What an amazing honor it is to be a “guest blogger” on “Graphic Grace.” For those of you who do not know me, my name is Jen. I am a 31 year old mother of five…. Yep, that’s right five! Born in Berlin Germany, the oldest of three, an “army brat” I believe is what they called us. I was a true free spirit from birth, which evolved into a “wild child” in my early pre-teen and teen years. After some traumatic early experiences that led to sever rebellion and depression, I became engulfed by “the system.” I lived in numerous group homes, hospitals and “therapeutic” foster homes. Each leading me further and further away from our Father and down a path of destruction. After I returned to my parents home at fifteen I ran away….
Things, as you can imagine, became worse. After years of allowing Satan to control my life, I found myself broken, alone, homeless, and pregnant at seventeen. I was hitch-hiking around Texas and Mexico with a man ten years old then me. He had a horrible addiction to crack and was an alcoholic. Might I say, it was not my best year.
By the time I was twenty weeks pregnant and living off of dry Ramen noodles, I hit my breaking point. My son’s father abandoned me in a night club in Mexico to go get high. I did not even realize what was happening. Before I knew it, he was trying to communicate to a stranger who DID NOT EVEN SPEAK ENGLISH to watch me while he was gone. It is sad to say, but that was the first time I cared about my safety. I cared about the baby growing in my womb and knew something had to change. I called my parents…
Speaking to my father for the first time in two years, and asking for help, was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Having them accept me back in their lives after everything that had happened was even harder. I got on a bus heading for Leavenworth, Kansas, leaving my son’s father. Unfortunately, in my weakness I allowed him back into my life shortly before my sweet son Joshua was born.
I thought being homeless with an addict was hard. Nothing compared to living with an addict. There were bills to pay, food to buy, and another little life involved. I worked two jobs and, after completing my GED, was attending classes at the local community college. To the devastation of my son, I allowed his father to watch him while I was in school and working. He continually struggled to maintain employment. How naive I was at seventeen and eighteen. It was not until I came home to an empty house and had to retrieve my five month old son from a local crack house (mind you, I did not have a car and walked around for hours trying to find my child in the dark) that I realized again something had to change.
I joined the military when Joshua was 9 months old. He remained in the care of my mom and dad throughout my military training. My son moved with my family right after his first birth day to Georgia, and then moved up to be with me in Montana at 18 months old. My son’s biological father saw him one more time for a weekend prior to vanishing out of our lives forever,for the benefit of us all!
Life was a continual up-hill battle. My son had a very difficult time adapting and I stumbled often. I had many people share the gospel to me. For years I longed to surrender my all to our Father but was draped with shame. I felt like I could not allow Him into those areas of my heart. Like I was keeping this HUGE secret from God! If people really knew me, who would ever love me. How could God ever love ME!
With every stumble, more shame…
The day I surrendered to our father the flood gates opened! He poured in healing, and continues to shower me with His Grace and love! I met my husband as a single mom of three, my son (Joshua) and my two beautiful daughters. We are about to celebrate six amazing years of marrage. My husband adopted Joshua, and Joshua proudly took on the family name, Charles Joshua Logan Manly IV. God has since, blessed us with two more boys… God is so good! He is a restorer, a healer, he is my strength and my song, my all and all. He has turned my darkness to light. My hope is in Him.
With all that said, we are approaching a mountain that God is moving in our lives!
My beloved son, Charles Joshua, is diagnosed with RAD Reactive Attachment Disorder and sever ADHD. He struggles more then any 14 year boy should ever have to struggle. He is lost and alone. He is unable to obtain friends and continually sabotages any relationship he enters. He lives in a constant state of fear which causes him to be very reactive and destructive to those around him. I ache for my boy. The consequences of my fallen life have had a horrible effect on his emotional development.
A couple of weeks ago our therapist recommended, for the welfare of our family, that my son Charles be removed and placed in an institution or group home. Being a child from “the system,” I know that is not the answer and that the healing power of Christ is the only answer!
After countless nights in prayer, God has opened a door to offer help and healing through a ministry that speaks life and love into struggling teenagers. It is Shepherd’s Hill Farm/Academy. Charles has been accepted into their 12-month therapeutic discipleship program. Praise God!
This is a one and a kind ministry. It teaches attachment through horses and through the love of Christ. This is an answered prayer! Unapologetically Christian, because without a change of heart, there is no REAL change. You can check out these links to learn more Shepherd’s Hill.
So…. Here is the mountain!! The tuition is 58,000! 11,000 (first and last month) to get him in, and 5,500 a month for 10 months! I know this is nothing that Jesus and His body can’t conquer!
“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1
What do I know as truth? Jesus loves my son even more then I do (which is hard to believe). He desires healing and relationship with him more then I will ever comprehend. He is our hope! He is the answer!
Standing on a tower of faith, I withdrew our small 401K ($3,000) and sold our piano for $400.00. Having faith to allow the Father to move through the body of Christ, I signed up on a fund raising website, http://www.gofundme.com/charlesmanly and humbly pleaded for help. We opened up our home and garage for a fund raising yard sale and let the Holy Spirit move!
The responses we have been receiving are MIND BLOWING! God is moving in a mighty way and stirring many hearts!!! Everyday God is opening doors and people are loving our family in ways I have never imagined! We still have leaps and bounds to go! Every cent counts! Please, allow God to open your hearts to my son! And PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, for our family!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11
At His feet,