About Me

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Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas, United States
I'm mom to 3 beautiful children, wife to a wonderful man who is the love of my life and grandmother, "Nonna", to a beautiful grandson. Like too many others out there, I am the mother of an addict. I am still learning to deal with things in a healthy way and have a life inspite of the insanity that addiction produces. I am very blessed to have found this community of amazing people that share so much of themselves with us all through their blogs. You are all an inspiration to me. I share your struggles, your pain, your joys and all your hopes. I pray for the addicts still out there suffering and for the people that love them the most. My heart felt thanks to each & every one of you! May God's mercy and grace be with us all, Kristi

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Victory Life Ministries - "Outcry In The Barrio"

Two summers ago, my brother, my niece and myself, had stopped at a Wal-Mart in South Texas on our way to visit Jake during his 8 month stay at the ranch. As we were walking through the parking lot on our way back to the car we were approached by a young man selling candy to raise money for a ministry he was part of, Victory Life Ministries. He handed us a pamphlet entitled “Outcry in the Barrio,” and began to tell us his tragic story of addiction and his recovery through this wonderful ministry. I stood there nailed to the street, listening to his story. I told him that God works in mysterious ways because we were currently on our way to visit my son who was in treatment for addiction. The young man set his bin on the ground, took out pen and paper and asked for my son’s name. He said that the ministry would pray for Jacob that night. We thanked the young man, wished him continued luck in his recovery and bought a bunch of his candy!

This past Memorial weekend I was shopping with my mom, my daughter, best friend of 30 years, Diane and again, my niece. We had just stepped outside into the grueling Texas heat (triple digits that day!), when a man approached, carrying a bin containing baked goods, “Good afternoon ladies, I’m part of a ministry…” A huge smile broke across my face as I knew before the words were out of his mouth, what ministry he was with. As he said the words, Outcry in the Barrio, and handed us the very familiar pamphlets, I just smiled and told him that I was very familiar with this ministry and I told him about my first encounter with them. He began talking to us about the incredible healing power of God. His story was very powerful and evokes hope in even the darkest of situations. He said that he had been shot 3 different times and “the good Lord saw fit to bring me through it each time.” He had been stabbed several times in the back with an ice pick by his brother; again, the Lord saw fit to bring him through it. He said that he was addicted to crack and heroine, drank a lot and smoked weed. One day he said he was on a street corner when he just walked out into the middle of an intersection, in the pouring rain, got down on his knees and cried. He cried out to God to deliver him from the drugs and life he was living. He said he pleaded with God telling Him he couldn’t go on that way anymore. He pleaded with God to either deliver him from his life of addiction or to take him then, out of this world. He said the next thing he knew there was a woman in the street, patting him and telling him that he was okay. He said he told her, “No, I’m not, I can’t do the drugs anymore.” He was 36 years old when this happened and he has been clean for 10 years now ~ Praise God!!
      I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. -Philippians 4:13
Just like before, the man took out pen and paper, wrote down Jacob’s name (said his name was easy to remember because it was his brother’s name also) and said that the ministry would be praying for Jacob. All things to the greater glory of God!

Twice now, in two different cities, 100’s of miles apart,, I've had the good fortune of crossing paths with people from this ministry. No one that I have asked (in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex) has heard of this ministry, nor have any ever encountered someone from it. I believe it’s a God thing…..angels among us!!

I read this book a couple of years ago and would encourage others to read it too! Jacob read it before I did and passed it along to me. This book, “Outcry in the Barrio,” can be ordered free of charge from this website:
This book is the true story and powerful testament to what happens when we let God be the Father He wants to be to us. As mere humans, we forget sometimes that God controls situations far better than we could ever hope to.

Pastor Freddie Garcia, founder of Victory Fellowship in San Antonio, Texas, was known for accepting the very people others gave up on. A former drug addict himself, Pastor Garcia approached broken lives with humility and determination. Pastor Freddie, at the age of 71, left this world and went home this past October 2009. He was an incredible man and disciple of Christ. His ministry lives on. He will be missed.

This is a news article that was written about Pastor Freddie at the time of his death:

Freddie Garcia wasn't a 9-to-5 preacher who left his work at the church.

A reformed drug addict, he was a minister 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Garcia, who died Friday, invited drug addicts into his home and eventually built a nationally acclaimed faith-based ministry that helped untold numbers of addicts kick their drug habits — just as he had.

Victory Outreach ministry, which he and his wife, Ninfa, launched in 1970, became so successful that in 1990, President George H.W. Bush gave him a national Achievement Against the Odds award at the White House.

Some 15 years later, Garcia opened a modern, $3.6 million drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, New Victory Fellowship, at Castroville Road and Southwest 39th Street.

Garcia, 71, died at a local hospital. He'd been on kidney dialysis for nine years, said attorney Luis Vera Jr., who'd known Garcia more than 20 years.

Garcia's best-selling book, “Outcry in the Barrio,” detailed his life story and influenced many young drug addicts to seek help.

“Any church leader around here, or the country, who helps addicts or alcoholics got their training or inspiration from Freddie,” Vera said.

“Freddie did not believe in methadone as a treatment for heroin addicts,” he added. “He believed that spiritual healing was the key, and that is why his program was so successful.”

Vera said Garcia was used to “having families drop off their husband, wife, sons or daughters at all hours of the day or night” at the West Side facility because they just couldn't deal with the addicts anymore.

Born in 1938, he met Ninfa in 1963. The couple lived on the streets, and Garcia was an addict. “I went through a lot of treatment programs but didn't find an answer,” he often said. “They were dealing with the branches of the problem. They weren't dealing with the root, which is sin.”

After turning to religion at Teen Challenge in Los Angeles in 1967, Garcia married Ninfa and attended the Latin American Bible Institute in La Puente, Calif., graduating in 1970.

He then returned to San Antonio determined to help drug addicts in the barrio change their lives. His ministry was modeled after that of Teen Challenge.

The Garcias invited addicts into their little home on North San Eduardo Street, a half-block south of Culebra Avenue.

The couple became parents, teachers and mentors, encouraging addicts to accept religion and take responsibility for their lives.

When more addicts came, Garcia enlarged their little house. A visitor late at night often could find guests sleeping on couches, dining room benches, beds and floors — wherever there was room for a tired body to rest.

Years later, after his ministry's success was nationally recognized, “Pastor Freddie,” as he was known, said he couldn't believe that he, an ex-junkie, was walking on the front lawn of the White House as a guest of the president.

But he gave God all the credit and opened his arms and his home to thousands who came asking for the same change in their lives. “I never ask them if they're here to change. I just take them in because I know what God's going to do,” he told the San Antonio Express-News in 2002. “Nobody makes them stay. If they stay it’s because they want to change their lives.” He gave them the Bible, fatherly discipline and love.

“I thank God for Freddie. To this day, he lives a surrendered life,” said Jaime Mata, an ex-addict who was changed through Garcia's ministry and then joined him in ministering to addicts. “Freddie has no care for himself. It's all about other people. He's a relentless teacher of the truth.”

Mata said Garcia's ministry enables drug addicts to be sheltered and protected from outside distractions during the time it takes them to kick their habits and develop a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Garcia said he didn't push any of his children to continue his ministry, believing it must be a call from God. His youngest son, Jubal, heard the call at age 18 and began training to assist in his father's ministry and eventually succeed him.

“A lot of preachers were never there for their kids; their ministries were more important. But I never experienced anything like that,” Jubal Garcia said in 2002.

          And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." - Matthew 19:26

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Flower Child and the Gangsta!!

A little something light hearted for a beautiful Friday afternoon!!  Today I am happy to have a funny little story to tell….which is nice for a change!!

I sent this picture of Eli, our 7 month old, to some friends & family today. Included in the email were my son Jake and his girlfriend, Cathy….

Just minutes later Jake send me an email reply to the picture above. Here was his reply:

“Eli is soooo cute, but Ryan is Gangsta!!!”

I laughed for 30 minutes!!! Ryan is Jake & Cathy’s baby and my beautiful grandson!!  Jake has always had such a wonderful sense of humor….it makes my heart so happy that he still has it!! 

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Memorial Weekend

I had a great Memorial weekend!  Diane, my best friend of 30 years came up from the Austin area along with her husband and son (who is also my God son).  Our niece (mine and hers) graduated from high school Friday night.  We all went to the graduation and then to dinner and had a really nice time together.  Diane and I don’t get to see each other as often as we used to, so I really look forward to the times we’re able to spend together.  Diane is Jacob’s Godmother and as close to a sister as I will ever know.  I am very blessed to have her in my life!!  She is the most together, rational, even-keeled person I have ever known.  She has always been there for me.  She loves Jacob dearly.  He too is fortunate.

Years ago I began to hold my breath whenever a holiday was upon us, no matter how big or small, holiday’s usually meant something was on the horizon and it usually wasn’t a good thing.  Not that addicts need any excuse or reason to use, but there just seems to be something about holidays that seems to trigger crazier than usual occurrences.  I’m happy to be able to report that Jacob didn’t find any new trouble and he stayed clean (over 5 months and counting, this time).  But this isn’t to say that it was a non-eventful holiday weekend. 
Saturday I received a call from an old childhood friend of Jacob’s (who I’ll refer to as P), who touches base with me a few time a year.  He called to let me know about a tragedy that had occurred earlier that morning.  

There’s another young man (who I’ll refer to as T) that Jake goes back to childhood with.  I have pictures of the two of them with fishing poles and caught fish in hand.  This was back when they were just silly little boys doing what silly little boys do.  As they reached the teen years they became a combustible combination.  Alone, each found plenty of trouble; together they were a train wreck for trouble.  Both Jake and T ended up with drug problems as well as legal problems.  Jacob spent a little more than the first 2 months of this year in county jail along with T, for a crime they were both charged with.  Jacob swears to this day that he had nothing to do with that crime….I believe him, following a brief investigation, his attorney also believed him (I go more into this drama in later post).  

T was shot in the back of the neck by another young man he had been arguing with at some residence they were both at.  He just turned 20, two weeks earlier.  What a senseless tragedy. 

One young woman, who’s part of this group of kids that have grown up together, partied together, gotten in trouble together….posted on her facebook:  “Death after death after death – when will it stop?”  They seriously just don’t get it and it just leaves me shaking my head and totally dumbfounded.

I’ve really worried about how Jacob would deal or not deal with this loss, since his normal mode of operation is just not to deal with anything painful.  Normally, this would be a huge trigger and he would totally check out.  To date, so far, so good….he was very emotional, upset and angry when he found out about T’s death.  His girlfriend told me that as long as he stayed busy he seemed to do okay.  But that if someone called asking if he’d heard anything else or if he sat around with nothing to occupy him, he would get all wound up again.  Jacob, his girlfriend and their baby (my grandson) came over and hung out with all of us on Sunday night…he looked good and he had a really nice time being with family and good friends.  

Please keep Jacob in your prayers that he continues to deal with this tragedy in a responsible and healthy manner.  Also, please remember in prayer T’s mother….she has one son in and out of prison and yesterday she laid her youngest to rest.  One tragedy after another….my heart just stays in pieces…..

Back Where It All Began...Part III of III

Like many of you out there, I looked into numerous residential treatment programs searching for that one place that spoke to me, that was perfect for Jacob; that would make all the difference.  I searched high and low, off and on for months.  There had been times that I’d looked into treatment programs and then things would seem to calm down and I’d put it off a little longer (thinking everything was finally okay).   Then, the day came when I knew without a doubt that residential treatment was Jake’s only hope and was exactly where he belonged.  I went onto the internet and for the first time I found a program I had never come across before….Resolution Ranch.  I knew immediately that this was the program I’d been looking for.  I called immediately and spoke to the program director.  At that time the ranch had 1 available bed.

Now, getting Jake to this treatment facility proved to be somewhat of a challenge.  He was spinning more and more out of control. He ran away regularly and I called the cops regularly.  It seemed like every time I turned around there was a squad car in front of my house.  This was somewhat embarrassing at first, but its funny how you get to a point with some things where you just don’t care anymore….I had bigger fish to fry!!  I’m sure the neighbors found plenty to talk about.

Jake was 16, almost 17 at this time and he wasn’t thrilled about going to treatment, but was going none the less.  I took a few days off work to shop for things he needed for his extensive stay, pack and get him there.  Me, Jacob, my mom (his grandmother) and his sister spent the day shopping for necessities, doing lunch, talking about what a positive experience this was going to be, about how this was the new beginning of his life….we had a really nice day together and then at the last store we were at, he disappeared.  He had borrowed his sister’s phone and called and had someone pick him up from the store.  Typical. 

I called the ranch, explained my situation and was told that they could hold the bed for a couple of days to see if I was able to round Jake up.  But, there was another family with a kid waiting for a bed to open up.  I called the next day and told them to give the bed to the family that needed it.  Jake was gone about a week when he wrecked a friend’s car and the police were called.  He didn’t run.  He even told them that there was probably a run-a-way charge on him.  He would tell me later that he was tired or running and that’s why he didn’t.  Now, I had been speaking with a detective at this time about some something Jake was involved in or had information on (I can’t recall what it was all about….this was a common occurrence with Jake and the authorities).  This detective told me that when Jake was picked up this time he would make sure that he was sent to the juvenile justice center at our county jail….he (Jake) obviously wasn’t getting the picture.  So, when a woman from the police station called and said that I needed to come pick up my kid, I said “Oh NO!!  You need to speak to detective so & so about this.”  It’s funny when I think about it because I had spent the previous couple of years and so much of my energy trying to save Jake from himself and keeping him "out" of the juvenile justice system and now, here I was welcoming it with open arms!! 

Shortly after Jake arrived at JJ, I received a call from a juvenile detention officer telling me I needed to come and pick up my son.  I told him no, that they were supposed to keep him, at least over night!  I was then told that if I didn’t come get him sometime that evening, charges would be filed against me for abandonment!!!  WHAT?!?!  Unbelievable!!!  So, my ex-husband (Jake’s dad) and I went up there and spent an hour arguing why it was important for him to stay there.  The intake officer told us that by law they could not keep Jake because he did not have a record.  I explained that the only reason he didn’t have a record was because he just hadn’t been caught yet!!  I explained that if the law would come down harder on these kids at a younger age, maybe some of this crap wouldn’t happen later.  So how this ended was that we had to refuse to take him.  By doing this, they were able to detain him until he could be sent in front of a judge which wouldn’t be until the following morning.  This works, we’ll take it!!

The following morning, there we were, standing before a juvenile justice judge when Jake was brought in wearing the traditional orange jumpsuit, with bowed head….he never once looked at us or spoke. This judge was one tough cookie (YAY!!)....I guess when working with wayward youths for a living, this is a must!!  It was explained to the judge (by some woman that worked the courts) that Jake was detained because he was a flight risk and that we, his parents, were trying to get him into treatment.  We then explained that a bed would be available the following day.  She asked if we could guarantee Jake’s where abouts, my ex told her no, not unless he handcuffed him to himself.  She quickly ordered him to stay put in JJ until the following day when we could get him to treatment – YAY!!!!  The following morning we arrived at the courts with my brother in tow to help in case Jake tried anything….we were hell bent on getting him to treatment this time and it was 5 hours away by car.  I didn’t really expect Jake to do anything, that’s just not his M.O. typically.  He was very somber and emotional on the drive south.  He told me he was tired, didn’t want to live like this anymore and he was emotional about being so far away for 6 to 12 months…we’ve always been so close and we’d never been apart prior to this.  It was a cool, rainy day as we began our drive to South Texas; it was Friday, April 13, 2007.

The Ranch

Resolution Ranch, a residential treatment facility for trouble teenage boys aged 13 to 17, a functioning ranch located on 500 acres in South Texas.  This is where Jake lived for 8 months.  This is where he learned valuable life skills, where he was clean, where he found clarity in his life, where he learned to cope with out the aid of any ADHD meds, where he grew and matured, where he made plans for his life, set goals, worked a program, where he thrived and where he found peace.  If only he could have stayed there forever. 

I've decided to do a separate post on the Ranch…which will follow soon.

Looking back on the past 5 years, it’s no surprise really, what a train wreck I became, our lives became, Jacob became…. through all of those ups and downs.  But, I believe today that I’ve grown and I've made some progress since way back then.  I’m not completely “there”….I’m not really sure I’ll ever actually “arrive”, but I'll keep plodding along in that right direction.

I have no regrets about any decisions I’ve made or actions I’ve taken on this journey through hell and my quest to see my son whole again.  I pray continuously and ever diligently that this story of his has a happy ending, but if that’s not to be, I will not look back and wonder what if I had done this or done that.