Life can be very difficult and challenging for any child that doesn’t have a secure home environment. And I certainly did not.
My father wasn’t in my life and my mom was an alcoholic. She went to rehab and thought she was better, but relapsed and was unable to care for me. At age 10, I was taken to Big Oak Ranch, a Christian home for children needing to find a loving, stable environment.
Most every child that lives in a home like this is riddled with doubts, no matter how good the children’s home may be. Are we loved? Why are we in this situation? We can’t help but feel alone sometimes and that we are missing out on some things that other kids might be experiencing.
When I first entered Big Oak Ranch, I moved in with seven other girls from difficult circumstances but I had incredible Christian house parents that brought me some stability that I needed in my life. They made it seem like one big family. But after 4 ½ years, these house parents decided to pursue other endeavors. It was such a loss, almost like a death in my family.
I then lived with a second set of house parents for two years, while I was 15 and 16. During that time, my mom got very sick and deteriorated quickly. She was in the hospital three weeks and then passed away. Even though I hadn’t lived with her in several years, this was still devastating to me. You don’t realize what you have until you don’t have it any longer.
I lived with my third set of house parents for a month before they also decided to move on. We were again going to have to get used to new house parents. There was great upheaval in my life: I’m an adolescent trying to find my way, my mother has passed away and I’m living in a girl’s home where I’ve had four sets of house parents in six years. The doubts started to increase for me. There wasn’t a lot of stability in my life. As a result, I didn’t put much hope in my fourth set of house parents.
There were some very dark days for me. There were countless days I wondered how I ever got to this place, and how my life would ever be healthy and normal.
But God does not put us in hard situations to just leave us there. We’re to learn and be refined through these difficult experiences. During this tough time, I learned something brand new: how to receive God’s love. And to lean on His love during the days of doubt. God’s love is truly what carried me through those difficult adolescent times.
Now that I’ve moved on to college and away from home, I wanted to find a way to use my experience to help girls who may be in similar situations. To help them find the true rock in their lives amid the turmoil. To know that God holds their hand every step along the way.
So I created Girl’s Night, a night held the weekend of Valentine’s Day, a night of fun where girls at Big Oak could experience God’s heart for them.
Girls in a home like Big Oak can easily feel uninvited and like they are missing out on so many experiences and events that are part of someone’s childhood. So rather than just put a poster on a bulletin board, I designed an invitation and sent it individually to each girl in the mail.
Every girl wore a cute outfit to our Girl’s Night. Since most girls in these homes don’t have cell phones, we had a Polaroid camera to snap their picture so they could take the photographs home with them to remember the experience. We served a delicious dinner and then, most importantly, I gave a message about God’s incredible love. I talked about the difference between earthly love—some of which we may be lacking in our situation—and the love of God.
High school girls can be obsessed with boys. But I know from being one of them, all of these girls have a deep pain in their heart. So many escape from their pain by pouring themselves into boys. And that can be dangerous. One girl after hearing my message told me that she now realizes that she needs to take her pain to God in prayer rather than trying to deal with it in some other way.
Then I wrote each girl a note that I gave them. It was a letter from God to them. It laid out God’s heart for them, how He desires to be their heavenly father, and how He loves and forgives them for anything in the past if they just believe in Him.
We had 20 girls come to this Girl’s Night and it was an incredible evening with noticeable results. It is my desire to take this to other girl’s homes in the area, and also do additional Girl’s Nights around other holidays.
I want to help girls who are in my situation. I want them to have the Biblical tools to help them navigate their difficult journey, to be able to experience the Lord opening up doors for them, and to know God’s amazing love.