LCA grad Casey McNamara bounced around five foster homes when she was a kid. During a 3-month stint back with mom, a 7-year-old Casey cared for her little siblings while mom abused meth and cocaine. “It was hell,” she said.
Casey gave her heart to Christ when she met her now-husband, Max, and enrolled in the Lighthouse Christian Academy in Santa Monica, CA, as a junior. She now teaches at the Lighthouse Church’s preschool. Expecting a baby next month, Casey has traded her nightmare for a fairy tale.
Casey had been forced to return to Mom by a judge who wanted to give the lady a chance to go straight. Instead, while mom was doing drugs, Casey and her 3-year-old sister were taken advantage of by men that her mom had brought home.
Casey pulled syringes out of her brother’s foot. Baths were optional, and she attended school little. Sometimes Mom locked the kids in a room while she fed her addiction. Three times, Casey and her siblings slept in a neighbor’s backyard while Mom partied.
“Dinner and breakfast was Lucky Charms,” Casey said in a live interview. “Taking care of my two younger half-siblings was like playing with life-sized dolls — it got old really fast.”
Eventually, school officials reported her truancies and poor hygiene to authorities, and the judge eventually granted adoption of Casey and her brother, Will, to the Mendelsons.
Though life became a dreamworld at the Mendelsons’ with a white-picket fence and a golden retriever, Casey fell into depression at age 14 because of all the emotional baggage she was carrying. Mean kids harassed her and called her “skinny.” She worried about her half-siblings and felt guilty for enjoying the Mendelsons.
“Why do I deserve a good life when my siblings can’t?” she wondered frequently. “I felt very alone, very empty. I was confused and angry.”
At one low moment, Casey contemplated suicide. But then she heard a male voice say, “TEACH.” It halted her suicidal thoughts, gave her a hope and ultimately led her to her current career. God was on the move in her life.
He began to move more when one day on the Promenade Max saw her. While Casey was hanging out with friends, Max McNamara was joking around with fellow Lighthouse students. He saw Casey from a distance and immediately announced to his buddies that here was the girl he was going to marry. He introduced himself.
One day soon after, Max was driving to football practice by chance on Casey’s street and saw her in her front yard raking leaves. He now knew where she lived.
For a few weeks, he would try to strike up conversations with her on Myspace social media website. Then one night, Max and his LCA pals were standing outside her window and threw pebbles against the pane to get her attention.
When she opened the window, Max asked her to hang out. She very nearly freaked out. “He seemed like a stalker,” she said. But talking to Max with some other buddies didn’t seem like a dangerous situation.
Married with Max
“That’s when I first laid eyes on Max,” Casey explained in an email. “The second I saw him I couldn’t turn away. He was different, different from any other boy I had met. There was a gentle spirit about him. That night on we were inseparable. We started talking on the phone, and he eventually met my parents. One thing I will never forget him telling me is that I would always be safe with him and that I would hurt no more. How right he was!”
Max invited her to Lighthouse plays and to revival services. Coming from a Catholic background, Casey at first looked for an excuse to back-out on the church services. But as she was stalling, she happened to see in the distance her younger brother drugged up, beat up and looking like a homeless man.
Right then and there, she resolved to NOT be like her mother. “I was going to break the family curse,” Casey said. “I was going to be someone different, I was going to change my life — if not for myself, for my siblings.”
She went to church that night and passed up to the altar. She was flooded with an unspeakable peace.
Next, she enrolled in Lighthouse high school, where she loved the sense of family. While she had met rejection in the public schools, at Lighthouse she was loved by all.
“The most important thing that Lighthouse taught me was forgiveness,” Casey said. She is looking forward to seeing her dad more next year when he gets out of prison. She is working on mending her relationship with her mom.
Her relationship deepened and progressed with Max. The couple was supported by staff and students as they maintained a formal and serious courtship. She graduated with honors in 2010 and came just short of her AA degree in child development at Santa Monica College.
She is currently working on her BA in Early Child Education and plans on getting my Master’s in Childhood and Adolescent Behavior and Development.
In 2012, Casey and Max were married. Ultrasound revealed their baby’s a girl. The happy ending is almost complete.
“I still have bad dreams,” Casey said. “But I have good support. I think I’m going to make it.” She can’t wait to see her biological dad and is working on the relationship with her biological mom, who has been clean for a year.
“I’m at a good place now in my life. I married the man of my dreams. I’m expecting my first child. I have the world’s GREATEST parents, I am working on my relationship with my birth mom and my birth dad, who has recently given his life to Christ and is being released next year from prison. God is good! ”
*** This article was originally published in the Lighthouse Christian Academy’s newsblog, which I edit. http://www.thelighthousechristianacademy.com/
It was written by a student, Alex Myles, a sophomore. She also blogs on wordpress under the name Wolfbane15.wordpress.com (or something like that!)