IT IS OFTEN SAID that God is a God of second chances, but could God indeed wipe clean a record and give a young mom of two a new life? Could He answer prayers, provide healing, guidance and complete transformation?
When Allyson needed it most, God wiped her slate clean and gave her a second chance. Facing addiction, felonies, prison time and CPS charges with the threat of losing her boys, Allyson found herself at her breaking point. With such a difficult record, Allyson felt there would be no way out and no chance at a fresh start for her and her family, or the hope of a brighter future.
Realizing it was time for a change, Allyson quit her addictions cold turkey and applied for the STCH Ministries Homes for Families program. On bond and while fully detoxing, Allyson and her two boys – her oldest eleven years old and her youngest just months old – arrived at Homes for Families Marshall Campus in Goliad. “I ran here with my tail between my legs,” Allyson recalls. “I was like, ‘Okay, God. I’m done. I surrender.’”
Homes for Families is a ministry for single mothers and their children facing a crisis. Homes for Families is designed to help transition them into successful, independent living. As families move through the different Phases of the Homes for Families program, staff on campus help address their physical, emotional and spiritual needs.
Allyson learned early on that the process would challenge her. When reflecting on Phase I, Allyson remembers giving her resident coordinators a hard time as she was still accustomed to diverting back to unhealthy coping mechanisms. However, with the constant encouragement and love of her leaders, Allyson began to soften and open her heart to God. Allyson described herself early on in Phase I as a “depressed mother who hated [her]self.” She knew the effect this had on her relationship with her kids. “I wasn’t able to love my kids the right way because I didn’t love myself.”
Jesus loves you” was a constant reminder Allyson’s leaders would share. With time, she came to believe the good news of God’s love for her. As Allyson surrendered more to God each day, He transformed her by renewing her mind, exchanging her survival techniques of codependency, blaming others and rebelling to being more self-aware, forgiving, gracious and transparent.
“I remember He gave me 1 Peter 5:7, ‘Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you’ (NIV). That Scripture got embedded in my heart. It is HE that cares for me,” she shared.
Allyson has worked through each phase of the Homes for Families program with significant progress and impact. She entered Phase III at Homes for Families in January 2021 after working her way through Phases I and II of the program with her two boys in tow. “Phase II helped me discover what God had in store for me and helped me walk out all that I learned in Phase I.” Allyson also shared how much her relationship with God continued to grow during Phase II. “I was addicted to the chaos,” Allyson confessed. However, being at STCH Ministries “where things are calm and people are understanding,” as Allyson described, allowed her to untangle her thoughts. “My mind is quiet now; I can hear [God] so clearly now,” she added.
Allyson admitted that transitions can be challenging for her, having experienced trauma, but after feeling more settled, personally and spiritually, God began revealing to her the ways He wanted to use her and the plans He had for her life. Those plans led her to apply for college. Allyson is now pursuing her Associate of Science and hopes to enter the field of Counseling or Social Work. She would love to help others, as she has been helped, and see others break free. Allyson is also now a student worker in the Library at Victoria College.
Nine months into the program, the unexpected happened for Allyson. She was informed that her judge, impressed with her progress and the parenting courses she took while at STCH Ministries, dismissed all charges against her. “I was a mess,” Allyson confessed, “but God showed up for me every step of the way.”
Earlier this year, Allyson also learned that all her charges were fully expunged from her record. A feat that takes work to achieve. “I thought there’s no way He could just wipe that away… and He did,” she shared in awe. As Allyson and her children continue to move forward, they will now be able to do so without her past hanging over them.
Despite her freedom from addiction and victories, the enemy still tempted her. Not long ago, she shared with her case worker that the enemy’s temptations to leave and get her own place were persistent. “I had a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms and running was always one of them.” But God stepped in with a word from 1 Kings 19. The story of Elijah and the cave spoke powerfully to her. From that passage, she concluded that STCH Ministries was her ‘cave’ “until HE is ready to call me out with a gentle whisper as He did Elijah,” Allyson shared.
Since joining the program in May 2020, Allyson has experienced a remarkable transformation. “I have gained so much confidence as a mother, sister, aunt and now as a student and an employee.”
The fruit of Allyson’s surrender and obedience to God has also impacted her children’s lives. Her oldest son is now 14 and her youngest is 3. At first, Allyson admits that her oldest son resented her for “dragging him through [her] mess.” But in the same breath, Allyson rejoiced at the change she had seen in her son and their relationship. “STCH Ministries had the best counselor work with him and work with me to reach him at different levels that I have never been able to reach my son in.” Allyson exuded pride in sharing how far along her son has come and how God has restored their relationship.
In speaking to other moms considering Homes for Families, Allyson makes it a point to remind them that it won’t be easy. “You will still face challenges, but you will learn to meet these challenges sober and with God.” Allyson expressed gratitude that she was taught to take responsibility for herself and her children. “Once you allow spiritual leaders, counselors and mentors here to help you break down those strongholds, the freedom you experience is so rewarding,” she concluded.
The goal of Homes for Families is deep inner healing. There is no doubt that Allyson and many other families who have journeyed through the Home for Families program have experienced just that. We serve a God that sees us in our brokenness, sees us in our “mess” and sees our track record, yet He still loves us. He can clean our slates, give us a fresh start and bring us to a place of healing and transformation. “This is my haven. I feel safe at STCH Ministries. I love that feeling that God’s in control. It feels good.”
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…” Acts 3:19 (NIV)