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5 min read

Embracing Life’s Twists & Turns: A Path of Hope in Recovery

Completing the 5-phase Life Recovery program marks the beginning of a life of recovery outside the walls of UGM. Individuals embark on a lifelong pursuit which has many bends and obstacles on the path. Each June, UGM celebrates the commencement of those who have finished our program, becoming contributing members of society. 

Those who are years beyond the program often express that it’s about much more than maintaining sobriety. To flourish, it means giving back and choosing safe environments. 

 

A Troubled Childhood

Growing up without safety or stability left Kristen feeling lonely and powerless. As a homeschooled child, she wasn’t allowed to have friends. “My mom and stepdad were musicians and marijuana growers.” For multiple years, her family traveled across the country on a bus. Suddenly, her stepdad died in a car crash while driving under the influence. 

Kristen2

“That’s when my mom started to want to change,” Kristen said. Her mom chose to leave behind the musician lifestyle to focus on furthering her education. In addition, she enrolled Kristen in public school for the first time at age 12.

By then, Kristen was already experimenting with marijuana, cigarettes, alcohol, partying with older people, and running away from home. And at age 13, Kristen was introduced to meth.

 

 

Reaching Out For Help

By the time she was 25, Kristen had completed 10 treatment programs but hadn’t experienced lasting life change. She had been married twice and lost custody to her daughter Dylynn, continuously falling into the same destructive cycles.

In 2009, she stood on a street corner asking for money. Desperate to change her life, she called UGM Women’s Recovery in Spokane. “They said I needed to have a clean [drug test] before I could come in. You had to call them every single day and show that you were serious…I was determined.” After moving in, Kristen found out she was pregnant.

In previous experiences in church settings, Kristen felt unwelcome. “When I would show up at their church in my goth outfit and all this makeup…I could just feel the judgment. I [thought], ‘Well if that's what Jesus is like, I don't want anything to do with Him.’”

 

“I remember being surrounded by love for the first time. They loved me unconditionally.”

 

She expected a similar response from the staff at UGM, but was met with kindness. “I remember being surrounded by love for the first time…They loved me unconditionally [and provided] good boundaries.”

Still unfamiliar with a loving, safe environment, Kristen moved forward with caution. She feared that she’d be kicked out, either because of her pregnancy, her attitude, or her story. Instead, Kristen said, “They just kept loving on me.”

 

 

New Beginnings

Before arriving at UGM, Kristen's daughter, Dylynn, was already in the custody of Kristen’s mother. And while in Recovery, her daughter Angelina was placed in an open adoption. Since Child Protective Services was involved, Kristen was unable to complete UGM Women’s Recovery.

Kristen

She was connected to a recovery program in Portland, Oregon, where she gave birth to her daughter MercyGrace. Her name symbolizes the difference between God-dependent recovery and the 10 other treatment programs she completed. Kristen completed that program in 14 months. 

Kristen moved back to the Inland Northwest with MercyGrace to be a live-in intern at UGM Women’s Recovery Spokane. While living there for six months, she struggled being in that environment. “I wanted to relapse because it was so uncomfortable to be right in the middle of it all.” She learned to be dependent on the Lord as she found her place and overcame new obstacles.

 

“I wanted to relapse because it was so uncomfortable to be right in the middle of it all.”

 

 

After her internship, Kristen began working at the UGM Women & Children’s Shelter. She continued to navigate her early days of recovery and got married. Her husband was a functioning alcoholic, and eventually, Kristen began drinking with him. This caused her to relapse. 

Kristen became pregnant with their son, Exavier. During his birth, she was given intense pain medication which caused her to relapse. In the months that followed, she was diagnosed with cancer.



 

A Lifesaving Encounter

Kristen and her husband separated for a period of time. She tried to push away her support system, but UGM came alongside Kristen in friendship to offer her comfort and hope in community.

Kristen-on-bridge

Toward the end of her cancer treatments, the couple reconciled, but Kristen had fallen back into old habits of heavily using drugs. Convinced that her situation was hopeless, she made a plan to jump from the Monroe Street bridge.

“My old boss from the UGM Thrift Store was on her way to get coffee on her lunch break, and somehow, she changed her mind and turned around. And here I come, walking down the street. She calls me over and takes me into her office. She calls the [Women & Children’s] Shelter and they’re holding a room for me, and they drive me over there.”

UGM offered her rest and time to plan her next steps. Kristen moved into a recovery home with her family, staying there for the next two years.

 

 

Finding Hope Again

During that time, Kristen was healed of cancer, reminding her that God had plans for her life. “Even though, after all the work I did in recovery, I still messed up, and I was still on the road to take my own life. He still turned around and pursued me.”

 

“After all the work I did in recovery, I still messed up, and I was still on the road to take my own life. He still turned around and pursued me.”

 

 

She maintained sobriety for the next four years and thrived in her role as a UGM Resource Coordinator. Unfortunately, Kristen and her husband ultimately divorced in 2023.

Despite having faced various hardships, she has experienced hope through maintaining connections with those who value recovery and pursuit a relationship with God before all else. "I see others and myself through the eyes of love now instead of the eyes of the world...It's changed everything. There's not anything about me that's the same."  

 

 

Embracing A Changed Life

Kristen’s kids can see the difference in her, watching joy and hope flow from the inside out. “It's crazy now, my son says, ‘You smile all the time mom.’ I'm like, ‘That's just the joy of the Lord because I didn't used to.’” She continues to utilize what UGM’s whole-person approach instilled in her. “When you mess up, you dust yourself off, you repent, and you take the steps to not do that again.”

 

“When you mess up, you dust yourself off, you repent, and you take the steps to not do that again.”

 

Kristen has worked in various roles at UGM and is currently a Processing Manager at the UGM Thrift Stores. “I’ve tried to work in secular places, [but] I soak in whatever is around me…I can fall back into old behaviors so easily.” She knows her limits and values working in a community that will lift her up in truth and grace, while she extends the same grace to others.

Kristen-helping-staff

At the Thrift Stores, she works with program residents who are completing an Employment Training Opportunity. Kristen shared, “The coolest part is to watch them [grow] as you surround them in love and in boundaries…You can see Jesus working in people. Best thing ever.”

 

“UGM has touched every single part of my life in one way or another since 2009.”

 

 

A Path of Hope

This September will mark 15 years since Kristen began her recovery journey. “UGM has touched every single part of my life in one way or another since 2009.” Undergoing trials and facing relapses is a reminder that recovery isn’t linear; the twists and turns are full of hope.

Kristen-at-Thrift-Store

Kristen finds support in the safety of UGM, and ultimately, her savior Jesus Christ. “I’m excited about life and excited to continue to grow…all the pain I went through is not wasted.”

 

Thank you for your partnership in helping individuals like Kristen experience support and guidance when they need it most. Together, we are able to offer a pathway out of addiction and lead others into gratitude. Donate to help support men & women pursuing life change!

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“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

 

 

View the print version of the Summer 2024 Mission News.

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