My name is Elizabeth Roldan and I graduated from Tabitha House in March of this year.
I arrived at Tabitha House in September of 2008 after 30 years of addiction. I started using drugs when I was 11. By the time I was 15 I was freebasing cocaine. During those years, I tried to stay clean. I was in and out of many treatment programs and actually overcame a heroin addiction only to become addicted to alcohol six years later. As an alcoholic, I was not able to function without waking up and taking a drink.
My life was typical of an addict. I had a series of abusive relationships throughout my addictions. I’d get clean and then start using again. It just was a vicious cycle.
Before I came to Tabitha House I had spent 4 months in inpatient Treatment – 28 days at Interventions and then three months at HRDI. When I finished those programs, I knew I still needed more help. And, I was homeless; I had no contact with or family support. I had made a complete mess of my life and I was so, so tired. I had no idea who I was anymore. The person I had become was only due to the bad choices I had made. But I always knew that was not who I was supposed to be.
I had been crying out to God. I knew of the Lord – I actually got saved years ago when I was in a treatment for my heroin addiction. But I had not been in relationship with God for years. I had no foundation. I could not hear from God. I thought that’s it. You’re done, not even God wants anything to do with you.
I learned about Tabitha House when I was in treatment at HRDI. While in that program I attended Monument of Faith Church and Graduates of Tabitha House had come to share at one of the services. My counselor recommended that I try to get into Tabitha House because she saw my desire to learn the Word and grow in Christ. I interviewed at Tabitha House and was accepted.
From my first morning there, sitting at the kitchen table at devotions, I realized God had not only heard every one of my prayers, but He had answered them when the door to Tabitha House was opened to me.
This was my first revelation. God knows what I need. And I don’t. So I surrendered.
I knew I was incapable of making decisions and I needed accountability, guidance, love and discipline. Tabitha House teaches and gives all those things. I wanted and needed someone to help me. I had no foundation in Christianity.
Tabitha House and Restoration Ministries has walked me through this process. Sometimes with me having a tantrum in my head and only able at the time to be obedient. Sometimes being obedient is all you can do. But in doing so I have been blessed immeasurably. I hope now, that these things I’ve learned are evident in my character.
The women of Tabitha House, the graduates, my counselor, my mentor, the body at Spirit of God Fellowship, and all of the volunteers who come to Tabitha House loved me at a time I did not love myself. They taught me the word and spiritual principals and supported me through the process of inner healing & forgiveness. I was released from my guilt and shame. I am a new creation.
I have witnessed God perform complete miracles in my life. I have 3 beautiful daughters, Elaina, Melissa & Samantha. I also have 8 grandchildren including a set of identical twin boys that are 8 months old. I am working on restoring those relationships.
Before coming to Tabitha house I had not seen any of my children in years. Due to my addiction I was never able to even be consistent in phone calls to them, let alone see them because my addiction had so much control over me.
During the time I was at Tabitha House I was able to start communicating with my eldest daughter Elaina, who’s 24 and my middle daughter Melissa, who’s 18.
But up until 7 months ago I was not allowed to speak to or have any contact with my youngest daughter Samantha who is 16. Her caregiver, who was her dad’s sister, would not allow me. At this point I had not seen Samantha since she was 11 years old. It really seemed like an impossible situation. I prayed a lot it about all the time and sought counsel.
I found out my daughter Samantha was in a very bad situation. She had run away from home and after that her aunt had her put into a psychiatric hospital based on lies and false information. I needed to try to find some way to help her. I planned to go downtown to the Guardian’s office to see what I could do – to see if I could get guardianship now that I was finally sober.
The night before I was going to downtown, I received amazing prayer from the Elders at Spirit of God fellowship and before I left that morning, my sisters at Tabitha house prayed with me too.
When I got to the Guardian’s office, I filled out all sorts of legal documents necessary to approach the court just to obtain a court date.
The people at the guardian’s office were very helpful. However after explaining the urgency of Samantha’s situation they told me it was probably less then a 50% chance that I would even be able to speak to a judge and I probably wouldn’t get a court date for at least 3 months.
I went into the court and approached the clerk with my request. It was June 3rd and she gave me a court date for August 30th. I explained it was an emergency and I needed to speak to the judge because of my daughter’s situation. I just could not wait until August 30th. The clerk told me to have a seat.
When I was called up before the judge, I do not even know what I said. It was not me speaking. God gave me the words to say… and the judge gave me a court date for the next day.
She also gave me an affidavit that I could serve Samantha’s Guardian in person to appear in court. This is not the way it’s done. The law requires that only a certified appointed person from the court can serve affidavits. I actually put my eldest daughter’s name on the affidavit because I knew her aunt would not even open the door for me.
While waiting for the papers to be drawn up a very young gentleman approached me, a stranger who was sitting at the other end of the court room, and he handed me 3 sheets of paper all containing prayers. I believe he was an angel sent just for me.
The next morning, when I showed up in the courtroom, there was a new clerk and she could not believe the Judge gave me the affidavit to serve Samantha’s guardian. She was shocked and said that had never happened in that courtroom before! She even went into the judge’s chambers to make sure it was true.
Anyway, Samantha’s aunt showed up in court and we all approached the bench and were sworn in. Now there are laws that all guardians - biological or not - have to have background checks done by the courts prior to receiving custody. But, I not only was given back custody of Samantha without any questions, they didn’t request a background check.
That was only God. That is just not done in the state of Illinois in custody cases. Ask anyone who has ever been involved in a custody case. God moved so fast in this situation I could not keep up with him. It was a complete impossible situation for man, but not for God.
I then proceeded from court to the hospital where Samantha was. But they would not release her. I called 911 and the police came to the hospital. I showed them the papers and they spoke with hospital administrators and then they told me “Ms. Roldan, your daughter Samantha will be right down.”
Since I was still living at Tabitha House I needed to find a place for us to live fast. I did have a job though. I was employed and had been employed by Restoration Ministries for 1 year at our South Holland Thrift Store. I started at the store as a volunteer (with the other Tabitha House women) and after 18 months I was offered a job. And last April, I was promoted to Store Manager.
Next I found a great place to live. My mentor Nikki Jo Lopez and her husband owned a two flat in East Hazel Crest and needed renters at the same time I needed a place. So I moved into the second floor apartment and Cyndi, another recent Tabitha House graduate who now has her children, moved into the first floor.
The only thing we needed now was a car!
In August, Ray Banks called me out into the parking lot of the store complaining about a car parked there - asking me whose car it was and told me that it needed to be moved.
I said Ray, “I have no idea whose car it is. It’s probably a customer’s.”
And, he said, “No. It’s yours and handed me the title and the keys.” What can you even say to that?
Restoration Ministries had just received the car, a 1994 Mercury Topaz, from a donor. We really needed transportation. It was an unexpected blessing that blew me away and no words could express my gratitude.
My daughter Samantha and I now are settled in our new home. Samantha attends Thornwood High school where she is a junior. We are getting to know each other again. That is not without its challenges for both of us.
But today I have a foundation and His name is Jesus Christ. He is my Cornerstone and everyday I continue to grow.
It is because I had a place like Tabitha House to go to. I want to thank everyone here for your support of Tabitha House. Words cannot express the impact your generosity has played in my life and my family’s.