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Celebrating growth on National Single Parent Day

A firsthand look at the journey that brought one mom to the Buckner Family Pathways® program

Today is National Single Parent Day. At Buckner International, we have the special opportunity to come alongside so many single parents through the Buckner Family Pathways® program as they heal, chase their dreams and transform their families. Family Pathways is designed to help single parents in crisis who need to care for their children and determine next steps for their family’s future. Parents receive encouragement, counseling, financial and parent classes and other help to overcome barriers that prevent self-sufficiency, such as education, career prospects and life skills.

Today, we get a special look into the journey as a single mother from Aly, a single mom who is currently participating in the Family Pathways program. 

Aly shares her journey to Family Pathways and what she’s learning so far.

My parents divorced when I was about 2 years old. My mother was a single mom of 3 until I was about 4 years old. When I was 10 years old, my father committed suicide.

At this point in my life, I started running from the Lord and I started developing some pretty nasty habits. I had also hit puberty about the same year he passed.

When I was 14, I started dabbling in drugs and alcohol, and developed a pretty bad nicotine addiction. On the outside I was on honor roll, was the baton twirler for my high school, on the cross-country team and ran track. 

I seemed to be a good student, and I was a well-known athlete in good standing. But on the inside, I was a depressed teenager who just wanted to feel seen and heard. I had no sense of direction and continued to dig myself deeper and deeper in shame. 

I experienced my first abusive relationship at 15, and it felt like I was constantly being cornered and the only option I had was to just end it all. By 16, I dropped out of high school and attempted suicide for the first time.

After my suicide attempt, I started getting kicked out of my home. Between 16 and 19, I was in and out of hospitals due to suicide attempts and self-harm. Even though at the time I didn’t know it, God was right there with me. He never left my side, even though my heart was miles away from him.

At 18, I was trying to get back into school to earn my high school diploma, but it always felt like I was swimming against the strongest current. 

I have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. In the past I was over medicated. It felt like someone took the volume of my life and muted me. I was numb and couldn’t handle life during my teen years. The hospital became a safe place for me. Every time I felt cornered, the hospital always seemed like the safest route. They let me drink decaf coffee with lots of cream and sugar, color all day, take naps and talk with other kids going through similar things.

From facing life with zero support to finding true community

It was extremely difficult to stay above water without any familial support, and I remember feeling so hopeless. I turned to drugs at this point to try to self-medicate and soothe the grief I felt, and eventually I met my son’s father. I ended up moving in with him and his dad for a while. 
I was in and out of my parents’ house, his house, and some old friends’ houses for some time. I eventually got my GED. 

Nothing ever felt like home. I didn’t know where home was. I was alone, and I didn’t ever feel safe, seen or heard. The only thing I knew how to do was run, hide and try to find safety and peace in some way. 

At 19, I was working jobs I could get, and crashing with a girlfriend of mine after another cycle of back and forth with my parents and Danny's father again. Then, we got pregnant. I moved in with him again, and we tried to make it work. 

It never worked, but finally something did work. I remember a night we had been fighting pretty bad. It was a nasty concoction of yelling, crying and slamming doors. It was a pretty horrific night. I got down on my knees, and I said something like, “God please help me, I don’t know what to do, I am scared and I need you.” I had finally hit my bottom. I was just so tired. I had gotten to the end of myself, and I knew nothing of this world was ever going to help me. I needed the God who stays. I needed the merciful, gracious and loving God. I needed the God who is bigger than any of my circumstances.
Following that night, I moved back home again and joined a group called Young Lives, filled with young moms just like me who met in a church. The mentors became my family. They met me exactly where I was at and never judged me. They received me with such love, grace and tenderness. They always pushed me to do what was right. They said things I may not have wanted to hear, but needed to hear, and most of all they shared their relationship with Jesus, with me.

At this critical moment of my life, I discovered what love meant. For me, God is love. I discovered a true sense of security and safety knowing that my God was sovereign, my God was my papa. I was his and he was mine and nothing could ever take that away from me. This was home: wherever he was, and he was in me and all around me, and he rose me from the dead. He lit a fire in me that can never be blown out no matter the circumstance.

I had moved into my own apartment, and somehow Danny’s father snuck back into my life. It ended in me losing my apartment, and us finally splitting for good. I moved back home and again got kicked out one more time when Danny was just a few months old. I remember saying ENOUGH. It was no longer about me. It was about this beautiful little boy. 

A shift toward healing

Community in churchYoung Lives shared about the Buckner Family Pathways program, and I immediately started the application process. I kept hitting the check marks from there. 

Once I was moved in, I immediately set out to find a home church and got myself connected. God eventually led me to a women’s retreat at First Baptist Church. I sing a portion of the blessing song to Danny every single night, and at the end of that retreat, the choir sang that very same song over us and I remember feeling so loved and seen, and I knew that this was where God wanted us to be. It felt like home again. My good friend Michelle started giving me rides to church and helped me get integrated into the FBC family.

On Mother’s Day, I got a tattoo of Psalm 139 on my forearm that covers up old self-harm scars. It’s an everyday reminder the Lord our God knit me together. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. His thoughts are only precious thoughts to me, and they are more than the grains of sand. He never leaves me. He has my back and goes ahead of me to prepare a place for me.

I am now just over two semesters away from completing an associate degree, and plan to transfer to Stephen F. Austin to earn a bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in teaching. I recently purchased my own car, started going to therapy, got on a low dose of anxiety medication on my own, and reconnected with my family after a year of no communication and are all working hard through family therapy long distance, to mend what was lost.

By God’s abounding grace and mercy, I am standing here today adopted by the most high king. I was broken for so long and God is putting the pieces back together. I am so grateful to be a part of this, and I want to say thank you all for receiving me and allowing me to share with you a piece of my heart.

Are you a single parent who needs help accomplishing your academic and financial goals? Learn more about Buckner Family Pathways or fill out the inquiry form to start the application process

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