Support for Families

Earn While You Learn: Class Update

Our Earn While You Learn class topics and desires continue to be focused on empowering families with truth, knowledge, emotional and spiritual support that point to the love and knowledge of Jesus. Our four foundational areas of growth are: parenting and family classes, relationship building, life skills and spiritual growth. How encouraging and rewarding that we are able to offer clients support that enrich and transform their lives!

Our exciting and abundant fall class line-up include several first-time classes along with classes that have been a part of the EWYL legacy for many seasons. Let me share with you…

Prenatal: Covers the entire length and development of pregnancy, labor, delivery, birth, breast/ formula feeding.

Baby Basics: Baby Basics teaches parents what to expect during their baby’s first 12 months of life: bonding, when to introduce foods, teething, physical and social developments, infant massage, sign language, safe ride and safe sleep practices, and swaddling.
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The Cost of a Click

People at work have started calling me the “porn queen.” I’m considering adding the title to my resume just as a conversation piece. How did I earn this title, one might ask? When the topic of pornography comes up (and it often does in my line of work), I have no choice but to shift into educator mode and drop some knowledge. My coworkers good-naturedly bob their heads when I launch into one of my animated educational speeches, complete with flailing arms and recent statistics. While “porn queen” might be a funny (albeit misleading) nickname, the truth is that pornography addiction is no laughing matter.

Porn hates God’s design for sex. It creates destruction and tells lies. It infects the minds of its victims, regardless of age, gender, status, or place of residence. To give you an idea, here are some things I’ve heard just this month:

“Sometimes I’m unable to watch it because my phone is too slow, and that makes me very angry.”

“I’m ashamed and confused about my sexual choices.”

“Since I know he’s watching porn, I never feel like I’m attractive enough to keep him interested in me.”

“I’m heterosexual, but when I see an attractive photo of a member of the same sex, I feel triggered to watch pornography.”

“I live in fear that he is looking at other girls for sexual pleasure.”

“I’m ashamed by what arouses me, like being physically hurt.”

You might be surprised to learn that all of these quotes came from teenage girls. Pornography is often thought of as “a guy problem” when in fact, one out of three porn viewers is female. It’s also frequently touted as “adult entertainment” when the truth is the average age of first exposure to pornography is 10-11 years old. Whether or not your child is searching for pornography, it is most definitely searching for them.

I want to clarify that being curious about sex is a natural part of growing up. It’s a natural part of being human! God created sex—it was His idea! It is a gift meant to be celebrated in the security and commitment of marriage. But pornography preys upon sexual curiosity and tells lies about God’s beautiful design.

When people are engaged in anything addictive (like drugs or pornography), a 4-step brain cycle begins. First, because it is addictive, there is an over-consumption of the substance or activity. Next, the brain is hit with a surge of dopamine. Next comes a release of Delta Fos B, and finally, sensitization of a neural pathway, causing cravings and triggers.

If, like me, your mind doesn’t easily attach to science-y terms, here’s what to keep in mind:

Dopamine tells the brain, “This activity is valuable, let’s do it again!”

Delta Fos B tells the brain “I’ve been here before, and this is what I can expect.”

Let’s use substance abuse as an example. If someone is using cocaine, the dopamine surge tells the person’s brain the activity of snorting cocaine into their nose is valuable, fun, and rewarding. Delta Fos B tells the person’s brain when they see white powder, it means they are going to get high. Even if this person stops using cocaine, they will likely be “triggered” by anything resembling white powder in the future, thanks to Delta Fos B.

But pornography addiction is slightly different from drug addiction. Our brains do not have a built-in circuit for drug use—but our brains are naturally wired for sex. God created us to be fruitful and multiply, so he gave us a built-in circuit for reproduction. Porn hijacks this naturally existing brain circuit and force-feeds it lies.

Because of Delta Fos B, the brain learns the porn on the screen is what to expect from a real-life sexual encounter. And here’s the kicker: the adolescent brain is more flexible than a mature brain (which reaches full development at age 25-26), and also contains a higher concentration of Delta Fos B. That means deeper, longer lasting pathways are conditioning the mind.

So, what lies does porn teach adolescent brains about sex?

  1. Sex should be accessible at any time. If a woman wants a relationship, she must give him whatever kind of sex he wants.
    Unlike a real-life sexual relationship, pornography is never unavailable. Unlike women in real life, women in pornography will never say, “Stop, that hurts.” They will never say, “I feel disrespected.”
  2. A woman is to be dominated and used. Verbal cruelty and physical abuse are normal and permissible in relationships.
    88% of all pornography contains some form of female degradation. This normalizes abuse and teaches the brain to find it arousing.

  3. The only goal of sex is for the man’s physical pleasure. A girl’s self-worth is tied to her appearance and sexual performance.
    Porn does not care about emotional, intellectual, or spiritual connection.

  4. When a guy is no longer fulfilled, he should find someone/something new that excites him. A man can never be fully committed to a woman mentally or physically.
    Among other things, dopamine is triggered when the brain experiences novelty, shock, and guilt. This causes the compulsion to seek new and different types of pornography with each use. When one type of sex act becomes boring, you can search for something else. Sex is viewed from the perspective, “What’s in it for me?”

When this brain conditioning is carried from adolescence into a real-life relationship, it wreaks havoc on the hearts, minds, and bodies of all involved. As a matter of fact, one in three guys between the ages of 18 and 25 suffers from porn-induced erectile dysfunction, or PIED. This causes feelings of shame, inadequacy, and sexual frustration. In many cases, it leads to infidelity and/or divorce.

As if that weren’t enough of a reason to avoid pornography, it is reported that about half of all sex trafficked victims are forced to create porn. There is no guarantee that what is being viewed on the screen has been made voluntarily, even if it appears that way. Because there is money to be made in the porn industry, it creates a demand for people having sex on camera. Sex trafficking is one of the major content suppliers of the porn industry.

So, now what? Once a porn user knows this information, is there any hope of recovery? Absolutely. There are support groups, accountability apps, and resources like the ones listed below. Once you know better, you can take the responsibility to do better–for yourself, your relationships, and the entire world.

SOURCES:
Fight The New Drug
Your Brain on Porn
These are the info cards we hand out during presentations, complete with resources.

Kelli Hansen

Kelli Hansen

Prevention Assistant

Carolyn’s Story

“I call Him the Risen King because He is alive!” – Carolyn.

I have the privilege of knowing Carolyn for 7 months now, she is a part of the Earn While You Learn program at Bridgehaven. Carolyn is a single mother of 3 children and a lover of Jesus! Carolyn experienced a life-threatening situation this summer; she clearly understands and communicates she is alive and well because of God’s faithfulness. She feels like she has been given a second chance at life and she is taking every opportunity to proclaim and share her story with others. Upon recovery, Carolyn shared her testimony with me of what the Lord brought her through. During our time together, I was moved with compassion, my faith rose, and God’s faithfulness swept over Carolyn and I as she shared her testimony detail by detail! All I could do or proclaim was, “Wow, God, You are beyond good and so worthy of our worship!”

I knew Carolyn’s testimony needed to be shared and released! It is with honor and gratefulness that I introduce you to Carolyn, a woman of God that worships the King of Kings!

“Worship is an it-is-well-with-my-soul experience.” – Robert Webber

Dawn Michaels

Dawn Michael

Director of Client Support

In Her Shoes


As we are rapidly approaching Bridgehaven’s In Her Shoes 5k Run/Walk, on Saturday, September 30th, I am reflecting on the whole idea behind the title of this walk. Our clients’ faces, stories, and circumstances come to my mind, and I am incredibly humbled by what it means to really walk in her shoes.

When I think about the start of the route we will be traveling on, I can see in my mind on our clients who so bravely walk through our doors every day to start the beginning of their journey. Sometimes, this looks and seems paralyzing. There is no way to even think about taking another step because of the deep-seated fear and anxiety that pulses through someone’s body with even the thought of a potential pregnancy. Sometimes, it feels exciting and joyful to walk through those doors to hear the news of a long-awaited dream and desire that has been placed on their hearts coming true. Sometimes, it feels like this was the farthest thing from their mind, but here they are, at this place, at the start of their journey, and they are seeking someone to come alongside them to help empower and give them hope.
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Freely Given


It’s achingly important to me to share the Good News to others that have not heard of the amazing love story of Jesus; His unfailing Love and Creative Authorship over our lives. It’s equally valuable to me to share those authorship stories of victory and personal walks with Jesus with the Body of Christ. I want to introduce you to a woman who is pursuing Jesus and allowing Jesus to pursue her wildly. In her own words, she briefly shares her journey with Jesus and Bridgehaven.

I pray her story edifies, exhorts, comforts you and brings endless glory to our King and Savior. For He is worthy!

Edify: to build up, to strengthen
Exhort: to stimulate, to encourage, to admonish
Comfort: to cheer up

(Dawn) Q: Will you share about your family?
(Client) A: “Our family of five consists of me, my significant other, our five-year old son, and our three-year-old and four-month-old daughters. We have one income so our budget is considerably tight. Bridgehaven helps us make ends meet.”
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Kirkwood Scholarships


We have generous donors that believe in the power of higher education.

Bridgehaven receives a yearly donation designated for scholarships for clients attending Kirkwood. Clients in the Earn While You Learn program have the opportunity to complete an application, essay, and interview with us. Each year, we are blessed and inspired by the stories of goals, overcoming obstacles, reliance on God, and the power of determination.

This year, we had three applicants apply for the scholarship, and all three were awarded amounts that complemented other grants and scholarships they were receiving. Two clients received Kirkwood scholarships through Bridgehaven last year and can now continue their education in the fields of nursing and human services. They have been very successful in their programs with honors and high recognition! Bridgehaven is so proud of them and honored to be able to walk alongside them in their journey.

Following are portions of their stories, motivations, and dreams surrounding their educational goals. Join me in celebrating and offering up thanks and praises for these people and their educational desires.
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Teen Conversation

As the clients who walk through the doors of Bridgehaven get younger and my son gets older, I feel like my worlds will soon collide. Wait…that doesn’t sound right. What I mean is I have to start looking at my son, my baby, as a potential client. He hates when I call him my baby. I do it all the time on social media and he is like, “Stop, mom. I am not your baby.” Ah, buddy, you are absolutely wrong. Despite the fact that you grow taller than me daily, you will always be my baby…the one your dad and I prayed to God for for years and years. But you are right. You aren’t a baby. You are a young man. And that scares the crap out of me.

Parenting a teenager is not for the faint of heart. I say this like I know even though mine has only been an actual teenager for a few months. The facts are not pleasant to look at. According to the most recent CDC findings (cdc.gov) reported in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance 2015 report, nearly 10 million new STDs reported each year were among young people between the ages of 15-24; nearly 230,000 babies were born to teen girls aged 15-19 in 2015; 20% of surveyed students nationwide had ridden in a car or other vehicle one or more times with a driver who had been drinking alcohol; 41% of surveyed students had texted or emailed while driving a car; 22% of students surveyed had been in a physical fight one or more times; over 20% of students had been bullied on school property and 15.5% electronically bullied (email, chat rooms, social media); 14.6% of students nationwide had made a plan about how they would attempt suicide; 63% have tried alcohol and 44% had usually obtained the alcohol they drank by someone giving it to them; 21% were offered, sold or given an illegal drug. Kinda makes you feel sick, doesn’t it?
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Back to School

“Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.” — W.B. Yeats

For the past decade, a rich practical way of sharing the gospel has been available for families through the Back to School Supply Distribution program. This annual event offers support, encouragement and provision in the lives of parents and children in the Earn While You Learn program at Bridgehaven. Client Support will be accepting school supplies that will support our active clients in the Earn While You Learn program for this coming school year.

The goal and prayer for the Back to School Distribution is to ease the financial burden and stress for families, especially single-parent households, to promote community connectedness and establish Kingdom demonstrations of God’s goodness.

The Earn While You Learn program is a transformational model that promotes growth, learning, healthy relationships and accountable support. Clients earn material assistance and yearly benefits, such as school supplies by attending empowerment-focused classes (i.e. life skills, parenting, relationship, and Bible studies).
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Rooted and Built Up

On March 17th and 18th, Cedar Rapids was blessed to host a Beth Moore Live conference; a faith gathering of over 2,500 women. Bridgehaven received several tickets for clients who wanted to attend.

Beth Moore does 12 yearly conferences and extensively prays and studies specifically for the community and women she will be teaching. Each conference is unique and dependent on the leading of the Holy Spirit. When Beth was praying and preparing for the Cedar Rapids Live event, she received the message of “Taking root in the family tree of God.” As a Bridgehaven community, we were thrilled to receive a great confirmation of our mission and vision through this event.

Rooted for Life

As we celebrate and settle in to our new space for Client Support, I want to draw your attention to the fresh identity, appeal and heartbeat of Client Support: being “Rooted for Life.” Cheryl Klopfenstein, Client Support Assistant, blessed us with her creative art skills and brought to life a vision of “strength” in the Rooted for Life mural (shown above). It is our desire and prayer that you would experience and encounter love and establish a firm, rooted faith foundation in Jesus. – Excerpt from January 2016 Good News (Client Publication)

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The Ring


I don’t like to share. Ask anyone and they will confirm that. I consider myself generous but try to take one of my Reese’s Peanut Butter eggs and you might think differently. One thing I never imagined sharing with another woman was my son. When I brought K home from the hospital, I thought I would be the only woman in his life until he started dating. God must have smiled at my dreams because He knew there was a lesson coming for me.

Divorce was also something I didn’t see happening to me. But like many people, it did and I survived probably the most painful time in my life. Not once during that time did I consider that my ex-husband would have a new wife…someone who would be a step-mom to my only child. It was enough to get through the days without adding another level of pain and confusion, I guess. When he let me know he was getting re-married, it put me into another tailspin I didn’t imagine. Even though I had put the relationship behind me and knew we were better off apart, it was more agonizing than I could have imagined. With the help of my faith, family and friends, I lived through a couple of really dark weeks.
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