Denise Taylor’s life changed when she became pregnant. She was just 18 years old and already wavering in her faith in God. She had grown up in the small town of Mason City with a family that loved her. But her sudden unexpected pregnancy filled her with shame. Feelings of unworthiness caused her to turn her back on her faith and on God.
By the age of 24, Denise was a mother to four children and in a failing marriage. She had chosen to exclude herself from her parents and family in an effort to hide what she had become – an addict to the drug methamphetamine. For many years, she lived a life of secrecy and lies.
As an attempt to get her life together, Denise secured a job that she loved at a school. She bought a new home for her family and was encouraged by the direction her life was taking. But just two years into her employment, Denise found out that her school would be closing and she would be out of work. She began to fall apart. Her house was lost and the lure of her old ‘friend’ meth began to pull at her. She began using drugs once again on a daily basis.
The next years of Denise’s life were filled with arrests, charges of conspiracy to manufacture meth, years of court appearances…and addiction. Her addiction seemed to grow at an alarming rate. As she fell deeper, thoughts of suicide clouded Denise’s thinking. She cried out to God, asking Him to somehow stop this dangerous cycle she was caught in.
The Lord answered her prayers in a way that Denise hadn’t expected. Once again, she was arrested for conspiracy to manufacture meth. She began a 63-day stay in the county jail awaiting sentencing. She was forced to put the drug use on hold.
While in jail, Denise’s first grandchild was born prematurely. His condition required that he stay in the hospital for five weeks. A fear developed within Denise that she may never have the opportunity to hold her first grandbaby. The consequences of her actions were beginning to sink in. When the Federal Public Defender came to visit her and ask about her situation, Denise admitted that she had addiction issues and that she needed help. That admission permitted her to go to a 90-day treatment program in Peoria.
It was while in this treatment facility that Denise first heard about the Esther House. Her roommate had been a former Esther House resident and was convinced that Denise needed to at least apply for the Esther House program.
After gaining some courage, Denise completed the intimidating 27-page application to the Esther House. What a relief it was to Denise when she found out that she had been accepted! She would not be going back to jail at this time, but would instead be going to a safe place where she could work on her own growth.
February will mark 11 months of living at the Esther House for Denise. She hopes to complete the program within the next couple of months and is looking forward to being able to put everything she has learned to use. Her life has changed drastically while at the Esther House and Denise has seen God work in her life in many ways. God has removed any and all desire for methamphetamines, many of her relationships have been restored, she has returned to school, and she has learned to speak up and ask for help when she needs it. Also, Denise’s grandson, whom she once feared she would never get to meet, now lives with her at the Esther House. Most importantly, Denise’s life has changed because of her relationship with her Savior, Jesus Christ. “I know that Jesus died for my sin and He carried my shame on the cross so that I don’t have to,” says Denise.
Denise’s future remains uncertain with the very real possibility of needing to serve a mandatory ten-year minimum sentence in federal prison for her past actions. But even through the uncertainty, Denise has learned to trust in the Lord and to believe that He will be with her no matter what situation she faces.
“(The Esther House) truly feels like home,” says Denise, “Thank you for supporting Peoria Rescue Ministries, because it truly has been a blessing for me to be here.”