Stephan & Sarah

Vicki Mickelson
February 22, 2020

Stephan and Sarah grew up with vastly different experiences. Stephan was raised in a privileged world with Christian parents. Sarah was raised in a family of meth users. She experienced neglect and sexual abuse in between getting loaded with her parents. Years later, Stephan and Sarah’s lives intersected when they both ended up in Coeur d’Alene, addicted to meth.

How they each got there are totally different stories, but one crucial element of their stories is the same: they have both been redeemed by God.

Stephan’s descent into drugs involved avoidance of past trauma, prescriptions, and a search for social acceptance, among many other things. He tried everything to escape reality – heavy drinking, marijuana, cocaine, opioids, and eventually meth.

“I was running from having to face it all, and running from emotion. I didn’t like feeling; I just liked being numb. Or so I thought,” Stephan said. It’s now easy for him to understand that it was fundamentally a spiritual issue.

Being on meth, Stephan said, is “everything the horror posters show.”

Sarah never really had a chance – she was always surrounded by a family who did meth. “That’s all I knew,” she said. “I just thought it was easier to stay numb, because bad things are going to happen, and it’s just easier not to deal with them. You think that you’re worthless.”

After a thirty-year meth addiction, Sarah stopped using the day she found out she was pregnant. “I got another chance to do this right, and I’m taking full advantage of it,” she said. Sarah has other children that she was unable to raise because of drug use.

Stephan stopped using the day their son Michael was born. “The moment I knew there was a God for sure is the first time I saw him,” he said.

Stephan and Sarah joined the Kaleidoscope work services program, KCS Land and Home, in July. The opportunity to join the program was an answer to prayer for them. They had been clean for about two years, but they were couch surfing and having difficulty avoiding neighbors who used. The program helped them obtain stable housing, offered access to a licensed counselor specializing in chemical dependency, and gave them confidence about their ability to hold a job.

“I knew that I could work, but I didn’t think that I could work in a work setting,” Stephan said. “I figured those days were long past.”

He said that at KCS Land and Home, he has had to learn how to deal with emotions that make him uncomfortable, how to interact constructively with personality types he would normally avoid, and how to deal with failure. He had previously been prone to extreme emotional outbursts and was unable to communicate well or tolerate even low levels of stress. Now, he says that he has developed lifelong friends and connections, and he and Sarah have made great strides in their ability to communicate with each other after spending time in counseling. “We found a way of talking about hot topics without snapping at each other and feeling hurt,” Sarah said.

The employees of the program pray together every morning before heading out to the job sites. If someone seems like they are struggling, they are taken aside and asked how they are doing. “It has been a growing experience – spiritually and mentally,” Sarah said.

Stephan and Sarah are currently praying about a potential opportunity to work for an established company with the same values they have encountered at KCS Land and Home. Sarah’s ultimate goal is to go to school and become a chemical dependency counselor. Their son, Michael, is now two and a half.

“I feel like we’re just at the entry gate of some of the miracles and amazing things that are going to happen,” said Stephan.

God has redeemed the broken pieces of Stephan and Sarah’s lives. Although this doesn’t mean everything is now perfect or that they won’t continue to face struggles due to their past choices, trusting in Jesus has given them a hope and a future.

After everything Sarah has gone through, the message she wants to share is this: “You can overcome.”


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