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A Mother’s Strength

Addiction, financial distress, and homelessness—Cindy Parker has been through a lot. And God has walked with her through it all.

Tim Rhodes October 8, 2022

Cindy Parker considers it a miracle that she survived childhood. She lived in constant fear of an abusive father, never knowing how her actions might set him off. By her teen years, Parker had suffered multiple broken bones and other injuries caused by his cruelty. Physical brokenness led to emotional and spiritual brokenness, which she carried into adulthood.

Photography by Ryan Dearth

Decades later, while raising her son, Parker masked the wounds of her past by focusing on her career. She enjoyed being able to provide lavishly for her family. But work became all-consuming, which meant her son was often left unsupervised. By his late teens, drug addiction had left him so dependent that he eventually emptied Parker’s savings to maintain his habit. With no way to pay her mortgage or even minor bills, she lost nearly everything she owned.

For five years they were homeless and living out of their car. While she spent her days searching for a way they could get back on their feet, her son continued to be controlled by his addiction and spent his days in search of the next high.

On a muggy summer evening, as she arranged their car seats into makeshift beds, her son confessed that he could no longer keep up his addiction, theft, and lying. When he was a few days into this latest attempt to go clean, Parker noticed the excruciating power of his withdrawals. Through the night, as his body convulsed in pain, the intensity of the addiction became clear. Parker wrapped her arms around his body, holding him tight until he finally felt relief. As he rested in her arms, she worried about the difficulties ahead. With every day focused on survival, how could she adequately give him the care he needed? 

Cindy sorts and packs boxes at the food pantry for giveaway later in the day.

One afternoon as she scanned stations on their car radio, Dr. Stanley’s voice cut through the static. “This man was truly speaking God’s Word,” Parker says. “Everything I was thinking was addressed by [him].” She realized that while she’d been trying to put her son first and provide a thriving and successful life for her family, she’d been doing so in a misguided way, without the foundation and leadership of Christ. “I know it was God working through Dr. Stanley to help me realize that,” Parker says. 

Today Parker is employed and no longer homeless. She shares an apartment with her son and serves as his primary caregiver, making sure he receives both rehabilitation and medical treatment. Her hope is for the protocol to restore what his addiction ravaged.

After losing everything, Parker is trusting Christ to rebuild their lives. But even without all the goods she once had, her days are richer and more fulfilling. “I always loved Jesus’ parables,” she says. “The prodigal son is my son. He [took] everything I had and lost it. But when he came back, all that was forgotten and forgiven.” Parker acknowledges the obstacles have been significant, but each day God gives her the strength to carry on.

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