By Becky Langeloh
When Jennifer* first came to us with her daughter, her life had become a daily struggle just to survive. Though she was raised by loving grandparents, they both died in her early teen years, which meant she had to go live with one of her parents. Her mother was in and out of jail for prostitution and drugs, and her father was a verbally abusive alcoholic. Upheaval became a theme in her life — always moving from place to place, never knowing if she would have a place to sleep that night.
She sought out comfort with her boyfriend, who came from a very similar background. She felt he understood her pain. Jennifer found out she was pregnant and she and her boyfriend were committed to raising Abby* together. But the stress of constantly moving from place to place, trying to keep a roof over their heads, began to take a toll and they struggled not to fight. Once, her boyfriend hit her and spent the night in jail.
They were living with Jennifer’s father and were under orders not to allow Jennifer’s mom, who was homeless and on drugs at the time, into the home. But one rainy night Jennifer felt so bad for her mom that she let her in. Soon all of them — Jennifer, her boyfriend, and little Abby — were without a place to stay.
Jennifer knew her daughter deserved better, and she decided to come to Shepherd’s Gate. When they first arrived, both mother and daughter seemed very disconnected from each other. It was clear that Jennifer loved her little girl, but the lack of stability had hurt their bond.
But in our long-term Road to Freedom program, both Jennifer and Abby are beginning to thrive. The peace and calm of Shepherd’s Gate is helping them to really connect to each other, and Jennifer is learning how to be a stronger and more attentive parent.
Jennifer looks forward to the future — getting her GED and eventually getting a place of her own. But most of all she’s just thankful for the chance to be the kind of mother to Abby that she wishes she would have had as a child.
Please pray for Jennifer and Abby as they begin a new year — we know God has amazing things ahead for them! Feel free to share your prayers below.
*Name changed for privacy.