Hopeless by anyone's standards: Three felonies, hooked on meth, countless hours of jail time and enough mug shots to wallpaper one of her kid's bedroom door.
With a rap sheet that reads like a hardened criminal, Alisha hit bottom in life -- at thirty. But her impassioned cry for help after 14 years of methamphetamine addiction didn't go unnoticed.
Who heard her – and changed her life – is the last page in this story.
To see Alisha Bryans now, she could pass for a typical "20-something" mom even though she's 37. Fresh-faced and with a sparkle in her eye, this former drug addict remembers the easy road downhill -- and the tough uphill climb to who she is today.
"I grew up in an addicted family," the petite brunette said as she remembered what she thought was normal at the time. "Both my parents were hooked on marijuana and my mom occasionally used meth, although she hid it from my dad."
By the time Alisha was 11, she was stealing marijuana and smoking with her sister's older friends. Meth became her drug of choice at thirteen.
"My best friend's mom was a drug dealer," Alisha said about the girl whose mother supplied meth in exchange for endless babysitting. "So easy. She got us right where she wanted us," referring to the long hours she spent caring for the woman's four little children.
Still, the teenager couldn't get enough of the drug. Before long, she began stealing money from her parents. Not only did the pilfering go unnoticed, she was also able to hide her meth addiction and frequent absence from high school classes.
By the time she was 16, Alisha's parents discovered her habit and she was on the road to the first of many rehabilitation programs.
"I could have taught the classes," said Alisha about her six times in rehab over the years. "I did it for my parents, my husband, my probation officer, but not for myself."
In spite of this kind of help, her life continued in a downward spiral that led to three children, a failed marriage -- including loss of child visitation rights -- and a lot more jail time.
Life wasn't pretty -- nor was Alisha. An arrest photo in 2001 captures the dead stare of a gaunt, hopeless young woman.
But when she moved from Albany, Ore. to Tri-Cities, Wash., with her then-divorced mom, Alisha thought she could start over. Still, the past -- and her habit -- dogged her steps, resulting in more jail time. Eventually, though, drug counseling began to have some effect.
"I thought I was doing pretty well because I was holding down a job and only used meth on my days off," Alisha said, recalling her skewed perspective.
Without much effort she had connected with new drug-using friends. However, one night as she mingled with her regular crowd she spontaneously jumped into a car with some guys she didn't know. Before the joyride in the stolen vehicle was over, Alisha found herself in the middle of a standoff with police, a sawed-off shotgun within arms reach.
Fortunately, one policeman recognized the trembling and weeping young woman, a victim of her spontaneous decision. Knowing Alisha had been out of trouble for quite some time, he decided to give her a break.
"He looked me in the eye and he said, 'Let this be a wake-up call,' " Alisha said, remembering the straight-talking moment on the almost deadly night.
Alone in her apartment the next morning, the broken woman kneeled beside her bed and cried out to God, pleading for a second chance. A feeling of love, forgiveness and comfort was immediate.
"It was a presence that I felt, an assurance I didn't have to go it alone," Alisha said.
Filled with newfound courage and purpose, Alisha called her drug and alcohol counselors knowing the consequences of admitting her drug use. She was arrested shortly thereafter, and the uphill journey began with six months in the Benton County jail.
It was there that a visiting pastor encouraged Alisha to join the inmates Bible study group. That first meeting was the start of a closer walk with her Savior-God and the road to recovery.
Eleven years later, this married, drug-free and inspiring young woman reads the scriptures daily as she hugs on her surprise "miracle child" -- a little boy conceived in spite of doctors' diagnoses of the unlikelihood.
"My favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11," the attractive mom said with a smile as she quoted the familiar words from the Old Testament, " 'For I know the plans I have for you, to give you a future and a hope.' "
Alisha Bryans is proof that God sees the hopeless -- and knows they are not.
(Lucy Luginbill is a career television producer-host and the Spiritual Life editor for the Tri-City Herald. In her column, she reflects on the meaning of her name, "Light Bringer." If you have a story idea for Light Notes, contact her at email@example.com.)
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