Defeating Shame

“Shame dies when stories are told in safe places.” Ann Voskamp

I remember her, more so I remember her face. She was crumpled down on her knees. Her face flush with small blotches of red scattered across it. Her eyes were filled with water, glistening beautifully, but I knew they held pain. She held a paper in her hand, it was one that revealed that she had been awarded full custody of her daughter. Yet her hands raked through her hair. Through her whimpers her voice became more audible. I heard her say, “I wish my daughter never went into foster care.” She began pouring like a flood the stories of where she had been, and what she had seen. Each story was one that would tear through the human heart. One after another she poured forth her journey, and revealed why her child had to be placed in the system.

It was interesting to me that such a time of rejoicing was shadowed by such grief. She had fought a long road to get her daughter back. Fought a long way to renew her life. Each decision a step closer to this day of victory. Yet it seemed when her sun was there to shine, the clouds of shame hovered over her like a thick blanket. She shared her stories. She shared of her tragedies, shared of her pain. At the end of the release of all that she had been holding in her heart, she was asked one question. I asked her, “Will you allow the shame of the past to taint the joy of the present?” She looked up at me with those burdened eyes, and she said, “I don’t want it to”. The words that followed were potent for her heart. I told her, “You are forgiven for your yesterdays, and you have forgiven the ones who hurt you in the past, it’s time for you to know the freedom of today.” Those words gripped her as she considered the young child playing in the park, that would be permanently back in her care. She picked herself up off the ground along with the paper she had been holding. She said, “it’s time to go tell my daughter she is home.”

For some, recovery is the physical expression of success. For many they would hear that a mother received full custody of her child, and express how proud they are of Acres of Hope for helping guide a family to reunification. Yet it is so much more than just seeing the external changes. We have to remember true transformation is from the inside out. If the inside is still wounded, then it will be only a matter of time before a person returns to dysfunctional ways. The true measure of success is transforming a life from the inside out and watching renewal take place.

At Acres of Hope we see that those who are a lock-box of painful secrets and stories from the things that have happened to them, or they have done in times of desperation, keep people in places of shame. To set them free, we must be willing to hear the difficult stories with compassion, and share truth and light into some of the dark situations they have faced. In doing so you allow room for a person to grow, heal, and transform from having a heart of shame, to living a life of freedom. It’s time to defeat shame.

If you would like to help women and their children to step out of shame, and walk in the light of hope and freedom,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-878-8030

I'll Protect You Mommy

He was 6 years old. His big innocent eyes, grew narrow, his gaze intensely set upon the staff member who approached his mother. “I’ll protect you mommy”, he said. As his mom and the staff member shook hands, the young boy, stomped his foot as hard as he could onto the staff member’s shoe. It was his protest, his best defense, to ward off the threat to his mommy. You see for this little boy he witnessed the early effects of domestic violence that took place in his home. He witnessed the blood that ran down his mother’s face. He heard the screams for the pain to stop. He saw his mother in the corner weeping. He was the one who would bring his blanket over, and try to wipe away her tears after his dad walked away. He was the one who would try to clean up the mess so his mother could smile again. He was the one who thought inside of his little heart at such a young age, I will protect you mommy.

Right away some hearts may say, well why didn’t his mother just leave. Why didn’t she walk away. For some of the women trapped in a life of abuse, they haven’t learned there is any other way. At Acres of Hope we hear the stories behind the scenes. Abuse, neglect, and abandonment when they were children. The same symptoms in friendships, then relationships. They grow up in a world where they didn’t even know there was a different life possible. Their corners of the world showed them this is all they get, all they feel like they deserve. So then becoming a mother, many will do everything they can to prevent their children from being physically harmed. So they learn to take more pain onto themselves. When the child comes, that baby may be a relief because it is a comfort, and love that this mother has not experienced. Yet there also comes more pain, for when the child cries, leaves a mess, or needs more attention than an abuser, more pain is heaped onto the mother trying to protect her child. Yet what isn’t realized is seeing the violence, hearing and watching the pain, is traumatic for the child. In innocence the child will want the abuse to stop, the pain to go away, and to no longer have to see his mother crying. So he learns to say, “I’ll protect you mommy”.

For you or I, seeing a child say such words, knowing how innocent, and small such a precious being is we would rise to say no way. It is you little one who we will protect. Well I want you to know that is what we are saying at Acres of Hope. We will rise to show you and your mother a new way to live. We will help your mother grow strong and healthy, and know there is a life outside of domestic violence and dysfunction. We will remind you both and teach you of your value and worth. So that you will know you can be a child, and that you will be safe in your mother’s care. That she will be the one who protects you.

To join the Acres of Hope Community in rising to show our families a new way to live,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call:530-878-8030

Just Let Me Hide

“Complexly traumatized children need to be helped to engage their attention in pursuits that do not remind them of trauma-related triggers and that give them a sense of pleasure and mastery. Safety, predictability, and "fun" are essential for the establishment of the capacity to observe what is going on, put it into a larger context, and initiate physiological and motoric self-regulation.”
Sarah Benamer, Trauma and Attachment

Just let me hide because I'm scared
Don't even try, don't even dare
To approach me, because I don't trust
Don't dare speak to me, it might all seem like to much
Don't reach out for me, I will cower away
Don't make eye contact, that's to much for today
If it's time to eat, let me hide with my food
Don't interrupt me, or that might seem rude
Don't ask about my scowl,
Or why I may growl
Just let me hide
I'm only five
This world has been to loud, it's been to much
Just let me hide until I can trust
That you are safe.

It's a journey, and a process that our children walk through to heal, and renew their young lives. They do not come in and become whole in a day. Acres of Hope staff, volunteers, and mentors work hard to take a child who comes in filled with fear and a lack of trust, to a point where they know they are safe and loved. We are no ordinary place, we are empowered by God.

To become a part of healing the lives of the children at Acres of Hope,
Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-878-8030

Mommy I need a hug: The power of connection.

A hug is defined as an act of holding someone tightly in one's arms, typically to express affection. Research shows that hugging may also help reduce stress and lower your risk of anxiety, depression and illness. Consider what a simple hug can do: Help you feel connected, and can reduce feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Most of us have seen it. It is the videos or the news stories of a baby at the brink of death, and the power of a mother’s touch, that can bring that little one back to the full measure of life. The tears of worry that we briefly share turn into smiles of joy. As if something in this world has been made beautiful and right. Moments like that happen everyday at Acres of Hope, and we get to see the impact up close. It comes in the simplest form, a hug.

A little boy named Micah he moves swiftly through kitchen. You hear the shuffle of his little feet on their search for Mom. When he arrives and meets her gaze, his eyes set upon hers. His little arms reach up high anticipating her embrace. His words questioning, “Mom, up please”? As she gathers him in her arms, he rests his head upon her chest, and his word so sweet, but so desperate, “Mommy I need a hug”.

You see for both Micah and his mom this moment is probably so much more than you realize. For Micah’s mother physical touch was not something that she was used to. The only physical touch she knew growing up brought pain. When she arrived to Acres of Hope she would often weep, and proclaim, “I don’t know how to show him affection, that wasn’t how I was raised”. Yet as his mother experienced support, encouragement, and the tools to change her life, she became open to the power of connection. She no longer felt she was walking in this world alone. Where she once refused hugs, she began to open her arms, and embrace the wonder of being embraced. This changed everything, because it was a form of touch that did not hurt. Instead it brought her peace.

Micah reaped the benefits of the transformation in his mother. His mother loves him, so she began to embrace him in this new found comfort. Micah began receiving hugs. At first he would firmly stretch out his little arms to push away the embrace. He would scream at the sign of physical affection. However, little by little the arms began to open, and his head would begin to rest upon her chest. Micah felt the comfort, and stability of being held in his mother’s arms.

Today at Acres of Hope as we hear those words, “Mommy I need a hug”, we smile because we know the transformation it takes to hear them. We understand that for a child to express their need, means they have learned their mother can answer their cry. We can see that when a child opens up their arms, they are trusting the one who is entering into their embrace. This is the power of renewal here at Acres of Hope, a place where the power of connection heals.

To learn more about Acres of Hope or how to get involved,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call 530-878-8030

It Stops With Me: The Power Of Resilience

It stops with me, because I will not be, the product of what has been set before me.

It stops right here, beyond the pain, storms, and the tears, because I will not adhere to a legacy of fear.

It stops right now, because I will not back down, to any challenge that opens a new door, someway, somehow.

I will fight for something better, I will face what may come whenever.

I will no longer cast my worth to the distance

Be subjected to the wreckage of toxic instances

Rather I will grow strong and unveil the caged brilliance

Of what it looks like to show the world my resilience.

Stingrays: Becoming Real

He gasped when he saw them. Stingrays? They are real, he thought to himself. He had never even considered the possibility that these amazing creatures could exist beyond the TV screen. He watched Finding Nemo at every chance he could get. He was always mesmerized by “Mr. Ray” a cartoon protector of the children of the sea. That’s all he wanted was protection for him and his mom. He found comfort in thinking there might be a place where protection is found. Perhaps he and his mom could become a part of a community. For him his hope was in a fictional cartoon character. A hope unvoiced, until the day his eyes revealed all, on a trip to the aquarium when he was staring at real life stingrays.

His eyes were filled with wonder. His tiny hands planted against the wall. He stared through the glass at the water as the stingrays weaved and danced between one another. Every now and then a small smirk and a little chuckle would escape and fill up the room with joy. This was the moment when a fictional story that brought a young boy hope was transformed into something real. It was no longer just a movie, or a dream. Instead it was something alive, inspiring hope right before his eyes.

“Mommy”, he whispered, “this is real”. His mother came close and knelt down beside him. “It is isn’t it”, she replied with a small chuckle.

At Acres of Hope every single day, women and their children find out that the things in their life that seemed only a fictional dream are actually becoming realities. For the mother dreaming of having a home of her own, a dream becomes real. For the child wanting to have friends and live in a safe and stable environment, this becomes real. For the family that wants to break old cycles and live in a new found freedom, they find out that life is a reality.

For one child recently visiting an aquarium, stingrays were found to be real. At Acres of Hope for women and children wanting to break the cycles of homelessness, they have the opportunity to see that reality fulfilled.

If you would like to see for yourself the reality of homelessness ending, schedule a tour with us today. See for yourself, the reality of transforming lives, and ending broken cycles.

Call today at 530-878-5300 or Visit: acresofhopeonline.org to learn more.

Father's Day: The Mentors We Know

“Children with mentors are 46 percent less likely to do drugs, 33 percent less likely to resort to violence, 53 percent less likely to drop out of school, and 59 percent more likely to improve their grades. One-to-one mentoring has also been shown to lower the rates of teen pregnancy, suicide, and gang involvement in communities.” John Sowers

It’s a few days until the annual surge in tie buying by 5 year olds culminates in a Sunday morning of burnt toast, runny eggs and hand drawn cards that make grown men cry. The ritual that is Father’s Day is almost upon us and for those lucky enough to have their fathers still in their lives it is a special day to reach out, say thank you, and do something for that man in your life who taught you so many lessons both big and small.

For many, their father is or was their greatest teacher, revealing how to live. A healthy father communicates to their children what is acceptable behavior and what is not. They reveal how a child is to act, becoming the ultimate role model that a child aspires to become. The outcome of a child growing into an adult is frequently a direct result of the relationship had with the father, or the lack of one.

James, the brother of Jesus, says in James 1:27: “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” The word “orphan” doesn’t just mean a person whose mom or dad died or abandoned them. The deeper meaning of that word means “one who is without a way.” We live in a world with orphans all around us. At Acres of Hope some of the words used to describe the relationships between our mother’s and their fathers were: absent, abusive, violent, fear, and unknown.

Women learn from their fathers what to expect of a man. It’s why fathers are so pivotal in a young girl’s life. A strong father-daughter bond, will create a young woman who seeks out healthy men who are respectful and loving. A weak, or missing bond creates a hole in the soul that longs to be filled. Often times leaving a woman searching to fill those holes with anything.

Yet at Acres of Hope the women and children who have found themselves with father voids find out that God provides. That He is the father to the fatherless. They learn God sends his people to be His hands and feet here on earth to fill those father wounds. Pastors, volunteers, and Angel Grandpas become the mentors who become the loving guides that reveal the heart of the Father.

This Father’s Day, we encourage all of you to reach out and thank all the men in your lives that have contributed to your journey. Thank you to the fathers who loved, dedicated, sheltered, and sacrificed tirelessly to guide and parent their own children. Thank you to the father figures who stepped in to mentor and fill the voids left by those who couldn’t fill the role of being a father.

It is in that spirit that we encourage you to reach out to the mentors in your life and thank them this Father’s Day. They may not be your relatives, they may not be legally related to you, but if they have had a positive effect on your life, if they have taught you valuable lessons, or been there to pick up the pieces when things fell apart – take the time and send them a card, give them a call and tell them how important they are, and how grateful you are, for them in your life.

Reaching out to those who have helped us up along the journey is rewarding to them, and to us. It won’t take long, or cost much, but it will be priceless to the one who gets that card or that call telling them how thankful you are for their being in your life and showing you the way.

On behalf of all of us at Acres of Hope, we are so grateful for the tireless dedication and loving support given to our families everyday by so many “fathers” - our mentors, volunteers, and Angel Grandpas. You are making a difference and showing them what a healthy, safe, loving man looks like in this world.

To become a mentor, volunteer, or angel grandparent,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-878-8030

His First Bed: Acres of Hope

His small little hands were clutching a red suit case. It bounced back and forth against his little knees, as he made his way down the sidewalk. His mother listened to the staff run down a list of information about their new home, and meal times. He lifted his hand towards the gate, and took a deep breath. “This one”, his mother said, as she pointed the way to their new home. He walked up the stairs, and peered inside of the front door.

The key turned in the door latch. His mother took her hand, and gently slid the glass door back. His little feet crossed the threshold. His eyes scoured his new home. He set down his little red suitcase, as his mother said, “We’re Home”. His walk was slow. He scanned his new environment. Then his eyes were set on something that would soon bring him great pleasure. At a quickened place he ran a few steps. He looked back at his mother with a question in his eyes. His mother’s response was simple, “Go ahead that’s for you”. As quickly as the words left her mouth he leaped onto his new bed. His mother watched with water forming in her eyes and stated, “He has never had a bed before”. The Acres of Hope staff that surrounded this new family felt the weight of such a statement. They listened as he gleefully jumped for joy on his new found possession. A bed that he could call his own. A tear trickled from his mother’s eye, as he finally grew tired and laid flat on his bed. She knelt down beside him, and through her choked up voice, she told her son, our lives are about to be transformed.

At Acres of Hope, many families come with limited to no real resources for survival. They must learn what it is to have all they need to thrive, and feel safe.

The safety and stability the Acres of Hope families are experiencing is because of your kindness and generosity. Whether it is those who volunteer decorating a cottage, donate funds, or those who provide a Mickey Mouse comforter like the one on our new young resident’s bed, your impact makes a difference. The women and children no longer feel like they are fighting alone. They now know they have a place they can call home. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for the love and support you show Acres of Hope families.

To be a part of changing the lives of women and children breaking the cycle of homelessness,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or call 530-878-8030

Closing Doors

“Bye Bye Mommy”, I heard her squeal. The sound of the door opening and closing was powerful to me.

Just a short while ago we had no door to open and close. We roamed the streets, and as she fell asleep, I held her, and our back pack of belongings, wondering if today would be the day someone would come and take her away. For some people open doors seem to find them wherever they turn up. For me closed doors seemed to be the theme of my life. When I needed love, there was a closed door. When I needed support, there was a closed door. When I was trying to find stability there was a closed door. When I wanted to work, an employer would take one look at me and the doors were slammed in my face.

Yet there came a a day when a door opened. It was at Acres of Hope. I waited for the rug to be ripped from under me, and the door to be slammed in my face once again, but that day never came. Instead the door of hope was opened. All the closed doors I had experienced in my life had been opened. I found stability, support, employment, and a healthy life for me and my child. It was then that I realized it was time to close some doors of my own. It was time to close the doors of dysfunction. Close the doors of homelessness and instability. Most importantly, close the door on fear, so that I could leave open the door of hope and a future for me and my child.

At Acres of Hope, women and children are able to walk through the open doors of hope, transformation, and renewed lives, and close the doors on homelessness, trauma, and dysfunction. Acres of Hope is breaking the cycle of homelessness for women and their children with each opportunity that opens the doors to bringing them into a hopeful future.

To learn more about the open doors at Acres of Hope visit: acresohopeonline.org

Reaching Potentials

There is no easy way to escape living in crisis. Since our founding Acres of Hope has challenged many homeless mothers with children to grapple with that difficult truth.

And not everyone can. It takes a certain type of woman to stand up to everything that’s ever damaged or broken her and take full, complete control of her life. It’s difficult. It’s painful. And again, it’s not for everyone.

Acres of Hope is for the woman who wants to make the leap. Who will fight the pervasive influence of homelessness, poverty, and abuse. Who will make an empowered decision to rise up and become a productive community member. Who understands, unequivocally, that the decision to create a better life – for herself and for her family – rests entirely on her.

At Acres of Hope we know what our clients need to become self-sustaining. And it’s much more than just being housed, clothed and fed. It’s giving mothers real love so they can finally learn to love themselves. It’s helping them fully realize their potential. It’s establishing a sense of self-worth and readiness for the real world.

You can be a part of helping the women and children of Acres of Hope reach their true potentials. To get involved visit: acresofhopeonline.org or call: 530-878-8030

What They Are Facing

Without physical and mental stability, holding down a job and supporting a family just isn’t possible. Research shows more than half of homeless mothers experience mental health challenges, such as depression and anxiety. And the trauma their children face can potentially spell a lifetime of devastation. The staff at Acres of Hope works tirelessly to support families so they can overcome the effects of trauma and dysfunction so they can make giant strides towards self-sufficiency.

Being a mother comes with a lot of responsibility. And because a majority of our clients became mothers in their teens, a lack of support and parenting skills is simply the norm for them. That’s why parenting education is at the core of the support we provide. As mothers progress through the program, additional assistance becomes available so they can commit fully to employment readiness. Through housing, transportation, and a comprehensive and coordinated program for children, families are able to enjoy a support structure during their recuperation with the eventual goal of becoming independent.

Along with Acres of Hope Staff, volunteers are a huge part of the success of Acres of Hope for families. Due to the support of the community of volunteers we are able to help provide career guidance, high school education and diploma assistance, financial literacy, job readiness, computer literacy, and in-house employment training. As a result, mothers end up more than prepared to embark on the path towards a successful career.

When a mother and her children arrive at Acres of Hope they are facing so many obstacles to overcome. Yet with the support of an amazing community of staff and volunteers lives are being changed.

If you would like to join the community that is changing lives,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-878-8030

Desperate Situations

He said to me, “I have a place that you can stay for the night, and I’ll buy you some dinner”. My mind said run away, but somehow my feet kept walking forward.

It is common for young people facing homelessness to be sexually active, including those who practice survival sex or are trafficked for sex, and they are at higher risk of pregnancy. Knowing they have no safe, stable place to care for and raise their children compounds their already traumatic test of daily survival.

Yet, pregnant or parenting women experiencing homelessness find there are few options for safe shelter and services for them. They need everything—food, clothing, shelter, medical care, and safety, plus education, vocational training, and life skills to achieve a secure future for themselves and their children.

Care is critical. Without it, their children are at higher risk for a range of issues, from developmental delays to repeated bouts of homelessness as they grow older, and the young mothers themselves go untreated for the trauma and other issues that drove them to and have kept them homeless.

At Acres of Hope women and their children can stop making choices in desperation. They no longer have to compromise what their instincts are telling them to simply try to survive. At Acres of Hope we help mother’s leave desperate situations, to dwell where they can be safe, loved, and have stability.

You can be a part of helping women and children know they can leave desperate situations so they can experience a life of hope and freedom.

Learn more today:

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call:530-446-1621

Kaleidoscope Of Hope

Kaleidoscope: an instrument that reveals a succession of changing phases or actions , typically viewed through a small view that is revealed through light’s reflection.

The idea of a Kaleidoscope reminds me so much of being here at Acres of Hope. You see for a person to get to know the story behind the scenes of a woman and her children, and how they ended up homeless, a person must come close enough to see their story. Similar to a Kaleidoscope you have to come close enough to take a look inside thru the tiny peep hole to see the true treasure held inside. There is beauty inside each family that arrives here at Acres of Hope. Yet, just like a Kaleidoscope, there is the beautiful remnant of many shattering’s, that created such beauty. Each mother and child has faced their trials. They search for Hope, and they radiate a desire to change. Lift your Kaleidoscope to the light and the beautiful colors will shimmer and shift, leaving a person in breathless beauty. Just as much is the family, striving to climb out of the dark places of their lives, to find light and hope.

The women and children of Acres of Hope need you on Thursday, May 2nd - the 2019 Big Day of Giving - to show them beauty can come out of the shattering’s. That light can break through and reveal that their lives can be changed. Also that you are the ones willing to come close enough to see them, hear their stories, and believe that something beautiful can happen in and through them.

Help us break the cycle of homelessness for women and children and show them that beauty can come out of the shattering’s of life.

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call 530-878-8030

Two Dollars and Fifty Three Cents

Pregnant, Homeless, Alone, is not what you want to hear when someone is talking about you. It’s one thing to be in the situation, but reality hits when you hear someone else say it. It settles in as really being your life.

When she walked out the door that day, she was frightened. She kept checking her pocket to recount, hoping that by some miracle the amount had increased. Two dollars and fifty three cents was all that she had to her name. She had lived in the house of horror long enough, and with a child coming she knew she couldn’t stay. She was controlled by a man who could not love her the way that she needed to be loved. Yet, it wasn’t until she knew she would have a child that she had the courage to finally leave. She was his prisoner. She had aged out of the foster care system, and with no family to protect her, she was perfect to become his prey. He wooed her in with his kind words, made her feel love in his strong compassionate arms, until those same arms became the source of many firm holds, and his hands were the sources of her many bruises. Her journal tells the tale.

4:15pm. I stared at the clock remembering the moment I decided to run away from your father. You were born after I left him. Life from so much death. I sat up from the bed in the hospital and stared at your tiny face emulating beauty. I swear to you he will never hurt your face the way he hurt mine. He will never destroy your spirit the way he tried to destroy mine.

87 days. We traveled with you in my womb with nowhere to go and no family to call. I had two dollars and fifty three cents to my name. You were growing and my body was swelling in fear of what was to come for us.

What will we do now?

Here. You are here in the world and we can’t leave because we have no place to go. I pulled my hair aside as my eyes welled up with tears. I heard the nurses whispering in the background – “She has a lot of baggage – lots of hard dynamics here.”

I slumped over. Would they take you from me? What am I to do as a homeless woman with you?  

I began to deep throat sob and rocked you back and forth until we both fell asleep.  What do you do when you have nowhere to go? What do you do when you’re just “a lot to handle?” All I ever wanted for you was to give you what I never had.

Welcome Home. As my eyes fluttered awake the next morning after nightmares of what our life could be like, a nurse told me that she had heard about a place called Acres of Hope which changed the lives of homeless mothers. With zero options and life of the streets still pending, I was willing to go anywhere so I could keep you.

They discharged us from the hospital and a church got me into short term placement in a hotel while we waited to see if we could go to Acres of Hope. Praise God we were accepted. I slowly walked into, what they told me, was a home for us, that we could live in for two years while we changed our lives. I closed the door behind me and with my back to the wall fell to the ground. I began to sob with you in my arms, tears collecting on your face – this, this was joy. I carefully traced the carpet with my hands. I couldn’t believe I had a safe place to sleep. I had a place to put you to sleep. Nothing else mattered in this moment.

10am. I was greeted by a kind woman who put her arms around me and told me I was safe within this space. She smiled and told me she had prayed for the both of us and that on the most practical of levels, God knew this is where we were supposed to be.

I had never known love and support like this. I didn’t know how to thank them as I knew I could never repay them. But this I learned during the first few weeks: there is a radical thing called grace. I saw it in the eyes of each of the people who worked at Acres of Hope. 

Lives are being transformed at Acres of Hope. Women and children find safety and the tools they need to break their cycle of homelessness and the many roots attached to such a state of being. To be a part of making a difference in the lives of Acres of Hope families,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-878-8030

They Came Home: Breanna's Story

 

    "Look and see, for everyone is coming home! Your sons are coming from distant lands; your little daughters will be carried home. Isaiah 60:4

    At 8 years old she sat down feeling the loneliest she had ever felt, her parents got divorced. Her mother quickly dove into drugs to calm the isolation and pain, setting an example for Breanna’s future. Breanna watched drug use, and a slew of unhealthy people. Along with those people came abuse, and neglect. Her perception was triggered by seeing the world through eyes of pain. She was broken. Living with her Dad she ventured down the path of shadows searching for light in the midst of the dark within her. Though her dad and her stepmom were good people she was lost. At Age 11 she was raped for the first time. Hanging out with other youth, she came across a man who showed her attention, and she ran to his comfort. This led to the screams that nobody would hear because the shame that left her in fear. She began drinking and smoking pot. At age 12 she was taken back to her mother. She dove heavily into drugs and dropped out of school. At age 14 she met her first child’s dad and gave birth when she was 15. After having her son, she went back to school, and graduated from high school. Her son’s dad however began abusing her as well. She didn’t know her worth. She finally got the courage to leave. She wanted to break a cycle she didn’t even understand. She was searching for love in all the wrong places, until her fate met it’s maker. At age 24 she met a new man, who was kind and gentle. At age 25 she had her second child, followed by her 3rd child 2 years later. Happy, she began to trust again, and she thought her world had changed. Until, she married this man, but was later abandoned.

The abandonment set off a spiral into life of severe alcoholism and fighting any who came into her path. She also allowed a man to come into her life who would abuse her, and set an example for her children of what it is to feel worthless. They watched her despair, and they watched her get beaten. Breanna dove head first into an addiction of meth. At age 32 her life fell apart completely. CPS Took her children, she lost her home, she lost her soul, and she lost her hope.

After many recovery programs, several relapses, and multiple transitional housings opportunities, Breanna decided to change her life after an encounter with God. She witnessed a car accident that left a life departed from earth. This shook her to the core and made her realize she needed God. God had purpose for her, and he was going to restore her.

For Breanna the seed was planted by a CPS worker a year prior to her pursuit of a life of transformation at Acres of Hope. Acres of Hope is a faith based renewal program that transforms the lives of women and children through the power of Jesus Christ. One night after crying herself to sleep Breanna wanted to be renewed, and in the early morning "Acres of Hope" kept repeating in her mind. She knew she needed to go after multiple encounters of revelation from God. The nurture, provision, and patience began on April 1st, 2016 when Breanna stepped onto the Acres Campus with the intention to transform her life, and reunify with her children who were residing in the Foster Care System. Breanna wanted her children to experience safety, stability, and a mother who could love and support them. During Breanna's time as a resident at Acres of Hope her dreams for her family became a reality. She was reunified with her children. The family went through the process of transformation, and they had a hope that could not be shaken. Breanna's family grew stronger together, and received the support they needed to move forward in their relationship with God in their lives. As Breanna grew stronger she wanted to give back and help other women and children break the cycle of homelessness. She got involved in volunteering at Acres of Hope, during and after graduating from the program. Breanna went through the training to assist with the Genesis counseling program for residents, and helped aid women through Road to Recovery courses. Breanna reflects on Isaiah 60:4 Look and see, for everyone is coming home! Your sons are coming from distant lands; your little daughters will be carried home. Breanna says this scripture is a testimony to her life. Her restoration was God came into her life and he brought her family home. He loved her when she felt unlovable. Breanna and her children have been growing up out of the fertile soil Acres of Hope has provided.

Today Breanna is an Acres of Hope Staff working as a Recovery Specialist. She helps women discover the root cause of addiction issues so God can water the positive seeds sewn and transformation can occur. Breanna is walking in the purpose she was meant to live out.
Breanna shared, "God definitely wanted us here to grow." It is an amazing opportunity to see Breanna and her family's life come to full bloom.

                               Visit: acresofhopeonline  or Call 530-878-8030

Is This Really My Life?

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2nd Corinthians 3:18

I felt it the first time I walked into my own office at work. My new coworkers came and looked me in the eyes. They shook my hand with smiles on their faces. They told me they were glad that I was a part of the team. I went to the coffee machine, and headed for my desk. I sat down and realized, “I have a job”. I worked my first full day and as the day closed, I came to understand and accept that my life was not going to be the same. I headed to my car, and reflected on the many days of not knowing how to drive. I pondered the support I had from my Acres of Hope family in pursuing my license, I succeeded. There I was driving to get my children from daycare. I could afford for them to go to daycare. I sat outside of the daycare center and I cried. I have come so far. People in the community don’t even know what my past was like. They don’t know I was a resident at Acres of Hope. They don’t know how hard I have had to fight, or that my life did not begin like theirs. I am accepted, I am thriving, and the transformation is true. God has changed my life. The love I have experienced at Acres of Hope, and the support from staff and volunteers has given me a new way to live. I often question, “Is this really my life”? Before I would ask that question in despair, since my life was shattered, but now I ask that same question in overwhelming joy, because renewal and transformation have consumed my family. I will never forget Acres of Hope. I will never forget how this loving community was used to change our story.

Transformation begins at Acres of Hope. To join in the journey of transforming lives,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-878-8030

A Child's Voice: You're Safe Now

I was scared, but only because I was confused.

I wished someone could tell me what was happening.

I wished they would tell me I was safe.

I need you to show me, that I can trust.

Let me know that it is safe to open up again.

Tell me it is okay to let you in.

Show me you wont let me down.

Show me that I can reveal me.

Show me that I can seek you out for help.

I need to know you will catch me when I fall.

Show me that I will get through this.

Let me know you will always be there to help me.

I need you to love me.

Reveal to me, show me, and tell me, that it is okay to come out of hiding.

You will show me I’m safe now, and I will say I’m done hiding.

A child’s journal

At Acres of Hope children go through true transformation. Their hearts experience the security they need to open again, and to trust. We watch children go from hiding to healing. The true of measure of success is when a child can trust again.

Won’t you join us in the mission of transforming lives, and breaking the cycles of homelessness and the issues that have led to it.

Get involved today:

Call 530-878-8030 or Visit: acresofhopeonline.org

The Witness

I know he witnessed me, when he couldn’t sleep

I was sprawled out on the kitchen floor

Directing my fingers to not grab more

As I was captured by his eyes

My mouth too dry to say baby don’t cry

I know he witnessed me when what he needed

Was a mom who would show up to his kindergarten class and see his achievements

Instead I filled him with my lies

Ignored the silence when he saw the deception in my eyes

I went to my bedroom and I cried

I know he witnessed me, when they took him away

He reached out for my hands saying mama stay

As the cold cuffs hugged my wrists

I looked at my little boy asking, how it came to this

I sat in that car and I cried

But then he witnessed me, when I fought to change my life

I looked into his eyes and said no more addiction, alright

I went to Acres of Hope and renewed my life

Reunified with my child, so we no longer cried

I give him my best, and each day I try

To share with him the love, I feel deep inside

So that he can witness me, no longer in despair

But rather a woman who is strong and filled with hope, he’ll have a mom who loves and cares.

Watch him witness me.

Alive: The First Night Homeless

I looked death in the face, I saw it’s shadow come towards me, and I just knew I would have to fight to survive.

I had been walking in the cold for hours, the sky was overcast, the shivers running up and down my body. My mind was racing, where was I going to go. I walked by the church parking lot, I saw a life-sized doll house on the play ground. I considered tucking myself inside for the night, but realized I had no food. With a baby growing inside of my belly, I had to find something, somewhere. I came upon a mini mall, there was a laundromat still open. I went inside, and I sat savoring the warmth. I listened to the television set, hung above the washing machines in the corner. For a few brief seconds I was able to escape my reality, until the bell rang above the door, and a woman walked in asking for help. She asked if I would help her carry in some of her laundry bags, as if God knew I needed some help, she offered me a few dollars for my support. I walked next door to a tiny mom and pop restaurant and ordered some fries. I closed my eyes, and pretended I wasn’t about to spend my first night out on the streets homeless. I left the restaurant and walked back to the laundromat, but the manager was at the door locking it up for the night. The fear settled into my heart and mind. I began walking into the night wondering where I would end up, it felt like I wouldn’t even survive the night. I came upon a gated garbage area. I went inside and closed the gate. I flipped up the lid and rested it on the gate to make a bit of shelter. However the water trickled in on the ground beneath me. I sat there in the corner on the ground, shivering cold, I began to cry. I then got an idea to open a few trash bags and use the plastic to offer some protection, and make a cover from the rain. It worked for keeping me dry, but the cold still sunk deep into my skin. As I laid there and listened to the rain falling on that garbage lid, I wondered if I wanted to survive. I was sure there was a bottle I could break, and slit my wrist, and be done with the pain I have known. Yet as quickly as the thought came it was undone, by the thought of the baby in my womb. I knew I would have to fight, I had to fight for the life growing within me.

Many of the women who come to Acres of Hope have seen some of the hardest things that are offered in life. Many have experienced loss, many have experienced abuse, some have experienced addiction. However one thing they all have experienced is homelessness. The first night of wondering how they will survive, how they will feed themselves, where they will lay down their heads is frightening. For a mother with children, or with a baby in the womb, it is even more threatening to be out on the streets alone. At Acres of Hope we tell these women who are ready to change their lives and break the cycles of homelessness for themselves and their children, we are here. We have food, shelter, safety, love, community, and the tools you need to transform your life. For some women homelessness is a matter of life or death. Acres of Hope is equipping women to be able to live, and thrive.

To help break the cycles of homelessness,

Visit: acresofhopeonline.org or Call: 530-446-1621

Second Chances: A Mother's Courage to Hope

Alone, it’s like a cold, dark, blank hospital room. At least for me it is. I reached out over the phone only to hear my ex-husband’s dark solemn voice. My relatives were at his home, they were peering over my newborn. My heart was ripping, cracking, as if in a million scatterings across the floor. I pumped milk, which was liquid gold to me. It was the sole gift I had left to give my son. It broke me to have it all dumped away. Regret and guilt entered my soul. This was just another day. Filled with deep sadness, and confusion, making me question my life.

This was my first holiday as a mother, spent away from my son. I was locked away in a mental health facility. I felt not only the pain of separation, but also I felt the remnants of a brutal beating from my ex-husband. Feeling distraught, I was still grateful to have my life.

I remember thinking, there must be more than this.

Five years later, at Acres of Hope, Thanksgiving held so many new blessings. Gratefulness had gone from a distant concept to a new attitude. It was as if my silent, uncried prayers were answered. I had the evidence of God’s great love for me in a new holiday experience, with my son and daughter. I am gaining confidence in my ability to be a mother, and given opportunities to grow.

I am not alone. Through second chances, I have found a new life of hope.

The mothers at Acres of Hope each have a story to tell. Some tell stories of abandonment, some of neglect, some of abuse, some of addiction. Each story opens our eyes to the need for renewal. Each story is an opportunity for God to transform a life. He is doing just that, lives are changing, women and their children are finding hope. Each family experiences a second chance at life.

You can help us give more women and children a second chance at life:

Visit us at: acresofhopeonline.org or Call us at:530-878-8030