Lanise’s mom and dad divorced when she was 4 years old. Her mom was a strong woman who struggled with addiction and depression. Lanise’s father was an alcoholic, diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The details of her life were painful early on. “I started using drugs at age 14; mostly out of curiosity and simply wanting to fit in with my peers. Looking back, I suppose that was my first clue that something was missing in me emotionally.” In spite of everything, Lanise graduated high school and attended college for 3 semesters, studying nursing. She had goals and dreams of doing something with her life. “I would quit using for a while so I could concentrate on school and testing. I suppose drugs were more of a habit and a way of fitting in for me at the time, rather than a physical addiction.” Lanise’s drug use and flip-flop in behavior led to complicated situations. She started having legal issues by the time she was age 27.
While in her early 20’s, Lanise’s father was fully confined to a wheelchair and in need of her care, daily. Her personal goals had become a distant memory. “My dad didn’t quit drinking until 2011 when his health declined. He was diagnosed with cancer and made the decision to reject chemotherapy, choosing instead to pass away on his own terms. He preferred to die in his home. I lost him in April 2014, and with his loss, I lost myself.” Because of this, her aunt stepped in. She became a temporary guardian for Lanise’s children; 9-year-old twins, one boy and one girl. She continues to be separated from her children to this day. Her heart’s desire is to someday have them back in her life full time. The thought of that brought on the first of many tears as she shared her story. “People in my family see me as being overly sensitive. I know I cry a lot now, and that’s just because I’m happy to have the Lord in my life. Before, though, I was a mess; crying at the drop of a hat. It was just frustration; feeling like I was never quite at peace. I tended to over-think things and panic. Then I’d make really poor choices. Losing my kids was awful but necessary.” Lanise stole a vehicle in 2014; in part to support her drug use and lifestyle, but it was more than that. What she described was a 32-year-old child, acting out in deep rebellion. The incident resulted in an 8-month sentence to prison, but it also changed her life. In her brokenness, she reached out to the Lord. “I was confused and lonely. I didn’t have my children, I was in a relationship with a man who was an addict, and my dad was no longer around to give me advice. God used my feelings of isolation to enter in and bring me comfort.
When I was convicted of my crimes, I wanted a program. Instead, the court ruled that I needed to fulfill my sentence. So, I did my time, but I also took classes. They helped keep me focused. When my time was nearly finished, even though it was not required, I still wanted a program. I was looking for a program based on a Scripture that really hit home to me – something God placed in my heart during a class: ‘May the Lord answer you in the day of trouble;…May He grant you according to your heart’s desire and fulfill all your purpose. We will rejoice in your salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners! May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.’ (Psalm 20:1, 4-5) While I was researching programs, my teacher recommended Rescue the Children. He met one of the RTC staff members during a seminar and remembered her description of the Christ-centered program offered. I interviewed with that same staff member the next week and was accepted into the program four days later. It was my best decision, ever.
Sometimes I think about my past when being a nurse or a pharmacist was a real possibility. My past mistakes wiped away those pursuits… so, now what? Before the Lord came into my life, a thought like this would unravel me. My mind would race and I would make a split-second decision, straight to destruction. Now, I’ve learned to lean on God for peace and direction. I remember, instead, the blessings in my life. First, my dad loved me. He has issues, but he spoke into my life. He used his own version of ‘parables’ to make a point. I think that’s why I enjoy reading New Testament stories. I grew up learning in a similar fashion to Jesus teaching his disciples. Because of my dad’s quirky parenting style, I recognized that God loves me. I can now remember pieces of my past, and view current circumstances with thankfulness and hope. I may not have my kids living with me right now, but they are in a loving home with family. Even my relationship with my mom is a blessing. She lives in Oklahoma, but we have regular contact. Even with mental illness issues and an addictive nature, she a smart lady who has made huge strides to move forward in her life.
God is helping me discover that, within His truth, He has my future. My life verse is now Hebrews 11:1; ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen’…So true.”