God brought one young woman out of a seemingly hopeless spiral and then blessed her with an incredible surprise.
Ashley was a cheerleader at her high school. Popular, pretty, she had ambitious dreams for a future in the medical field.
Life was buzzing right along between her family and friends, figuring out who was secretly crushing on whom, prepping for the next prom and keeping abreast of the most recent gossip about that hot new kid in her class.
She had her feet on the car’s dash, absently chatting to her friend and checking her phone when a car smashed into them.
A flare of light, a fan of shattered glass wrapped around the screech of bending metal.
That same month, bruises and lacerations still fresh from the first accident, Ashley was hit again, once more as the passenger.
This time, the doctor at the hospital sat down next to her bed with x-rays. “Your pelvis is broken. This is going to take time to heal, and rehab is going to take longer.”
Eight to 12 weeks for the fractures to heal. Normally, rehabilitation exercises for broken hips started as soon as possible, but she had other broken bones too. School was out of the question for a while, and her social life was drifting away. It wasn’t really cool to hang out with a bedridden friend.
Her doctors had mapped out a taper—a medication withdrawal plan—for the opioids she’d been given, but when she tried to reduce the dose, the pain came back and so she went back to her old amount.
They talked about pain management, but she didn’t want a new way to cope; she wanted the pain to go away.
She found a new boyfriend. Sometimes he was little mean, but he didn’t judge her for the pills, and he stuck around. At least, he did until she got pregnant.
Getting Back on Her Feet
Ashley sat in her stationary car, staring off at the street lights over the steering wheel. One of her three children in the backseat restlessly whined. They couldn’t go back inside her then boyfriend’s apartment; he’d just kicked them all out. With a warrant out for her arrest, she couldn’t exactly blame him. She also couldn’t go back to her parents. So where could they go? Oh God, she didn’t want her kids to have to live out of this car.
“Oh God,” she whispered, a casual blasphemy dissolving into the very simplest of desperate prayers. Mentally, she turned a terrible choice over and over. Fear had its teeth around her ribs. “Oh God, please.” She glanced in the rearview mirror. “Make sure they’re okay.”
Then she contacted the police.
They picked her up. After a court process, she did her time at the jail. They took away custody of her children for a little while. That hurt most.
After she got out, she checked herself into a year-long drug rehab program where she lived on-site. Gradually, they started letting her drive her children to school, and she applied for the youngest to go to preschool. Meanwhile, she was working at a fast food joint and had her eye on a manager position.
She got the promotion, and her rehab’s graduation was approaching. The problem was that with her record a lot of apartment complexes wouldn’t let her rent, even if she had the money. She started praying more and trying to worry less.
“God, please help. Please.”
God’s Plan Laid Out
Almost exactly a year before, while Ashley was sitting on a dark street trying to wrap her mind around the possibility of losing her children, a bank manager was making one last call at the end of the day.
He was on the phone with the leaders of Elevate Lives, World Challenge’s partners in Missouri. The bank had a foreclosed house in significant disrepair. They certainly weren’t going to renovate it, but completely demolishing it would be pricey, so would this nonprofit be interested in a donation?
The team talked it over then accepted. Volunteers began the slow restoration work, and a year later, they were nearly finished. Now they simply had to decide what to do with it.
They prayed and decided that they’d like to make it available to a single mother who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford rent on a whole home.
Decided, they called up the preschool where they had connections with the staff. They wanted to make sure that the person they selected had the support of a church community as well as being someone who was willing to accept accountability.
Connie, the preschool coordinator, was delighted. “I know just the person.”
A Beautiful Home
They sat down with Ashley to sign the lease, discuss rent terms and look at pictures of the finished house.
Mid-discussion, Connie paused and laid a hand on Ashley’s arm. “Honey, are you crying?”
“I would be so grateful for just a safe place for my children.” She took a shaky, wet breath. “But seeing how nice this home is…I can’t believe it. I don’t deserve this.”
“God loves you more than you can ever imagine,” Connie said softly, “and your past doesn’t negate any of His love. He could’ve just given you a safe house, but he provided a lovely, fully remodeled home to show you that he loves you more than you will ever know.”
The first day of September, Ashley and her children moved into their new home.
Recently graduated from “Jobs for Life,” Ashley is currently in discussions with the two local hospitals on how she can pursue her passion for health care. She’s connected to the local church and has a mentor along with a life group to support and encourage her journey toward a new life.