Emerging Butterflies

ELEGANTLY DRESSED young women seemed to float through the festive room as they served homemade lasagna. The colors and sounds inside reflected the blooms and butterflies outside on this early spring day. Guests gathered to celebrate the courageous women dedicated to the ambitious undertaking of rebuilding their lives at STCH Ministries’ Homes for Families (HFF) Appreciation Banquet. Located just outside of Goliad, TX, HFF on Marshall Ranch Campus is currently home to eleven mothers and thirty-one children. These families are linked by traumatic pasts and a determination to be the change that breaks the cycle of a lifetime of bad decisions.

Theresa Klacman, Program Director of HFF, explains the annual banquet. “The families at HFF receive the benefits of the generous nature of STCH Ministries and numerous volunteers in the community throughout the year. It’s important to me that the girls give back once a year and show their gratitude. This event allows the residents and the staff to see just how many people are involved in making this program a success. It’s a wonderful time for reflection and thanking
God for his church.”

In preparation for this event, the girls take a six-week public speaking and etiquette class. They learn how to set a table, how to serve their guests, and what to say while serving. “The whole process grounds us all to gratitude and allows us to say thank you with action to all the people who make this program a success,” Klacman said.

Testimonies from each woman was the highlight of the afternoon. Many of the speakers emphasized the difficulty of acting on their responsibility to be courageous in life.

Judy, a mother of six, spoke of weighing “the pain of change versus the pain of never changing,” In the end, she made her decision to join the program for her children. “I knew I needed to change. I wanted my kids to be – better. I didn’t want my kids to follow the footsteps I did.”

Young Gabrielle did not know how to cook, physically care for her child or even appropriately handle telephone conversations when she arrived at HFF. Her playful grin and spunky confidence accentuate the metamorphosis she is undergoing while living and learning on the ranch. “I could never imagine going back to my old ways,” she affirms. “I’ve learned to ‘throw down’ in the kitchen now. I have discovered things about myself that are new and I have restored old dreams.”

Angelica came determined to “get my life together to be able to raise my son no matter the cost.” A lifetime of betrayal at the hands of her own family left her cautious and judgmental with deep fears about whether this opportunity was too good to be true. Although she is in the early stages of the program, she has a beautiful understanding of the work God is beginning in her. “I would like to say my life is like a butterfly. I was born, hatched, into the world as a caterpillar eating the leaves of plants to survive. Eating and surviving off of the things of the broken world. Right now, I am in the cocoon at HFF. Right now, God is making me into a beautiful butterfly.”

Maria’s migration to Marshall Ranch came for the sake of her children also. She describes life after moving into Phase 2, the Equipping phase, from her daughters’ point of view. “The girls say that they love the new mom I am today. They are very thankful to me for choosing them instead of drugs and finding God. He has shown me how to love myself and others. He has given me peace and patience I never thought I could have.”

Forging a better life for their children may have been the catalyst which began the evolution, but God Himself is transforming these ladies into women genuinely seeking His heart each day. Brittany asserts, “My relationship with God is stronger than it has ever been. I am now a godly woman who can provide safety and stability for me and for my children as I keep God in the forefront of it all.”

Debbie struggled through Phase 1; in fact, she left the ranch to give life on her own another try. When she understood that she had exchanged the likelihood for a future merely to repeat the past, she returned to HFF. Now she is committed to true maturation and pursuing recovery with her whole heart. Her words reflect her decision to move forward. “The more I search, seek, listen and apply His wisdom I find hope and confidence to pass on to my children. They can walk in freedom. A life of forgiveness and restoration, healing from any hurts, abuse, or addiction is only found in Jesus Christ. I look forward to a bright future knowing that He holds my future in His hands.”

Tiffany has just begun studying early childhood education at Victoria Community College and is on the verge of readiness to stand on her own. Looking back, she is amazed to see in herself “the woman I always wanted but never truly believed I could be until now. I am blessed to be a testimony that Jesus can and will change our hearts when we humble ourselves and submit to His authority over our lives.” She continues to expound upon the difference HFF has made; “All the time you put into MY life – has taken me from a pit of hopelessness and led me to freedom and a new chance at life. I’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good and His love endures forever.”

God is indeed helping butterflies emerge at the Marshall Ranch Campus. Each lady is discovering the beautiful vocation He is preparing them for. Judy plans to work with pregnant teens. Gabrielle writes rap music and desires to become an inspirational singer. Angelica plans to enter into ministry through an organization called “Eyes on Me” to help other young people in similar situations to thrive. Maria plans to become a teacher’s aide. Brittany wants to become a nurse. Debbie is an entrepreneur and plans to open her own cleaning business. Tiffany has been hired through the Head Start program in Victoria where she
will gain valuable experience as she continues her education.

HFF staff and residents optimistically hold fast to what God Himself promises through the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:6, “I am sure that God who has begun a good work in me will carry it on until it is finished.”


More Than Just a Temporary Home

Excitement, nervousness, and anticipation were all words used by the three seniors Jian, C.J., and Preston at STCH Ministries Homes for Children (HFC) to describe their feelings towards college. For the three of them, attending college was not something that they thought would be possible before coming to HFC.

WHEN A CHILD comes into care at HFC, they are getting more than just a temporary home; they are entering into a family that will love and care for them long after they leave. One way that STCH Ministries extends their love is by providing programs to help prepare them for life after high school. STCH Ministries also provides full college scholarships to the children that graduate from high school while in care and maintain the proper grades while in college. For most children, this is a dream come true.

Support is a big part of what happens on campus to help prepare the children for their future. Their houseparents are there to help them with school work, housework, money management, and other aspects to prepare them for the “real world”. Anna Piprek, College Transition Coordinator for HFC, is there to help with the transition and continues to support them while they are in college. She encourages them to do better and to strive for excellence in everything they do. Anna was fortunate to partner with the Junior Service League in Beeville as the seniors were given the opportunity to explore various professions. “It is my hope that through this program we can provide them with the support, accountability, and preparation they need to succeed,” Anna explains.

As they prepare for college, the three seniors and their houseparents look back at their time with STCH Ministries.

Jian came to HFC a little over two years ago and lives in Brown Cottage on Boothe Campus. “He didn’t have confidence in himself when he got here. He’s super smart so most people don’t know how to take him,” his houseparents, Dustin and Victoria Gordon describe. Since being at STCH Ministries, he has grown in his confidence and the ability to interact better with those around him. “He isn’t afraid to say ‘this is who I am’,” Victoria explains. He has also grown spiritually and physically. He started working out with his housepop, Dustin, and now chooses to work out at least one hour a day. Through the Junior Service League, he was given the opportunity to shadow at BTX CrossFit in Beeville. He shadowed the trainers and learned how they do some of their workouts.

When asked what his favorite part about being at HFC was, he stated, “always having food in the pantry!” So, it comes as no surprise that he is most looking forward to the food in the cafeteria while at college. Dustin and Victoria’s prayer for him is, “that he is armed well enough to defend his religious beliefs and doesn’t get knocked down; that he doesn’t give up on what he thinks he wants and figuring it out.” Jian plans to attend Texas A&M Kingsville to study Computer Engineering.

For Preston, STCH Ministries has helped him grow in his school work and housework. “Without STCH, I really wouldn’t be where I am today, because before I wasn’t really the brightest at school, but now with STCH Ministries I have straight A’s; I tutor after school; I have a scholarship. Incredible!” he exclaims. Preston came to HFC a little over a year ago and lives in Foster Cottage. His houseparents, Terry and Sheila Backen, describe Preston as someone who, “is always doing projects, there is nothing he can’t do.” Since coming to HFC, he has gained the confidence and drive to help out more around the house and with daily chores. “He has learned his value,” Sheila explains. Preston is interested in science and through the Junior Service League, he enjoyed a day of shadowing at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in Beeville.

While at school in Pettus, he was part of the Art Honors program and helped tutor ACE (Afterschool Centers on Education) students. When asked how STCH Ministries has prepared him for college, he shared that, “it taught me how to deal with a roommate.” An answer to a prayer for Terry and Sheila is that he will be living with his roommate from HFC next year and they know the two boys will hold each other accountable. Terry and Sheila’s prayer for him as he goes off to college is, “that he will continue to gain confidence and find the right fit for himself; that he continues to seek God and God’s plan for his life.” Preston plans to attend Coastal Bend College in Beeville to study Information Technology.

Preston’s roommate C.J., has also experienced some changes since coming to STCH Ministries a year ago. “I am glad I found STCH because it led me to finding God and Jesus, and ever since then my life has had lots of new doors open, including college.” Over the last year, C.J. has grown as a leader and role model to the children around him, but at the same time, he has been able to experience what it means to really be a kid. While at Pettus High School, he volunteered as a tutor with the elementary ACE students after school. Terry and Sheila shared, “he has an ability to work with kids and help them in different ways.”

C.J. is also interested in physical activity such as working out and was able, through the Junior Service League, to shadow at BTX CrossFit in Beeville. “It was a new experience, and I wasn’t expecting it to be as cool as it was,” he admits. He was also given the opportunity to shadow a photographer as she captured and edited pictures. Terry and Sheila’s prayer for him as he goes on is, “That he would continue to seek the Lord and establish himself. For him to be a blessing to his family without having to give up himself.” C.J. plans to attend Coastal Bend College in Beeville and will be studying Videography.

Graduating and preparing for college can sometimes be difficult. For more than 66 years, STCH Ministries has provided love and support to help make things a little easier as each child transitions either to college or a vocation. Knowing there is a place they can come back to when they need someone to talk to or just need their laundry done helps ease worried minds. The houseparents want their boys to know, “God has a special plan for them and they can do anything they set their minds to; they don’t need to be afraid to GO! And DO!”

Greg Huskey, Vice President of Homes for Children, talks about what this ministry means. “We enjoy and celebrate with our ex-students of their accomplishments. STCH Ministries is a relational based ministry which hopefully and gratefully extends for a lifetime of ministry with our students.” The seniors that are moving on this year may have only been here for a short period of time but for them, this is more than just a temporary home, this is a family.


Expanding God’s Kingdom

The idea of a STCH Ministries medical mission trip over spring break to the Dominican Republic originated in the hearts of a few Baylor University students early in the fall of 2018. They ranged from freshman to seniors and their majors varied—neuroscience, medical humanities, health sciences, biochemistry and others. Their ultimate goal upon graduation was a career as a Physician Assistant (PA). 17 students (from Arizona, Colorado, California, Oklahoma, and Texas) quickly paid their deposits and filled out their applications. Their enthusiasm and perseverance made up for what they lacked in experience.

TRIP LEADER, Anna Kemp, reflected, “I knew I wanted to have a medical mission trip, but at times it was hard not to be anxious. None of the group were close friends, and I was inexperienced on how to organize and lead a trip like this. What can we do at a clinic with no Spanish and little clinical experience? I would pray, and then trust and then doubt all over again. The process was a big faith-builder for me. I had to exercise my faith-muscle!”

In the Dominican Republic, Dr. Francisco Paredes, STCH Ministries staff doctor, began preparations for logistics of food, transportation, pharmacy help, children’s ministry volunteers, and translators which every medical clinic requires. For the group of Baylor students, with limited clinical experience, how could he plan clinics in which both the students and patients would benefit? Michelle Gambrel, a licensed PA, heard about the trip through her daughter who was a participant and decided to go along. Another doctor, Dr. Rebecca Georges from San Antonio, agreed to join the team. Dr. Georges also agreed to present two lectures on relevant medical topics to enhance the students’ learning experience.

As Dr. Francisco continued to plan for the clinics, he knew he would need additional experienced medical professionals for this group. Then he remembered Jammal. Jammal was a faithful Christian in the Iglesia Bautista Quisqueyana (IBQ). As an outstanding high school student, he had been awarded a full scholarship to medical school there in the Dominican Republic. Jammal also spent two summers in the United States to learn English. His ability to communicate in English would be crucial for this unique opportunity. Having recently graduated from medical school, he was treating patients at a local hospital. With Jammal’s help, Dr. Francisco recruited six additional English-speaking Dominican doctors to also donate their time for a week of medical clinics.

The clinics were held in school facilities located in impoverished neighborhoods and villages. Closed for the day to allow medical needs to be met, they converted the classrooms into makeshift doctor’s offices. Each team included a doctor, two Baylor students accompanied by a translator as needed. The team sat behind a table laden with a blood pressure machine, a stethoscope, intake forms and prescription forms. More chairs for the patients on the other side of the table formed the consultation setting.

“Everyone took a chance on us and trusted God that good things would happen,” reflected Ella Heintz from Seabrook, Texas. God answered! In three days of medical clinics, in different communities, they saw over 400 patients. They heard their ailments and together the team of translator, doctor and students diagnosed and prescribed treatment with compassion. Available medicines were provided. Then, “How can we pray for you today?” a team member asked. Bowing their heads, sometimes holding hands, the team voiced a prayer of blessing over the patients’ needs and families. One student shared, “I experienced the reality of God’s kingdom extending all the way from a Baylor classroom to a makeshift clinic in a poverty setting in another country.”

At the end of the week, several other Baylor students shared their impressions.

“It was an incredible experience to be able to work alongside the Dominican doctors all week. Not only did we learn from them while working with patients in the clinics, but we built relationships with them throughout the week. (It) opened my eyes to what it means to serve wholeheartedly under one God.” Miranda Swanberg, sophomore, Health Science and Biochemistry, Round Rock, Texas.

Craig Russell, graduating senior who had already been accepted to PA school, reported, “We shared experiences together and learned from each other’s cultural differences, respecting those differences all along the way. At the free medical clinics that we set up at the schools, the doctors were immensely helpful in explaining to us their mentalities in terms of why they made certain decisions or diagnoses regarding the patients.”

Another student, Olivia Azzopardi, commented that she was impacted by “experiencing the sheer love and devotion for God from a different cultural standpoint! The experience solidified the fact for us that we all serve one God, and have one common purpose in life. I was so blessed to be able to create friendships with them over our common center of love.”

As an experienced PA, Michelle Gambrel shared from her perspective, “Seeing Baylor students pursuing a PA profession and who want to use it for God’s glory was a rewarding experience for me. It made me excited for the future of the PA profession. It also seemed to affect the students, giving them a renewed sense of God’s presence in their lives.”

Every participant concurred that the medical missions experience especially confirmed their sense of calling to a medical profession. “We were serving others, and watching God work.” In the reactions of the team, Anna Kemp sensed God had fulfilled her desire as she began plans for the mission week, “For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.” (II Corinthians 4:5)

Spring Break, 2019—a moment in time. Time to re-set priorities, slow down the pace of life enough to hear God, and see the needs of others. Time to strengthen relationships, and develop new relationships with Christian brothers and sisters 2000 miles away. A sacrifice of time and resources in order to serve others. For each student and their families back home, it required a significant step of faith. We hope these moments will live on in each student’s heart, and produce a rich harvest of faith and service to others as God continues to lead them in their journey of life.


Remembering Diane

APRIL 6, 2019, outside of LaGrange, Texas, Diane Gryseels and several family members lost their lives in a tragic car accident.

Diane Gryseels is remembered for her passion for the Gospel of Jesus Christ by everyone who knew her. STCH Ministries staff, residents, and clients were all impacted by her life. Diane served over four decades through multiple positions across STCH Ministries, which means only Heaven knows the exact numbers of lives changed by her witness. She began as a caseworker in 1966 fresh from earning her Master of Social Work through Worden School of Social Service at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio.

In 1968, Diane felt called by God to serve as an international Journeyman Missionary and moved to Vietnam. While there, she met Binh and LoiBeth in an orphanage. Eventually, God brought the siblings to Buckner Orphanage in Texas and Diane became their adoptive mother. Years later, Diane adopted Haylee, another of the children she met during her time in Vietnam.

Diane returned to STCH Ministries in 1972 serving in multiple positions. Her enthusiasm for the organization was the catalyst for her parents to become houseparents on Boothe Campus. Over time, Diane’s influence encouraged many in her family to serve in both ministry and missions. LoiBeth, her daughter and one of her brothers are both missionaries living overseas.

Donna Stewart is one who found a confidant, mentor, and friend in Diane. They met soon after Donna became a Christian and joined Tuleta Baptist Church outside of Pettus, Texas. When Donna’s husband returned to his faith in Christ and the two began to reprioritize their finances and begin tithing, they were challenged by multiple appliance breakdowns and unexpected car repairs. These difficulties were especially daunting as Christmas was fast approaching. Without Donna’s knowledge, Diane orchestrated members of STCH Ministries staff and Tuleta Baptist Church’s congregation to work together to provide a memorable Christmas for the young family. Much later, when Donna learned of Diane’s involvement and +she tried to thank her, Diane was adamant she receive no credit as the most important thing was for the young family to know the importance of tithing and learning to trust God to provide. Donna shares that she has since worked to “pay forward” the kindness that Diane showed toward her young family.

When the opportunity arose for STCH Ministries to expand services to Corpus Christi in 1985, Diane moved too in order to open the new Roberts’ Memorial Children’s Shelter, and she remained the director of that program until it closed. Her personal investment with STCH Ministries continued throughout her entire life and extended beyond the scope of her job description. Gina Diaz is one whose life was impacted by both Homes for Children (HFC) and especially Diane.

In the mid-1980s, Gina and her four young daughters became homeless. While the decision to place her children at HFC was heart-wrenching, she believed they “deserved to sleep in the same bed every night and eat three meals each day.” She felt these were essential elements every parent owes their child, and HFC made it possible for Gina to ensure her children were cared for. Gina wanted to better herself. She was empowered to get a job, find an apartment and enroll in college in Corpus Christi due to STCH Ministries dedication to helping the whole family. It was there that she met Diane. Gina credits Diane’s influence on her life for bringing her back into a relationship with Jesus. “Diane believed in me,” Gina stated. “She had a way of making you feel like you can overcome – no matter what the obstacle looks like. And, I don’t believe she did that just for me.” The two ladies remained friends even after the girls returned to Gina’s custody, in fact, Diane shepherded her through the reunification with her daughters and showed her how to regain their trust.

Tam Campbell, Administrative Assistant for STCH Ministries’ Family Counseling office in Corpus Christi worked with Diane from 1988 until Diane retired in 2010. During that time Diane was the Director of the Robert’s Memorial Children’s Shelter as well as head of both the Foster Care Program and the Adoption Program. The Adoption Program held a special piece of her heart; she placed a lot of babies in Christian homes. After those programs and the Children’s Shelter closed, she worked as a counselor until she retired. Tam feels deeply impacted by Diane, not just as a co-worker but as a friend. “I cannot even count the number of people she ministered to in her counseling practice, because they just numbered too many. Diane was a true servant of God who talked of His presence to everyone and anyone who would listen.”


Homes for Families Mom Graduates High School

DEBBIE CASTILLO WALKED AWAY from high school as a teenager with no thoughts of looking back.

Homes for Families (HFF) has been both a comfort and a challenge for Debbie as she’s struggled to become a healthy adult. It took several attempts, but she was able to persevere with the strength she found in her relationship with Jesus Christ and the encouragement of her extended HFF family.

She has learned through the HFF program, that God did not create her to be a quitter and on May 24, 2019, Debbie walked the stage at Goliad High School and received her diploma. As she reflects over the recent past, she is astonished by the changes within her heart. She remembers asking God, “How come I didn’t believe that good things are for me too? He said because you didn’t know what was good, acceptable, pleasing to God (see Philippians 4:8) and now you do.”

Debbie’s children inspire her to pursue a better future. “When my kids were taken away by CPS years ago, I knew deep down inside there’s got to be a better and different way than this,” Debbie admits. She recognizes that life will always have conflicts, but the thought does not deter her. She can now identify herself as her own biggest skeptic, but she has learned that God has always known who He created her to be. “I truly believe from the depths of my soul He doesn’t leave us as He finds us and that motivated me to keep coming back to finish what He has started in me (Philippians 1:6),” Debbie confidently claims.

On graduation night, the entire HFF family cheered as Debbie received her diploma and moved her tassel, but the voices that rang loudest in her ears were her proud children. Circumstances have changed for the better since that fateful day when she thought she had lost them forever. “It has been a long road for them,” she acknowledges. “Proverbs 31:28 says, ‘Her children arise and call her blessed.’ and I stand on those words.”


Captive Thoughts

“For by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in an abundance
of wise counselors there is victory and safety.” – Proverbs 24:6

REBEKAH LOGAN did not consider herself anyone out of the ordinary. She had no complaints about her life; as a child of a stable Christian family, she understood the Gospel truth from a young age and accepted Jesus as her Savior while still a child. Overall, Rebekah enjoyed an easy life in comparison to some.

In spite of that, she characterized herself as an anxious person. She remembers thoughts which overtook her imagination, turning ordinary circumstances into
something terrifying. No matter how hard she tried, the images returned throughout the day keeping her in a state of nervous fear.

While she knew both God and Satan existed, she never expected to face spiritual warfare. Rebekah understood spiritual warfare as “exorcist type stuff”. She said, “I’ve always believed in Satan, that he has abilities to do things here on earth, to tempt and affect us.” Rebekah clarifies, “But, I never considered
myself to be someone that was afflicted with spiritual warfare in any way.” She assumed she wouldn’t be targeted.
She depicts herself as, “One of those people whose testimony is not very exciting.” What she did not take into consideration is how completely she is loved by God, Himself. Being the recipient of the attention and affection of El Shaddai (Lord God Almighty) is all it takes to put a target on the back of every believer.

As a young teenager, Rebekah was comfortable in her personal faith, and actively shared her beliefs with others. Still, she struggled with anxious thoughts. Real life scenarios were exaggerated and invaded her thoughts. Rebekah became an aunt when she was in high school and those “day terrors,” as she called them, intensified. “My newborn niece was vulnerable and so close to me that she was a target of my day terrors. I imagined something terrible happening to her. That false image plagued me for years. I played it over and over again,” she remembered. As the intrusive thoughts continued to torment Rebekah, she found it
easier to give in to the fear they caused.

After graduation from Texas State University, Rebekah joined A Christian Ministry in the National Parks (ACMNP) and moved to the Grand Canyon. This organization finds jobs for Christian young people inside national parks, thus positioning them to immerse themselves into relational evangelism. It was there
Rebekah met geologist Greg Logan, an intern with the National Park Service.

The two married in 2011 at the Grand Canyon and began to look for permanent work. Greg’s training as a geologist brought them to Victoria, Texas. Victoria was not where Rebekah wanted to be. “I had a really hard time becoming content with being here,” she recounted. “How do you go from the Grand Canyon to Victoria and be ok with it? We were outdoorsy people – it was hard to find things to do outdoors here.”

While she looked for employment, Rebekah discovered she had too much free time and began to “stew in my discontent.” About the same time, she suffered debilitating headaches which did not respond to medication and she did not understand what was causing them.

Rebekah found work and the couple cultivated relationships with new friends and mentors Tim and Judith Williams. Tim was the pastor of Northside Baptist Church where the Logans are now members and the two couples enjoyed spending time together. Judith lent her literature and reading it changed her life. The author explained how spiritual warfare can have a physical effect on a person. She described, “As soon as I read it, it’s like Christ reached into my head and pulled the headaches out. The headaches were gone. It was an affirmation, it was a pivotal moment.” Rebekah continued, “You are battling spiritual warfare. This is real. You need to be okay with that because you will need to be able to handle it. Handling it means to give it over to Me and realize you don’t need to fight yourself.”

The rich and vibrant relationship between Rebekah, Greg, Judith, and Tim continued when Tim became the Director of Church Relations for STCH Ministries
in 2015. In fact, when Rebekah called all of them to share her experience, everyone told her they each had prayed fervently for her that same day. This revealed to her, for the first time, how intimately and completely God loved her. She discovered a renewed zeal and rejoiced at the truth that her testimony continued to unfold. “My testimony is not like a chapter book that you’ll finish at a certain point in your life. It doesn’t end until my body does and I am in eternity. I was
one of those kids who thought that I had a boring testimony. When I became an adult, things started happening!”

She learned to face spiritual warfare because Jesus won the victory at the cross. “When I put on my full armor (of God) and use the power of the name of Jesus, Satan has to flee and that’s that! It’s actually pretty straight forward,” Rebekah claimed. There were other conflicts, other victories yet, the day terrors continued.
Rebekah wrestled with the idea of taking all of her thoughts captive and allowed her thoughts to control her instead. “I became a very fearful person. I allowed that stuff to wreak havoc on my mind and was not able to focus on other things due to the images stuck in my head of terrible things happening to people that I loved.”

She struggled through an extremely difficult pregnancy with her second daughter, including physical and mental challenges. After Eleanor was born, postpartum anxiety pushed the day terrors into high gear. She endured anxiety attacks which rendered her helpless, curled up on the couch paralyzed by fear.

“It wasn’t even anything specific afflicting me,” Rebekah acknowledged. “I had gotten to the point where I didn’t need a thought to produce fear in me. Fear
was always present. Fear was in control of my body.” After an especially harrowing sleepless night, Rebekah’s incapacitation convinced Greg they needed to become proactive about the situation. Based on Tim William’s recommendation, Rebekah called and scheduled an appointment at STCH Ministries Family Counseling.

After hearing Rebekah’s story, therapist Pam Frink suggested Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR) Therapy as the course of action. According to Pam, EMDR along with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT – traditional talk therapy) are the top therapy protocols for helping people deal with trauma, depression, and anxiety. Many therapists believe EMDR is to be superior to traditional talk therapy because it goes right to the brain and typically takes
a fraction of the time that CBT does. Pam utilizes EMDR therapy with the majority of her clients because of the effective nature of the treatment. “Researchers find that EMDR is an excellent tool for helping those battling PTSD, OCD, addictions, and grief. I am a huge proponent for EMDR. I see how it is healing,” Pam explained.

The EMDR protocol mimics the brain’s natural processes of working through memories. When the procedure happens correctly, Adaptive Information Processing has taken place and, once complete, the memory no longer “bothers” one anymore. When a memory maintains the sensory and or emotional elements (Maladaptive Information Processing), any similar experience, thought, smell, sound, etc. can throw the victim emotionally and mentally back into the exact state as when the original incident occurred. Without treatment, these maladapted memories will never resolve.

Before the first EMDR session, Pam helped Rebekah identify her negative thinking and formulated a statement for her to proclaim after the processing ended. One of the targets Rebekah identified was the feeling that she was not enough to take care of her children.

Rebekah detailed one of her first EMDR sessions this way:

My brain has processed targets and triggers either visually or verbally. The first time was very visual. While my eyes were open and following Pam’s fingers my mind was visually seeing things like a movie. I was replaying a short clip of an experience, which represented what I was struggling with. This particular target was a moment in high school when someone close to me grabbed the back of my arm and told me I needed to lose weight.

My “I am” statement going into it was, “I am not good enough.” The statement I wanted to believe afterward was “I am good enough.” I began the session
believing I am not good enough physically. As the processing begins, Pam’s fingers moved back and forth in front of my following eyes. I play this clip and say the words in my mind, “I am not good enough.” Pam knows what she’s doing and she knows what to look for as I’m processing. When she stops moving her fingers I quickly tell her anything that has stood out to me, she usually says, “ok, just notice that” then starts moving her fingers again.

As we started and stopped time and again, the clip I played and statement I heard, began to change. The first shift was from this person grabbing the fat of my arm (the original image) to them simply standing beside me. The next shift was this person hugging me! It was gradual, but as this shift happened the “I am not good enough” statement left me. Finally, the image in my mind changed to God Himself hugging me. It was surreal. I began to cry. My “I am” statement came back to me but this time it was the second one. “I am good enough.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 teaches us to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. God Himself was captivating my thoughts to Him.

The day terrors that troubled Rebekah for so long ceased early in her treatment and she has finished her therapy course. STCH Ministries Family Counseling was the tool God used to train her to take her thoughts captive, a basic commandment for a Christian’s walk which she failed to master on her own. She is confident of the truth she learned: all of the targets were cleared when Christ died on the cross. She felt challenged by God to “not allow His death to be a
sacrifice in vain.” She is thankful to have the skills necessary to handle anxiety, “If I have a thought that would have turned into a day terror in the past, I can control the situation instead of the situation controlling me. Life is manageable now.” Rebekah intentionally enjoys each day with her daughters and looks forward with optimism knowing Christ won the victory.