My Sister Gay’s Fourth Installment: “Like Sunlight Burning at Midnight”

First Installment: Meet My Sister

Second Installment: The Functioning Years

Third Installment: The Maelstrom

From Gay’s heart to yours…

Gregg Taylor, my pastor and sweet, sweet friend, said in a sermon one night at Mercy Street that “the person who has a WHY to live can bear with almost any HOW.”  He was quoting Victor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning which chronicles Frankl’s experiences as a concentration camp inmate.  It means that if I have a reason, a purpose, something beyond where I am, a sense of what I could become, and I know that tomorrow is going to bring me closer to that then I can work with where I am today.  He went on to say, “If you have no hope, life ends.”

I didn’t stop breathing while I was out there on the street, but in all other respects my life had ended.  I knew that.  I knew that I had caused my family to leave me because I had not been willing or able to stop drinking.  I don’t know now whether I couldn’t stop or I wouldn’t stop (probably some of both), I just know that I didn’t stop. In my mind, I no longer had anything to live for.  My family was gone.  My employability was gone.  My desire to make another stab at recovery was gone.  My self-respect and integrity were gone.  My faith in myself and God were gone.  I had no reason, no purpose, nothing beyond where I was.  I only had another miserable day on the street, in the elements, cold, sick, hungry, filthy, beaten in more ways than one, full of heartache, resentment, jealousy, fear, self-pity, self-loathing and hate.  My only purpose each day was to figure out how I was going to drink myself into unconsciousness so that I couldn’t see or feel the hopelessness that each day brought.  I didn’t want to wake up to another day of hustling, begging, stealing, cheating and doing what I had to do to stay alive, all of which were pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization.  I didn’t believe in God anymore — I knew that the All Mighty, All Powerful, All Merciful God that I had been taught about in Sunday School would not let me, ME, live out there like a wild animal!  I had lost all hope, and with that, I had lost the will to live.  I didn’t care anymore if I lived or died.

Yet somehow, unbeknownst to me, God WAS there.  I was just too covered up with my own “stuff” (heartache, self-pity, hate) and too busy trying to blot out that stuff to see Him. In the process, I had blotted Him out, too.  I did not see that when my body finally screamed out for food that food was there.  I did not see that the people I despised and hated, fought and scratched with, and told them I was BETTER THAN THEM were the very angels that God had sent to protect me.  I did not see that the porch that I slept UNDER (because I would get arrested for trespassing if I slept ON) was His shelter.  I did not see how much worse it could have been had my drug of choice been anything other than alcohol.  I did not see that each day that I woke up breathing was another day closer to the day He would strike … the day I would be ready; when all of the things that had blocked me from following His lead in the past were brought into submission.  The entitlement, the pride, the judgment, the dishonesty, the unwillingness to be obedient to His will for ME, for MY life, had to be surrendered so that I might not only obtain sobriety but also be effective in His world.

Now, let me rest on this for a second before I move on:  I found out later that His will for me was not simply for me to quit drinking.  It was for me to DO THE THINGS that He put before me each and every day, one day at a time, and that HE WOULD EQUIP ME with the tools to quit drinking!  He would EMPOWER ME.

Note: I know these things now.  I did not know them then.  Hindsight is better than foresight but I am hoping that those of you who are listening will not be as hardheaded as me!

Moving on …

After wandering aimlessly IN THE WILDERNESS for 18 months, a series of events that only a God could have brought together led me and my friend, Jerry, from Galveston to Houston.  The street was hard and mean in Houston.  No beach, no everyone-knows-each other-and-watches-each-other’s-backs, no First Presbyterian Church serving breakfast fit for a king on Saturday mornings.  As a matter of fact, all clothing and food supplies had been sent to Galveston to aid those still suffering from Hurricane Ike which had ravaged the island just six months before.  The City is much harder, walking distances much further, people more desperate, dangerous and demanding.  I couldn’t take it.  I couldn’t survive anymore.  It was too hard.  So I just laid down on the concrete underneath the Sabo Road overpass to die.  I didn’t panhandle anymore, I didn’t beg anymore, I didn’t fight anymore.  I laid down to die.

According to Jerry, I didn’t move from there for about two weeks, except to sit up long enough to drink myself back to sleep.  I might have eaten a bite or two.  I maybe even stumbled across the feeder road now and then to use the facilities at Jack In The Box, maybe not.  I don’t know.  I was in a blackout.  I had only one lucid moment during that entire time that I remember well, so well that it feels like yesterday.  It was night and I was alone in the dark.  I was lying on my left side and in my fear, whether of death or of continuing to live, I thought of my children and, at that moment, they became my WHY.  I didn’t care enough about myself to pray for my life but I cared enough about THEM to do just that.  I turned onto my back and hearing the endless roar of the traffic overhead, I spoke out loud to God where He could hear me and I could hear myself.  I spoke very precisely, almost demandingly and with my arm outstretched toward Heaven, I cried, “God, I know that You are up there.  I have been taught that all my life.  Now, I need Your help.  Now!  Because I’m going to die out here, Lord, and there are two little boys in Sugar Land that need a mother.”  Just like that, just exactly like that, and then it was done.  Amen and Amen.

I don’t know how much time passed between that prayer and being gently shaken awake by Tut: an hour, a day, two days.  But alone again in the night in the exact same spot, I felt a nudge and I heard a voice saying, “Gay, get up and get in the truck.  We’re going home.”  I didn’t hesitate.  I didn’t look around to see who I might take with me.  I didn’t look around to see who might stop me.  I didn’t even look around to see who it was.  I simply got up off the concrete and walked to the truck, one foot in front of the other, each step closer and closer, remembering the prayer because it was the ONLY thing I could remember about the weeks prior, knowing with each step that God – that God — that’s all I knew, without a shred of doubt, — that God had heard my cry and had moved Heaven and Earth to save me!  I became acutely aware in those miracle moments of the size and depth of the Love of God for a sinner like me.  As I settled into the warm, soft, leather seat of the white Chevy Suburban that I had ridden in so many times and looked over to confirm that the man was indeed Tut, I was struck with an awe that I can’t possibly describe.  That awe multiplied as we pulled away and I saw the bridge that I had tried to die under get smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror.  It was over.


It was OVER.


It was OVER.


My heart is pounding now as I bang this keyboard and I feel an urgency to cry my eyes out in more gratitude than I know how to express.  In my mumbling and fumbling to find the words to describe those moments, I think of the words to a song by Francesca Battistelli.  It goes like this:

Don’t know how it is You looked at me
And saw the person that I could be.
Awakening my heart
Breaking through the dark
Suddenly Your grace
Like sunlight burning at midnight
Making my life something so beautiful, beautiful.
Mercy reaching to save me
All that I need
You are so beautiful, beautiful.


Gregg Taylor, my pastor and my sweet, sweet friend, also says that God never brings an end without offering a new beginning. I didn’t know HOW I was going to begin the climb out of hell.  I just knew that I was going to begin.  I was never the same after that night.
I have come undone.
But I have just begun
Changing by Your grace.
Like sunlight burning at midnight
Making my life something so beautiful, beautiful.
Mercy reaching to save me
All that I need
You are so beautiful, beautiful.


Praise Jesus, Love of my life.


471 Responses to “My Sister Gay’s Fourth Installment: “Like Sunlight Burning at Midnight””

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  1. 201
    Debbie M says:

    I have no words. Just goose bumps.
    Thank you Gay. Glory to God and to our Savior~~ there is nothing on earth to compare to our Jesus. No words.
    just Thank you Jesus.

  2. 202
    Suzy says:

    Gay, please write a book! When I got to “Tut” I sobbed! Then I had to tell the entire story to my sweet husband. I want to bring my son (recovering addict) to Mercy Street for a visit!

    • 202.1
      Gay says:

      Suzy — You’re so sweet, and get to Mercy Street!! We’re at Chapelwood UMC at 11140 Greenbay every single Saturday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. It would make my millenium for you to bring your son! Please do!! I work on Saturdays so I am always there, just ask for me.

      Loved you are,

      • Suzy says:

        Gay, I will visit for sure! And we have a friend in common who turned me on to this series: Marty S. Maybe she will join me! 🙂

  3. 203
    Renee says:

    Wow …. powerful!!

  4. 204
    Roxie says:


  5. 205
    Brenda Gaetke says:

    I am with my sister above…you have to write a book. Your story of God’s mercy and seeing you right where you are is an amazing story of His sweet and precious grace that he extends to all who will call out His name. God Bless You! Thank you for the courage to tell your story…it has blessed me already and I know there are so many women who God can bless through your victory in Jesus!

  6. 206
    Melissa Ford says:

    WOW!! Yes, praise Jesus. Thank you Jesus. Gay…Jesus heard you and then agreed…”yep, those boys need a mother, come on girl, let’s go..” not…”anyone but you Gay”…you write with total appreciation and understanding of the love of Jesus for you and of His redemption…your entry was what I needed to read as I struggle to relate to my oldest son and have wondered if I am failing him and ruining our relationship. Thank you Gay…you really do get His love.

  7. 207
    Joni says:

    Praising God for your deliverance from the depths of darkness! After God delivered me from depression and panic, I found these verses. I celebrate them with you, my sister in Christ Jesus:
    “Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the LORD for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men, for He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.” Ps. 107:13-16

  8. 208
    Audra says:

    “It was for me to DO THE THINGS that He put before me each and every day, one day at a time, and that HE WOULD EQUIP ME with the tools to _______________! He would EMPOWER ME”

    I just wrote this and placed it in front of me on my desk. I left the line blank because we all of have different battles we fight everyday. Your testimony and these few words that I know God placed in your heart spoke so clearly to me today. Thank you for sharing your beautiful, powerful testimony.

  9. 209
    Michele says:

    Gay, thank you. Thanking God!

  10. 210
    Victoria says:

    Wow…thank you for opening up. Gay, that is just a great testimony of the power of true prayer…God is so amazing. Sometimes, I think, He allows us to get so down, so that the only way we could ever make it is if He alone perfoms a miracle to drag us up and out. I know that is what He did with me, and that is exactly what it sounds like He did for you.
    Thank you for sharing; I pictured so many scenes from my own past reading this installment…at the time, you think you are the only person on the planet who knows what that feels like…and now, I see that SO MANY people suffer in the same ways…I pray that this touches lives and opens eyes…Blessings to you and yours! 🙂

  11. 211

    I can hardly write words at this point, but this one, “Grace.” I want to get on the floor with my face to the ground, and cry out to the Lord, “Holy, Holy, Holy.”

  12. 212
    Dana says:

    Such a powerful testimony. Thanks so much for sharing. I know it must be so difficult remembering some of those things.

  13. 213
    Terri says:

    Thank you, Gay. Thank you!

  14. 214
    Lisa says:

    “PRAISE GOD!!!!!”

    In reading your post I could almost visibly see HIM – The Lord God Almighty reaching down and picking you up!!

    PRAISE YOU JESUS!!!!!!!!

    Thank you for sharing – God Bless you!!!!

  15. 215
    Lee Ann Lee says:

    Thank you for sharing these stories. I repost them to facebook every time and hope and pray for those who are reading. The same God who rescued you (and me), can and will rescue anyone who surrenders to Him. So thankful for His work in your life and your willingness to share with others.

  16. 216
    Trinna says:

    Praise God from Whom all blessings flow;
    Praise Him all creatures here below;
    Praise Him above Ye heavenly hosts;
    Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

  17. 217
  18. 218
    Debra says:

    Oh Gay Oh Gay…… you are having a huge impact on my life……….Oh Gay , what a GREAT GOD we serve…..
    My sister; you and I have another chance!!!!! Oh Gay how i wish I could hug you!!!!
    Happy, Happy Valentine’s Day, Gay!!!!!!
    as you sis might say: I love watching God Show OUT!!!!
    May God in His infinite power cover you with HIS protection as you continue you trip HOME, ( me, too)

  19. 219
    Nancy Roach says:

    What a testimony you are to the POWER of God and His immeasurable LOVE for us…sinners all. I love you Gay and agree, please write a book. I work with many detoxing patients as a mental health nurse and would LOVE for them to know about what God can also do for them!!!
    Thank you so much for sharing your life with us.
    Much love from this siesta

  20. 220
    Shayne says:

    All I can say is…praise be to God, the Almighty, the Never-Ending, the Eternal, the Fountain of Life, the Giver of All Good Things, the Saviour, the Redeemer, the Everlasting to Everlasting, the One and the Only True God.

    Hallelujah and amen.

  21. 221

    Gay and Beth, this gives God so much glory. I’ve had this song on my heart all week; your testimony makes me want to sing it a little louder:

    “Oh, Lord, you’re beautiful
    Your face is all I see
    For when your eyes are on this child
    Your grace abounds to me.

    I want to take your word and shine it all around
    But first help me to just, live it Lord
    And when I’m doing well, help me to never seek a crown
    For my reward is giving glory to you.”

    And Happy Valentine’s Day. If you want to read a silly poem by me on contentment and chocolate … head over to my blog. Love you dearly. Shelli

  22. 222
    Ruby King says:

    Hello my Dear Friend that has come so far and is so amazing. I love you so very much and I love for what you have become, my friend, my sister in Christ, my inspiration and so much more. Whoooaaa

    • 222.1
      Gay says:

      Hi Ruby! — And you even knew me back in the day! Not pretty. We’ve come a long way, baby!!! Praise our Lord Jesus, forever and ever. Amen.

      I love you,

  23. 223
    Jennifer T says:

    Thank you, beloved of the LORD.

  24. 224

    I must stop reading these posts with mascara on. I love the way you write. It’s as if I was right there laying on the concrete with you…Your writing pulls me in.
    Praise God for YOU…and Thank you for sharing your life…

  25. 225
    Deb says:

    Gay, what an encouragement your story is… I wish my comment was “I’ve been rescued also!”, but it’s not. I am still awaiting rescue, scared, not knowing how, wanting to give it to God, but I don’t understand how that translates into actually doing it. Through your story I have hope…

    • 225.1
      Lauralee Courtney says:

      I will pray for you, Deb. I love you.
      Isaiah 43:18-19
      New International Version (NIV)
      18 “Forget the former things;
      do not dwell on the past.
      19 See, I am doing a new thing!
      Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
      I am making a way in the wilderness
      and streams in the wasteland

  26. 226

    I have so enjoyed reading your entries, Gay. Thank you for your openness and honesty. I read your entry and then went to walk on my treadmill with my i-pod playing MANDISA. I thought of you immediately as I listened to the words to her song FREE. “F-R-E-E, Free…gonna tell the world what He did for me….” You go!! Praise the Lord for the mighty work He has done and is still doing in your life. 🙂

  27. 227
    Renee says:

    Oh what a powerful story! Praise be to God for his grace, mercy and love. I agree with so many on here you need to write a book. My heart is so touched by your testimony.

  28. 228
    Tina King says:

    WOW!! Powerful and moving, bless you for sharing! I can see the hand of Jesus reaching down to pull you out of that pit and into His waiting arms. THAT is LOVE at its best!

  29. 229
    Kristin S says:

    Dang it, I’m crying! What precious love.

  30. 230
    Sue says:


    You are so loved! God is such an amazing God of mercy and love and your story is such a strong testimony to His goodness … He will never depart! I pray God will bless your ministry…you have been called, chosen sweet one and I know you are touching many lives with the outpouring of your story. It is heartfelt…transparent, raw. Thank you!

    Blessings…I look forward to hearing more and I agree, this is a testimony worthy of a wonderful book of hope, mercy, grace!

  31. 231
    Kimberly says:

    Oh Sweet Jesus! Gay, that is the most powerful testimony I think I may have ever read in my life. I’m at a loss for words as tears stream down my face. Thank you for sharing how the love of God and the love of man (Tut) brought you out of that pit of self-destruction. May God continue to shower you with His blessings, my dear sister-in-Christ!

  32. 232
    Debbie says:

    Gay, Thank you, from the heart of one who is watching a love one who is in prison — not because of alcohol or drugs, not one with bars — but a prison none the less that is dark and seemingly hopeless and filled with foolish choices and attitudes and decisions that are hurting her and others and resulting in all sorts of consequences. It is a prison that requires her to surrender to God and while we can pray and hope and follow God’s leading, only they can RESPOND to God (by His grace and empowerment). This post is a bright light of hope to me. An encouragement to keep praying, keep hoping, keep loving, keep being compassionate — but do the hard things God calls me to do in love. Thank you Gay. May God’s great blessings flow to you in the Person of Jesus Christ.


  33. 233
    Tracy says:

    wow. powerful. thank you for your honesty. what is too hard for my God? nothing.

  34. 234
    Kelly says:

    Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Bless you, Gay.

  35. 235
    Holly Smith says:

    So humbled, so very, that you would share your story, dearest Gay. What a treasure–a priceless treasure!-YOU are. Thankful for your story, your journey and the ones who will most certainly find our God faithful, because you had the guts to share.

    Now please…write this in a book. Hand out hope to thousands, even millions. If you will consider it…I am praying you will.


  36. 236
    Lynne says:

    Dear Gay – what a powerful story and a miraculous God that we serve!

    I loved your words…”His will was for me to DO THE THINGS that He put before me each and every day, one day at a time, and that HE WOULD EQUIP ME with the tools…He would EMPOWER ME. (I paraphrased)

    I can’t tell you how that spoke to me this morning. The words jusmped off the page into my heart and I knew they were for me. I have been afraid to step out into something God has orchestrated for me and have allowed my fears to discourage me. Your words were an encouragement to do what He puts before me everyday and that HE WILL EQUIP ME AND EMPOWER ME…I’ve been relying on my own strength.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful story. I am in AWE of how God heard your prayers and answered!


  37. 237
    Kimberly says:

    The best Valentine’s Day story ever!!!!! God’s love is better than anything imaginable! What a great reminder that He goes to great lengths to love us, cherish us, help us, SAVE US!

    Thank You for sharing! Amazing..just amazing!!!!

  38. 238
    Debbie K. Summersville, Mo says:

    You are so beautiful for sharing this with us. I read it and then read it to my husband,and we both bawled like babies. We serve an amazing God who is full of mercy and grace, and he was not done with your life. May you continue to use your story to touch the lives of so many others. Thank you.

  39. 239
    Diana A. says:


    How gracious and patient is He!!!

    MERCY triumphs, even the darkest hole!

    Gay what a story, what a great testimony, What an AMAZING GOD we have! Thank you for sharing your heart and life!

    Beth this must have been heart rending to hear, even after knowing how it turns about – my heart was in my throat as I read where Gay had been.

    God Blessings upon both your lives as He stitches them together!

  40. 240
    Heather says:

    My faith is strengthened each time I read these. I can’t wait to hear how the story “ends”. God is so faithful. Thank you for sharing your story.

  41. 241
    Karene says:

    Wow . . . tears streaming down my face, ruining my mascara, I am in awe. Thank you, Gay, for reminding us that we have a God who hears, who sees, who breaks through the darkness with His saving light. Your story is powerful.

  42. 242
    Betty Barnard says:

    What amazing courage and oh how our Lord will use you to help all who have and are struggling with these same hopeless feelings. You have a great story to tell and thank you my dear sister Gay for stepping up for God. Oh the hope you will share with so many. May God’s hedge of protection burn bright around my dear sister as you surrender to do what He is calling you to do!
    Press on my friend,
    Betty Barnard

  43. 243
    Molly says:

    Well! PRAISE THE LORD…I mean!

    ‘I did not see that each day that I woke up breathing was another day closer to the day He would strike … the day I would be ready; when all of the things that had blocked me from following His lead in the past were brought into submission.’ THIS just made me happy!
    How NOW you see a picture that is so full of HIS GRACE – in HOPE. A day closer to HIM. WOW!

    And, ‘it was the ONLY thing I could remember about the weeks prior, knowing with each step that God – that God — that’s all I knew, without a shred of doubt, — that God had heard my cry and had moved Heaven and Earth to save me!’ MOVED HEAVEN AND EARTH…I had to shout about this!!!

    Kind of like Beth said in her last post, you just wish you had bigger words that were saved for times like this. Ironically, and I say that because I see a picture in it…we tend to go back to childrens phrases. GOD, you’re Amazing, I LOVE YOU. THANK YOU!


    PS – I realized my why when reading ‘your why.’ So awesome!

  44. 244
    Melany says:

    Wow, I think this is your most powerful entry yet! Thanks for offering hope to all of us out here who need it in different ways.

  45. 245
    Patti Reavis says:

    Hi Gay,
    Your prayer is a great illustration that God listens from our hearts when we talk to Him. It’s not the eloquent words – our great God hears straight from the heart. Praise God for the premium He put on your life – that of His. What a great God we serve!!!
    I’m getting ready to go to James, Mercy Triumphs. I’ll read your blog. Thank you for sharing your life with us. We love you dearly, sister.

  46. 246
    sarah birmingham says:

    Hi Gay~ Does this not feel like a cliff hanger to anyone else? I cannot wait a week to find out how God let Tut to you and being that you were on the verge of death how he restored your sweet soul. What a powerful testimony to our Almighty God! Thanks for sharing.

  47. 247
    Pamela McDonald says:

    Dear Gay,
    Through tears all I can say is Amazing Grace!!

    You cannot begin to know how thankful I am for your transparency in recounting this story.

    Love, Pam

  48. 248
    Michelle says:

    Wow. What a story. What a God!!!!

  49. 249
    Lynda Rickey says:

    Gay, Absolutely no words for this. Tried to read it to my momma, managed to just barely. Amazing the unmitigated gall of Jesus to offer us hope, true hope, in the darkest of night. Praise Him! Love you for sharing. I hope there is more coming. Love, Lynda

  50. 250
    Alisha says:

    WOW! Thank you, Lord for hearing us when we call out to you and rescuing us!

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