Hi, my name is Deborah. I can remember in my early childhood being very poor with a single mother raising sixteen kids on her own. We moved to California—it was good and bad. It was good in the beginning because I attended a school that helped my mother with us as far as giving her vouchers for clothes and shoes. Also, I had a speech problem that was very bad and the kids used to tease me, so the school nurse talked to my mother and I had a tutor three days out of the week after school.
The bad side started in junior high school. I started hanging around the wrong crowd. Things started getting bad when we would meet up at our house to walk three miles to school. We started skipping school and smoking weed. Some of the parents approved of that. I thought it was cool. As years went on, things got worse. We moved back to Memphis when I was in high school. I continued to skip school and smoke weed. I got behind, so I dropped out. Thankfully, I got my GED in ‘83. I got pregnant with my daughter in ‘85. Later I found out her father was living with another woman. I was depressed, stressed out, confused, and hurt. I just wanted the pain to go away, so I decided to try crack because I always heard it would take your mind off things and you wouldn’t care about nothing or nobody. How true! So March 17th, 1989, I tried crack for the first time in a joint and I enjoyed it, so that’s when I started smoking crack uncontrollably. I lost several jobs, my appearance fell, I started doing things for money—sex and so on. Even though I grew up in the church, I got caught up in bad relationships and in myself. I felt bad about the things I had chosen to do in my life.
I knew I could not turn back the hands of time, so I asked God to show me a better way. He let me to read Psalm 23 and 51 every day, all day in jail. I asked God to strengthen me where I am weak. I also asked for wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of His word, and to let His word be the nourishment of my body, mind, and soul. Out of all that, I began to feel different on the inside. On March 4, 2010 I met Mrs. Carol Wiley. She went to the jail to interview me for A Way Out. On April 23, 2010 I was released and Ms. Carol arrived to pick me up. She gave me an ultimatum: I had to have a church home, I had to attend Tuesday night bible study and Thursday night Celebrate Recovery, as well as daily IOP classes for 17 weeks. Within all of that, I began to learn of God—how to accept and grow in His love, how to be grateful, and how to love others. I learned how to deal with my inner-most feelings, how to cope with life, and how to live life abundantly in Christ, clothed in strength and dignity.
Now I have completed the IOP classes through A Way Out as well as HopeWorks personal and career development program. I continue to attend the weekly bible study and other required classes as a part of A Way Out. I am a member of Central Church, where God led me to be a part of a women’s bible study called Learning to Lean, where I also met my A Way Out mentor, Ms. Pat Sharp. I am currently seeking full-time employment. I eventually want to go back to school, and am exploring those options for the future. Through all of this God has shown me that it is never too late for Him to change my life. Through the A Way Out program, God is continuing to show me His grace and mercy and I am thankful to be blessed and highly favored!