My Journey – Susan Hall

My journey from addiction to recovery has been a long painful one.  Luckily I finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and would like to share my story with you.

My name is Susan Hall and I’m 25 years old.  I’m currently serving a 5 year prison sentence for methamphetamine.  I started using when I was 15 years old.  I did it because I thought it was fun.  Little did I know I was on the pathway to destruction.  The fun turned into misery as the relationships in my life began to fall apart.  The only way to numb the pain was to do more drugs which in turn made things worse.  By this time I was so trapped in my addiction I couldn’t break free.  The times I was able to get clean never lasted long.  My family tried everything to help.  What did I do in return?  Retaliate.  I believed I could do it on my own.  Boy was I wrong.  Arrested and awaiting trial facing 25 years wasn’t even enough to make me stay clean.

I got out and did good for a little while then went back to the same old routine.  My life was completely out of control at this point and I couldn’t take it any more.  I had to get away from everything so once again I cleaned up my act.  At this point, it was too late I was already on my way to prison.  Except now there was a new factor in the equation.  I was pregnant.  As I sat in the county jail awaiting sentencing I tried turning to God.  Praying that he wouldn’t allow me to get sent to prison.  Standing in that court room hearing the judge say 5 years broke me into a million pieces.  How could God let this happen to me was all I could think.  I was going to have my child in prison and miss everything in her childhood.  I turned my back on God.  Even though He didn’t turn His back on me.  He blessed me with a wonderful family that took my daughter and made a promise to help me build a relationship with her as her mother.

As I replayed the decisions that led me to prison I made a vow to my unborn child and myself.  I was going to take the 5 years and work at better my life.  Within 3 months of being in prison, I received my GED.  Then graduated an Architectural Drafting course that I am currently a student aide in.  I took as many self betterment courses as possible such as anger management, substance abuse, life skills, parenting and 12 step.  There was still something missing in my life and I couldn’t figure out what it was.  I started paying attention to the people who came to speak to us.  People that had been in the same shoes as me and totally transformed their lives.  There was a common denominator and that was God.  So I started trying to build a relationship with Him.  I can promise one thing that it didn’t happen over night.  At times I felt discouraged because I didn’t feel the connection but I kept pushing forward.  I faithfully studied my Bible every day until one day I finally realized that He had been there the whole time.

It took me hitting rock bottom to realize that I was powerless to change by myself.  Don’t lose faith though, because the good Lord is helping me pick up the mission I was broken into.  He has given me an inner peace and joy I’ve never experienced before.  God never wastes the hurts in our lives.  Because of what I’ve gone through and the way God has worked in my life. I’m now able to give back to others.  For those of you who feel lost, there is hope if you put your trust in God.  Believe me, my testimony is a miracle.

–Susan Hall

Reasons – Glenda Elliott

Ever since I was a little girl, I always felt out of place.  No one knew how I really felt but me.  I grew up with mommy and daddy.  Even though we came from a poor country that didn’t stop my mom and dad from their goals and dreams.  We had to go to church.  We had to go to Sunday school.  We couldn’t date boys.  It was school, church and home.  Sure we went on picnics with our family (2 brothers, 1 sister), went visiting other relatives homes and mom and dad had parties.  Our life seem so nice.  After living in the ghetto, mom and dad moved us to the suburban neighborhood.  The trees was green, the grass were green and it was houses, not project.  It was space not everything bunched up on top of each other.  As time went by, I started to steal to buy nice clothes, popular clothes, to fit in to the popular crowd.  More time went by and I got pregnant at the age of 14.  I had to have an abortion.  I was six months pregnant.  More and more time went by at the age of 17 I got married because once again I was pregnant with my oldest son.  Life became such a big mess.  I thought the grass was greener on the other side, but it wasn’t.  Being in an abusive, controlling relationship made my self esteem go way down low.  My husband was not a good provider at all.  He met a girl and then he had two families.  I didn’t know until there was a child involved and she was one year old.  When I was happy the other lady was sad, and when I was sad, she was happy.  After fifteen years I finally came to my senses and left him and New York.  I move to Florida at the age of 32.  Everything was new.  I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t even fill out papers like job application, etc.  I finally became independent.  I got my own apartment, got 2 jobs.  I had three children.  Life was nice so I thought.  I met a man and now I have a boyfriend.  After 2 years with him I didn’t realize he did drugs, I didn’t realize he had other women.  Things became messy.  After four years of alcohol and drugs, I went to county jail for stealing out of Walmart.  I did 5 1/2 months in the county.  When I got out I was new and improved.  I was living right.  My mom set my path with a car and a house.  All I had to do was get a job and so I did.  I then met someone while in the county jail.  His name is Randy.  Through trials, fights, good times, bad times, here we are 13 years later with a 9 year old daughter.  One day of letting the devil play with me and entertain a thought landed me in prison for four years.  Being away from all four of my children brought shame and guilt to my inside and outsides.  I believe in the lies of the enemy.  My success or failure is undeniably linked to the words I say to myself and the beliefs I hold about myself.  If you listen to yourself and really hear what you are saying about yourself, your life and your circumstances, you will be well on your way to knowing what you believe.  I became truly involved in my Bible.  I started doing a lot of Bible studies and started attending biblical class.  15 months later, I’m still walking and talking to God.  He is the truth and the only way for me.  From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is full of cues and instructions on how we are to think.  As I go about my everyday life, I simply obey God’s word in every situation.  God never asks to us to handle more than we can bear.  This journey that I am going through, God has put a dream in my heart, I know he has, it gives me the desires to pursue my goal.  Broken focus can lead to failure.  I had my eyes on the prize and the prize is Jesus.  My family is waiting for me.  I have goals and dreams.  All I got to do is keep obeying the word of God…

–Glenda Elliott

I Am A Work In Progress – Jordyn Cahill

It is hard to see light at the end of any tunnel when you have blindfolded yourself and buried your head in the sand.  My story is a common one, but unique to me because it is mine and mine alone.  The shoes I have walked in my 30 years are worn at the soles and frayed at the seams.  I am not who I used to be and the world is a much better place due to that fact.

My name is Jordyn Cahill and I am currently serving a 10 year prison sentence for armed robbery.  I was highly addicted to Oxycontin and participated in robberies of local pharmacies to support my devilish habit.  Nothing could stop me, not motherhood, family love, friend suggestions, lover’s pleadings or demanded ultimatums.  The only thing that could have saved me and that, which did, was God.  My prison sentence saved my life and my south, both of which I thought were damaged beyond repair.  It has allowed me to see past my self-imposed hell to a future laden with beautiful possibilities and unbelievable redemption.

My growth has been a collective measure as I have drawn from the pain I have endured and the pain I have caused others.  Listening as my son blew out his birthday candles and then he cried with disappointment because his ability to fly and rescue me did not happen, has been the kindling for the fire that fueled my change.  Seeing the sadness in my parents’ eyes as they tried to make sense of all I had done makes me strive to be a better daughter.  To have to watch as my siblings have grown up and moved away and I have remained behind unforgiving bars of steel has helped me to see where I long to be and what I need to get there.  To bear witness to the sadness and confusion I left in the man that loved me, the sadness that almost drove him mad, has given me reason to work harder to ensure that I never do that to another person again.  To look in my own eyes and see the years of neglect and self-inflicted abuse and to know deep down that I was worth more and pushed me to reach for just that.  With forgiveness from God, my loved ones, and myself I have been able ato walk this path of recovery and redemption.

After years of abusing others and myself I now cherish both.  Only through God have I been able to see my future.  God removed my head from the sand and the blindfold from my eyes.  At first my eyes burnt, but after a while I began to regain my focus.  I learned again how to live and how to love.  Because I have been forgiven much, I can now forgive much.  I know fully what unconditional love is because people have taught me how to listen by listening to me.  My road is not fully traveled and now I have a new pair of walking shoes, new and comfortable.  Through God I began to repair myself one fragile piece at a time.  My restoration is not yet complete, but then God is not yet done with me.

I am grateful to still be a work in progress!

–Jordyn Cahill

My Name Is Mindy – Mindy Parker

My name is Mindy.  I was a drug addict for 20 years.  My lifestyle led me to prison.  Prison is basically human warehousing.  Where little is offered for rehabilitation and leaves you feeling worthless, hopeless and in despair.  The only hope people have in prison are programs that come in to volunteer like xtreme SOULutions who teach about God’s forgiveness, God’s love, that God has a plan for each one of our lives and that there is hope.  Being a part of xtreme SOULutions has been a true blessing from God.  They came to me at the lowest point in my life and taught me Biblical that broke strong holds on my life.  Their mentorship has given me great encouragement and help upon and after release.  They helped obtain a full wardrobe and shoes, household items, hygiene, dishes, furniture, access to a computer for employment search and introduced me to the employer I am blessed to currently work for.  They check on me often taking me out to lunch.  They are always only a phone call away if I need something, for prayer, or just to talk.  They not only teach Biblical principles but also live them.  They don’t care whats in my past knowing and pointing out that I have Jesus’ forgiveness.  They only care about what I want to do with my life in Christ and how they can help me succeed.  God has truly blessed me through this program.  They helped me to see that I’m not a bad person just made some bad decisions.  I am forever grateful to xtreme SOULutions.

–Mindy J. Parker