Click For Hope

chicago family photographer

I will be the father of your children

Clickforhope, Single Parents, Single MomJasmine LopezComment
clickforhope_Laura-39.jpg

Please share your story:

As a single parent it has definitely been a rough patch, from waking up super early, to being the last one to go to sleep. Mommy duties never end. When I became a single mother, I was so afraid. All I could think about was how would I survive with my 2 daughters. I was an emotional wreck as I was a victim of verbal abuse. I felt as if I was never going to get out of that relationship. I stayed with him because I was afraid of being a single parent. I could only imagine the challenges that were going to come my way the moment I would decide to let go. When I finally decided to let go, I faced lots of struggle. I now knew that all the responsibility was going to be on my shoulders. I now had to be a single parent to 2 daughters. I have to teach them good and bad. I fell into an anxious season. I felt as if I was losing my breath, as if I couldn't handle the weight of being a single mom. The Lord rescued me one night, comforted me, and said "I will be the father of your children." I felt a peace and even though sometimes the struggles are there, the Lord always reminds me of how blessed I am to see my children grow. To see them wake up next to me, to see the smile on their faces when I'm down, brings me so much joy. There are days where I would cry at night because of the pressure of having to raise 2 daughters. Not having that support of a father for my daughters would break me. My day consists of a chaotic morning waking them up, to dropping them off, to picking them up from after school and daycare. There are days where I have late dinners, at around 9:00 pm, because my children come before me. You learn to manage your time and day efficiently. And on my days off, they are my world, I spend lots of quality time with them. I pray every night over them, so that the Lord can guide me to be a parent who raises them well.

clickforhope_Laura-9.jpg

How has your story shaped who you are today?:

It has definitely made me stronger as a person. I am more independent and it has allowed me to see things differently. I am stronger in my faith because of this circumstance. I feel like I can conquer anything. There is no holding me back from growing as a person and growing spiritually. When I learned to let the burden out and allow the Lord to build me as a new creation I was able to be free. I can now say I'm blessed to be a single mom.

What compelled you to want to share your story with us?: I want to let other single parents out there to know that they're not alone. I want others to be encouraged through my story and push forward,  bring hope and not be afraid, don't overthink the process.

clickforhope_Laura-21.jpg

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?: I would tell them to never feel alone, to always lean on God's word to pull you through. To always smile through the trouble and to see your children as blessings.

Single Mom | Martha

Single Parents, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment

What is your story?

Hello! My name is Martha McGrane and I am a single mother to a beautiful baby boy named Aidan Joseph McGrane who turned 1 on 10/19/2014. I work full-time at a non-profit agency with children who are survivors of abuse and trauma.

What/who is your inspiration?

I am inspired by a close friend of mine, Tara Lattanzi. She gave birth to a baby girl this summer, and is also in the process to adopt her foster child. Her story is a picture of God’s love for us, and how deeply He cares for us, even through struggles.

How has your story defined or not defined who you are today?

My story has given me a deeper understanding of who God is. He has defined me as a Mother, and daughter of Christ, even through struggles he has blessed me, and given me strength to be the best mother, daughter of Christ, and friend.

Why should your story be selected to be featured on our blog?

I would like my story to be selected in your blog as a way to give other mothers a sense of hope and also community. To know that they are not alone and that through dififcult times, God’s love still exists.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?

Don’t give up. Never forget how BEAUTIFULLY and WONDERFULLY you are made. God’s deepest desire for you is to be to best person that God has made you to be.

FAMILY | The G Family

Family, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment

Please share your story:

Family.

It’s such a simple word, yet, it carries so much meaning. It’s a word that has the ability to stir up all kinds of feelings and emotions with just its mention. For some, it brings up a sweet sense of nostalgia full of warm and loving memories.

It’s home. It’s love. It’s safety.

But for others, it’s a painful reminder of all that was lost and broken. Of everything that was not as it should have been.

It stings. It hurts. It disappoints.

In my life, I have experienced both. Once by birth, once by the grace of God.

The family I was born into was broken from the start. My parents were already treading rocky ground by the time I was born and just a few months later, they were  divorced. As a result, I never really knew or understood what true togetherness looked like. I had no idea what it meant to be a family.

My mom, a severe alcoholic at the time, moved to another city soon after the divorce and left me with my father. Although it was the best choice for me, I missed my mom tremendously. There were weekend and summer visits but none of that time spent seemed to satisfy the craving I had for my mother’s love. She was lost in her addiction and incapable of being the mom I needed her to be.

My father, meantime, was married and divorced three more times. His job required him to travel extensively so he was only home a couple of nights a week. I know he was doing his best to provide a good life for me, but what my dad didn’t realize is that I just wanted him.

His time. His attention. His care. His protection. His love.

By the time I was a teenager I was very independent and self-reliant. Not because I wanted to be but because I had to be. With my mom out of the picture and my dad out of town most of the time, I was left to do as I pleased. I went where I wanted to go, when I wanted to go there and I didn’t ask for anyone’s permission. If I didn’t feel like going to school then I didn’t go, and no one was there to make me. I had the freedoms of an adult but I was just a kid. It may seem like a teenager’s dream but trust me, it wasn’t good.

I needed rules. I needed boundaries. I needed a family.

Thankfully, God already knew that and out of His incredible grace He had a plan to provide me with a second family. And I’m not talking about any kind of regular average family. I’m talking about one of the most amazing families I’ve ever known. That’s exactly how our great God works. He always gives us more than we could even think to ask for.

I met the Taylor family through a volunteer opportunity at my church when I was 14-years-old. It wasn’t long before I started babysitting for them and immediately fell in love with their three children. When they realized my dad was gone most of the time, they began inviting me to spend the night at their house. This became a regular occurrence until I eventually moved in. I loved every minute with them!

For the first time, I got to experience what it was like to be in a real family. To sit down and have nightly family dinners. Together. To have someone who cared if I did my homework or not. To know I wasn’t on my own anymore.

I was soaking it all in. Every moment.

I listened as the kids were read stories and tucked in bed at night. I watched as two parents loved their children well and loved each other deeply. And I learned what it meant to be a mom and a wife and a follower of Jesus. It was exactly what I needed and more.

God was good. So so good.

Fast forward to the day I became a mother. I looked into the eyes of my sweet baby girl and felt a love I had never felt before. It was strong and it ran deep. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for this little person. I was hers and she was mine.

But in the midst of my joy, a sadness started to creep in. I wasn’t sure my own mom felt the same way about me. Perhaps she did but alcohol had robbed me of ever knowing it. Regardless, the damage had been done. She had missed so much. And it hurt.

That’s when God began to work.

God showed me how the lack of a relationship with my mom had left me with a gaping hole in my heart, full of sadness. Lots of sadness. I realized I would never get to experience all the things little girls should experience with their moms. There would never be any hair braiding, tea partying, make-up playing, bedtime story reading, boo-boo kissing, or comforting after a scary dream. The opportunity for those seemingly small & mundane parts of the mother/daughter relationship were lost in the past and could never be retrieved. The wound was deep and it ached to my bones.

I knew there was only one who could heal it.

The process was slow and it was painful. Many tears were cried and many prayers were prayed as God lovingly walked me through the broken areas of my heart. Little by little he put the shattered pieces back together. My heart started to become whole again. The walls I had built began to come down and love started flowing in. With its current came the ability to forgive. I began to see my parents through God’s eyes. No longer was there anger, resentment, or sadness. Only love.

But that’s not the end of the story.

God isn’t just our healer, He’s also our redeemer.

My mom started reaching out to me when I was about 21-years-old. She was trying to get her life on track and part of that meant she wanted to salvage our relationship. I cautiously and slowly welcomed my mom back into my life and it was really nice to reconnect with her. A few years later I got married and became pregnant soon after. That’s when I finally gave my mom an ultimatum – Quit drinking or never know your grandchildren.

She went to rehab a few weeks later.

That was nearly 7 years ago. My mom has been sober ever since. Not only is she sober but she also loves Jesus. God has completely changed her life and I couldn’t be more grateful to get a second chance with my mom. She is such a blessing to me and an amazing grandmother to my children.

My dad and I are also very close now and I have such a deep respect for him. He may not have done everything perfectly but he did the best he could do at the time. He is an honest man who has sacrificed so much for me to have the life I have today. For that I am thankful.

Despite the difficulties, I can honestly say I’m very grateful for the life God has given me. I could have never imagined I’d be where I am today with a loving husband and two beautiful children. Now it’s my turn to decide what the word ‘family’ will mean to my kids. I’m certainly not the perfect mom but I’m doing my best. I can only hope the seeds I’m planting in my children today will become their warm and loving memories of tomorrow.

Foster Parents | H Family

Foster Care, Adoption, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment

Please share your story:

Several years ago, I felt that I was being called to be a foster parent, but my husband, Sam, was not on board at all.  People representing the foster care system would come to our church year after year and set up booths to recruit foster parents. I looked on with great interest, but Sam would tell them before we even got to church please do not go over there and sign up.

Truth is, now that I reflect back, it was all in God’s perfect timing. It wasn’t until we went on a mission trip to the Philippines that Sam’s heart began to soften. A particular experience led Sam to wonder if being foster parents was something we were actually supposed to do.

While in the Philippines in November 2012, we went to an orphanage where two little boys stole Sam’s heart.  It just so happened one was named Sam and the other Mark, which also just so happens to be Sam’s brother’s name. That trip and that experience sparked many discussions. Suddenly, we weren’t talking about IF we should be foster parents, but instead had conversations about WHEN we should get licensed and with whom.

On December 31st, just a month or so after our trip, we were at church for our New Year’s Eve Service. That is when we felt God speak to us directly. He told us we needed to become foster parents right away and without delay.  We both felt God telling us that He had someone specifically for us to raise up for the kingdom.

So, January came and we started researching different foster care agencies and found the one we felt was right for us.  We started our class the very next month and were officially licensed foster parents in May.

We were so excited and anxious to see who God had chosen for us! A few weeks after becoming foster parents, we were asked to take in two little boys. With a lot of back and forth planning and talking with our agency, having those brothers didn’t work out. They were placed somewhere else. Being faithful to God’s direction, we said, “Okay God. They were not supposed to be with us.” And again, we waited with anticipation.

In June, I received a text from my good friend who had told me about her friend’s sister who was pregnant, a heroin addict, and due to give birth in July.  She told me that the baby needed a home.  Sam and I were very reluctant to take in a heroin baby.  At this point, we had never even been parents, and adding an addiction to our newness to the job was nerve racking.  We prayed diligently about this journey, met with the birth mother and grandmother, and really felt like she should be ours.  We agreed to take her in.  Almost every day we went to the hospital to be with her, prayed over her, and loved on her.  We saw her go through so much withdrawal and pain, but felt so grateful to be alongside her.  We were in love with this little girl. We couldn’t wait to take her home.

Sadly for us, after 6 weeks of going up to the hospital and praying, loving her, being there every step of the way, the family had a change of heart.  Sam and I had never experienced such sadness and difficulty. We cried, we were angry, and ultimately, we sought out our God, asking for understanding as to why He did not want us to have her.  However, one thing I know about my is that He tests us. I believe we passed that test.

Sam and I had no idea that on September 19th, our little boy was being born! On November 24th we received an email, stating there was this little boy in the hospital that was going to be released soon and desperately needed a loving home. He had been in the hospital for quite some time detoxing from drugs, but he was doing well.  Sam and I looked at each other and immediately knew this was it!  On December 6th,  we took home the sweetest, most handsome little boy we could ever ask for.

Today, Daniel is 13 months and thriving.  We are completely in love with our little guy, and thank God daily for such an amazing gift. God is so good!  We felt him urging us to be foster parents in December. Daniel was born in September.  That’s 9 months.  I love God’s timing and how He works!