Meet Miracles Program Graduate Lisa Mack
Five years ago, Lisa Mack had hit bottom. Homeless and bouncing from one friend’s basement to another, Lisa’s addiction had destroyed every part of her life – family, marriage, friendships, job, self-esteem, personal health. After losing all of these, Lisa was, in her words, “a completely broken person.” Desperately wanting to change her life, but not knowing how to do it, Lisa called her mom, who brought her to the Siena Francis House.
After being a guest in our women’s shelter for two weeks, Lisa requested to enter the Siena Francis House’s Miracles Addiction Treatment and Recovery Program. Slowly, Lisa began to make the changes in her life that she knew she needed. “I did whatever my counselor asked me to do,” Lisa remembers. Lisa did terrifically in Miracles, and has been sober for 4 years, is engaged to be married, and living a life she could only have dreamed of previously.
Siena Francis House recently caught up with Lisa, shortly after she and her fiancé, Josh, participated in our 25th Annual Hope for the Homeless Walk/Run on September 7. We asked Lisa to share a little of some of her personal story with donors and friends of our organization, including how our programs helped turn her life around.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your childhood?
I always struggled with depression and anxiety. My parents got divorced when I was very young and we had an unstable home life when we lived with my mom, as kids. We were very poor, living in bad neighborhoods, and my mother’s husband at the time was abusive. I always felt lost and alone as a child.
Q: What is/are your addiction(s) and how did it/they start?
My addiction started in my teen years with experimenting with alcohol and drugs…pretty much any kind I could get my hands on. I was on and off with using, but my addiction became full blown after I got divorced in 2012.
Q: How did your disease of addiction affect you, your life, relationships, etc?
My addiction affected my life tremendously! I wasn’t eating, sleeping or caring for myself properly. I was hanging out with bad people. I stayed away from my family and secluded myself. I didn’t call them or answer their calls. I ended up giving my ex-husband temporary permanent custody of my oldest son because I was unable to care for him. I couldn’t hold a job, or keep a place to live. I ended up in one abusive relationship after another, with different men. I bounced around from place to place living at various people’s houses. I lost all of my belongings in the process. I shut all my friends out all my friends and family. I struggled with self-esteem issues, as well as extreme anxiety and depression. Almost every day, I wished I was dead.
Q: How did you end up at the Siena Francis House?
One night, as I was crying on the floor at the home of someone I barely knew, I decided I had had enough of this life. But God told me, “Lisa, you can go get better and change your life around and I will help you. It’s not going to be easy but you are strong and you WILL do it!” The Bible verse Philippians 4:13 came into my mind immediately, “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.” I wanted to get better because I missed my son and my family tremendously. I called my mom and told her I needed to get treatment for my terrible addiction. I got to Siena Francis House on a freezing cold night at the end of December 2014. I truly had nowhere else to go. I checked into the women’s shelter that night. I inquired about the treatment program the next morning and got into it about two weeks later. I lived on the shelter side the entire time before I got into the program.
Q: What did I learn about myself, others, and people experiencing homelessness while in the Siena Francis House’s Miracles Program?
I learned SO many things, I don’t have enough room to name them all! I learned compassion for others. I learned to love myself. I learned how strong of a person I actually was. I learned how to have healthy, strong relationships with women. I learned how to deal with my anger in a productive way. There is healing for anyone, you just have to be willing to do the work. I learned everyone needs someone to reach out and care for them, no matter who you are. Homeless, broken, addicted – we all need love. I learned how to be out of my comfort zone, doing some things I didn’t want do. I learned that my addiction cost me everything! It made me want to become a better person for myself, for my son and for my family. But most importantly, it taught me to fight and to never give up. I wanted to share my story of recovery with all the women in shelter at Siena Francis House, and to encourage them and show them there IS hope. I also learned that having things in life is not necessary to experience happiness. You can live with next to nothing in a homeless shelter, sleeping on a cot in a small room with three other women and feel the best you ever have in your life. Love, kindness and community can change your whole perspective on life; it changed mine.
Serving the guests was an amazing experience. I am a “helper” by nature so it fit right into what my heart needed and wanted to do. It helped to show me that I wasn’t the only one hurting. It gave me a chance to help others in need, while also being given the chance to work on myself. I got to love others and serve them in the process of my recovery. Love given and love received, exactly the way God intended it to be. I made some great friends. We were a very close knit group and formed such a strong community of women while I was there.
Q: What have you been doing since you graduated from the Miracles Program?
In December, I’ll have five years of sobriety and I can honestly say I am truly happy. Having a family and being a mom are the greatest things in life! I reconnected with my oldest son, Kyran. I have a great job, and I’m in a loving relationship with my fiancé, Josh. He and I had a son, Camden, in December 2016. I am blessed with a nice, small house, and I have rebuilt all my relationships with my family members. I work two days a week at a local surgical clinic, and spend the rest of my time at home with my two-and-a-half-year-old, Camden. I love to cook and enjoy sports. I have two awesome cats. We did some traveling this summer which was truly rewarding. It’s been such a long time since I was on a vacation!
It has taken time since graduation to rebuild my life, but I’m slowly and surely doing it! Things just keep getting better every day. The power of prayer and a strong motivation for a wonderful life keep me going every day.
Q: What are you grateful for and what is your perspective on life, relationships, etc.?
I’m so grateful for life, in general. I try to live every day to the fullest and remain positive while doing it. I am extremely grateful for my two boys, my parents, Josh, my brothers and sisters and the rest of my extended family. I love waking up every day in my own house. I even love paying bills and doing average, everyday things, like grocery shopping or going on a walk. Life has its ups and downs, and some of us really get knocked down, but there is a way out. There is a better life out there. God, perseverance and the Siena Francis House got me through my tough times. I am most grateful that I am alive to tell my story today…and to share hope to others struggling with addiction. I pray I can be a light to those in a dark place and to make a difference to even just one person with the experiences I have been through. I wouldn’t change my story for anything, as it has made me into the woman God always knew I could be!
Gifts to Siena Francis House are used to provide food, shelter, clothing, and care of the people who turn to us during their hour of need, and are greatly appreciated. All of our services are provided at no cost to our guests. All gifts to Siena Francis House are tax-deductible to the full extent of the law. Our audited financial statements are freely available by writing to Siena Francis House, P.O. Box 217 DTS – Omaha, Nebraska – 68101. Our donor information is kept in strict confidence; our donor lists are never rented, shared, or exchanged with other organizations. The stories in our letters are real. Identifying details have been changed and file photos may be used to protect the privacy and therapeutic interest of our guests. For more information about Siena Francis House or to include us in your estate planning, please contact Siena Francis House Development Director, Tim Sully, at (402) 341-1821.