Roxanne grew up a wanderer, and not entirely by choice. She and her sister essentially raised themselves while their mother struggled with a heroin addiction.
After Roxanne started acting out in school and skipping classes as a pre-teen, she was sent to live with their aunt and uncle in California. She moved back to Arizona a few years later. Then the partying started.
"I was single, 18, doing whatever I liked, living the party life," says Roxanne. She had her first "real" boyfriend at 20, and her first child at 21.
A year or so later, she hit a milestone she'd later regret: trying meth for the first time.
As her meth use became consistent, many other parts of her life fell into chaos. "I was in and out of relationships my whole life, living here and there," she says. "I would go to jail for a day, get put on probation … I ended up running from the law for half my life."
In 2011, Roxanne went to prison for the first time, for a stolen car and drug possession. The second time was for selling dangerous narcotics in 2014. It was during that second sentence that she gave birth to one of her sons, who was taken into the care of someone Roxanne knew on the outside.
And that wouldn't be the only time she witnessed new life behind bars.
"My family wanted nothing to do with me at that point," Roxanne explains, "and I got to where I said, you know what, God might be the only way I can get through this. Nobody else wants me."
Roxanne discovered new life through the Prison Fellowship Academy™. She still says it's the main thing that made a difference her second time in prison, because this time, she tackled her toughest questions:
Where did it all begin? Why did we start living that way? What was the root of our issues and behavior?"
Roxanne began to uncover the hurts she had buried deep. "[The Academy] …gives you other ways to deal with it," she says. "Better ways with God, healthier ways that you never knew. We needed someone to teach us."
"I felt like a new person when I finished it," Roxanne adds, heaving a sigh of relief. "A whole new me. And I knew that the only way for me to get my life where I want to be, and to get my children back, I needed to do this."
A HEALING OF WOUNDS
Now, Roxanne is released, living and working outside Phoenix, saving up money to buy a home, and restoring relationships with family—including DJ, the son she had in prison, who is living with his real mom again. And while life isn't easy, Roxanne's freedom in Christ gives her hope to keep moving forward.
"I just got through those first months remembering everything that I learned," Roxanne shares. God's been teaching me patience, especially as a mom. I got two of [my children] back … [My fiancé and I] are learning to be parents, learning responsibility."
And Roxanne will never forget how her life changed in prison: "God has really healed wounds."