Photo by Nicole Tarpoff
My parents were young and there were some problems at home. I moved out when I was 16 years old. I got pregnant when I was 17 and then got married. I got pregnant again when I was 18. The marriage ended in divorce when I was 22. After my divorce, I thought it would be best to move back with my children to my hometown where I had family and friends. My ex-husband hired an attorney who told the judge many bad things about my home county. The judge said he couldn’t prove I was an unfit mother but that my home county was such a bad place to raise children that he had to award residential custody of the children to their father.
This was a turning point for me. I started not caring about anything after losing my children. I went to see a doctor and was prescribed a nerve pill. I started taking massive amounts of these daily. This became a lifestyle and because of multiple arrests and drug charges I was unable to get a job. I felt trapped into selling drugs to make a living. For 16 years, this was my life. I was locked up for many years. I lost so much time with my children and my mom. My mom had always been there for me and had continued to be a support to me. But she passed away while I was still in addiction.
I never stopped believing in God, and one night in the jail cell I asked God to help me. Sometime later, I was offered drug treatment at a residential center instead of incarceration. About that time, I was allowed to leave jail to attend my uncle’s funeral. While I was there I told my dad about the offer to go to treatment. I told him I wasn’t going to go, that I planned to cut my ankle bracelet and run again. He tried to talk me out of it. I really was tired of running so I agreed to get treatment. But once I was there I wanted to leave. I was going to run away, but there was a massive snowstorm and I couldn’t. I know that was God keeping me there!
I could see the women at the home laughing and having a good time and wanted to know why they were joyful. I started to become more open to the idea of a life without drugs. The CEO came around for a tour of our home and I heard him talking about a job opportunity if we would complete the program and stay clean a year. I asked him afterwards, “I have 17 felonies but you would hire me?” He said, “Absolutely.” That was the turning point. Then I started taking treatment seriously. But I hadn’t had any hope of any kind of decent life for 16 years. I knew God had to help me—and He did.
While I was in treatment, we went to church and I started getting it. I heard a sermon from Luke on building a good foundation. I knew that l needed a good foundation moving forward. After I completed my treatment, I became an intern with the addiction program, but that didn’t work out so I worked as a volunteer in return for my rent as a part of a church program. During those three months, I was really soul searching. God was really working on me. It felt so good to have my life back. I knew that I wanted use the rest of my life to help people. I got a new job as an intern in a different department, with the same addiction program I had been with before. I truly believe God put me in this department because it is such a good fit for me. My supervisor is a woman. She is the same type of person I am and God placed her in my life as a mentor.
During my internship, I made a mistake and got into a relationship with a recovering addict. I felt like God was telling me the relationship wasn’t healthy and that it would be easy to slip back into addiction. I stayed clean and stepped away from that relationship, but I was already pregnant when I left. I had no idea how I was going to provide for the baby. But God provided people in my life to help me. The organization I was interning with provided an apartment for me during the internship. After one year, I was hired full-time as the Intake Coordinator in the program and one year later I was promoted to Assistant Director of Intake. These opportunities provided the income for me to take care of myself and the baby. God also gave me a family at work. The intake team has really been my family. The pastors that work with our company and the leadership of the company have all supported me.
After I was hired full-time I needed to find my own apartment. I prayed, “God please let us find a decent place to live and be able to make it financially.” One day I looked at Craigslist for a place to live, and the first place was so pretty and I thought, “That is so nice, but with my background there is no way they will let me rent there.” My boss went to look at it with me and because the landlord knew him I was able to rent it. This was the first place I had ever lived on my own and I found out that my landlord’s mother had the same first and last name as my mother! Not only did I get to live there but all utilities are paid, making it affordable. My landlords are Christians and it has been such a blessing.
I thank God every day for even the little things—the water in the shower, the electricity in our house, the sunshine, and my job. I love my job as an intake coordinator. I talk to a lot of people every day. Sometimes it is a person’s lawyer or family member, but sometimes the person calls themselves about getting placed in one of our residential treatment programs. I get their information over the phone and help get them out of jail and into treatment. I understand where they have been and can communicate hope to them. Each month we celebrate milestones in recovery for the residents, and when their names are read each month I think how special it is that God let me be a part of their recovery.
God is a loving God. He cares about the smallest things. He knows us personally. He knows what we need. He has much grace for the mistakes that we make. I am so thankful for my recovery. I was one of those people that people would say would never be clean. It’s true that after you mess up your life, you just feel like there is no way out. But God saved my life and He changed me. I am so thankful that He gave me the opportunity to be a mom again.
My daughter is now 6 months old and has been an amazing gift. At first I had a hard time accepting the gift of a new baby. But my neighbor said, “Children are a gift from God, and He is not going to give you this gift if He isn’t going to provide a way to take care of her.” This changed how I felt about it. My neighbor was right—God has provided for our every need.
God restores what has been taken from you. I now have a relationship with my older children. My daughter is 20 and my son is 19. It is not a perfect relationship, but God is working this out too. When I took my daughter out recently to eat she said, “I am so glad, Mom, that I get to be here with you.” She has a daughter now, my granddaughter, and she lets me see her and now I get to be a good influence and a good part of her life. When she comes to visit, I take her to church. It is funny how God brings things around. I loved my grandmother. I felt safe around her and found comfort with her. Maybe now I can be that person to my granddaughter.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Lamentations 3:22 – 23
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.