Choices are one of God’s many gifts to us. We choose to take paths that lead in different directions and result in different outcomes. While our choices cannot thwart God’s sovereignty over our life’s journey, we maintain a freedom to make choices that lead toward or away from His presence. One woman in particular is familiar with this concept. Danielle’s choices–mostly driven by traumas–led her to Homes for Families. This choice, however, is without regret.
PRIOR TO MOVING to the Marshall Ranch campus, Danielle struggled mentally, emotionally and spiritually. “My life was falling apart, and I needed to change. I was really suicidal; I felt like I was very alone and hopeless,” she explained. Danielle developed trust issues at a young age, and her caretakers hurt her deeply. “They were supposed to protect me and care for me,” she recalls. This caused a distorted view of God’s character. Like many hurting people, she turned to alcohol and heavily relied on pills to numb her pain–all while trying to raise two daughters.
Danielle’s face lights up when she speaks about her children. She describes Jess, 16, as artistic and fun but still a little shy, while Alexi, 7, is really fun-loving and outgoing. Since moving to Homes for Families more than a year ago, God softened their hearts as a family unit. She reveals that “Lexi’s personality has blossomed, and Jess has come out of her shell and is more receptive and open.”
Danielle heard about STCH Ministries from a friend, Theresa Klacman, Director of Homes for Families. She encouraged Danielle to apply to move onto the campus and begin getting her life back in order. Danielle is inspired by the support she receives at Homes for Families and says that the facilities and programs provide “a safe and supportive place for me to get my life back on track.” She continues, “Being able to study God’s Word and apply it to my life has made a difference in the way that I think and behave.”
Danielle even admits she discovered her child-like self again. One of her favorite memories is from a day the STCH Ministries staff set up a bounce house on campus. At first, she thought it was just for the kids, but then she joined some of the other mothers inside the inflatable structure. “We had so much fun on it!” she remembers.
That is not the only way Homes for Families impacted Danielle’s life. “I have hope; I don’t have depression, and I don’t have anxiety. I have my struggles, but I’m able to cope with them in a much healthier way than before,” she explained while choking up. “It has brought me into a deeper relationship with God. Coming out here and letting God heal those hurts and wounds and talking with the counselor about the traumatic things that have happened to me—I’ve seen God bring me into a deeper, more loving relationship with Him.”
Facing the future is something she can do now. She says the biggest lesson learned while at Homes for Families is that she can forgive herself, and she knows she is worthy of that. Danielle hopes other mothers who are on the fence about getting help from STCH Ministries will just take the plunge and do it. “It’s a choice you will not regret,” she exclaims. Homes for Families is above and beyond what she envisioned. She is able to heal from the trauma, let God’s Word speak into her life and forgive and love herself. This discovery has in turn impacted her kids’ lives, too. They understand they can forgive, experience joy and are worthy of a life that they want. “Seeing all the other women at Homes for Families and how God moves in their lives, gives me extremely huge hope” Danielle says with confidence.
Danielle recently moved into Phase III on campus, which calls for her to hold a full-time job or be in school fulltime, attend church regularly and attend monthly counseling sessions through STCH Ministries. She currently has a job, but she is hoping to go back to school. “I’ve always been drawn to nursing or the medical field,” she reveals. Danielle also expresses interest in possibly receiving a degree from a trade school. She looks forward to stability, helping people and providing for her daughters as a single mom. Danielle proudly says, “I’m excited about the future. I can’t wait to see what doors God opens up and the direction He wants me to go. I’m seeking it, I’m asking Him for it, and I know He’s going to take me to it.”
Danielle’s choices led her to this moment of rebirth in the Lord. Christians who discover God at a later stage in life can choose to be ashamed of their past or learn to embrace it. For Danielle, she says, “I used to be ashamed of my testimony, but God showed me how he can use it to help other people.”
That’s the beautiful thing about giving our lives to Jesus; He does not turn His back on us even when we slip-up. Instead, He turns our mistakes into lessons that we can teach to others.