From having my kids all to myself, just me and them in our own little world, to making sure that another adult was monitoring our phone call because they're afraid of the person I've become – that was probably the most crushing thing.
My name is Joe Martinez, and this is my story.
September 11, when the towers fell, and me and a lot of my friends decided to join up for military service. That's where I met my ex wife. By 25, my ex wife gave birth to our second child, Alexandria, I got to be a dad to both my children and I got to spend time with them and love them and take care of them. We would make videos for my ex wife of a Stancy. And we would send them to her. She was doing her duty.
As I was back at home, military life was tough. It was really complex, and it was hard. Towards the end of my military career, and I ended up getting hurt, I was in the hospital for 28 days, with feeding catheters in my neck.
It was at this point where I got introduced to pain pills. 30 pills became 60 pills. 60 pills came 90 pills. And 90 pills became 120. To curve, the withdraws, I would drink. I got to the point where my ex wife decided that our marriage had to end.
The judge looked at me and said that it was in no shape physically or mentally or any capacity to Father – my children were taken away. All my rights except for 1%.
I was a father, in title only.
I finally lost everything. I lost my place to live. I started getting in debt at the lawyer fees, lost my job
. By this time, I had realized that I need to get help. And so I entered rehab met a wonderful counselor. There was a lot of tension internally, I was still carrying the weight of being an absent dad, I was still struggling with my past and that's part of the pain that you carry as you move forward is trying to reconcile your past with the future that you want.
From childhood, going to CTK I knew that this was a safe place. I knew this is where there was community.
I remember walking in those doors – my beard was long, my hair was shaggy, and my clothes were dirty. The secretaries at the front desk called back for a pastor and Ron Walton came out into the Commons. He immediately just asked to hear my story. He made me feel seen.
Well, it's safe.
The moment that changed everything
It wasn't until Easter 2016. There was that moment that I realized what was missing. That was Jesus. That's when I realized I I needed to accept that invitation.
I remember walking right down to the front and the pastor's waiting down there.
And as I made my way up the ladder and into the water of that pool, Ron came up and the joy and the love was instantaneous.
It wasn' tlike all of a sudden my life became perfect, but the wonderful thing was there was a presence and there was a love and mercy that was surrounding me every step of the way.
I remember going back to court, the lawyers and the judge, they would take my history – they would read it out loud for everybody in the courtroom to hear. Every time it broke my heart.
A Fresh Start
One September, I asked out a beautiful woman named Janine and in 2017 I asked her to marry me.
She came with a wonderful set of skills that God had blessed her with, and she used them to write wonderful deposition of the change that she saw on me and that the man that I was becoming!
A man that was worthy of having his kids back in his life.
And I remember the judge looking at me looking into the courtroom and finally saying, "Yes, you can be the dad that you want to be." God really used her.
He brought everything full circle to make my family complete.
The first moment I got to be reunited with my kids, I remember them being cautious walking over and hugging me and holding me.
I got to dance with my daughter as my son is in the background laughing and me and my daughter are spinning around the living room. I got to have that all back.
I give all thanks to God – I know what He can do because he did it for me.