Being a mother opened Joanne’s eyes to the wisdom she had rejected
The experience of shock and anger after her mother's loss to heart disease shot Joanne Ellis into a spiral of bad choices.
As they were "totally unaware" of her mother's condition, Joanne says the shock and pain "destroyed our family and our lives were never the same again."
"I left home at 14 and have had an on and off relationships with my family ever since."
For years Joanne struggled with wrong choices and bad situations, but instead of owning up to her mistakes, she says that in her anger, "I blamed others for them, especially God."
"I always knew we had a God (who made us), however I turned to Him with anger and never understood the life He gave me until I became a mother myself."
In caring for her child, Joanne discovered her old selfish habits had to change.
"Being a mum has been one of the biggest challenges of my life," she says.
"I now had to think of someone else and put that person first. This was tough for me as I tried to break old habits and was searching for Mr Right in all the wrong places."
Joanne began looking for help when her marriage unravelled into divorce and her four children lived with her ex-husband.
"I reached out to local churches to find a new spiritual home, but nothing felt right."
“I never understood the life [I had] until I became a mother”Just as she had a new baby and was homeless and desperate, Joanne met Scott and Leah Ellery at a church in Merriwa, WA.
After managing to get her four children back in her care, Joanne says, "I found my way back to the church where they offered me a food hamper and plenty of support."
Joanne and her kids became involved in church's Mainly Music program for children, and soon they were all regularly involved in the church.
"During the year I completed a Christian introductory course which explained Christian beliefs and I now have full faith in Jesus," she happily reports.
Joanne says that her children love going to church and the activities there, and that pursuing God has greatly strengthened her family.
"My relationship with my family is better and is growing stronger each year," she says.
"My kids are constantly encouraging me to live a life with Christ and I truly believe He is doing amazing things in my home and with my family."
She now wants to help others through her own church-based ministry called Seeds of Hope, which links up locals in community projects to help those in need.
"I still don't have a plan in life, but I do know that God has a plan for me and I completely trust Him to guide me on this journey." •
Courtesy Salvation Army Warcry magazine