Jennifer was a resident of House of Promise for 15 months. Recently, she was asked to speak to the sheriff’s annual volunteer dinner. Here’s her speech:
My name is Jennifer. My upbringing was extremely dysfunctional. My parents were both meth addicts. My parents fought all the time and both had anger issues. When my dad was at work, my sisters and I walked around on eggshells because our mother never had anything positive to say. Her comments were always negative or putting us down. My parents divorced and at 16, my mother sold me to support her drug addiction.
Also at 16, my mother used meth in front of me. When I asked what she was doing, she encouraged me to try a line of meth in exchange for food. I had such bad hunger pangs that I went ahead and tried it. The next morning my sister asked me about it and she tried it. Then, we were both addicted. We were all happy as long as we were high.
I thought our drug dealer was cute and I ended up pregnant at 19. Neither of us worked so I moved around with different people. We moved from Arizona to Oklahoma near his father’s relatives for a fresh start but within two months we found the meth dealers. We were getting high with children in the room.
Addiction had her in chains.
I moved out, met a boyfriend, married and finally had my own apartment. My husband left because I cheated on him while using pain killers. My father, who lived in AZ, wouldn’t take me back.
I lost everything and had no idea how to be a mother. I finally made it back to AZ and stayed with an alcoholic uncle. My way of coping was to also drink. I met another man and was with him for 10 years. He was physically abusive. I eventually realized that he was going to kill me. My son’s dad came and got him. I left everyone.
I was homeless and seeking a shower.
I broke into a house to shower and the police were called and I was arrested. I was on probation. I went to CASS for 3-4 months and then went to Dream Center where I learned about Jesus. I violated probation by not reporting movement and went to jail for 4 months. For the last 3 months, I was in tents. That’s where I went to the church services.
I filled out a prayer card for Amazing Grace and on it I said I was afraid of being released and being homeless with no family. Pastor Robyn had a one-on-one with me the following week and told me I wouldn’t be homeless and I would have a family at the church. When I was released, she was there waiting for me and gave me clothes and took me to a halfway house. She and I communicated daily and I started attending the church. In 60 days, she took me to House of Promise where I interviewed and got in. I lived there for 15 months. I learned a lot of life skills and attended bible studies.
Community is very important to me.
I’ve been a member of Amazing Grace for 1 ½ years and I’ve met a lot of people who are positive and who have now become my family. There’s a large support group besides Pastor Rick and Robyn who I know I could call on them if I need help.
While at House of Promise, I quit smoking, stopped drinking caffeine, changed my diet, and worked 2 jobs, paid off all my fines, got back my driver’s license after 7 years, bought my own car and finally got my first apartment. I’m now working on establishing credit again.
I have never had a “normal” life.
I now know I like this lifestyle so much better! I didn’t know I could be so strong, reliable or responsible. I feel like I missed out on the first half of my life due to addictions. I never believed I could have this type of life. I feel so good about myself and I’m still growing daily.
I honestly don’t know where I would be if the jail didn’t allow volunteers in. I thank God and I thank the sheriff for allowing all these volunteers to come into the jails.
It was through the church services at the jail that I met Pastor Robyn and God started working in me and changing my whole life.
As I read my daily devotions, I reflect every single night on where I was and where I am now.
I like the new me!