Matt Brockway

From Shame to Joy

Matt BrockwayHello, my name is Matt Brockway and I am the plant manager for Bonus Crop Fertilizer, Inc., in Greenville, Texas. We blend dry fertilizer and golf course turf. Our brand name is Green Diamond and our sales have grown our sales to $12 million per year. I would like to tell you my story.

 

I am originally from Wills Point, Texas; a little town in Van Zandt County. I am an only child. I came from a separated family. My mom and dad got a divorced when I was young. My mom raised me for a period of about five years. I still saw my dad on scheduled visitations every other weekend. Both of my parents eventually remarried, my mom and stepdad were well-to-do. Both had very good jobs and, get this - they didn’t do drugs. My step dad drank occasionally, but he never got out of control.

I attended a private Christian school through the sixth grade, and public schools until I graduated. I was Mr. Popular in school. I had the nicest clothes, and the best cars. I was the first person to get those POLO boots in school. We’re talking about 1995 when they were hot.

My dad and step mother went to church every Sunday; and they put God first in everything they did. Needless to say, my drinking and partying didn’t fit their agenda. I tried to make it work, but I didn’t want to go to church. I wanted to hang out with friends and do as I pleased.  I didn’t want to follow the rules. I wanted to do what I wanted to do when I wanted to do it. My dad and I had a falling out when I was fourteen years old and I didn’t ever speak to him again until I was in my early 30s. The absence of a father played a role in my drug use and I tried to fill the void in my life with drugs and alcohol.

Living in a small town, we rode back roads drinking and smoking pot on the weekends. My parents knew that we were drinking. Their solution to the problem was to let us drink at their house instead of out on the roads. I threw huge parties. On several occasions pictures got back to the principal and often to the parents of the kids that were at the party. I was almost kicked out of school because of the parties.

I graduated from high school, and I decided to try to make in the world without going to college. I worked for a while and continued to live at home with my mom and stepdad. 

 I waited until I was 21 to attend college. How do you think that worked out for me? I was drinking all of the time, and smoking pot, using ecstasy, and acid. Eventually, I discovered crystal meth and became an addict.  Is anyone else a functioning addict? I met a girl in college and followed her to Greenville so she could finish college, and I could keep taking classes toward my degree. She and I partied and we fell in love crystal meth.

I loved methamphetamines. I would sell my soul to get it. Needless to say, that girl and I found out that we didn’t have anything in common but an addiction. The relationship was toxic. We tried to make it work, but meth controlled our lives.

In my late 20s after my college years, I tried to find work. I had several different jobs. I messed up a few good relationships because of meth. I had met Lisa who sold meth.  I learned from Lisa how to sell and maintain my habit of using meth. At this point, I had stopped working, and I realized that I could sell enough meth to be able to stay in hotels, and feed my own 3 gram-a-day habit.

Does anyone know where the ALCO store is in Emory? My buddy and I were meeting a guy in Emory. He sold dope and used dope, but his wife didn’t know about it. He had a very small window of time when we could meet so that she wouldn’t find out. I had about $4,000.00 cash and a big bag of dope. The guy with me had at least $3,000.00 and some personal dope with him. My truck was full of a drug dealer’s baggies, scales, pipes, and dope bagged up in gram sacks. There was huge list of felonies in the cab of my truck. I don’t know what it is about dope that makes a person want to steal stuff.  I could have a pocket full of money, but I still had this desire to steal from stores.  I remember having a few minutes to spare before we met with someone and my buddy didn’t like the fact that he had regular socks on that day. He was so high that it was really bothering him, and me. We stopped at the ALCO store to look around and kill time, and so he could buy some socks. While we were in the store, I got a call from the guy that we were meeting, and he needed to meet us now.  I was on the phone with the guy and I told my buddy to buy the socks and let’s get out of here. We headed to the front to check out. There was only one register with about six or seven people in line. I told my buddy to put the socks back and we will come back later to buy them.  I was frustrated, my buddy ducked down an aisle and reappeared on the other aisle without the socks, or so I thought. As we were walking out of the store, a guy grabbed my buddy by the shoulder. I hung up the phone and had no clue what was going on. To make a long story short, I went to jail for stealing a pair of $0.99 socks. My buddy didn’t want to wait in line and apparently didn’t want to come back and buy the socks, so he just stuck them in his pocket. For some reason, being high, I was lead to believe the cops were entitled to search my truck since one of the occupants was caught in possession of stolen goods, and there might be more in the truck. Stolen goods were found and I was locked up in jail and then given probation.

And this is where God steps in - in a BIG way. As I looked back now, I know for a fact God delivered us.  Lisa found out she was a few weeks pregnant. Before I could even report to my first probation appointment, we got picked up for dope. We were both carrying a large amount of dope. I was able to post bond because I was so new on probation that the paperwork hadn’t caught up with me yet. They let me bond out. Lisa wasn’t so lucky, but my soon to be son was.

I was out on bond, but they held Lisa.  She was going to Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDC) for the dope charges. I milled around, got back up on my feet, and went right back to what I was doing.  I smoked meth every day. Met friends and made enemies. I got robbed, and I robbed other people. I pulled guns on people, and had guns pulled on me.  Lisa, my biggest competitor was locked up. So I took her clientele and gained more.  I was literally walking around looking over my shoulder and driving around, looking in my rear-view mirror because of my probation violation.  My three grams-a-day habit grew and I began to get more paranoid and desperate. I needed to make bigger moves and bigger buys.  I found friends who were doing that. They had ties to very big bad people, but I needed dumb dope heads like me to make things happen for them.

I got careless and let the wrong people get around me.  I got picked up at a house in Edgewood that had a stolen truck parked out back that someone was hiding. I went to county jail on March 23, 2008. All of my probation violations caught up with me and more charges were added. As the investigators squeezed some of my acquaintances and fabricated deals to save their own necks. I got locked up for the last time and got released in 2009. I bounced back and forth between Rains County where I got my first charge, to Kaufman County, and then to Van Zandt County to face my charges.  I was offered to take my chances with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) time or take the Substance Abuse Felony Punishment (SAFP) program route which came with a 9 month sentence then my release.

  I was sentenced to nine months in the (SAFP) Johnston Unit, a Texas Prison in Winnsboro, Texas.  I started my treatment by learning the way of life at the "Substance Abuse Felony Punishment (SAFP) program" and learning about accountability.  The State of Texas knew me as TDCJ# 1524735.

Drug addiction doesn’t care if you’re rich, poor, black, or white. My testimony is not to glorify drug use or my past life. It is to glorify God.

I remember the haircut I got, the hard boots and the all-white uniform they gave me when I came in. I told myself that I was going to serve my time and go home. I had talked to my family for the first time while in prison and found out the same day I got locked up, I nearly lost my stepdad during open heart surgery because he almost bled to death. My Mom told me it was the first good night’s sleep she had really gotten after she knew I was alive. I was in jail, but I wasn’t dead.

Do you remember when I told you about Lisa getting locked in the TDC? Well, the way God worked in this is that He locked Lisa up the entire time she was pregnant with my son. Because of this, he wasn’t born into addiction and might not have been born at all the way we were living.  God has a special plan for this little boy. He was born in Waco while Lisa was locked up in prison getting medical attention, pre-natal vitamins, and all of the medical care necessary for a woman who is pregnant. My son was born October 3, 2008, and my parents brought him to see me when he was just a few weeks old.  Since Lisa was still locked up, my parents took responsibility and raised my son while we were locked up.  I remember telling myself that if I couldn’t stay sober for myself, maybe I could stay sober for my son.

I was sleep deprived and just getting by. I would ride other people’s pull-ups not to have to do my own. I wasn’t conforming to the SAFP way; I was just flying below the radar to stay out of trouble. Ms. Santos was my counselor and really exposed some ugly things about my life. This gave me a reason and identified the void I was trying to fill in my life.  I didn’t have my biological father around. All I really wanted was for him to be around and be proud of me. Since I didn’t have that, I filled that void with drugs and alcohol. Ms. Santos was telling me what I needed to hear, not what I wanted to hear.

From that point, I realized I wanted my son to have a father in his life. I signed up for a parenting class here and watched my son grow up, basically in pictures and in visitations the first few months of my son’s life. My Mom and stepdad were at home raising my son because Lisa’s family wasn’t able to do so. 

I was going to church on Sundays just to get out of the Pod. I would sing songs and listen to other people’s testimony about how God had been working in their life. I looked around and I was raising my hands, singing songs, and reading the Bible. At his point, I didn’t want to play the silly SAFP games. I just wanted to do my time and get home to my son, but I knew something about me had to change. I had done drugs for about fifteen years of my life. I had done sobriety binges.  I was that guy that would go by the dope man’s house to tell him how good I was doing at staying sober.

There was a turning point in my life while at SAFP. I had a green Gideon’s Bible while sitting on my bunkbed that I opened just to try to get my mind off of where I was and to block out all of the noise.  I cried out to God. I had talked to God before. I went to a Christian private school so God and I knew each other.  Even when I was using, I would ask God to let me get home safely and the cops not pull me over.  But this time was different. I cried out to God and told him, “God I have lived my life my way for so long now and look where it has gotten me.  I want to try it Your way, but if this doesn’t work I am going to be so mad at You!”  Well, from that day forward, I was changed. I knew I was going to be able to do this, but I wasn’t going to be alone.

I left SAFP and went to the Abode half-way house. It was good experience.  I watched people get drunk and sent back to the county jail just days after being there because they got drunk or high. Some left and never came back. I can only assume if they were lucky they got to go back here or most probably to go TDC do their time. I found a little job while there and worked enough to get my 24 hours, and eventually my 48 hour weekend pass. I was still reading my Bible from time to time, but I wasn’t glorifying God the way I should. I was settling in to living a sober life, but I was scared.  I was so sober I couldn’t pay attention. I prayed often and thanked God for keeping me sober one more day. I had fallen off the radar of all of my old friends or they had gotten arrested for their old ways. Looking back now, all of the so called “friends” that I had while on the outside didn’t even have time to send a letter to check on how I was doing. Were they really friends? They were there when I had a sack of dope. I think that also was a God thing. Sobriety causes you to change everything. I heard that if you hang out in a barber shop long enough you’re going to get a haircut.

I found a full time job just in just six days after going coming home. I worked and raised my son.  I was lucky enough that my parents believed in me one more time; because I told them when I came home I was going to change. Anybody ever tell your parents, wife, girlfriend, or kids the same thing, and just a short time later you’ve messed up again begging for them to let you back into their lives? Well, my parents let me come back home to raise my son.  I was too scared to do anything, but go to work, the gym, and home.  I went right back to Wills Point, and nobody knew I was back.

Lisa was still locked up at this time.  We entertained the idea of the possibly getting back together and helping each other stay sober to raise our son. I knew that it was hard enough for me to stay sober. I wasn’t sure I would be able to keep both of us sober.

I started online dating. I knew I didn’t want to try the bar scene, and I sure wasn’t going to leave my son at home with my parents so I could go on dates. I stumbled on this site called Zoosk. I filled out a profile and put a picture by my bio, but I left off the part about being a dope-head. I thought that might be discussed a few dates later if I found any takers. I met some real doozies. The girls in the pictures had to be fifteen years older than their pictures. I played theonline dating game for a little bit, and then I saw Alaina’s profile picture.

Alaina’s profile picture was this beautiful blonde (she is now brunette) with a perfect smile, I mean this was a beautiful woman.  I found out she was recently divorced, no kids, and had a good job. Immediately I was interested. We texted for a few weeks and then we decided to meet on February 9. We met in Greenville around 9:00 PM. We talked until the place closed down. She casually drank, which was kind of a deal breaker for me, but I overlooked it. I found out about the abusive relationship she was involved in and how bad things were for her. I told her about my baby’s momma drama and little did I know that was a deal breaker for her. Lisa was still locked up, and I had custody of my son.  I didn’t see the problems that would come up when Lisa would be released.

A few dates go by and Alaina falls in love with my son. I joke today that she loved my son more than me. So I need to air out my dirty laundry before this relationship goes any further and keep anyone from getting hurt. I tell her about my criminal record and my stint at SAFP, sobriety being the most important thing for me. There was a strange look on Alaina’s face as I am telling her this.  I asked her what’s wrong? This was another God moment. Alaina had run a background check on me before we even met for the first time back on February 9. She looked up the wrong Brockway. Well my first name is James. The Brockway that she looked up had a squeaky clean record, not even a speeding ticket. We sat there on the couch and looked up my criminal record.

As she scrolled through page after page of that rap sheet, I had to close her mouth a few times. She read on because of the amount of shock she was going through just seeing that the guy she had been dating was the same guy on her computer screen. She confessed to me that I would not have gotten even that first date if she had seen that information before we met. She just ended a very violent, abusive marriage caused by her ex-husband’s addiction. See what God did?Three months later, Alaina and I married. I don’t know what she saw in me, but I am sure glad she did.  A year later, we had a daughter, Brooke. We rented a house, both had jobs, and kids growing up. Jamie was about three when Lisa was released from prison.

Lisa hadn’t seen her son the entire time she had been locked up except the day he was born. I guess for whatever reason, Lisa wanted to be mom of the year and thought that she could steal me away from my wife and just wreck my family. Immediately she demanded to see her son, and I let her. He didn’t know who this lady was. We met at a public place and my son played, and Lisa was there. There was really no interaction except on her cell phone. We had to go through the judicial system because Lisa wanted unsupervised visits and couldn’t understand why I didn’t let him go with her.

Facebook will give you lots of information, and she was hanging right back around with all of the same people she was hanging with when she went to jail. Well, I see she is getting her hair cut, colored and styled. If she would put all this on Facebook, imagine what she wasn’t putting on Facebook. I sought the help of a child psychologist to determine what was in the best interest of my son. And of course the psychologist told me if Lisa was going to be a Mom, she needed to be all the way in or all the way out. It was very important for a child to feel secure with you when you are around.

So the judicial system found that it was necessary for Lisa to receive standard visitation rights. That meant my son had to go for a 48 hour visit with a lady that he didn’t know, had only met just a few times with no interaction.  The court went against the recommendation of a child psychologist and basically let my child walk into a house where dope was being sold and used by someone he didn’t even know. This was when God allowed for me the opportunity to trust. As hard as it was for me, that was exactly what I did.

The criminal activity at Lisa’s house continued to happen. She posted it all over Facebook. I was pleading with my attorney to make this stop, and I was informed that there wasn’t anything we could do, because nothing had happened to him for the courts to be concerned about the visits. I was doing basically my own private investigating work and found out that Lisa’s boyfriend that was living there was an accused sex offender. This made me squirm, but again this was an opportunity to trust God. I made my plea to the courts, and they issued an injunction that said Lisa’s boyfriend couldn’t be there when my son was. Lisa agreed.

Several visits went by and my son just wasn’t the same when he came back from weekend visits at Lisa’s house. He confided in my wife that he had something to tell her, but didn’t want her to get mad. We just figured it was some drug activity or something out of the norm for him. We knew Lisa’s boyfriend was around my son because he would pick him out of pictures.

I hired a private investigator to get some more information to give to the courts. It didn’t take the Investigator long. She was even able to get Lisa’s boyfriend to pose for a picture at Lisa’s house, and the Investigator saw my son there the whole time it was going on. We filed for the visits to stop based on the violation of the injunction from the court to not have Lisa’s boyfriend around.

A short time later, my son finally told us his secret. To make a long story short my son had been getting molested and sodomized by Lisa’s boyfriend. At just three years old, he had this happen to him. It took me a long time to not act on my thoughts of the flesh.  Today, I can honestly say, I forgave him. I forgave Lisa, and I pray that one day she will change her life. 

Little did I know that this horrible attack on my child would provide legal action for the court to terminate Lisa’s rights. My wife was able to adopt my son. My son who is six years old is in the gifted and talented program at school and is playing baseball with 2nd and 3rd graders while he is in kindergarten. This is the same little boy who could have been born into addiction or never been born. God is good!

My life has been great! I am not saying that it has been easy, but with Christ it has been easier. I run into obstacles because of my past, but I do not let them define who I am. I grew up with guns my whole life, but it is something I probably will not ever be able to do with my sons. One example, my wife and I bought a house, the day after the insurance company dropped my insurance because I was a felon. I have a record so bad that companies wouldn’t even let me around the office supplies. I now run a 12 million dollar a year company, and there I get to talk about Jesus Christ and the way He works in my life and as a company we put Him first. 

My wife knew about the falling out with my real Dad. She encouraged me to make things right and reach out to him. I knew that the years we hadn’t talked that my Dad and Step-Mother had adopted two little girls. I doubt that the girls even knew I exist. I remember being high as a kite and stopped at a gas station because I recognized my Dad. I didn’t need gas, but I pulled up on the other side of the pump he was using and took my watch off. I leaned over to his side of the pump and asked him if he knew what time it was. He looked at his watch and told me, but he didn’t even realize I was his son. Later on, the death of my grandfather was what brought us back together. We have forgiven each other and have agreed to forget the past. We are a huge part of each other’s lives. He might be one of my biggest fans. My kids have their grandparents around who love them very much!

The day after Thanksgiving my water heater broke in my new house, I hadn’t even lived in it a year, and here I am with water over my ankles standing in the kitchen holding my wife praying to God. We were trusting Him to see us through this. We were terribly inconvenienced by that event, but trusted Him.I now have another son who was born August 14, 2014. He was born with a rare overgrowth disorder and has to receive cancer screenings every six weeks. I have seen other kids with this same syndrome losing their lives. The cancer spreads very fast. I lay all of it at the feet of Christ. I know He is the master physician and is bigger than any syndrome here on earth.

You see I still have problems that plague me and my family. I have a past that will continue to haunt me. I need to remember who I once was. I am only one bad decision or choice away from ending up right back where I don’t want to be. I am not that person anymore. Christ gives me all I need.

On March 23rd of this year, I have been clean and sober for seven years. It is by the grace of God that I am even able to be standing here talking to you. The program at SAFP gave me the tools I needed and the time away from the dope game to get sober long enough to realize what is important to me. Go ahead and play around with this if you want to, fake it until you make it. Maybe one day you too will get sick and tired of being sick and tired. I used to ask God how he could use me. I pray diligently about what role I can play to help further the Kingdom. Have you ever heard, “You have to give it away to keep it?” Well, I am giving it away, because I have to keep it.  This is how God works in my life. I have been out of prison for almost six years. I kept in touch with some people. Most people gave in and use drugs again. Sometimes you might be the only Bible somebody ever sees. I stayed friends with them and encouraged them. Some I talked off of cliffs, not literally, but you know what I mean. The best was when I saw Officer Ball in public one day and recognized him. It took me a few minutes to remember who he was, but when I did I walked over him and introduced myself. I took that as my sign to go back to the Johnston Unit and tell the guys about how this program has worked for me. This is the very first time I have given my testimony other than to the youth at my church.  I wish I could save every one of you here today, but even if I just reach one of you and you reach someone and the Kingdom of Heaven grows because of disciples telling the good news.

I am by no means a person that knows the Bible inside and out. I only know of the ways God has worked in my life and through me and when I tell you it works, believe me, it works.

 

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