The Hoover home was a house built on a shaky foundation: crumbling beams of self-absorption, pride, relational dysfunction, drug use, and godlessness. But God was at work - drawing both Deb and Brian to Himself. Surrendering to His call on the same night, the couple began a long journey of dismantling the rotten infrastructure of their life together. The foundation wasn’t easy to rebuild, and it took time - and a few failures and re-starts. Eventually, however, the Lord helped the Hoovers to firmly establish their house - and their lives - on the Cornerstone, Jesus Christ. Read their story to see how Jesus transformed their broken down “house” into a house built on the Rock.
Brian and Deb Hoover
Deb: I grew up in San Diego, in a family who attended church regularly, but didn’t follow the Lord outside of Sunday services. Our family valued intelligence, winning arguments, and being “right” over Biblical truth. My parents both worked, so I grew up with the freedoms and dangers of being a “latchkey” kid. I was lonely, isolated, and a bright kid with enough attitude to sometimes struggle with discipline. I spent a lot of time reading, a lot of time watching educational television, a lot of time by myself. I understood our family dynamics even as a young girl, and knew that I needed to tow a careful line so as not to worry or embarrass my parents.
Brian: My family was a pretty typical American family. We lived a comfortable life where my dad worked, my mom stayed home, and morality was a fairly relative concept. I was exposed to pornography in elementary school and became sexually active in middle school. In high school, I started drinking. I was a social chameleon who could get along with anybody. I hung out with a drug crowd, but didn’t start using drugs myself until later in high school.
Deb: I didn’t get into trouble in high school, and I avoided the kids who did. I was a tomboy. I found my “place” in drum and bugle corps. I ended up playing in the drum corps until I was 21. During that time, my dad, who had always been physically unhealthy, died from a heart attack. I was sad, and also angry. I had asked God to let my dad walk me down the aisle on my wedding day. Here I was, unmarried, and my dad was gone. I took his death as a personal affront from God, and I shut the door on any idea of faith.
Brian: After high school, I tried junior college for a time, but ended up just working and partying. I was always a hard worker, a good employee, even a workaholic. But when I wasn’t at work, I partied. At one low point, I robbed multiple Targets of their Sudafed supplies, then spent the weekend making methamphetamine. It was the first time I had tried the drug. Another time, a friend and I got incredibly high on meth and then drove to a casino. We were pulled over, and I was arrested. I was sent to jail, then received a fairly lenient sentence that allowed me to attend a diversion program and eventually have my record expunged.
While Brian continued to use marijuana and drink heavily, his arrest served as a welcome wake-up call that prevented him from further dabbling in other drugs. He moved out of his parents’ house, and threw a party in his new home. Deb arrived at the party with a friend, and their first impressions of each other were vastly different. While Deb saw Brian as “trouble,” Brian had an indescribable inkling that Deb was “the one” - the girl he would marry. Deb, who had started rebelling and experimenting with alcohol following the death of her father, avoided Brian’s initial advances. She eventually returned to another party, though, and Brian convinced her to move in.
For three years, the couple lived together. Their party lifestyle continued, and their relationship grew increasingly dysfunctional, even co-dependent. Deb attended culinary school and worked, while Brian forayed into the high-risk, high-return world of mortgage sales. When the 2008 financial downturn hit, their personal debt mounted, adding another stressor to their unstable home life.
Deb: I got a job at a health cafe in a gym after culinary school. It turned out that many of my co-workers and bosses were also involved in planting a church called Barabbas Road. I argued with them incessantly. I was bent on proving them wrong, intent on finding the cracks in their theology and exposing their Christianity as a farce. I was constantly trying to get under their skin. They put up with me, and they answered my questions, and eventually, we started going to church. We weren’t sober. We weren’t following Jesus yet. But we were going to church on Sundays.
On February 15, following a Valentine’s sermon about God’s love letter to His people, Deb responded to the Spirit’s tug on her heart and stepped forward to pray during the altar call. As her friend celebrated the moment with her, she instructed Deb to turn around. There was Brian, on the other side of the room, bowing in his own prayer of salvation.
Brian: We were just baby Christians, trying to soak it all up. Our pastor encouraged us to marry or to stop living together, so we got married on the beach in our jeans one afternoon. We dove in and tried to change all the things that were so messed up about how we had been living.
"By God’s grace, we have overcome our addictions and are living in freedom. All those things we struggled with were the symptoms of a bigger problem: a worship of control, comfort, pleasure, and self."
Deb: I understood that the point of being a Christian wasn’t just to get clean; the point was to love Jesus. We knew God loved us, and we loved Him. We stopped doing drugs, but were still drinking and smoking. I have a memory of reading the Bible on the stoop while chain-smoking. I wanted to get in the Word and know Christ. But I still had all these vices I was clinging to. It was a lot to change all at once.
For Brian, the changes were particularly difficult to maintain. Three months after his conversion, he stumbled back into drinking and partying, inching away from church activities and friendships. He stopped pursuing the Lord. And, while Deb clung to her own faith, she encountered her own challenges, as well.
Troy was born, and Brian often took care of the new baby during the day, while smoking weed, then worked at night. Over the next several years, Brian’s lifestyle, and the dysfunction in their relationship, spiraled out of control. Brian was repeatedly unfaithful. He distanced himself from friends and spent time alone, getting stoned or drunk. The couple fought frequently, and the whirling chaos of their coexistence culminated in an emotional and violent meltdown that left Deb feeling truly frightened. Determined to protect her now three-year-old son, Deb took Troy and moved into a domestic violence shelter.
Brian: While Deb and Troy were gone, I continued to lose myself in drinking and drugs. But the Lord was still chasing my heart. He hadn’t let me go. One night, after a week-long bender, I woke up, strangely and significantly sober. I felt compelled to read my Bible. That was the moment where everything truly changed for me. The first time I gave my life to Jesus, I was saved. This time, I was surrendered. I went to recovery, I went back to church, I dove deep into my own issues and addictions to uproot them with the Holy Spirit’s help. During that time, I confessed my infidelity to Deb. She responded with grace and forgiveness, and she returned home from the shelter.
The Hoovers worked through counseling both separately and together. They went through Celebrate Recovery, and were trained as leaders. Eventually, they decided to leave Southern California and seek a healthier, smaller community to raise their son. In 2016, the Lord led them to Cody, and, eventually, to the Outpost. They dug into community, shared life with new friends who became their family, and learned to live authentically. They dreamed of leading a recovery program in Cody. When old sins resurfaced, they combated them with accountability, Scriptural counsel, and a commitment to one another and to God.
Deb: Our community here is our family. We have learned to face conflict Scripturally, both in our marriage and with others. We have learned to be authentic and open about our struggles and to learn from the wisdom of others. We have learned how to speak honestly into others’ lives and use our story with all of its brokenness as a means to minister to others.
Brian: By God’s grace, we have overcome our addictions and are living in freedom. All those things we struggled with were the symptoms of a bigger problem: a worship of control, comfort, pleasure, and self.
Deb: Once we let our pride and our sense of control go, the Lord was able to reshape our lives His way, and our finances, our marriage, and our entire way of life are better than ever. I have a husband who loves and leads me, and I am so grateful.
Brian: Troy is such a gift to us. In spite of our mess, the Lord has been gracious to root Troy firmly in Him. He was saved and baptized when he was young, and he loves telling people about the saving grace of Jesus Christ. He has seen that grace transform his parents’ lives. He knows who we were without Jesus, and he knows how our lives have changed because of Jesus.
The Hoovers have also seen the dream of starting a Cody recovery program come to fruition through Regeneration. They love getting to see the Lord use their story to draw others closer to Him - to show others that there is a way out of addiction and it is through the work of Jesus Christ.
“Everyone who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”