That time you thought God had left you all alone…that He wasn’t doing anything in your life anymore…that wasn’t true. He was working. He was orchestrating this detail to fit in with that detail so that something extraordinary would come of it. You wanted hamburger steak that very minute, but He had filet mignon on the menu. You just had to wait. Sometimes you have to trust. And wait.
Ask Donna. She knows. She’s lived it. She’s experienced it. And she’ll tell you. It was God the whole time.
(If you haven’t read Part 1 of Donna’s story, please go back to read it, then join us back here).
Donna told me, “My testimony used to be about how God changed me. Now, with Courtney, and everything He’s done in that situation, I truly believe in miracles. I knew they happened before, but I have been part of one now, so I KNOW. I see how God put things together, how He orchestrated everything to work together for our good. I know this doesn’t always apply to earthly comforts,” she continued, “but I cling to God’s promise in Romans 8:28: And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”
About 6 months ago, Donna was forced to come face-to-face with something that had been a stronghold in her older daughter Courtney’s life for nearly 8 years: substance abuse and addiction.
For years, there were a multitude of signs that there was a major problem. Donna admits that either she didn’t see them or wouldn’t see them – it was probably a little of both.
“I would catch her in lies; there were several car wrecks and wellness problems; she was always sleepy – I could go on and on,” Donna explained. “Trust me when I tell you that the hardest thing to do as a parent is to let your kids make mistakes and suffer the consequences. Sometimes you just have to step back and put TOUGH LOVE into action.”
Then there was the time, about 3 ½ years ago, when Donna intended to step in and help. “Courtney and Madison came to spend the weekend with us, supposedly because Steve (Courtney’s boyfriend, and Madison’s father, who she was living with at the time) was horrible, doing drugs, etc. and she ‘just had to get away.’ I believed those lies and really wanted to help her get out of that situation. The only way I could think of making that happen was for her to come stay with us for a while. So, in order to convince Kevin of my great idea, I had a Plan A and a Plan B. I had it all figured out and was ready to present it to him,” Donna smiled, remembering that night when she was ready to tell Kevin her ideas. They’d eaten dinner together after Courtney and Madison had gotten there. “I asked Kevin if we could talk, and we went out into the garage. We get out there, and before I could even say anything, Kevin says, ‘She’s not coming here, Donna. You can’t keep doing this. She won’t learn, and it won’t be good for our marriage’.”
Donna was quiet for a moment, letting the weight of what Kevin said sink in, for herself and for me. She looked straight at me; I could see resolution in her eyes. “This is when I knew for sure that God was Lord of my life, by the way. This conversation with Kevin proved it to me. I had my Plan A and my Plan B all ready for him, but he completely shut me down. I didn’t even get a chance to explain my ideas! I never even asked if the girls could come! Kevin just told me no! Flat out no! I didn’t even get to tell him my plan,” she emphasized. “But, when he told me no, I just said ‘ok’, and I was honestly ok with it. It was like God just said, ‘Donna go ahead and submit.’ And I did. And I was ok. I knew Kevin was right, and that I should respect him. That is when I realized God truly had changed me and truly was in control of my life.”
You might be thinking, ‘how could anyone say that kicking out your child was still the best thing that could have happened?’
Well, there’s still more.
Over the next 3 year period, Donna dealt with theft as Courtney stole from her, even her identity! There were “lies on top of lies on top of lies,” as Donna put it. She even had to call DSS to ensure Madison’s safety. “Some days it seemed like they were doing good, and then other days — well, not so good,” Donna said.
In June 2016, Courtney had another baby, Mackenzie. She seemed to be doing good for the first few months after Mackenzie was born, but again, things were up and down.
Then in 2017, Courtney totaled her car one morning after dropping Madison off at school. Courtney told Donna (much later) that the first thing she saw when the wreck was over was Mackenzie’s car seat. It was empty, and she couldn’t remember if Mackenzie had been with her. She was under the influence at the time and couldn’t recall where Mackenzie was, so for a few frantic moments, some bystanders searched feverishly for the baby…until Courtney remembered she’d left Mackenzie with the baby’s father, Steve.
This crash landed Courtney in the hospital. And drug tested. This was a wake up call for Courtney, but it wasn’t “rock bottom” yet.
A few months later, Courtney would get high at Donna and Kevin’s house during a visit. No one realized it until everyone was back in the car taking Courtney and the girls home.
Donna recalled the scene for me. “We were all in the car together taking them back home when Madison asked, ‘Mommy, why are you talking funny again? Why are you laying all over me?’ I looked back and Courtney is laughing all weird and leaning over on Madison and then over onto Mackenzie.”
Donna said, “I nudged Kevin and said, ‘Look at her! She is high right now’!” Donna looked straight at me and said, “Heather, if my granddaughters hadn’t been in the car, I would have put Courtney out on the side of the road right there! But I couldn’t do that in front of them.”
Instead, they went ahead to Courtney’s uncle’s house where she was currently living. On the way, they called Steve and Courtney’s Uncle David and Aunt Beth. Once Steve arrived and the girls were safe, Donna left.
This was Courtney’s rock bottom.
About two weeks later, Courtney called Donna confessing her problem and her need for help. “I need somewhere to go now, mom,” Courtney insisted. So, Donna gave her some places to call, and Courtney was able to go to a 7-day detox facility in Monroe. The next step would hopefully be a treatment center.
Here’s where you begin to see how God was working in the situation, and it is so awesome:
Donna was praying. Kevin was praying. Everyone was praying: “Lord, Courtney has to get long-term treatment immediately! Right now! You’ve got to open a bed somewhere. Please show us the place You want her to go.”
Prior to this, Donna had gotten involved in a prayer group with some friends, praying specifically for their wayward, adult children. Each mom picked a day/time to pray so that these adult children were covered every day of the week. Donna’s day is Tuesday.
As it happened, on a Wednesday morning, Donna emailed this prayer group, her Life Group, and the G2 Leadership Team (a Women’s Mentoring ministry from FBCIT in which Donna serves) asking them to pray for God to do a miracle and open a bed somewhere for Courtney.
Then, that Wednesday night after choir practice, Donna got a call from a friend in the prayer group, who got a call from another lady from the group who saw Donna’s email and was asking if she’d heard of a place in Monroe called the Solace Center, facilitated by pastor Michelle Feliciano, and best of all, they had a bed available right then!
Donna called them on Thursday morning to see exactly what kind of facility it was, and it sounded just like what they’d been looking for, so she called Courtney and told her of their availability and to call herself to see if it would be a fit.
Courtney called, got an appointment to see them on Friday, went for her Orientation on Saturday, and checked in that very day at 1:30!!!
You see, long before this ever happened, God had this special prayer group of moms planned. God had already set it into motion for Donna to be a part of that group. God put all of this together to get Donna in touch with a friend of a friend who knew about the Solace Center where God had a bed available…just for Courtney. (There were lots of others from Donna and Kevin’s family, friends, and Life Group praying for Courtney as well. Donna and Kevin are thankful for each and every prayer).
Today, Courtney is transformed beyond anything Donna could have hoped. She is clean and sober and on fire for the Lord! She is already almost halfway through the program. She has a job and pays weekly rent at the center. The best part, though, is that Courtney has now made Jesus the Lord of her life! See, she asked Jesus into her heart years ago, but she strayed. However, God brought her to a point of confession and repentance, and Courtney has not been the same since.
Courtney with Madison (Image used courtesy of Donna Lawing)
Courtney with Mackenzie (Image used courtesy of Donna Lawing)
What’s more, Donna and Kevin have found opportunities to serve together in ministry at Solace. They serve on the Solace Board and their Life Group ministers to the Solace group as well. Most recently, they had a blast bringing in the new year 100% clean and sober (and no hangover the next day) at a party with the Solace residents.
Donna, Madison, and Courtney at the Solace New Years Eve party (Image used courtesy of Donna Lawing).
Donna with Pastor Michelle Feliciano of the Solace Center (Image used courtesy of Donna Lawing)
“I’ve been mad at God about this,” Donna shared, “and I have been mad at Courtney, but now I just look at all that He has done through something so terrible! He restored my family. The relationship between my daughter and me has been fully restored; and many other family relationships have been restored through this! He has transformed my daughter’s life and just 2 weeks ago, Madison asked Jesus into her heart. My husband and I are serving together in ministry outside the walls of church. I’ve learned how to have empathy and compassion for people who have been jailed or who suffer from addiction. God has shown me so many things. He changed me from who I was, and that alone was enough, but then He’s done so much more.”
Donna’s daughters and granddaughters (Image used courtesy of Donna Lawing)
Christmas Morning 2017 (Image used courtesy of Donna Lawing)
I could tell she was excited, so I asked her what she wanted people to know about God. Without hesitation, she answered, “He is real! What He did, sending his Son to die on the cross for us, He didn’t have to do. He’s a good, good Father. There is nothing better. He wants a relationship with us. He loves YOU, and He wants YOU to come back. He wants to talk to you. How? Through prayer. This is our communication with our Lord, and it is also our weapon, along with the Sword (the Word), against Satan.” She paused for a minute so I could catch up as I quickly scribbled in my notes.
More calmly and quietly she continued, “He was the ultimate servant. What if we all served…each other?! We should because Jesus served, and serving is love.”
So, this is another story God has given one of His servant girls. And she was gracious enough to allow me to write it so you could know God – who He is, what He can do, and how deeply He loves us.
Just for fun…
Here are a few fun tidbits about Donna:
I asked what actress would play her in a movie about her life. She said, “Reese Witherspoon or Julia Roberts. I LOVE them!” She said the movie would most likely be something inspirational or encouraging.
Donna loves Christian music!
This is Donna’s current favorite song to dance to and sing at the top of her lungs! Listen to Old Church Choir by Zach Williams
You can listen to Donna’s most favorite song of all time, Thou, O Lord performed by First Baptist Cleveland choir and orchestra.
Please join me next week for another post from Servant Girl Stories.