02 November 2014

When We can't "Fix" an Alcoholic Parent - Interview With Cindy Kelley


Author Cindy Kelley
Cindy Kelley, welcome to Overcoming With God.  We appreciate your willingness to share your testimony of overcoming with our readers. 

Would you tell us about the most difficult thing in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help? Answer: 
I was young, recently engaged and working as a church secretary for three wonderful ministers, the year the bottom of my dad’s world fell out from under him. For a long time, he’d had a tenuous hold on life through alcohol and it became apparent to everyone who knew him, that year he lost his grip completely. My parents had divorced when I was eleven-years-old and both ended up remarrying wonderful people. I lived with my mom and step-dad, who did all the normal ‘dad’ things: taught me to drive, intimidated my dates, policed my outfits – waited up for me to make sure I got home safe and sound on Saturday nights. My visits with my dad and step-mom (who lived in another state) consisted of a couple weeks at Christmas and a summer visit.  My younger brother and I always had fun when we went to see them - shopping trips and dinners out.  They had a swimming pool and that was always a treat. So, it came as a total shock when my mom called me at work one day and told me my dad and step-mom were divorcing –and my dad was not taking it well. I remember the word “suicidal” being used. My dad was so despondent he’d called my mom to have her deliver the news to us.  I told my mom she must be wrong –I’d never even seen them argue.  My mom said there was no mistake. It seemed my dad’s drinking had escalated to an all time high and to make matters worse, he was taking an anti-depressant. The combination made him unbearably hard to be around. I remember having the selfish thought: I’m in the middle of planning my wedding! How can they do this now?  I asked my mom what I should do and she told me what she always said when I didn’t have an answer to a problem. “You should pray for him –pray for both of them.”

My dad moved from out of state to the town where I lived. His depression was epic –and so was his drinking. He’d lost his job, his home, his wife –and his self-respect was so far gone his only solace was in alcohol.  But I just knew I could ‘fix him’.  If I were upbeat enough, attentive enough, supportive enough, he turn his life around and be the man he was meant to be. I felt so bad for him and when he started asking me for money, of course I gave it to him. When I found out he was buying liquor with it, I started taking him to the grocery store instead of giving him cash. When he was sick, he called me. When he was nearly incoherent from drinking, he called me. Every time the phone rang and I heard his voice, my stomach would clench. But still, every time he needed me I’d be there to help pick up the pieces of whatever disaster had happened. I prayed continually for him to get better. To have the courage to fight his battle with alcohol. I prayed for God to change him. I prayed for God to let me save him. One day at work, the senior pastor I worked for gently told me I wasn’t saving my dad – I was enabling him to continue his destructive behavior. I couldn’t believe he was actually telling me to let my dad hit bottom. I thought it was so mean. Even with all his terrible behavior, he was still my father –I couldn’t just abandon him. He told me to pray about it – and really listen to what God was saying to me.  On the heels of that conversation, my dad called again to tell me he needed to borrow my car. I told him he couldn’t. He’d lost his license to a DUI.  He argued, cursed, called me names –told me I didn’t love him enough to trust him. It was a low point –and some small part of me finally admitted the pastor might be right. I was making things worse by constantly ‘helping’ my dad.  I wandered into the empty church sanctuary and poured out my heart to God –and then I sat still and listened. I heard God tell me it wasn’t my responsibility to fix my dad –or make him happy.  I couldn’t save my dad –but He could. I clearly heard Him say I created your earthly father and I love him. Respect him, encourage him when he is doing right –but turn the burden of your worry over to me. Really truly give it up and trust me. It was a turning point for me and even though it was hard to change my enabling ways, that answer to my prayer helped me overcome my belief that my dad’s alcoholism was a problem riding squarely on my shoulders.

CFP: So glad your pastor gave you such good advice. We cannot save the addict--we can only pray for them and turn it over to God. I'm so sorry your father put you and the rest of the family through this. But I know the Lord had to have used this in your work, in the stories you tell. 

What passages in the Bible have been most helpful to you in those times?
Proverbs 3, 5 & 6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. 
In all ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct thy paths.”
The Silent Gift 

Disability friendliness: Is this latest release available in audio format or do you have any other works available on audio?  Do your e-books have audio capability? Do you have any in large print? 
Finding Mercy, our latest release, is available as an e book, paperback, and will be available in large print, January of 2015.  Traces of Mercy, the first book in the series is available in all the formats already mentioned.  The Silent Gift, the first novel I co-authored with Michael Landon, Jr is available as an e book, hardcover large print, audio, CD, abridged audiobook CD.


In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence 
through reading about a disorder or situation? 

In Finding Mercy, the sequel to Traces of Mercy, our protagonist has amnesia. She has a crisis of her own identity and has to learn to form opinions on present experiences rather than on her past. She learns that lying leads to disastrous consequences and begins a long journey of asking for forgiveness for things she can’t even remember doing.

CFP: I have a story with a little of this going on, too, so I can't wait to read the book. Am praying it will come out in audiobook, too.


Bio:
Cindy Kelley began her career as a screenwriter. Her first produced screenplay, The Velveteen Rabbit, inspired by the children’s classic of the same name, and directed by Michael Landon, Jr, had a theatrical release. Following that, she began a writing partnership with Landon. Together, they have written several of the popular Love Comes Softly movies that are favorites on the Hallmark Channel. Her novels, also co-written with Landon, include The Silent Gift, Traces of Mercy and their latest release, Finding Mercy.  Cindy has been married to her high school sweetheart, Jim, for thirty-seven years. They make their home in southern Arizona, have three children, three grandchildren and four, very spoiled dogs.


You can find her on Facebook under Cindy Kelley, author and on Twitter @cindyakelley.

Giveaway: Choose any of Cindy's releases with Michael Landon, Jr.

Question you’d like to ask readers:
What do you enjoy reading the most…historical Christian fiction or contemporary Christian fiction?
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35 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing with us, Cindy. So many families have alcoholism as a destroyer. We just lost my cousin two days ago to this dread addiction.

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    1. I'm so sorry for your loss, Carrie. It truly is a dreadful addiction - and the harm it causes can be so painful -not only for the alcoholic -but as you point out - the family as well.

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    2. TY Cindy. I'm so glad Bill is out of pain now and enjoying God's peace, but it is hard for those left behind.

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  2. Thank you for sharing about that difficult time. I have to admit I'm curious about how things turned out with your dad in the long run, if he was able to make a recovery. I love reading historical and contemporary equally- as long as there's some romance and a happy ending! :)

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    1. I was wondering the same thing, Heidi. just lost a cousin to alcoholism but I have another family member who is reported to be doing well in rehab right now. Hoping things turned around for Cindy's dad.

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    2. Hi Heidi - and Carrie - My dad struggled with alcohol his whole life. He'd have years of sobriety -then be caught up again in the addiction. Sadly, he never was truly free from the disease and passed away in 2000.

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    3. That is tough, Cindy, to not have seen him beat this addiction. But he has peace now.

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  3. Alcoholism is a dreadful addiction. Thank you for sharing.

    I must admit to loving historical Christian fiction just a touch more.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your love of historical Christian fiction, Mary :)

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  4. Thank you for being with us on OWG and for sharing your heart, CINDY. I also had an alcoholic father and I understand the pain and the heartbreak of that awful disease.

    I love the Love Comes Softly movies!

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    1. Thank you, Diana. I'm happy you like the Love Comes Softly movies - Love Comes Softly is still one of my favorite projects I had the pleasure of working on...

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    2. You've done some really cool stuff, Cindy!

      Diana, it seems like alcoholism is straight from the devil.

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  5. Cindy, thank you so much for sharing. Alcoholism is a terrible thing. I am a big fan of the Love Comes Softly series and I am a big fan of historical Christian fiction.

    Thank you for the great job that you do.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Happy to hear you are a fan of historical fiction and the Love Comes Softly series, Melanie. Thanks!

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  6. Hello Cindy. I enjoyed the movies you and Michael added to the Love Comes Softly movies. Those are some of my favorites. I am sad about your daddy. That would be awful hard and hurtful. Glad GOD is always there to help us when we need HIM. I would love to win one of your books to go with the one I have, Traces of Mercy. I hope I get lucky and win today and can get Book 2. Thanks, Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

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    1. Hi Maxie...I agree with you and am glad God is always there to help us when we need Him. Thanks for your comments!

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  7. I sure enjoyed the interview. I also forgot to answer your question Cindy. I love both, but would pick the Contemporary Christian Fiction, if I have to pick one. Thanks for coming to OWG and the give-away. Those OWG girls are the best.
    Maxie

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    1. Maxie, I didn't know you were a secret lover of contemporary! I learned something new about you today!

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  8. Hi CINDY!! So excited to finally have you on OWG this week! Thank you for your heartfelt and inspiring testimony of overcoming such a heavy burden and heartbreak in your life. So glad you were finally able to give it over to the Lord. Honestly, alcohol makes me really mad with the lives it messes up and destroys. It has also taken the life of a close member of my husbands family. I pray your testimony encourages some to also hand their burdens over to God!

    In answer to the question... It would definitely be Historical Christian Fiction! With romance of course ha! :-) Oh I have to tell you also... While we were on holidays recently, I bought the first two Love Comes Softly movies! It's the only way I'm able to see them and I cannot wait!! Now if only I can put my historical romances down... ;)

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    1. Hi Noela! I'm happy to be on OWG this week...what an inspiring-awesome blog it is! It's funny that when I think of the Love Comes Softly series - I always think of "Love Comes Softly" as the first movie -because it was :) They added the prequels after the entire series (of 8 books) was filmed. Michael Landon and I wrote Love Comes Softly, Loves Enduring Promise, Love's Long Journey and the 6th film - Love's Unfolding Dream. I love historical romances too...and for me, books are ALWAYS hard to put down :)

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    2. I wonder how hard it is to write those screenplays, Cindy. I think that is wonderful that these stories have been made into movies!

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  9. Hi Carrie & hello, Cindy. Thank you so much for sharing your story. We know we should pray, but don't always remember to truly put hurting loved ones in God's hands. And trust Him to love that person as much as we do. Sorry for your loss. I'm glad you are able and willing to share God's words to you.

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    1. Hi Camille...you said that beautifully and I couldn't agree more. Thanks!

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    2. I agree, beautifully said. Thanks, Camille.

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  10. Congrats, Cindy - thank you for sharing your beautiful testimony in this interview!!

    I can truly relate to your post as my ex-husband was an alcoholic who went through treatment twice, yet - as far as I know, died without conquering his addictions. I also have a close family member who battles alcoholism and prescription med addictions and is being enabled by another close family member. I came to realize, when married, that I could do nothing to save my alcoholic husband nor my family member - no matter how much I loved them or wanted to. He/she has to realize their problem and want to be well - for his/herself and no one else - badly enough to seek help on their own and be willing to make the changes necessary. Even so - success percentages are extremely low and I personally feel it is near impossible to permanently kick addictions without God in one's life. My only recourse for my family member - is prayer.

    I love the Love Comes Softly movies you have co-written, have the novel "Traces of Mercy" and would love to read the others!!

    Shared post!!

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    1. P.S. Forgot to answer the question: I love both historical and contemporary Christian fiction, however, prefer Christian historical romance.

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    2. I'm sorry for the hard journey you've had with your ex-husband and family member, Bonnie. It's such a difficult thing to go through -especially when you're so close to the situation. I I agree with you that turning to God is the way out of such a dark place...your family members are blessed to have you praying for them. Thanks for your kind words about our work - I appreciate it!

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    3. Bonnie I am glad that you've come through this with your sweet spirit intact. Many blessings!

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  11. Hi Cindy,

    I can relate to your story...my dad was an alcoholic. It does impact the whole family and leaves scars that are hard to heal unless you give them (scars, hurts, etc) to the Lord. Yes, praying for them is the best thing to do.
    I too love the Love Come Softly movies and books...I have them all and watch/read them often. I have read Traces of Mercy, very good book and would love to read the next one, Finding Mercy.
    I really enjoy Historical Christian fiction, do read contemporary Christian fiction too but prefer the historical.

    Blessings, Tina

    tfrice (at) comcast (dot) net

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    1. Hi Tina -It's amazing (and sad) how many people have family members who are alcoholics - but you are quite right - the only thing to do is give the pain to the Lord and rest in His promises and grace. I'm glad you have enjoyed the movies we've written and Traces of Mercy :) And thanks for weighing in on your preference of Historical or Contemporary Fiction!

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    2. I think a lot of men after WWII had alcohol problems. I am so glad my dad didn't struggle with this. My grandfather was an alcoholic who finally sobered up but then he broke his back and had to stay on pain killers.

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  12. I love both! I read more historical, but authors like Becky Wade and Susan May Warren have me hooked on contemporary as well!

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Rebecca...I love both too!

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  13. Thanks for sharing so much was raised in an Alcoholic family. Kim

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