I met with Mandy at Saint John’s and was immediately overwhelmed by the feeling that everything would be OK. Mandy’s quiet strength and honest gaze just made me feel safe. What’s remarkable is how far she’s come in just a short amount of time.
It was a little over two years ago on Christmas day that this beautiful mother of six children was balled up in the corner of a trap house wanting her life to end. Mandy knew that her kids were being cared for in foster homes better than she could care for them, but she also knew that the pain of living without them was unbearable. She didn’t want to wake up and have to numb herself with meth one more day.
On Christmas day 2015 Mandy put her hands in prayer and asked, “Please take my life because I cannot live in this pain anymore. I don’t want to live without my kids and I can’t take care of them, so please take me out of this world.”
The next day Mandy was sleeping in that same corner and heard a knock at the door. Someone said, “There is some kid at the door.” Mandy briefly wondered, “Who is this because nobody knows where I go to hide?”
It was her nephew. After Mandy had spent six months living on the streets, her nephew had found her and was taking her home.
Mandy went with him to her sister’s house where she detoxed for two weeks on the couch. After a stint in rehab, Mandy prayed again for guidance on where to go next. Soon after her prayer, she found herself reading a pamphlet about Saint John’s Program for Real Change. Mandy knew that Saint John’s was where she was meant to be.
The waiting list was two to three months for a bed, but Mandy called every morning at 5:30 a.m., and she prayed again: “God, I’m scared. I know I can’t go back [to my sister’s house], but I don’t know how I’m going to do this.”
Within three days, Saint John’s called her.
“There is divine intervention at work,” Mandy thought. “God has bigger plans for me, I know he does.”
Through Saint John’s supportive services, mental health services, career education services and on-the-job training, Mandy was given a place to relearn how to live and succeed in a world that is full of challenges. Saint John’s gave her the tools, the counseling and the change that she needed in order to get her kids and her life back.
Mandy now has a job she loves, and they love her, working in data entry at Orepac Building Products – a Saint John’s Employment Partner through their Career Education and Placement Center. Three days before this last Christmas, Mandy’s employers walked into Saint John’s and Mandy thought, “Oh no! I hope I’m not fired!” Far from it: They gave her a car. Mandy has worked hard and credits Saint John’s with saving her life.
“I say I’ve been here my whole life because my life began when I got here,” Mandy explained.
Most importantly, two months ago with the help of a Bible study group that meets at Saint John’s, another miracle occurred: She was able to finally forgive herself.
After nearly an hour of interviewing Mandy — what seemed like no time at all — she got up to get a photo of her kids. Sitting forward and putting my head in my hands, I thought, “How am I ever going to be able to describe Mandy: her struggles, her strength, her six amazing kids, and how her story is brutally, beautifully honest?”
I looked up in the empty conference room and noticed a framed print high up on a bookshelf with one word on it: MIRACLES.
Blog by Guest Writer Kara Turner, The Page Turner
Saint John’s Program for Real Change Volunteer