching young children began. You could think you are ready to teach, but there are no books, classes, or advice that can completely prepare you for the first day or even the first year. That first day of school I had 13 bilingual 3rd graders and that scared me more than anything ever had. Within two weeks, 7 more students were added. I was expected to teach them language arts and math in Spanish. Then, I was supposed to help with their English language development. In all, I pray that I made a positive impact in the lives of these 20 students and I hope that I didn't traumatize them. After 5 years of teaching my 3rd grade bilingual class, I became a Program Facilitator. This position has challenged me and helped me continue to grow professionally. I have many aspirations of perhaps going into administration or becoming a school psychologist. Unfortunately, my other duties as a wife and mother have put those aspirations on hold. I hope to stop making excuses and get myself back to school. I am looking forward to next school year at work because I will be going back into the classroom as a 3rd grade teacher. Now when people ask me what grade I teach, I can give them a straight answer.
My journey to find my better half was not an easy one, but I don’t think that it’s easy for anybody. All of my previous relationships taught me different things that helped me find my tall, dark, and handsome man. I can spend all night talking about the night we first met, about how I laid my eyes on him and didn’t take my eyes off until he came up to me, about how it took 5 wonderful years to get to our special date. Dating my husband before we were married was a season of my life that I like to reminisce about. Now as a married couple dating is different but we make it work. Marriage is a lot of work and impossible without God. As a wife, God plays an important role in my life. It is only with His help that I am able to put my husband’s needs before my own. I recently heard the song “All of Me” by John Legend and tears began to fill my eyes because that is how I feel about my husband. Also, through the lyrics I can hear God speaking to me and telling me that He loves “All of Me”. He knows I am weak and imperfect so He is my ALL. Parenthood is the best, but only possible with God’s grace because now the love my husband and I share has taken shape into the form of my son and my daughter. There are many obstacles that I face on a daily basis, but it is my relationship with God that enables me to continue to pour out my love in all areas of my life.
Susan Casillas is a proud woman of God, teacher, mommy, wife and so much more. She shared her story with a very open heart! Please comment below if you have questions or insight to share with Susan!