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Single Mom | Vanessa

Single Parents, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment

Clothing sponsored by: Abby Bella Couture

Please share a bit of your story:

My name is Vanessa, I am 22 years old and a mother of two.  I have a 4yr old daughter as well as a 2yr old.

What/who is your inspiration?

My children are and will always be. They are my hope, strength, inspiration they are my whole reason why.

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

Bad decisions as a teen landed me to where I am now. My girls changed me for the better I am forever grateful of the woman I had to become for them.

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

I am a single mother of two. I have a child with hearing loss and new to this is exhausting. I’d love to share my story and the changes I am facing with this. There is so many things unknown. It’s hard to understand and hard to cope. But I stay strong.

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

Being a single parent is a tough job as it is but our children need us to be there for everything. Keep strong, never give up believe in God and prayer and all things will get better.

Single Mom | Ugochi

Single Parents, ClickforhopeJasmine LopezComment

Please share a bit of your story:
I’m a teacher and a single mom. This year was a struggle; I wanted to finish my degree program before my son was born and I did. Despite the loads of rejection that I’ve faced from various friends and family I’m confident God will bring a better 2015.

What/who is your inspiration?
My principal. She is also a single mom and aspire to be a principal so I know if she can do it I can too.

How has your story not defined who you are today?
I am still pressing forward with my goal of becoming a principal. A child is not a hindrance to my goals. A child is a blessing to me and my future.

Why should your story be selected to be featured on our blog?
I have not struggled more than anyone. My struggle is just different. I want single moms to be encouraged that they don’t have to give up on owning homes, career goals, finding a mate, or simply enjoying life. I want to be featured so I can encourage.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?
Life isn’t over. It gets easy. You and your child are still loved by God.

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!

Wieght Loss Journey | Wendy

Weight Loss JourneyJasmine LopezComment

Please share with us a bit of your story:

I am married to my high school sweetheart, Mark Santoyo, with two beautiful boys ages 12 (Ethan), and 8 (Luke).  I was a teen mom at the age of 18. I was able to finish high school and became pregnant shortly after graduating.  I was very determined not to let my pregnancy let me become another “statistic” so I continued my schooling at Fox College, a two year college.  While attending school, I gave birth to my son on March 7, 2001, and with the help of my mom, taking and picking my son up from daycare I was able to continue my schooling until I finished.  My now husband, we did not live together during this time, so I was basically doing it on my own working and going to school while caring for my son.  After graduating Fox College with my associate’s degree I was able to find a job at a law firm in 2001, which I still currently work at 12 years later.

 Fast forward to the year 2005, this year was a very difficult year.  I was having some bad migraines and the doctor did an MRI and found a brain tumor which I needed surgery have it removed.  The doctor was not sure if the tumor was cancerous or benign.  I had my surgery in January 2005, and thank God the tumor was benign and surgery was successful.  Recovery from surgery was a little difficult physically and emotionally. I think I started to get depressed which is when my weight gain began.  I became pregnant with my second son a month after my surgery, February 2005. I was excited and happy for this blessing but I wasn’t acknowledging my depression and was still recovering from my surgery.  I gave birth to my son on October 20, 2005, and shortly after giving birth I spiraled even deeper in my depression. I was emotionless to my son, I cared for him as I should as a mom but I was checked out. Recovering from surgery, having a baby, and on top of that the doctors discovered I had a thyroid problem, hypothyroidism. I was put on medication and will have to be on medication for the rest of my life for that. One of the symptoms of hypothyroidism is weight gain and I attributed my weight to my baby weight and to the thyroid problem. Losing weight with hypothyroidism is very difficult so I used that as an excuse why I was gaining and couldn’t “lose weight.”

 I’ve always been self-conscious with a low self-esteem. I’ve never really been comfortable in my own skin.  After my surgery, baby, thyroid issue, I didn’t care about myself and let myself go.  I wasn’t exercising and ate whatever I wanted to.  I hated taking pictures because I didn’t like how I looked and I still struggle with that to this day.  My depression got better and was able to work through that on my own.  I wanted to make a change for myself so I got my first gym membership.  I started going to the gym 3 times a week for 30 minutes just doing some quick cardio. Going to the gym while working full-time, kids, husband; it’s hard but I wanted to “lose weight”, I never saw the scale move. I was just the same. The heaviest I’ve ever been was at 174 and I thought I was okay with that, at least I’m not gaining, I’m just maintaining.  My eating habits were the same, eating bad stuff and I thought I’m exercising I should lose weight.  Lol, that’s not the way it works and that’s why I was just maintaining.

 May 2013, my law-firm was having a weight-loss challenge called the Fit26. They would teach us how to eat healthy and lose weight for 26 days and it was $35. Wow, I can’t say it enough those $35 have been the best investment in my life!!!!!! My friend and co-worker, Yanira, and I decided to do this together. We both had family vacation trips in the summer so we wanted to lose weight for our trips. So we signed up and got started on the program which isn’t a “diet” it about eating healthy. We were instructed that we would have a detox period for the first week and that first week was torture. We couldn’t eat any sugar, bread, milk, tortillas, beans, cheese, juice, alcohol, or coffee, encouraging us to eat fresh meat, veggies, and water. It felt like we’d starved and the first week I was sick to my stomach, I had headaches, feeling nauseous I wanted to quit. Yanira was my cheer leader and kept telling me to stick to it, to keep going and after the first week we were smooth sailing. We kept each other accountable for what we ate and would tell each other when we would cheat. We would have weekly weigh-ins and the weight started melting off I was amazed. My starting weight was 174.2 , weigh-in #1 176.4, weigh-in #2 172.4, final weight in-168.8!!!!! After 26 days I had lost 6 pounds. I was pumped and motivated to keep going we’ve both been continuing the Fit 26 healthy eating it’s become our lifestyle now. The weight just melted off, and as expected we did cheat here and there and fell off the wagon but we just would start over.

 Yanira and myself started working out during our lunch hour at our law-firms little gym. We started running and we both could barely do a mile but our endurance increased we started running 2, 3, 4 miles and it kept increasing and the weight kept coming off.  I sometimes work out twice a day if I have the time because I still have my gym membership.  Yanira came to me and told me about the Hot Chocolate 15k race (10 miles)  that would be in November 3, 2013.  She said we should do it to celebrate our weight loss journey.  I thought I could never do it, but then thought why not, so we signed up in October, with a little over a month and we started doing our own little training.  Race day came and we did it!!!!!!!!  And our times were amazing.  I came in at 1 hour and 40 minutes!!!!  That was a great day I was so proud of both of us for taking on such a challenge and doing it. 

 My life has changed soooo much. I am much happier, and a little more confident than I was before.  I still struggle with self-image issues but I’m working on it. My husband and family have been so encouraging and motivating and I am proud to show my kids that if you put your mind to it you can do anything.  Currently, my weight is 136, that is 38 pounds lost. I’ve never ever felt confident in my skin, in grade school and high school I thought I was “fat” and I’m finally at the age of 31 starting to feel comfortable in my skin.  I owe a lot to my wonderful friend Yanira for embarking on this weight loss journey with me because without her I think I would’ve quit when I struggled. I have finally learned how to eat correctly, and make better choices. I do indulge sometimes but I never deprive myself.  I’m never hungry or starving.  Eating healthy and exercising every single day have become a necessity just like breathing.  I never want to go back to feeling unhappy with myself. I need to take care of myself for my family, I have two kids I need to be around for.  Life is WONDERFUL at the moment.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story? *
Being comfortable in your own skin is possible at any age, put yourself first to lose weight. It's going to be hard, but don't give up. The end result is worth it!