Amber grew up with her father, a mostly single parent to her and her sister. “My mom was only kind of in the picture,” she said. “She moved around a lot and mostly lived out of the state.”
Even though she said life was “more stable” with her father, they moved into a hotel when she was 14. She had been expelled from high school. When Amber was 15, she got involved in drugs, using meth and marijuana on a daily basis. She hasn’t seen her mother since that time.
“I was hanging around older people while living at the hotel,” she said. “My dad didn’t use drugs, but my mom has a history of drug abuse. I supported my habit by just running with people who did from place to place.”
From 16 to 18, Amber was in and out of juvenile hall. That’s when she started to realize that she had a problem. “I kept breaking laws,” she said. “One day after I got out of juvenile hall, I realized that I had a drug issue and there was no way around it. I was on house arrest and right after I got off of it, I would go and get high. I couldn’t put it down for any reason.
“My dad would always let me come back home, but I just didn’t want to be there,” she said. “I would choose to live with boyfriends and to be homeless on the streets.”
When she was 18, Amber moved in with her boyfriend and his family. “Within three months I got pregnant with my first daughter,” she said. Amber was arrested on a juvenile warrant and they took her to county jail. After 90 days in jail, sober and pregnant, she decided to stay sober when she got out. “I was excited to be a mom.”
The first six months of their daughter Charlotte’s life, all was well. “Then things started to get violent between us,” Amber said. “He continued to use. We got arrested for domestic violence. It became domestic incident after domestic incident.”
In December 2019, Amber relapsed. “I was going through a lot of drama,” she said. “I moved back with my dad—he had finally saved enough to buy a house. I thought the drug use was just for that night, but before I knew it, it took me further than I wanted. I would do meth every three weeks, then every two. Then it was only on the weekends. Next thing I knew, I was back using daily.”
Things got worse when Amber brought her daughter to visit her dad. She ended up spending the night there, and when his probation officer came in the morning, drugs were found. “Because my child was within reach of the drugs, she was removed from my custody,” Amber said. “She went to her aunt and was there over a year.”
During her daughter’s time away, Amber moved back in with her dad. She got sober, but relapsed again after COVID hit. “It was the loneliness and hurt of not having my daughter,” she said. “With COVID, it was the worst time. I went on a three-month drug run before checking myself into Prototypes (a recovery program) in August 2020.
“I couldn’t live without having my daughter. And I knew I couldn’t kick this habit in an outpatient program—there was no accountability.”
While Amber was there, she found out she was pregnant again. “I was in complete denial so I kept it a secret,” she said. “I didn’t let anyone know because I didn’t even have custody of my first child. How could I be pregnant again?”
After a month, Amber decided to go to the doctor where she found out she was actually 27 weeks along. After her second daughter Sailor’s birth, the two went to the Lighthouse. Amber started getting overnight visits with Charlotte, and in March, she joined Amber and her new sister.
“I always went to church on Sundays as a child, but I thought that church was only on a Sunday basis,” Amber said. “I didn’t know what being a follower of Christ was really was until I came to the Lighthouse. The program has taught me that my confidence is in Christ and in Christ alone.”
Amber has seen her 2-year-old developing her faith. “I’m proud that she has Christ in here,” Amber said. “She has been growing spiritually with me here at the program. She loves to pray out loud over dinner. She loves putting her arms up and worshipping while listening to Christian music.”
When Amber is asked about her future, she refers to Proverbs 31: 25: “She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” She plans to become an intern at the Lighthouse and then transfer to the Transitional Living Program with her daughters.
Amber said the Lighthouse staff has been very supportive. “I love them and I’ve learned a lot through them. They show Christ’s love. I came to the program so unsure, and they have helped me with my insecurities. I am thankful that the Lord allowed me to experience the Lighthouse.”