Jennifer grew up with a large family. Holiday celebrations were joyous occasions that included dozens of relatives. One of her favorite memories of Thanksgiving was going around the table before dinner and sharing two things that each person was thankful for and one thing that they were hopeful for. This last Thanksgiving, however, Jennifer didn't see any family or celebrate the holiday at all. “I was still in a really dark place where I just didn't have anything to be thankful for, much less a hope,” she shared.
Jennifer had gotten married young and had a baby. Her baby boy seemed healthy and ahead of the curve, until suddenly at 2 years old he started digressing. He was soon diagnosed with autism. The diagnosis put a huge strain on her marriage and she ended up divorced by the time she was 22.
She eventually got into a relationship with a childhood friend that became both mentally and physically abusive. The relationship left her struggling with extreme fear and anxiety. On top of it all, she soon found out that she was pregnant again. Overwhelmed, she called her ex-husband in order to escape the relationship and asked him to take her son. She felt shattered and knew something had to change.
Jennifer started calling local shelters and was referred to the Joy House. “It was just that phone call. Just that phone call made everything better,” she remembers. Coming to Joy House gave her security and made her believe that she could find happiness and get her family back. She enjoyed the New Life Program and was touched by the kindness and acceptance she felt from the staff.
This holiday season, Jennifer has a lot to be thankful for. She is currently enrolled in Joy House's Fresh Start program, where her relationship with Christ continues to grow. “God loved me enough to give me the opportunity to get my life together,” she says. Jennifer has plans to pursue a degree in health care. Her son is now high functioning and excelling in school. She recently had another baby boy and wants to raise both of her children to know God and have a personal relationship with Him. Thanks to the Joy House and donors like you, Jennifer says, “I have my hope back. I lost that. I feel hope and I know that I am safe.”
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3 NIV