It was 1972 when Monica Shreve was born. The location was Stockton, California. She, and five of her six siblings, lived with their mother in a big white house with lots of rooms and space to play. All was well in her life, until that one day. The day that her mother loaded Monica and her siblings into the family car and drove them to the police station. Her mother placed her into foster care. At the young and tender age of seven, Monica was faced with being separated from not only her siblings, but from her mother. And she lived like this until she was sixteen, when her mother would attempt to reunite her family.
From the time Monica entered into the foster care system, she lived with eight different families. She was always trying to find the place where she fit in. As the years went by Monica often wondered why her mother left. But, her questions went unanswered. When relocating from family to family, Monica had feelings of abandonment and rejection. She remembers wondering if, “that car” would ever be waiting for her when she got home to take her to the next family. As a young girl, the relocating left Monica thinking, “Doesn’t anyone love me enough to keep me?” It wounded her deeply, so much it affected her as she grew up and into her adulthood.
At age sixteen, Monica’s mother removed her from the foster care system and brought her to Jacksonville, to reside with her and her four sisters. I asked Monica how she felt when her mom came to pick her up; she said, “I felt excited to be with my biological family. I could be myself without having to put on an act or a show.” Monica’s life scarred her to the point that she no longer smiled. But, when reunited with her family, she started to smile again. Her father had been another missing part of her life. She had never met him. But at eighteen, Monica finally met the man she never knew. Woken up from a deep sleep by her mother one night, Monica was handed the telephone receiver. Her mother said, “Here, it’s your father.” From that moment on, Monica grew very close to her dad.
Monica says between the ages of twenty and thirty she tried to, “find herself.” Unfortunately her efforts left her hurt by her so-called friends. The only stable area of her life during this time was her job. Monica worked with a large hotel chain. The hotel offered to transfer her to Raleigh, North Carolina if she was interested. She jumped at the opportunity to move. It was the perfect time to start a new life. She was ready to leave the hurt behind.
Relying on the stability of her job, Monica started to rebuild her life. Two years after the move, Monica attended a business meeting. She met a lady who asked her to be a business partner in a new venture. Monica, starved for friendship, jumped at the chance. Monica kept her day job at the hotel, but she spent time in the evenings and on weekends working on her new business. While attending a weekend conference, Monica attended a church service with her new friend. At the end of the service, Monica was invited to accept Christ. She was not completely sure what this meant, but having such a deep desire to be part of something larger than herself, she accepted the offer. Monica prayed a prayer that allowed her to ask Jesus to come and live in her heart. Her business partner, two weeks after Monica prayed that prayer, invited her to Living Word.
Monica really wanted to visit this church because of her desire to make new friends and be part of a family, one that she never felt she had. She became a regular at Living Word and began to build friendships. There was a fairly large group of singles that would get together after Sunday night services. Little did Monica know that she would soon meet the man that she would marry!
During her first year attending Living Word, Monica recalls being cleansed. “I let all of the feelings of being unloved and unwanted go!” God took all of those feelings away from her, He healed her. Monica finally felt like she had the family she always wanted. The closer she grew in her relationship with God, the more she wanted to be part of a church family and have a family of her own. Not too long after she was healed, God brought Chris Shreve into her life. Chris and Monica were introduced during one of the Sunday night’s singles outing. They clicked right away and began to date. After nine months they were married in November 2006. Chris, his fourteen year old son Chad, and Monica became a family. The family Monica always desired to have. Though, a few months later, they found out that she was pregnant. Just when she thought life could not get any better, it did!
Twenty weeks into the pregnancy, Monica and Chris’ faith was put to the test. A routine ultra sound revealed there was an issue with Monica’s placenta; Zoe, the baby, would not survive. After getting the news, Monica and Chris headed straight to Living Word for prayer. The church staff united and prayed with them. Monica remembers feeling complete peace after praying with her church family. Have such a strong church family to rely on caused Monica to remember the way that her Pastors, Steve and Connie stepped in as the parents she never had and stood by her side through everything during this trying time in her life. “I don’t know where I would be today without Living Word”, Monica shares with a smile through her tears. For a few days, Monica’s mind tried to bring her down a road of doubt, but she stood firm on faith in the Word. Monica read healing scriptures daily. Every time she did, she felt even closer to God. One of Monica’s favorite scriptures to read and meditate on was, Psalm 37:4 – Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Six months after Zoe went on to heaven, Monica and Chris were pregnant again! Monica recalls feelings of elation when she found out she was going to have a baby. There are really no words to explain how happy she was. She was in awe of the Lord. On May 8, 2009, Hannah Grace Shreve was born, just two days after big brother Chad’s birthday. Monica shares, “God not only gave me my new family, but an entire church family.”
When asked if she had anything left to say, at the end of our interview, Monica boldly stated, “Life throws everyone different curve balls. It’s how you overcome them that makes you who you are!”