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The life I led before I knew the Lord was one of destruction, confusion, and emptiness.  I grew up pretty typical.  My parents got a divorce when I was young, and my mom got remarried.  This came with a lie from the enemy that it was somehow my fault that I was not loved by my father; that he left me and did not care about me. 

As I grew older this root of rejection grew, and a void in my heart began to grow.  As I entered adolescence, I really wanted to fit in.  I began smoking cigarettes, then later alcohol and marijuana.  I felt like these things helped me fit in with my friends, and honestly I enjoyed what the effects of these drugs did for me.

In high school, I tried about every drug I could get ahold of looking to “fix” this thing or void deep inside my soul.  What I didn’t realize, was that by my choices, I was dressing myself in sin and strongholds in my life that would grow stronger and stronger.  In my twenties, I found meth and instantly fell in love.  This drug gave me confidence and power.  But it soon became my master, and I was the slave.  By age 29, I was fully involved with trafficking the drug and all the horrors that came along with that lifestyle.  I knew that I had gotten in too deep, but I saw no way out. 

God came into my life in a big way at the age of 30 when I was busted by the police and the DEA with a large amount of drugs in my home. Everything I owned was either seized from me or stolen.  I was left with nothing, and I was looking at ten years in federal prison.  While out on bail, I felt like there had to be a way out or there was something else going on. 

My dad was attending a church and — for some reason — I felt really pulled to go, so I went.  I don’t remember what the sermon was about, but I remember thinking that the pastor wrote it just for me.  At the end of the sermon, the pastor did an altar call, and I responded.  My heart came alive for Jesus, and I knew that I wanted what God had for me.  The Lord saw me through the court proceedings and allowed me grace with the courts, so I did not have to go to prison.  I was a believer of Christ and His goodness, grace and mercy. 

For the next six years I remained disobedient, stiff-necked, and un-submitted to Christ.  I enjoyed my sin and did not want to let go of it that easily.  I would go to church, read my bible, and even thought I was doing the will of God.  After all, nobody is perfect, and that’s what grace is for, right?  My thinking was wrong.  My heart was still on the fence of whether I wanted to serve God or not.  I never had any consistent victory in the Lord.  I would have seasons of success, then failure.  I could not stay off drugs.  The truth was that I chose drugs over God every time.  Eventually, I gave up on my daily bible reading a little at a time; then I would miss a Sunday or two; then I quit praying, and then I quit everything.  I began to isolate myself from the church and from my family.  My addiction and sin completely took over. 

I was still enjoying my sin and refused to turn away from it.  But at the same time I was miserable.  I continued to make bad decisions, lost my job, lost my apartment and ended up homeless, hopeless, and fully involved in a criminal lifestyle again.  I hated everything and everyone.  I hated getting up in the morning, and the only thing I looked forward to was more drugs.  Soon they lost the effect of pleasing me.

On October 27, 2014, God stepped into my life again, and I was arrested after pulling a knife on a security guard at a store after he tried to stop me from shop lifting.  As I was getting arrested, I felt the presence and the peace of God all around me.  I knew that it was over.  Something was going to change.  I was done running.  I had gotten to the end of my rope.  While in jail, I couldn’t wait to start reading the bible again, and I longed to grow with God.  I had lost everything and took a look at my life.  I was tired of doing things my way, and I decided to fully submit to what God had for me.  I told Him that I would do anything He wanted me to do.  I was willing to go to prison if that is what He wanted.

I had the plea agreement signed giving up my right to trial.  The District Attorney wanted me to serve 24 months in prison.  Something inside of me told me to suggest Adult & Teen Challenge to my attorney as an alternative to prison.  My mother had been coaxing me to go to this program for the last six years, but I was always totally against the idea of spending an entire year in a program.  Now it didn’t seem like such a bad idea.  It actually excited me — the idea of spending a whole year dedicated to seeking out a relationship with my God, the Creator of the entire universe.   My attorney took a look at my past record and said “there is no way that you will be able to avoid prison time.”  But she made the suggestion to the DA.  Well, I got my miracle, and God opened up the doors for me to enter this program.

I know for a fact that it is God’s will for me to be here.  I entered Adult & Teen Challenge with a submissiveness that I have never had before.  I was and still am willing to do whatever God calls me to do.  God has blessed me so much since I have been here.  Through obedience to Him and His Word, He has begun to speak to me.  I actually have a real relationship with God.  He has revealed to me His truths and how much He really loves me.  He has shown me the lies that I believed and where they came from.  He has broken all the chains the enemy had placed on me and set me free.  He has revealed to me the things in my past that caused a break in our relationship.  I continue to seek God with my whole heart and His Word is living.  Hebrews 4:12-13 says:

“...for the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints, and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden in God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

Before coming to Adult & Teen Challenge, I was unwilling to allow God’s Word to do its work in me because I was stiff-necked and resistant to the working of God in my life.  Thanks to the character of God in His great mercy, patience, and love, it has allowed me a second chance.  I am so grateful that this program exists so that I could take a whole year to allow God to do the work that I so desperately needed.

Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  God has given me that hope and that future, and I am so grateful to have a safe place to get to know Him intimately.