It Takes Courage: To Listen

Coming close enough to hear a story that gives you a behind the scene look into someone's life is important. It can tear down strongholds that come from biases, stereotypes, and the many other things that brings mankind to a place of judgment over what God calls us to, which is discernment, and coming to the aid of those who need our help. The difference between discernment and judgment is discernment is the ability to analyze with the intention of bringing forth the best response and circumstance from the knowledge gleaned, judgment is the ability to gain knowledge in order to criticize, condemn, and tear down. Many people hold judgments without ever coming close enough to get the behind the scenes tales. There are so many people I have come across in my life who have received judgment before anyone even took time came close to understand the how's and why's a person ended up in the situations they were in. 

The heart who can listen is the heart who can make changes for the better. When one comes close enough to listen they can learn how they can help, why there is a need for help, listening can change lives. 

Many people fear coming close enough to hear hard stories, they fear they cannot fix what has broken a heart, fear it will be to big for them to handle, fear it tearing away at happiness, when in reality to listen is to create intimacy, awareness, and change. 

At Acres of Hope each day we see Workers, Volunteers, Moms coming close enough to listen, to bring change, to bring healing, to show they care. 

In a world who fears listening, may we be a people who will listen. 

To learn more visit: acresofhopeonline.org

It Takes Courage: To Leave

She has heard his promises over and over again. She believed him, she thought he really meant it when he said he loved her, when he said he would never hit her again. Covering up her bruises, as if foundation can hide her story. Looking in the mirror cleaning the blood from her face once again, she asks herself, is this all there is. She sneaks down to the kitchen, stares at the phone, maybe this time she will leave. All it takes is one call, but if she is caught, what will he do? Fear stricken her, she walks quietly back up the stairs. She slips softly into the bed, he asks what was she doing. Just getting water she says, but in her mind, hidden deep in her soul, she says tomorrow is the day. A child sleeping in the room next door, safely tucked away from the harm, but the woman thinks to herself, how long before? The thought is to painful she knows she must do something. He knows her every move, where she will be and when she should be home. She decides at Woman's small group she would slip a note to a friend she has made. Her friend tells her husband, he is the leader of the small groups. Word get's back to the woman's abuser, and her night doesn't get any easier. Never again as she looks in the mirror once more. But yet in the same moment she wonders how much more can I take. What if he goes after my child, he has threatened to before. She says I cannot wait another night, I cannot do this anymore. She decides to begin packing, she hides her child's bag beneath the crib. She goes to the laundry room and thanks God that she did her wash this afternoon. She puts just enough to clothe her for a few days, and hides it in the closet closest to the front door. She goes back to the bedroom, and slips softly into bed. She says to herself, it has to be today. She waits til she hears him snoring, she quietly slips out of bed. She grabs her baby from the crib, calls a taxi before slipping out the front door. Her heart is racing, her life in the balance, if she is caught there is no telling what he will do to her, or her baby. With her baby in her arms, and a bag on her shoulder and in hand, she says no more. She walks down the sidewalk, doesn't look back for fear, she will crumble and return. She climbs into the Taxi at 3:45 in the morning, and tells the driver, I need to go to a safe house, for woman who have been abused, the driver looked at her face, saw her bruises for she did not cover them up. He took her to the local fire station and said she needs help. 
She never looked back. As tears fell like bullets from her eyes, and fear slipped away as she began to tell her tale. The first thing the officer told her was, It takes courage to leave!!!

Look for Part 2: It Takes Courage to Speak
acresofhopeonline.org

It Takes Courage: For Her To Speak

Her tears spoke louder than words the first time she entered the group. No one could get a word out of her. She had been trapped in silence for years. Those in higher status than herself in society's eyes, were to be at the forefront, and she was just a person in the shadows. She was a lockbox of their secrets, hidden in their dark deeds, she became silenced. From foster home to foster home she took their attacks and carried the shame as if it was always hers to carry. She said to herself, If I speak, more pain will follow, If I speak, no one will listen, If I speak no one will believe. Those who speak get away with their darkness, but me I am a lockbox of the secrets they keep. But then she met a counselor, one who cared about the woman hidden in the shadows, one who heard how great the sounds were of the tears that leaked from her eyes. This counselor told her of freedom, and love, truth that outweighs the dark. The Woman began to have hope. The Counselor told her, true freedom begins when we can set free the things that were never meant to be locked inside. I am here, I will wait with you, I will walk with you, I will listen when you are ready to share your truth. Freedom, the woman thought, as she prayed, God what is this freedom that my counselor speaks about? How do I speak about the horror, how do I unlock the box of secrets others have given to me to keep locked away. What if revealing them, hurts me, what if revealing them brings more shame, what if... But in the stillness of it all, she hears something speak within her heart, that says, What if you can be free of all the shame that was never meant to be yours to carry. SPEAK. The next day she meets with her counselor, and for the first time, she begins to open up about her life, she learns that healthy people don't treat girls the way she had been treated, she learned that the painful things that happened to her were not her fault, and that she was never meant to carry such shame, and secrets. Little by little the woman began to become free. She began to know the truth about her identity, she began to know the truth about her worth. She began to know that she does not have to be silent but rather that she can speak, and tell her story. She can speak, and help others. She can speak and bring God glory. After years had passed and her old Counselor was still teaching people to speak, she came across her once more. The counselor told the woman, You know something, It takes a Woman of Hope and Courage, to Speak about the things you have endured and bring others hope. Go out and help others, Speak!!

Lookout for Part three: It Takes Courage: To Really Listen
 

acresofhopeonline.org

Andrea: A Woman of Hope

"I once was lost but now I am found"
Andrea: A Woman of Hope

Amazing Grace how Sweet the Sound that saves a wretch like me, I once was lost but now I am found was blind but now I see.

This morning I got to sit with Andrea as a smile brimmed across her face, She will be graduating from the Acres of Hope program this Saturday.

She has worked hard, fought the good fight, and Acres is so proud of her.

She was asked what she would like to tell other mothers who may need to come to Acres of Hope, her response was:

"This is a good program, it's definitely life changing, It's worth the good fight."

She was asked what was the most important thing she has learned, she said,

"I've learned to find myself and believe in me. I have built a strong relationship with God.

Her Dreams:
Get her G.E.D.
Attend Sierra College
Go into a career of social work with Foster Youth or Juvenile kids.

"I want to help kids who were like me", she said.

At the end, I asked one final question, "What do you think the theme quote of your life is", she replied, "I once was lost but now I am found".

I am thankful for Andrea, her good fight, that she is found, and moving toward a hopeful tomorrow. Please pray for her and her family as she journey's into the next beautiful, Hopeful phase of her life.

Andrea is a Woman of Hope.

Laura King: A Woman of Hope

Laura King: A Woman Of Hope

“Acres Gave My Kids a Clean and Sober Mom”

Laura grew up in a world of violence and addiction. She was four years old when her father was murdered in 1990. Her mother was in addiction, at the age of 12 years old she was put in foster care. Her maternal Aunt got custody of her. Her mother passed away shortly after, when Laura was 14 years old. 3 months after the passing of her mother Laura began to use Meth. This began her downward spiral. She found herself in a world of no safety, identity, and just playing a game of survival. She graduated high school, but then shortly after at the age of 19 got pregnant with her first son. The father had went to prison while she was three months pregnant. She was single and homeless and went back to using Meth after her son was born. Laura eventually gave her son to her sister to care for in January of 2009. She decided she needed to change her life. She decided to give Acres of Hope a try. While at Acres which Laura calls, “The Real Deal”, she cleaned up her act. She got her son back within 4 months, after going to family court with some of the Acres of Hope staff and saying my life is changing for the better. Acres was teaching her, she didn’t just have to survive anymore, but she could truly live. Laura’s favorite scripture is Proverbs 3:5-6 which says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. Laura Said, “I was looking at the world through my eyes and couldn’t see another way, until I got to Acres and found out life could be different. Laura now has finished nursing school. She has two biological sons 11 and 5 years old, along with 3 step children. She has been clean and sober since 2009. Laura was asked what is the one thing, you want readers to know about Acres of Hope, she said, “Acres gave my kids a life with a mom who is clean and sober. Acres truly gives the safety and love needed to TRANSFORM HEARTS of the broken. That's what Acres did for me.”

One of her former coworkers Joanne Weston said of Laura: She’s amazing and radiates compassion, she’s seen a lot and been through a lot, so she cares a lot.

Laura King is a Woman of Hope.

To share your Woman of Hope Story contact Jackie Turner @ jackie@acresofhopeonline.org

Acresofhopeonline.org

Christie's Story: A Woman of Hope

“Legion”

Christie Griffith, knows what it is to be a woman of hope by the grace of God. In Mark 5:1-20 there is a story of a man named Legion, he calls himself that because he is filled with oppressive spirits, and Christ comes and sets him free so that he can go and share with others of his transformation by God’s amazing power. Christie shares that this is a passage that is symbolic of her life. A life of transformation by God’s grace to go out and share God’s glory through a message of grace, hope, longsuffering alongside woman and children who need it. She says, “God isn’t looking for finished pieces to show his work, he is looking for those who can share in the tears, the dirty knees, and the all between. 
Christie knows what it means to face homelessness. As a child she was homeless due to a dysfunctional family. Her dad was not around, and her mom wasn’t able to protect her in the way she needed. Christie faced physical and sexual abuse. By her teen years she was drinking, cutting, had suicide attempts. By her adult years she was fully addicted to crack cocaine. By God’s grace her life turned around.

She had three beautiful children and she had started to participate in a group called Celebrate Recovery. This recovery meant working through the pain and sin. After a while Christie began to take on leadership roles for recovery groups. She also pursued work in mental health.

Christie said, “My life reminded me of Legion, there were so many past demons to slay, but with God’s help, I began to slay them one at a time.

Homelessness is a ministry Christie has enjoyed working in a long time. As a child she was homeless and then when she was a young woman with her young children she repeated the cycle as she had seen in her childhood. She became a young woman who was homeless with her children. However, with God’s help she broke the cycle, and she wants to help others do the same.

Today Christie is a Woman of Hope, bringing hope to woman who are walking in her shoes. She is a light and helping to set free woman who need to know they can slay their demons with God one issue at a time. She is our Director of Family Services. She is bringing hope here at Acres.

God You Bring Me Freedom: A Poem of Hope

God bring me freedom, from the pain I've known
God give me shelter, remind me I am not alone,
For on my own I know I am destined for my fears
Oh God bring me freedom, show me that you're still here

God bring me hope now, for I see I've lost my way
Give me love God, for I'm barely holding on today
Remind me I am here with purpose and that you grafted me
I'm holding onto to a prayer, that you truly see me

God I know I've fallen short, I know I have lived in sin
Yet God at your altar you can find me on my knees again
I'm hoping for your love Lord, hoping for a chance
Hoping I can be your bride, deeply loved by your romance

God you've clothed me, you call me your beautiful bride
The wounds are healing, and joy lives inside
The chains don't bind me, you've been setting me free
I never knew how close you were until from the pit you lifted me

I am your beloved, I am your child, I have hope, and I can smile
I can trust, oh I can see, that you had a purpose when you created me

I am a Woman of Hope

Acres of Hope by Carol L. Barron

I stand here alone

With my children

My burden is great and

I am ready to run.

I am lost

and no longer can cope,

but you took my hand and lead me to

Acres of Hope

 

You have lead me here

to this beautiful place

and when I look around

I can see your face

shining in people I don't even know

I'm given a fresh start

with new chances to grow.

 

Walking through each room your love abounds

Where laborers have worked

transformation can be found

not just in the walls, or the paint,

or the floor

but a change in our heart down to

the very core.

 

You see, grace truly lives here

and fear is cast away.

I want to give it my all

each day that I stay,

giving back as I have been given

proving you live and truly risen.

This is the place 

to the Lord we'll be yoked

new beginnings

for all who reside here at

Acres of Hope.