Dawn___EthanI am very grateful to have grown up in a healthy home with two parents where I felt safe and loved. We attended a traditional church where I learned about God but never heard or understood that He had a plan for my life and wanted to have a personal relationship with me through Jesus so it could be fulfilled. Instead, I made my own plan and led my own life. I went off to college, got married, got a job working as an assistant editor at a magazine and by age 26 was running a home-based business selling Mary Kay Cosmetics. Everything looked great on the outside…my husband and I were bringing in nearly six figures, we had two brand new vehicles, a nice house, and were dropping loads of money every weekend on entertainment. What nobody knew was that behind our attractive lifestyle, addiction and violence were being played out on a daily basis and I was too ashamed to tell anyone.

Nothing had prepared me for years of devastation as I tried to make my dreams unfold and discovered the man I had chosen to marry had been abused through much of his childhood and his coping mechanism was to medicate with alcohol and drugs. He was emotionally volatile and would often become verbally and physically abusive, screaming obscenities, throwing things at me, breaking furniture or punching holes in the walls. I hated the fact that he had been abused, but I couldn’t accept that same behavior toward me. Still, no matter what I did or how hard I tried to help him, nothing changed. I even moved us across the country hoping a fresh start would make a difference. A few more years went by and in 2003 our only child was born. Not surprisingly, tensions got worse as life demanded new responsibilities and priorities. I was struggling to hold it together and despite my marital status I often felt like a single parent.

Finally all the hurt, loneliness and lies became too much to bear. In desperation, I began to seek God for comfort and answers. As I began reading the Bible and praying for the first time in my life, I felt closer to God but still felt isolated and stuck in a hopeless situation. Then I was led to a church where I encountered an amazing community of people who met me with grace and trusted God in ways I’d never seen. Over the next few months, I began to get a clear picture of who Jesus really was…not distant, weak and uncaring, but close, personal and powerful. I felt ambushed with his love and my barriers came crashing down. On April 6, 2008 I surrendered my life to Christ, received his forgiveness and stepped into the new hope-filled life he made me for.

There was still more difficulty to come, but the anxiety that ruled my heart was gone. I was no longer alone and felt safe enough to confess what was going on and get real help and support. As it turns out, Jesus meant what he said about setting me free (John 8:36). In October of 2009, my husband was taken to jail after a shootout with police at our home, which resulted in our permanent separation and then divorce. In the middle of that, Jesus showed me that I was redeemed, with or without the redemption of my marriage. He has freed me from so much fear, shame, and disappointment and taught me that no relationship or circumstance can offer me or rob me of this security…that all I need can be found in him.

During this time of healing, something else beautiful was happening. God started to give me a glimpse of the plans he had for me. It started to become clear to me that these years of suffering were going to have a purpose greater than me. From the revelations he was giving me as I prayed and studied his word, to the other single parents he kept bringing into my life, a vision was being born that he hadn’t just saved me from something, he had saved me for something. While I never would have picked being a divorced single parent, I now realize that everything that was meant to take me out of the game God turned around and is using to make me a game changer. He has birthed such a passion in my heart to reach out to other hurting single parents and their kids…to protect them from abuse and neglect and help them discover their worth, to help them clear away the fear, hurt and deception and get a clear picture of who Jesus really is, and then to see them accept his offer and emerge as joyful overcomers who boldly step into God’s plans for their lives and build new family legacies.

Seeing just one single parent or family receive the hope and transformation Jesus has to offer is something I will never tire of or recover from and is the core of why Single Parent Missions exists.

Thanks for listening to my story…I can’t wait to hear yours!