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Dianne Sundby

My name is Dianne. I came to Hannah’s House in 2011 completely broken and desperately wanting to be loved. This is my story of what God has done in my life through the Teen Challenge program, and what He is continuing to do after…

I grew up in a “normal” family and I was active in church from a young age. Around age 12, I began to question my self-worth and went through that awkward stage many pre-teens do. My awkward stage didn’t come and go as it does for many though. Instead it turned into a life controlling obsession with weight, food, and exercise which lasted over ten years of my life. My eating disorder was my best friend, but also my worst enemy which kept me a slave to my body and outward appearance. I was running myself into the ground, literally. My obsession with being thin became insatiable. I could never reach my own standards, and there was no low enough number on the scale. My quest for perfection left me desperate and exhausted for any relief I could find. I turned to drugs and alcohol, experimenting with whatever I could find to take away my appetite and my feelings; I just wanted to be numb and escape the pain inside of me. I was tired of failing, not being good enough, and not feeling worthy of even my family’s love.

I began excessively drinking and justifying my alcohol abuse because it was “legal”. I reached a breaking point in 2011 when I crashed my car driving intoxicated at 5 times the legal limit. As if my car accident wasn’t bad enough, the amount of alcohol I had in my system alone was considered lethal. By the grace of God I didn’t injure anyone else on the road that night other than myself, and the Lord saved my life that night. I woke up not sure why I was still alive, but I was mad that I did. I knew couldn’t pull it together anymore on my own. I was convinced that alcohol had a death grip on my life and I saw no way out other than trying to take my own life. But God had other plans for my life, and didn’t allow me to take the easy way out.

I began to cry out to God at this point, saying “God you won’t let me die, so help me live.” I had been in introduced to the Teen Challenge program many times before but laughed at the idea of a one year program. However, at this point in my life I knew I had nowhere else to go and out of despair I applied to come to Hannah’s House. On July 18, 2011 I came into the program. When I arrived, my heart was so hard I would barely speak to anyone. I was just going through the motions until God allowed me to experience his discipline and show me that I was strong enough to face my past if I allowed him to carry me.

God changed my life at Hannah’s House. Having a relationship with Jesus was such a foreign concept to me because I was so far removed from him. The staff and students at Hannah’s House showed me love and accepted me at my lowest point ever, which was tangible proof of the love of God.  I learned what it meant to truly walk with Christ, and was given the tools I needed to find my way back to Jesus.  He faithfully showed me that He could break the chains that kept me in the bondage of sin and the obsession with my weight. I learned to love myself again and I learned that I love life sober because He brings me joy that surpasses all understanding. I know that I don’t have to try to be perfect because He created me in his image. After months of facing my issues, renewing my mind with the word of God and replacing the lies with His truth I graduated Teen Challenge July 2012.

I felt the Lord calling me to doing the TCMI Student Internship with Teen Challenge. It was a prompting on my heart that I could not ignore even though I kept asking God if he was sure that’s what he wanted me to do. I had a desire to continue to follow Him, so I stepped out in faith knowing I needed to walk in obedience. Staying to do TCMI was the best decision of my life, and as a result I am stronger in my firm foundation of Christ than ever. In November, God showed me how big he really is by taking me to Uganda with a team of Teen Challenge Staff members. Who was I that he would choose me? God moved in my life in supernatural ways through this trip, and I was truly blessed by the people and my experience in Uganda. It put a burden on my heart for international missions I hope to follow if that is God’s will for my life.

I moved to Boise, Idaho where I have had amazing opportunities to serve God. I got to help open the Boise Girls Academy which the first adolescent in the Pacific Northwest region of Teen Challenge. I worked there with a team of volunteers and staff to build the program from the ground up. Since the Academy has opened, It has been my goal to give back to the students there what had been given to me in my program. I have been able to witness to girls with hurting hearts, speak truth into their lives and share the love of Christ with them.  It has been the most rewarding experience and I pray that God will continue to glorify himself through the lives changed at the Boise Girls Academy.

Hannah’s House and Teen Challenge has served as a mediator that brought me back to God, back to my family, and back to the person Jesus Christ intended me to be. I am now walking in freedom and sometimes I still can’t believe that this is my life. It is so much more than I could have ever dreamed for. I am genuinely happy and my smile is real. He took my bad choices and all my pain and used them for good! Romans 8:28 says “We know in all things God works for the good of those who love Him and who are called according to his purposes”.

The Lord can do that for any of us who come to Him, which is why I tell my story. I hope to inspire others, and help those stuck in the cycle of addiction see that there is a way out. For me, it was not a 12 step program; it was a 1 step program right into the arms of Jesus Christ.  I thank God for saving my life over and over again, and for the Teen Challenge Program. I know that I would not be alive today if it had not been for Him leading me here. Today I have dreams, a promising future, the security of eternal life, and I am ready to go wherever God tells me to go. There is nothing more that I could ask for. Thank you Jesus!

Take heart daughter, your faith has healed you.
     — Matthew 9:22