Amanda (Polejewski) McIntyre, CEM 2007 graduate, shares about her journey since leaving CEM and the importance of giving back.
When I came to the Ranch, I had very little education and I had been living on the streets. I call it “broke, busted, and disgusted.” I was really rough, unlovable, and I acted out a lot. I was a terror, really. [CEM staff and interns] just loved on me. They helped with my education. They talked about Jesus and how He loved me. They showed Jesus through their actions. That was hard for me. My own mom gave me up. If my own mom couldn’t love me, how could anyone else love me?
Over time, it started to sink in that this was a safe place. I got saved while at the Ranch. That really started a huge transformation in my life…
[When I left CEM,] I felt really ready, equipped, and strong in my faith. I was confident in who I was as a Christian. A few months out, I started smoking cigarettes.
Not too long after, I was asked to move out [of CEM’s women’s transition house]. As a foster kid, I had nowhere to go. I moved in with a former Ranch student. She wasn’t making good choices…Once I fell, I fell really hard.
I was going to church on Sunday for years, but living like hell the rest of the week…I was still drinking, smoking cigarettes, and struggling to have healthy relationships…I still believed that I was bad – that my family was bad. It was hard for me to be different from them…I always believed He could forgive everyone else, but I had a hard time believing He could forgive me. I was justifying a lot of the things that I thought were not a big deal in my life, but had a lot of repercussions. My rose-colored glasses were taken off when I had my son. Not only did I have a son, but I had a sick son. It was no longer just me. “How do I want to raise him?” I thought [about my boyfriend], “Oh, he’s going to change.” He didn’t change. He didn’t want to change.
[I began] going to Christian recovery programs two nights a week for 14 months… Once I believed that I was able to receive His grace and love, then I was able to love others. Three years ago I started going to a church in Penn Valley. I’ve been going there ever since…I met my husband there. We got married December 2015…A few months before we got married, the pastors asked us to help in youth ministry. I feel like I’m the intern now... It’s difficult and challenging. I make food for the kids that come – a lot of them don’t have food. Their parents don’t come to church. They’re 12 and 13 years old, and they know they belong in church. To see this seed planted in them is really remarkable. The Ranch has had people pour into me; now it’s my turn to give back. I once heard this analogy: Seas have rivers that flow in and out of them. The Dead Sea has only one thing flowing into it, which is why it’s dead. The Lord is flowing into us, so He needs to flow out of us.
Amanda and Carl reside in Grass Valley, CA with Amanda’s son Jordan, who has cystic fibrosis. Amanda is a certified nursing assistant and serves as his caregiver. She is continuing schooling to become a registered nurse. They are expecting to welcome Jacob David into the world early this month.