Eve’s Daughters

20 Jun

The last thing on Karen Sjoblom’s mind when her marriage ended was how God could use her divorce to reach others.

After her journey of becoming co-founder of the single mother’s non-profit organization “Eve’s Daughters,” however, Sjoblom sees how God has been working in her life from the beginning.

Sjoblom moved from Chicago, Ill. to Portland, Ore. after getting married. Once divorced, she and her young daughter found themselves virtually alone. Sjoblom says she struggled to provide for her small family’s physical needs – particularly since she received no child support from her ex-husband.

“If you’re 16 and pregnant, there are county resources to help you out,” Sjoblom says. “There is nothing out there for women our age and abilities. … It was expected that we (divorced mothers) were going to get (our) act together.”

Financial responsibilities were but one of the hurdles Sjoblom overcame in the early years of her divorce. She says that due to the overload of responsibilities falling on a single mother, she often felt isolated and alone in the midst of her busyness.

“Loneliness will kill you,” Sjoblom says. “It will do you in.”

Sjoblom began working at Sunset Presbyterian Church after her divorce – a job opportunity which she finds ironic, considering the negative experience of religion she had as a child. This job, however, led her to meet fellow church member Cathlin Brewer. While Sjoblom says she and Brewer had different personalities, the two women came from similar backgrounds – both attended college, began their careers, stayed home with their children and were recovering from divorce. Brewer, a divorcee several years prior to Sjoblom, became the person Sjoblom sought for guidance to overcome the emotional pain and difficulties of her imploded marriage.

Considering the lack of resources available for divorced mothers, Brewer initially formulated the idea of a divorced mother’s support group in 2006. She scratched down the name “Eve’s Daughters” on a notebook and told Sjoblom about the epiphany. Sjoblom says she initially was Brewer’s biggest cheerleader for the support group. But with much discussion and prayer, Sjoblom and Brewer felt God leading them to tackle the project together in 2007.

The duo’s goal became, and continues to be, to reach out to divorced women to provide emotional support and the tools these women need to raise their children well.

The success of “Eve’s Daughters” appeared shaky in the beginning.

Sjoblom says she and Brewer began meeting one-on-one with divorced mothers in 2007. But she and Brewer wanted to expand their services in 2009 to offer a monthly meal for these families. While Sjoblom says the turnout for the first meal was “decent,” she says only one mother came to the second meal.

Although discouraged, the duo and their group persevered. The monthly meals eventually began attracting more mothers – in June 2012, for instance, the meeting garnered over 40 participants. Brewer and Sjoblom once made all of the meals themselves, but Sjoblom says groups from churches and organizations in the community have recently began assisting “Eve’s Daughters” by providing the monthly meals.

The meals are served buffet style as mothers gather at tables and share their stories while volunteers entertain the children with movies and crafts. Sjoblom says she and Brewer considered having speakers at the meals, but many mothers objected to this idea. Participants wanted this time to simply connect with other women going through similar struggles.

Filling the stomachs of single-parent families, however, is but one aspect of what Sjoblom and Brewer accomplish through “Eve’s Daughters.”

Sjoblom and Brewer offer parenting classes, teaching mothers how to co-parent with their former spouses who may enforce completely different rules. The duo also keeps a list of inexpensive or free services – such as counselors or repairmen – that divorcee mothers can use.

Despite their numerous needs, divorcees continue to remain largely unnoticed in church congregations, Sjoblom says. She challenges Christians to begin to minister to this group overlooked in church and in society.

“It would be lovely if the church could respond and be the hands and feet,” Sjoblom says, describing the need for church members to consider divorced singles as part of the widows and orphans the Bible instructs Christians to serve.

Since finding her faith, Sjoblom says she cannot imagine her life now without God. But Sjoblom also admits her past has been anything but easy. She testifies to the difficulties she endured, from growing up with an alcoholic parent to enduring a difficult marriage. As Sjoblom continues to minister to divorced women, however, she says she can see how God is working through her negative life experiences.

“What I do know is that I would not be doing the work for ‘Eve’s Daughters’ if not for my past,” she says.

For more information, go to http://www.evesdaughters.org.

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