An Open Letter to Governor Rauner

Governor Rauner,

Yesterday, you made this comment about the one- day strike organized by the Chicago Teacher Union that shut down many Chicago Public Schools and displaced nearly 400,000 students for the day:

“It’s shameful that Chicago’s children are the victims in this raw display of political power. Walking out on kids in the classroom, leaving parents in the lurch and thumbing their nose at taxpayers — it’s the height of arrogance from those we’ve entrusted with our children’s futures…” -Rauner, 2016

I really want to point that you have just said exactly what the city and state have been saying about you.You were elected at the end of 2014 and we trusted you to get the state in shape, yet you are failing us.

For over 8 months, Illinois has been facing a budget crisis, and as a result, Illinois’s social service programs and schools have been greatly affected. You even stopped funding the MAP program that gives out grants to low- income college students.

I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but by not passing a budget, you are playing politics with student education and people’s lives.

That is why people are fighting and protesting. They are fighting because of the lack of funding for public schools in Chicago and universities all over the state.

Chicago State University, along with other universities, are facing possible shut downs. Students are thinking about transferring to schools that lack appropriate resources, or worse, are thinking about dropping out of college entirely.

A student who is unable to continue college, may now have to get a job that pays lower than a living wage, hindering any means of returning to school and leaving them without a college degree. If economic growth is so important to you, then how is this person supposed to appropriately contribute to society when they can barely making a living?

What I am getting at, Governor Rauner, is that you have a position of privilege and power and yet are misusing it. You are standing against unions and standing against MAP funding. You are marginalizing people and making them powerless as you shape Illinois, not to the needs of the people who reside in it, but rather your own.

The year before your election, news outlets reported you owning nine “houses”. I point this out because you have the luxury of living the way you do, yet so many others are struggling to get by.

Referring back to your comment about children being the victims, I agree they are. However, not passing a state budget is making things worse for them. In an article published March of 2015, found that one in four children who reside in the Sangamon County live in poverty. 

Another article, featuring yourself, stated:

“What we’re focused on is the current situation and the future,” [Rauner] added. “Change is difficult. Change causes pain. We believe very strongly that we’re going to go through some short-term pain for some very long-term gain.”-Rauner, 2015

I agree there must be change occurring. But I also do not think that change has to be this painful and this desperate. If we are analyzing the current situation, you should realize that you are not helping to solve it, rather, you are making matters worse for the present and for the future. Parents, teachers, students, and staff are holding such protests to catch your attention. We cannot reform our systems without your help. We are asking you to come and see the problems that people are facing on a daily basis; to understand why we are protesting.

 

Sincerely,

one student of thousand others being affected by your actions,

Bianca I. Mena

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“I will always find you..”

Lately, I’ve been feeling disconnected from God. Whether it’s the sleep deprivation, the hours on the bus/train, the hours learning and studying, I find myself continuously feeling spiritually empty. For a couple of weeks at a time I didn’t go to my church, didn’t attend my women’s bible study group, and I avoided any contact with people who would remind me of my disconnection from God.

That sounds very upsetting, believe me, I know. I felt guilty not putting God before everything in my life. I know that if I actually took the time to make Him my priority, my issues would not have overtaken my decisions and attitudes. And even though I knew that it was important to put God above all else, I couldn’t find myself to do it. I didn’t know how.

I am a ‘Once Upon a Time’ fan. I am not quite caught up with the season that is airing but I am still a fan. What I always find the most beautiful and inspiring within the seasons is the relationship of Prince Charming and Snow White. They are two characters that end up falling in love, TRUE LOVE, and devote themselves to each other. But because their love is powerful, people jealous of this love try their hardest to separate the two. And each time that both Prince Charming and Snow White get separated they tell each other,

“I will always find you.”

The awesome thing about Prince Charming and Snow White, is that they do always find one another. But that right there is in it and of itself a very powerful sentence. It’s implying dedication, love, loyalty, everything and anything that represents the relationship we have with God.

The thing is, yes, I have felt disconnected, but not once have I felt as though He wasn’t there. I knew He was, I just wasn’t making the effort. Each and every time that I drifted from His path, He would find me and would guide me back towards Him. I was just so afraid, and sometimes still am now to seek Him once I know I have wronged Him.

1 Corinthians 16:23 (The Message) reads,

 Our Master Jesus has his arms wide open for you.

Jesus is our shepherd. For Him, it does not matter how many times we drift. Each and every time, He will seek us as we should be seeking Him in our daily lives; always believing and relying that God will find us.

God gives unconditional love

I got a dog. Not recently. I have had her for several weeks now. Perhaps a little over a month. Her name is Bibi. She is a lot to handle. But truly a wonderful dog. It’s kinda like raising another human being though. Granted, for the rest of Bibi’s life I will continue to feed her, bathe her and pick her poop up but the similarities are all there.

In the beginning, there would be sleepless nights as I, the owner, and the pup began to grow a relationship. For the first week, I had to sleep next to her as she grew accustomed to the new house and to the new faces that would quickly become her family. By the second week we had given her a couple of beds (yes, a couple. For each floor of the house.), several toys, and introduced her to canned dog food. Third week came around and she got a couple of collars, a leash, dog treats and doggy poop bags. We even got her wee wee pads that we spread all over the floor which is like a big NO NO. The most recent thing that we have done for Bibi is build her a dog house for the outside. And yes, I said build. My dad spent a couple of days working on that and then my siblings and I painted it. We placed a pillow inside and VOILA!

That’s the thing. In several people’s eyes, they will read the previous paragraph and claim that I spoil her. Will I agree? Of course. How can I deny that I do not spoil her if I am basically giving her the world. I already regret that I let her lay on my bed. Now each time she sees me on it, she wants to jump on. I regret covering her each night because now she expects me to before she goes to bed and will not sleep until I do.

Being a dog owner, it is trial and error. Just like it is being a parent and basically anything else in this world. Because no matter how many books are out on the shelves of bestseller, I bet none of them will be the exact same experience as everyone. There is no universal remote or training when it comes down to it. And if by some miracle such thing exists, then I would not care. I am enjoying every minute of being a dog owner. It is the way she sleeps, the way she greets us when my family and I get home, the way she jumps as if she is a deer or a bunny. It is coming home to a house where the dog expects you home and gives and receives unconditional love.

Why am I blabbering about my dog?

Because I see my spiritual faith growing as I spend more time with my pup. This summer, for me, has been hectic. With one job and then one internship and then getting ready to be a commuter in college. It is hard. It seems crazy to find time for God. The person that you truly should be setting time aside for. But with my pup I do. I appreciate what I do and learn at the job and in my internship but with my puppy I can feel at ease and loved because my puppy does not see failure, my pup does not see sin. My pup sees me and loves me. How can I not see where God is in my life?

I must admit, it is a weird analogy. Comparing my puppy to the Creator of the world. But that is where I am in life. Each morning I wake to take her out to the backyard. And when I do, I sit there and hear the neighborhood awaken. I enjoy moments like this as I talk to God in the cool brisk morning air. It is kind of like God sent Bibi my way as a sort of presence of His. Whenever I need a reminder of Him, I lay next to Bibi only to get wet kisses by her. She gives me the energy and the smile I need. She requires the same amount of attention and love as does God. My path to being a dog owner is not perfect, much less my path to stay righteous in God. But it is having faith and loving every minute to strive for better not for me but for my puppy, for my God. But also understanding that no matter what, my puppy Bibi and my God, will continuously give us unconditional love.

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Never will you nor I be alone

When I had the idea of first refocusing my blog, I was very excited to start writing. But it really never occurred to me how difficult it would be to write creatively. I’ve written several drafts of posts I wanted to publish, saved some, and discarded many. But just as I had written in the last post, my only intention is to write truth.

This blog isn’t a “How to survive life” blog. In fact it is opposite of that. I’m not telling you guys how to live your life and avoid the heartaches. I want you guys to go through these heartaches so that you may learn from them just as I am learning to overcome them. With this blog, I’m telling a story, my story, to anyone that is willing to listen. The purpose behind telling my story is in hopes that you will not feel alone.

The scariest part in life is believing that we are walking in this Earth alone. I struggle with understanding it. With the feeling of solitude, I become desperate for attention. I get physically and emotionally sick when thoughts like this seep into my mind. At some point in my life, I picked up the Bible and began to read the book of Genesis. A verse in particular stuck out in a moment of disparity and has thus helped me in times when I feel most alone.

The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” – Genesis 1:18 (NIV)

God never intended for us to live alone. He wanted us to be in communion with one another. With this intention, He created woman after man. God had provided knowing that we could not live life alone. He gave us friends, leaders, and family. God even sent His own son to live among us, to know us, and to be us. He was 100% human as He is 100% God. With people in our lives, they make us into better and healthier human beings. Because they challenge us and keeps us accountable to the promises, hopes and dreams that we have.

This verse was just the beginning to the new world that I was being exposed to through God. . I began to understand that there are people like me and people like you going through the same situations. And maybe our reactions to these situations are different but it still does not veer away from what we felt, are feeling and are bound to feel. I found a place where I was no longer and will never be alone.

Writing Truth

An English teacher once taught me that if I ever wanted to be a writer and be read, I must be able to expose myself and write with my emotions. Only that way will the audience truly know that what I write is truth. It took me a while to comprehend this. For a long time I had thought I was writing truth. Until now.

As I was in the backseat of my mom’s minivan, coming back from the mall, I had an idea. I decided to refocus my blog. At first, it was a blog for my Journalism class. I wrote about issues in the school and its effect on the students. I wrote news. And although I wrote with enjoyment, I wrote the requirement. And now that it is no longer the case, I’d love to talk about my passion.

The name of my refocused blog will be Seeking God in a sinful world. The focus of this new rewritten blog will center on finding God in challenges throughout our lives. Most of these problems will be issues that we as human beings face. Let it be a breakup, peer pressure, family issues, or anything. If you guys have any suggestions, I’d love for you guys to comment and I will try my best to write a blog that will help you in the time of need.

If I am being completely honest, I am scared to be presenting this new idea. It will be the first time that I am publicly expressing my faith and love for God. I’m afraid of the critics that I will gain and of the friends and followers that I may lose. But knowing that I have people supporting me in this decision and teaching me to be in close relations with God is enough for my finger to press “publish”.

I am very excited to be sharing this with you because it will not only benefit me in finding God’s beauty in this world full of hate, sorrow and sin, but I hope that this blog will benefit others in finding a sparkle of hope or a flicker of light in the darkest of times.

This is the beginning to my new adventure.

Saying goodbye to high school and hello to college

Let me start of by saying, everyone in the face of the Earth lied to me! They told me that senior year would be the easiest year and yet, I seem to be struggling the most out of every year in my high school career. Perhaps its the two math classes that I take, or the AP classes that I manage, maybe even balancing the extra curricular activities. Although these are decisions that I committed to, I do not seem at all to worried about them. The white strands of stress hair growing in my head have to do with something way beyond my high school capabilities. Yes, you guessed it, college.

College. Of course, college. Its a commitment of four years! Unless you attend a two year community college or decide to transfer due to school debt. College is where I discover where I am in life, who I am suppose to be in life, who I am suppose to marry and spend the rest of my life with….Perhaps I have watched several teen movies. But college still is an important decision.

College, for seniors in high school does not seem to far. In less than five months, we will disperse into different worlds. This time may even be shortened for the people that need to move to their schools right after graduation. Seniors, what is there left to do once we are done here. Is there anything that us seniors can leave behind and call ours? Will we come back to the same world we leave behind or what do we plan to come home to?

Our future lies only a few short steps away and I want to make mine last. That’s when I decided to begin a list of things that I wanted to do after graduation and before college begins.

Go to the botanical garden

Host a barbecue party

Buy lottery tickets

Build a sand city at the beach

Ride a bike down Lake Shore Dr and watch the sun rise

Watch a movie at the Imax theaters in Navy Pier

Have an ice cream sundae downtown during the fireworks on the 4th of July

Go to Sky High trampoline warehouse.
Now, when you look at this, you think this is kind of boring. There are several things one can do during the summer in the great city of Chicago, but hey, we have to start small to make it big. I’m excited for the next month. They will be in preparation to the adventure I will have this summer. And once I have completed everything I have on the TO DO list I can finally say goodbye to high school and say hello to Dominican University Class of 2018.

Finding a religious community where I belong

My family is catholic. When I was younger, I remember dressing up each Sunday in preparation for mass. Once I grew old enough, I started attending CCD, or Sunday church school as I described it. When I reached middle school until the beginning of my high school career, I became one of the first girl alter servers in the church. By my actions, I always appeared to be concrete in my religious faith. But I did not feel as certain in my faith as other people thought I was.

As a kid, I could not remember much about what the priest said. Mass, for me, was a time where I can catch a nap. When I began CCD, it was just another class that I needed to exceed in. And when I became an alter server, I could only think about the service hours I would earn.  It wasn’t until I began to attend high school and stopped serving during mass that I understood the importance of religion.

By the end of my freshmen year in high school, I became a part of YoungLife, a non Christian youth group lead by Christians. They taught me the importance of being loved by a greater being despite the wrong paths that I walked on. Once I became a member of YoungLife, I was no longer satisfied with Catholicism. I sought more beyond what my catholic church had to offer. There is nothing wrong with being catholic, but as I progressed through high school, my interests became different. I wanted a place that did not judge me for my wrong doing.

I became eager to join a bigger community that felt the same as I. I attended the church that hosted YoungLife’s bible study. I attended a baptist church near north side. I attended another church near south side. Then finally I attended a church, that I did not now existed, ten minutes away from my house, and I felt at home.

That sense of belonging is so difficult to find. Mostly walking into the church feeling as an outsider, feeling alone. Sitting down, I tried to busy myself on my phone. But within minutes, people poured into the church and welcomed me greatly. I shook hands with what seemed like many and conversed with them until the beginning of service. As the service went on, I had quickly felt in community with them.

After what seemed like a long time searching, I had found the place that I had dreamed about. Building relationships with people that I would become friends with. Finding a religious community where I belong.