"And I will remove the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." Ezekiel 36:26
When a woman and her children arrive at Acres of Hope they are leaving lives of trauma, fear, and homelessness. Each area of trauma is like a brick placed into the hands of a woman or child. Like the formation of a brick, a soft material that faces the fire to become hardened, the circumstances that these families have faced were experiences that hardened their hearts. These stone hearts allowed them to be strong through their pain as they walked through the fires of life. They have experienced feeling the heaviness that comes from a life without relief. The first slap across her face, was a brick. The child going to the empty refrigerator looking for food, was a brick. The first hand out offering drugs to an overwhelmed mother, was a brick. Each brick was stored as a memory of what hardened a flesh beating heart.
At Acres of Hope women and children are learning to put the bricks down. They are allowing their hearts to soften again. With each encouragement and hug that comes from a staff or volunteer, the warmth of love fills their hardened hearts. The more an Acres of Hope family experiences the stability and security of having a home, healthy food, and care, the more the guards began to come down. Acres' staff is trusted inside as they know we see what has hardened their hearts. We will walk with them through the valleys of facing the traumatic experiences. We will help pull up the roots, the legacies, and scars of dysfunction and brokenness. Instead of running from those areas of pain, women and children can now face those areas with the support they need to overcome.
At Acres of Hope families are offered counseling, mentorship, accountability, and the comfort they need to walk through the darkest memories of their lives, and come out with a softened heart and a new perspective of who they are, and what they can be. When they are ready, the mothers of Acres of Hope share the timelines of their lives with their new community of "sisters" they reveal the many areas that proved to be a traumatic moments stored up in their lives. They take responsibility for their actions, and release themselves from the shame of things out of their control. It is the point in time that they realize they can let the bricks to go, and instead give themselves the freedom to feel again.
To learn more about the process of transformation for families at Acres of Hope
visit: acresofhopeonline.org or call: 530-878-8030
Be sure to read the next story of hope in this series called "The Wall"