My Sister Gay’s Second Installment: The Functioning Years

For the first installment of Gay’s story, click here.

My beloved Sisters, it is my great honor to bring you my sister, Gay’s, second installment in her mind-blowing, God-glorifying story of redemption. By all means, let your friends and relatives know to watch for these installments if they could really use this hope. Boy, have I ever been desperate for it in my own wrestling matches with the enemy. You do not need to worry that I am going to vacate the blog until her series reaches its conclusion. No such luck! I’ll still be right here in the middle of things. I also want you to know that her story in many ways is part of mine and my story in many ways is part of hers. As God would have it, our stories grow from the same roots and braid their ways like vines up the same tree. Before I send you forward to read this wonderful second portion of her story, many of you are requesting another livestream and I’m in the mood for another one myself! Aren’t they a blast?? We’ll do one next week – perhaps Wednesday so that I can give my solid attentions to Tuesday night Bible study. I’ll let you know the day and time several days in advance so we can plan.  OK, my beloved fellow sojourners, I’ll turn this over now to Gay! I love you so much, my dearest older sister. God’s glory radiates all over you. Thank you for sowing into this blog community. They are so dear to me.

I sat on the side of our bed in 1986 and said to my husband, Tut, “I think I’ve got a drinking problem.”

Ladies, before I move on I want you to re-read that sentence and let the weight of the year 1986 sink in all the way down to your toes.  I finally quit drinking, after profound suffering, in 2009, TWENTY-THREE YEARS after God gave me the first word of warning.

The single most significant event in my life to that date had occurred just six short months before:  the birth of our first born son, our sweet, red-haired, smart as a whip Zachary.  I was 31 years old.  Mind you, I had not drunk a drop of alcohol during the entire pregnancy, not one.  Yet a few months later I was beginning the most difficult conversation of my life.  One that I would continue to have for the rest of my life, even in sobriety.  I had an urgency inside of me once Zach was born to be responsible.  Now, I have an inkling that most people, especially women, decide to be responsible before 31 years of age.  But not me.  To this day, I don’t know why I had a wild streak down my back that wouldn’t quit.  I was a rebel from the time I can remember and wild as a March hare.  I either didn’t think I would get caught or gave no consideration whatsoever to the consequences.  I wasn’t scared of the devil himself and I sure wasn’t scared of my parents!  Then.

Tut and I had been married 2-1/2 years at that time and we had a good marriage although not devoid of problems, mostly growing pains.  Neither one of us had been raised in terribly functional homes and we were simply doing what we knew to do.  We were partners, “teamies,” crazy about each other and we were drinking buddies.  We drank every single night if we needed to or not and that was just the way we lived for most of our married life.  I heard the words “drinking problem” come out of my mouth and I feared they were true but Tut casually disagreed and I was looking for any reason to believe otherwise.  So I shut up and kept drinking, beer and wine thankfully, which wreaked little havoc in our lives other than the war that was beginning inside my head.  Am I alcoholic, like those OTHER people who have to go to meetings or am I making a big deal over nothing?  Surely I am overreacting.  I should be able to control my drinking.  After all, I’m me!  I’m smart and fairly attractive and married and daughter of Al and Aletha Green who raised me in church where I gave my heart to Jesus, was baptized at 9 years old, sang in the choir and went to G.A.’s (a young girls’ mission organization).  I know right from wrong and drinking excessively is wrong, especially when I have a child to raise.  So there.  Problem solved.  I’ll cut down.  I will control.

Five years later, age 36, I was sitting at my computer at the Fortune 500 company I had been employed by for many years, where I was well respected and performed with excellence.  My head was spinning and fuzzy.  I was accustomed to working with a hangover, it didn’t even phase me, but this particular morning I couldn’t think of ANYTHING except for the fact that I was baffled at this dad blasted drinking problem and the fact that it would not go away!  I picked up the phone, dialed Charter Hospital of Sugar Land and made an appointment to be assessed by a substance abuse counselor.  It was a radical move!  After being accepted into the first of a long string of out-patient programs that I would not finish, I walked into my first AA meeting and received my first AA book which we most affectionately call the Big Book, not to be confused with the Good Book.  I was scared to death to walk into my first meeting, afraid that I might see someone I knew or they would see me and think that I was alcoholic.  I didn’t hear a word in that meeting but took the book home and began to read in the privacy of my own home, with a tall glass of vodka and cranberry juice.  The Big Book was written in 1939 and sounded, well, hokey to me.  In fact, it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever read in my life!  I slammed it shut, gulped down the last of my drink, felt the love (the love it had for me, the love I had for it, and the love I had for myself), the elusive warm and fuzzy “everything is right with the world” magic of the first drink and I put that dang book out for my next garage sale.

The “functioning years” rocked on through elementary school, middle school, the birth of Zach’s brother, Joshua, my parents’ move to Sugar Land, membership at a prominent neighborhood church, teaching preschool Sunday School, PTO, Cub Scouts, basketball, soccer, the Houston Rockets winning the NBA championship two years in a row (I had to put that in!), 9/11, etc.  I stopped at the liquor store right after work every day, never missed even one day and never repeated the same liquor store in one week.  I bought a pint of vodka, never more than that because I knew I would finish the bottle no matter what size it was.  I either poured myself a drink in the car or simply twisted off the cap and drank it straight from the bottle.  I couldn’t wait to get home which was only about 2 miles.  I floated in and out of AA meetings yet never ever thought any of that stuff applied to ME.  I was living my life right (except for this pesky drinking problem which I was trying my best to HIDE).  I was doing the right things.  I came from a good family.  I went to work every day and never drank before or at work.  I kept the laundry done, family fed and got the kids to school.  I taught Sunday School, for Pete’s sake.  I prayed to God many times to take away my desire to drink alcohol but, for reasons I know NOW but did not know THEN, He didn’t.  I would arise hopeful each morning only to make the decision to quit tomorrow over and over and over again until tomorrow never came.

On August 7, 1998, my mother died right in front of our eyes.  She had been diagnosed with breast cancer three years prior to that and somehow I thought I was prepared.  I was a little, ok a LOT, mad at God because I had gotten on my knees many times and prayed that He would spare my mother’s life yet … He didn’t.  We didn’t only lose our mother that dreaded day but we lost our glue.  All five of us scattered to the wind and dealt with her loss in our own way.  I drank.  It worked.  It took away the pain and if your mother had just died, you would drink too!!!  I gave up trying to control my drinking the day my mother died.  It seemed acceptable under those circumstances.  I was too sad, too lonely and, frankly, too broken without her.  I had talked to her 6 times a day on the phone and seen her daily for 8 years.  She had raised Zachary while I was working and had come back to life herself at the news of our expecting another baby.  Josh’s middle name is Cage after Micajah Rountree, my mother’s father, because I wanted to name him after HER.  She wasn’t perfect but she was Mom and we adored her.  She was the Queen of Everything.  I still feel her loss deeply and I’m fighting back an all-out cry as I write this — but I’m not drinking (ha!).  Praise Jesus of Heaven and Earth!!

That was the beginning of the end.  It was when I stopped caring if I controlled or not.  I am quite sure that the devil was jumping for joy on that day!  He’d gotten me and he was about to carry me away.  That was August of 1998 and I finally put down my last drink on April 19, 2009, more than ten full years later.  Ten years of dwelling in the pit, ten years of spiraling out of control, ten years of the descent into the maelstrom.  Hell.

Fast forward to August, 2009.  I was sitting on a park bench outside a Methodist Church in Pasadena, Texas in the early warmth of a beautiful summer morning.  It was beautiful instead of South Texas hot because I was grateful to be alive.  As I let the sun shine down on my face, I thanked God for my life and four months of sobriety.  It was a miracle!  A dark car with tinted windows drove up slowly in front of me and the window lowered only halfway.  The woman inside spoke quietly, “I’m looking for an AA meeting.”  I said, “This is it.  Don’t be scared.  I’ll go in with you.”  She parked and joined me on that bench for a good five minutes before we walked inside.  Her name was Diane and she shared with me that she had come to realize she had a serious drinking problem.  She was married to a man she loved like crazy and had a son about twelve years old.  She said, “I know the stories of some alcoholics, the losses they suffer and the bottoms they have to reach.  I love my husband and son so much and I don’t want that to happen to me, to our family.  I know I’m alcoholic and I want to stop now.”  I was able to tell her in a nutshell what God had done in my life and was continuing to do through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  We walked into that meeting together and I introduced her to my sponsor.  She was no longer quiet but felt welcomed and accepted.  I had breakfast with Diane and our mutual sponsor on New Years Eve Day 2011, just a month ago.  She’s been sober 2-1/2 years now and her family is stronger than ever before.  She never picked up another drink after she walked with me through those doors.  She found God in that room and never looked back.  He’s so good, isn’t He?  Everyone doesn’t have to pound the hot concrete with bare feet, somehow they are able to listen to the early warnings and learn from the journeys of others.  They are able to humble themselves enough to listen and apply.  They are able to see God intersect their lives long before the madness begins.  And have life, and have it to the full.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10 New International Version (NIV)


341 Responses to “My Sister Gay’s Second Installment: The Functioning Years”

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  1. 1
    Julie Ratcliff says:

    Wow! I am so blessed by your story! It is such a powerful reminder of God’s grace! Thank you for sharing it with us!

  2. 2
    traci says:

    “For such a time as this”…God’s perfect timing, Gay!
    This is so beautiful, in so many ways. His love shines BRIGHT through you~ love you!

  3. 3
    Michele Bone says:

    So excited to see this next part of your story this morning! Thank you for sharing and for your transparency! So excited for what God is doing in and through you! What a ministry I know you have in AA! So thankful for all they do and represent. God is so good!
    Looking forward to your next post!

  4. 4
    Leah Atha says:

    The end of this post brought tears to my eyes! So glad to see Romans 8 in action! 🙂

  5. 5
    Teresa says:

    My heart just leaped when I saw the title of this post. Thank you once again for sharing your story. Love the way you are telling your story.

  6. 6
    Molly says:

    I adore your posts Gay!

    They are meaty and authentic and you share Beth’s awesome ‘sayings.’

    ‘and the love I had for myself), ‘we lost our glue’

    These two sentences really spoke to me.

    I am so filled with an awe and grateful heart to GOD for being who HE IS, ALWAYS! Praise JESUS!

  7. 7
    Kimberly says:

    Gay…thank you so much for sharing. Many of us know what it’s like to be in a pit. They may have been different pits, but they were still deep and ugly. I’m grateful every day for a God who cared enough to pull me out, to forgive me and love me unconditionally! Your story will give hope to those who feel completely hopeless. I know they’re out there and need to hear your words. Thanks for allowing God to use you!

  8. 8
    Tanya says:

    As I read the last part of today’s story, I couldn’t help but thank the Lord that He put you in that other woman’s path. It sounded like it could have been you at your first AA meeting. Who knows how God is going to use you and your story to help others get off that road sooner?

    I praise the Lord for your honesty. It’s not easy to look back and see how many times God was pulling at us and we refused. But you are choosing to do that, and it is such a blessing to the rest of us.

    I guess because the root of our problems is OUR OWN PRIDE. Our own unwillingness to humble ourselves before our Creator and admit our own failures. Our own inability to “keep it together” on our own. We need His help. And until we stop, look, see, and admit that, we remain at a distance from the One who is really able to help us.

    It took me a long time to see my own pride. And the Lord used Beth Moore’s book “Praying God’s Word” to open my eyes to pride in my life, a lot of seemingly little things. The prayer from Ecclesiastes 7:8 was extremely powerful in showing this to me.

    “In my impatience, help me to remember that the end of the matter is better than its beginning and patience is better than pride.” (That’s from memory, so it may be slightly off.) It was (and still is) sobering to think that patience is the opposite of pride. That means when I’m impatient, I’m being prideful. Ouch!

    Thank you again, Gay, for sharing. Such a message of hope and encouragement you are telling.

  9. 9
    Pamela McDonald says:

    Thank you, Gay, for sharing your story with us. It is so wonderful to be reminded that God’s timing is perfect! I thank Him for how He has blessed you and, in turn, is now blessing us.

    Looking forward to your next installment.

  10. 10
    KimDotJoy (doo-dah) says:

    Praise God Gay!!!! What Satan meant for harm and destruction you have turned into good. You have allowed God to use your story and I am sure it will bring healing for others.

  11. 11
    Connielynn says:

    It is such a blessing to read your post Gay. Your words have truly ministered to me. My own family is walking with a loved one trying desperately to break free of drug addiction and your words have come at just the right time for me. Thank you for your honesty. And yes, Praise Jesus of Heaven and Earth!

  12. 12
    Ramona says:

    Beautiful. I’m on the edge of my seat wanting to hear more. Bless you both. (((HUGS)))

  13. 13
    Joani says:

    LOVE! That’s all.

  14. 14
    Michelle V says:

    Thank you so much, Gay for continuing to share your story with us! You have blessed me so much and I know that you are blessing many, many people with this!

  15. 15
    sepik-meri katie says:

    loving the words you share, gay! i’m sure i’ll want to say this after every installment, but thank you for your transparency -it bestows courage! bring it!

  16. 16
    Sharon says:

    Gay, I’m truly so proud of you! We all have our stories… our prisons… our pits… and all of the time (however much time that is) that we dwell there! I am so humbly thank-FULL that our God never gives up! He never quits pursuing! His love is patient (oh, so very patient!)… and kind… and He keeps NO RECORD of our wrongs!!!!!! I’m amazed everyday at His GOoDness! I’m amazed that He truly takes our ashes and makes them things of beauty! I’m amazed that He not only forgives our sins, but REDEEMS them, and then uses those very sins to show His Glory! To tell His Story! To help someone else! Thank you so much for sharing yours! So many are blessed by it! Blessings sweet girl! May God blow your mind in all that He has yet to do in and through you!

  17. 17
    Joyce Watson says:

    No words can really…come out. I know the hurt, the pain that you must have felt when you loss your mom from cancer. It hurts so deeply and I pray God would comfort you and encourage you.
    Even now I feel that hurt after all those years after my mom also died of cancer. I remember her crying and I would pray for God to help so many times. My sister and I were never close, so I just feel lost after she passed away. It has been a long road to trust God’s love and His mercy.
    Thank you for sharing your testimony. Thank you for sharing hope, mercy and God’s love with us.

    Nothing honors the Savior any more than a heart of gratitude and a spirit of praise! Bless you!

    I pray God will continue to bless you and your family. I pray He will help you in your ministry as you reach out to others.

  18. 18

    So blessed by this (and you), Gay. Keep ’em coming!!

  19. 19
    Church Lady says:

    What a great post, Gay. I look forward to reading your post. I can’t wait until the next one. I hope you know that by sharing your story you are making Satan wish he hadn’t messed with you. Get yours girl!!

  20. 20
    Rita says:

    Thank you for sharing! Inspiring to me…

  21. 21
    Casey says:

    You are a blessing to us Gay. Your honesty and transparency and pain is being used to prove that God will turn all things for good…May He continue to bless your journey.

    Thank you Thank you Thank you!!


  22. 22
    Amy says:

    Thank you. Just that. Thank you

  23. 23
    Angela says:

    Wow! What an amazing testimony! Thank you so much Gay for being open and willing to share all that the Lord has done through you.

  24. 24
    Audrey says:

    Thank you for sharing your story!

  25. 25
    Dayna says:

    Gay, I am taking your words as a warning to me today! God has been giving me warnings and I have been trying to listen and then the enemy comes in and tells me its okay to have a glass of wine once inawhile as long as you don’t do it too often. But I find myself liking that numb feeling. I see God warning me, please pray I will listen! Thank you for sharing your story. Looking forward to hearing more from you.
    Your friend Dayna : )

  26. 26
    Tara says:

    Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed! John 8:36 Notice that it’s not just a little bit free… It’s free indeed!! Utterly, completely, and lovingly free! Hallelujah!! Dance to His music with your arms wide open, throw your head back and spin as you laugh in His love! Bless you Gay! 🙂

  27. 27
    Hannah Lee says:

    As painful as this was to write and, of course, to have to LIVE, I am finding so much encouragement and relate-ability that is bringing me to my knees! God bless you.

    Why is it that some people have to live a life of “bare-feet walking on hot pavement” before they get it…and others don’t? Either way, as long as they end, lapping up the love of the Lord, I guess it doesn’t matter.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I am loving this from the tip of my head to the bottom of my feet.

  28. 28
    Gretchen says:

    Dear Gay,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story.



  29. 29

    Having a good cry. Who says God doesn’t change lives? Not true — no, sire! Thank you for sharing.

  30. 30
    Emeta says:

    SO thankful for God’s victory in you, Gay! Keep looking UP!

  31. 31

    I love reading your story! Thank you SO much for sharing.

  32. 32
    Peggy says:

    Amen and Amen!

  33. 33

    Gay, it’s so great to hear how God used you in Diane’s life. Just think — she might never have had the courage to go into that meeting had you not been sitting on that bench, welcoming her and going in with her. God is so good!

  34. 34
    Helen says:

    Thank you so much Gay, for sharing. . . .for being so honest, and it certainly stirs hope in my heart. Blessings!!

  35. 35
    Letha says:

    Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!!

  36. 36
    Laurie says:

    I’m so blessed to read your story of mercy. My heart was broken the other night after watching the news, and seeing the story of a very pretty young woman whose life and beauty has been destroyed by meth. How even after being terribly burned, she has been arrested over and over again while buying meth. I prayed for her right then, and am now reminded to pray for her and others like her; for God’s healing mercy to rain down on their lives.
    I am so grateful that “His mercies are new every morning”.

  37. 37
    To Know Him says:

    Thank you again for sharing your story… What a testimony of God’s delivering and healing power!!!

  38. 38
    bethany says:

    Thank you for sharing Gay! I have a 31 year old cousin who I am going to suggest read your story. Please pray for her. Her name is Melissa.

  39. 39
    Lina says:

    Thank you for sharing your miracle. I am just speechless.

  40. 40
    WendyB says:

    Praise God for saving the Dianes, who are able to avoid the precipice; and praise Him for saving those of us who have to go through the worst to crawl back to the best. Thank you once again for sharing, Gay! Love, love, love to you.

  41. 41
    Kathy Lynch says:

    I’ll tell you one thing, Gay…you can WRITE! Maybe even better than your sister, and that’s sayin’ alot. You tell your story with such wit and honesty, it is engaging. And it true to boot! (not to mention awe inpiring, God glorifying and funny too!) Fantastic! Keep it comin’.

  42. 42
    Charlotte B. says:

    Wow! Your testimony is such a blessing. Thank you for your honesty and willingness to let God use you.

  43. 43
    Tracy says:

    Praise God!!! Thank you for continuing to share your story.

  44. 44
    Pam says:

    I’ve been chomping at the bit to read your next installment. I have been so hungry for stories of hope and redemption and yours couldn’t have come at a better time! My problem is not the same, mine is with severe chronic Lyme Disease. However the suffering is still very much the same. You suffer from the illness itself, and suffer beyond that from the loneliness, isolation and loss family and friendships, much like you did. Your story touches me so deeply, though, because I was grossly misdiagnosed by doctors and they simply threw painkillers and benzodiazepines at me, most likely to hush me up and skeedaddle me out of their office. I ended up spending 10 days in a rehab hospital in ’05, still very sick and not knowing I had full on Lyme Disease, and I sat amongst folks with drinking and drug problems and listened intently to their stories. I knew in my heart I didn’t belong there ~ I’d never drank nor did street drugs of any kind. I was there because I got hooked on medications my doctors were insisting I take! But I was still transfixed on hearing these people share their stories. My heart ached for them and it was there I learned how gripping and devastating alcoholism is. I just want you to know that I am so very thankful you are sharing your story with us and that you are helping those of us still very much flat on our face and waiting for our redemption. Stories like yours are like breath to me in my life right now. And I do hope you are considering publishing your story as a book. It is fascinating and inspiring and oh so well written. Cannot WAIT until the next installment!

  45. 45
    Pat from Kansas says:

    Thank you for sharing, Gay. I pray your honesty will encourage someone else to reach out to Jesus and be healed!

  46. 46

    Wow! I LOVE Jesus! Who would have ever thought we would ALL be here…celebrating YOUR story and celebrating our own freedom we have found in Him! Oh Lord, where would we be without YOU?! Thank you Jesus for setting us free and giving us all a new life! I am so in love with you, my Redeemer!

    1 Cor 2:9 “That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”
    –YES and AMEN!!

  47. 47
    michelle says:

    Thank you for sharing your story!! It is a sweet reminder of His faithful love and perfect timing!

  48. 48
    Brittany says:


    You have no idea how perfect timing the second part of your story being published was. I have been thinking about drinking for two days now and to be honest, I was planning on drinking tonight. Mentally I know it won’t help, but that need to drink. That need to use. I don’t know how to explain it. And it scares me.

    But you shared part of your story today. So maybe I can Make it through today.

    • 48.1
      Gay says:

      Brittany — I know EXACTLY how you feel. I am hoping so much that your speaking it out here and bringing it to the light was enough to lay it down for the night. Know that EACH TIME you have victory over it, you will get stronger. God has provided us with an abundance of tools to deal with the obsession to use. Bringing it to the light is one of them. A pastor at my church who is also in recovery says often, “The problem is not the problem. Hiding the problem is the problem.” Call it out and name it, dear one. There is so much freedom in that. We will talk more tomorrow, Brittany. I am praying for you and I know that you will WIN. God is with you and FOR YOU, and so are WE!!

      Loved you are,

      • Brittany says:

        Just wanted to say I’m still here. And trying. Eventhough I am terrified. I thought this was supposed to get easier. Does it get easier?

        • Jeana says:

          It does, but it doesn’t happen overnight. You have to learn how to cope in new ways with whatever it is that you are trying to drink to forget. And yes, sometimes the urge is so powerful that it brings you to your knees and you just want to give up. Don’t. It does get better; just hang in there. Each day sober, you are a step closer to freedom.

  49. 49
    Laura says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your sotry. This really hits a deep part of me. My father is an alcoholic and my sister is an alcoholic. I no longer have contact with my father. But my sister has been sober for a few months. Praise the Lord. Your story is real, thank you.

  50. 50

    I love what you said about your mother Gay, it really blessed me. Thank you kindly for sharing.

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