Updated: Nov 15, 2020
I’ve always had a heart for those who struggle socially and emotionally. This calling led me, in formative years to befriend those who were misfits, socially. I grew up in an area, in which many friends of mine did not have fathers involved in their lives, and most of the problems my friends faced were abnormal and serious. In the 10th grade, my mother remarried, and my family moved to a neighborhood where problems were far smaller but held in the same regard. My sister and I experienced culture shock, as we tried to conceptualize the strange new environment we were observing.
Wisdom and faith have been my greatest inheritance, and I held tight to my grandfather’s edict to “live within your means”, through most of my adult life. I worked and paid for college while I was obtaining my degrees. After obtaining my bachelor’s degree, in 2006, I took the first job I was offered, caring for those struggling with disabling mental health issues.
Education is also close to my heart, so during that employment I worked on and obtained my Master of Arts in Education, in 2011. In 2013, I wondered if God might be calling me to a 3 year mission in Africa. I had all of the qualifications and nothing holding me back, so I told Him I’d apply but that I’d like to have a family. A week later I met my husband. I did not receive a call back regarding the mission, but I became a deacon at my church for 3 years.
I started a family, and in 2015 began a job as a child welfare caseworker. I have had the
opportunity to put my people skills to the test and enhance my training in many areas related to those who consistently encounter and rely on government systems, and most people I have encountered, throughout my career have reinforced my firm belief that all people have value. However, trauma and socioeconomic norms can hinder many from believing it.
In 2017, my family had some challenges to overcome. Marriage felt like a mistake, and my husband and I separated. We didn't want our kids to witness dysfunctional fighting. I was depressed and could not focus on my work. I knew God was with me and my husband and brought us together for a reason, but it was so hard... I remained faithful and prayed.
While working I questioned the effectiveness of a system that generally relies on fear as a motivation to prevent involvement, as the population we worked with, most often, were unafraid of government systems. There are many great in-home services and educational programs available to those served by child welfare, but how effective could they be, if they were provided to people who felt hopeless?
Furthermore, many of those who were receiving these services seemed unable to sustain lasting change, and appeared to need more intensive time, education and insight to overcome what they have always known to be “normal”. Sending someone into their environment for a couple of hours a week felt like an expensive Band-Aid, with ongoing social costs on top.
I began to believe that a change of scenery and a change of heart is what many would need, in order to break the cycle of pain and disillusionment that had been a constant reality for too long to imagine anything else. I started to envision this program and have prayed about my concerns and abilities to set a workable plan in motion. Through therapy and separation, my husband and I were able to overcome enough of our differences to decide to grow together, rather than apart. We still have our struggles but are committed to getting through whatever life throws at us, together with the Lord's help.
I have felt God calling me to let go of fear regarding provision, and I am looking forward to living out this dream, of bringing back the faith, hope and love that have been missing for so many for as long as they can remember. My experience has shaped and led me to this, and I am grateful for the opportunity to lay down the life I've lived, to honor this calling.
I didn’t have the “perfect childhood”; far from it. My parents divorced when I was 3, and
two years later my mother moved me across the country, along with her 2nd husband,
meaning I was unable to see my dad on the weekends. I didn’t understand any of it, and it
made me angry. I didn’t want a different dad. I wanted my dad, and all of my anger got me
into a lot of fights and a lot of counseling.
I wasn’t good at verbalizing my feelings, and I didn’t care for counseling. I felt that the
people, who were supposed to be helping me, couldn’t relate to my problems. My mom put
me in sports, and even though I was a natural athlete, I got kicked off of most of the teams. I
was punished at home, verbally and physically, but it didn’t improve my behavior.
In high school, sports were my saving grace. Being the star on each team helped me to
avoid expulsion and even jail, since I was still unable to appropriately channel my rage. I was
so gifted, that I could have gotten scholarships, had the college scouts not found out that I was an alcoholic, at age 17.
Upon graduation I immediately moved out of my mother and her third husband’s home,
and went to live with some older friends in a neighboring town. While sleeping off a hangover, I missed the opportunity to play starting corner back in the all-star game that summer. In case that year wasn’t bad enough, I learned that my dad died of cancer. My heart was broken, and I felt like a failure.
I joined the Army for a shot at redemption. I got through boot camp and explosives school, but I had some major issues with authority. On my graduation day, with family present to witness my success, I got into a heated exchange with a superior and was asked to leave.
With little hope for a better future, the downward spiral continued. Drinking, drugs, anger and fighting kept me from a stable relationship at a job or with a girl. In spite of, or as a result of my instability, I became a father. I was in my mid-20s, and I wanted my kids to have an easier life than me. But my anger management still needed some work, and I had a lot of growing up left to do. That relationship eventually ended, leaving my boys in a broken home.
I continued to switch jobs frequently and moved around a little more, but at age 33,
something changed. My demons became too much for me to bear, so I prayed the only prayer I knew, The Lord’s Prayer. I asked God to help me change my ways, and the following week, I met my wife.
We got to know each other, and she persuaded me to attend church. I felt out of place, and change still wasn’t easy. I experienced a lot of growing pains and continued to struggle with authority, communication and how to appropriately verbalize and deal with my anger.
As a result, we eventually separated, but by then we had kids together. Now I had four kids growing up in broken homes, but I also had a Good Father, who held me accountable to my feelings and my commitments.
We went to counseling, and I worked through a lot of the lifelong issues and anger I had
been holding for so long. I’ve learned that there is no quick fix, but I’m committed to growing.
I want to be there for my family, and I don’t want them to experience the brokenness that I
carried throughout my life.
I have always wanted to help others who have faced similar struggles to my own, but now I feel like I’ve gained the tools I’ll need to do so. I’m finally at a place where I have faith, hope and love to share, and this program will provide me with a way to use my past hurt for something good.