Photo by Nicole Tarpoff
My mom raised us in church until I was 9, and I was baptized as a young girl. We were very involved in church and I loved Sunday school. As I got older, we no longer attended church. I started smoking pot and drinking when I was 12 years old. I ended up pregnant at 16 years old. When my son was born I really hoped that I had found a pure love that wouldn’t go away. I didn’t know my birth father at that point in my life. I got pregnant on purpose because I wanted love. But I was a kid myself and never thought about how I would provide for a baby. My son’s father was 15 and neither of us knew how to do the things we needed to do to be good parents. So, when my son was 1 year old, my mom took him to raise. I grieved so much for him. I didn’t care what happened to me after that. I was sleeping in school buses and in public bathrooms. Sometimes I slept on other people’s couches, and when I did, I felt I owed something to the guys who were allowing me to stay. I allowed my body to be given away because that was the only asset I had to give. I felt I wasn’t worth any more than that.
I wasn’t addicted to drugs at this time but I was making many bad and dangerous decisions. I remember one time the police picked me up as I was driving around with several men much older than me who were convicted felons. He asked me what I was doing and I told him I had nowhere to go. He knew how vulnerable I was in that situation, and to get me to a safe place, he paid for a hotel room for me and bought me a meal. He dropped me off and left. I know that was God showing kindness to me, protecting me.
When I was 21, my birth father got married and his wife heard about me from a mutual friend. She contacted me and asked if I would want to come live with them. I stayed with them for six to twelve months. They bought me a car and new clothes. His wife was so kind and she really tried to help me. I started nursing assistant school and did very well. I was third in my class and was ready to graduate, but then they wouldn’t let me because I didn’t have my GED. That was another hard hit and I went back on a downward spiral.
I left my father’s house and got into a relationship with another man. We had two children together. We were very poor and lived way out in the country with no indoor toilet. My sister took us in at one point. We split up after about four years when our youngest child was 3 years old.
In 2003, my children and I moved into an apartment, and not long after that my sister died. I began to lose my mind after that. The enemy just came in and consumed me mentally and physically. I lost custody of my children because of multiple suicide attempts. I was in and out of the psychiatric unit several times. They put me on many medications. Some made the cutting worse and some made me numb and emotionless. I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know how to find God, and my life had no meaning without Him.
In 2007, I was in a horrible car accident. My pelvis was broken in half. I was in the hospital for a month. I was in so much pain. For the first year after the accident, I was prescribed pain medication. I remember the day I knew I was addicted. I ran out of pain pills and my whole body was shaking and trembling. I was so sick. I began using IV drugs and that took control of everything in my life. Even just an hour after doing drugs, I would get sick and need more. I prostituted myself to get drug money. It was no longer about getting high. It was about trying not to be sick. The mental obsession was insanity. It was all I could think of. Life became all about who I could rob, con, or sleep with to get my next drug. I knew addiction was of the devil. The moment you prepare to change your life is the moment people come out of the woodwork to give you free drugs. I saw this happen in my own life.
The day came when I was tired of it all. I cried out to God for help. Shortly after, a local drug enforcement agent caught me on tape selling drugs. God was answering my cry for help and intervening to save me. They put me in jail and then released me to drug court, which is an outpatient accountability program with drug testing and meetings with drug counselors. I talked to God a lot at this point. I asked God to let me serve Him and His people. While I was still in the drug court program, I discovered that I had leadership ability. I began facilitating faith-based recovery meetings through Lifeline. I continued to work with Lifeline after graduating drug court. I got custody of my kids back and we had four great years.
But then I relapsed. I got on heroin and it was worse than the first time. I remember my arms and chest being covered with needle holes. Social services were going to take my children, and I tried to stay clean so I could keep them, but I failed a drug test. I don’t know why I relapsed. It was a big surprise to everyone, including me. I had become the poster child in my town for overcoming substance abuse. God had changed me completely and then I relapsed. I talked to God again and said, “I have made a mess of this. I don’t want this anymore.” I went through detox and as soon as drugs were out of my system, I began to ask God for deliverance from drug addiction. I knew I couldn’t go on without God. I began to seek the Holy Spirit with everything in me. I started working at the church doing anything they would let me do, cleaning toilets…anything.
When my children were taken away because of my relapse in 2015, I thought my life had ended. But it was just the beginning. That was the last day I got high on anything. I have custody again, and I’m a productive parent to three great kids. The Lord answered my prayer and has delivered me from addiction. I am still very careful. If I feel any trigger, I talk to my pastor. I stay really close to God. When I wake up, the first thing I think about is Jesus. My relationship with Jesus is the only thing that has worked to help me. I can’t do this alone—not even for one day. Every day I ask God to help me and He does. I don’t function well without God…I can’t lose Him. Everything is at stake.
I now work as the Director of ReWired, a faith-based addition recovery program. A local church has taken ReWired on as one of their ministries. We have a church service on Saturdays and each time we meet there is a revival spirit. The pastor and I let the Holy Spirit lead and we worship and sing for God. Through ReWired, I also work as a coach with 10 people who have additions. The most important thing we do is provide spiritual guidance. We share our stories to help others know there is hope and that God can break the bondage of addiction.
I never thought I would be qualified to serve God or make it to heaven, but my pastor taught me that it is about a relationship, not perfect rule-following. God is love and it isn’t about requirements. The right lifestyle is acquired through the relationship with Him.
I am a miracle, because without God I would be dead or in a crack house at 90 pounds doing dope. I never expected that there would be a greater purpose to come out of the pain of my life. But God is using it all for good. I look at my “before” pictures—my mug shot—and cry because of how good God is and how real He is. He has loved me, forgiven me, and transformed me. I want everybody to know.
She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
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.