Faith and the Cross
11.17.18 • Lynette Townsend • Volunteer Storyteller
If you ask Mark and Cindy Miller how many crosses they’ve had to carry in the thirty-three years they’ve been married, it might take them a while to answer. There have been many. Between the two of them, they could probably list them all. If one forgets some details, the other one fills in. They are a team – a faith-filled team.
Mark and Cindy met in Los Angeles. They both moved to Orange County and got married in 1986. Mark’s background was in civil engineering as a Projects/Operations Manager and Cindy worked for the Capistrano School District in Special Education. In the early years of their marriage, they had two children, a girl and a boy. Cindy had been baptized Catholic and Mark, a Protestant, attended Mass at St. Timothy Parish in Laguna Niguel with Cindy and the children each Sunday.
Their daughter, a loving, caring girl ended up hanging out with some wild kids which led to every parent’s nightmare: addiction.
After a corporate move to Hawaii for a couple of years when their children were young, they moved back to Orange County and settled back into St. Timothy parish. When their oldest got into high school, Mark and Cindy encountered their first cross. Their daughter, a loving, caring girl ended up hanging out with some wild kids which led to every parent’s nightmare: addiction.
Throughout the years there would be moments of hope when their daughter wanted to attend rehab and many low moments when she would relapse. Mark and Cindy had to make some difficult decisions during those years; tough love is never easy.
So how did they survive? Faith.
So how did they survive? Faith.
In 2005, Mark and Cindy changed parishes. Friends had invited them to Mass at Corpus Christi in Aliso Viejo; after that Mass, they decided to stay. A year later, they volunteered for the Hospitality Ministry. Little by little, Mark and Cindy shared their cross with their new faith family. Cindy states, “When I walked into church on Sunday, I could let go of all that darkness and pain and it felt good to be with my community. They embraced me and made me be capable of getting through my Monday to Saturday.”
More reminders of hope for Cindy came from Father Tim. She made an appointment to meet with him privately to discuss their challenges with their daughter. Father Tim told her that “you just don’t know when God is going to pull your daughter out of the darkness. But, for now, by prayer and believing and knowing God is going to bring her out, then you have that hope.” He also suggested that she turn to the Bible. All of this helped immensely.
After years of attending Mass, volunteering for the Hospitality Ministry, and going up to receive a blessing in the place of the Eucharist, Mark felt like a light had started to shine on him. He was involved during Mass, and yet he wondered why he wasn’t more involved. In 2007, he decided to go through the RCIA program at Corpus Christi. During the Easter Vigil in 2008, Mark became Catholic. Mark credits Cindy and her faith throughout the years for bringing him to his decision.
Their daughter was still experiencing her ups and downs as of 2011, when she became pregnant. She married and had a baby girl, but before her little girl was one, she relapsed once again. Mark and Cindy were faced with another cross. Cindy retired from her job and joined her daughter’s in-laws to give their granddaughter the loving care she needed.
More crosses followed: a layoff for Mark, the death of his mother, and a life-changing head-injury accident for their son. How does a family survive all this? Mark mentions something that a priest once told him. “When you ask why, God is only going to give you the amount that you can handle. The cross may be big and it may be unbearable but he never gives you more than you can handle.”
Mark mentions something that a priest once told him. “When you ask why, God is only going to give you the amount that you can handle. The cross may be big and it may be unbearable but he never gives you more than you can handle.”
Joining one more ministry at Corpus Christi, Loaves and Fishes, also helped Mark and Cindy keep things in perspective. After spending time with the homeless each Sunday, Mark says they realize that things may not be so great for them at times, but they could be a lot worse. Being grateful for what they have is the take-away.
Through all the hardships with their daughter, Cindy spent a lot of time getting to know rehabs, addiction programs, and counselors. It took her years, but she opened up her door to other families who were also struggling in order to offer them support and advice. She says, “When you’re going through it, you think you’re the only one.” Her wish is to give families hope if they are experiencing addiction with their children.
Mark and Cindy know there will be more crosses, but the blessings will be there too. Their daughter is doing well. She’s clean and sober and has a good job. Mark has changed fields and has a new job he finds fulfilling. Their granddaughter is flourishing. Their son still has his challenges from his head injury, but he’s working hard at finding his new best.
Mark sums up what Corpus Christi means to him beautifully, “Its home. To me, its home and all that home means. It’s a place where you feel warm, safe, comforted. There’s an incredible amount of peace. It just kind of washes over me.”
Mark sums up what Corpus Christi means to him beautifully, “Its home. To me, its home and all that home means. It’s a place where you feel warm, safe, comforted. There’s an incredible amount of peace. It just kind of washes over me.” And, for Cindy, “We are a family and we support each other.”
Other Stories of Faith
Do you have a great story or do you know someone at Corpus Christi that has a wonderful story to tell and would be a perfect person for us to interview? Please contact Alyssa at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at: 949.297.8517 and she will be happy to talk with you about that too!