Mothers arrive at Homes for Families for many reasons. Sometimes financial instability, abusive relationships or a lack of family support are at play. Other times, mothers find themselves homeless with nowhere else to turn. No matter the situation, when a mother arrives with children in hand, STCH Ministries Marshall Ranch and Bluebonnet Ranch campuses provide a safe environment to pause, breathe and then dive into the underlying issues.
JUDY IS A MOTHER TO SIX CHILDREN. She has four girls and two boys between the ages of two and thirteen. Her story is one of difficulty, and in fact, it’s non-linear. As humans, we love to hear about people conquering something hard after one attempt, but more often than not, our stories include road bumps, detours and dead ends. Judy knows this disruption well, but through hardships, heartache and growing pains, she ultimately experienced life change.
As a mother stuck in a difficult situation, Judy first heard about Homes for Families through a local church. She felt a desire to call the campus and learn more about the program, but as she listened to the rules and expectations, she felt nervous. “I couldn’t do it,” Judy said. She assumed it would be too hard to let go of a living situation that tied her to the life she actually needed to escape. With these details in mind, she hung up the phone and pushed the idea out of her mind.
One year later, Judy experienced the physical and emotional harm of domestic violence. With children living in her home, a CPS case quickly opened. Through this personal trauma, she again heard about STCH Ministries. As she talked with a family advisor, the advisor suggested that Judy explore the benefits and offerings of STCH Ministries Homes for Families.
As she talked with a family advisor, they explored the benefits and offerings of STCH Ministries Homes for Families. While discussing the logistics of a move, she recalls the advisor saying, “Don’t think of it in a negative way. Think of it as a blessing in disguise.” This phrase provided the lightbulb moment that Judy needed. On that day, she consciously chose to shift her mindset about the future and view opportunities with optimism. Soon after, Judy made the call to move to Homes for Families with her children in hand.
On November 6, 2018, they arrived on campus. The move was hard on everyone, and as a family unit, they struggled with a new home, a different schedule and a lack of independence. She felt grateful to be in a program that surrounded her children with love and support, but it was hard to fully commit to the campus’ expectations. After nine months, Judy walked away from Homes for Families feeling stronger than when she first arrived.
With the economic upheaval in 2020, Judy lost her job and lacked the support of a solid family network. She eventually purchased a home with the help of the COVID-19 stimulus checks, but after a series of hardships, Judy again turned to Homes for Families. This time, she needed spiritual direction, financial assistance and guidance for her children. “I just wanted to build my relationship with the Lord,” said Judy. “I felt strong after my first time at STCH Ministries, and then I fell back into old habits when I left. The world was pushing me to do things I didn’t want to do, but the Lord pushed me to come back. I had to make the decision to return.”
On August 2, 2021, Judy and her six children moved back to Homes for Families. This was a hard decision because the children wanted to avoid a second upheaval to their friend groups, schooling and extracurricular activities. Following the move, Judy felt less anxious. “I’m not all over the place, screaming, shouting or cussing,” said Judy. “I feel humbled. I learned to not do things on my own and wait for what God has in store for me.”
Today, Judy is moving through Phase I at Homes for Families, and her children are adjusting remarkably well. While recalling the return to Marshall Ranch, Judy said, “It felt like coming back home. The two years in between were hard. Walking through the door at STCH Ministries brought peace, and now I’m not as angry, and I’m not as depressed. Yes, I still get flustered, but as a whole, I’m at peace. At Homes for Families, they’re teaching me how to deal with struggles the right way.”
Today, Judy has more patience in interactions with her children. She recognizes that each child is different, and as individuals, they experience the world in unique ways. With new parenting skills at her fingertips, Judy tries to give her children love, time and attention each day. She is also working to implement structured chores in her house, a new venture for her family.
Judy regularly expresses a profound gratitude for the team at STCH Ministries. “They welcomed me here with six kids,” said Judy. “That felt big. A lot of places don’t have room for a family of seven people, but they made room for us.”
For Judy, life change is happening at Homes for Families. She is not the same person as the woman afraid to take the first step of faith and reach out for help more than four years ago. “I learned that the world is not going to save me. Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and we should follow in his footsteps,” said Judy. “At Homes for Families, I learn something new every day. It’s really changed my way of thinking.”
Judy hopes that other women experiencing heartache, hardships or abuse will find their way to Homes for Families. “It’s well worth it,” said Judy. “It’s hard in the beginning. It truly is hard. But you’ll feel peace within yourself, and you’ll see the change within yourself. It’s overwhelming and joyful. When you let God in, your whole life will change. Before I found STCH Ministries, I was depressed. I felt hopeless. Now, my life has changed for the better.”
While planning for the future, Judy holds two dreams close to her heart. First, she wants to be a resource for teen girls who find themselves in unexpected pregnancies. After watching relatives struggle through pregnancies at young ages, she wants to make a difference for those who feel hopeless.
Recently, Judy discovered her entrepreneurial spirit. If personal growth continues at a consistent pace, her second dream is to open a shop that sells party supplies—specifically balloons. She feels so much joy thinking about the possibility of owning a small business someday and recalls a simple balloon shop in her hometown and the smiles on her children’s faces when they hold the inflated treasures.
Homes for Families served as a beacon of hope for this family, just as they do for countless others who show up at their doorstep willing to walk the path toward real and meaningful change. Through stories like Judy’s, God’s providential and protective care is often noticeable over an extended period of time. Some might say her continued encounters with Homes for Families were by chance or completely random, but others will recognize God’s hand guiding each decision. If you or someone you know needs help, visit www.STCHM.org/hff.