My Sister, Gay’s, 6th Installment out of 7: A Different Street

First Installment: Meet My Sister

Second Installment: The Functioning Years

Third Installment: The Maelstrom

Fourth Installment: Like Sunlight Burning at Midnight

Fifth Installment: Stepping Out On the Water

First, from Beth…

Last week in our staff prayer and devotional time at Living Proof, we talked about restoration. I told them that it had occurred to me afresh that, for the word “restoration” to technically (or perhaps literally) apply, something had to have been lost that was re-found. I, then, asked if any of them wanted to share examples. For the next fifteen minutes we got tears in our eyes over one story after another and also erupted into raucous applause. It was such a powerful time. I know my coworkers well but, with the theme of restoration re-framed in its most technical sense, so much sounded brand new. I have no bigger personal testimony of restoration from the last five years of my life than that of my own beloved big sister. Someone asked me a few days ago how often I talk to her. I shrugged my shoulders, looked at the person a little blankly and said, “All the time!” We are in touch in one form or another – text, email, or phone – all the time. Or without such generalizations: most weeks, multiple times a week. Just like we used to be. (Not just when we were growing up, but when we were young wives and young mothers.) It is a miracle. And not one I have taken for granted for a single second yet. Gay and I tried hard to hold onto one another through the years she described. Never think for a moment that we gave up easily. Life’s just really hard at times and circumstances complicated. I had my own trash. My own issues. And even in the midst of them, I missed her terribly and with much turmoil. Anyway, humans prove inadequate saviors and demons prove relentless. On every side. But they did not win. Praise You, merciful L0rd. I love you wildly, Gay. And, because I do, I will now shut up and hand you the microphone.

 

Hi Sisters!!

Praise God, Jesus in Heaven, that in this particular story, my story, we are finally on the road to recovery, right?  Whew!!  As I reread my own words in the last installment about my having to “do something different,” I was reminded of Autobiography in Five Short Chapters by Portia Nelson.

Chapter 1:
I walk down the street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I fall in.  I am lost.  I am helpless.  It isn’t my fault.  It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter 2:
I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I pretend I don’t see it.  I fall in again.  I can’t believe I am in this same place.  But it isn’t my fault.  It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter 3:
I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I see it is there.  I fall in … it’s a habit … but my eyes are open.  I know where I am. It is my fault.  I get out immediately.

Chapter 4:
I walk down the same street.  There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.  I walk around it.

Chapter 5:
I walk down a different street.

I love the growth in ALL of the chapters and I am encouraged that each fall I took, although unbeknownst to me at the time, brought me closer to a different street and ultimately closer to God and His perfect will and purpose for my life.  It has been that way stumbling forward as well …

At New Hope I sat with Great Hope in literally hundreds of meetings and as I applied everything to my life and situation, there were two things that I heard loud and clear.  I heard that if I wanted to stay sober I must be willing to go to any length and I heard that I must enlarge my spiritual life, heavy on the must.  Without those two ingredients, I would surely fail and I was not about failing, not THIS TIME.  To fail was to die or wish I was dead.  At this point, neither was acceptable!  I had committed my life to God and although my freedom from the bondage of addiction had come divinely from AA and the 12 Steps, I had a yearning within my heart to return to the Jesus of my childhood.  I had an unquenchable thirst to know more of this God who had saved me from underneath the bridge.  I had MET Him there and had grown closer to him as the chains of addiction fell but, like a good addict, I wanted MORE!!  When I had gotten to New Hope just weeks before, I could barely form a thought much less a sentence.  I was so sick and tired and broken in all ways, not just physically.  Through the fog though, wafted a scripture that Beth had given me during my first stay in treatment years before.  I couldn’t even begin to quote it but I remembered that it was a promise of hope and a future.  As soon as I could get a Bible, I flew across the pages of Jeremiah and rested on what became my signature verse, my mantra.  I ate, lived and breathed these words.  Man shall not live on bread alone …

 

Jeremiah 29:11-14
New International Version (NIV)

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

At 5-1/2 months of sobriety (wow!), I moved to a beautiful, well-established, highly-respected transitional living facility called The Women’s Home.  Ladies, I was 54 years old when I walked off the street on that sunlit night in April 2009 and I had lost everything.  I not only needed sobriety and a whole lot of God in my life, I needed to recreate my life and I could not do it alone.  The Women’s Home is an 18-month, whole life (emotional/mental, physical, fiscal, social, vocational and spiritual), 3-phase residential (dormitory, transitional housing, independent living) program and it gave me a new life.  As I dealt emotionally with leaving New Hope where so many miracles had happened that I don’t have enough space to list them all, I knew that God was leading me elsewhere.  I could feel His warm favor at what I had done in response to His call at New Hope and I could feel it as I continued to step outside my comfort zone onto the living water of faith.  I was not afraid.  Not one bit.  I was able to work through such issues as divorce, loss of family unit, childhood trauma, grief, guilt and immense shame through group and individual therapy and lots more step work!  Although sobriety remained my number one priority, I was able to delve deeper into what had made me what I became — what the “father of lies” (John 8:44) had pampered and watered and nurtured for a half a century, trying his level best to bring me down.

But God …

I arrived at The Women’s Home on Monday, October 5, 2009, and as I was also on a mission to enlarge my spiritual life, I got on the church van the following Saturday night like a first-grader waiting for the bright yellow school bus on the first day of school.  Remember I had been “raised up” in AA and I had a deep love and respect for the steps and the fellowship.  I was not too keen on abandoning what had “brung me,” as my Nanny used to say, and just diving off into Bible study!!  (That would come later.)  I had prayed many times something like this, “Lord, can’t we put the two of those together somehow, You and me?  I need the steps in my life but I need Your Word in my life too.  Please God.”  I stepped off the church van and walked through the doors of a very unique, yet warmly comfortable and inviting “church,” or better yet “community,” so appropriately named Mercy Street.  It was held in a traditional Methodist church yet the hallway was hustling and bustling like no church hallway I had ever been in before.  I can barely describe it!  Maybe it was what was going on inside of me; maybe it was both.  First of all, NO ONE was dressed in their Sunday best; quite the contrary, everyone had on jeans and shorts and flip-flops (it was too hot yet for leather!), some sporting Harley Davidson shirts and some baring the most beautiful tattoo art I’ve ever seen, although modestly dressed.  They, or should I say we, weren’t all like this.  There were the Nancy Wilfongs too — actually there is but one Nancy Wilfong.  Nancy is the epitome of the traditional church lady all the way from her beautifully salon-coiffed do, not a hair out of place, to the tip of her pedicured toes. She has a smile as big as Texas and sits happily on about the 10th row of Mercy Street every Saturday night without fail with all the rest of us ragamuffins.  I think there must be some ragamuffin in Nancy somewhere.  I think there is some ragamuffin in ALL OF US.  We are all in such need of God’s grace, aren’t we?  In need of His mercy.  I was just right comfortable at this place called Mercy Street.

I browsed through the bookstore and spied a daily meditation book entitled Breaking Free Day By Day which was written by my first favorite author whom I had just spoken with for the first time in over a year just a few days prior to that.  The wounds that I had gouged during The Maelstrom were more than my family could bear and they had the same fears that I had, that I would REPEAT yet again.  They had not been on this journey with me this time thus far.  They had not seen me do something different.  God had a very nice surprise in store for all of my siblings but most especially for my littlest sister with whom I had played Barbies, shared secrets long forgotten, raised children beside, adored and admired as an upcoming leader in women’s ministry while I was bursting with pride yet green with envy. One whom I had also lost in my plunge to the bottom of the pit.  Beth and I had finally talked (major milestone) just 5 days before I was standing at the bookstore cash register with her book in my hand. While I was waiting impatiently to check out, I thumbed through some key chains on a display close to the register.  Hanging on that display was a round key chain with “29 eleven” on it.  Twenty-Nine Eleven, 29-11, Mmmm, 29:11!!!!!  I flipped it over and my MANTRA was on the back of it.  My mantra, nobody else’s mantra (haha), MY MANTRA!!  God’s promise to ME.  I was in the right place.  I knew that without a shred of doubt even before I entered back into the buzzing hallway toward the service.

I found an empty seat close to the back and, although much healed in comparison to what I had been, I still felt a little out-of-place, not quite together, not quite good enough, stained, soiled, UNWORTHY.  The lights soon went down, the band started to play and I heard Richard (but didn’t know his name then) sing to me, “You bring hope to the hopeless and light to those in the darkness and death to life, NOW I’M ALIVE.” And he sang them straight to me and the tears streamed down my face.  Because I was dead and now I’m ALIVE.  I saw people from all walks of life, both rich and poor, more together and broken, black and white, addicted and non-addicted, tattooed and non-blemished, walk up to a microphone and celebrate things that we only whispered about, judged and ridiculed in the church I was raised in.  I saw the pastor’s son celebrate a period of sobriety right there in that room.  I heard people celebrate that they were getting their children back, getting jobs, serving in their communities and STAYING SOBER against all odds.  To this day, Ladies, I still cry during Celebrations because it is Mercy Street at its best.  Because at Mercy Street we have the freedom to be WHO WE ARE, just as we are, past, present and living into our God-given futures.  No frills, just AUTHENTIC.  It’s beautiful.

Gregg Taylor, Mercy Street Pastor (and my sweet, sweet friend) did a sermon that night, or in his words, a Talk entitled “Awake.” It was the first sermon I ever heard Gregg preach and I’ve heard many since but few have impacted me like this one.  God meant for it to be that way.  He meant for it to GET MY ATTENTION, for me to know that I had been delivered by none other than the Deliverer, Jesus Christ, Son of God, and for me to know exactly where He intended for me to enlarge my spiritual life!  Gregg preached that very night on Jeremiah 29:11 and, oddly enough, he preached again on it this last Saturday night just two days ago before I’m writing this installment.  I heard him say that very first night that our wildest imagination cannot fathom the dreams and plans that God has for us.  I heard him say that I am more than they think I am; I am more than I think I am; I am more than I think God thinks I am; I am who God thinks I am, who God says I am!  Since then I heard Gregg say that we humans do not have the capacity to forgive some wounds, that only God has the power to put that forgiveness in our hearts if only we will receive it.  I heard him say that I was created just below the angels and that God loves me with a love that is jealous and furious and shameless.  I heard him say that the greatest display of God’s glory is the human being fully alive. (Quoting Irenaeus) I heard him tell us just a few weeks ago to look around at who was sitting next to us if we wanted to see Jesus.  After all, we are the Body of Christ, this church, this community, are we not?  I kept coming back week after week after week until I believed what I heard and it began to sink in all the way down to my toes.  I heard it and I received it and I saw it in others right there in that very room.  I was home.  I LOVE THIS CHURCH!!!

At Mercy Street we desire to create a safe harbor for the hurt, the lost, and the seeking so that we might experience the radical grace of God.  We believe that our “believing is conditioned by belonging.” We “come to believe” within a relational environment of shared experience.  Our community forms a mosaic of people diverse in our experiences and backgrounds but common in our desire to seek a closer relationship with God and with each other.  Whether you have faith, struggle with your faith or have lost faith, a place like Mercy Street opens its doors to everyone seeking a spiritual roof over their head.  A lot of us are involved in recovery from addictions or bad church experiences, and the stuff of life that has left us bruised, battered or broken.  We believe Jesus is the healer and restorer of our hurt, pain and brokenness and invites us into a safe community where the progress of healing and growth occurs.  Our gatherings are filled with live music, authentic faith journeys and practical messages set in a casual, come as you are environment.  We extend a gift of Christian community to everyone, no matter what faith, religion, addiction, or experience.

I walk down a different street … a street named Mercy.

Thank You, My Jesus.  Amen.
PS from Beth. Many of you unfortunately don’t have access to a church like Mercy Street but any church can learn to extend authentic Biblical love, mercy, and grace even amid our human imperfections and inevitable trials and errors. Churches are not made of bricks and steeples. They are made of people. Any street could become a mercy street if we’re willing to stand on its curb with humble feet, open our arms wide, and welcome wanderers in Jesus’ Name.  There on that “street”, no matter what their background or previous belief, we get to show them the way to the one and only Savior, the living Lord Jesus Christ. May they “taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Psalm 34:8

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171 Responses to “My Sister, Gay’s, 6th Installment out of 7: A Different Street”

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Comments:

  1. 101
    Casey says:

    Praise God for that new street. I have that “29.11” key chain. I bought it after my daughter became paralyzed and I couldn’t imagine God’s plan in that. Every time I looked up I saw that verse. From t-shirts, to the back of cars and billboards. It is now my life verse along with Phil 4:13.

  2. 102
    jaws says:

    Gay,
    I am so proud of you, so very proud of you. As I read each and every one of your posts I see where God is opening doors for others to see His light. Yes, He does have a plan for you and you are Living Proof of just that! I could see that light in you so many years ago and today you too can see it… what a blessing, what an honor to watch the restoration taking place in your life. Our God is an AWESOME God! Thank you Jesus for filling Gay with your Holy Spirit and giving her the freedom to express each and every heart felt word that she share with us. Thank you Lord for the friendship that continues to grow within us and the blessings that stir up an even deeper relationship with you. Coffee time with you is the best and I can’t wait for our next adventure. Blessings to you my dear sweet friend… you are so …
    … well you know the rest! I love you Gay!
    To Beth and Gay… what a friend we have in JESUS… thank you for being patient with one another. You two are touching the lives of so many that no longer have to sit in the dark! Thank you for sharing the deepest part of yourselves! xoxoxo

    • 102.1
      Gay says:

      Awwww Jaws, you’re making me cry. You know every time you write me an email, I could just change the names to and from and send it back to you. I feel the same and see the same in YOU. You are a gift to me and I wouldn’t trade our friendship for anything in the world. And like I always say, I’ve had some stunning role models, girlfriend! Starting with YOU! To God be the glory great things He has done. He puts us in each other’s paths just when we need each other most. God’s will in God’s time. Perfect!!

      I love you, Jaws, and yes, I do know the rest. 😀
      Gay

  3. 103
    GJ says:

    Gay: My favorite line sweet sister:

    I think there is some ragamuffin in ALL OF US. We are all in such need of God’s grace, aren’t we?

    Sweet mercy – yes. Thank you for doing this. It has stirred some compassion in my soul – and between this and facilitating the James, Mercy Triumphs Bible study – I am going to be CHANGED.

    Much love,
    GJ

    • 103.1
      Gay says:

      GJ — My favorite line of yours: Sweet mercy — yes.

      Enjoy the James study, GJ. I love James. He’s the one who said, “Faith without works is dead!” As I wrote a note to a coworker about doing the James study, I said, “I know you will work hard on this study so that God can do a greater work in you.” I think I said it a different way in my posts but it was my experience that the WORK that I did was little in comparison to the WORK that He did IN ME. Ahhhh, now that is Divine. Oh I love Him so much!!

      Loved you are,
      Gay

  4. 104

    I am so grateful for you both, Beth and Gay. Your journeys of life, and your relationships with the Lord are stories of hope to many and to me. What moves me the most is that God pursued you both-He never gave up. That He would set His affections on any of us! The nearness of the Lord is our good…to love Him. I pray that we would love Him more and more. That our hearts and minds and souls would love Him more and more.

  5. 105
    Vanessa says:

    I have read through this post a couple times now and it still brings tears to my eyes. We serve a good and faithful God. Thank you again for sharing your story with us. God Bless you!

  6. 106
    Jackie says:

    I have a wonderful friend who has recently become clean and sober, praise God. She is writing a blog about her road to recovery and staying sober, it is faihatthebeach.com. Please read it if you have a minute, she is an amazing woman of God! May God continue to bless you in your sobriety! Thank you Jesus!!

  7. 107
    Tanya says:

    Hey there.

    You are blessed to have a church family in the truest sense. I hope (against hope) for that kind of family. Each one has her own journey. Thanks Beth for the comment at the bottom, about the church being people and us making our church that kind of family church. Harder than it would at first appear but doable I think. People seem very afraid to be honest, open and all.

    To the comment on legalism and drinking: I agree in part. I totally understand that point of view. But I think that sometimes that kind of ‘thou shalt not’ attitude promotes fear. Anyway, it can. But I understand why you take that stance and thank you–THANK YOU–for your strength. If you say yes I can and do in moderation then good and if you say no I won’t and don’t then may the Lord bless you for honoring what you have said.

    My mother died of alcoholism and other drugs and ah, its a long story. I said I’d not drink EVER. And I consider myself blessed to have never been able to drink (it makes me sick) but also consider myself blessed to have learned to be able to enjoy A DRINK. But thats me. My foster mom takes the total abstinance rule and I love and respect that.

    And to dear Gay, continue. So glad for you that you have been blessed and have the wisdom to recognize it. Thanks for sharing your heart and story. I look forward to the last installment. (My hearts still holding out for a romance too….)

    Tanya

    • 107.1
      Gay says:

      Hi Tanya!

      I am, in no way, suggesting that everyone out there must choose total abstinence when trying to “curb” a potential drinking problem. I truly believe that there are drinkers out there that can do that. I am not one of them and this is my story. I believe that I have the disease of alcoholism and that when alcohol hits my brain it flips the light ON. I am unable to stop and my life soon falls apart and I’ve hurt and disappointed my children once again. I couldn’t live with that. Today, at almost 3 years sober, I don’t even have the desire to seeeee if it might work for me to have A DRINK. Sobriety is BY FAR the best high I’ve ever had in my life. Of course, it would be. It is God-given. He has a way of filling the voids within us that nothing in or of this world can fill. A big way. I don’t even wannabee a social or sometimes drinker anymore. I’m good with me just like I am and God is good with me too. That does not mean that I’m perfect and don’t need a LOT of polishing and sanding. But the fact that I’m ok with me today is just as much of a miracle as my being sober … and really … I don’t think we can have one without the other, addicts and alcoholics I mean. I appreciate your comment very much. It gives me much food for thought. I love God so much. He just spreads it around and around and around, doesn’t He?

      Loved you are,
      Gay

    • 107.2
      Gay says:

      Hi Tanya!

      I love your comment — it gives me food for thought. I never meant to say “thou shalt not.” I am only saying “I shalt not.” This is simply my story and I know with all of my heart that my God does not want to see me take another drink. Not one. I used to wish that I could someday, maybe someday, but have always known that it would simply start the vicious cycle all over again. Today, Tanya, I have something inside me that blows the effects of alcohol away!! The spirit of Christ, the living God, lives inside of me and He lives FULLY. The warm and fuzzy everything-is-right-with-the-world love that alcohol provided me (in the beginning) pales in comparison to the love of God. I wouldn’t trade it for the world and I am so grateful that He didn’t let me die before I experienced it … experienced Him. Thanks so much for commenting. You minister to me as well, girlfriend.

      Loved you are,
      Gay

      • Tanya says:

        Hey back again dear Gay,

        It wasn’t your comment (I don’t think you made one) on ‘thou shalt not’ that I referenced. Someone else up above. Someone with a valued point of view. Just thought I’d share that.

        It amazes me in a certain way that I said anything that ministers to YOU…for you my dear have ministered to us all!

        Have a good day 🙂

        • Gay says:

          Hi Tanya! Just fyi: The reason I commented TWICE to you was because my computer at home wasn’t working properly and I didn’t see that either of my comments posted. Sooo, girlfriend, you got a double dose! All of the comments out here minister to me. I can’t respond to them all but each and every one ministers to me. I love this blog and don’t think for a minute you’ll be losing me as a participant once my posts are finished!!

          Together with you in the journey, Sista!
          Gay

  8. 108
    Shirley says:

    I just finished reading entry #6 and have to go back to the beginning. Praise God! I love how Christ works in my life today – still amazed and don’t know why. I have been in recovery for several 24 hours and at my six month point my Bible verse (my mantra) became Jeremiah 29:11 through a Christ Renews His Parish (CHRP) weekend. I will be leading the Revelation study starting on March 19 and wanted to ask for prayers from sisters in Christ during this time of leadership in the Word and came across Gay’s story. Our growth group has done a couple of studies by Beth and she inspires us all. Thank you for your honesty, openness and willingness to share your love of Christ and your sobriety with us.

    • 108.1
      Gay says:

      Shirley — You are in my prayers as you begin Revelation next week. Wow!! Talk about courage!! I wish I could be sitting there in your study. Thanks for your sweet comments. You go girl!! You’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing: Passing it on.

      Together with you in the journey,
      Gay

  9. 109
    Vickie says:

    Gay,

    Can you believe how beautiful God is? He overwhelms me every day with His extravagant love, grace and mercy. I hope I never forget your testimony. I’m starting to have pre-menopausal part-timers though, and I’m highly concerned about the memory thing. Your story is one I hold dear…..and pray, I don’t forget!

    WE ARE SO LOVED!!!

    In Him,
    Vickie

  10. 110
    AnnaRuth says:

    Beth and Gay – I just wanted to share with the two of you, since you’re on my heart this morning! I am watching some old recordings of Wednesdays with Beth on James Robison’s show, and in the one that I just watched, Beth, you are talking about a loved one that we now know to be Gay. And I can see how absolutely heartsick you were over her pain and struggles and separation from the family at that time. I just couldn’t stand it, and started hollering at the television, “It’s almost over!! Freedom and redemption and reconciliation are near!!!” How encouraging that I know the next chapter of the story. It helps me remember that those things are most likely near in my own life as well.

    Love you, ladies!

    • 110.1
      Gay says:

      AnnaRuth — Haha, I saw that episode too while I was at New Hope!! My roommates and I were piled up on one of our beds sitting in front of the TV when Beth came on and I was so proud I could pop! I hadn’t even talked to her by then but God was already doing a work and my heart had softened. As she went on, my bottom jaw dropped open and everybody looked straight at me. I said quietly, “She’s talking about me.” I’ll never forget that. Yes, AnnaRuth, its over. Its almost 3 years over!!!!! Praise God from Whom ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!!! Thanks so much for you sweet comment.

      I love you,
      Gay

  11. 111
    Jackie JM says:

    When I began facilitating the James, Mercy Triumphs Bible study and I heard how you and your sister reconciled, I had such joy. Not only because you were back together but it gave me hope. My sister has not spoken to me in 7 years. I have tried to work things out but she refuses to even speak to me.

    She is now going through treatment for lymphoma. As a breast cancer survivor, I reached out to her to try to be with her through this process. I opened the door…she refused to walk through.

    I wish I could say we have reconciled but that is not the case. Although I would love our relationship healed, my number one concern for her is her salvation. She has made it clear that she is not a Christian and see no need for it.

    I ask you pray for her with me.

    • 111.1
      Gay says:

      Jackie — I join you in prayer for your sister and for you too! Beth and I both needed prayer at that time. Both of our hearts were broken. I have a friend whose brother would not accept his amends for 15 years. They are now the best of friends. I hope that gives you an extra drop of hope.

      Loved you are, my Sister.
      Gay

  12. 112
    Julie Reynolds says:

    Dear Sweet Gay – I cannot thank you enough for sharing your story with us, for daring to be authentic and exposed-all for the glory of our great God.

    You have challenged me to look at others with spiritual eyes, seeing the needs of the heart, the cries of the soul and not just the look of their clothes or outside. Thank you.

    You are such a blessing sweet sister. To God be the glory!

  13. 113
    Sheila says:

    I attended Mercy Street when my husband entered rehab. I was attending a support group for families and a sweet, elderly lady invited me. It was just what I needed and yes, the people were so genuine it felt like home immediately. The best part was hearing all the sobriety reports. Made me cry every time! Unfortunately my now ex-husband has not found sobriety but I continue to pray for him. Maybe one day someone will invite him to Mercy Street and he’ll experience God in a very real way there. God bless you on your journey and thank you for sharing it with us 🙂

    • 113.1
      Gay says:

      Sheila — I’ll invite him to Mercy Street!!! Just send on his contact info, girlfriend. Thanks for the comment. I LOVE THIS CHURCH!!!

      Together with you in the journey,
      Gay

  14. 114
    Velda says:

    I just finished reading all of the installments then promptly forwarded the blog addresse to my sister in recovery. God Bless you Gay for your courage and hope. I’m also an alcoholic, been sober 2,190 days. Never actually figured that out before. Thanks! What your installments did for me was put into words (eloquently I might add) what I have often felt and many things I’ve experience during my drinking career. I was 50 when I quit Praise the Lord! Like you I have used AA and the 12 steps in my recovery but the Good and Gracious Lord took away my addiction. God Bless you!

    • 114.1
      Gay says:

      Velda — Yes, He most certainly did! I don’t think that AA makes any bones about that point. It is published in black and white and spoken out loud at every meeting, “God could and would if He were sought.” Exactly how simple could it be? So simple that I missed it for YEARS!!! We can go on and on about what got or gets us sober but the bottom line is: God could and would if He were sought!!

      I know you love that. Grin. Thanks for your comment, Sista!

      Together with you in the journey,
      Gay

  15. 115
    rosella says:

    Thank you for your story. I will be praying for you everyday and please pray for me everyday.Amen

  16. 116
    Kathy says:

    I just returned from an “old girls” game retreat at my friend’s country property in Star, Texas- one of my friends who had lived in Houston asked me if I knew about Mercy Street which may be the church you have found so powerful and therefore are returning the blessing to others

    Small world, she was telling me how much it meant to her to have been associated with this part of her church- it hit me – that in such a remote part of Texas we would be talking about Mercy Street- hmmmmm- God Bless you and yours, just maybe we are all Siestas more than we will ever know- Lots of love

    • 116.1
      Gay says:

      Kathy — Your friend must go to Chapelwood UMC. Mercy Street is a 15-year old ministry of Chapelwood. Its a great church too!!! Very traditional Methodist church with a little bit of everything. I’m wild about their senior pastor, Jim Jackson. He is a love.

      Hmmmmm, it is a small world, isn’t it? Either that or a VERY BIG GOD!!!

      Loved you are,
      Gay

  17. 117
    Sarah Tolson says:

    Every single time I read one of your posts, Gay, I literally find myself dripping with tears at the end. It’s not a weeping, but a sweet trickle of tears at how God has saved you.

    I know addiction. Mine is food. And it seems, when I have reached my end, there is yet another installment from you. And God speaks to me through your story, and give me a hope and a future.

    Great.. I’m crying again. Lol. I haven’t posted on any of your installments, but they affect me the same way each time. I am so thankful for you and your words.

    I like Beth’s words too, btw. 😉

  18. 118
    Scarlett says:

    Hi Gay. My name is Scarlett. I’m a compulsive overeater/food addict/codependent/adult child of an alcoholic. It has been painful and convicting for me to read your testimony thus far. I’ve had the biggest, hardest, dry lump in my throat and I’ve cried the entire way through the installments. You won’t believe how I ran across your testimony on Beth’s blog. I called Beth’s office and asked a nice young lady if Beth would agree with me that I didn’t need a 12 step program. All I needed was to work harder on my own and all would be okay. I wanted Beth to tell me it was okay to walk away from OA (Overeaters Anonymous) and CODA (Codependents Anonymous) and Celebrate Recovery. They were all just a waste of time, I felt. They required SO MUCH of my time each day and focus. Ha…as if my addiction didn’t. How much of my time, my money, and damage to relationships has my addiction cost me? Even though these recovery programs are based on biblical principles, I just felt like I had the power to do this “on my own” and didn’t need to waste my time with these programs. I felt if I could just isolate myself with God, He would get me over my addiction. I knew Beth had dealt with addictions in her life and I didn’t know how she felt about 12 step programs. Did she utilize them? Did she not? I didn’t know. I wanted to find out. Maybe she had gotten all she needed straight from prayer and Bible study and didn’t need to attend these recovery programs, I thought. I honestly was calling up to have Beth confirm that it was okay for me to drop out of 12 step programs. This would make me feel better about it because I respect Beth’s opinion.

    God was directing me to the answer, but it wasn’t the answer I WANTED to hear. It was the answer I NEEDED to hear.

    The nice young lady who answered at LP Ministries directed me to Beth’s blog and told me that Beth’s sister was doing a series on her testimony and that I should go there and read it. She said she believed it would help me. I agreed to go read Beth’s blog.

    When I began reading, I wanted to stop. I felt a pang of conviction. Cause you see, Gay, I’m still in my addiction. I’m functioning. I’m hiding things well. Well…not TOO well. I’m obese from the addiction. But I’ve been doing enough lately to work off the extra food I gorge on. I’m not losing weight, but I’m not gaining either. My husband isn’t a dumb man. I’m sure he probably wonders how I can eat so little in front of him and be exercising and not be losing weight.

    If only my husband knew the amounts of money I secretly spend and the lengths I go to each week to hide the amounts of food I gorge on, we would be back at the breaking point we have been at before in our marriage. My teenage son has no respect for me either and he is angry and frustrated over my addiction. Frustrated because he can’t do anything to stop his mother from killing herself slowly with food. This food addiction and my codependency has put a severe strain on my marriage and on my relationship with my son and on my relationship with God. I don’t want this, Gay. I DON’T WANT THIS. I want freedom. I want healing in my life. I want God to restore me to sanity. God has put one word in my head constantly now for almost 3 years….SURRENDER. But I hang on to my addiction as a toddler hangs on to his security blanket.

    I live in denial. I tell myself I’m not bad off. I’m not a REAL addict like alcoholics or drug addicts. Ha… You what DENIAL means? Don’t Even Know I Am Lying! I am continuously buying the lies that Satan peddles.

    Granted, I may not numb my pains down with a drink, but I sure stuff it down with food. I’ve “coped” with food now for over the past 25 years, and I’m tired Gay. I’m tired. I’m weary of it. The food stuffs down and drowns out the fear and insecurity that is deep down inside me. I’m not sure what that is all about or where it comes from, but I sure don’t like it. I don’t want to face it or deal with it. As Scarlett would say, “I won’t think about that TODAY. I’ll think about that TOMORROW…”

    Whenever I go sober with food, the fears and insecurities begin to rage on me, sometimes to the point I can’t sleep! I don’t want to deal with them. When I eat and eat and eat, it numbs me to it.

    My daddy drank it away until it claimed his life. I eat it away. And I’m heading down that same path as he went, but only via a different vice.

    God is telling me, Gay, to drop the box of Little Debbies and turn around and face my fears; face my anxieties; face my insecurities. Stare them down. Just as David did Goliath. He tells me He will be there with me and He will be my strength. I have no need to fear or worry. I’m scared, Gay. But I know I must trust God. I must. Holding on to my addiction is now becoming more painful than just letting go and letting God help me face my fears.

    Gay, I can SO RELATE to the holes in the sidewalk. My gosh, how many times have I been down that SAME sidewalk! How many times do I keep falling in!!

    Gay, I thank God for your courage and your ESH (experience, strength, hope) in sharing your testimony, and I thank God for the young lady who steered me to it. I know, Gay, that if you can come back and can be restored and healed from the point you were at, God can and will do the same for me.

    You said you had to find your WHY. When I heard you say that it pierced me. I KNEW God had put those words in your mouth for me to hear. I just read a book called “Take the Stairs” by Rory Vaden. In his book, another woman was telling her story about how she came to succeed. She said she had to find her WHY. She said you have to find a strong enough vision to leverage against the sacrifices we have to make in order to do what is required to recover. My WHY is my son. I watched in pain as my Daddy succumbed to his addiction. I refuse to allow my son to watch his Momma succumb to hers. “I can do all things, THROUGH CHRIST, who strengthens me.”

    Gay…my life is in Portia’s Chapter 3 right now, transitioning into Chapter 4. THANK YOU, sweet lady, for doing what God required of you. If you hadn’t, God would never have been able to use you to help me. Now, I must FULLY surrender and heal and recover so that God may use me to help others. God bless you, Gay, and God bless Beth and everyone at LP Ministries. You are the vessels God used to speak to my heart today. I love you all.

  19. 119
    Judy McIntyre says:

    You have a wonderful gift with your ability to express yourself in written words. Thanks be to God for you and Beth sharing with us!

  20. 120
    Chris says:

    God is so Good! He is always faithful! I have been moved and touched by your story. Oh Lord! that I would be obedient to do whatever He calls me to do. Whether it be to share my story or lift up a fellow Child of the King and encourage them to be free! Is there a chance that you would put your story in book form, so that it could be placed in the hands of people who we know might benefit from hearing it also?

  21. 121
    Marie says:

    Dearest Gay,

    Thank you for the sweet reminder that God loves us. Not only does He love us, He likes us. That is water to my parched heart today.

    Blessings to you!

    Marie

  22. 122
    Traci says:

    Jeremiah 29:13 was my mantra….I so wish we had a Mercy Street here!

  23. 123
    Missy says:

    Ready for your final installment, Gay! I’ve hung on to every word of your story throughout these weeks. So inspiring and encouraging! Praising God for your deliverance! I’m like so many of the others….if God puts it on your heart to write a book one day, I say DO IT! I know that would reach SO many others who need to hear your story and need hope! And the way you write…you’re a natural! 🙂

  24. 124
    Sallye says:

    Gay,

    Just wanted to say you are a walking, talking, living, breathing testimony to lovingkindness, forgivness, and grace of God.

    You are living the Holy fairytale…Col 1:13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.

    Sallye

  25. 125
    Tammy says:

    Gay,
    I am so thankfull you found your way back!! Thank you for allowing us to hear your journey. You are such an inspiration to all who read this, it really applies to everyone….the determined change of streets, to follow that street God has laid out for you! YOU ARE AWESOME! I think I have done every single one of Beth’s Bible studies and I’ve been hooked on your story from the first line!!

  26. 126
    Wendy Henley says:

    I hope I win!

  27. 127
    Wendy McLeod says:

    Gay,

    I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face. You see, you are my mom! I am 49 years old and have watched my mom live like this for the past 35 years! I hurt everyday over the desire and failure to have a relationship with her. Your comment that you WANTED your kids to be first, but the alcohol would not have it has probably helped me more than anything else you have said.

    I attempted one time several years ago to confront her but she was very angry with me and completely denied having a problem! She is 70 years old and looks 90. She can barely walk and was taken to the ER a couple of months ago because of so much liver damage. I have prayed and prayed and will continue to pray. The only contact I have with her is when I call her. I have longed for that awesome mother-daughter relationship most of my life.

    Thank you for being SO real and transparent so that I could understand her and her disease a little better and not take her rejection of me so personal!!
    Praying for you!!
    Wendy McLeod

  28. 128
    Kathy says:

    Dear Gay–Thank you so much for sharing your testimony of God’s grace in your life. I am a glutton(that’s what God calls it in his Word but funny how the world-even the church-is offended by that word!). My life mirrors that of an alcoholic/drug addict only its a slower death and one much more acceptable in the eyes of the world and the church. I have been reading your story but wasn’t compelled to thank you until I read the chapters-how like my many year journey with this sin habit! I seem to be stuck between Chapter 2 and 3 and am finally realizing that as slow and painful as I have made it for myself God really does have a plan and its all about His glory rather than the shedding of my 100 lb fat suit! I’m praying for you today that God protect your freedom and powerfully use you to share the depth of His grace and mercy with those it the pit of addiction.

  29. 129
    Ruth Filer says:

    Gay, A sister of Beth’s is a sister of mine. I saw so many of my friends’ families in your story. I am glad that God never gave up on you. Of course not. It gives us hope for the Gay’s in our lives.

  30. 130
    Denise says:

    Beth and Gay- I’m so happy that you two are working together in God’s redemptive story- and Gay- I am always so touched by your openness and raw honesty- thank you for sharing! And Beth, thank you for sharing Gay and her story with us! It is so wonderfully amazing to read of God’s love for each and every one of us, to see a healing work done, and know that HE pursues us, He won’t let us go, He comes after us, time and time again- thanks again, so much, for sharing this story!!

  31. 131
    Sherrie says:

    Gay–thank you so much for sharing your story. I am honored to have read it. I, too, am struggling with addiction to alcohol. I, too, am tired of making the endless promises that never come true. I know that Jesus is the answer, but I’ve still been rebellious. I so needed to hear your story and the resources you identified. Please pray for me as I trust Jesus to make me whole. I just need to do what He sets before me everyday–I’ve been hoping for the lightning bolt and it never comes. I realize now that I can’t just hope for it, I have to take the actions He puts in my path everyday to make it a reality. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  32. 132
    Jeannie says:

    Gay,

    I want to thank you so much for so clearly articulating how you needed BOTH AA and the Church. I do as well. Like you, it was on the rooms of AA i heard that we did not have to be ‘clean’ when we came to God, that he would recieve us just as we were. I am so greatfful for that. I did find a church and accepted Christ as my savior. I had facilitates many of your sisters bible studies. After 8 years of sobriety I left AA because I was so ‘spiritually fit’ and ended up drinking after 5 years out of AA. Today, I know I need both. I need him so desperately and I need AA because I need to remember from whence I came, from what He delivered me. Praise God you are rebuilding the ancient ruins!!! thank you so much for sharing. I so wish I could meet you in person.

    Jeannie Jackson
    Birmingham, Alabama
    55 y/o

  33. 133
    SP says:

    I just wanted to post on the Kansas City Conference….I needed that! As many ways as the devil tried to keep me from getting there, I needed the Word. I’ve heard Beth speak about Michael so many times but never to the depth as in Kansas City. As hard as it was, and I understand that pain, I’m so grateful. So grateful you heard Gods calling, and so grateful that the Holy Spirit had you discuss that subject. Several months ago a year long battle ended over my now 5 yr old daughter. It has been a devastating battle, one that God could only sustain me through. Most days I felt He alone was giving me the ability to “walk” from point A to B. I rose each day to pray and do Bible study ar 4:30 am because I knew I couldn’t make it without Jesus. There were many fruit bearing moments a mist ths storm but the court battle was not one of them. I was told by police, CPS, and Dhs that my daughter had been sexually abused. She disclosed at 3 and at 4 yrs old, and that there was nothing to worry about … They had him. Then I was left with ” I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened”. The END. I continued the fight, the fight “for”. After thousands of dollars and two years of fighting, still a judge hasn’t heard our case. I was left angry, depressed, and feeling like a failure. I huge scar! One I was trying to bury. In reality, I was angry, hurt, without hope, feeling God was mad at me, or I must have done something wrong and now my daughter was paying. Boy, legalism at its worst! I was freed after months of trying to bury it and move on….I’m freed! I know God has a perfect plan, not usually my plan, but better! Praise God I’m not in charge. I know He a lone can save her, and take evil and use it for His good. Thank you Beth for being so real! Women that suffer from a low self esteem and lack of confidence in their own ability , or even Gods love for them…..need to hear your struggles.
    PS. After leaving your conference today I was wondering how God could use ” this” for His ministry…I mean through me. Well, I was contacted no sooner than I got home to join a conference for “Step Up, For Abused Children”. Is it God? We’ll see what He has for the two of us. I know it’s AMAZING!

  34. 134
    Missy says:

    My brother became a believer in jail three years ago, after his third DUI. Praise the LORD! He has not found a church yet.

    I have been trying to get him to go to Mercy Street with me but it is hard because he works on Saturdays. Please pray that he finds a way there!!

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