My Guards and My Angels tells the story of a queenpin who escaped the death angel simply by following her spiritual attributes. Her path, as rendered in this book, is based on a true story. The writer?s guards take the reader on a journey of struggle, while her angels were assigned to shield the writer. The book paints a picture of a lost female soul who was encouraged by her guards, who had crossed over to the other side. Her story demonstrates how to overcome fear, anxiety, pain, depression, and emotional distress.
|Product dimensions:||8.50(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.07(d)|
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My name is Lavora McCool, and I am the second-eldest of five sisters. I am a fraternal twin and have three younger sisters who are triplets. I grew up in a middle-class household where, as the oldest, I was given the breadth of childhood responsibility. I went through a great deal of confusion in finding myself. My family of six — five kids and my mother — lived in Plainfield, Illinois, in a luxury town house with a spacious, modern layout and contemporary appliances. But despite our living conditions, my personal story wasn't all that glamorous. When I was eighteen years old, I didn't have the common problems of most teenagers living in my area — a predominately white, suburban neighborhood. Because I was considered "grown" in the eyes of the law and by my mother"s standards, I had to start acting like an adult.
Understanding that my mother would have to put my youngest sisters through college soon, I decided to pave a path to success on my own. However, I always intended to help my family. See, I've always been a very family-oriented person and have always had a savior complex. This started out as the simple idea that I would help my mother so she wouldn't have to take care of me as well. Eventually, I realized that nothing is as easy as it seems at first. So I lived with my mom, worked two jobs, and was enrolled full time in my local community college. I cried just about every night because the pressure became so overwhelming. I soon dropped out of college with permission from my mother. Her consent was very surprising to me at first; I was scared even to ask her, because I didn't want to seem as if I couldn't handle it, but in reality I was in over my head. I guess my mother could read the anguish written all over me; mothers do always know their children, right? When I heard her words, "Sure, baby, you can take a break," I almost jumped out my own skin for joy. She knew what I was working toward and how determined I was to finish what I had started. Unknown to her, I didn't quit school because it was too hard. I quit because I had created other priorities at that time that I decided to put before myself — namely, taking care of my family. I had to work two jobs so that I could build my credit score and, with the help of my mom, I succeeded at doing just that.
In the meantime, while I was focusing on earning money and not building my education, I got caught up with the wrong crowd and started dating this boy — a hustler. From the outside, we must have seemed like the perfect union: a hustler and a grinder. I was a grinder because I'm known to always work no less than two legit jobs. He taught me the ins and outs of a game that I had no business playing. There"s a way to win, and there's a way to lose. Thank God, I never really lost. I had learned how to play chess when I was seven years old, so I applied those same rules to the streets. The queen is the most important piece on the board because she protects the king. The one and only job I had was to be legit. I call that "queen behavior." I began to experience street life — ironic, considering that I was born in a city so violent that my mother and stepfather did everything in their power to remove us from its potentially harmful effects. All my parents wanted to do was to provide my siblings and me with a promising future, a chance to live the good life that they didn't get a chance to live until they were well into their adult years.
During the beginning of my young adulthood, I could not see or hear from God because I was not living the life he chose for me. I believe God sent random people from various ethnic groups to preach the gospel to me because I was not listening to him when he entered my subconscious. So, for example, during one of my jobs as a home health-care aide, every patient I worked with read the Bible to me little by little, explaining pieces I was unaware of. I guess those individuals saw something in me I had yet to unlock. Through observation, they would compare me to the biblical warrior youth David and the prophet Jeremiah. They compared me to the strength of David, the underdog who was underestimated and unafraid to stand up for a just cause. When David volunteered to battle the very large and frightening giant Goliath, he was immediately ridiculed for his courage. But what the crowd didn't know was that David was smart and wasn't fazed by the size difference. David was able to judge the situation and determine what would be needed to defeat the giant. Ultimately, David defeated Goliath with a simple slingshot. I can relate to this biblical story of David and Goliath because I believe that my circumstances were similar to David's journey of becoming strong-willed, innovative, and courageous in dealing with his fight. After analyzing the symbolism of this biblical comparison further, I arrived at the notion that David's story was profoundly like mine, because I too was ridiculed for taking on too much responsibility and for having the courage to do so. Unlike David, I wasn't able to juggle everything at that particular age as effectively as I can now. Those situations prepared for the greater battles to come.
The other biblical figure to whom my observers — my angels — compared me was the prophet Jeremiah, because of how perceptive of people's sorrows I was. That particular comparison was very refreshing and fulfilling, because that was the main reason I chose to pursue a career in health care. I've always loved people and wanted a career that was centered on helping people and carrying out God's assignment for me. I've worked in the field of mental health with people who have developmental and mental disabilities. I love working with that population because their hearts are so pure. Living with a disability can be challenging, but they live as normal as possible, and I am able to assist them. On a daily basis, we easily take life for granted. It has been my pleasure for over ten years and a very humbling experience to work in this career. It's a very humbling experience to work in.
I call that early training "baby food," because at eighteen I was symbolically only a baby in my Christian journey. I didn't understand the power of God in my life, and I was trying to do everything with my own strength. The way I viewed the world back then was so simpleminded. All I did was work, work, work, and work some more. Later in my Christian journey, I began to develop spiritual gifts taught to me by those I believe were sent to me by God. Mind you, at eighteen years old, I was blind; however, because I knew I was blind, I wished to see. My clients made me read scriptures and would not answer any of my questions. This method was intended to test how thirsty I was for God's knowledge. I had to figure out who these prophets or characters I kept hearing about were. Certain general questions were asked of me every time I was given a story to read: Who are they? How are we alike? From then on, my journey began; I knew that I had to find my own identity in order to know my God-given purpose. This path of enlightenment is how I built my relationship with God.
At nineteen, I was still dating the same guy and running the streets with a group of his guys whom I always called my brothers. In the beginning I did not want to be his girlfriend; I had a very involved mother who taught me "books before boys." He wanted kids and for me to move in. He was moving way too fast for self-driven, independent ol' me. All I wanted was to finish college. I knew it was expensive, my mother had three more girls she had to put through college, so I had to make a way out of a seemingly impossible whirlwind. My "group" took care of me, got my car fixed whenever it was any malfunction, fed me, and treated me like a queen. As a matter of fact, that's how I earned my title. My group included four boys who were my makeshift brothers. These four looked to the streets from their own dysfunctional households and saw the gangster life to be their only way to be kings — not men but kings. They acted like arrogant royalty because everybody wanted to be a leader and not take orders from anyone else. Through all the chaos of the street life that I became wrapped up in, I noticed that I was the only queen; I was literally the only girl trying to live a lifestyle that I actually didn't grow up in. But eventually the gang-life mentality went from just a hobby to permeating my wholesome upbringing. I started really to believe the principles of the street codes, and I did not want anybody under me either. I trusted only myself, and I did not get along with other young women. I honestly believed that they were always jealous of me and trying to harm me; my only focus was to remain focused — whatever that meant.
During this rebellious stage, I had a few encounters with the police — more than enough. My mom didn't know, of course; she had no clue. I created two separate identities: one character the streets knew, and another that my family, my bosses, my teachers, and the other 90 percent of the world knew. My mom was doing everything in her power to keep a roof over our heads. Like most black mothers, she was trying to maintain both parental roles in the household. I did not want her to have to worry about me also. I just always wanted to help the household instead of being a burden.
My mom must have trusted me, as she told me that if anything were to ever happen to her, I would be in charge. I understood, because she had already taught me the responsibilities of adulthood. Although my twin is an hour and thirteen minutes older than I, my mother always pushed me to mature much faster. However, hearing her state my role so explicitly drove home to me that I had to get my act together and get back on track. From that point forward, every decision I made was directed towards leading my family. I had the type of mother who taught me how to do tasks only once; after that, I was on my own. I had to grow up pretty fast, but whenever I fell, my mother was always around to pick me up. My only concern was to be prepared enough to stand on both of my feet in preparation for a day that would inevitably come.
I don't like to speak too much about my trials or even really think about them. I was involved in so many tumultuous situations. I was present when houses were raided, and I watched everybody around me go to jail. I was left with IDs, money, phones, and keys in my hand to protect the personal belongings of others when they were being arrested. I was going to court dates, posting bonds, putting money on books, and keeping money on my phone too. From the ages of thirteen to twenty, I experienced a series of traumatic events, and most if not all the friends in my group were in and out of jail the entire time. Some of them cannot even come home because their sentences are so long. I learned at an early age that there are only two ways out of the hood lifestyle: jail or death. I honestly would rather have the people I love in jail for life than dead. The pain I experienced as a bystander in all the chaos developed a muscle I had never trained. It made me stronger, because I was always sad and always working through it; that was my life. I was sad because my group and I had a bond so tight, having gone though many trials together, that we actually became a strong family; they took care of me and treated me like I was their little sister who needed to be protected and coddled. They probably knew that I really had no business in that world.
The guy I was dating, who I thought would be my knight, ended up not doing right by me. He had multiple women, and I had to fight with what seemed like each and every one of them. During this time, I was a ticking time bomb. It did not take much for me to fight. All you had to do was look at me the wrong way. For some reason, I always felt as if I had to protect not only myself but also everyone else — though only the people in my group, of course. I always felt that people didn't like me, and for no reason at all. Simply put, I was pretty and curvy, and all the girls wanted the attention I was getting. What people failed to realize was that I already had issues with abandonment, and those issues probably are what led me to take so strongly to my brothers. It seemed like everybody I loved had left me. After this, I looked for love in all the wrong places when I never had to, because the whole time I had God. He would've provided me with everything I needed and more if only I had truly followed him. I allowed this boyfriend to do whatever he wanted to do; I was numb. I mean, yeah, he had some good qualities too: he taught me how to do a lot, such as how to drive and how to be street-smart. All he wanted me to do was go to school and go to work. I respect him because he could have taken advantage of me, as most boys would. He supported my decisions and knew I just wanted to finish school and establish my career. But like so many others in our group, he too was eventually locked up and spent three years in jail. I knew that I was going to make the decision eventually, I chose not to put my life on hold any longer. I did not want to wait on him to be released from prison. I was there for about a year; before I got wise enough to let it go. I played my part; and decided to let the other women have him. You just need to know your worth, find the strength to let go, and trust God with the process of healing from the heartbreak. Losing someone you love to prison is also painful, but God works in mysterious ways.
At twenty, the love I thought would never leave me was gone, and I found myself in the streets on my own. I missed him like crazy and was heartbroken, of course. The street life is depressing, and I did not like it one bit; still, I felt that I had to do whatever was necessary to succeed. That was my immature way of thinking; I really did not have to live that lifestyle. I had a good upbringing with excellent family support. I'd decided to live better, but once my first love got locked up I reverted right back. I had taken one baby step toward finding God and living right, but I also had a whole foot in the opposite direction of living the street life.
I was also still working and got promoted. My mom was helping me buy a house, so I did not have time to do anything else. I was already feeling a lot of pressure, all while still learning how to use my gift and identify my purpose. God allows you to go through certain things; on the job, regarding heartbreak, and in the streets for a reason. At first, I did not understand God's plan. I thought I had it all together.
Then I met this boy; he came out of nowhere. He wanted to help me understand, so he started to teach me. We instantly clicked. The difference between him and the other guy was that he was much older. He was around more, and he treated me better. I wasn't raised to be young and dumb. I knew my worth and what I was capable of. I was still in love with the guy who was incarcerated, as I had given him about ten years of my life. I eventually left him for the new guy after a year, due to his previous disrespect, but I still supported him until he came home. I was always loyal like that. The new guy made sure I was up on time for work and made sure I got back in school. He was similar to me in the sense that he was in the streets as well and did not have to be. He told me he was God's son and introduced me to the concepts of trials and tribulations. He saw something in me that I did not even see in myself. After a while, he sensed that I had a gift, and I got comfortable enough that I did not have to hide who I was trying to become from him. I started going to church by myself so I could learn more about trials and tribulations.
God led this new boyfriend to guide me in the right direction. I learned over the years to never love anyone more than God. He is a jealous God, and he will take whomever you love more than him away from you. I always make sure that I love God first. The boyfriend spent most of his time with me by loving me in a way I had not previously experienced. I always say that that is what really taught me how to love properly. I remember wanting to give up, and he would break love down, demonstrating what people do when they love each other. I could not figure out why he was the way he was with me. He was very smart, and his family was wealthy. I held him down; we were together for the long run. We made plans to get married, have children, and live together. He knew all my goals, and he was going to school to be an engineer. He also wanted to get his barber's license so he could open up his own barbershop. We were going to be a power couple. Everything seemed perfect, and I was getting closer to God. I was my boyfriend's Bonnie, and he was my Clyde. We had each other's backs — until he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and I got that phone call saying that he was no longer with us ...
Excerpted from "My Guards and My Angels"
Copyright © 2017 Lavora McCool.
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