Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our Story...


I have been asked over the past few weeks how Kevin and I ended up back together (thanks to facebook) & boy is that a long story! But I thought as horrible as my memory is that I should get a journal of it down so I will have it to remember. So, this is our story from my point of view (isn't it funny how people remember things differently?).

I really don't know where to start. Kevin and I have been in each other's lives for as long as I can remember. We grew up in a little church in Newport together - First Freewill Baptist. I can remember his Mom playing the piano, church lock-in's, children's church, church camp, and then as teenagers getting in trouble for being too loud on the back row. Not only were we in church together from the time we were little, back in those days, they put kids in their classrooms based on ABC order. He was a B and I was a C. So, we had 1st grade on up together. We were friends the way elementary kids are friends. Then came high school and in 10th grade we dated. We were each other's first love. And, then, I broke his heart. Kevin has always been the sensitive, gentle giant. And, yes, I was the first girl to break his heart, but you know what they say about "what goes around, comes around". It's true! :-) After we got past the break-up, we remained good friends and he never left being a central role in my life. Kevin and I have always had one of those friendships that if you disappear for awhile, you pick right back up where you left off. I called him my teddy bear in high school. He was my soft place to land. My best friend. When we left for college, he went to Ole Miss his first year and I was in Fayetteville at UofA, but by our Sophomore year, life would have us back together. Kevin had gone to Ole Miss on a golf scholarship and to play golf for them. But, alcohol threw its first hard ball at him and a car wreck left him unable to play. Once he got to UofA, we were back to being bff's. Somehow, I ended up doing the boys laundry through college and hiding him when he needed a place to hide. In those days, everyone was drinking all the time. So, Kevin's drinking just blended right in. I certainly didn't think he had a problem. We were all doing it. I can remember always finding him at the parties at his fraternities house because Kevin could make me the best gin and tonics. I feel bad about that now a little. But really, how could we have known where this was going? I didn't know anything about alcoholism back then.
I remember one weekend, Kevin sitting me down in the Kappa Sig house on a window seat and asking me why it couldn't be him that I dated? I just didn't see him in that way at the time. He was like my big brother. My friend. The one who looked out for me to make sure I didn't get hurt. Meanwhile, he was watching me date his fraternity brothers. And wondering why it couldn't be him. It just wasn't our time. I know without a doubt that I would have taken advantage of Kevin's kindness had we dated then. I didn't appreciate the good guys. But, I loved the bad boys. If only someone told girls early on, that the bad boys are only fun for a little bit.
Well, I graduated in four years and Kevin stayed in Fayetteville for several more. We were there for each other's big moments in life. He was sitting beside when I got engaged to my first husband. When I was planning a wedding, Kevin was going to be a "man" bridesmaid. When Kevin married his first wife, I drove to Texas to make sure I was there. We were always there for each other. But we did drift apart for several years while we were in our first marriages. I can only remember seeing each other once. And, of course, we met for dinner and drinks when Kevin was in Little Rock for some meeting. That was probably our only contact during a 4 or 5 year span. We were both unhappy in our first marriages and very lonely. Ultimately we both ended up divorced within about a year or two of each other. I can remember when I was going through my divorce, I was so depressed and one afternoon the phone rang. I remember standing in the doorway and listening to Kevin's booming voice on the answering machine. I didn't pick up and I didn't call him back. I was too ashamed that I had failed at marriage to admit it to anyone. Then, probably a year later, I ran into a mutual friend of ours that told me Kevin had a restaurant and bar on Dickson Street. So, I called him up. It was like we had never stopped talking. We talked for hours. We stayed in touch, but true to Kevin form, he tried to drop off the face of the Earth again. I sensed that something was wrong. I called the restaurant and it was closed down. I couldn't reach him anywhere. When I finally did, it was within minutes of him leaving town to go to rehab. He had fallen down some rock steps and nearly bled to death. I cannot imagine the world without Kevin's laugh, booming voice, and gentle spirit. But, he finally admitted he had a problem with alcohol. This was just the beginning of a long battle. A battle that I have chosen to stand by my best friend to fight. In the beginning, I was just that, his friend, helping him through one of the toughest times of his life. I wrote to him everyday that he was in rehab to make sure he had a letter and something to smile about. He would call me and we would talk for hours about his drinking, his divorce, my divorce, dreams, plans, you name it. The friendship grew into a love that has withstood quite a few tests. Alcohol and the devil had a hold on Kevin that he couldn't break. Once we had been dating for a few months, it was clear that when we were together, things were fine, but when we weren't, he was drinking. It got to the point of his parents coming to get him and him living with them for 6 months. I stuck by him. His biggest cheerleader - driving every weekend 3 hours to see him. It was worth every drive. You see, as hard as this journey has been at times, it is the journey that brought us both to God. That alone makes it all worth it.
He made it 6 months at 'mommy bootcamp' and then came here to live with me. And things were good for awhile. He would slip up from time to time, but we overcame and started over with the walk to sobriety. I would really say that one day out of thirty was bad. The rest of the time, we were laughing, gardening, camping, just being together and good. Kevin and I don't really fight. Most of our arguments have stemmed from problems with the alcoholism. So, we were going along thinking we had things semi-under control. We were searching for a church, but here is the key - we weren't living for God. We were living for us. So, in my mind, God sent us a little wake up call. Kevin's drinking got really out of control this summer. I knew it was, but I didn't know how to stop it. There were several difficult incidences. It is so hard to watch someone you love struggle with something and not be able to fix it. I just wanted to fix it or love it out of him. I couldn't though. All I could do was watch the train wreck. There is only so much a person can take and finally I reached my point. I knew that I couldn't live that way forever. His parents and I had an "intervention" after a serious incident involving drinking and driving. I was very clear that he had one more chance with me. If he drank again, he was out of the house. He didn't make it and that began one of the most difficult times of my life. I thought my divorce was hard, but my heart felt like it was going to explode out of my chest. I knew the only way to help Kevin was to let him go. So, I stood my ground. I told him the only chance we had was if he got help and that he couldn't live here anymore. My Mom told us about John 3:16 and little did we know that our lives were about to change beyond anything we could imagine. I thank God that he gave me the strength I needed to stand firm and tell Kevin he had no choice but to go. If he went to live with his parents, it was over. I was done. He had to get real help. What I didn't realize was that in doing what I thought was best for Kevin, I was making a decision that would change my life too.
They didn't have room for him that day. The next Sunday when my mom, his parents and I tried to get him in. They were full. But somehow, Bryan Tuggle knew that Kevin needed to stay. He let us leave him and let him sleep on a couch. I will always remember asking Bryan Tuggle what I should do...how would I know God's will? Is it time for me to let go? Bryan said, "If he doesn't stay here the 6 months, then let him go and don't look back. But, if he stays here, I promise you he will leave here a different man." I needed to hear that. I honestly didn't know what I was going to do. I just needed a break from the drinking and the worrying. I thought I would be sad when I left him there, but when I drove down that driveway, all I felt was relief. A huge weight had been lifted off of me. I knew Kevin was safe. I didn't have to worry about him. It was peace. And it only got better. We couldn't have contact for the first 3o days. That was a good thing. I went through many emotions...I needed think time. And I knew that I loved this man with all my heart. Over the next 6 months, that love only grew. Kevin turned into a man that I could not only love but respect. He grew into a man that could lead our household. John 3:16 became a place that I couldn't wait to get to on Sunday's. The love and warmth and acceptance were amazing. We were finally home. We found what we were missing - a relationship with God. Not just going to church or reading the Bible every now and then....living it. That is what we strive to do daily. That is how our love grew even stronger. You can see Kevin's growth in his graduation video (in the sidebar under the label John3:16). It is amazing what God can do. He is so good when you open your eyes and give him a chance. There was not one doubt in my mind when Kevin and I decided about a month before he graduated to get married. How could we expect people to listen to us if we went right back to living in sin and not living for God? I knew it was the right path without question. Kevin gives me a love I have never known before. He makes me feel beautiful and wanted and valued. We love each other unconditionally. We know we will have struggles in this world, but we also know together putting God first, we can and will overcome. And that's our story...

9 comments:

Wicker family said...

Lori and Kevin,
Your testimony is amazing. I am so happy for you both! I know the Lord has great things in store for you.......
One of my favorite quotes is "You can not erase your history from your destiny" (Beth Moore). So many times we try to run and hide from our past that we don't realize God can use it for His glory if we only allow Him to use us.
Congratulations from the bottom of my heart---I, too, am living proof of second chances. I am so thankful for it!
Much love,
Debbie (Wilson) Wicker

Becca Barnhart said...

Girl, I already know this story, I've heard it several times from you, but it STILL brings tears to my eyes as I read it. God is so, SO good! I love you both!!

RoozGal said...

Wow, this brought tears to my eyes too! I think the best relationships begin with a close friendship, and because you guys have started with such a solid base and because you now have God on your side I have no doubt you can (and will) overcome anything life throws at you! You've been blessed!

Sandy said...

Lori, I'm so glad that you put you and Kevin's testimony on your blog - thank you Lord for Your miraculous works in Lori and Kevin's lives - and thank you for John 3:16 and for blessing the two of you with Bryan Tuggle! I'm so happy for the two of you.

L said...

Wiping away a few tears....sniff..sniff.
I wish you both the very best in the coming married years! :)

Amy Foushee Gathright said...

You guys have such an amazing story. God is so good!! I love you both!!

Lindsey said...

A TRUE love story:)

Laski said...

I love, love, love this story. Thank you for sharing it!

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