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under International Copyright Law. Contents and/or cover may not be
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The God First Foundation
P.O. Box 1478
Pelham, AL 35124
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Desperate Escape
Alone In My Loss
A New Marriage and Mathew
A Season Short-Lived
Betrayed and Bewildered
Ripples Set In Motion
A Devastating Diagnosis and a Touch From God
A Heart Healed
The Battle of a Lifetime
An Encounter With Evil
A Beauty Queen, A New Beginning, and Climbing The Corporate Ladder
Losing It All
Business Gone Bad
From Alcoholic To Addict
A Grandmother’s Answered Prayer
Losing My Life To Save It
Road To Recovery and a Family Restored
Delivered, Restored and Set Free
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.