Phil K — Portland, OR
Hello my name is Phil.  I am 33 years old and have lived in Portland my entire life. I grew up as an only child. My mother and father divorced when I was one. They were both very young, my mom  was 16 my dad was 19.  My mother remarried when I was 3 to my stepfather Curtis. The relationship I had with my father was every other weekend at best. The visits usually centered around his drinking.  As for Curtis, he too was alcoholic. So, from very young I was exposed to the insanity of addiction. Even so I believe my mother did the best she could.  Both her and Curtis worked long hours which left me alone and unsupervised often. In my search for acceptance I got involved in sports. Soccer and baseball were among my favorites. I discovered I was pretty good at team sports and found a sense of self worth from them. My spiritual upbringing came from my grandparents. I spent a lot of time with them in my formidable years, and always enjoyed my overnight visits with them. My grandmother Bonnie was and still is my hero in life. She purposed to read the Bible to me and told me the good news of Jesus and how much He loved me. My Grandfather Jim modeled what a Godly man is. Some of my fondest memories are that of him and I being camping and fishing buddies. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have known what love and true family values were.
Being left to my own devices and an ever increasing need for acceptance, I started hanging out with the “cool kids.”  I started smoking cigs and marijuana enjoying the high very much along with the negative attention I was getting.  I was 11 years old and very confused.  In 8th grade my mother and Curtis divorced. This grieved me as I felt it was partly my fault. I decided to remain living with Curtis and the increasing dysfunction that came from his alcoholism.  Soon smoking pot and drinking were a daily event for me as I was crushed  and emotionally devastated.  I needed to get loaded just to numb the hurt from the split up.
In high school my drug addiction progressed as I discovered cocaine, LSD, hallucinogenic mushrooms etc. and found I had an insatiable appetite for them.  My family had noticed a drastic change in me and I was forced to move in with my mother and grandparents.  It wasn’t long after I was in my first treatment facility.  I was in my teens and my kidneys were bleeding from my drug use. Nothing much changed from then until my junior year when I was expelled for skipping the first 6 weeks of the school year. School time had started getting in the way of my addiction. My mother and grandparents were at wits end with me by this point and felt they could no longer enable me in the path I was on.  I had become a master manipulator and con-artist. I was miserable inside and felt like the world was against me.
I moved in with my dad and stepmother and  three half brothers when I was 17. I landed a good job at Oregon Catholic Press as a bookbinder. I didn’t like living with dad and tried to stay away as much as possible.  I wasn’t used to rules or any family atmosphere. I had a girlfriend whom I’d spend my weekends with but being young and dumb, I got her pregnant.  Neither one of us was responsible enough to raise a child so we agreed to have an abortion. The first paycheck I ever received went to pay for this, a decision that haunted me.  Shortly after, upon returning home from work I found my belongings put in two garbage bags on the front porch. My stepmother had found my drug “stash”.  My dad and step mom decided I wasn’t conducive to their family atmosphere. It only took a couple months for them to figure out I was just too much to handle. I harbored a huge resentment from this for a long time and felt unwanted and abandoned.
Having nowhere to go and with a great emptiness growing inside, I agreed to go to treatment once again in exchange for being able to move back in with my grandparents.  Even though I was angry and very confused still I was grateful to be given another chance. After completing 30 days at “New Day” adult treatment center, I was back home again. It was the day after Christmas 1991.  That New Year’s Eve I started dating Misty, who would eventually become my wife.  I actually managed to stay clean for a couple months and it was during that time where I believe God intervened in my life for the first time I was actually aware of.
I was in a church basketball league that my grandparents talked me into.  I was on my way to a game in the spring of “92”.  If I had not been involved with my own game, I would have no doubt been in my friend Kelly’s 72 bronco going to watch a softball tournament with some other friends. On their way from I-84 west to the 205-south interchange, his Bronco rolled several times, killing my childhood friend Derrick, injuring three others and taking my friend Kelly’s left leg. On any other day I would have been in that car but God had a far different plan for me.
I medicated myself through the ordeal of this death of a friend, drinking myself numb and using again as if I had never stopped.  Misty and I moved into our first apartment together shortly after. I still had my job as a bookbinder and she had a job as a dental assistant. We were barely 18.  I thought living with Misty, added to the little bit of pride I had from paying bills, and being on our own making pretty good money must all be the answer to this ever present void that I felt inside.  However, I continued to turn to drugs and alcohol to fill the void.  Misty and I married in June of 1996. I know we loved each other but obviously my love for drugs proved to be much bigger.  During those years we attended Crossroads Church Of Christ, more for to look good and please my grandparents then to grow in faith.  As pathetic as it sounds to me now, I could barely find enough time to devote one hour a week to God.  My dependence on drugs was spiraling out of control and the misery inside was growing.  The consequences effected my marriage, work, and home life.  In 1998 my grandmother was diagnosed with Lou Gherig’s disease and within the span of two years I watched my hero go from running 5 miles a day, being a very active church member (the most spiritual human being I’ve ever met), and the ultimate caregiver to those she loved... to someone bed-ridden and incapable of turning her own head on a pillow.  I became very angry at God, not understanding why He was taking my grandmother from me.  The Lord took my grandma to glory in the spring of 2000. To this day I have not fully grieved over her passing.
My whole world was now caving in on me, and my daily remedy of meth, alcohol and pot was needed to numb my pain and heartache.  Misty and I got pregnant as a last attempt to save our failing marriage.  My son Tyler was born February 9, 2001. I was AWOL from home and family for the majority of the pregnancy, hanging out at the local bar, dealing drugs and everything that goes along with it.  Those things were more important to me than my newborn son, my beautiful wife, our house, car etc… Having all these family things probably would have made most people happy, but not so for me.  I had so much to live for yet I still felt empty, alone, misunderstood, and of course “unique.”  I grew really tired of staying awake using meth for what seemed like two years straight.  I was looking for something to slow me down. I’ll never forget the day I tried heroin for the first time. Instantly I knew I had crossed the line. I believe I met Satan face to face that day.  Heroin took me further than I ever intended going, kept me trapped longer than I wanted, and took all the things I never wanted to lose.
The first thing to go was my wife Misty and most importantly, my relationship with my son Tyler.  To date I have either been in jail or treatment for the last 6 out of his 7 birthdays.  (Today I hope that its not to late to repair that relationship.)  Another unexpected event was my own mother being diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was in disbelief.  My mother was only 46.  Even though Mom and I engaged in some activities together that were not normal mother/son type things. (I’m not going to mention these as it hurts to talk about.)  She was my best friend.  I can rejoice today to share that she got saved, right before she died. The Lord took her to glory in mid December of 2004.  I miss her very much.
To quickly sum up my last eight years, there have been 12 detox programs, 5 additional “6 month” treatment centers, my divorce, my bankruptcy, loss of jobs, loss of my integrity, my dignity, many trips to jail, total homelessness, eating in soup kitchens and even out of garbage cans when I was lucky enough to eat.  Exactly one year ago I was admitted to Emanuel hospital. I had a life threatening infection (necrotising fasciatis, commonly known as flesh eating bacteria) due to my blatant disregard in sharing needles with whomever.  It was in my right leg. The doctors were honest with me and said I probably wouldn’t live through it, as my body had gone septic. If I did live, I would almost  certainly lose my leg.  Thank God, He intervened with a different plan.
Thirty days and five operations later, not only did I come out alive... but I have full use of my leg.  Don’t tell me there isn’t a God. That still wasn’t enough for me. It took another stint of living in homelessness, a season at the methadone clinic and then landing in the psych ward, where I was given the information about Freedom House by my grandparents. I wasn’t immediately willing to commit to a full one year program thinking that was too much, but finally at a point of total brokenness, with God’s grace and given a final chance from my grandparents, I entered Freedom House on January 8th, 2008.
I thank God every day especially for being patient, as some of us are just more stubborn than others. Since entering into Freedom House, a multitude of changes both inward and outward have begun.  Today I can give all the glory to Jesus and thank Him for what He did on the cross for me.  In earnest prayer I committed my all to do His will... whether it makes sense or not.  I meant it when I prayed it and I believe He takes our promises seriously.  I remember my first couple weeks how I couldn’t stand study time, because I didn’t like to be quiet.  Now I find I don’t have nearly enough time each day.  I also prayed deeply for wisdom. Since then the Lord has given me a passion and desire for His Word like I thought only “Bible thumpers” had.  I don’t see myself as a Bible thumper but I am a Bible lover and I believe every word in it.  In His Word is where I look now for my answers.  In His Word and by the Holy Spirit all the emptiness I’ve wrestled with for so long is gone.  I have a real freedom that I haven’t felt in nearly 20 years.  I enjoy a growing personal relationship with Christ and this is the most awesome thing that has ever happened to me.  I am learning to take “me” completely out of the picture and trust that God will always deliver the most blessed outcome. I can’t tell you what a relief that has been.
2nd Corinthians 5:17 states “therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away, behold all things have become new”.  My past is under the blood and my future sure is looking bright.  I thank God every day just for the ability to laugh and be happy and not have to pay for it. The only money I’ve spent while I’ve been here is 50 dollars. I bought a Bible and a cover. It has brought me joy every day I’ve opened it and it will for a lifetime. I used to spend twice that a day for a fix leading to complete misery. Thank you Jesus!
Speaking of money and funds I would like to say a special thanks to all of you who donated to Freedom House so that each of us can grow up in this new way of living.  I hope that my life will be fruitful and reflect a change that was worthy of your love, care and gifts.  I look forward to being a Godly influence in my son’s life.  If Freedom House wasn’t here and my family couldn’t share this opportunity and hope to me, I don’t know where I’d be right now... other than broken and lost.  So thank you all so very much and God bless you all.
                                                                                                         From very lost to so very found, Praise God!     Phil K  
Phil successfully completed his one-year committment to the
 Freedom House Ministries Program
on January 9, 2009 becoming Graduate #11

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