Brenda: U-Turn To God

I was raised into an environment full of chaos. I was a witness to sex, drugs, and abuse at a very young age, and then later became a victim of it.

My father played a very big role in abuse towards my mother and me. By the time I was 7, my parents had divorced. Although I love my father, I was happy to be free from his abuse. That happiness quickly faded, and sadness and depression quickly became part of my life. Not only did I lose a father, but I had an absent mother. So much of my childhood was spent with babysitters or other family members that I never got to build the true, mother-daughter relationship that I wanted and needed.

I decided to go live with my father when I was 10. He had remarried and seemed to have changed from his abusive ways. I was so desperately seeking some stability of what a family life should be for me. I was wrong. My father still abused drugs and then he abused me. By this time, I was experimenting a lot with marijuana. This allowed me to mask my pain and escape from my life, not to mention I thought it was the cool thing to do with my friends.

By the time I was 13, my father threw me out of my home and into the streets. I began hanging out with gang members, and most of them were drug dealers. Before I knew it, I was selling drugs for them. I had quickly learned hot to be a survivor of the street life. I’m not proud of the things I did, but at that time, I had no real guidance or stability. I did not have a relationship with God. I knew of a God just because I was told there was one. I did not truly know Him, and my life was full of sin.

By the time I was 15, my life had another big change. My mom found out I was no longer with my dad. SOmehow through the courts, she was awarded custody of me and had me brought to Florida where she resided.

Things were rough for my mother. Five years had passed without really knowing each other, especially throughout the most important years of my life. It also didn’t help that my mother’s boyfriend, who I did not like, was in the picture trying to play the father role. It was because of him that my mother and I argued a lot. This led to a big fight between us one day, and I did the unthinkable; I hit my mother numerous times. The next thing I knew, I’m being thrown out of the house again. This just brought me into a bigger depression in my life. I felt nobody loved me nor wanted me.

I moved in with my boyfriend; living the “adult life.” I began experimenting with acid and rolls. Life in those days was great and full of happiness, or so I thought. Because of my partying ways, I was out of control and even abusive towards my boyfriend. So he left me.

I continued to hide my pain. I just did more drugs and jumped into another relationship. After 4 months of dating, we got married. Things were great at first, as they always are, but I was living a life of lies. I learned I was pregnant. I was so excited to think of being a mom. Finally, I thought, I have something worth living for. I was about to have something I could love that would love me back, even with all of my flaws. That excitement and joy quickly faded away on my 21st birthday, which I spent in the hospital being told by doctors that I had miscarried.

I went deeper into drugs when I lost my twins. I felt as if I was being punished for all the wrong things I had done in the past. I wanted children so badly that I agreed to have the surgery that doctors told me I needed in order to have children. Without a second thought or opinion, I put all my trust into the doctors and had the surgery. This was a big mistake. My surgery went terribly wrong. In the process of my surgery, the doctors cut my bladder extensively, and I was stuck in ICU for a week or two. I went through 6 painful surgeries in 8 months to reconstruct my bladder. Within this span of time, I had a failed marriage, lost my teaching job, quit school and fell into a deep depression that I hid through the numerous painkillers given to me by my doctors. I was only 22 when all of this happened to me.

From that moment until I arrived at Faith Farm, it was just one big roller coaster. I went through a few more relationships, lost some more jobs, and my drug habit got worse. Due to my drug habit, I began to isolate myself from my family and friends. I was so ashamed and embarrassed over what I had become, which was an addict. I could not face my family, and my pride did not allow me to admit I had a problem. I convinced myself, “I got this; I can beat this addiction.” There goes my pride.

My mom tried to help me, but my stubbornness and denial did not allow it. The devil sure did have that stronghold on me. I finally did speak to my mom about getting help, and she introduced me to Faith Farm. At first, I was okay in trying this place because I thought it was just some regular rehab center. Then she mentions it’s a faith-based program. I quickly put the brakes on that conversation. That was completely different from what I had in mind. I did not know just then that this was all in God’s plan for me.

The way my mind worked, I thought I was entering some sort of convent. I mean, I had never even read a Bible before. Now, my mom wants me to go to some faith-based program? It was very easy for me to decline my mom’s offer. The devil did not want me going, and at that moment, he won! Therefore, I continued to do what I always did, get high. About 4 months later while on my way to work, I was high. I don’t know what came over me, but I had enough of the way I was living. It was at that moment I quit my job, called my mom and said, “I’m ready! Let’s do this.”

I never knew much of Jesus or how to build a relationship with Him. I couldn’t forgive myself for all the pain I’ve caused, and I wondered how He could forgive me. I never thought I could experience such joy and freedom as I have experienced here at Faith Farm. The Lord has blessed me in so many ways. He has delivered me from drugs, and He has given me hope and faith, which has allowed me to experience this awesome relationship with Him. And the best blessing; He has given me restoration with my mother and family.

Dustin: U-Turn To God

Prior to coming to Faith Farm, I was at the lowest part of my life. I was incomplete. I was no longer in touch with reality, and I had lost the will to live an honest and clean life. I had burnt the bridges of the ones that I love; the ones that were the most important to me, over and over again. I was so wrapped up in my addiction I didn’t care about anything or anyone else; only my self-gratification.

The sickest thing is that I thought that everything was going to get better. But as we all know, it always gets worse. This is the truest definition of insanity if there ever was one.

I was so focused on myself that I neglected that fact that my 7-year-old son was watching his dad completely self-destruct. It’s a sad thing. As a child, I watched my father do the same; destroy himself.

Addiction has plagued the men in my family for over 3 generations. Recently though, I learned about this generational curse. I learned the only way to break these chains is to grab ahold of Jesus Christ and never let go.

One of the hardest things for me in beating these poor choices that I’ve made is built on self-condemnation for the bad decisions.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is anew creature and all things have passed away, and all things have become new.

I don’t have to be tangled up in that bondage any longer. Jesus went to the cross and took care of that for me. He made me feel worthy again. And it’s an awesome feeling to know that Jesus Christ has my back no matter what. I know that if I keep Jesus number one in my life, all things will fall into place. If I go back to try to take control; put myself before Christ, the inevitable will happen.

This is the most important thing that I have learned: Go through Jesus Christ for all of the decisions that I make for my future. If I couldn’t control my life, and no one else could, what else is left but to trust precious Jesus.

Jesus has changed my life, one hundred percent. When I got here, I was a lost soul looking for help. I had to fully surrender and tell myself to put it in Jesus’ hands. He has taken control of my life, and He has worked miracles.

Ashley: U-Turn to God

The beginning of my journey at Faith Farm started in September 2011. This was, in fact, my second time here at Faith Farm. My first time coming into the program was in January 2007, when the women’s program was in Okeechobee. I left the program after about 4 months, thinking that I had it all figured out. I thought I knew what I was doing. I believed Faith Farm was NOT going to teach me anything else I did not already know. I had developed a relationship with the Lord, and I thought I was ready. So I left.

I managed to stay sober for about 5 or 6 months. Before I knew it, I was back to my old habits again, seemingly worse than ever before. It took a few years, but I finally swallowed my pride and asked to come back to Faith Farm. I was allowed to come back.

This has not been an easy journey. I have grown emotionally. I have grown spiritually. And thanks to our wonderful chefs, I have grown physically! I have had to learn responsibility, organization, and how to cope and deal with every situation. I came to realize that, along with numbing the bad feelings, I numbed the good as well. So, I have had to re-learn many things.

I have learned to pray instead of worry. I have learned to lean on God instead of leaning on man. It has been a process in which I have had to change, and sometimes change hurts. Change makes us uncomfortable. However, with the help of the staff here and my extremely supportive family, the good Lord has gotten me through. I owe a great deal of gratitude to my mother and my grandfather who have refused to give up on me.

I am blessed to have a God who loves me infinitely. Because of Him, I was not only able to come back to Faith Farm, but I stand here as a graduate today. I owe everything I am, everything I have become, and everything I ever will be to the grace of God. I WAS an alcoholic. I WAS a drug addict. With God, I am a conqueror. Now, I HAVE overcome.

Michael: U-Turn To God

I knew first-hand the negative effects and consequences that gripped many generations of my family. It was a curse. Any minor run-ins with the law were alcohol fueled.

After graduating high school, I entered the Army to escape the alcohol and drug-fueled environment. While serving in the military, I was losing more friends back home to overdoses and drug-related crimes than those I was serving within the Army.

After my enlistment, I returned to Long Island and met my wife, whom I’d be married to for over 30 years. Her encouragement and support kept me focused and on track for the better things life had to offer. Together, and with God, we raised 3 healthy children. I knew the importance of keeping my children close to the church family; having values, structure, and discipline. My entire focus was my family. I was able to break the generational curse of substance abuse once and for all.

I was clean and sober for over 30 years, until that dreadful day in 2007 when I had my neck broken and was introduced to pain pills. I took them daily for 3 years, still functioning as a mental health counselor, teaching crisis intervention in 3 HCA area hospitals, running groups, and tasked with supervision of clients.

I was an addict and everyone knew it. I lost my job at Columbia Hosptial in the Pavilion of over 20 years, my 30 years of marriage, the respect and trust of my children, my parents, brothers, and sisters; and the final kicker, not being able to be with my grandchildren.

Now, being alone and far from reality, I picked up my first drink. It was a spiral down to hell. It was like dropping a brick. I was a walking dead man, prisoner within my own mind. DTs, hallucinations, delusions, you name it. I knew, during a brief moment of clarity, that God would be the only one to restore my sanity and my life. I called Faith Farm.

Intake suggested detox, then rehab. After 30 days, I began calling Faith Farm every day. Each day I phoned, he’d say call twice on this day, once on that. I was obedient, and he let me in. Since being at Faith Farm, God has restored my relationship with my family. Restoration of my mind has occurred. The HOly SPirit now resides within my soul. I have a purpose and a God-given plan. I will be a testimony to the brothers just coming over “the bridge.” I will give back that which was freely given to me. I will be loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. His will be done!

Marrion: U-Turn to God

Like many of you, my life has been challenging and my circumstances painful. Because of this, I became very angry with God. I believed God hated me and abandoned me because He did not rescue me from my torment. My dad, the most important person in my life that I should have been able to trust, betrayed my trust in unspeakable ways. As a result, during my developmental years, I was scarred emotionally. This began many years of dysfunctional living. The pain that began in childhood took a huge toll on me well into adulthood.

At this point, I didn’t want anything to do with God. I took control of my life and found ways to survive and numb the unimaginable pain. I wanted to know, where was God in all of this? I have learned that He was right there beside me in torment projecting me and keeping the abuse from being worse than it was. For this, I thank Him.

Here at Faith Farm, I have learned that God gave us free will and that God would not stop my abusers from their bad choices any more than He stopped me from making my bad choices that have harmed others. I have learned that I grieved God by blaming Him for the abuse that I had endured and believe He allowed bad things to happen to me. It made me unhappy to see how sad I had made God by blaming Him; being angry at Him, turning my back on Him, and being self-centered. I thank God that even though I turned my back on Him and hated Him, He did not treat me the way I treated Him. I know God gave me free will, and I am glad I have chosen to no longer live under Satan’s control. I have chosen to quit being angry with God and stop playing the blame game. I have chosen to stop living in the past and giving the past control. I have chosen to give God control of my life. I chose to change.

The process of change was not easy or painless for me. I now know that any discomfort in honestly dealing with the root causes of my pain is far less than the recurring pain that would have continued to torment me if I had not chosen to change. I thank God for being with me and comforting me during the changing process. I thank God that I have not allowed fear to stop me from change as it has in the past.

Before coming to Faith Farm, I had lost all hope of my life ever changing. I was afraid to trust God, but I knew deep in my heart that God was the answer. During my stay at Faith Farm, the most impactful course for me was “The Wounded Heart.” This class helped me to heal, forgive myself, my abusers and most importantly, God. Having to change dorm rooms, drama class and wearing a dress helped me to learn to trust God, and together with Christ challenge my fears with victorious outcomes.

Being placed in leadership as room lead and dispatch lead helped me to learn leadership skills, and most importantly, to overcome my fear of me. I am thankful to God for placing men in my life that helped me to see that not all men are like the men from my past. I thank the staff and my fellow sisters for restoring my trust in Christian people, for your support, teaching, listening, and giving me unconditional love. This made me change my mind about Christians and even become one myself.

Thank you for allowing God to use you in your own special ways to change my life. I thank God that He gave Pappy the vision for Faith Farm; a protected space that God used to help me see who He truly is, and who I truly am in Him. Faith Farm also started me on my path to healing so I can become all that God intended for me to be. I thank God that I learned to follow the example of Christ, who was moved with compassion for sinners. He prayed for them as they nailed Him to the cross. This inspired me to forgive my dad and others who I held resentment towards for the abuse I endure.

 

Holden: U-Turn To God

I was brought up in a somewhat dysfunctional family. My parents divorced when I was about 4-years-old. My sister and I lived with my mother. My mother had her own alcoholic issues. It seemed to be a 24-hour party. I took my first taste of beer when I was 8-years-old. I did not like it. My mom went to rehab when I was around 10-years-old, and I went to live with my aunt in Orlando. My mom came to Orlando to take care of my sister and me.

When my mom got home, I noticed I could take advantage of the situation. I’d tell my mom it was 6:00 pm when it was really 11:00 pm, and then I’d stay out smoking weed all night at friends houses. My mom and aunt saw I was out of control, and I was reunited with my father. I moved in with him in Merritt Island. In 8th grade, I started to get in trouble. I started smoking weed and drinking a lot. This progressed into middle school, and I was introduced to Percocet, Xanax, ecstasy, and cocaine. I was introduced to oxycontin at 15 and started to smoke them regularly. I held down a job at Sears for 2 years while going to an OJT high school program and spending every penny on Oxycontin and ecstasy.

Between the ages of 18 and 25, I’d been to multiple detox, rehab, and halfway houses. I went to rehabs costing from nothing up to $30,000, and nothing seemed to work. After leaving the programs, I got back into drugs faster and harder. I started to shoot pills and heroin, overdosing 3 times where I turned blue in the face, and my skin became pale.

My addiction became a full-time job. So, I started robbing and stealing. I stole from my dad, from my grandmother, from anyone I came in contact with, as well as people I didn’t even know.

The last year before I came to Faith Farm, I was at my lowest. I was spiritually broken.

Katie, my girlfriend of 5 years, and I were getting evicted out of our apartment. We moved to a friend’s house. We were robbing, stealing, conning, and scamming to get money for drugs. The friend’s house, where we were staying, was sold due to foreclosure. Once again, we had to move. We moved into a Motel 6 for 3-months.

In the smoke-filled room of Motel 6, I had an epiphany. The way that Katie and I were living wasn’t right. My addiction wasn’t only bringing me down, it was bringing my family down and the woman I loved. I knew this wasn’t the way God wanted me to live my life. I knew I had to be a man, the leader and the strong one. I had to say, “This is enough.”

While Katie was out of the room, I called my dad to come get me and take me to the hospital for detox. He came, and we went to the hospital and back to the motel. This happened 4 times. The devil was trying to pull me back. I surrendered and went back to the hospital and walked in. I went to detox. Weeks later, I arrived at Faith Farm. I promised myself and Gold I would finish the program, and I would learn as much as I could about God, what he wants me to do and learn about myself.

I’ve had a lot of trials through this program where I wanted to pick up and leave. Instead, I leaned on God and not my own understanding. He has taken care of me and all that I have been worrying about.

In my past rehabs, I thought I was getting what I needed to get and stay clean. But, the one thing they weren’t teaching was who God is and how much He loves us. I came to Faith Farm and noticed God is in the equation. I’ve held on to what I’ve learned in the past rehabs, and when I put God into the equation, it makes sense now. I am worth. God has helped me change. I am a new creation in Christ. The old ‘me’ is dead. I am set free.

Anne: U-Turn to God

Eleven years ago, I drove across the bridge and entered the program for women at the Boynton Beach farm. I had a mixture of feelings going on inside me: anxiousness, relief, fear, depression, and sadness.

I did not know how or why, but as I drove over that bridge, I had an overwhelming sense of peace and calmness. Maybe because I had made the decision to change my ways; or maybe because deep down inside me I knew I had made the right choice to be there.

Another interesting reaction that happened is that I had a sense that I was going to be there a very long time over the required time served. I know now that it was all God’s plans.

The reason I chose Faith Farm was because it was free and I could afford that. I had just gotten two DUI charges within a month. I had to get myself in an inpatient treatment center fast; my focus was to do what was required. I did not care where, just a place I could afford and without a waiting list to get in right away before my next court date. I found Faith Farm. It was free and I would deal with the religious thing later. My focus was getting into the place.

Now remember, I was just avoiding jail and all of that business; and as I have learned about myself, thanks to Faith Farm, I am the queen of manipulation and compliance. I can conform to situations, so this religion thing: “Piece of cake” I thought; “I can handle this. I will do what they say. I will say ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and whatever they throw at me.”

Needless to say, it took about 3 months of compliance, and lo and behold, the Spirit moved greatly in me. Everything that I was learning went from my head and landed miraculously into my heart. I was saved by my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

I graduated from the Eastham Home for Women at Faith Farm and stayed on as a Servant Leadership Student (SLS). After serving as an SLS, I resumed my life as a professional chef and moved up to Chicago, Illinois. I was active in the church. I even hosted a Bible study/cooking demonstration class, which drew a lot of people to the study and many became active members in the church.

I was amazed I could walk along side women who had been Christians; brought up in the church. Time went on in Chicago. I found that being in the food industry was okay. However, the hours and lifestyle were not for me. I was struggling to stay in the food industry because my attitude and outlook on life had changed. I had lost the passion for being a professional chef and restaurant manager. My focus on life had changed.

I wanted to work with women who had problems with drugs and alcohol. I was ready to give back what I had received. I was diligently in prayer and meditation about what my next move in life would be. No doors were opening up in Chicago.

Then, one day I received a call from Faith Farm. They wanted me to help run the Women’s Home in Boynton Beach. It was winter of 1999, and the Women’s Home was going through a transition. I packed all of my furniture and other belongings, moved down to Boynton Beach and lived above the women’s dorm.

As I look back now, God was preparing me for something more with each new transition I was taking on my path of life. I was so proud to be part of the staff at Faith Farm. It was an honor and a privilege to work there, and I treasure the experience I gained by working at Faith Farm. Many of my students still keep in touch with me today.

God knows! He always has the big picture in mind, and my experience working with the ladies was preparing me for what I do today. I am now a social worker at a local medical emergency room. I now help hundreds of people a year and daily take the opportunity to share what the Lord has done for me.

I am proud I went through the program at Faith Farm. I am not ashamed. If by telling my story helps one person, then that’s what it is all about.

The Lord took a self-absorbed, career-oriented, selfish and lost woman who just received her 5th DUI and was facing major time incarcerated; God took a woman who did not believe she had a life-controlling problem due to drugs and alcohol; and transformed her today into a beloved daughter of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.