I was born in Minneapolis, and am the single mother of five children.
For years I struggled with depression, resulting from many years of abuse. After losing custody of two of my children, I became emotionally incapacitated, and soon learned that a way to numb the pain was through the use of drugs.
As a result, I spent two years going in and out of jail. But, the drugs did not ease the pain, and my depression was worse than ever. I prayed, “God, I have had enough and am tired of this lifestyle. Please help me!” I was arrested two hours later.
While I was incarcerated, I confessed my sin and asked Jesus to save me. After leaving jail, I moved into Next Chapter's Fellowship Home, and have since achieved many firsts in my life, including staying sober and learning positive coping skills. I am also working on building renewed relationships with my children. It feels good to be able to give back to my community and show others that there is hope through faith in God.
I first met Andy in Oct. 2001. I was in the Olmsted County Jail on a drug charge. I knew at that time I was in deep trouble and needed a way out. It was time to do something different, but I wasn't sure of what to do. I also knew that what ever it was I needed to do, I could not do it alone.
Shortly after going to jail, I was invited to go to a Bible study led by Andy Kilen. I thought that this Andy was out of his mind, he was talking about things I didn’t want to hear, but I thought I’ll just keep going to these Bible studies to see if this guy is for real. The more I went the more he made sense. I started to see the commitment that he was putting into coming to the jail consistently. Before long we started to build a relationship. I started to really trust Andy because of his genuine love for Christ. I thought that, possibly, if I had Christ in my life even I could change. Andy started to come to the jail, not just for Bible studies but to visit me, just to see how I was doing. He had quickly become a friend. I wanted to learn more and more about Jesus, because I desired what He had done in Andy’s life. I never thought that a total stranger could love someone like me, who had nothing to offer. But because of the love that Andy showed me I now want to share it with others. Jesus has changed my life. My family and I belong to a church, my son sees something in me that he has not seen before and he likes what he sees.
Andy is my mentor, close friend and brother in Christ and even though there is not much difference in our age he’s like a father to me. I can’t even put into words what Andy means to me. Because of Andy I now look at life through the eyes of Christ. I now know what it is to love others. My relationship with Andy is something that I will cherish forever. Our relationship is built on the love of Christ, truth and accountability. This keeps me committed to Christ.
In Christ you are a new Creation! 2 Corinthians 5:17
I lived at The Discipleship Home for nine months, participated in the activities of the home and attended the weekly Bible study support group.
I am the youngest of four children born in Kansas and raised in the Rochester area. My early years were not that different from most middle class families in the seventies. My parents were actively involved in the lives of my two older sisters and my brother. We were involved in several different activities. We had a cabin on a lake so our summers were filled with fun times outdoors.
Our life changed a lot when my dad lost his job. He bought a gas station and my work career began when I was 12 years old. My father passed on his love for beer as well as something called bi-polar. I would have rather had the gas station. Oh well! I started drinking beer at a young age thinking I was all grown up and having so much fun. My schoolwork began to suffer, as did my relationship with my parents. Alcohol and marijuana quickly became a problem for me. One beer or joint was too much and a thousand never enough. The rest of my school days I spent fighting with my parents and the school system. Two-thirds of the way through my senior year I was told that my presence was no longer needed at school. I finished my academic career going to night school.
Drugs and alcohol continued to be a problem for me but I couldn’t see it. The next five years were a blur. I went into the army, got married, was diagnosed with bi-polar, got divorced, and ended up in the psyche ward. My movement in and out of treatment caused me to want to move away, so I moved to St. Charles. I was looking for a new start, but I found out that no matter where you go there you are. In a lot of ways I did get a new start but in the end the result was the same because I didn’t address my problem.
In St. Charles I got married again, bought a home and was blessed with two wonderful children. It was the American dream that turned to a nightmare. I got involved with the community. I was a member of the St. Charles School Board and the Head Start policy council. We joined the Lutheran church to become a part of the community. I enrolled in college at Rochester and then Winona State. My wife and I also got involve with a foreign exchange program. We hosted students form Italy, Switzerland and Germany. I also managed to get a DUI about every two years or so. After each DUI I would go to treatment, and fulfill probation requirements and then go back to using. The mess that drinking and depression were making in our lives pushed my wife out the door. It was more than she could handle. Why does a seemingly normal human stop functioning, stop wanting to go to work, stop playing with the kids, and stop everything? It was more than I could handle. I did not want to kill myself; I just did not want to live any more. She went her way and I went mine.
If you notice, I have not mentioned God too much. That’s because I did not know God. I never looked to Jesus as my Savior and friend. I thought about God a few times but I never gave my all to Him. I always said I was a Christian, but don’t go cramming that Jesus thing down my throat. Finally, when I was starting to bottom out again I went to a friend who helped me accept Jesus as my Savior. I thought that with Jesus, my life would drastically change. I thought I would see fireworks and all my problems would be over. I did not know that I needed to pray and get involve with the fellowship of other believers. I ended up with two more DUI’s because of my selfish desires. My last DUI was a felony conviction and I ended up in jail facing a 36 months in prison. I had reached the bottom.
In the Olmsted County Jail I met Andy Kilen and learned about the Network. I started reading the Bible, attending Bible studies and praying to God for help. At the Sunday night service I met Jim who later became my mentor. He and is wife Clair have become my spiritual parents and I love them both. I was sentenced to a year in jail and put on probation for six years. Moving into The Discipleship Home was a major life changing experience. I learned that I needed to pray and fellowship. I found out that when you seek God, all else becomes secondary. As long as I looked to Jesus all day, every day, most everything falls into place. If I am not learning and growing I am in fact going backwards.
I now have a new home, a great job and lots of wonderful relationships. My children Alicia and Alex are a big part of my life. Am I able to count my blessings? There is not a number that goes that high. I have been asked what has made the difference. It is Jesus Christ my Savior, and all the loving people that He has brought into my life. God loved me and saw me through all my troubles. I am overjoyed and humbled every day. My cup definitely runneth over.