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How A Neglected Child Became Miss California

CHRISTINA’S STORY
Growing up, Christina endured physical and emotional abuse day after day and year after year from her controlling mother. “I endured her ugliness and toxicity for no reason other than some sort of negative association she had with me – I assume because I didn’t look like her or my father or any of my siblings.” She was called “Laundry Lady,” “Stupid,” and “Slut”. Christina was also raped by a family member from the time she was nine for many years. Each day she worked as her family’s servant and spent many days without food to eat. She and her siblings were finally officially removed from her mother’s custody when she was sixteen.

When Christina entered foster care, she was passed from family to family until finally landing in the home where she remained until she aged out of the system at 18. “The fact that I graduated from high school was nothing short of a miracle,” shares Christina. She credits the NJROTC with shaping her into the woman she is today. It gave her discipline and guidance which she so desperately needed. Tim Tebow also attended her high school. He was the most popular boy in school. She remembers watching him play football. His father was always with him and she knew Tim was very loved. Christina wished her mom loved her this way. One night, Mr. Tebow saw her sitting on the sidewalk and walked over to her. He asked what she was doing there and Christina told him that her mom sometimes forget to pick her up. Saddened by her response, Mr. Tebow asked if he could pray for her. His willingness to pray for her gave her hope and reminded her to pray for others.

After graduation, with nowhere to turn, Christina lived in her car using public beach showers and working three jobs to survive. She eventually caught the eye of a pageant recruiter who suggested she compete in the Ms. California pageant. In April of 2013, Christina won the title of Ms. California. She traveled all over the country speaking to thousands about overcoming adversity and about the realities facing aging-out foster youth. After her reign as Ms. California ended she continued to share her story all over the country. Her hometown, St. Augustine, Florida, declared her a hometown hero. “Who I am as a woman, sister, friend, leader, and child of God has been shaped by my adversities,” reveals Christina.  

Christina began writing her book two years after she was crowned Ms. California. She was introduced to Dr. Henry Cloud and Tori Cloud who opened their home to her, allowed her to heal and grow, and helped her turn her dream of writing a book into a reality. Along the way she dealt with countless rejection letters from agents and publishers for years but chose not to give up. When she finally landed a book deal she moved to a small town in Florida where she completed her book while working on her college degree.

This year, Christina launched her nonprofit, The Christina Meredith Foundation which helps foster care youth and abused youth break the cycle of poverty and abuse. She advocates for foster youth to receive basic necessities, health care, trauma care, and education. Besides formal education and job training, the Christina Meredith Foundation will also provide life skills training on various topics including banking, computer skills, and social skills. 

U.S. ARMY
Today Christina is serving in the U.S. Army. She is participating in the Simultaneous Membership Program as an enlisted soldier and a contracted cadet to be commissioned to a U.S. Army officer. “Serving our great nation has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl,” shares Christina. As a speaker for foster care advocacy and mental health Christina travels the country frequently lobbying for the complete reformation of the foster care system. She chooses to speak life over herself and others. Below she shares four words that she calls the four Ds which have helped to shape her daily existence: (1) Dignity- not allowing herself to behave in a manner that cheapens her self-worth or value as a person; (2) Decorum – behaving in a manner that leads young girls and women into a place of good taste and modesty, (3) Discipline – self-control is her number one practice. Without discipline you can’t achieve anything; and (4) Discretion – keep your inner struggles and hardships close to your inner circle. She also spends a lot of time talking to the Lord and reading her Bible. Christina admits, “I still struggle with trauma and I’m still on my healing journey. I have good days and bad days, but the good outweighs the bad.”

Christina has not had contact with her mom since she was sixteen. She does have relationships with some of her siblings and her biological dad. After all she has been through you might be surprised to learn that she does not hold unforgiveness for those who hurt her. “Unforgiveness is a cancer to the bones. It rots you from the inside out, not the one who has wronged you,” shares Christina. Although she supports forgiveness she also supports consequences for actions -- if someone does the crime, they should do the time. She says, “When you forgive others, you release them into the care of God. Although it was not God’s will for you to be abused He does want you to be healed and set free to live out your purpose.”

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Guest Info

Credits

Author, CinderGirl (Zondervan, 2019)

Former Ms. California 2013

Foster Care Activist

Serves in the U.S. Army

Founder of nonprofit Christina Meredith Foundation

Opened for the Special Olympics

Spoken to congress on the foster care crisis

Finishing her dual major in Political Science and International Affairs

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