My name is Deanna. I was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, and currently live in central Wisconsin with my beautiful little boy and amazing husband. My husband and I run a Christ based addiction support group for drug addicts and alcoholics. In the near future I will be opening up an outreach Christian recovery and restoration "sober living home" for the addicted. Our passion is to see God restore the broken and free those bound in addiction the same way that he did for my husband and I. I am also a full time student at the University Of Wisconsin. I recently graduated with my AAS degree, and am now working on my Bachelor's degree (BAAS) in community health and wellness management. After I receive my bachelor's degree, I plan on getting a master's degree in Drug and Alcohol counseling and being licensed to practice in the state of Wisconsin.
I was a drug addict and alcoholic for many years. If you want to hear my full testimony, shoot me a message and I will be happy to give you all of the gory details- because this page doesn't have the capacity or room to hold the stories of the craziness of my years of addiction. The short version is that I grew up feeling unwanted (even though I wasn't), and spent many of my ypinterest years. I seeing alcohol as something that was "fun", and as I got older, I realized it was a way to escape my feelings about myself. I went to my first inpatient rehab facility when I was 12 years old for alcoholism. From that time until I was 26, I went through over 13 inpatient facilities as well as numerous outpatient programs and psychiatrists due to my raging alcoholism, heroin, cocaine, and pill addiction. I had many horrible, devastating events take place during my life during that time period- including losing my children, jail, the threat of a 10 year prison sentence, overdoses, car accidents, suicide attempts, and finding my boyfriend dead in our basement hanging from a rafter- but no matter how horrible my life got, I was not able to stop using. I got to the point where I didn't even try to stop anymore. I had really come to terms with the fact that I was going to be dead from a drug overdose before my 27th birthday, and I welcomed and embraced my addiction head on and went into it full force. I was not afraid of dying, but I was full of hope each day that I would overdose, or get into a into a car crash, or die of alcohol poisoning- anything to put me out of my misery. I hoped for death each day, because it would have been a welcomed relief from my "life." Dying had to be easier than living the way I was living.
But then, God intervened. This God- a God I didn't even believe in a the time- reached down and rescued me out of my addiction. He used a very devastating "rock bottom" to do it. My boyfriend at the time hung himself from a rafter in our basement after a drunken fight, leaving me to find his body. Things got so bad that I was to the point where my fear of what would happen the next time I used outweighed my fear of not using, and I reached a surrendering point. My first instinct was to go back to an inpatient rehab program, because that was always my go to when things got really bad with my addiction. I had a conversation with someone, however, that changed my mind. He said "Deanna, this isn't a medical problem. It's a spiritual problem. Rehabs haven't worked before, and they won't again. You need to be healed spiritually." That conversation cracked the door to looking into the whole "God thing." I wound up at a Christian recovery and restoration home in Milwaukee that helped drug addicts get clean and also build a relationship with God. The homes were connected to a church that was made up completely of drug addicts- from the pastors on down. The pastor was a heroin addict for 25 years, the leader of the Latin Kings street gang in Chicago, and had been healed from his addiction and AIDS in the early 90's after going through the same type of home in Chicago.
I went into the restoration home not expecting it to work- I had tried everything and it hadn't worked- and really not believing that God existed. I remember on the way there telling myself that I would give it a try for three days, and if nothing happened, I was going to kill myself. Walking into that restoration home, however, ended up changing my life. Not only did I come to know Jesus as real, but he completely healed and restored me, took away my addiction and the crippling depression I had been battling for years, and gave me my life back. For the first time in my life, I saw myself as a person instead of a drug addict. I learned that God loved me, and that he did not create me to be a drug addict, but that he was capable of fixing everything my addiction had broken, and he wanted to offer me a hope and a future. I gained hope, self-esteem, and a belief that my life could still have value- no matter how much I had messed it up through my addiction- if I gave it over to God and let him have control of it. It wasn't too late for me. It's never too late for God. I was finally free for the first time in my life- and was finally looking forward to living. I stayed in that recovery home- what was meant to be a 6-9 month program- for 3 1/2 years. I learned things about God that I would have never been able to learn living on my own, without the support of the pastors, mentors, fellow residents, and the structure that mandatory bible studies and prayer brought. I was made the women's home director by the Pastor, and my passion became helping others that came through the door that were in the same spot that I had been. I had been there, and I wanted to let them know that if God brought me through it, he could bring them through too. That place truly changed my life, and brought out a strength in me that I didn't know I had. It was a round the clock, 24 hour a day, 365 days a year hospital for the broken and boot camp for soldiers of God. .
That is also where I met my husband Ben at. He had a very similar story to mine- a past marred by drug addiction, hopelessness, and failures- and God rescued him the same way. Ben was the men's home director and church director, and dedicated 9 years of his life to that ministry-to helping the addict coming in that was in the same situation he had once been in. We worked side by side together in the ministry, and that is really where we saw each other's hearts and fell in love. Praying for people, bringing people in off of the streets, feeding the homeless, casting out demons, and seeing God do miraculous transformations in people's lives is the glue that cemented my husband and I together. From the very beginning, our relationship was about helping others and telling people about Jesus, and that is what our relationship continues to be to this day. That is all we know, and all we care to know.
In 2012, God moved us from Milwaukee to Marshfield, Wisconsin. We didn't understand why at first, but it soon became clear. After living here for a few months, we realized that Marshfield is smack dab in the middle of a huge heroin epidemic- and God sent us here as missionaries to help. There are no recovered heroin addicts here. The heroin epidemic is so new that people have had enough time to get addicted to it and try to get off of it, but there is no one in long term recovery. No one to tell them that it does end. That you don't have to be this way for ever. That God can heal you and deliver you. No one, except me. God brought us here for such a time as this. I remember very vividly sitting in our house one day thinking that God would send someone to help all of these drug addicts up here. He had to. We didn't want to do it, because we were tired- burnt out from Milwaukee. We waited and waited, and no one came to help. Then God convicted me one day, and told me that if I had the power to help these people by telling my testimony- that God can heal and he is the answer and there is a way out- yet I didn't, I was partly to blame for their deaths. I couldn't just sit back and watch people die. Whether we were tired or not, we had to reach out to these people and tell them about Jesus. I realized that my entire life and addiction would be used for good if I allowed God to work through me. I had experience that no one else had, and God wanted me to proclaim it to people. All of the things that we had experienced in the ministry in Milwaukee had been training. God showed us who he was there so we could tell people about him up here.
Without really knowing what we were doing or where to start, but knowing that God was directing us to do it, we started our ministry- CROSSroads To Recovery- in April of 2014. We started with a Monday night Christian based recovery meeting, know that it would be a way to make initial contact with the addicts. We had no idea where we were even going to find addicts or if anyone was going to show up the first night. But God sent people. People who were desperately looking for something to fill the void in their lives that drugs couldn't. Soon, we had people from all over contacting us for help. It went from Monday night recovery meetings to me meeting with women on a daily basis, having people in our home, and praying for people at all hours of the night. Before I knew it, I was picking people up from bars, praying with people passed out on the street, comforting devastated parents who just found out their high school aged daughter is shooting heroin. We made our home a safe haven for addicts who needed to see that being clean from drugs was possible. It was a safe place they could be mentored, learn coping skills, develop clean friendships, and learn about God. People detoxed here, and it's the go to spot when there is a crisis situation. We began speaking out to the community- and giving addicts a voice. We helped to form the Marshfield Area Recovery Task Force, which is a group of people including the police, high school psychologist, area churches, alcoholics anonymous, and other community resources that are available to help addicts and speak out publicly to let addicts know that recovery is possible. We wanted to let people know that there is help, since there are no detox or rehabilitation centers in the area. After being introduced to Christ, Drug addicts started getting saved and being baptized. God transformed the addicts in Marshfield in miraculous ways, and now they are joining us in the fight to save the lives of drug addicts.
There is a huge need in this city for a Christian restoration home- the same kind of home that saved mine and my husband's lives. There is absolutely NOWHERE for people to get help in this city besides what CROSSroads and a few other recovery organizations such as AA offer on a one on one basis. There are no live in treatment facilities, and there are no Christian ones anywhere near us in the state. We currently have a board of directors and are in the process of getting our 501c3 non-profit tax exempt status in order to make that dream a reality. We so desperately want to see the addicts in Marshfield be able to see God the same way that we did in Milwaukee, and give them a free, safe place to go where they can learn how to live without drugs and experience the love of God. We know that God will give us a building and the funds in order to house these addicts in a Christian restoration home. We know this is his will, and that he has trained us and enabled us to carry it out. I will be running the home, since my husband is disabled. What a great help that will be to many in the community!
God has done amazing, astounding things in my life, and continues to do so. I am in awe of how he has restored and redeemed everything from my past and used it not only to make my present better than I ever imagined, but to help other people who are going through the same thing. I used to think that I had wasted so much of my life to addiction, when in reality, my recovery from addiction is what enabled me to have the wonderful life I have now. Those years were not wasted. God is using them to help others through my testimony. I will continue to speak loud and proud about what my GOD has done in my life, and what he can do in yours too. My husband and I know that this is our life's calling, and we are so excited to watch as the pieces of God's plan are put into place! We have been blessed beyond anything we ever deserved, and it is only because of Jesus!