“In the most uncertain chapter of my life, I found purpose, not in fighting difficult circumstances, but in surrendering to Christ.”
“When I was partying and having fun as a college student, I remember telling the Lord that I would follow Him once I got married and had a family,” said Kaylee Caceres. “Little did I know that the Lord would use my most unpleasant circumstances to demonstrate my great need for Him. In the most uncertain chapter of my life, I found purpose in surrendering to Christ instead of fighting difficult circumstances.
“My dad was in prison and my mom was 18 years old when I was born. When I was very young, my mom and I were homeless for four years, moving in and out of women’s shelters as she struggled with addiction. When some friends offered to babysit me for a few hours, my mom left and never came back.
“The man and woman who took me in are now my adoptive parents. They loved me, enrolled me in school, and took me to church, where I trusted Christ. Unfortunately, I wasn’t discipled and made many choices that were dishonoring to the Lord. Trying to fill the void of not having my biological dad in my life, I sought attention from boys – a pattern that began in junior high and continued into my 20s.
“After high school, I worked my way through college as a massage therapist. One of my clients was a 20-year-old woman who talked to me about faith, and invited me to go to The Porch at Watermark. That’s the first time I heard about an authentic faith in Christ. I also learned that God’s grace was a free gift which I could never earn or deserve (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus loved me so much while I was still a sinner (Romans 5:8) that He paid the penalty for my sins on the cross (1 Peter 2:24). All I had to do was trust in Him.
“When I was new in my faith, I didn’t allow Christ to inform every aspect of my life. So, when I met Luis Caceres, we moved way too quickly, and I was terrified when I discovered that I’d become pregnant the week we met. That wasn’t how I envisioned starting a family. Fortunately, Luis assured me that he was ready to follow Jesus and parent our child.
“Luis and I kept coming to The Porch, and the Lord really used the messages we heard from Jonathan “JP” Pokluda to change our hearts. We were convicted that it wasn’t right to live together anymore, so we got married. We also knew we needed help to make our marriage work, so instead of going on a honeymoon, we attended the Watermark Foundation Group Kick-Off. (Foundation Groups are community groups for couples married three years or less.) We met a group of people and began living in community with other believers who could encourage our faith.
“It was hard to be married to someone I’d only known for five months. There were anger issues I didn’t know about, and I felt tricked and deceived. Neither of us knew how to love sacrificially. When we went to re|engage, Watermark’s Marriage Ministry, I discovered that my husband wasn’t the only problem in our marriage. The curriculum asked each person to draw a circle around themselves, and ask God to change what was inside the circle. That is when I learned to surrender to the Lord and assume responsibility for my actions alone, not my husband’s.
“I wanted to honor God in my marriage, and I took advantage of every opportunity to learn more about the Lord. Through His Word, God showed me what was required to love and respect my husband, even when I didn’t feel loved at the time. I did those things knowing that while obedience to God isn’t always fun or easy, blessing is found there. That is how the Lord strengthened my faith and trust in Him.
“Luis and I were hungry for guidance and discipleship in parenting, because neither of us grew up with good family role models. I went to Square One (a ministry for first-time mothers) after our first child arrived, and we both listened to Watermark parenting podcasts. Luis and I also served in Kids’ Ministry, which helped us learn how to disciple, care for, and guide children. We learned so much by serving alongside other leaders.
“When our son arrived, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for all God had done in our lives. We even named him Julian Prince, in honor of all we learned from JP at Watermark. Today, I am grateful for the hard things we went through because it brought me to the Lord. Growing up homeless allowed me to appreciate God’s protection. Having a difficult marriage helped me learn to depend on Jesus, and allowed me to have the deep relationship I have with Him today. Our unplanned pregnancy taught me that God is trustworthy, and I can lean on Him in any situation. The enemy intended all of our sin and poor decisions to be used for evil. But, God used it all for His good.”