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I SAW LOVE



TIM HOLMES



Copyright © 2017 The God First Foundation

All rights reserved.

All rights reserved under International Copyright Law. Contents and/or cover may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form without the express written permission of the Publisher.

The God First Foundation

P.O. Box 1478

2960 Pelham Parkway

Pelham, AL 35124

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Editor: Stephanie Emrich

Ebook formatting by www.ebooklaunch.com



TABLE OF CONTENTS

Foreword

Author's Note

1. A Desperate Escape

2. Beth

3. Alone In My Loss

4. A New Marriage and Mathew

5. A Season Short-Lived

6. Betrayed and Bewildered

7. Ripples Set In Motion

8. A Devastating Diagnosis and a Touch From God

9. Mathew’s Miracle

10. A Heart Healed

11. The Battle of a Lifetime

12. Coming Home

13. An Encounter With Evil

14. A Beauty Queen, A New Beginning, and Climbing The Corporate Ladder

15. Losing It All

16. An Ultimatum

17. Business Gone Bad

18. From Alcoholic To Addict

19. A Grandmother’s Answered Prayer

20. Losing My Life To Save It

21. Hope Renewed

22. Road To Recovery and a Family Restored

23. Clay’s Story

24. Delivered, Restored and Set Free



FOREWORD

BY ELIZABETH DAUGHERTY

People often say that God works in mysterious ways. And everyone involved with this book can attest to that, as God found ways for our lives to intersect over the course of the last 10 years. As you read this book, you should know that many people have been involved with the effort to bring Tim’s story to light. We have all worked together with one common goal, to bring hope to people’s lives and to share God’s never-ending love. Tim’s story is just one example of how God’s love can change a life. Since I have been part of this process, I feel that it is important to also share what God’s love has done for me and to explain how I came to meet Tim.

My name is Elizabeth Daugherty. I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama. I was raised in a loving and supportive Christian family. I did well in school. I believed in God and attended church regularly with my family.

Growing up, I always felt different. From a very young age, I was filled with fear and insecurity. I began to suffer from migraine headaches at the age of 11 and was put on strong prescription medications for pain. I soon found that when I would take these medications, not only would my physical pain go away, but I also found relief from my emotional pain. It wasn’t long before I started abusing the pain medicine and mixing it with alcohol that I would sneak from my parents’ kitchen cabinet. Over the next couple of years, I started experimenting with other drugs. To make matters worse, I was sexually abused at the age of 13 and again at the age of 14. Once again, I turned to alcohol and drugs to numb my emotional pain. By this time, I was angry at God. My relationship with Him dwindled as I struggled to try to understand why He would allow this to happen to me.

My anger at God and my inability to deal with life on life’s terms fueled my drinking and drug use for the next eight years. My addiction progressed very quickly. By age 19, I was drinking and using drugs every day. For many years, drugs and alcohol numbed my pain and provided me with a way to escape having to deal with what had happened to me.

Unfortunately, that escape didn’t last forever. After years of abusing these substances, they finally stopped working. It didn’t matter how much I drank or what drugs I took, I could no longer find any relief. I attempted to quit on my own, but was unsuccessful. I was miserable and wanted to die. I considered suicide, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do that to my family.

One day while I was meeting someone to purchase drugs, God intervened in an amazing way that changed my life forever. I met this individual at a local restaurant. I was in the process of buying drugs from him when I remembered he once told me he had attended a few 12-step meetings in the past. For some reason, I started asking him about these meetings.

As only God could have orchestrated, a group of people sitting next to us overheard our conversation and joined in. I found out they all were in recovery and had just left a 12-step meeting. We talked for hours and I agreed to go with them to a meeting the next day. And at the age of 22, I went to my first 12-step meeting. I have been sober ever since. My sobriety date is April 8, 2008.

Through working the 12 steps with an accountability partner, I have discovered a joy and peace that I had been searching my entire life to find. I now have an amazing, personal relationship with God, and I’m able to use my experience to offer hope to so many other women. Today I realize that, if we allow Him to, God will use the bad things that happen in our lives to help others. And through helping them, we are able to heal.

While attending these 12-step meetings, I met, fell in love with, and later married a wonderful man named Lance Daugherty. While we were dating, he introduced me to his friend Tim Holmes. They lived together for several years and have always been a big part of each other’s recovery.

Tim has had a big impact on my own recovery as well. One day, when I was a few years sober, I was having trouble feeling connected to God. I talked to Tim and he told me, “Sometimes when we feel disconnected, it is actually when we are the most connected.” Through our conversation, I was able to understand that God uses these times to strengthen our relationship with Him. He also uses our suffering to help bring other people closer to Him. The conversation I had with Tim that day helped shape the relationship I have with God.

Coincidently, I had known Tim’s accountability partner, Tom Braddock, before I became sober. My mother and I would often eat lunch at the restaurant he managed. If I ordered a drink it was not uncommon for Tom to bring it to my table. At the time, I didn’t know he was in recovery. However, he definitely knew I had a drinking problem!

Tom often jokes that he helped me hit my “rock bottom” by serving me plenty of alcohol! Apparently, God likes to use people I meet at restaurants to grab my attention.

It’s amazing how God puts people in our lives at the exact moment we need them. Tom has remained a very dear friend and an important part of my recovery. When Lance and I decided to get married, we wanted someone who was in recovery with strong faith to perform the ceremony. Our first thought was Tom. I mentioned it to him one night and he told me that he recently became ordained. On October 12, 2013, he performed our wedding ceremony.

Not long after Lance and I were married, we received a phone call from Tim. He told us that he felt like God wanted him to write a book about his experience. He knew God spared him from death in order to help people. Following this conversation, Tim, Tom, and Lance proceeded to move forward to have Tim’s story written and published.

It’s been three years since God put it on Tim’s heart to publicly share his story. After several failed attempts to find the right person to help him write this book, it was obvious that God needed to open a door. God began to pave the path for me and my mother to become involved in the process.

Over the years, I have come to believe that everything happens for a reason. God has a plan for our lives. I never could have imagined that meeting Tom all of those years ago would eventually lead to God bringing all of us together to share His message of hope and love.

And we rejoice in our hope of sharing the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, which has been given to us.” ~Romans 5:2-5

-Elizabeth Daugherty



AUTHOR’S NOTE

I have tried to recreate events, locales and conversations from my memories of them. In order to maintain their anonymity, in some instances I have changed the names of individuals and places. I may have changed some identifying characteristics and details such as physical properties, occupations and places of residence.



CHAPTER 1

A DESPERATE ESCAPE

I thought of my mother. I said a prayer. The flash of the 12-gauge shotgun knocked me to the ground. I could hear the faint sound of a whirring helicopter blade. The voices of medical personnel sounded distant, as if they were coming from the end of a very long, dark tunnel. I felt the pain, the burning, torrid pain to my face. And then, as quickly as the flash of the gun, I felt peace. A presence of love enveloped me, my body, my soul, and my mind. The horrific pain faded away like the moon passing behind the clouds in a black night sky. Everything was fading. All that remained was the ever-present, all-encompassing feeling of peace, calm, and love. One final voice emerged. It was the voice of a woman. “He’s gone,” she said.

Why? What was the reason for my death? A coroner’s report might read “single gunshot to the face.” That would be the cause, but what was the reason? No more desire, no more expectations. The fire that once burned so brightly in my life had been reduced to a pile of smoldering ashes. My dreams and my ambitions were now just flickering embers. All that remained was the image of that fatal gunshot wound to my face. Aristotle wrote, “To run away from trouble is a form of cowardice, and while it is true that the suicide braves death, he does it not for some noble object but to escape some ill.” So, to understand my death you must first understand my life. You must travel the path of my life to discover how I arrived at that dark place where I felt death was my only option to escape the pain.



CHAPTER 2

BETH

The sun shone down from a cloudless sky and danced on the surface of the cool clear water. The air was hot and humid as any resident of Mobile, Alabama, would expect on a summer’s day. The swimming pool of the Highlands Country Club offered a welcome relief for its members. I, on the other hand, was not there to escape the summer heat. I was working. I had taken a summer job as pool manager while attending the University of South Alabama. It was here that my life would start down a path of choices and circumstances that would result in outcomes I was not equipped to handle. After all, I was a naive country boy. I hadn’t dated in high school. Whatever other young men my age knew about life, I knew less.

College was my first experience at responsibility and relationships outside of my family. I was raised in a small town in central Alabama with a population of less than 500. Main Street consisted of one drug store, several churches, a bank, the court house, and adjoining jail. Oddly, the nicest building in town was the ABC liquor store. We had one red light at the main intersection, but it only blinked to indicate a four-way stop. My family attended church every time the doors were open.

Growing up, I always knew there had to be more to life than what this small town had to offer. I had this innate sense that I was meant to make a difference in the world. My goal was to attend college and go to medical school. I felt that God wanted me to help people. Until now, my life had been simple and sheltered. But that was all about to change. One day, while working poolside, I met a beautiful young girl named Beth. She was not a fellow employee, but a member of the country club. The youngest of three girls, Beth came from an affluent Jewish family. You didn’t have to know her long to realize she was quite accustomed to getting her way. She had her father wrapped around her finger like a shiny diamond ring, and it wouldn’t take long before I would fall victim to her charm as well.

It was the early 70’s and Beth bore an uncanny resemblance to Barbara Streisand. There we were…the Jewish princess and the Baptist farm boy. Her parents immediately treated me like part of the family. We dated for a year and by the following summer, we were married.

Beth worked while I attended school full time and held a part-time job. My grades were good and I dreamed of attending medical school at the University of South Alabama. As staunch southern Baptists, my parents had not been overjoyed at the news of our marriage. But, over time, they grew to love Beth. Once during a visit to my parents’ home, my mother pulled me aside. “Beth is a good wife,” she told me. Her approval meant everything to me.

November came quickly, and I was excited to spend the holidays with my family. I was especially glad to have some of my grandmother’s home cooking. Beth enjoyed getting to know the women in my family as they all sat around the kitchen table after dinner. The men, as you would expect, were all gathered around the television watching football. At the end of the day, as everyone began to leave, I promised my grandfather that I would stop by his house Sunday morning on our way home.

Sunday arrived and I was running late. We were in a hurry to get back to Mobile and I didn’t think we had time to stop by and see my grandparents. I knew I would see them at Christmas and that my grandfather would understand. Beth and I packed our things and started the long drive home.

The following Tuesday morning, I received a phone call from my uncle letting me know that my grandfather had passed away that morning from a massive heart attack. Later, my mother told me that my grandfather had been looking forward to my Sunday morning visit and when he found out I wasn’t going to be able to come, he teared up. My mother wanted me to know how much he loved me.

I have often wondered if he knew his remaining time here was short. I know that I will live with that regret for the rest of my life. That experience taught me that what might be considered a small or even insignificant choice at the time can greatly impact our lives and the lives of others.

The only thing I could do now was focus on my future with Beth.



CHAPTER 3

ALONE IN MY LOSS

Beth and I purchased and renovated a small house in Mobile in an area filled with other young couples who were just starting out as well. The homes were older and more affordable. Of course, money was never an issue for us. As I mentioned before, Beth had a real talent for getting her way and, if it was money she wanted, her father was happy to oblige.

Beth could have worked for one of the several businesses her father owned, but she decided to take a job at a major clothing store at the local mall instead. She loved fashion and had even managed to transform me into one of the most stylish men on campus!

After several months of marriage, Beth came to me and announced that she was pregnant. “I cannot have this baby,” she said. It was incomprehensible that my wife was saying this to me. “Abortion isn’t even legal in Alabama!” I protested. I was completely against the idea. After much discussion, she made the decision on her own. With access to her family’s money, Beth flew to New York for the procedure. I stayed behind and, to console myself, just kept thinking If she didn’t want the child, what kind of mother would she have been anyway?

I graduated with a degree in biochemistry and applied to medical school, but was waitlisted. While I still hoped to be admitted to medical school, I proceeded to take a full-time position as a lab tech at Mobile General Hospital.

The following year, we moved to New Orleans, Louisiana, where I enrolled at Louisiana State University and began my graduate studies. I applied to medical school a second time and was waitlisted at both the University of South Alabama and LSU School of Medicine.

I became more and more frustrated, and Beth just wanted me to work for her father. “We will be multi-millionaires one day, so why bother with medical school?” she said. I put out my résumé and was hired as a shift supervisor for a large chemical company. My starting annual salary was $13,700.00. My first thought was How will I ever spend that much money?

We had a small house with a monthly payment of $82.00, not to mention the never-ending supply of money from Beth’s family. “We need to stand on our own two feet,” I told her. I was proud of my accomplishments and wanted to be the one to support myself and my wife. “Are you crazy? My parents love giving me money,” she said. Her comments only made me feel more insignificant.

Shortly after our move, Beth became pregnant for the second time. She told me that she planned on having another abortion and that she never wanted to have children. She flew to New York to have the procedure but this time was much different. The doctor told Beth the baby she had aborted was a boy. Something happened to me that day when Beth told me she had aborted our son. It was the worst feeling of my life. It felt as if a cold steel blade went through my heart and left a hole that could never be filled. There is a pain you feel when you suffer the loss of a loved one. There is an entirely different pain you feel when you have lost someone you never had the opportunity to know and love. I could only imagine the sorrow some couples feel when they desire to have a child so badly and then must deal with a miscarriage. But this was not a shared loss between a husband and wife. I had to carry the burden of this loss alone.

From that day on, I realized that Beth’s self-indulgent behavior would never change. It would not dissipate with age or maturity. I saw her in a completely different light or, perhaps, I truly saw the real Beth for the very first time. It didn’t take long for me to start thinking about a divorce.

The Southern Baptist boy from the country searched his Bible and concluded that the abortions were as bad as adultery, if not worse. And, right or wrong, I justified my decision and filed for a divorce.



CHAPTER 4

A NEW MARRIAGE AND MATHEW

When some of my friends learned that I was leaving Beth, they invited me to come back to Mobile and stay with them until my divorce was final. It was June 1976, and I began working for another large chemical company.

As if history were repeating itself, I found myself back in Mobile on another hot summer’s day. Friends, both married and single, all gathered to have fun on the water. Several people brought coolers of beer, but I had never been much of a drinker so I drove the boat while they took turns skiing. The speed of the boat on the open water gave me a powerful feeling of escape. The sound of the boat’s motor seemed to drown out the voices of the other people. As the boat glided across the water, I felt as if I were leaving all of my problems in its wake—the abortions, my failed marriage, and all that weighed heavy on my mind seemed to drift away.

Halfway through the day, an attractive girl in her twenties approached me and asked if she could ride along in the boat with me. The girl’s name was Anna. She was a psychology major attending school in Mobile. She talked about her life and dreams and asked more than a few questions about my life. Her interest appeared genuine and her questions sincere. At the time, it felt good to have someone to talk to. The afternoon passed quickly, and the sun began to set. The cool breeze that blew over the water prompted everyone to load their cars. We all said our goodbyes and promised to get together again soon. As Anna left, she walked past me and slipped a small piece of paper into the palm of my hand. “Call me,” she said.

The following week, I spoke with several of my friends who all asked if I had noticed how interested Anna was in me. Evidently, after she and I spent that one afternoon together, she had been calling my friends asking more questions about me. At any other time, I would have been flattered. After all, she was young, attractive and intelligent. But I had spent so many waking hours thinking about Beth that Anna hadn’t crossed my mind. But it was time to look to the future, so I decided to give her a call.

Over the next few months, we seemed to spend all of our spare time together. Our conversations would last into the wee hours of the morning as we were getting to know each other. And in January 1977, just seven months after we first met on that hot summer’s day, we were married.

We hadn’t been married long when Anna came to me and announced that we were going to have a child. I was ecstatic! But with a child on the way, I knew we would need more income than what I was making at the chemical company in Mobile. I sent out my résumé and was hired by a company in Baytown, Texas. I drove to Texas in search of a house for my new family and found the perfect place. The only downside was that it would not be available for at least a month so I would have to temporarily commute from Mobile to Baytown.

It was late on one of those drives back home to Anna that I found myself on an interstate somewhere in Louisiana. Running low on gas, I stopped at the next exit to fill up my tank when I noticed a young boy standing in front of the gas station. When we made eye contact, he approached me. “Sir, could you maybe give me a ride to Mississippi?” he asked. He didn’t appear to be more than 14 or 15 years old. “Son, I’ll take you as far as you need to go. How old are you?” I asked. “I’m 15,” he replied. Under the dim, buzzing lights of the gas station, I could tell he was just a scared kid.

As we drove through the night on that dark highway, I asked him, “So what are you doing hitchhiking at your age?” He began to explain that his parents were both alcoholics and that he was running away. His plan was to go to his grandparents’ home in Mississippi. He knew they would take him in, and he felt his life would be better with them.

The hours passed and eventually, he told me his grandparents’ house was nearby and he could walk the rest of the way. He got out of the car, thanking me repeatedly for my help. I opened the glovebox and pulled out a small red Bible that had been given to me when I was in the first grade. I handed him the Bible and told him I thought it may help him through this difficult time in his life. I also gave him a $10 bill. Again, he thanked me and we went our separate ways on that quiet road in the darkness of night. It would be years before I would learn just how significant that night would be.

Finally, Anna joined me in Texas and we moved into our new home—a simple ranch-style house that had the space we needed for our growing family. In the 1970’s, Baytown had a population of about 50,000 which was a far cry from the city of Mobile with its 200,000 residents. Baytown was similar to Mobile only in the fact that it was located on the Gulf of Mexico and gave us the same warm summers and mild winters we had back home. But Baytown was a blue-collar, industrial town housing plants such as Exxon and U.S. Steel. The closest metropolitan city was Houston, 26 miles away.

Our son Mathew was born in October, and from the first time I looked into his eyes, I knew my life was forever changed. I had a very clear awareness of my responsibilities as a new father. Having a son of my own gave me pause to reflect on my own childhood.

I began to recall how the sound of my father’s pickup truck approaching our house alerted me to go to my room and close the door. It was my routine as a young boy. You see, my father didn’t come home at the end of the day, greet his family, and play a game of catch with me in the back yard while my mother prepared the evening meal.

His mood was always unpredictable. I saw my father as a frequently angry man who never seemed to give a second thought about belittling me in public. However, he also attended church every Sunday and was even a deacon at the small local church where my mother was a strong and constant fixture.

As a child, you could say I was both nourished and damaged. My mother was a strong Christian woman, always ready to lend a hand. She didn’t just attend church, but truly lived her life in a way that only a woman of strong faith could. It was because of her that I had a Christian upbringing. It wasn’t until I was leaving for college that I was given any insight into all that was underneath my father’s rage and volatile personality. For years, I had simply learned to accept my father’s moody behavior. Perhaps I was just following my mother’s lead. Then one day my father began to open up to me about the time he spent in combat during World War II.

As I listened to him, I could only imagine how the experiences he described had shaped him into the man that I had known most of my life. My father had returned from war in the 1940s and back then the term “PTSD” was simply letters in the alphabet. It wasn’t until 1980 that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as a mental disorder, and even then it was a controversial diagnosis. That day when my father shared his story with me, I felt as if I had been given a small glimpse into what had triggered his behavior. I was able to view him in a different light—as a broken man scarred by war doing his best to take care of his family while battling a very real sickness. As the years passed my relationship with my father grew. And now that I had a son of my own, I vowed to be a good father and to have a close relationship with him as well.



CHAPTER 5

A SEASON SHORT-LIVED

With Anna and Mathew, I finally had the family of my dreams. We lived in Baytown for almost three years. I was so focused on my job and what I thought was my perfect family, that I was oblivious to the fact that Anna was becoming increasingly unhappy. She was not a small-town girl and missed the excitement of big city life. We talked and agreed to move to a larger city. I knew it would be easy for me to find another job, maybe even a better job, and I was willing to do anything to ensure Anna’s happiness.

I accepted a position as an engineer with a large company in South Carolina. The town was steeped with old southern charm and tradition, with beautiful antebellum homes set back amidst live oaks framed by Spanish moss that draped from the tree branches. Having been raised in the South myself, I had a deep feeling that this was a place where I could put down roots and raise a family.

My new job came with a substantial raise in pay which allowed us to purchase a new home. We found a house in a great neighborhood with perfectly landscaped lawns and tree-lined streets. We quickly found a church that was perfectly suited to our beliefs. I could envision Mathew growing up here. Anna decided to return to school and pursue a degree in psychology. Fortunately, we found a good daycare conveniently located near our house. If Anna had classes, I could pick up Mathew on my way home from work. Everything finally seemed to be coming together perfectly.

Shortly after we settled into our new home, the house next door sold to a couple with two children. Horace and Sandy were a bit older than Anna and me, and their boys were ages 6 and 9. Horace was an outgoing guy and Sandy was a sweet woman, perfectly content to stay at home and raise her two boys. Horace always seemed to go out of his way to be helpful.

It was October, and Mathew would soon turn 3 years old. The fall would always bring to mind something my mother used to say. “The autumn blaze of colors should always be treasured because it is so short-lived.” The godly woman that she was, she appreciated the beauty of every season. I never could have imagined how this description of short-lived beauty would soon parallel my own life and happiness.



CHAPTER 6

BETRAYED AND BEWILDERED

Horace made a good first impression. However, the more I got to know him, the more I began to see his deceptive and spurious side. Not long after we became neighbors, he invited me to go camping. I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and agreed to go. We ended up at a location outside of town where he told me he had been several times before.

It was a pleasant evening just right for camping. We were there for several hours when I began to experience an eerie feeling. It wasn’t just my apprehension about Horace. There was something evil about the place where he brought me to camp. The star-filled night sky suddenly began to feel like camouflage for something darker. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I knew I didn’t want to be there. I told Horace that I had enjoyed the evening, but I really needed to get home. Mathew was young and I felt I should be home with my wife and son.

As I drove home, I felt relieved. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had been in the presence of evil. I wasn’t sure if it was the place where I had been or Horace, but I had an inescapable feeling of anxiety.

I put that night behind me and concentrated on my work and family. Since Anna had returned to school, Mathew was spending more and more time at daycare and I would be the one to pick him up at the end of the day.

Our lives were changing and I noticed my relationship with Anna was becoming more strained. Anna had lost interest in our marriage and our son. She was totally consumed with her life outside our family, and I had no idea what that life entailed.

One morning, I noticed Horace get into his pickup truck as he was leaving for work. Anna stood at the window watching him. I asked her why she seemed to be so interested in his comings and goings. She told me that Horace was having problems and she had been counseling him. I didn’t believe a word of it. After some probing, she admitted to me that she had feelings for Horace. She asked what I would do if she had an affair. I was silent, dumbfounded, and in that silence, we splintered further away from one another. She claimed the only reason she asked was because of a paper she was writing for one of her classes. I wondered if she was aware of her injurious behavior or if she just saw it as innocuous lies.

Shortly after this confrontation, I heard Anna’s car in the driveway at the same time Horace arrived home from work.

I confronted Anna and she admitted she and Horace were having an affair. I went next door to get answers and to find out exactly what was going on. I was hurt and angry. I knew I would have to hear about an ongoing, torrid affair. But what I found out next was difficult for me to even comprehend.

Anna told me that she no longer believed that Jesus Christ was our Lord and Savior, but just some prophet. She said attending church meant nothing to her anymore. What came next made my jaw drop. “Horace and I have found that together we can tap into a power that is greater than God,” she said. Horace then told me he had wanted to talk to me about this very thing the night we had gone camping. It was no wonder I had such a bad feeling that night.

My original doubts about Horace were confirmed. At first, I felt like a fool, but that feeling passed quickly. After all, I wasn’t the one saying that I had “tapped into” a power greater than God.

“Is this some sort of satanic occult you have become involved in?” I asked them. They just kept saying that together, they could “acquire this power.” I had heard about as much nonsense as I could stand and told Horace to get out of my house.

Afterward, Anna and I had a long conversation and I told her I wanted a divorce. Her affair with Horace was certainly reason enough to end our marriage. I also told her that under no circumstances would I allow her to raise Mathew after the insane rambling I had just heard. That’s when she reminded me, “No judge will give you custody just because I had an affair. And if you don’t pay child support, I will make sure you won’t see your son again.” I realized then that this had nothing to do with her anger toward me. Nor did it have anything to do with her love for Mathew. Our son was simply a way to extort money from me. She was smart enough to know that I would do anything to stay in Mathew’s life.



CHAPTER 7

RIPPLES SET IN MOTION

Several things happened over the next few weeks that would change my life forever. I had confronted Anna and Horace about their affair, and I made the decision to file for yet another divorce. But this time, my child was involved. I thought my life couldn’t be more stressful. I was wrong.

A few days after I spoke with Anna and Horace, I was at home with Mathew on a Friday night. Evenings spent alone with my son were becoming more and more frequent. That night, as the two of us sat in the kitchen eating dinner, Mathew had a violent seizure.

As a parent, I cannot begin to explain the depth of fear that I felt. I rushed Mathew to the emergency room and he was admitted to the hospital for observation. Every few days, Mathew would have another seizure and the doctors were no closer to a diagnosis. Not once did Anna come to the hospital to check on the condition of our son. I think I would have been surprised to see her there. Eventually, Mathew was discharged from the hospital and placed on an anti-seizure medication that proved to be ineffective.

The following week when I arrived at work, I was called into my supervisor’s office. There had been a lot of talk about cutbacks. Unfortunately, I was one of them. Not only did I have another failed marriage and a son who was ill, but I was now unemployed. I got in my car and started to drive home. I was overwhelmed by a sense of failure.

Gradations of feelings, frustrations, and yearnings all came over me. I longed for the day when we first moved to this beautiful town as a family. It was a wonderful but short-lived time in my life.

As I was driving home, I decided to stop at a convenience store. I don’t know why, but I bought beer. As soon as the alcohol was in my system, I felt relief from my pain and sorrow. From that day on, every time I felt overwhelmed, I would have a drink just to help me cope. Looking back at that day, I realize that was the beginning of a fatal disease. Imagine, if you will, a stone being thrown into a lake. The stone drops down and from the center, ripples form in the water and move outward. The alcohol I drank that day, no matter how small the amount, was like a stone falling deep into a lake. The ripples in the water would be the consequences that I would have to deal with for years to come.



CHAPTER 8

A DEVASTATING DIAGNOSIS AND A TOUCH FROM GOD

Weeks passed and I started to experience pains in my chest. I spoke with my doctor and he referred me to a cardiologist. At this point, Anna was rarely ever home.

I dropped off Mathew at daycare and drove to my appointment with the cardiologist. I had been scheduled for what seemed like a never-ending list of tests. There was no doubt that this doctor was thorough.

When the results came back, the doctor looked over the file and said, “Excuse me for a moment, Mr. Holmes. I would like to confer with my colleague.” Well, that scared me to death! His demeanor alone was enough to give me a heart attack. Finally, the doctor returned and said, “Mr. Holmes, we have contacted the hospital in Charleston and would like for you to go there immediately by ambulance.” I immediately thought of Mathew and suddenly became filled with fear. I wondered what would happen to my son if something were to happen to me. He was still having seizures, and I was the only one there to care for him.

I told the doctor that it would be impossible for me to go to Charleston. He said that in my condition, I could have a heart attack at any time. After a lengthy conversation, I signed papers releasing him of any liability. I watched the nurse as she placed all my test results into a large envelope. I was told that if I did decide to go to Charleston, to give my test results to the cardiologist in charge. I put my life in the very capable hands of God and began to drive home.

As I drove, I prayed that God would take care of me so that I would be able to take care of my son.

By the time I arrived home, I was emotionally drained. As I approached the back door, I sat down on the porch step, exhausted, and I began to cry. As tears streamed down my face, my mind was filled with painstaking thoughts of my son. The very thought of Mathew being raised by his mother frightened me. Her behavior had gone from indifferent to bizarre, and now she was clearly involved in something evil. The thought of her leading my son down this dark path was unbearable.

I called out to God. I didn’t pray. I literally called out to Him from the bottom of my heart and the depths of my soul. As I spoke His name, I found myself speaking a language I had never heard before. I cried harder and these words that were unknown to me continued. I don’t know how long I sat on that step at my back door, but when those heavenly words stopped, I felt peace. And then I heard, “Your faith has pleased God.” I felt these words in my heart and in my soul. My body was drained,but my mind was racing. Scripture surged through my mind like a storm warning running across the bottom of a television screen.

Trust in God with all your heart. -Proverbs 3:5

For we walk by faith, not by sight. -2 Corinthians 5:7

Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. -Psalm 6:8

The Lord has heard my cry for mercy, the Lord accepts my prayer. -Psalm 28:6

Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint. -Psalm 6:2


Faith has been defined as believing in something you cannot see, something that has not been proven. I thought about my failed marriage, the evil my wife had succumbed to, my son’s illness, losing my job, the doctor’s diagnosis of a bad heart. And now God had blessed me with this truly spiritual experience. I decided that no matter what obstacles lay ahead of me, I was a blessed man. There are no words to fully describe how I felt that night. The only two words that even come close are peace and calm.



CHAPTER 9

MATHEW’S MIRACLE

The following week, Mathew was once again admitted to the hospital. His seizures were becoming more frequent with no diagnosis in sight. I needed a friend. I needed someone to listen to me, someone with whom I could share my concerns. I called my friend Carol. We knew each other from work, and she had always been someone I could turn to for support.

I arrived at her house where she had a pot of coffee waiting for me. We sat at her kitchen table and I talked to her about Anna and Horace. I tried to explain the bizarre and evil behavior they had exhibited. I told her about my son’s seizures and the fact that there did not appear to be any answers as to why he was so ill. She listened as I poured out my heart. She proceeded to tell me about a minister she knew. “I’ve known this man for many years. I cannot begin to tell you how many people he has helped,” she said. She called him and he agreed to meet me at his church that evening.

The church was located on a private road. As I approached the parking area, it was obvious to me this church had been here for a long time. It seemed to blend in with its surroundings. The minister was waiting for me in front of the building. As we walked together to his office, we passed through a beautiful and tranquil garden.

From the moment I met this man, I knew he was a man of God. His demeanor was humble and his voice was soft and kind. I told him everything that I had just shared with Carol. He sat behind a large wooden desk as he listened—a desk that, at one time, had obviously been very beautiful but over time had lost its regal appearance.

It now looked more like a comfortable old friend, a part of this man of God. Just like the humbleness of this man’s demeanor, so were his surroundings.

His concern was sincere as he listened to every word I spoke. Finally he said, “This is all about you. Satan is attacking you! I believe God has something planned for your life.” I thought back to what I had just experienced days before on the back porch of my house.

He opened one of the aged wooden drawers of his desk and handed me a small bottle of oil. I was given the following instructions. “Place a drop of this oil above every doorway of your home. Use the oil and make the sign of the cross on your son’s forehead. And as you do so, pray. Pray with faith that your son will be healed.” And then, he asked the strangest question. “What does your wife love the most

Under your present circumstances, you may not believe her to truly be capable of love. But there must be something she cares for a great deal.” The first thing that came to my mind was Anna’s small black dog. She got the dog just before Mathew was born. I was told to watch the dog carefully. I wasn’t sure why, nor did I have the desire to ask. We prayed together and I drove home feeling a long-awaited relief. I finally had some guidance.


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