This week on Destiny Moments Angel interviews Jennifer Anderson from Windom, Minnesota. Listen in as Jennifer shares her journey from being addicted to meth, going to prison and the loss of her children to recovering it all back. The void she had inside, meth couldn’t fill it, but Jesus did.
She shares her journey from feeling worthless, filled with shame to where she is now. An amazing story of God’s redemptive plan.
Tune in and be blessed. Share with a friend or relative that may be struggling. God has a plan for them too.
Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. Acts 16:26
This morning I woke up early with this verse on my heart. I have been speaking a lot about my time in prison, and remembering how I prayed to be found innocent and be let out. Bargaining with God, making promises if He would just answer my prayer. I didn’t really believe that He would, but sure hoped so. Every morning that I woke up with the prison walls still standing around me, the more I believed that God wouldn’t answer my prayer. I was incarcerated 18 months, there was no earthquake, the foundation didn’t shake, no doors flew open….
Or did they….
In the midst of my “half-hearted” prayers, unknowingly something miraculous was happening. I was developing a relationship with God. I was talking with him and He was listening! I didn’t see it at the time, but walls were crumbling around me. My walls. The walls I had built myself in my belief that I was a “bad person”. The walls I had put up to keep me safe and to keep everyone else out. My walls of protection. My foundation was shaking, I was becoming a different person. I found myself less angry, and more accepting. I was beginning to forgive myself and most importantly I began to understand the enormity of God’s gift to us. His Son.
His Only Son Jesus. Born to give us hope and crucified to give us life. You see, it took my being in prison to truly understand how much I was loved. Loved so much that Jesus died for me. Let me say that again, Jesus loves Me so much that HE DIED for ME!!
He died for you too.
God loves us and wants us to be free of our chains. Free of the shame, guilt and self-loathing that these chains bind us with. We are all created in in the image of Christ. We are all children of the King! A King that Loves us. A Shepard that will search for us. A Savior that Died for us.
During this Christmas season, I pray that you will have a personal relationship with Jesus. That whatever chains are holding you will come loose. That there will be an earthquake that shakes your foundation and you feel the Hope, Love and Freedom that only Jesus can bring. You friends, are worth it!!
This is from Thanksgiving 2018………
We are so very thankful to be able to share this article by our Dear, Precious, Friend Dave Fjeld of the Cottonwood County Citizen! I first met Jennifer Anderson at the 2016 Windom Revival! Jennifer walked up to me and introduced herself and a relationship to glorify God started right there! In the next few days I got to me her wonderful husband Loren! Sharon and I love them so very much and all their wonderful children! We are also very thankful for the Godly writings of Dave!!! Dave is such a talented writer, he makes you feel part of the story, yes we all are…. The Citizen is one of Americas best newspapers! We sure serve an AWESOME GOD!!! This story is a MIRACLE of GOD!!!! AMEN!!!
Thankful to give thanks
The Andersons will celebrate Thanksgiving as a family, something that wasn’t possible
a few years ago.
BY DAVE FJELD
COTTONWOOD COUNTY CITIZEN, WINDOM, MN
When the Loren and Jennifer Anderson family discussed what to do for Thanksgiving dinner this year, Jennifer offered two options:
“I can either make Thanksgiving dinner, or I can make reservations,” she recalls suggesting to her husband and three children.
After a family vote, “We’re eating out,” she confirmed.
Six years ago, such simple options were not an option. In fact, six years ago, the Anderson family didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving together. Even though four of their family of five were in Windom and Jennifer was in Shakopee, they could just as well have been in three different worlds.
Jennifer was less than a month into a 74-month prison sentence for manufacturing methamphetamine. Loren was battling his own alcohol-related demons. Their children — Kennedy, Mikal and Jace — were living with Jennifer’s parents, Ralph and Mary Poynter.
It was a less than thankful time, which makes this Thanksgiving and the four past November celebrations just the opposite.
Indeed, the Anderson family is together, there are smiles on their faces and, together, they truly know what Thanksgiving is all about.
“They (children) have said and still say, ‘I’m so glad my parents are together,’ ” Jennifer says. “When it comes up, they talk about the night I was arrested and how scared they were, but also how glad they are we have a house now and that we’re all together and very grateful when they lived at grandma’s house.”
It’s been a long road to this kind of thankfulness and happiness for the Andersons. Jennifer’s troubles had been aired in court documents, which were covered in both newspaper and radio reports. Loren’s issues with alcohol were not quite so publicly known.
But in both cases, local residents only received half the story — the difficult, ugly half.
The other half — the positive side — was revealed in Jennifer’s testimony at a Dewey Moede-led revival at BARC just a year ago.
“When Dewey asked me to speak at the revival, it was scary and I was so honored at the same time, because if my story can help one person see that it doesn’t always have to be dark, it will have been worth it,” Jennifer says. “Now, Dewey has invited me to come out to West Virginia in April and speak at a revival there.
“It’s pretty cool how God lifts you out of the darkness and says, ‘Now, go be my light!’ ”
The Andersons have come full circle, especially Jennifer, who was the same in 1994 when she graduated from Windom Area High School as she is today, happy and together.
But when she headed off to college, she indulged in one key new-found “freedom” — the opportunity to make her own rules. She fell in with the party crowd and it wasn’t long before she was skipping classes.
She lasted two years in college, then dropped out and returned to Windom and began working various jobs.
She was working as a bartender in 1999, when she met Loren, who also was a bartender at the same bar.
Loren, meanwhile, was rebounding from a failed marriage. Loren says he was living what seemed to be the perfect life — married, two daughters, a well-paying job, a nice car and home and heavily involved in church. Then it all fell apart.
He lost all he had and turned to drinking.
Just a year after he and Jennifer met, they were married in 2000. Their first two children came shortly thereafter and their third was born in 2008. But once their last child was born, Jennifer and Loren fell back into the party scene.
Jennifer went to treatment for alcohol addiction. However, knowing that she couldn’t remain sober if Loren was still drinking, they separated.
But the separation didn’t solve Jennifer’s problems. Instead, she discovered methamphetamine. She was immediately taken with the euphoric, energetic high she got from it.
“It was like I could conquer the whole world,” Jennifer recalls. “It’s a terrible cycle. Even if you don’t want to use, you have to, or you do nothing. You’re sick.”
Because they were separated, Loren had no idea the self-destructive path his wife had started down.
Jennifer says she heavily used meth for about three years until her she was arrested in November 2012 for manufacturing meth.
Because Loren was still drinking and, by his own admission, not capable of caring for his children, Jennifer’s parents took custody of their children. However, Loren saw them every day.
“Thank God for grandma and grandpa!” Jennifer says and Loren echoes.
Jennifer spent time in the county jail where she damaged a sprinkler head in the overhead sprinkler system.
“When I was at boot camp, I talked about that and the counselor said that was probably my brain and body still detoxing,” Jennifer says. “He said I didn’t even think about what I was doing. And I had been in jail for two months when that happened. He said that meth can take two years to totally get out of your system.”
She ultimately served seven months in the Minnesota Adult Correctional Facility for women in Shakopee. It was there, where her life began to change.
Jennifer took a class titled, “12 Steps to a New Day.”
“I grew up in the church. It was always important in our lives,” Jennifer explains. “But I heard ‘Jesus loves you. Jesus died for you.’ Now, I had heard this my whole life, but it wasn’t until I heard it in Shakopee that I got it. He sacrificed his life for me.
“After that class, things began to change at Shakopee. I wasn’t in this blackness, loneliness, despair. There was some hope in my life again.”
It was a couple of volunteers, Dave and Lois, who taught the class.
“They came every week to carry this message, to meet with us and personalize it for us. They said, ‘Jesus died for all of us, but even if there was nobody else, he still would have died for you,’ ” Jennifer recalls.
After seven months, she was accepted into the Challenge Incarceration Program, a six-month, early-release program in Togo, Minn. — a military-style boot camp.
“When you make a mistake, you stand at attention and ask to do push-ups,” she says. “You have a uniform. You shine your boots every day. It is very structured and you also have four hours of intense drug treatment every day. We were up at 5 o’clock every morning, shoveling snow, working out.”
But the boot camp did something arguably more important than provide daily intense drug treatment. It taught Jennifer how to manage her life.
“You learn to pay attention to every little detail in your life,” she says. “When you make your bed in the morning, the cuff at the top of your bed better be four inches. Your shirts better all be hung in the exact same way.
“We asked once, ‘Why is this so important?’ They told us that if you’re not going to pay attention to the little things in your life, you’re not going to pay attention to the big things. And they’re right. They taught us, if you’re going to do a job, do it 110 percent. Don’t do just what you need to do to get by. They were true life lessons.”
When she completed boot camp, she returned to Windom in May 2014 and began rebuilding her life and the lives of her children.
She and her children stayed with her parents in their small two-bedroom apartment for three months before moving back in with Loren.
Meanwhile, she began working at Godfather’s in Windom as a night delivery driver. She’s now worked up to assistant manager.
While Jennifer was getting her life together, Loren was doing the same.
“I had quit drinking,” Loren says, noting that he had been to treatment a year or two earlier, but had continued to drink after treatment. “I had to quit drinking. I knew that for her and the kids to come back, she told me that this is the way it’s got to be.
“I just quit, cold-turkey.”
Loren has worked at Hy-Vee for eight years, including the past two years as assistant night manager.
However, acclimating back to life in Windom was overwhelming for Jennifer — and frightening. She admits she was downright scared to return home. She feared how she would be accepted and if there would be whispers.
But Jennifer got the validation she needed when she returned to the church where she was raised, American Lutheran. She stepped inside the door after returning to Windom in 2014 and was greeted by then church secretary, Gail Derickson.
“She saw me, started crying and said, ‘Oh, Jenny!’ She gave me this big hug and said how glad she was that I was back,” Jennifer recalls. “Then it was OK.
“I was like, ‘Yes, I’m back and I’m not who I used to be.’ I think that was the moment I realized that what happened, happened. But this is a re-do and this is our time.”
While that was one hurdle she cleared, there were others. For instance, when she went to purchase a cell phone, she was so overwhelmed by the choices, she left and didn’t buy one. She had gone from having every aspect of her life structured and decided by someone else to, again, having choices and decisions to make.
But what Loren and Jennifer quickly adapted to was a different life together.
“When we got back together, we weren’t fighting and screaming at each other,” Jennifer says. “When we were drinking, we fought a lot. We were realizing that it was OK to be together and that things were going to be OK. We were learning how to trust each other again.”
Jennifer is not naive about her addiction. She believes in the adage, “once an addict, always an addict,” and knows that if she lets her guard down, she could relapse.
“I know I can’t do it, even once,” she says.
Loren says the same goes for him.
That’s why they continue to keep God at the center of their lives. When Jennifer returned to Windom, she was required to do community service. She did custodial work at her church and she admits, “It’s easy to do Jesus, when you work at a church.”
But when she had completed her community service, God followed them to their home. They pray regularly as a family.
“Sometimes we’ll get in a hurry and our 10-year-old, who was 8 at the time, said, ‘Mom, we forgot to pray,’ ” Jennifer says.
“When the kids first moved in with my mom and dad, Mikal said, ‘Grandma, I don’t believe in God.’ Mikal got confirmed last year and my dad died last May and he said to my dad, ‘Papa, I’ll pray for you.’ He has seen, first-hand, the changes God has made and that God is alive. God is the center of our lives. We’re not perfect. We still do things wrong, but we talk about grace and God’s love and second chances. We talk about God as a family.”
And what does Jennifer’s mom, Mary, think of their family reclamation?
“She’s been the rock,” Jennifer says. “And she is so grateful that everything has happened the way it has. Now that dad has died, we try to help her out and she says, ‘No, no, you don’t have to do that.’ And we say, ‘You were there for us when we couldn’t be. You took care of our kids when we couldn’t. So, please, let us help you.’ ”
Jennifer’s dad also saw their family transformed before he died last year. It reaffirmed his long-held belief that “today is a new day.”
“I don’t know if it was a Christmas or Thanksgiving one year, but we were all together and he just sobbed. He was so happy because of where things were,” Jennifer says.
The Andersons also remain involved in their church. Loren teaches confirmation, while Jennifer runs the sound system during services and also plays in the bell choir. She is also a part of the church’s Befrienders Group.
Two years ago, they bought a home on Buckwheat Ave., in Windom, to which Loren has done a number of upgrades.
They also keep busy following their children’s activities.
When the Andersons sit around the Thanksgiving dinner table this year — yes, even at a restaurant — Jennifer will marvel at and be thankful for what God has done in their lives.
“When we’re sitting together eating, I see that God took this broken family — mom was in prison, dad was in his own hell and the kids were with grandpa and grandma — and he brought us all back together. We’re all snuggled in the arms of Jesus,” Jennifer says.
“Everything that we’ve prayed for, God has provided. I would have never thought our lives could be this good.”