A Heart Full of Thanksgiving: Meet Abby L.

“The life of an addict and prostitute brings with it a lot of shame and guilt. Yet throughout my time in the Gilgal program, I have never known so much love and support from total strangers. Gilgal staff, volunteers and donors who didn’t even know me accepted me unconditionally.”  Abby L. (2020 Gilgal Graduate)

Blessing and Glory and Wisdom and THANKSGIVING….

My name is Abby L., and I am a 2021 Gilgal graduate. I first shared my testimony at the 6th Annual Blue Jean Gala in October 2020. At that time, I had been at Gilgal for only a few short months.

I learned about Gilgal while at the crisis stabilization unit. After years of homelessness, drug abuse and prostitution, I had finally reached rock bottom. I needed a long-term recovery program, however, every call was a dead-end. They either turned me down because of my suicide attempt, didn’t answer the phone, had no beds available, or cost too much. My caseworker said she couldn’t find a place for me, and I had to leave in three days. I knew I couldn’t go back to the streets and needed God’s help. I asked if she knew of a Christian-based program and she said, “Yes. Let me make a call.” That afternoon I was on the phone with Ms. Deborah and accepted at Gilgal.

Check out this video from Abby during our 2020 Blue Jean Gala

I’m happy to say I completed the program in September and feel like I am living for the first time. I’ve been reunited with my three children – ages 4, 14 and 19. I am also back in touch with my immediate and extended family.  After graduation I was able to attend my brother Ryan’s wedding and am enjoying precious time with my dad who is suffering from Alzheimer’s. I’m grateful to Gilgal for making these priceless moments possible.

Last Thanksgiving, I was a resident of Gilgal and away from family.  And while the COVID lockdown prevented me from going home on pass, I enjoyed one of the best Thanksgivings ever with my Gilgal sisters and staff.  It was a special day full of love and fellowship which I will never forget.

I can honestly say that Gilgal was one of the hardest and greatest things I’ve ever done. My experience there was transformational. I was a loner for so long and didn’t know how to interact with people. The life of an addict and prostitute brings with it a lot of shame and guilt. Yet throughout my time in the program, I have never known so much love and support from total strangers. Gilgal staff, volunteers and donors who didn’t even know me accepted me unconditionally.

I also learned how to set goals for my future, live with integrity and maintain structure and healthy boundaries. I got my ID back, secured a job at CKS Packaging and opened a checking/savings account. I am still employed at CKS and was recently promoted. My Gilgal training on interpersonal relationships and emotional well-being has been invaluable on my job and at home.

I can honestly say that Gilgal was one of the hardest and greatest things I’ve ever done. My experience there was transformational.

Abby L. pictured here with her younger brother Ryan L.

 

This Thanksgiving I am looking forward to being with family at my brother Jake’s house. My sixth-grade niece said she is so happy to have the family all back together. I can’t wait! I am even bringing a special Brussels sprout dish that Ms. Sara taught me to make last Thanksgiving.

If I could give advice to anyone coming behind me it would be to trust God and the process. Gilgal offers all of us a chance to live life for the first time. We’ve been running and trying to escape what haunts us. Unfortunately, we chose drugs to cope. But Gilgal exists for us to be still and find peace with God. We don’t have to run anymore or make up any excuses to accept the person we used to be. This is our chance to learn and grow. It’s like a college education mixed with a vacation. You get to literally remake yourself. So, when you graduate and walk out that door, you’re better equipped with God and lasting friendships.

Sometimes it is overwhelming to think about the amazing people who love me and invest so much in Gilgal. I am so grateful for the volunteers and partners that poured into me on a weekly basis.  Even during the pandemic, they still faithfully served. They never gave up on me and it motivated me not to give up on myself. Today I know that my dreams are possible. Please pray for me as I take each new step to live them out.

Change Happens at Gilgal. Thank you for being a part of it!

 

Watch our 7th Annual Blue Jean Gala to get an update from Abby and her family. Change Happens because God’s Love Never Fails!

VIEW IT NOW

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