Guest Post – Jen Manly

What an amazing honor it is to be a “guest blogger” on “Graphic Grace.” For those of you who do not know me, my name is Jen. I am a 31 year old mother of five…. Yep, that’s right five! Born in Berlin Germany, the oldest of three, an “army brat” I believe is what they called us. I was a true free spirit from birth, which evolved into a “wild child” in my early pre-teen and teen years. After some traumatic early experiences that led to sever rebellion and depression, I became engulfed by “the system.” I lived in numerous group homes, hospitals and “therapeutic” foster homes. Each leading me further and further away from our Father and down a path of destruction. After I returned to my parents home at fifteen I ran away….

Things, as you can imagine, became worse. After years of allowing Satan to control my life, I found myself broken, alone, homeless, and pregnant at seventeen. I was hitch-hiking around Texas and Mexico with a man ten years old then me. He had a horrible addiction to crack and was an alcoholic.  Might I say, it was not my best year.

By the time I was twenty weeks pregnant and living off of dry Ramen noodles, I hit my breaking point. My son’s father abandoned me in a night club in Mexico to go get high. I did not even realize what was happening. Before I knew it, he was trying to communicate to a stranger who DID NOT EVEN SPEAK ENGLISH to watch me while he was gone. It is sad to say, but that was the first time I cared about my safety. I cared about the baby growing in my womb and knew something had to change. I called my parents…

Speaking to my father for the first time in two years, and asking for help, was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Having them accept me back in their lives after everything that had happened was even harder. I got on a bus heading for Leavenworth, Kansas, leaving my son’s father. Unfortunately, in my weakness I allowed him back into my life shortly before my sweet son Joshua was born.

I thought being homeless with an addict was hard. Nothing compared to living with an addict. There were bills to pay, food to buy, and another little life involved. I worked two jobs and, after completing my GED, was attending classes at the local community college. To the devastation of my son, I allowed his father to watch him while I was in school and working. He continually struggled to maintain employment. How naive I was at seventeen and eighteen. It was not until I came home to an empty house and had to retrieve my five month old son from a local crack house (mind you, I did not have a car and walked around for hours trying to find my child in the dark) that I realized again something had to change.

I joined the military when Joshua was 9 months old. He remained in the care of my mom and dad throughout my military training. My son moved with my family right after his first birth day to Georgia, and then moved up to be with me in Montana at 18 months old.  My son’s biological father saw him one more time for a weekend prior to vanishing out of our lives forever,for the benefit of us all!

Life was a continual up-hill battle. My son had a very difficult time adapting and I stumbled often. I had many people share the gospel to me. For years I longed to surrender my all to our Father but was draped with shame. I felt like I could not allow Him into those areas of my heart. Like I was keeping this HUGE secret from God! If people really knew me, who would ever love me. How could God ever love ME!

With every stumble, more shame…

The day I surrendered to our father the flood gates opened! He poured in healing, and continues to shower me with His Grace and love! I met my husband as a single mom of three, my son (Joshua) and my two beautiful daughters. We are about to celebrate six amazing years of marrage. My husband adopted Joshua, and Joshua proudly took on the family name, Charles Joshua Logan Manly IV. God has since, blessed us with two more boys… God is so good! He is a restorer, a healer, he is my strength and my song, my all and all. He has turned my darkness to light. My hope is in Him.

With all that said, we are approaching a mountain that God is moving in our lives!

My beloved son, Charles Joshua, is diagnosed with RAD Reactive Attachment Disorder and sever ADHD. He struggles more then any 14 year boy should ever have to struggle. He is lost and alone. He is unable to obtain friends and continually sabotages any relationship he enters. He lives in a constant state of fear which causes him to be very reactive and destructive to those around him. I ache for my boy. The consequences of my fallen life have had a horrible effect on his emotional development.

A couple of weeks ago our therapist recommended, for the welfare of our family, that my son Charles be removed and placed in an institution or group home. Being a child from “the system,” I know that is not the answer and that the healing power of Christ is the only answer!

After countless nights in prayer, God has opened a door to offer help and healing through a ministry that speaks life and love into struggling teenagers. It is Shepherd’s Hill Farm/Academy. Charles has been accepted into their 12-month therapeutic discipleship program. Praise God!

This is a one and a kind ministry. It teaches attachment through horses and through the love of Christ. This is an answered prayer! Unapologetically Christian, because without a change of heart, there is no REAL change.  You can check out these links to learn more Shepherd’s Hill.

So…. Here is the mountain!! The tuition is 58,000! 11,000 (first and last month) to get him in, and 5,500 a month for 10 months! I know this is nothing that Jesus and His body can’t conquer!

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

What do I know as truth? Jesus loves my son even more then I do (which is hard to believe). He desires healing and relationship with him more then I will ever comprehend. He is our hope! He is the answer!

Standing on a tower of faith, I withdrew our small 401K ($3,000) and sold our piano for $400.00.  Having faith to allow the Father to move through the body of Christ, I signed up on a fund raising website, and humbly pleaded for help. We opened up our home and garage for a fund raising yard sale and let the Holy Spirit move!

The responses we have been receiving are MIND BLOWING! God is moving in a mighty way and stirring many hearts!!! Everyday God is opening doors and people are loving our family in ways I have never imagined! We still have leaps and bounds to go!  Every cent counts!  Please, allow God to open your hearts to my son! And PRAY, PRAY, PRAY, for our family!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

At His feet,
Jen Manly

7 thoughts on “Guest Post – Jen Manly

  1. Update from Jen after the yard sale:

    Our yard sale fund raiser was a HUGE success!! We have now reached $6,138!!!! Over half way to our first marker of 11,000. All praise to our Father and how he is moving in the hearts of you, and others in our community. I have to share this story….while doing our yard sale a very sweet couple (who requested to remain anonymous) came up to us and shared a story of how during the Christmas season they set aside an envelope of money for Christmas gifts and LOST it. They said they looked EVERYWHERE for the envelope and could never find it. After weeks of searching they gave up. Assuming it must of been lost in a store or dropped out of a purse to be claimed by a very luck person over Christmas. Well, the day I sent out this funding sight and prayed for God to supernaturally meet this need they FOUND the envelope!! They happened upon it without even searching. They then proceeded to hand over to me a sealed envelope and claimed, “We knew God intended this to go to you.” Overwhelmed, is the only word I can use to describe how many intense emotions flooded my heart. Thank you to ALL of you for loving my precious son and our family. Thank you for allowing God to use you to answer our prayers…

  2. Update from Jen on April 27th

    “God is GOOD! I adjusted the “overall Goal” to reflect what we have raised outside of this wed site! The Father’s timing is incredible. We found out yesterday that the IRS UNDER PAID us and are mailing us a $1547.00 check! Praise God! That puts us about 4,000 shy of the 11,000 mark! The magic number that opens the door at Shepard’s Hill. As I was praying for God to open this door and meet this need my phone rang…It was a very sweet lady (single mom), whom I LOVE dearly. She explains how she does not have anything to donate to our yard sale and she recently down sized due to unfortunate circumstances. She continues to say that she has no extra clothes, or furniture, and income is low….then, with a pause (I could feel her smile through the phone) she added, “but I have this Range Rover that is sitting in my garage collecting dust and I want you to have it. I bought it for 4,500 two years ago!! The breaks need work but you can have it.”……WOW!! We have a BIG and AMAZING
    God! I was again, OVERWHELMED! Pending the sell of the Range Rover, God has completely BLOWN open the door to Shepard’s Hill for my sweet boy!! All praise and glory to Him! Thank you ALL for answering God’s calling on your heart, and please DON’T STOP! This is just the TIP OF THE ICE BURG!! Continue to PRAY! We will be having to meet a 5,500 a month payment for 10 months! We currently bring home 3,000 and are supporting a house full! I have faith God has a plan for Charles and is going to meet this need through caring hearts like your!! I thank God for you!!! Please, keep sharing this miracle!

  3. Jen, You are one of the most beautiful people I know, mostly because Jesus shines through you – not just some of the time, but ALL the time. Our God is so GOOD and faithful. I know he will meet your need. I wish there was more I could do, but I am thrilled that God allowed me the opportunity to meet you and I look forward to getting to know you better. Your love for Jesus and the love you have for furthering His kingdom is an inspiration. God bless you, and may your mountain be moved so far that you can’t even see it. I love you!

    1. Purple Lady! I love you! You are so sweet! Thank you so much for supporting my family and for all of your PRAYERS! Thank you for your words of encouragement! God is so good! 🙂

  4. Update from Jen on May 2nd

    What an amazing week!! Despite the cold weather, wind, and even snow, we pushed through with our yard sale! The Lord more then blessed our hard work and perseverance! Families opened their heart’s and donated bags and bags of clothes, pictures, furniture, books, and so much more! Between our efforts, and the out pouring of love from the body of Christ we now have raised $10,004.74!!! (and we have not even sold the range rover yet…pending a few mechanical issues) Wow! We are continually in a state of AWE at how our Father is providing. Words could not even come close to expressing our gratitude to all of you for supporting our family and praying with us. God is so good!
    I think the most overwhelming experience this weekend was having one of my mentors, a women of faith whom you instantly fall in love with, come up to me and kiss my face. After a long embrace, and me now on the brink of tears, she revealed that her family was blessing us with a 1,000 towards Shepard’s Hill. I was honestly speechless. So, engulfed in the love of this incredible daughter, and sister in Christ. Again, in awe! So, many others have reached out and moved us in so many ways…I could be retelling stories forever…my faith grows everyday. I can do nothing but bask in the love of our father. Please, continue to pass this on and share. Thank you for being His hands and feet and our answered prayer!

  5. Update from Jen on May 19th

    “Good afternoon my sweet friends! This past weekend was such a blessing. I was able to spend two wonderful days with my fellow sisters in Christ. It was such a bonding experience. The out pouring of love was overwhelming. I had the privilege of sharing my testimony, and these sweet sisters took a love offering for Shepherd’s Hill for Charles. We were blessed with another $400! God is so good. We are also approved for a CHIC-fIL-A FUND RAISER!!!! North Academy and I-25 Chic-fil-A. Come eat on THURSDAY, MAY 26th ANYTIME from 6am-10pm. You can dine in (PLACE YOUR RECEIPT IN THE BOX), go through the drive through (tell them you are with Shepherd’s Hill Academy for Charles Manly) or order catering (you’ll have to pay for it that day even if you don’t receive your catering that day) INVITE ALL YOUR FRIENDS!!! PRAY OVER THE EVENT!!
    God is opening so many door! We are planning another yard sale fund raiser for the 27th and 28th. We are excepting donations! We have also just summited a special event application for a 5k walk/run Oct 1st in America The Beautiful Park! So many things to pray over!
    Range Rover! The mechanics are estimating the repairs to be 3000! Wow! It will be worth every penny to fix it, but obviously will set us back in our goal until it is fixed and sold! If you know of anyone who is car savvy…let me know!
    With all of your love and support we have been moving mountians! Please, continue to pray and give as your heart feels lead. EAT CHIC-FI-A Thursday the 26th and May the Lord Bless You All!

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