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My name is Erika.  I was born to a single mother in Texas.  Growing up, my childhood was very difficult for me.  Roughly from the age of two to eight years old my mom had a live in boyfriend that would regularly molest me.  I reached out to my mom, but she was unable to help.  He would physically beat her, and I think out of fear she felt powerless to do anything.

I’ve always desired to have a family.  A family in which you feel safe, wanted and loved.  I do not doubt my mom did the best she knew how, but at the time I needed more than she was able to give.  Around the age of 12, I thought I had found a place I was safe, cared for, and wanted.  It was with a next door neighbor.  She was what I thought I was looking for.  She didn’t work, so she was available and she was the mother figure I was searching for.

I would take care of her three children while she would go out with friends.  Most of the time my only form of payment was to get stoned with her weed and eat what I wanted from the fridge.  At the age of 13, the very lady I saw as a mother figure and the person who supplied my weed habit offered me meth for the first time.  That’s when my course of life made major turns.

I was constantly running away on binges.  My mom would have the cops out looking for me, but I didn’t care.  All my life was about getting high and feeling wanted.  I regularly used until the age of 15 when I became pregnant with my daughter, by a fellow addict.  Thankfully, I was able to stay sober until 17, but then the cycle of my addiction came again.  During this time I found I was pregnant again, but in my selfish addiction I didn’t want to stop using.  I chose to have an abortion instead of getting sober.  It hurts to remember my desire to continue using over the life of my unborn child.

At the age of 19 I found myself three months pregnant, with a daily meth habit.  By God’s grace I was able to stay sober for the rest of my pregnancy as well as for another year after giving birth to my son. At the age of 21, just 8 days after my sons first birthday, my son’s father and I both relapsed.

Within 2 months of our relapse, not only did my sons father and I split up, but we lost both of the children.  From that point on I became hopeless, and only cared about staying as high as I could to forget what I had chosen to do with my life. I became homeless and would stay anywhere that meth was readily available.

Even in this dark hopeless place, God was in control.  He had two other addicts talk to me about him. At the time it seemed useless to me.  Why would I go to church?  Why did I need God?  Look at my life!  Does it look like I cared about this God I didn’t even desire to know?

I continued in my addiction, and was consumed further into the darkness.  In this dark place, I was having paranoid thoughts about demons and things I could not understand.  Praise our Father in Heaven “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”  Romans 8:28.

During those dark times I had no idea about my Savior, but He knew what He was allowing me to do. “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb.”  Psalm 139:13.   Even in my darkest times, God sustained me.

On April 8,2012, Easter Sunday, my life came to a complete halt.  That was the day I contemplated harming people, and harming myself.  At what felt like my breaking point, I was arrested.  I went into jail without fear or remorse.  Quite frankly, I didn’t care.  I couldn’t care.  I was lost and broken, and nothing else could hurt me. I was booked in jail and went into population.  I was in the same pod as a friend of mine. She suggested I read the Bible, but it seemed as though it was just to pass the time.  I took the Bible, but didn’t give it much thought.

Then another girl continually asked me to come to Bible study with her.  She had so much light in her.  Without me even knowing Jesus Christ, I could see something about her was different.  I decided to go with her.  That’s when my life began to change.

I can’t remember the exact day or time, but I remember God pulling me to Him.  I remember reading the Bible and crying, because I realized there was a God, and He loves me!  He has always been there!  I was never alone, even though I thought I was.  I remember Him renewing my spirit.  I remember having hope.  I gave my life to Jesus Christ, and He accepted me and made me new!

I was released from jail 90 days later.  I was a new person, but I was so afraid to leave those walls.  I didn’t know if I could stay sober.  The truth is, I wouldn’t have been able to on my own, but God sustained me.  By His grace, I stayed sober.

I’d like to say after meeting God everything changed and life became easy. I thought after completing 3 months of rehab I would have my kids back and my family would welcome me with open arms.  After staying in the rehab home for roughly a year, I had a steady job, but I still didn’t have my kids or a place to stay.  A Christian woman who had been a mentor to me allowed me to come stay with her and her husband.  My family was still weary of me, although I had been sober over a year.

As I lived with this woman and her husband for several months, I learned and saw so much of Christ’s character.  But my heart still yearned for my family.  My son’s dad and I had chosen to work things out.  God had been working on him as well.  When I was in jail, he had gone to a rehab out of state.  Now we both were sober and we wanted our family back.

After two years sober for us both, we got married in April 2014.  The Lord had a home for us to move in to, and in May of 2014 we got our kids back full time.  After 2 years of not having them, I thought things would be so much harder on them, but it wasn’t.  It’s as though the kids were ready because it was God’s timing.

I can see God wisdom in his timing.  He gave me a heart for my children that I have never had before. He had us wait so long because he wanted me to see my sin, and truly choose to follow His way.  God has redeemed not only me, but my family.  By God’s grace I will never go back to my old life, because He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  I praise and glorify our Lord, Jesus Christ.