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Elizabeth finds peace, reunites with her children

Woman and Toddler

Elizabeth had an uneventful childhood until she got mixed up in the wrong crowd in 12th grade. “I was doing good until then,” she said. “Then I started ditching and using drugs. When I was 18, I went to jail.”

A couple years later, Elizabeth got pregnant and stopped using. She had her daughter when she was 20. “I got into a relationship when my daughter was six months old and had two more kids, both boys. So I stayed clean for nine or 10 years.” But when her boys’ father went to jail, Elizabeth started using again and moved on to another relationship. “I was using still in 2018 when I got pregnant. I was discharged from the hospital without my baby. I left without him.”

After her baby was taken from her due to her drug use, he went into foster care for about a month before Elizabeth’s mom was able to get custody. “I went to a program, but everything was moving so slowly,” she said. “I was only getting two hours a week with my son and I felt like I was going crazy. After leaving that program I had to go to the Lighthouse—I tried to run away at the beginning, but I stayed so I could get my baby back.”

Elizabeth arrived last August. “That’s when my whole life changed. After a week or two, everything started speeding up. I got overnight visits with him, and then I got a 60-day stay. It was different. I felt like I was changing. I was still miserable at (the other program) even though I wasn’t using. Now, I was learning who God really was. I had never noticed him before even though he was always in my life. I was always doing things my own way.”

At first the program was intimidating. “I had never read the bible,” she said. “I was so nervous because I didn’t know how. I’ve always heard of God and I know he exists, but I never thought of him in my life. I started to realize that he was always there, walking with me.”

Elizabeth’s youngest son, now 1, joined her at the Lighthouse. “My son is doing so good—he’s learning to walk and talk—he’s just amazing,” she said, adding that she’s reconnected with her other children too. “And I’ve never had overnights with my daughter—she’s been with my mom since she was 3—and we had our first one. She ended up being here for a month! She went home and then came back. And my boys have been able to open up to me. I love it. I’ve reunited with my whole family.”

Elizabeth is graduating from the program this month and is headed into the transitional living program. “I’ll get a job and a place, little by little. If it wasn’t for the Lighthouse, I wouldn’t be able to save this money to move forward,” she said. “My experience here has been great. All the girls here, they are so friendly. If there’s an argument, we pray it out. It’s peaceful, and the staff is so helpful. They are always right there with me, and it feels good to have that. If they see you’re in trouble, they are always there. You don’t have to struggle here.”

A lot of the shame Elizabeth used to feel is dissipating. “I know now that a lot of people have gone through stuff like this,” she said. “I felt so ashamed and unworthy. I felt like the worst mom ever. I didn’t even want to go outside when I first got here. I thought people would judge me. I want to let other girls know that they aren’t the only one. No one is perfect. And if I can do this, anyone can.”

She encouraged others to seek help at the Lighthouse. “They provide for you here, and heal you spiritually,” she said. “That the biggest thing. I never knew it was such a big deal. But now, when we do praise and worship, it feels so good. Sometimes I’m crying and I don’t even know why. It’s because I’m healing. I have the Holy Spirit. I feel so at peace. I love it.”

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