ARGYLE, Texas — Gabby Gwynn didn’t feel the thrill some women feel when they discover they’re pregnant.
“My first thought was, I’m not going to do this,” Gwynn said.
She is 28 and already a single mom to a daughter and son.
She was barely making ends meet with two kids and wondered how she could ever do it with three.
“You know, you think this is never going to happen again and then – bam – it happens,” she said.
Gwynn wouldn’t know it for months, but a 40-year-old stranger named Beth was going through the same thing in a nearby North Texas town.
“Can I provide? Am I in a good place to be a mother again?” Beth said she was asking herself.
Terminating the pregnancy crossed her mind.
She asked not to reveal more than her first name out of fear of people’s reactions.
Through social media posts, church announcements and word of mouth, Beth and Gwynn entered Bryan and Aubrey Schlackman’s world, just as the couple was launching a ministry to help single moms who are pregnant again.
The Schlackmans live in Argyle.
Bryan is a chiropractor. Aubrey was a dental hygienist and now stays home with their two children.
They say they always planned to start some sort of ministry to help people.
Once they started their own family, they realized how difficult life must be for single moms shouldering the burden of raising kids alone.
They began to zero in on helping single moms expecting another child.
Beth said she felt shame for being in that situation but from the Schlackmans she said she felt no judgment.
“That’s what Jesus did,” Bryan said.
The couple is “unapologetically Christian and unapologetically pro-life,” he said.
Bryan and Aubrey say they don’t judge Beth or others because that’s what they believe Christianity teaches them to do.
"The moment you get in front of them you realize, 'Oh man, I’m imperfect just like them,'" he said. "We’re no different. We’ve all made different mistakes or decisions that impacted our lives."
The Schlackmans’ vision began to take shape in 2020 - long before Texas’s new abortion law was ever introduced.
They started with a Bible study, a few volunteers and some parenting classes out of their home.
They incorporated into a nonprofit and began raising money for what they call a maternity ranch.
They hope to secure acres of land where they will build cottages for pregnant moms and their kids as well as a community center and a barn where they’d raise farm animals and crops.
They have named it Blue Haven Ranch.
And it is beginning to take root in their own backyard.
“Here’s some eggs right here,” Bryan said as he pulled some eggs from the chicken coup he constructed.
To prove to potential donors they were capable, they started raising chickens behind their home.
They also installed a greenhouse where Aubrey and the moms and kids in their ministry learned hydroponics last year.
“That’s an extra source of income we can equip them with that’s practical and not a second job,” Aubrey said.
She explained that taking on second jobs often ends up costing single moms more in childcare.
It also means less time at home with kids, Aubrey said.
Blue Haven Ranch is now housing moms in apartments and helping them pay bills and buy groceries.
They are also helping them get professional training to hopefully secure higher-paying jobs.
Once Texas passed the nation’s most restrictive abortion law, the couple’s efforts caught the attention of the Washington Post.
They appeared on a podcast with former Vice President Mike Pence.
All the attention helped donations flow in fast.
They raised $194,000 in their first year.
“We thought we’d raise $30,000,” Bryan said.
The fundraising allowed them to cover the cost of paid maternity leave for the five moms who joined their ministry.
“I actually was able to take eight weeks off,” Gwynn said. “With my other two kids I didn’t get maternity leave.”
Gwynn, Beth and two other women have given birth.
One woman is still pregnant.
The Schlackmans know by the time pregnant moms find them, they’ve already chosen to keep their baby or, because of Texas law, that choice has been made for them.
They plan to launch a major fundraising campaign to purchase land and they are actively looking for acreage near Argyle and Bartonville.
The couple says they do not require their moms to be Christian or convert to Christianity, but they do have to learn about what being a Christian means.
“The only thing that we ask is that you join us in letting us show you why we’re doing what we’re doing, and that is because we are influenced by who Jesus was,” Bryan said.
Aubrey said the moms they are helping have all been in difficult situations.
They have endured trauma and struggle with guilt and shame.
“We always want it to be when we finish this program with these women they are self-sufficient, and they don’t just have a good job now and good finances and a good place to live and healthy lifestyle - they have community,” she said.
“That changes the mom’s life and her kids for the rest of their lives, and that makes me unbelievable happy.”