Rooted and Grounded in Love

– Written by Tambi Swiney, Spiritual Wellness Coordinator

In his letter to the church at Ephesus, after reflecting on his divine calling to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the Gentiles, the Apostle Paul records a heartfelt prayer for the Ephesian believers: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love.  I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19).

Many of the clients at The Next Door cannot begin to fathom what it means to be rooted and grounded in love. Some were raised in family systems where they experienced abuse and rejection rather than love and acceptance. Instead of encouraging them to be their best, those they called friends brought out the worst in them. Those who guided them often exploited them or abandoned them in their time of need. Alcohol and drugs became their intimate friends, the life-threatening antidote to their pain. Spirits shattered by trauma. Minds altered by substances. Bodies broken by abuse. Many of our clients don’t know who they can trust–or if they can trust anyone, including God.

Cindy Sneed, The Next Door’s Chief Clinical Officer, reminds the staff and volunteers that our women need to know we will accept them at their worst and love them to their best. “Everything we do at The Next Door is about creating a safe environment–a sanctuary of the heart, mind, and soul. We must show them a biblical, unconditional love. The Next Door is a faith-based ministry that functions through evidence based clinical practices. This makes us unique in our field,” Cindy explains.

Our clients cannot be rooted and grounded in the love of Christ until they comprehend that they are worthy of Christ’s love. Every day, the staff and volunteers at The Next Door strive to cultivate an environment where women can experience the unconditional love of God, a place where they can learn to trust their Higher Power, others, and themselves again. Every day, we see evidence that love is taking root.

Since The Next Door first opened our doors over 15 years ago, the lives of over 8,400 women have been touched by God’s love through the words and actions of our compassionate staff and volunteers. Through our evidence-based substance abuse and mental health services, lives are being transformed, families are being reunited, communities are being strengthened.

Just as seeds must be sown in good soil in order to bear much fruit, the roots of recovery that will anchor a woman’s life for years to come will grow ever deeper in a soil–an environment–where her physical, mental, and spiritual needs are met, a place where love, faith, hope, wholeness, community, respect, and encouragement are core values. This is the model our staff and volunteers have maintained at The Next Door.

As the wild, praying women who were midwives to the birth of The Next Door can attest, God has done abundantly more than all they asked or imagined over the past 15 years. Clients are laying down roots that will anchor a lifetime of recovery as they learn the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ.

“Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Fall Benefit 2019

– Written by Laryssa Schepel, Community Outreach and Events Coordinator

My job title at The Next Door is “Community Outreach and Events Coordinator.” When introducing my role to others, I tell them that half of my time is spent cultivating relationships with local businesses and churches, and the other half is helping coordinate fundraising events at The Next Door. Although we have several fundraising events throughout the year, our biggest and most well-known event is our annual Fall Benefit. Formerly known as ‘the Luncheon,’ the Fall Benefit has grown tremendously, and for the second year in a row, we have added a breakfast event in addition to the luncheon to make room for our growing number of supporters.

This was my first Fall Benefit at The Next Door since I became a staff member 8 months ago. It was also the first Fall Benefit I have the honor of saying I played a role in coordinating. Boy, I can’t say I knew the work I was in for! The months spent recruiting table hosts, corporate sponsors, promoting our event, putting together the program… the list goes on and on. So much work and heart goes into putting on the very best program. I can’t believe that Kate, my incredible supervisor (and Director of Development at The Next Door), took on this event herself for more than four years. It is by no means an easy feat to pull off!

I know those who were there would agree that the program was moving and powerful. In my eyes, one of the most powerful moments of the program was Morgan Coyner’s speech. For those who don’t know, Morgan is my co-worker at TND, but she also shares an office with me. Morgan shared the story of her mom who unexpectedly lost her life to an opioid overdose just a few months ago. Her mother kept her addiction a secret for at least 12 years. There was not a dry eye in the room at the conclusion of Morgan’s speech. It was raw; it was vulnerable, and it was RELATABLE. There was something about Morgan’s story that allowed people in the room to understand that our clients aren’t just ‘addicts.’ They are one of us. They are daughters, sisters, wives, grandmas, nieces, and friends. We are no different than our clients and women who struggle with addiction. I know hundreds of people in the room related to Morgan’s story.

Another incredible takeaway from the Fall Benefit was hearing two former clients speak about how The Next Door is a “different” kind of treatment center. Through meetings with Jami and Brittney before the Benefit and hearing them share their stories on stage, I learned that women in prison talk about The Next Door as a place where there is a glimmer of hope for them. Women in prison cells and in hopeless places share that there is hope in this building. Hope really does live in the walls of The Next Door. Brittney mentioned that she felt the spiritual presence in our building as soon as she walked through the front door. Other clients have echoed this thought, even though many enter in an altered state of mind. There is something so beautiful about how 15 years ago, this ministry began through the obedience of a handful of women to whom God spoke His desire for The Next Door. It is evident that the Lord has blessed this ministry and His hand is on it.

The Lord is doing so many beautiful things here at The Next Door. The Fall Benefit is just one of the many avenues used to show hundreds of people how God is moving day in and day out. I will never take the privilege of coordinating such a special event lightly. What I have learned in the last 8 months at The Next Door and through the Fall Benefit is no matter who she is, or where she comes from, she is no different than you or me. She is one of us. And The Next Door is providing hope for women in dark places.

If you weren’t able to attend the benefit, you can watch it here.

Six Reasons to Participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

-Kristi Fritch, Pharmacy Intern; Emily Kohal, Family Nurse Practitioner; Mel Kirby, Registered Nurse

National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

October 26, 2019 is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day Hosted by the Drug Enforcement Administration, it’s a day to promote best practices regarding medication and to give people a chance to return any medications they no longer need.

For the first time this year, they will also be accepting vaping devices and cartridges. Be sure to click the link above for more information.

Why should we return old medication anyway? If you’re like me, you have an entire bathroom drawer filled with old antibiotics, painkillers, and any other prescriptions you never finished taking. What’s the big deal about this? A few of our medical staff have the answer to this question!

Six Answers:
  1. There is a reason certain medications are prescribed vs. being over-the-counter.
    We are all familiar with certain medications like ibuprofen and Pepto-Bismol. These medications can be purchased anywhere—a drug store, the supermarket, a gas station—and we can make the choice whether to take them when symptoms arise. Not all medications work this way. Medications like antibiotics, narcotics, and other more powerful medications are only prescribed from health care professionals. This is an important distinction. Taking these medications without the proper counseling from your prescriber or pharmacist can be dangerous.
  2. Side Effects, Drug Interactions, Drug Allergies
    Prescription medications often have complex drug interactions and side effects. If someone gives you a pill that they were prescribed for migraine headaches, there’s a possibility that it can interact with a medication you already take. A health care professional can advise you about these reactions, but only if they know what medications you are taking. Drug allergies are like any other allergies – you don’t know you’re allergic until you have a reaction. These reactions can be life-threatening. A prescriber or pharmacist can warn you about these in advance, but often times, just reading the pill bottle is not enough.
  3. Unintentional spreading of opioid crisis/supporting those in active addiction
    A major way that people living in active addiction get access to pills is from medicine cabinets. If you have leftover opioids from a surgery, someone close to you may take them while using the bathroom at your house. We can stop the unintentional spread of the opioid crisis by giving back our medication when we are finished with it.
  4. Drugs lose efficacy over time.
    You may have heard the rumor that drug expiration dates aren’t “real.” Will you die from taking an old antibiotic? Probably not. However, drugs do lose their efficacy over time. This means that even if you take an expired pill for the right reason, it might not work as well as it did when it was first prescribed.
  5. Prescription medications are meant to be taken as prescribed.
    When we keep medication past its expiration, it often means we aren’t using the medication as prescribed. This is especially true of antibiotics. These are supposed to be taken in their entirety. When they aren’t, there’s a chance that the bacteria hasn’t been fully killed, and you can stay sick. Realistically, we wouldn’t have any leftover antibiotics. However, if we do, we aren’t taking them as prescribed when we decide we want to take them the next time we aren’t feeling well.
  6. Medication Safety
    It’s no secret that kids can get into anything. This include pill bottles. Keeping medication that’s unnecessary can be a hazard for children in the house.
What can you do?
  1. Return your medications. Click HERE to find a drop off location near you.
  2. Talk to your local pharmacist. They are the least utilized and most available providers in the health care field. You don’t need an appointment. Just go to your local pharmacy and ask for them. They want to help!

picture from patch.com

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

– Written by Jane Saffles-Granville, Therapist

Many years ago, at a different job in a different state, I had a client who came to my agency with the worst black eye I had ever seen. She had fled an abusive relationship and was homeless in a strange city. Within a few weeks, her partner had come looking for her. We did our best to support her and protect her, but it wasn’t long before we saw them together, holding hands, the bruise having only just faded.

My colleagues and I were upset, of course. We’d seen how badly she had been hurt, how determined she’d been to escape, and how quickly she ended up back with her abuser. How could she, we asked ourselves? How could she go back?

As social services professionals, we knew the answer was far more complicated than it appeared on the surface. The cycle of violence is a vicious one to break, often like the cycle of addiction.

Domestic violence (DV, also known as intimate partner violence/IPV) and addiction often overlap; many of our women are survivors of domestic violence, and drug abuse among partners can escalate physical or emotional violence. Sometimes in group therapy, we talk about how similar they are. Early drug use may feel like falling in love. The drugs make you feel special and important. The drug is your closest friend, your confidant, your lover. That feeling doesn’t last long, though, and over time, it starts to hurt you—but you keep chasing that feeling you knew existed once, that first high.

Or maybe you know you can never get back there to that first high. You know how dangerous it is to keep trying, but getting away is even scarier. It’s the unknown; it’s risky and scary in ways you don’t know how to deal with, and at least you know (or think you know) how to be an addict.

When I make this analogy, I often see recognition in my client’s eyes as they nod, as if to say I know both those things. Clients have come to me, crying, asking both “How can I still love him?” and, “How can I still want to use?” It’s not a perfect analogy, but even though I know the psychology of relapse and the disease of addiction, part of me aches when I ask myself, “How could she go back?” when someone relapses.

From the outside, it seems simple: get away, get sober, don’t go back, but the tragedy of addiction and the tragedy of IPV are often the same.  At The Next Door, we exist to empower women—for recovery, for survival, for safety. For many of our women, lifetime recovery depends on breaking both the cycle of addiction and the cycle of violence.  Our core values help support this mission and give our clients the love, respect, encouragement, and resources to begin their lives safe and sober.

There’s another heartbreaking similarity between addiction and domestic violence: both are deadly. If you or someone you know might be experiencing abuse, please read more about the signs here (https://www.ywcanashville.com/domestic-violence/warnings/) and call a free, 24/7 crisis line 1-800-334-4628 for help.

Faith, Hope, and Recovery

– Written by Anna Derrington, Certified Peer Recovery Specialist

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” – Matthew 17:20

One day while I was sitting in treatment at The Next Door, a volunteer came to share some hope with my fellow group of residential clients. She read this scripture to us and shared a motivational story about having just the tiniest bit of faith and how it can be life changing to believe in something. When I think about faith the size of a mustard seed, I think about hope. Hope is one of our core values at TND, and it is the one that stood out to me most during my first days, weeks, and months of recovery.

The Next Door has a program for alumni called Aftercare. It is a support group for program graduates, and it was so impactful for me to be able to come back to The Next Door after leaving residential treatment. My first night attending Aftercare, the facilitator asked us to pick a word that meant something to us and to write it decoratively with paint pens on natural rocks. “Hope” is the word I wrote on my rock. I kept that rock with me everywhere I went. When I was asked a couple of months later to come share my story with current clients, I brought my rock in with me and held it while I shared my experience, strength, and “hope” with ladies sitting right where I had just been. That was in 2016. In 2017, I had the honor of being asked to speak at the main fundraising event for The Next Door. My rock was with me then as well. The following year, I was honored to transition from alumni to staff. Also, in 2018, TND’s big fundraising event’s theme was “Lead Me to The Rock.” During the event, all attendees were given rocks with positive and affirming words written on them. “Hope” is the word that was written on the random rock given to me that year. I found hope here at The Next Door, a little over three years ago.

At the beginning of treatment, I did not want to be here. The idea of getting sober seemed as impossible to me as moving mountains. The first two weeks were some of the most difficult of my life, but there is something special about The Next Door. It creates a safe and healing space for women. After I let go and began to trust the process, I found peace here. There came a point in my treatment where a shift happened, and I surrendered. A place I had not honestly wanted to come to became a place I did not want to leave. A lightbulb had turned on. I realized I didn’t have to use anymore. That realization flooded me with relief and freedom. I heard people say that before, but it took me a long time to accept the personal freedom in that truth.

Aftercare gave me an opportunity to keep coming back to the place where my life had changed and where my new life had begun. I came every Wednesday night from 6-7. On Thursdays and Sundays, I volunteered to bring a 12 Step meeting to the residential clients with the help of my sponsor and other women in the fellowship. I was encouraged to go back to school and finish my degree. One of my classes at Belmont asked me to do a service project, and I chose The Next Door. I started volunteering to serve lunch once a week. Sometimes I was asked to facilitate the Aftercare meetings. This was a huge honor! Eventually, a front desk volunteer was needed, and I was offered to start training for that position. I volunteered at the front desk and then applied to work there as an employee. I was hired part time! It was an absolute dream come true. A goal I had set for myself in early recovery had become a reality.

This recovery stuff is magic, I promise you that. When we keep doing the next right thing we are amazed at what transpires. This IS a promise. There are no words for the gratitude I have for this place, the people who work here, and the women who come here for treatment. Shortly after, I was asked to apply to be a Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. By staying connected, volunteering, and being asked to participate, I was able to set and achieve goals for myself. This was a huge contributing factor in my recovery.

Consistently coming back and engaging in meaningful participation helped me stay rooted in my recovery. I’ve always been interested in helping and adding to my community. Back in high school, I created a club called Hillsboro Helps to offer volunteer opportunities for the local students as well as Sudanese and Somali exchange students living in Nashville. I lost the desire for being involved with my community in active addiction, but Aftercare provided the opportunity for me to get reconnected and involved in my community. This was a gift. The Next Door, and being in recovery, has given me numerous gifts, including my life. And my life is tremendously wonderful today.

I did not fully realize in the early days of my recovery how important this place had become to me. It is only through reflecting back that I can see how essential The Next Door has been to my journey of finding my true and purposeful self. Being in recovery has given me the chance to figure out who I am. The person I’m turning into doesn’t want or need drugs and alcohol. I used drugs and alcohol as my solution for a long time. Now, I’m even better than I was when I first started using. I do not even slightly resemble the person I was before. That realization happened here, and The Next Door will always hold a very special place in my heart

Recovery can sometimes be hard, but it is far from impossible. Even if you start out with faith the size of a mustard seed—with hope—you can take steps towards healing with love and support.

Homecoming

You Matter!

– Janie Elkins, Certified Peer Recovery Specialist

My dream wasn’t to be an addict. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a veterinarian. But addiction is not a choice. Sure, I made the choice to experiment, but it stopped being a choice quickly. It’s a brain disease. It makes our brains distort the truth. At 49 years old, I found myself in prison having lost the will to live. I’d been using drugs for 30 years. I had resolved to live the life of an addict. When I got to prison, I made a choice to get sober. I wanted to do something different. I didn’t know how or what – just that if I was going to live, something had to change.

I joined a therapeutic program in prison and ended up being asked to be a mentor. I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t think I had anything to offer. The counselors pointed things out to me—that other women looked up to me, that multiple women had mentioned my name as someone who helped them through a struggle. I wondered if maybe I could make a difference.

For so much of my life, I felt like I didn’t matter. Like I was a lost cause. Hopeless. That program was the start of building my confidence. Getting to The Next Door helped my healing process. For me the hardest part of recovery was self-love, but the staff at The Next Door gave me the blessing of love. They loved me until I learned to love myself. Now, I try to offer that gift to every woman that comes to The Next Door. I want them to know that they matter.

While I was in prison, I started reading the Bible. I paid close to attention every time God said something about who He was. Growing up, I thought God was mean and hurtful. I didn’t want that God. But as I read His word, He said He was loving. And that love was unconditional. Nothing I could do or had done could change His love for me. He was accepting. He was kind. If those things were true about Him, then what He says about me is true, too. I’m not the monster I thought I was. I am forgiven. I am loved. I matter.

I think that addicts are God’s chosen people. If you read the Bible, you see that Jesus hung with prostitutes. He touched lepers. He wasn’t afraid to go near the sick. No one wanted these people. They had been secluded from the rest of society. But Jesus hugged them and loved them. The world does this with addicts—withholds things from them. Labels them. Judges them. Pushes them to the side. God says there’s a purpose on my life, that He has a plan for me. That plan is not to bring me harm. He tells me I am fearfully and wonderfully made. So I believe it.

Recovery is full of ups and downs. Acceptance is the key. Life hasn’t gotten easier. I’ve just learned how to deal with life on life’s terms. There’s always a solution that doesn’t include getting high. Keep a list of sober contacts. Get a sponsor. Keep yourself rooted in the recovery community. Remain humble. Give God the credit. He’s the one who saved me.

You matter. You are loved. You can do this. You don’t got it, but you can do it.

 

Overdose and Suicide: How do we categorize tragic deaths?

This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. In recent years, awareness about suicide has increased, but there are still so many questions surrounding this type of death, especially as it relates to drug use and overdoses.

Overdose or Suicide?

Losing someone who has overdosed leaves us with so many questions. How could this happen? What did I miss? Did they do it on purpose? In the early stages of grief, we find ourselves obsessed with finding the answers, investigating the lives of our loved one until we can hardly bear to see what we find. And ultimately, we rarely get the answers we seek. And the answers don’t change the most important thing: that person is not coming back to us.

In the case of overdose, the question of suicide almost always arises. Recently, people in the fields of public health and addiction treatment and research have started asking are any overdoses accidental? Should they be lumped into the category of suicide rather than separated?

An Economics professor at Princeton says that overdoses and suicide are both “deaths of despair” and that overdoses are “suicides in one form or another” [1]. His reasoning, outside of economic factors like marriage and labor statistics, is that the same issue lies behind both deaths: hopelessness.

But what about the other side? Today, it’s hard to tell what’s actually in a pill bought on the black market. You may think you’re buying Percocet, but it could be laced with Fentanyl. If someone dies because of this, it isn’t necessarily suicide. That person might have a level of hopelessness due to their addiction, but it doesn’t mean they wanted to end their life over it. They could have been unaware of the actual toxicity of that batch of drugs.

The Real Issue

The real answer is that in most overdose cases, we will never know the answer. Fentanyl in a toxicology report doesn’t automatically mean the overdose was accidental. You would have to know that the person taking the drug was unaware of the Fentanyl. Some overdose cases are probably seen as accidental when it’s actually a convenient solution for someone already considering suicide. There’s also the issue of how relapse plays into overdoses. During periods of sobriety, a person’s tolerance to a drug lowers. If they relapse and use the same amount they used before sobriety, it can kill them. The scenarios are endless and unique, like every individual life behind the startling statistics about suicide rates and the opioid epidemic.

So where does that leave us? One of the most common risk factors for suicide is substance abuse. The desire and need to escape pain are often indicators that someone may eventually want to rid themselves of that pain forever. Substance use disorders are often rooted in trauma and emotional pain. These two things are also reasons so many people choose to take their own lives. Does it matter how we categorize the deaths? Overdose? Suicide? Intentional? Unintentional? There’s an underlying issue that’s much more important. Our society needs to prioritize mental and behavioral health if we are going to see a change in overdose and/or suicide death rates.

What You Can Do

We cannot change the past or raise the dead, but we can work toward a better, healthier future. If you think someone you know or love might be battling suicidal thoughts or desires, ask them about it. It feels counter intuitive, like something we should avoid. But bringing it out into the open can actually make a person feel relieved. It takes away the burden of secrecy and shame. It can allow you to get them the help they need.

If YOU are struggling, know that there is help available. Whether you believe it or not, you matter! God has something beautiful waiting for you on the other side of the darkness. Come into the light.

RESOURCES:

Call our hope line if you need treatment for a substance use disorder: 1-855-TND-HOPE (1-855-863-4673).

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Text the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741

Click the link below to find other mental health resources.

https://twloha.com/find-help/

[1] https://www.thedailybeast.com/are-fatal-overdoses-a-form-of-suicide

Reflections from a Summer Intern

Written by Helen Phillips, Development Team Intern

When you think of a teenager’s job, you might think of a retail store or fast food restaurant. My brother, for example, worked as a “bag boy” at Richland Country Club until he left for college a few weeks ago. This summer, I had the opportunity to volunteer with the Development Team at The Next Door, and it was an experience unlike any other.

My grandmother, Candy Phillips, was one of the wild praying women. However, I never heard the term “The Next Door” until after her death in 2017. To be fair, it is a little difficult to explain to a child that her “CanCan” helps women in re-entry and addiction recovery. Wanting to learn more about the amazing life she lived, I tried to attend a few TND events with my grandfather, Bill, and mother, Kathryn, who serves on the Board. This is how I met Kate McKinnie, the Director of Development, who asked if I wanted to gain experience in the world of fundraising.

They gave me a cubicle with a desktop and a key card to get in and out of the building – I was feeling very official! The small Development Team of 3 had turned into 4, and I was immediately put to work with community outreach. I emailed churches, Chambers of Commerce, heads of high schools and colleges. I reorganized spreadsheets and donor data. I asked for donations and sold tables for the Fall Benefit. I assembled bulletin boards in residence halls. I ran the TND social media, and I assessed preliminary grant work. My favorite work was creating programs and flyers for the different events TND will host this fall. In this, I got to be creative, and I didn’t feel like an intern. Maybe you saw my program at Songwriter’s Night or the flyer for TND Homecoming! You probably saw some of my Instagram posts and stories!

Trust me when I say: there is always something going on at TND. My very first day, I was thrown into the energy of the Operations Department celebrating June birthdays with a potluck. The main dish? A homemade strawberry cake large enough to feed an army made by the one and only Wanda. Boxes and boxes of donations came in at least twice a week that had to be sorted and distributed. Walking down the hallways, I met clients who had lived a thousand lives and had a thousand stories. People wrote letters telling us how grateful they were for saving their life. I will never get over those.

Although most people my age would never dream of spending their summer at a desk earning no money, I gained so much “real work” experience that I am forever grateful for. I learned the behind the scenes of nonprofits and fundraising. I learned that sometimes you have to call someone again and again to accomplish a task. I learned that a smile goes a long way in a meeting and, no matter what, to always treat someone with respect, because you have no idea what they are going through.

Most of all, I miss my friends. I got to meet Malinda, who bravely opens every donation box and handles all volunteering on top of being a rock star liaison. There is Rachel, who manages just about everything at TND while being a mom to the most adorable girls. Ren, our tech savvy guy who loves John Mayer and never failed to mess with my laptop every time I left for the day. I’ll miss Sharon, who is so genuinely nice to everyone. In my little Development team, I miss Laryssa and her quirky food choices and her love for God. Kate, the best boss I could have asked for, who was always proud of my work and always kept an upbeat attitude. I found an office best friend in Morgan, who besides being one of the smartest people I know, is undoubtedly the bravest. I look forward to more car rides full of bad country songs.

God is present at TND; you can feel it as soon as you walk in the building. I cannot wait until I am back inside and seeing the smiles of clients and employees alike.

Waiting For Morning

Written by Joy Fanguy, Clinical Associate

In the spring of 2008, I sat in a small kitchen inside a children’s home that ran out of an abandoned hospital in the tiny town of Garca, Brazil. As I chatted with the mother of the home, she shared with me that sometimes the children came to the home in the middle of the night kicking and screaming, and that she had to hold them tight until the Enemy no longer had control over them. She told me that you could literally feel the evil exiting their bodies. Knowing that I had shared my story of my fall into addiction at a local juvenile prison there in Brazil, she asked me a daring question: “When you were using drugs late at night, did you ever feel like you were not alone in the room? Like the Enemy was just there waiting for you?”

“The enemy comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” John 10:10

Wow. Yes, I did. I had never told anyone that. It always seemed like something was out there lurking in the dark, just waiting to snatch me from God. I stayed terrified of nighttime for a long time. Nights at The Next Door for these frightened and vulnerable women are not much different. You see, there’s just something about the darkness that makes everything scarier and leads us to believe that everything seems more hopeless. Under the cover of darkness, the Enemy comes out to play. Sometimes nights can drag us deeper and deeper down as we wait for the sunrise. This especially seems to apply to those desperately trying to escape the Enemy…like the ladies here at The Next Door.

“When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.” Micah 7:8

It is such a great gift to be able to be here at The Next Door during the night. We get to take what we have gone through ourselves and turn that darkness into hope. We get to soothe these precious women when the nightmares come and when they don’t feel safe from themselves. We get to remind them that the Enemy has already been defeated. We get to assure them that morning will always come and that everything will seem clearer in the light of day. Because it always does. And when morning comes, we don’t have to fight our battles in the darkness. God tells us that joy always comes in the morning. I have never found a single reason to doubt that. My hope is that these women will come to believe the same during their time with us. The darkness tells lies, but the Light…the Light saves us.

“Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Psalm 30:5