By Vicki Hewitt, STCH Ministries
When a single mom and her children first arrive at Homes for Families, a program of STCH Ministries, desperation often accompanies them. Dreams of a better life have worn thin from years of crises, trauma and anxiety. Yet the moment they choose to reach out for help, rather than continue to go it alone, a shift begins to take place.
For most of the moms, the motivation to give up their chaotic, familiar world for something unfamiliar comes from their desire to give their children a different, better life.
Current resident Amanda, a mother of four, shared that she came from a situation of abuse and domestic violence and did not want her kids to have to go through what she did. These fears led her to try to control everything her children did in order to protect them.
“I was a drill sergeant,” Amanda admitted, “but I know I have to trust God because it is out of my control. I am now learning to love and discipline at the same time, giving them choices and options.”
Another resident, Ashley, initially decided the program was not for her when she visited Homes for Families at the suggestion of a couple from church.
“I didn’t want to give up my independence,” Ashley explained, “but I realized it was the best thing for my kids. I was working 70 hours a week trying to give them a better life, but they never got to spend time with me.”
STCH Ministries created Homes for Families at Marshall Ranch in Goliad, Texas, to help single mothers and their children stay together rather than being separated during times of crisis.
“The relationships our families have experienced are so incredibly fractured,” said Theresa Klacman, Homes for Families program coordinator. “They have hurts, betrayal, trust issues and abandonment. They come to us very raw emotionally. We start with providing them a safe place to make mistakes, in a nurturing and loving home setting. And we give them structure, consistency and clear expectations.”
Klacman emphasized that special Bible study time is provided throughout all phases of the program to help the women develop a closer, more intimate relationship with God.
“As they get into the daily structure of the program, learning about God and self-awareness, they realize the importance of forgiveness and how their choices correlate with their life experiences,” she said.
Klacman added that when the women begin to understand how much God loves them and how He sees them as His children, they begin to change how they treat themselves and others.
Victoria, a mother of four, graduated from Homes for Families and now serves there as an intern. Victoria had been bulimic since the age of 14.
“I hated myself. I would constantly cut myself. I never had anyone offer to pray with me before coming here. Now I know that I am more than a conqueror. We are perfect in His eyes,” Victoria said.
Brenda Whitfield, director of Homes for Families, loves seeing the transformations taking place each day. One of the biggest successes she has witnessed is with Echo and her five children. Echo’s oldest boys lived at STCH Ministries Home for Children for a while and their behavior was challenging, Whitfield said. When the boys were able to reunite with their mom at Homes for Families, things gradually began to change.
“I am learning to connect with my children emotionally and find new ways to help them,” Echo said.
She attributed her children’s improved behavior to the parenting classes and resources offered, as well as the one-on-one parenting guidance from the resident coordinators.
Ashley also loves seeing how her children have changed.
“My kids used to be quiet and shy and always wanted to be by me,” she said. “It's hard to explain, but now they have blossomed.”
Many who have come to know and love Ashley would say the same about her. Ashley celebrated her graduation from Homes for Families this past summer and signed a lease for her own apartment in Victoria, Texas. She works part-time, is in her third semester at Victoria College, and her children Kylee (age five) and Kyle (age four) are enrolled in their new schools.
Whitfield recently delivered a sofa to Ashley’s new apartment and recalls the glow of excitement and humble confidence Ashley exuded.
“She had a huge grin on her face as she asked us to come in and look at her place,” Whitfield said. “And I thought of the day the lady from Ashley’s church first dropped her off at Homes for Families and said, ‘I sure hope she stays.’”
“I would never be where I am if I had not come to [Homes for Families],” Ashley said. “Everything changed when I realized that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. What impacted me most was letting go and trusting God. I know now that I don't need to worry or fear because God is in control, and His plans are better than our own. Right now I am doing my prerequisites for nursing to become an RN and will see where God leads me. You never know, I might just go all the way and become a doctor. In everything I do, I want God first in my life.”
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