Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Wild Weed Finds a Home In the Garden of God

A year ago at a conference I heard Connie Goncin give her testimony. Connie is part of our church family. I asked her to write it up, because I wanted to publish it. Here it is.

A Wild Weed Finds a Home In the Garden of God

By Connie Goncin

Beauty for Ashes

Isaiah 61:3 To grant those who mourn in Zion, to give them beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.

            God can truly turn our ashes into beauty and give us sustaining grace (power) to overcome all evil, heartache, rejection, sickness, death, addictions and restore our lives as we embark on a lifelong journey with our Redeemer, Jesus. As we surrender our lives to him he will give us a life filled with great joy and supernatural peace that surpasses all our understanding. It has always been his desire to have fellowship with us. In Christ we have a relationship that can’t be measured by our earthly standards. To abide with us for eternity was always his desire.  We are the promise to Jesus, given by the Father.

My story

            I was raised in Monroe, Michigan. I was a twin, with the other being my brother. My parents came from Kentucky and moved to Michigan in the early 60’s for work. I would later find out that I was adopted and the parents that raised me were not my biological parents. I will talk more about this later.

            I was raised in a Baptist home, and began going to church as a baby. When I was 10 the church bus would pick us up at our home. My parents had stopped going to church because they were working a lot. I loved God and loved going to church. I was saved at 11 and water baptized. We were being taught that the rapture was going to happen in 1987 and we had to be ready. I didn’t want to be left, nor did I want to go to hell, so I opted for the altar call and water baptism. I felt I knew of God but never knew him and didn’t pursue after knowing him. I only did what I thought was right. I stopped going to church when I discovered boys and roller skating, which my friends and I did every weekend, for the purpose of seeing the boys.

My first love
            When I was 13 I had a friend over for a sleep-over. She had been experimenting with alcohol. Her parents were working,  gone often, and she was left alone. I wanted to try it so we took my mom and dad’s vodka bottle which was stuck above the refrigerator, mixed drinks, and put water back in the bottle (that old trick) so my parents wouldn’t find out. I knew then that I had found my first love. It was with alcohol, and I was going to make a career of drinking one way or another.

            My drinking accelerated when I started going to parties, and especially when I started driving. I was blacking out, forgetting where I went the night before, driving drunk every weekend, and doing whatever it took to drink. I had a fake ID and when I didn’t have that I would sit outside a party store where someone old enough would pull up and I would get them to buy me beer.  When I was 17 I got arrested for drunk driving. I was at a bar on my prom night. I didn’t go to prom because I felt it was too lame. I wanted to be at a bar drinking and partying. I went to jail and had to call my parents. This let the cat out of the bag about my drinking. but I am sure they suspected it anyways. An addict always feels they can hide their using and that no one knows, but usually everyone knows who or what is in your life. I had to go to court, and basically got a slap on the hand. I knew I was not going to stop drinking.

First Marriage

I then met my first husband. We got married and I moved out. I was 20 years old and I knew I never loved this man. I just wanted to move out to turn up the partying another notch. We would have wild parties. The police were constantly being called on us because we were so loud and disruptive. I was starting to feel sick, and drinking was taking a toll on my health. I wanted to stop or at least slow down, so I would run back to church and hear the song “Just As I Am” and continually get re-saved over and over. I knew God could help me, but I didn’t know I had a friend and deliverer in Jesus who loved me and wanted to have a relationship with me. I always struggled with the thought that if I surrendered and stopped living a wild life, I would be bored or wouldn’t have any fun or lose friends.

Back Home

My husband and I were having problems financially. We were continually fighting about my partying. I was the “wild weed” and always wanted to go out to the clubs and drink, every weekend. We divorced in 1992, and I moved back home to my parents. They welcomed me home, but had no idea what they were in for. It was then that I met a girl who did cocaine. I wanted to try it, and once I did I found my second love.

            I and my new friend were partying like rock stars. My friend’s boyfriend played in a band and we were staying up for four days in a row and crashing for two days. I was in really bad shape. I was messing up at work, not showing up, and they wanted to fire me. On my 25th birthday I was lying in bed depressed and not wanting to live. My parents knew I was on drugs and were trying to convince me to go to rehab. I hit bottom for the first time in my life, and it was painful. I decided it was either die from my lifestyle, or seek help and live.

            I called a rehab unit associated with the University of Michigan and went to Chelsea, Michigan, to a place called The House. It was so serene and peaceful, a house in the woods, which to me looked like a huge log cabin. It was an awesome place where I felt safe. I went through severe withdrawal and stayed at The House for 30 days. They had a chapel and I would go and pray and try to find peace, but was not yet ready to surrender to God. I was going to stay clean but I was not sure how long it would last.

            I got out and in one month I was drinking again, sporadically. I was on antabuse, a pill that would make you deathly sick if you drank. But still I would go on a binge, then get back on this pill. It was insane to think I could control it like this! I tried to hide it from everyone. I went to rehab and everyone thought I was clean, and my old workplace took me back. I was supposed to have gotten my life together.

On my Own

            I moved out of my parents’ home and started working at a bar that a friend owned. I lived above the bar. I could control my drinking and drugs and stay sober, but they were an obsession that continually picked at me. I could not stop thinking about it. I met a drug dealer and started using drugs again. I got arrested for my second drunk driving, which probably saved my life because I was almost 3 times the limit and very close to overdose. I went to court and was put on probation, fined, and had to go to counseling for a year. But all this didn’t deter me from using. I continued drinking, and drugs were always on my mind. I wanted so bad to be done with it all but couldn’t do it in my own strength.  I had not yet realized I could not save myself from this destructive life.

Second Husband

            I met my second husband and we started dating. We met in a bar (go figure). He had just came to the states, having migrated from Europe. He was exciting and good looking to me, dressed better than me, had hair longer than mine and I loved that. He spoke with an accent and we had trouble communicating at first. We moved in together and had our first daughter. But then he became controlling, and we fought all the time. I was that wild weed that could not be controlled. I was always very independent and he just couldn’t deal with it. He would often go out without me, and I was under tremendous stress. I wanted our family to work so I sought refuge because I wanted my daughter to know God. A friend had been inviting me to Stewart Road Church of God. She said it was amazing, and she knew my life was up and down. It took me a few years but I and my daughter decided to go. What the heck - let’s see what it is all about!

            I and my daughter walked into the lobby and I felt something hit me. I never felt this before. Could it be the Holy Spirit? It nearly knocked me over! In the sanctuary, everyone was holding their hands up worshiping. I had never seen this before; the music was amazing, with the instruments and a choir. I love music, it’s a passion of mine, so I was drawn into it. I loved the open worship and started attending regularly. My drinking slowed down to only occasionally. I was happy. One Sunday the pastor called people forward who wanted a new beginning. It was spring time and my friend had been talking to me about people falling, or being slain in the spirit. I thought it was fake, so I went. I could feel the intense presence of the Lord around the pastor. When he got to me, he didn’t even lay hands on me and I went down and lay there for what seemed to be hours. Church went until 2 in the afternoon. Wow! Shortly after this I was given the gift of praying in tongues.

Me and my ex-husband were fighting about which faith to raise our kids in. He felt I was in a cult and didn’t want our children going to that church. He was raised Orthodox and, with all the pressure, I started drinking again. It was my old friend and escape.


I and my ex decided to take a trip to his country to meet his family and maybe re-spark something in us. To travel out of country I needed a birth certificate to obtain my passport. I never in my life had a birth certificate. Some people wondered how I went to school, got married, and obtained a driver’s license without one. My explanation was that things were not as strict pre-911.  I simply used a biblical certificate I got as a school child; I even used it to get my driver's license. Once I turned 16 and had my license I got everything else.

My parents told me and my brother that my mom went into labor on our way down south to their home town, and that we were born in Mansfield, Ohio. So I went on an internet search to find a record of my birth. I couldn’t find me or my brother; they had no record of us being born there. I started asking parents and family members, “Are you sure its Mansfield, because Ohio has hundreds of little towns?” I was getting nervous that I wouldn’t be able to go on my trip to Europe.

 After almost a year of searching one of my aunts confessed to me that my mother couldn’t have children, and that I and my brother were adopted. Needless to say, this was the biggest shock of my life! How could no one ever tell us? I was now 35 years old!

My parents flew me to Florida to talk with me about it. They explained that they wanted to tell us, but the time just went by. They were afraid I would rebel as a teen and say things like “You’re not my real parents!” Probably they were right. They explained that my real mom grew up near my mother and father. She was the girl on the street you didn’t hang around, a wild weed! 

Her name was Iris. Iris never knew that her father and her mother never wanted her. She lived with her grandparents. She was married and had two children, who the father took from her probably due to wild living. Rumors had it that she could have possibly been on drugs and alcohol. 

After she gave birth to me my brother we was born prematurely. He had to stay in the hospital for a while. We were both shipped off to foster parents until we were healthy to go and live with my parents.

My real mom (Iris) met my parents in a Kroger parking lot, and my brother and I were traded for bus fare. Iris then went to Cleveland, and when I was 7 years old she was found murdered. It was like a dream to me. I went through an identity crisis -  “Who am I”? I knew that I may have inherited the substance abuse problem from her but I felt sad that I never knew her, nor would I ever know her! This took several years to get over. I now believe God was in control, because it was a miracle that we never found out. I was never mad at my parents for not telling me, but I felt so weird about it.

I ended up meeting my first two children from her first marriage. Her son knew very little of Iris - he was about two when she was taken from them. He had pictures of my mom. We all resembled her, with her strong facial features. He took me to the grave site where she was buried. The strange thing was that she was buried in a cemetery that I,  as a kid, would spend summers riding my bike through. My real mom was buried there and I probably rode right by her. I have since come to terms with it all. My parents who raised me gave me the best life they were capable of giving me.

My second daughter Ivana was born in the year 2,000, the same year me and my ex got married. We had both the girls baptized in the Orthodox Church, and started attending regularly. I loved it because I could drink at all the get Orthodox celebrations, which were many. Because I could combine drinking and God (as sick as that sounds) I was in. During this time my ex was very controlling and had to make all of the decisions without involving me. As I speak about my life with my ex it is not my intention to paint a picture of a battered wife, for I take full responsibility for my actions and wrong choices. There were great cultural differences that created stress on our marriage.

We started fighting more and living separate lives. The pressure was so intense. I knew I should not be drinking and felt I needed to go back to my church, but I was slipping further into darkness. I wanted to be a good wife and raise our children together. He was going out regularly without me and I was miserable. I saw that in his country the men could do what they wanted and the women were expected to submit. This was very difficult for me because I was that wild weed that didn’t want to submit to him, God, or anyone. I was always independent. But now I was under submission.

Mila, my third daughter, was born in 2007. This was difficult for me because of my age, 40. I felt I trapped, and thought of leaving my ex. I was miserable, but have never regretted having Mila. She was truly a gift from God to me.  She was part of God’s saving grace and mercy toward me. I was feeling so alone and so abandoned. It was hard to see my husband get dressed up, go out for the night, and possibly not come home. I just wanted a husband to rub my back and feet. At the age I was, it was hard being pregnant. I was on maternity leave from work, so I was just sitting home. Which was never easy for me.

The Wild Weed

I met a girl at work after Mila was born. I knew her as the “party girl”. I started working in her area. She was also having marital problems. We started hanging out. She didn’t have a license so I started picking her up in the morning. We had dealers at work give us drugs, and life again became a big party. She and drugs consumed me.

I began spending all my time with her. I felt she understood what I was going through at home. We became an item, and everyone at work connected us together. I couldn’t go two hours without drinking or I would get sick. I was coming home and just lying in bed wasted, neglecting my children.

The more guilt I felt, the more I used. My parents were hearing from my children about what was going on, and threatened to take my them if I didn’t get help. So I entered an Intensive outpatient program in Toledo, Ohio. I still went to work and, four days a week, went to rehab in the evening. I continued to party. I only did it to get my mother off my back. They would give me a pee test and drugs would show up, and they threaten to kick me out. The only requirement was to stay sober, completely. I stopped for three weeks without a detox program. I was so sick and miserable. I felt depressed, guilty, and sick all at the same time. I truly wanted to die. I finished the rehab and went right back to where I left off.

I hated my ex, who was going out without me. I heard rumors of affairs. He admitted he was having an affair. I was not innocent either, but when you are under the influence you can’t see wrong in yourself, only everyone else.

I caught my friend with my husband and truly wanted to die. The two people I most loved in the world betrayed me. It was the worst pain I ever felt in my life. Was this life? Where was God? I thought he loved me? I hit bottom and was going to commit suicide. I overdosed on drugs and alcohol and ended up in a hospital trauma unit, barely hanging on. My blood level was almost 3 times the limit, a level where people can die. They pumped my stomach and I woke up in the psychiatric ward. I have never felt so alone, but I still knew I wasn’t going to stop using. Soon I was back at it, one week later. 

I moved out of the house in 2009 and we got a divorce. Ultimately, I can't blame my friend or my ex for any of this since I was such a mess myself. Now I can only ask for God's forgiveness for any harm I brought on them, and pray for them.

Life after Divorce

In 2010 I was getting in trouble at work, leaving during work and not coming back. I couldn’t get fired; after all I worked at a large factory and knew I was blessed, even if I didn’t really care about the consequences. I was under the influence even on my job. The parking lot at lunch was a party place. We knew how much time we had to get to the nearest party store, drink, do drugs, and get back on the line. We had it down to a science.  

I hit bottom again and checked myself into an in-house rehab center. I was in such bad shape that when I got to rehab I sat down in the lobby to fill out papers and passed out, face forward, on the floor. They called an ambulance and I went to the nearest hospital. They were not taking any chances. My blood level was again almost 3 times the limit.

I stayed at the rehab for two weeks and went through detox, which was the worst I ever had. I survived death once again. This time I felt I was given another chance, so I was going to stay sober. I planned to take antabuse to keep from drinking. This is a pill that makes you deathly sick if you drink. It keeps the toxins in your body. Our bodies have a natural toxin breakdown in our livers, and the pill stops that and you get pure toxins in your body if you drink.

I wanted to fill the time I had, while sober, with activities. I joined a softball team, and when I didn’t have the girls I was going to play ball. I was setting myself up, I think intentionally. Softball is a drinking activity. Most bars sponsor teams and encourage you to wear their shirts and come into their bars after the games.  So I started drinking again. The pull was intense and it consumed me. I started drinking before, during, and after the games.

Then I called a drug dealer. One night I was on my way to the drug house when I blacked out, ran a red light, and crashed into a car. I wrecked my brand new car that my dad co-signed for. This was insane behavior, since I had to be to work at 5 AM and I was going to drive 50 miles for the pickup. The police came, and I went to jail for drinking and driving. But this time it was different. I caused an accident. Thank the Lord there wasn’t anyone hurt.

During the time I was awaiting sentencing I ran back to God, I was really scared that I was going to get time in jail, now having 3 drunk drivings and an accident. At church the pastor preached on the sermon when Peter got placed in jail and the angels came and set him free. Little did I know this was a prelude to my life. God was setting me up!

Even though I was facing jail I continued to drink and use drugs. I couldn’t abstain because the pain of my divorce and betrayal of my friend hurt so deep that I didn’t want to live. So I numbed myself, despite what I was facing.

I went to court and the judge was not happy with me, the mess I had caused, and trouble I created, not to mention a record of repeated offences. He sentenced me to 93 days in jail. I was shocked even though I had a feeling I was going to get some jail time. He gave me the maximum. He said, “You have not learned your lesson.” I will never forget this day all of my life.

I was in shock. I was going to lose my job at the factory after working there for 15 years. And I might possibly lose my children, my house, and my car.

Jail was a scary place, but I am street smart and was able to blend in with the girls. I was a hot mess, cussing to the girls about the angry judge and blaming him. I lay in bed and, after the shock wore off, I told God “I deserve to be here. I messed up and I could have killed someone, including myself.”

I got a Bible from the library because I knew I needed God. I needed something stronger than me. A girl suggested to me that I write the judge a letter of mercy, explaining that I have a good job, I’m an addict, and would go to rehab or do anything to keep my job. I wrote it and gave it to this girl who was getting out. She tried mailing it but had trouble, and instead hand delivered it to the judge’s office. I feel this was God’s plan. He was still in control and always had been. I just didn’t know it yet.

Angel Setting Me Free

After 10 days they took us girls on the roof for air. It was an open space, and a woman guard came, called my name, saying “Goncin you need to go to court.” Court? What else did I do!? You don’t get sentenced and go back?

In the court room my lawyer was waiting for me. My feet and hands were shackled. My lawyer said that the judge had reviewed my letter and was letting me out!! I was so excited! I looked and saw my mother in the court room, very happy. I must have looked terrible, and it must have been terrible for her to see me shackled. The judge said the court had reviewed my letter and he was letting me out on a PR (personal recognizance bond). I had to do everything the courts wanted, or else return to jail and do 93 days.

I was set free. God had sent the angel, just like Peter. I didn’t realize it then that the message I heard at church was soon to happen in my life. It was a miracle. I had been given another chance. I went back to my cell to pack up my stuff and shared with the girls what happened, and they all ran for paper and pencils. They wanted to know what I said. I simply gave glory to God and said, “It was not me, but God who gave me another chance.”

Walking the line

I had to walk the line and do everything the courts wanted me to do. I had to blow in a breathalyzer twice day, attend Alcoholics Anonymous three times a week, and enroll in outpatient and aftercare for a year. I could not miss one time or I would be sent back to jail. This was an intense time for me. I had to keep a calendar and, for once in my life,  organize my time. I never had a calendar before, but I was not going back to jail! I had to stay sober now. I had no choice. If I went back to jail, I would lose everything.

Day of the Holy Spirit Revival

I soon started feeling those painful memories that were numbed by drugs and alcohol, memories of my divorce and the betrayal by my friend. I was depressed. I felt I let everyone down. My children didn’t want to be with me, my family was tired of my stuff, and my work was watching to see what I was going to do. I felt alone and so unhappy. Was this what life was? Was I going to feel this way my whole life?

I remember lying in the bed when I wasn’t at meetings, too ashamed to face my family, and wanting to be alone. One day I was flipping through the channels. I came across a revival on God TV. An evangelist, Nathan Morris, was giving a powerful sermon, and I was drawn to watch. It was worship like I had never seen. I loved music, and God was drawing me to him. I found out that it came on every weekend, and I couldn’t wait for the weekend so I could watch. The Lord was moving on my heart and awakening me.

Work and Sobriety

My routine at work had to change because it had consisted of spending time in the parking lot getting high with my friend and staying high. I couldn’t go out to the parking lot any more, so I got a book by Joel Osteen called “Your Best Life Now.” On my breaks I would go to a corner alone and read.

I loved books so much. Osteen’s book talked about how bad things happen to us and yet we know that God has a plan for our life. This was speaking to me. I was feeling depressed but knew I had to stay sober. I would start praying in the morning and asking God to help me stay sober.

I would call a friend who was supportive of me and talk to them on the phone until I got home, because my car would automatically go to a 7-11 for beer. I would then lie down at night and thank God for helping me stay sober that day. It was minute-by-minute for me. I had many cravings. The first few months were the toughest. I was still alone and hurting beyond what anyone could explain. I would cry a lot, and lie in the bathroom in the fetal position. I started reading psalms and God was speaking to me. I could relate to David. He did a lot of bad things and God still loved him. I could feel his pain.

Redeemer Fellowship

My friends, who attended Redeemer Fellowship church, wanted me to come and check out their church. They knew, for many years, the kind of life I was leading. I once attended Redeemer with my ex because he cleaned their carpets and we were invited. I thought everyone there was crazy, with worship flags everywhere and some people worshiping barefoot. I thought , “Where is the pastor?” The pastor didn’t preach that Sunday because he just went into worship which, I did not know, was being led by the Holy Spirit and not the pastor. I didn’t recognize him because he just blended into the crowd. This was so different to me! So I decided to try it out again.

Treasures in Darkness

I went to Redeemer and was a little nervous. I felt like the roof was going to cave in on me; since I felt like worst human being that ever lived. I sat next to a couple who are well-known in the church. They were very friendly and welcomed me to Redeemer. Worship started and, wow, this was amazing, even different than my last church! I loved it! Then the man bent over and gave me the first prophetic word I ever received. He said I see a dark cave and, buried just in the door way, was a pile of treasures that have been buried in the darkness. I didn’t have a clue what he was talking about, but would find out a few years later that God was telling me that treasures were hidden in me would start to be pulled out of me and used for his Glory. This prophetic word was an introduction to the gift of prophecy that would truly keep me going on my journey to freedom.

I decided to give God a chance. I really had nothing to lose. The people I had loved were taken from me. So, I would try God.


Psalm 91:14 - Because he has set his love upon me, therefore I will deliver him. I will protect him because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.

From that moment of surrender to him God began a journey of healing and deliverance. The Lord started speaking to me. He prompted me to start a yearlong fast. I would fast once a month for a week, a “Daniel fast” that consisted of no meat, no sweets or pop (which was a tough one for me), and limited coffee (another tough one). God would tell me what day to start on. The first time he said “Start on January 12th”. I said to God, “If I am really hearing this, the please confirm it.”

While at work I got sent to a job on the other side of the plant, Line 12. I was amazed that God did this and, even more amazing, is that I could talk with God and he would answer back. I was willing to be obedient, so I made a vow to God but I hoped it didn’t fall on a holiday. God was detoxing me physically and spiritually, because once a month he would take something out of me. I knew nothing about deliverance. I was like an onion peel. God was peeling away at me, one layer at a time. God is amazing to me; his ways are perfect!


The Lord also prompted me to do communion in the morning This lasted a year. I did it, even if I didn’t have bread. I used tortilla chips or whatever I had. Not to make joke, but I was determined to be obedient to God. As I did I would see the Lord carrying his cross. I would cry and tell the Lord, “I deserve that punishment,” and ask for forgiveness. I would weep. I would cry out and tell him he was innocent and how could they do that to him, even though I knew it was the Father’s plan for us.

The Beautiful Exchange

Some sat in the darkness and In the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons, for they had rebelled against the words of God 
and spurned the counsel of the most high. 

So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down with none to help. 

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress he brought then out of darkness and the shadow of death and burst their bods apart. 

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Ps. 107:10-16

I was struggling with work, home, and staying sober. I needed more strength. I could barely make it through the day. So I started getting up before work earlier and would put worship music on, which my friends gave me. I would read the Bible. I always loved the Word; I just didn’t understand it a lot of it. Something inside me was happening. I started to understand it, and it was coming alive to me. I would just weep over things Jesus would say like, “I am the living water,” and “I am the light.” I started in the book of John; it was so amazing to me! I started writing, in a journal, the words God would speak to me. I still have every word the Lord spoke to me, and they are worth everything to me.

Joel Osteen was talking about declaring who we are to God, so I started standing in the mirror and declaring who I was in Christ. I told the devil, “I don’t belong to you anymore!” I would write down scriptures and speak them throughout the day. I would say, “I am loved by God and I am more than a conqueror!” I also started to listen to worship music all day, through headphones at work. My life became consumed by God. The more I came out of the darkness that I was in the more I began to see God’s face.

            I started waking up in the morning singing a worship song. Later I discovered a scripture that says God sings songs of deliverance over us. I was officially a song bird, because I now I was now singing all day to myself. God would get me on a song and I would listen to it and sing it for weeks.

I was introduced to the International House of Prayer, who for years has been doing 24/7 prayer and worship. This was new worship for me and I loved it. I would eventually go to IHOP and attend their annual OneThing conference on New Year’s weekend. One song that was life changing for me was by Misty Edwards: “Turn It All Around.” In the song God spoke to me through these words: “I am going to turn it all around, just you wait and see. I am going to make everything beautiful just in time. Just don’t give up”. The song was amazing. I would weep while listening to it. I bet I listened  to it 500 times.

God was relentless and didn’t give up in his pursuit of me. I was learning how to receive his love and give love back. It was a beautiful exchange.

Water Baptism

I was baptized when I was a little girl. I never really knew what it meant, nor did I think it was anything special. But I just knew it was something I had to do. In February of 2011 God started prompting me to be baptized again, so I decided I would do it. It was an amazing day! I stood in front of the church and said I was the prodigal returning to God after many years, and I wanted to be baptized.

Afterwards they took me to the back room for prophetic words and prayer. They told me I should stay close to the anointing and God. So I and my friends would become revival junkies.

We went to many revivals that year. There was “Furious Love,” Randy Clark, and Ravi from India. We would travel to revivals out of state. I was starting to feel The Presence and wanted to stay in it. I spent a lot of time on the floor and at the altar, crying out to God. I still was hurting inside but I pressed on. Now I was not looking back, not wanting to return to the hell I was in. I had to keep my eyes on my Savior.

Back to School

I then decided that I was going to return to school to finish a degree I never finished. At first I wanted to study theology, but God had me shift to Substance Abuse Counselor. I continued to do everything the courts asked me to do, and take my classes online. Eventually my girls came to live with me full-time They had to change schools but they wanted to be with me, I was a new person.

The Second Year

My life was getting better. I was growing in the Lord and my children where seeing changes. I started bringing them to church. At first they would laugh at the open worship. Pastor would be preaching and they would raise their hands up and laugh, but eventually they grew to love Redeemer and would make friends. Today my middle girl helps with the little kids.

God started speaking to me about releasing those who hurt me, and forgiving them. I actually had to pray out loud “I release them from the debt they owe me!” I also had to forgive myself. I had to pray for my enemies. A new-found freedom started to come. I started feeling joy and peace that is only of God. I began a new season of healing and restoration that would spill over into my children.

God was also speaking to me about smoking, I was still smoking and trying on my own to stop. I felt so guilty and horrible leaving church and lighting up. I tried for 5 weeks only to fail. One day I was watching Mike Bickle speak on a video. He talked about freedom, and how many people can’t get free because they don’t ask for forgiveness first. When we ask for forgiveness God releases Grace to us. A light bulb went on! I got on my knees and asked forgiveness for becoming addicted to nicotine. The Lord took it from me in that moment, and I have been free of smoking for 3 years now.

God was restoring everything! The tree outside my house looked like a Charlie brown tree when I moved in. Now it is the biggest tree on the block! I am going to have to trim it soon. I have a pink rose bush growing that I never knew I had. God is restoring me, my children, my finances, my work, and even the outside of my house. He is rescuing us! We are experiencing joy, peace that is supernatural! And, he has given me a church family and many friends.

God of Restoration

 He truly is the God of restoration. It came with a price which was: surrender to HimimH every day. During the first year, and even now, I didn’t watch TV at all. TV reminded me of the life I had been living. I couldn’t bare it. I still struggle, but I press in to God. This is the narrow road that is difficult but so worth it.

God is worth it, and I hardly make a decision without praying and seeking God. He is wisdom and he waits for us! He just wants honesty, and for us to bear our hearts and struggles with him. He will do what we can’t do.

There is hope for all who have lost hope. To those who suffer with addictions of all sorts, there is hope for you and for your friends and family members who are suffering. Keep praying and don’t give up on them. My family and friends never gave up on me. Love came down and rescued me! I am living for Christ today with his help and saving Grace.

 My Goal, my focus, my one desire is what Paul preached in Galatians 2:20: I have been crucified with Christ; It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.

Romans 12:1  I appeal to you therefore brothers by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.