“I had every intention of staying married until we were old, building a life together and raising our kids,” says Lazara. Like most of us, she wanted a happy life and a loving home.
More than anything, Lazara yearned to save her children from the kind of pain she’d experienced growing up. Though her family was religious, parties with people getting high or drunk were common. “It seemed like a rite of passage. Drugs and alcohol were a normal part of being grown up,” Lazara recalls.
As an adult, Lazara cycled through unhealthy relationships with men, usually tagging along with their drug of choice. “I experienced every type of abuse there is – physical, emotional, mental…” she says. “I stayed much longer than I should have because I wanted to make it work, for my kids to have their fathers in their lives.” Eventually, Lazara had no choice but to leave.
The final blow came unexpectedly. A few years ago, Lazara sent her kids to spend the summer with their fathers. Because of a history of domestic violence between Lazara and her exes, the state took notice and quickly removed the children and revoked parental custody.
The sudden loss of her children devastated Lazara. “I didn’t think that would happen in a million years. I was homeless. To get my kids back, I needed to have a home and I needed to be sober.” Lazara searched desperately for help, and found Shepherd’s Door, our New Life Ministry for women and children.“God wanted me here,” says Lazara. “He wanted me to grow in this ‘greenhouse’.” The safe, healing environment of Shepherd’s Door provided Lazara refuge from lifelong turmoil. She dug deep into each class that helped her heal from the pain of abuse, the regret of harmful decisions and remorse of broken relationships.
Knowing she’s forgiven fills her with joy. “I learned that I’m not my mistakes,” Lazara says. “God still loves me unconditionally. In my relationships, I deserve to be loved and don’t have to settle for less.”
Just two months after coming to Shepherd’s Door, Lazara was joyfully reunited with her daughter and son. “Before, I was so absorbed with my problems and how horrible my life was,” Lazara says. “Now I’m absorbed with being a good parent and making sure my children have a relationship with God. I’m present, actually mothering them and they get all of my attention.”
Now graduated from Shepherd’s Door, Lazara is staying another year in a Service job-training role. She helps in the finance department to process the outpouring of donations that come in. It’s perfect preparation for a career she’s always wanted. “Years ago, I started toward a degree in accounting, but had to give it up,” says Lazara. “And now here I am getting trained to do something I’m pretty good at for free!”
Like Lazarus, her namesake from the Bible, she’s been through death and brought back to life by the power of Jesus Christ. “I’ve learned to take myself out of the center of my universe and put God in the middle of it,” says Lazara. “The closer I get to Him, the better my life’s going to be.”
Your support helps rescue more families in crisis like Lazara and her children. Please help with a special gift today. You can also call 503-MISSION (647-7466). Thank you.