“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” Luke 15:4
Monday. August 21, 2017. 7:27 pm. A dear friend, Marybeth, posted a need for help ASAP. A homeless woman had been dropped off at a local church. She was in need of shelter that night.
7:32. I reply, “working on this right now.” No clue how I was going to “work on this” but I know my God and that I have a church who walks the walk. I called my Pastor’s Wife and told her what was happening. Within 5 minutes, we had a room secured at a local motel and I was on my way to the church to meet the woman in need.
Victoria. Victoria was sitting at the table. God would have it that there was a meeting happening at the time Victoria was dropped off at the church. At that meeting, there was a man that I have admired for most of my life. His name is Ray and he is a blessing to all people. Ray and I brought Victoria to the motel. The conversation flowed easily and I liked her instantly. Before checking in, the three of us prayed and I felt sad leaving her there. It is important to note that the motel had 4 nights available and no amount of begging or bribing (I tried) was going to change this fact.
Tuesday. August 22, 2017. I spoke to Victoria on the phone several times… from the Footbridge Beach in Ogunquit, ME. Ray was on the job, making calls and exhausting all resources. By the end of the day, every door had been closed. Shelters were turning people away or only taking adults with children. Both Ray and I knew that a shelter was not the answer but she was looking at living on the streets again in 3 days.
Wednesday. August 23, 2017. More phone calls pleading Victoria’s case. No progress. Ray made an appointment with Catholic Charities. Local counseling resources were also called. Victoria and I spoke throughout the day.
Thursday Morning. August 24, 2017. I picked Victoria up early to spend the morning at my house. I wanted to get to know her better. I wanted to know how I could help. We laughed (belly laughed). We cried. We shared stories and talked about our children. I was once again reminded that we are all one step away from being in Victoria’s shoes.
10:30. Meeting at Catholic Charities. Although this organization is amazing, it was not what Victoria needed. We left with a list of other resources and people to call. Back in the car, I felt the Lord prompt me to ask Victoria what she wanted. I could tell by her body language that it had been a very long time since anyone had asked her that. After a long pause, she responded “to be back with my mom and help her and to have relationships with my children.” We talked about God being an expert in restoration and then she added “and McDonalds.” Kindred spirits.
After stuffing our faces with double cheeseburgers, nuggets and milkshakes, I brought Victoria back to the motel. I worked the phones, alongside of Ray, and turned up empty. My daughter suggested Teen Challenge in Providence. Brilliant. What could be better? Teen challenge is a faith based program. My church, as well as my family, has supported this program for years. I called them and was hopeful this was the answer. I scheduled an intake appointment for the next morning, when I would be with Victoria again. Perfect timing as Victoria had to be out of the motel by 11 the next morning.
Friday. August 25, 2017. 11:00. Victoria interviewed with Teen Challenge and was told she needed to detox prior to entering the program. She asked me to drive her to a hospital in Woonsocket RI. After she was admitted, I asked to speak to the social worker. I was informed that there wasn’t one. I broke. Just starting weeping. What do you mean? Taking pity on me, they sent a nurse to talk to me. I gave her all of the contact info at Teen Challenge and reviewed the plan with her. I cried the entire way home. I am still not entirely sure why.
Today. 7:45 am. Victoria called me and informed me that she was being discharged. Not wanting to upset her, I didn’t challenge her. I drive to the hospital, pretty sure that she had misunderstood. I was wrong. It was true. Victoria had been “medically cleared” and because she has Mass Health Insurance they “couldn’t” treat her for a detox. However, they did give us a very handy discharge sheet on the symptoms of alcoholism. Seriously? I couldn’t even make eye contact with Victoria. As we turned to walk away, the nurse yelled out “You’re a Saint.” I knew instantly what she meant and was offended for my newest friend. Victoria is not a burden nor someone whom I should be thanked for walking alongside of… she is my sister in Christ.
At this point, one would think I would be panicked. I wasn’t, and let me tell you why. GOD KNOWS ALL. He knew I was in over my head so He sent me Melissa. Melissa knew the situation and knew she had the information and grit to help. Victoria and I were headed to her house. To summarize the remainder of the day, thanks to Melissa and to God for sending her, we got an intake at a crisis counseling center. Victoria, who is very medically sick, is at a Massachusetts Hospital while others are working to put a long-term plan in place for her. Melissa was hand-picked for this assignment because without her perseverance and knowledge, we would have walked out of the crisis center today with a printed out copy of detox centers to look into. Instead, Melissa may have saved Victoria’s life. She confidently laid out the plan and they got on board.
As we speak, Victoria is at the hospital detoxing. I wonder how she is feeling and will call her soon. Maybe I will bring her some McDonalds.
Thank you Marybeth for stepping out in faith for Victoria. Thank you to all the warriors who have been faithful to pray. Please continue to pray. This is Victoria’s journey that she can quit at any time. I pray she doesn’t. Thank you Lord for going after the one. Thank you God for continuing to pursue her. Thank you Ray for tirelessly advocating for Victoria and for so many others. Also, thank you for talking me off of the ledge, especially when I was outraged by the lack of knowledge and help available. Thank you, mom and friends, for worrying about my heart. Thank you Haley (my daughter) for checking on me to assure that I wasn’t over my head. I was… all week long.
Friends, please remember that when you are feeling unequipped, God will still call you into action. Go. Hold His hand and run into someone’s story. God will provide everything you need. I felt the Hosts of Heaven this entire week. I told Melissa and I will tell you… I have the love of Jesus and a credit card. My skills end there.
1.Spread the Gospel. Although timing is important. Victoria was curled up in my passenger seat, pale, nauseous and clueless to where she was going to sleep that night. I turned to her and asked her “Have you asked Jesus into your heart?” I am laughing as I write this. It’s an important question but pretty sure she would have gotten out to walk if she could have. Trust me friends, I poured Jesus into her every chance I had. I may have added to her need for a drink.
2.For anyone questioning where I rate on the Saint scale. During the meeting at the crisis center today, I was texting Tom and asking him to make me an appointment for a massage and to make plans to take me to dinner… I am not suffering. 😉
3. GOD IS FAITHFUL AND WILL NOT FORSAKE US