Lisa Anderson asked God to help her find an answer for her years-long addiction to meth.
She didn’t expect His answer to be in the form of a SWAT team banging on her door.
For Anderson, watching her toddler son wave goodbye as the authorities took him and his two brothers away to be placed in foster care was exactly the push she needed to help her finally clear the hurdle of addiction.
Though the experience of losing her children was traumatic, Anderson feels it further cemented her connection to a higher power. While others might have become engulfed in self-pity or anger, Anderson did not.
“I thought, well, I can’t get mad. I asked God to help me,” said the petite blonde who likes to wear hats. “When CPS took them away from me, I had to look at myself.”
Anderson’s story is not one of overnight success. But then, leaps of faith aren’t always graceful.
There were relapses. At times when she did resist meth, the strength came from alcohol.
“I didn’t know how to function any other way,” Anderson said.
Anderson at times seemed to take one step forward and two steps back. But slowly, the steps backward became fewer.
She eventually won over CPS, and then won back her boys. They are now 17, 12 and 8. All who know them know their story.
“We consider it our testimony,” Anderson said.
So, how did Anderson achieve what so many have not?
The answer is this: When she was taking one step forward and two steps back, she was not walking alone.
footprints in the sand
There is a well-known poem called Footprints in the Sand that details a believer’s dream of walking with the Lord along a beach, viewing scenes from the believer’s life.
Many scenes involved two sets of footprints – God’s, and the believer’s. But during the times when the believer was most troubled and in need of divine deliverance, only one set of footprints was visible.
This caused the believer some distress, and he asked God why He had deserted him in his times of tribulation.
The Lord replied: “When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
There is similarity between the poem and Anderson’s struggle to turn her life around. It would appear that God rewarded her for her faithfulness, even though at times there seemed to be little reason to have any faith.
Anderson’s seeking of God led her to church. It was there, at Lake Granbury Christian Temple, that she encountered Wanda and Loyd Nail. They likely would never have met otherwise.
The Nails felt there was something special about Anderson.
“We saw potential in her,” said Wanda. “She’s a beautiful young woman.”
Wanda supported Anderson by going with her to court hearings during the 15 months that Anderson tried to win the confidence of CPS. She and her husband prayed for Anderson with every tumble off the wagon. The couple seemed to know instinctively when she was in trouble.
“They would wake up in the middle of the night to pray for me,” Anderson said. “Sometimes I would say, God, please don’t wake them up.”
The Nails, both of whom were teachers in Fort Worth before retiring, knew how children could be pressured into drug abuse, so they were sympathetic to Anderson’s history. She had been an adolescent when she was introduced to drugs by a male relative who abused her.
It was no surprise to them the track her life took after that.
“It was horrible, the way that they were having to live – moving all the time when rent came due,” Wanda said of Anderson and her children. “We wanted to do something to help the boys, if nothing else. It turned out to be a beautiful story.”
Anderson said the Nails made her feel special, which helped her trust the promises in the Bible that everyone is precious in God’s eyes.
“That gave me the faith to keep going,” she said of the support she received from the Nails. “It gave me hope.”
the finish line
The Nails were so impressed that Anderson brought her children to church that they reached out to help her.
The bought her a house. And they bought her a car.
Just as the SWAT team was the wake-up call Anderson had needed, the house and car provided stability for her sons and a way for her to earn a living.
Anderson now has her own housecleaning and window cleaning business. One of her clients is a woman who volunteers at a local food pantry.
“She fed my family for 10 years while I was doing drugs,” Anderson said.
Anderson does not advertise her services. There is no need when one has God’s ear.
“I ask God to send me the customers that He wants me to have,” she said.
Those customers gave her the means to repay the Nails for the house and the car.
“She has really, really made us proud,” said Wanda, who loves Anderson as if she were her daughter.
The woman who has been homeless more times than she cares to remember does not pinch pennies when it comes to giving back. Anderson tithes 10 percent of her earnings.
“If you tithe, He’ll bring it to you,” she said.
The connection between Anderson and her sons has been re-established, and is strong.
“All in all, it was a good thing,” Anderson said of the experience. “I’m tougher. My kids are tougher. But we’re stronger now as a family.”
Of overcoming addiction, she said: “It really wasn’t the 12 steps. It was God, and people not turning their back on me.”
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