Belonging, Believing, Becoming October 2004. My daughter, Erin, had one birthday request, “Mom, come to church with me, just once is all I ask, for my birthday, please?” Now it is December 2012 and I have been a part of this amazing community, my family, for eight years The past eight years have been one long adventure for me and I know that if God had not led me to Waypoints, through my daughter Erin, my life would have been a rockier path to travel then it was. Belonging, Believing, Becoming, are the words that always stay in my mind when I think of my first year with Waypoints. Within the first two month I thought, I would never be allowed to step foot back inside of the building, let alone have a key to the from doors. So let me explain each of these words and how they affected my life in and out of the walls of my beloved Waypoints. Belong [to be in a proper place, to be the property of a person or group of persons, to be a part of; to be connected with] — no matter where we travel in our lives, we all want to belong. Me, more than most, (or so I think) as I have always looked for a place where I could be accepted as me, warts and all. To stop standing on the outside, looking on the inside, to participate in life. Fast Forward to 2004. My mom was dying of cancer. This could very well be the last time any of us could spend time with her. With five kids and their better half’s and all the grandkids and the great grand kids, and families being as some families are, we needed to finds a neutral place where we could celebrate the holiday together, but as separate families to be with mom, one last Christmas. Waypoints had a wonderful place, complete with a kitchen but not your typical “churchy “atmosphere. So Todd gave me a key to have a family Christmas. Needless to say, there was yelling, pushing and shoving, police and flashing red lights out in front of the “church”. So it was decided that Todd needed to come. I remember feeling so ashamed when Todd and Tim walked in. He was so casual about it all. Without batting an eye, he made sure we were all okay, asked if we needed anything and when I apologized, he told me not to worry about it. Family is family. Waypoints became my home, my safe place. Believing [to have faith or confidence in the existence or worth of; to accept as true; THINK]. For me it is hard to believe that I am someone that could be valued, loved. But daily I am reminded through the Bible, that I am worthy of being loved “God so loved the world that he GAVE his only Son to die for me,” John 3:16. I had to really look at the word Faith. Faith is a firm belief even in the absence of truth. Having been lied to, used and abused throughout my lifetime, it is a hard thing to do but then I had to THINK. So many people around me, caring what I thought, how I felt, they worried about me, hey, they liked me. This was no act, no major performance, but genuine caring. They not only treated me with love but it was the same to others that walked through those doors. Then I started listening to the messages, really hearing what was being said because I not only heard what God was saying, I was hearing it in the actions of those who touched my life every day and yes it was every day. I felt so good being around the people of Waypoints. I believed in the One True God because I saw Him every day in the lives of those around me. Becoming[ to come to be; to be to be suitable, become of: to happen to; having a pleasant effect] These words really came home for me as I started noticing the changes within me. I felt calmer, peaceful, smart, yes, smart as I had felt stupid for much of my life. I had things to contribute to. The one that made the biggest impact on my life was Angel Tree which is a prison ministry. I was a teacher, kids and parents valued what I thought and had to say but mostly what I helped instill in their lives. Wow, I am loved, valued, smart, accepted. I am becoming someone I even like . Do I belong every day after 8 years? Yes I do but I still struggle and at times I feel that I do not belong, that no one understands me but that is not the truth. The truth is that I am running away because sometimes being alone is easier than being visible, especially when I am not the best that I can be. But I am still loved and welcomed, always a part of family. Do I believe every day? No. I struggle and ask questions but you know what, we are encouraged by God to question. To look for the truth even if that means to see and hear and feel things I don’t want to, things that bring pain into my life because looking inside and seeing the ugliness that is there sucks. Do I doubt, yes! But when I really look at what I am doubting, it usually is me not wanting to believe what the Bible is saying because then I am wrong and I hate to be wrong. Am I becoming every day? Yes. For when you know the truth, you cannot go back. I have tried but the Holy Spirit whispers ever so gently to my soul, “Hey Diana? Really? Is this what you really what? Do you want to go back to where you were before you knew that you are truly loved? Come on. You are missed. There is an empty place at the table and it is waiting just for you. Someone is waiting for you to bring to them the word that God needs them to hear. Come on back child. This is where you belong.” Belonging? I belong to God Almighty. I am a daughter of the King Believing? I have faith because I have seen God’s love shine out through the thoughts and actions of His children. Becoming? Yes every day. I am not the same today as I was yesterday. I am remembered for who I am today, not by what happened yesterday. How do I know this? When Todd asked me to write this, I asked him if I should mention the police and his response, “I completely forgot about that.” That is what God says when we believe in his son Jesus Christ.
I can’t tell you many specific reasons why I started using drugs but one thing that comes to mind is something that I still struggle with today. I struggle with feelings and emotions. I would use the drugs so I did not feel. I used drugs for most of my adult life and my drug of choice was methamphetamines. There are so many things that drugs will lead you to do and many of us have the same story. Due to drug use, you can loose everything. But what is very interesting to me is that with every testimony you hear, there are points of interest that if they did not happen in your life, you would not be where you are today. I think Todd would call that a waypoint, whether it be negative or positive.
When I first met Shawna she knew I had a problem with drugs but she was still interested in me. I was interested in her because she was not interested in the drugs I used to brag about. Eventually I told her I had quit using drugs and I kept the truth hidden from her for years. I was very manipulative and a good liar. Shawna and her mother used to bake me a cake every year for my so called sobriety date. This went on for quite a while until Shawna’s mother became terminally ill. I still feel bad that I lived a lie with her mother but my attitude was my life was going to move on. I thought Shawna did not know I was still using drugs, but she did. Eventually I introduced them to her and she decided to join me. This made everything so much easier. My thoughts at that time were there is money because of her inheritance and I could do the drugs right out in the open; I didn’t have to hide it any more. I did not have to persuade Shawna to give me money nor did I have to pawn or thief anything anymore. I was lost in the lie. Now Shawna and I were using drugs together but eventually the money was running out and finding drugs led me to having an affair with another woman. (This woman had my little girl that was adopted by an awesome couple named Levi and Kim. I am truly blessed that I have been able to correspond with them in my sobriety and know Zoie is growing up perfectly in a great home.)
Because the money was running out and bills did not get paid, utilities were shut off. As a drug addict, I was a collector of all kinds of junk that I thought was important and our house became trashed; actually it was unlivable. We would bring people into our home and sometimes they would not leave. At one point there were thirteen people staying with us. We brought our friends, that brought their friends, that brought more friends, and so on. As you can see, it was insane.
This was one of those waypoints I was talking about earlier. I had this great idea that I was going to make drugs and sell them, but it was a failed attempt. I had found this amazing recipe to make meth but unfortunately you had to have electricity to cook what I needed to cook. I decided to steal electricity from our neighbors using an extension cord. Someone found out what I was doing and called the police. I immediately cleaned it all up. The police showed up and had a warrant for my arrest. When they entered our house, they saw a small BB gun which was some of the junk I had traded for or found. The police yelled “GUN…GUN” with their guns drawn at me. That was a scary moment. The police saw the way we were living and the called the City of Greeley I believe it was. They condemned our house and I was hauled off to jail. I did not stay there long. After I got out, time had passed and we were sneaking back and forth into this house where it was illegal for us to stay. Shawna eventually became pregnant. We were living our lives by digging in dumpsters searching for food and still having people over. This went on for the next eight months or so until some friends helped us to get into a Motel Six. We stayed there off and on for a month. Then one day Shawn went into labor…she almost had the baby in the motel. I called 911. The fire truck and police showed up at the same time. Since I was so paranoid of the police, I was hiding around the corner trying not to be spotted. They took Shawna to the hospital and I was left with no ride. I called a friend of ours and she said she would come and get me. This was all going on while there was supposed to be a drug deal going on. I was out of my mind worrying about Shawna so I told the drug dealer to meet me at the hospital. By the time he showed up, I had finally come to my senses and told him I was too busy for him. I went into the hospital and I found out I didn’t have one baby, I had two of them. I was the father of identical twins. However there was problem; Joanna was born not breathing and they had to resuscitate her. She was in need of more than what the hospital in Greeley could do for her. She was going to die if she was not transported to Children’s Hospital in Denver. Every thing that could go wrong with Shawna was going wrong. Her blood pressure was so high it could have killed her. A few days passed and Children’s Hospital kept calling us to say we needed to get down there because Joanna was not doing well and they did not expect her to survive. When Shawna was finally well enough to travel, we found someone to give us a ride to Denver. Of course the people giving us the ride needed to stop and make a drug deal. We left for Denver at ten in the morning and did not get to Children’s Hospital until twelve o’clock, midnight. They took us to her room and Joanna was full of tubes. She did not look like Joanna. The hospital put us up in a room that was like a little apartment. We spent the next eleven days with Joanna until she eventually died in my arms. Then we headed back home through one of the worst blizzards we had seen in years. On our way home all I could think about was getting my next fix. When we got to the Greeley Hospital, they accused us of abandonment of our other daughter that was in Greeley. Social Services had showed up and taken her away. Obviously we were very upset. We blamed the world for all of this and thought it was everyone else’s fault and not ours. For the next eight or nine months we stayed in the condemned house, hiding out, drowning ourselves in the drugs, deeper and deeper. The drugs actually start to make you believe and see things that a sober person would not hear or see. At that time, I believe we shared the house with little gremlins that caused things to disappear or reappear. I believe that when we had people over the gremlins would mess with them. I would mention it to the people that were visiting and after awhile, they would start to believe it as well.
Through dumpster diving for food and the drug use, I believe God sent someone who had been in jail previously to be around us. This fine gentleman, who has a gentle but off the wall humor to him, would sit in our circles as we were using the drugs. When it was his turn, he would always turn it down. Rather than doing the drugs, he was reading scripture out of the Bible. I though he was out of his mind but he was my friend, Gerald Cooper, so I humored him and said it was fine by me. It amazes me that anyone wanted to be around us because not only were Shawna and I eating from dumpsters, we would only collect enough money to take a shower at the truck stop once a week. One day Shawna and I were talking to Gerald and he mentioned a place called Waypoints Faith Community. He said this was a place we could go and eat a meal and possibly even take a well needed shower. Shawna and I went a few times but there was one time that became this point of interest, or waypoint, in my life. I still think of it to this day. The Pastor, or teacher of this church, was teaching something from the Bible and I obviously was not interested but then God, I like to say, pricked my heart to make me feel something. Todd was saying that you find great joy from your trials and tribulations. My thoughts were “what did I just hear?” There is something wrong here; there is something wrong with this teacher. How could I find joy in my daughter dying? This guy is a freak and I am out of here. Ok, there were two things that have happened here. The first and most important thing I believe is that God had found a way to get my attention and he made me very angry. The other is I started to feel something other than thinking about myself. I left Waypoints crying and making a lot of noise, disrupting the service while trying to get out of this place that made me feel so uncomfortable because I didn’t understand. I was through going there, or so I thought. A few weeks had passed and I refused to go back even though Shawna went a few time without me. Then something amazing happened; we had a chance to see our daughter that had been adopted by Shawna’s sister. She was about nine months old. That was awesome but I was still overcome by this evil drug that I was in love with so passionately. When we were done visiting with her, we came back to our condemned house and I was on my way to find more drugs. It is really cool to think about this now and reflect on the waypoints that have happened in our lives but it wasn’t cool back then. While on my way to find more drugs, I had only made it a couple blocks from the house and all the sudden I found myself in tears, walking around aimlessly, feeling like I was being torn in two by this battle raging inside my head. One side was telling me I could do the drugs and everything would be ok while the other side was telling me that I didn’t need them and to reach out for help. Through our journey of bad decisions and drug abuse there were a couple of people that we had met that came to our aid one time. They were involved in a church called Christ Community. I reached out and called Tom and Joy. It was God that led me to call them and I feel truly blessed that Tom answered the phone. My words to him were “if you don’t come and get Shawna and I, we are going to die”. I have never reacted to anything like I reacted at that time. God had truly planted a seed and I was walking away from a drug I had been using most all of my life. That was one of the scariest things I have ever done. I truly believed that the drug and I were one in the same and I would never quit. Tom came to get Shawna and I and we spent our first month of sobriety with them. That was amazing. Who in their right mind would take a couple of junkies and put them up in there house and say sleep, eat, and get well? They would leave us in their house alone. It was God directing them to do what was right and their faith led them to believe that we would not rob them blind. That first day they helped us started our spiritual growth. Shawna and I disassociated ourselves from the drug ties that we had. Not long after that we started some programs like Alpha, where we learned about Jesus. There I had this great opportunity to ask Jesus into my heart and became saved, not really knowing what it meant but felt that it was something that I needed to do. Without me knowing, Shawna had done the same thing in this class. I am sure glad Tom and Joy were able to deal with us when we were going through the sickness of becoming clean. We kept ourselves busy by reading the Bible every night and attending this amazing church called Waypoints Faith Community. I don’t think Todd is such a freak anymore, in fact he is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. Todd has been a great inspiration and a great teacher. I learned what it meant when you have great joy through your trials and tribulations, or at least what it means to me. It is not that you find joy in the things that happen but the joy is Jesus walking beside you when you are going through the things in life we go through. There were so many struggles and temptations that I was still having and Tom was able to get us involved into another group. We started going to a group called Loved Ones Against Meth (LAM). The interesting thing about this is that LAM ministry and Waypoints were able to become affiliated with each other. Shawna and I were eventually able to stay in a house at Waypoints. This House was the beginning of the House of Rest. Shawna and I were the first ones to graduate from this program. I have learned that God is bigger than any drug and with the right direction you can accomplish anything. Through the support and direction of Waypoints, we were both able to find jobs and find our way back into education. We also attended another group called Celebrate Life Recovery where we have another great teacher, Ron. He has been like a father figure in our lives. I really appreciate that. I now work at Safeway as a Market Meat Manager and Shawna works for a place called Central Security. We have both earned our Associate Degree in Criminal Justice and are nine weeks away from earning our Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. My goal in life is to help people that are like we once were. I believe in Waypoints Faith Community and what it stands for. If it was not for the points of interest or Waypoints in our life we would not be where we are today. It is amazing that a community would accept us for who we were and want to be there for us. I asked Shawna to marry me at this awesome place and Todd’s father walked her down the aisle. They took us in like we were family. I have found my identity in Christ and know Jesus loves me right where I am. Though my life still has its times with some temptations, it is a constant reminder of where I don’t want to be. I truly believe that the greatest spiritual activity we can do is to choose. I choose to stay sober and grow in my relationship with Jesus Christ. Thank you Waypoints for letting me share my story.
God led me, Terry Cooper, to Waypoints through a dear friend of mine, Brad Keeney. After attending Calvary Chapel for over 11 year, which God also used Brad to lead me to, I was no longer able to attend the midweek service due to a change in my work schedule. Then it kind of felt like God was leading me away from Calvary Chapel. I continued to go while also looking for another church. Brad told me about Waypoints. Well it turned out God wasn't leading me away from Calvary Chapel, God was just providing me with another church that gave the truth about Him to make up for the midweek service I was no longer attending. The very first service I attended I got a big hug from Todd. I was a stranger at that time. Then Lindy gave me a hug. From day one I could feel the love in Waypoints church. Another reason Brad told me about Waypoints and Tower 21 was that he knew I wanted to be a mentor for people struggling with addiction. I'm not quite sure if God is telling me not to do that or if He has me on hold with it for now. After being off meth and selling meth for 14 years, I feel I could put that to good use providing it's Gods plan. I have been able to give quite a few people my testimony of how God was my escape from meth and how He can do the same for them. The best experience I had was during the transition between the old Waypoints building and the new Armory. For a few weeks we had service at the Mosiac church and while we were having our group discussions after service, as always, there was a new kid in the group. He was pretty straight forward about not knowing much about church but seemed excited to know. During the final prayer God told me to speak to him about asking Jesus into his life. The kid left before Todd was through speaking. I didn't want to be rude to Todd but God told me to go. I went outside but didn't see him anywhere, it was pretty dark. I told God "you told me to go after him so where is he?" Then the kid walked right in front of me about 10 feet away. Thank you Jesus. I asked him if he wanted to go to my car and talk a little bit. Our conversation ended with us praying and he asked Jesus into his life to be his Lord and Savior. God has used me in a lot of ways and all the glory and honor goes to God. To be used to bring someone to Jesus is the most humbling experience ever. Thank you Jesus!
Hi my name is Valerie Ehrlick, and God is great all the time. I've only really realized how great God is in the last couple years, and here is my story. I was a meth addict for about 20 years, never thought I had a problem, never planned on quitting. This is how God changed my life and led me to Waypoints. In 2009 my boyfriend and I got a little log cabin off of west 10th and 65th avenue. Everything we put on that rental application was a lie, but when God is in control it doesn't matter, he will put you where you need to be. We had some friends that had a shop right next to where we got the place. My boyfriend spent all his time there and I mostly spent my time at home alone. One morning I got up and Tim hadn't been home for a couple days, so I went over the the shop to see him. He was building a bike for this guy. I sat there and watched him for awhile, we didnt talk much, finally he said to me, I left some dope in the drawer for you at home. That's not what I wanted or why I was there, but I took the hint and left. I went home and loaded up a bowl, took a hit and thought "I am not going to sit here by myself all day" so I took my pipe, put it in the trunk of my car, as that is where I always put anything illegal I was carrying on me, and went downtown to a friends house. We hung out for a couple of hours and smoked. When I left, I grabbed my pipe and just threw it right in my center console, which was totally open and I went home. Like I said, I never carried anything in my car and my usual behavor was I would have just left the pipe there at my friends, it's not like I didnt have half a dozen at home. I had 10 hours or more to take that thing out of my car, but I didn't. Later that night, I kept driving to the shop, which was right next door, but I drove over there anyway, every hour on the hour, trying to talk to Tim. I don't know if he was there, or just not answering the door. Anyway, the last time I drove over there, I thought to myself, this is ridiculous, just go home. I didnt even stop that time. Before I could even get around the shop and pull back on to 10th street I had a cop pulling me over, for no reason really, except God took that very rare opportunity of my bad choice and put him there. That's when my whole life changed. Of course he saw the pipe, it was right there in the open, and I went to jail for possession. I took it to trial and got sentenced to18 months in the halfway house. I always believed in God and Jesus, and the times I got close to him was times I was in trouble and alone, like jail. In my mind it was God's fault that I got sentenced to the half way house, and I remember telling him his plan just wasn't going to work this time. I was not going to join any bible studies or even talk to him at all, or listen to anyone that has anything to say about him. I think about it now, and I think how God must of been laughing, saying, "Oh child if you only knew". Well, I was in the halfway house for about 9 or 10 months when I got caught drinking and they regressed me. When I got to jail, and finally got out of booking and up to my cell, I broke down and started crying and asking God for peace. I knew I was going to prison and didn't want to be alone, so I apologized to God and asked him for peace. I felt peace like I've never felt before, I curled up and went to sleep. I got a bible and I went to every bible study they offered in jail. I'll have to admit it was mostly for something to do. I knew I was going to prison, but I knew I would be alright because God would be with me. Two weeks later I went to court, and it was crazy. Everyone was arguing and Judge Kopcow said his problem was that what kind of message would it send to the community if someone violated a community correction sentence and got a lesser sentence. Then it was as if God reached down and touched his heart, and he said, "unless Drug Court." Then the DA was arguing with him, and Judge Kopcow got mad and said "I'm well aware of Ms Ehrlick's criminal record and the DA closed his folder and said to Drug Court. A week later I was accepted into Drug Court and got out of jail. I was so happy to be out of the halfway house. I moved back into my parents house and began my new journey. One day I was over at my daughter's house which was next door to Waypoints and I saw Gil outside. We started talking. I had met Freddy when I was in jail, so I went to the church service there on Sunday. Gil told me it was 2 different churches and I should come for dinner on Tuesday and Friday. Then I met Sheri, who was a graduate from Drug Court and still very much involved in D.R.E.A.M. and Waypoints. I saw something in Sheri that I knew I wanted. Knowing her story, I knew I had a chance. I started going to Waypoints, Celebrate Recovery, and Lam. I was required to go to 2 meetings a week, and NA just didn't work for me. I've met so many great people through Waypoints, true friends. I've learned how to plant roots, and how important community is. I've also learned that God is in control and I can just let go and let God handle things. I find such peace in that. Now let me backtrack a bit. First of all I've been with Tim for 18 years now, for 15 of those years, it was drug filled chaos. When I got sentenced to the halfway house, Tim also decided to get clean. He did it cause he wanted to, I was clean cause I had to be. He was living with some friends of ours, that sold meth, and he couldn't do it living with them. 6 months after he moved out of their house they got busted. The paper said they had been under investigation for 6 months. Wow, if that doesn't make you think. They got sentenced to a lot of years in prison. It's like God saved us. After I got sentenced to Drug Court and moved into my parents house, Tim moved in with me also. Now when I first got with Tim we lived at my parents for about a year, but after that, he hadn't talked to my parents in about 12 years. God renewed their relationship, our relationship, the relationship with my kids. I just love the verse that says God uses all circumstances for my good. I was saved that night I got pulled over and had that pipe on me. Like I said that was so out of character for me to carry anything on me and not in my trunk. My case did go to appeals court for a wrongful traffic stop, and guess what, I won. Now, how often does that happen, a cop pulls someone over for no reason, they happen to have a meth pipe on them, which they never do, they get busted, do all the time, and then win the appeal, wrongful traffic stop, and it all goes away, but not until the time was right. That is not coincidences' that is perfect planning. Yes, God is in charge. I can see so many blessings through out my whole life, how God has always been there, using my choices to lead me where I am at today. Tim and I got married 12-21-12, after 18 years. I was saved by God's grace. I didnt do anything to deserve what Jesus has done for me, and sometimes I ask "why me Lord, why did you save me?" He doesnt answer me , as of why, he just keeps blessing me. I guess because he loves me. Wow that just blows me away!! I feel so peaceful knowing that wherever I am is exactly where I'm suppose to be. Im far from perfect, and my life is far from perfect, but Im blessed, my life is blessed, God is in control, I just give it all to God and do my best, and just live. When I started this my name was Valerie Ehrlick, but now its Valerie Bartow, lol, but Im still the same person.