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God Wants to Use You: Quina Aragon’s Story

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
July 31, 2023 5:15 am

God Wants to Use You: Quina Aragon’s Story

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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July 31, 2023 5:15 am

Children's book author Quina Aragon's home life meant trauma and pain. But it didn't get the last word. Hear her story—and how her life changed radically. God had big plans for Quina. And He wants to use your story, too.

Show Notes and Resources

Connect with Quina Aragon at quinaaragon.com, listen to her on Spotify, find her on Audible and watch her spoken word videos on YouTube.

Find Quina on social media, add her on Insta and Facebook.

And grab Quina's book, Love Made in our shop.

Grab 25% off all FamilyLife's small-group studies atshop.familylife.com

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What is the one thing that always makes me cry, makes me tear up? Well, you cry at every single movie you see.

Every movie. And so I would say a good story. Yeah, I mean, that's it. You know, if I'm at church and there's an emotional moment, video, worship, hands raised, singing my heart out, that's emotional.

But when somebody walks up and tells their story, I don't know what it is. I'm over there like sobbing most of the time. Yeah. You love that, huh?

I love that you do that because you don't do it every day, like in normal life. So there's something that's maybe there. But I think all of us, a good story is compelling.

It draws us in. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at familylifetoday.com or on the Family Life app.

This is Family Life Today. So today is story day. We've got Kena Aragon with us, a spoken word poet, an author, a speaker, a wife, a mom. And we're going to get to hear your story. So, Kena, welcome. Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be here, and I'm a sucker for stories as well.

Are you? Oh, yeah. Well, you create stories with your words.

Yeah, that's what I want to do. Can you tell us your whole life story in a spoken word? Can you just make her up on the spot?

Back in 1989. No. I wish I could. I mean, a lot of your spoken word, though, is your life story, I'm guessing. Yeah, a lot of it just comes out of wherever I'm at in life. And just actually, honestly, writing poetry and spoken word pieces came after I came to know the Lord. Oh.

Really? So I've always seen it as truly like a gift from God that I want to use for His glory in whatever capacity I can write creatively. I've always enjoyed writing in general, but it was always very academic and class presentations and things like that. But when I was 16, a friend on my volleyball team shared the gospel with me, and I saw later on, as she and her mom were kind of tag-teaming, discipling me in that first year, I saw her older sisters do a spoken word piece to honor their mom, and I was like, huh, that's cool. I mean, I've always liked hip-hop, but I've never really tried to write like that.

Are you artistic? I never really was. Like, I was an athlete, so that was it. You know, it was school and sports, and that's it. And actually, the girl who shared the gospel with me later was like, I remember you used to be terrible at poetry. When we did the poetry segment in like 10th grade or whatever it was, she was like, yeah, your poems were not good. So like I said, I mean, after I came to know the Lord, I just would write in my journal, and it would kind of come out as poetry. So whatever I was processing in life, what I was processing as I was learning about God, an English teacher caught wind of that. And she was like, you're going to be a part of this poetry slam that I'm putting together.

It was a big, big public high school here in Orlando. She said, you need to memorize a poem and perform it. And that was kind of my first getting on stage and performing a memorized poem. And it was like in front of multiple classes of like 300 at a time, 300 students at a time. And I just remember a lot of my peers coming up to me after teary-eyed and saying how it touched them or how, you know, they had never really thought about God like that.

And immediately, of course, I'm like, wow, this could be really a, maybe I didn't have the language for it, but a ministry in itself, ministry of words, ministry of storytelling. Well, you don't know this about us, but we are spoken word artists. What? You probably didn't know that. No.

We are totally not. I mean, nobody knows this. Well, now you've got to show it. No, I was just thinking. Yeah, exactly.

I'll show you. When we joined Family Life, there's this weekend, remember? This is what came to my mind. There's a speaker team for the weekend marriage getaways. When we joined the speaker team, this is over 30 years ago.

Every year there's a new class that comes in. There's five couples that were joining. And he said, new thing we're going to do as initiation, you have to introduce yourself creatively.

Mind you, we're 29 and 32. Long story short, I won't get into it, but we're up in Detroit and we're like, it's got to be Detroit vibe. So we came down to this speaker retreat and we get up and I dress like Michael Jackson because we're Motown.

I'm like, my name is Dave and my name is Ann. We're going to talk at you the best we can. We just did this stupid little thing. And then we rip off our top because we were from Ohio and we're sort of farmers.

You don't remember this? I thought we went the opposite. Well, we might have, but either way, either way, the president, Dennis Rainey, who used to be the host of Family Life Today is sitting there and he's looking at us.

And I'm literally thinking we are getting fired on the spot because we went too far. Trust me, nobody's ever heard our spoken word because it's terrible. It is terrible.

It was terrible. Yours is, I mean, I'm watching, I want to tell our listeners, Geena's not going to do spoken word today, but go on YouTube and watch because we did last night. They're amazing. They're beautiful.

And not just what you say, but how they're done and the video and the music and way to go. But anyway, you jumped way ahead. We got to start at the beginning. Tell us your story. Wow.

Okay. So 1989, I was born in Manila, the Philippines. My mom is half Filipino, half Puerto Rican. My dad's Jamaican and I have an older sister.

She was four years old when I was born. So my real name is Iva Quijana Valenciano Parchment, but in very Filipino fashion. Wait, say that. I would have never been able to introduce you. I know.

Yeah, no. So my real name's Iva Quijana. And then those are two different words. And then Valenciano, so in the Philippines, you take your mom's maiden name is your second, like your second to last middle name and then your father's last name, Parchment. That's what I was born. But in very Filipino fashion, everyone just calls me Kena my whole life. So I actually didn't know my name was Iva until later.

That's another story. So I was born in the Philippines and then moved as a baby back here to Orlando and grew up here right by the airport. And I grew up pretty Catholic background. You know, my mom being from the Philippines and she raised us in Catholic mass, Catholic school. And I really didn't have any interest in God, if I'm honest. You know, it was just sort of a thing we did. And it was in middle school maybe that I started to ask the nuns questions. I was the annoying student that's like, excuse me.

Like what kind of quit do you remember? Yeah, like how do we know what Muslims believe isn't true? How can we really believe the virgin birth?

You know, I just had questions like that. But yeah, the answer I would get back a lot was just have faith. But there really wasn't much of an object to my faith.

There wasn't really this study or love for scripture. I didn't know much about it. And so I went into high school, went from this small little Catholic school where I'm like one of the only black kids there, experience racism, experience all this stuff. But I found this identity and sense of belonging through sports. And since I was good at it, that's what I stuck with. So going into high school, I was asked to play basketball for one of the public high schools here. And so that was going to be my focus. And it was my focus, basketball and then volleyball. I was just on my way there and experienced in, I believe it was 10th grade, just this sense of what's the point? At that point in a high school way, I had it all, right? Like my family was fairly well off at the time.

And I had the boyfriend, I had the popularity, I had done well in sports, done well in schools. I felt like very ecclesiastes, like, all right, I have all these things, now what? It's meaningless.

Feels like chasing after the wind. So I started to very, just to myself, kind of grapple with some of those questions. What's this all for?

What's the point? If you're smart, you die. If you're not so smart, you die. If you're rich, you die.

If you're poor, you die. So you had those kind of thoughts in 10th grade. I did too. That's very similar. Dan was the same body. Really?

Very similar to my story and age even. Oh, wow. But I remember being in bed thinking, why am I here? Yeah. What's the point? Yeah.

Always felt very empty, despite all the good things God had blessed us with. And so I had a friend in my English class who was a track star. I admired her, of course, because she was another athlete and she was very smart. But what I noticed was even though she was very approachable, she wasn't cursing people out like we were. She wasn't gossiping like we were. She wasn't doing the same things.

I just took note of that. And eventually she ended up being my best hitter on my volleyball team. I was a setter. So of course I liked her for that because she got us all the points. And I started to spend more time with her outside of practice, go to her house and their family, they were believers. They didn't kind of thump me over the head with the Bible or anything, but they were just very welcoming. So I always say it was really their hospitality that drew me in. Just the sense that I could feel grace and warmth, the way they interacted with each other, just all things I noticed. I'm like, wow, that's interesting. They're different.

I think it was after prom or homecoming, I think it was either junior year or sophomore year. I remember talking to that friend, I slept over and I saw like a Bible verse on her wall that she had printed out. I don't know if people still do that where they print out Bible verses, just throw it on their walls. Oh yeah, they do.

We've done it. Yeah, it was like the oddest Bible verse to have on your wall, but it was from the book of James and it said, so you believe there's one God good. Even the demons believe that and tremble. That's what they had?

Yeah, she had that. But honestly, the Lord used that because I was like, I would have said at that time I'm Christian. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm good. I'm a good person. You know, I have morals. And of course at that time I was also seeing my sins snowball.

So as much as my parents tried to raise me with morals in high school, I got exposed to so many things and that I got enslaved to sexual sin, all kinds of stuff. So I saw that verse and I was like, huh, what does that mean? So God really used that. That's awesome. And she shared just that you can have a relationship with God.

I'd never heard that language before. She just more so shared story at first. She didn't necessarily share like the full, okay, this is what Jesus did, but just that you can have a relationship.

It's possible. And of course I thought about that later and I remember one providential night I was in my room wrestling with those same questions, you know, why am I here? I think I was stressed about something, maybe volleyball, and it led to this just breakdown. I finally had an emotional breakdown, so I didn't use to cry. I was very avoidant with my feelings, just, you know, suppress, suppress, suppress.

I'm tough. You know, I don't have, I don't have issues. I was in my room and just had a breakdown and I have an aunt and uncle who's my Ninang and Ninong, which is like your godmother, godfather in the Philippines who are believers and they would send me a Bible like all the time, like as a gift. So I had Bibles in my room. I just never read them.

They were just dusty. And so that day, that night I opened up one of the Bibles they sent me, not really knowing even how to read scripture or like what it's about. I just opened it to the middle, which happened to be the Psalms and it was Psalm 69. And all I remember, of course it's poetry, and all I remember was just seeing the type of emotional language. I thought the Bible was thou, thy, you know, old King James language that I couldn't understand and I thought it was all commands.

So to see a poem where the poet is like, save me, I'm drowning, I have more enemies than hair on my head, you know, rescue me with your sure salvation, these types of words, I was like, wow, something drew me to that. I want to read that. Oh, yeah, go ahead. Let's read part of it. Yeah.

Maybe you should read it because you're good at it. Oh, sure, yeah. Let me find that.

Let me do it. Yeah. The whole beginning is. Right? I'm exhausted from crying for help.

My throat is hurt. And that's exactly where I was at. Really? Yeah.

So this is, I don't even know what version I was reading, but this is ESV. This is what blew me away was the beginning. Save me, oh God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire where there is no foothold.

I have come into deep waters and the flood sweeps over me. Oof. I can't make it. See? I know. I'm about to cry now.

Just remembering that. I'm weary with my crying out. My throat is parched, my eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.

More number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause. Mighty are those who would destroy me, those who would attack me with lies. And down to verse five, oh God, you know my folly. The wrongs that I've done are not hidden from you. And verse six, let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, oh Lord God of hosts. Let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me. I mean, are you remembering that night?

Yeah, I am. I am, but I'm also thinking, wow, how relevant those words have been to me now, 20 or so years later of walking with the Lord. And how sweet of him to take you to that scripture that just sunk and pierced your heart.

It did. What did you feel? This is a God that what? That allows me to feel. I didn't allow myself to feel, and I would say in some ways in my child, I wasn't allowed to feel. Yeah, I wasn't allowed to express anger. I wasn't allowed to express those things. Maybe not explicitly, hey, you're not allowed to have those things, but implicitly, those were things that I didn't know that I could safely express. And here I open the Bible and it's words like that, and I'm like, wait a minute, you're allowed to talk like that?

That's how I feel. I mean, it's so beautiful as I hear your story to think, number one, God used a family. This mom and dad, your friend. Their hospitality. You being in their home, and I think often we as families, especially Christian families, I'm sure our listeners are like, that's not going to use us. No, when you have people in your home or in your neighborhood, it's powerful. You watch them.

You watch the way they talk to you, watch how she lived at school and you notice there's something there. And then God uses art through scripture that connects to you. I came to Christ at a music concert and I'm a musician, and Ann said to me the other day, she goes, isn't that interesting that God would use music and it hit your soul different than a preacher. And I'm like, huh.

And yours was the word of God, but through poetry in the word of God, that's just pretty cool how God works. I love how he woos us. Yeah, exactly. You guys are both crying in here. I know. I gotta start crying, I guess. First five minutes. Come on, guys. Help me out.

I'm trying to make it through the interview. I mean, you're alone in your bedroom. Alone by myself. Dusty Bible. Open it up. Boom.

Yeah. Didn't know how to pray. I just knew I was crying and I was reading that.

Then I was like, I should probably ask my friend about this stuff because she seems to know about it. So I was too shy to talk to her because I feel like I've never been great on my feet to just have a conversation or to say certain things. You're a spoken word artist. You're not good on your feet. You weren't then.

Those were memorized. Oh, really? So you still feel that a little bit. I do.

Yeah. I prefer the comfort of thinking through writing it and then, okay, now I know what I want to say. So you wanted to talk to her, but you were afraid. I wanted to talk to her. Even though she was very friendly, I was still a little afraid to ask her about these things.

Felt very intimate. So I wrote a letter, very long-winded, very, then that's also very on brand for me, but very long-winded letter, essentially just saying, Hey, I don't know what's going on, but can you maybe just explain more of this God stuff to me? I know I use the word repent wrong.

I use all kinds of, I just try to grab words that I maybe had heard before. What do you mean I used the word repent wrong? I don't think I have enough repent. That's awesome. Cause I found the letter years later.

I don't know where it is now, but I read it and I was like, what? Anyways, she knew what I was trying to say. I was nervous to give it to her. I gave it to her and I think it was the next day. She had one of those gospel tracks that has a little illustrations and this is where spiritual was basically that personally, but it was through the impact movement.

So it was a kind of like, um, incorporating also African American history. So I don't know, it was really special and we were on the bus on our way to an away game for volleyball. So she sat next to me on the bus and said, all right, you want to, do you want to me to explain this? And I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, for sure. She opened it, explained it.

And especially coming from a Catholic background, it was that Ephesians two eight, you know, that it's not by works that you're saved, but by grace through faith in Christ. And that was very powerful for me because I was thinking, wait, what? I thought I had to work for this, like, isn't it crazy? Like, wait a minute. Yeah.

What are you saying? And she even mentioned, you know, God becomes your father and I was kind of uncomfortable with that. And that kind of goes back to my story with that. And I just remember being very intrigued, but I knew that like God had done the work for me through Jesus and being a perfectionist and being somebody who felt like I was never good enough. I'm always going to fail and just that type of person to know that God did that for me and that he wasn't expecting me to try to work my way to him, that he bridged that gap.

Just simple truth like that. I was like, wow. And she thought that I was not interested just because I wasn't talking, I was just really taking it in. So I was very silent.

She was thinking like, she's not, she doesn't care. But after the game, I remember I went home, I kept the gospel track and I went through it again. And, you know, it has a little prayer at the end and I didn't know how to pray. So I was like, okay, I'll just read this prayer.

And it was genuine. You know, I asked Christ to save me and I went to school the next day and I was like, cool. So what's next? Like I did the prayer thing and she's like, what? Like, you know, she, I'm just like thrown off by her excitement and she's like, we're sisters now.

We're sisters in Christ. And I was like, okay, cool. So I didn't know what anything really meant, but, um, I just knew that there had been a shift and a change in me and I was hungry. Like at that point I just wanted to read the Bible. I wanted to, I then of course I'm reading James, I'm reading all these things in the Bible. I'm like, oh, this is relevant.

How come no one told me this is so relevant. That's kind of how it started. And so that, you know, you have that honeymoon phase.

I've got tears in my eyes now and it's picturing this high school volleyball player sitting on a bus with you having the courage because you showed interest. I mean, I was thinking, you know, that's something as we as parents dream as we raise our kids that they would know eternal things and know what matters. And I mean, that was one of our goals in raising our three sons is that what they would love God and love others. And we call it, make a dent where they're sin wherever God's put you to make an impact. And she did. Wow. And you're now making an impact on the world because a high school girl said, I'm going to share the gospel on a volleyball bus trip, you know, when nobody else is thinking eternity.

Oh, that's beautiful. I got to ask you this though. What about the father thing? Yeah. That you know, there's a lot of things I'm working through in trauma therapy right now that I'm still trying to put words to and articulate what my childhood experience was.

But I would just say it was a bit rocky and that's probably putting it lightly. It was, it was tough. And so I have complex PTSD. I was just recently diagnosed with that. And so I do still get into, even though my dad and I have a great relationship now, I still get into these, uh, fight or flight moments, uh, where I get triggered by something and or frozen. You know, I could feel frozen or, or want to run away from stuff. And when I heard that God could be my father, it was like these complex feelings that I had. Like, I want that. Also, what does that mean?

What does that come with? And so I would say a lot of my journey of, of learning who God is, is learning to not project the shortcomings of my father onto God. Then also learning that my story didn't start with me being born. It even started before that with my dad's trauma and his story and he has, uh, has had wounds and my mom too and, and their parents and this, you know, there's intergenerational, but then the story doesn't even start with that. It goes all the way back to the garden and then it doesn't even start with Adam and Eve.

It actually goes before that, which is what my books are about, which is that before anything you were loved. And my journey, I think as a believer has been trying to grow in that reality that I may know intellectually, but that practically or emotionally, mentally, it can be a hard thing for me to really accept or to, to really soak in and enjoy at times. Yeah.

I mean, you're not alone. I think that was my greatest struggle. Even when we went to seminary, I know God loves me.

I know this, the scripture says that I know it analytically, but sometimes I can't get it down into my heart to experience it and to feel his great love. Yes. And it's taken years to be able to figure that out and I love that you're wrestling with it.

Yeah. It's great that you're, you're in your thirties and you're wrestling with this. I don't think I even started to wrestle with my dad wound because when I heard the same thing that God can be your father and I was like, that's not a good thing. My dad was an alcoholic abuser of God. So my first thought was, oh, so he'll leave me like my dad did.

I had to wrestle through. No, that's not the heavenly father sits. He's the perfect father. So what you're wrestling through, I think a lot of our listeners are going, I'm there now, you know, even your children's books, as I read through them, I'm like, wow, these are great. These are for kids, but they're for adults as well because we need to understand that we're made out of love and that love comes from the father. Yeah.

It's beautiful. I mean, as you think through, I mean, we've heard so all the way up to, you know, you're coming to Christ. What would you say? Cause we don't have a lot of time left.

Um, it's the biggest difference he's made in your life. Oh, come on, man. Give me, give me 10.

I need another hour. Wow, we'll hear Kina's response to that massive question Dave shot at her at the end there in just a second. But first, I know I've done this too, but grafting on our perspective about our earthly fathers onto our heavenly father, and that can be so easy to do. What scripture gives us new and pure perspectives on God that God, the father won't leave us. He won't abandon us. He won't forsake us or betray us or use us. God is the polar opposite of that, and it's always good to have that reminder. I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to Kina Aragon with David Ann Wilson on Family Life Today. You know, Kina has written a book called Love Can, a story of God's superpower helper.

I love that. It explains to kids who the Holy Spirit is, and like Dave said, it's not just for kids. It's actually for parents too. I know as, for me as a dad, I have learned so much by reading through God-centered children's books to my kids. It's been one of the best ways for me to grasp these important concepts as I read and teach them to my kids, and Kina's book does just that.

You can pick up a copy of her book, Love Can, at familylifetoday.com. And you know, books like Kina's can help us not only absorb daily truth from God's Word, but also train us on how to communicate that truth to other people. Now, is there a chance that you could lead a small group growing healthier families and deeper knowledge of God in your community?

I think the answer might be yes. Well, we've stuffed family life's art of parenting small group study with key principles and practical advice on shaping your kid's character, their relationships, and their identity—issues every parent in your neighborhood or your church faces. Because every one of us, if we're honest, is kind of winging it from day to day. So we'll help you facilitate meaningful conversations about messy parenting and help you dig into God's Word through this video-based, zero-prep study. Love to hear that. And we've done all that so you can have time playing chauffeur to your kids, getting into their sports games, and a homework tutor this fall, right? Which I've got my girl going into seventh grade, and I don't know how I'm going to help her with her homework anymore.

It's just too hard. Well, you can grab 25% off for a limited time and preview it in today's show notes. And remember, you can make a donation at familylifetoday.com or give us a call at 800-358-6329. Again, that's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. And just want to let you know that we also accept contributions via mail.

You can simply send your donation to Family Life, 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando, Florida, 32832. Now, Dave asked Kena a giant question, being, what's the biggest difference God's made in your life? That's huge.

Let's see how Kena responds. Oh, man, the biggest difference has been story, to go back to the beginning. I believe story in so many ways shapes our identity and our identities, right?

Like I'm a Filipino, I'm a Puerto Rican. The stories of, for example, the Taino people in Puerto Rico, that has something to do with me. So I believe story in so many ways shapes our identity and that when you look at the story of scripture, of course it's filled with little stories as well, many stories that make up one. And God is never speaking into a vacuum. He's speaking into a story. He's speaking into somebody with wounds, with trauma, with preconceived notions of who he is. He's speaking into a place where it's just not like an empty slate.

It's not. He knows how to step into the messiness of our stories and the beauty of our stories and to bring dignity to the Mago Dei that's in us, to us being made in the image of God and to redeem that God is a story writer. He's a story teller. He's the best one, obviously. And he writes with a really good redemptive arc. That's the biggest difference because in my dark moments I could see my life as, and even my walk with Christ past that honeymoon phase that I was just talking about, past that time as just trauma after trauma after trauma. What was the point? Why am I following Jesus?

This is hard. I'm experiencing so many things. Or I can look at it as God has been writing this story and even through the hardships has been interested in making a new creation out of me that changes me and a deeper level than I could have ever known.

I'm certain that I would have given up on life itself at this point in my life if I did not have the Lord. And a big part of that is understanding that he is writing a story with a beautiful end. Now coming up tomorrow with Kena Aragon, Dave and Ann Wilson are going to be talking with her as she unpacks her family trauma, including health issues, infertility, and chronic back pain, which I know many of us, including me, can relate to. That's coming up tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-31 06:20:50 / 2023-07-31 06:34:22 / 14

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