Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: As a young bride-to-be, Vicki Rose liked the idea of being married more than she actually loved her fiancé, Billy.

Vicki Rose: I really had this driving force that I needed to be married. I really believed, Nancy, that getting married was the answer to my life.

Yet I told my best friend at that time, “I don’t think this is going to work, but I just want to get married. I need to get married, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll just get divorced; no big deal.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, February 9.

Sin is greedy. If sin controls one area of your life, it will spread to other areas as well.

That’s what our guest discovered when a life devoted to materialism put her on a path that led to drug use. Here’s Nancy to tell us more.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We really have a treat in store this week on Revive Our Hearts. I am so thankful to have a guest that I have been wanting to have for a long time.

Vicki Rose, we’ve talked about this; we’ve tried to set it up, and finally here I am in Florida at our studios of WRMB, our Moody affiliate down in Boynton Beach, Florida. This is the day we’re able to finally get a chance to hear your story of an incredible work of God’s grace in your life.

Thank you for coming. Thank you for joining us, and thank you for sharing with our friends at Revive Our Hearts.

Vicki: Nancy Leigh, I’m so excited to be here and to see you and to welcome you back to Florida. Even though the weather’s a little cool, it’s just a treat to be here with you.

Nancy: Actually, we go back a long ways, although we haven’t known each other very well. You and your husband are good friends with my mother, the other Nancy DeMoss.

Vicki: Right. In 1987 your mother invited me to a dinner, which is where I came to know the Lord, 18 years ago this past November. She started praying with me for my husband to also come to know the Lord.

Nancy: We’re going to get into that story and hear how it all came about.

I understand from talking with my sister last night that you and your husband were at another dinner at my mother’s house this past week. Charlotte was telling me what a joy it is to see you and your husband and how you’re walking with the Lord.

You now have a son who’s serving the Lord in vocational ministry. People would look at you and Billy, and they would say, “What a great couple!” You guys are active in your church.

Vicki: They’d think that we never had anything wrong ever.

Nancy: It wasn’t always that way, was it?

Vicki: No, it’s not always been that way at all. We were also reflecting at dinner the other night with your mom just how much the Lord has done, and how He’s delivered us from the life of emptiness and complete “lostness”—"drugs, sex, and rock-and-roll” is what Billy always says was where we were, and we were. The Lord has brought us into a relationship with Himself and brought us back into our marriage.

I have a marriage today that I dreamed of as a little girl but certainly didn’t have when we first started out. I really never thought it possible. I was really headed to divorce more than anything.

Nancy: Apart from the grace of God, you and Bill Rose would not be together today.

Vicki: That’s exactly right.

Nancy: But your marriage and your lives are a tribute to the grace of God, the power of God. I know that many of our listeners are going to be very encouraged, very challenged. I know you’re going to provoke our thinking about what it takes to get the kind of marriage that you and Billy have today.

Vicki: That’s my hope, because my burden really is for marriages, Christian marriages especially, that are struggling. If everyone were honest, everyone would say marriage is a struggle. It’s very hard work—not just a struggle, but hard work, daily.

God has brought us through so many murky waters, and we still face challenges. We’re looking toward almost 30 years of marriage, and we still face challenges.

Yet we can turn to the Word of God and stand on that foundation and watch God bless us for our feeble attempts at obedience. That’s the excitement and the joy.

Nancy: Well, the excitement and the joy are here now, but you all went a long way to find that, and I just want to roll the clock back. You and Bill are both from Jewish backgrounds.

Vicki: My mother and father and Bill’s mother and father are all Jewish. We’re both Jewish.

My father was deeply persecuted as a little boy growing up. He had bricks thrown at him, and he was called “Jew-boy.”

So he chose to walk a different path. When he came to New York City to work, as a newly married man, he decided that he was going to put being Jewish aside and go work on Wall Street as a non-Jewish person.

We ended up eventually joining a church. So from the age of ten, I was raised in a church. Although I am 100% Jewish, I have very little Jewish religious background.

Nancy: And though you were in church, you really did not have a personal relationship with Christ as a young girl.

Vicki: No, not at all. We joined a church when I was ten. I memorized the Twenty-third Psalm, and I memorized The Apostles’ Creed, and I went to Sunday school and confirmation class.I even went on a radio Bible Quiz show as part of Sunday school one morning—and I did not know the Lord. I did not have a personal relationship.

I knew about God. I believed that He was kind of up there in the sky someplace and that I was down here on earth, but that was about all we had to do with each other. I had read and even memorized some parts of the Bible, as I said, but there was not even understanding that there could even be a personal relationship.

Nancy: There was a lot of emptiness in your heart that you tried to fill in a lot of different ways.

Vicki: A lot. Growing up in New York City, Nancy, I think I bought into that belief that “if you have enough, then you’re happy.” I don’t know if that’s just New York. It can be anywhere in the world, probably.

Nancy: I think so.

Vicki: I just thought that the people who have a lot are the people who are happy, so I set out on that course for myself. A lot of education, a lot of clothes, a lot of money, homes—that’s what I thought if I had enough of I would be happy.

Part of that plan, in my mind, was being married. If I married someone who could provide all that, then I would be happy.

I had a difficult mom, somewhat abusive. I was trying to fill up so many different holes, and I tried to fill them up with the things that were provided by New York City stores and magazines and everything else there is out there.

Nancy: How did you and Billy meet?

Vicki: After my mother died, my father remarried. His wife had three children, so I had three new step-siblings. The apartment I grew up in wouldn’t fit all of us, so they moved. I was in my junior year in college.

I can picture us. We did the move ourselves in New York City with a U-Haul truck, all of us carrying the stuff out of the apartment. It snowed that day, so it was quite an undertaking.

We moved into a new building, and there was a young man in that building who would see me leave. It turned out that his mother and my aunt were very good friends and had the same last name.

He checked it out and had her call me to see if I was available to go out. Well, I wasn’t. I was dating someone in college.

When I broke up with my long-haired, college boy friend a year later, I called my aunt back and said, “Do you want to find out if that guy is still interested?”

Nancy: Still available.

Vicki: Still available. He was, and he called me, and we went out.

Nancy: And you pretty quickly were drawn to this Billy Rose?

Vicki: We met in November just before Thanksgiving, and for Christmas he gave me a very small diamond heart pendant for Christmas, and I thought, “This is the one.”

Nancy: What attracted you to him?

Vicki: I loved that he had plans to do something all the time. I had just gotten out of college. I was working. I’d gone to work at Saks Fifth Avenue in their executive training program.

My life in college—my boyfriend had been an artist (“starving artist”), and we hadn’t done much of anything fun. Billy’s life just seemed very glamorous. He actually had a sister that I’d seen on the pages of Women’s Wear Daily.

For me growing up, I’d come home every day, and on the front hall table was this newspaper called Women’s Wear Daily. It’s a retail newspaper—my mother’s family had all been in retailing—but what I loved in this newspaper were the society pages.

There were pictures of glamorous people and the parties they went to and the clothes they wore, and that’s what I wanted. I wanted to be one of them. I wanted to have that whole lifestyle, and Billy presented that lifestyle to me.

Nancy: So you thought you were going to get that hole filled.

Vicki: Yes. I thought this was the answer, that this lifestyle would provide the security for me that I thought I was looking for.

Nancy: So you and Billy decided to get married, and I’ve heard you share that even at that point you weren’t really sure this was going to work.

Vicki: We met in November; we were engaged by the following August. I think that’s nine months. I had actually flashed my ring finger at him several times. I mean, I practically asked him.

Nancy: “Get with it!”

Vicki: Yes. So he asked me to marry him in August. We went on vacation with his family for two weeks after that. When we came back, I thought, “This is not going to work.”

Nancy: What made you think that?

Vicki: I loved to do things on vacation, like go sightseeing. We went to Italy and sat on the beach for two weeks, and I got stir crazy.

He likes to sit a lot. He loves to watch sports on TV. I like to go ice skating, not watch ice skating on TV.

Nancy: So you were realizing there were some differences.

Vicki: There were some major differences, but I really had this driving force that I needed to be married. I really believed, Nancy, that getting married was the answer to my life.

So I pushed through those feelings, yet I told my best friend at that time, “I don’t think this is going to work, but I just want to get married. I need to get married, and if it doesn’t work, we’ll just get divorced; no big deal.”

Nancy: Of course, at this point you weren’t considering what the Lord had to think about all of this. He really wasn’t in your plans.

Vicki: God was nowhere in my plans, nowhere in the equation. As a matter of fact, I had always dreamed of getting married in my church. It’s a beautiful church in New York City, with beautiful stained-glass windows.

I think every girl dreams of walking down the aisle, but Billy’s parents wouldn’t hear of our getting married in a church, because they said, “Everybody knows you’re Jewish.”

I said, “I’m not Jewish.”

And they said, “Well, all our friends know that you’re really Jewish, so you can’t get married in a church. It just wouldn’t be right.”

I had no believing reason to be in a church, and I so much wanted to get married that I was afraid to ruffle any feathers. I lived to please people back then and didn’t want to do anything that would cause this marriage to not happen. So I gave up that dream, and we actually married in my family’s living room in New York City.

Nancy: How long did it take for the dream to get shattered?

Vicki: In some ways it was almost shattered before the fact because the differences were great. I remember our honeymoon. Billy chose a place to go for our honeymoon that he’d been to several times with his family.

It wasn’t at all what I’d dreamed of, and underwriting it, I kept trying to think, “I need to be grateful for whatever,” never thinking I had a voice, or being afraid to voice my desires.

When we got back, we both went back to work. I was able to hide in my work, and I did in many ways.

At that point I was an assistant buyer at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, and moving on the fast track to becoming buyer. I just worked hard and kind of hid in that, but I had a dream.

It was somewhat unrealistic, but I thought I’d get married and we’d do everything together, and we’d like all the same things. I loved theater and ballet and ice skating . . .

Nancy: And you thought Billy Rose was going to love ballet?

Vicki: Well, actually, what I left out in the beginning when we met—he’s a huge baseball fan and had played baseball himself.

Nancy: Baseball. Ballet. Two different worlds.

Vicki: Exactly. As opposite as they can possibly be.

The first summer we dated, I went to 70 baseball games. I had never been to a baseball game when I met Billy Rose. Not one. Growing up in New York City, I’d never been to one.

We went to 70 games, and by that point, he and his parents had become limited partners in the New York Yankees. So we went in style.

We went and sat in the owner’s box, and yada yada yada . . . a lot of baseball, no ballet. I gave up all those things that I loved because this was more important to me, to be married.

Nancy: Yet the marriage didn’t get off on the right track, and it went from bad to worse.

Vicki: It went from bad to worse. We separated actually, briefly, for three months one summer. During that time, I started going to see a psychiatrist, and Billy started doing cocaine.

It was back in the ’70s when cocaine was a fun thing to do. It was not known that it was highly addictive. It was part of the party scene in New York City, of which we were a part.

We used to go to Studio 54 until 2, 3, 4:00 in the morning and think nothing of it. We would sit with all sorts of famous people, doing lines of cocaine, both of us—after we got back together from the separation.

I became sick after about four months of doing that. I realized I needed to stop, and I did; but Billy didn’t, and couldn’t. He just kept saying it wasn’t a problem, that he could do it when he wanted and not when he didn’t. I didn’t know anything about addiction.

I didn’t know anything at all about addiction, so I kept wanting to believe him, wanting to believe that this wasn’t a problem. Yet there was so many things we planned to do, and then he’d get sick from doing too much cocaine.

We couldn’t go to my parents’ for dinner one night because Billy was not feeling well from doing too much. I called and said, “Oh, Billy’s got the flu, and we can’t come.” I started that slippery slope of covering up the behavior, just thinking that something may be wrong with me, that I wasn’t good enough or wife enough, that he would do this instead of be part of us.

By this point we had children, ages 1 1/2 and 4. His cocaine habit escalated to the point that we separated. I could not deal with his lifestyle anymore.

He had opened a restaurant. We opened it together. I tried to throw myself full throttle into it and help him open it. I did the books.

When the children were born, I stopped working at Saks Fifth Avenue, but our lives were just running parallel lines and then splitting apart. We were just going away from each other more and more and more.

Nancy: So you really had no life together.

Vicki: We had absolutely no life together once the restaurant got going. I was completely with the children, and Billy was completely with the restaurant. He would come home at 2, 3 or 4:00 in the morning, not necessarily because the restaurant required it but because he’d been doing drugs to stay awake all night, or whatever.

Nancy: So the point came that you asked him to leave.

Vicki: The point came that I did ask him to leave. We actually went on a vacation, and I confronted him. I said, “You are still using cocaine.”

Up to that point he had denied it. Finally, on Mother’s Day that year in May, he told me I was right, that he was still using, and that he probably needed help—that he probably needed to stop, but he wanted to do it his own way.

He said, “I want to take you away on vacation and try to get sober.” I thought, “Okay, great.” So off we went down to Hilton Head, South Carolina, something we both remember so much.

I sat on the beach in a beach chair. There were kids and families all around me playing Frisbee and laughing, and I sat there crying my eyes out, looking at the ocean, talking to a God that I really didn’t know at all or believe in.

I just looked out at the ocean, and I said, “This just can’t be all there is. This just can’t be all there is.”

Billy stayed in the room all day trying to de-tox from cocaine. Then we’d go to dinner at night, and he’d just do a little bit to get by. It was clearly not going in the direction that I . . . I spent every day by myself while he lay in the room trying to sleep.

We got back to New York, and a week later I got in the car and drove down to our restaurant. I said, “I can’t do this anymore. You have to leave. I still love you. I want to be married to you, but I can’t do it like this anymore.”

The next day his mother took me to an Al-Anon meeting, and that was the beginning of so many things for me. It was the beginning of some healing, because I realized there were other people in my same situation. It was the beginning of talking about a higher power that they talk about in Al-Anon, and surrendering to that higher power.

It was the beginning of wondering who that higher power really was—they say in some Al-Anon meetings that the higher power can be the chair in the room. I knew God wasn’t the chair in the room, but I didn’t know who He was.

I started going to meetings, one or sometimes two or three times a week, and I really found some help there, just in being able to talk about it for the first time with people who knew what I was talking about, who were in similar situations.

For those who don’t know, Al-Anon is for the person or the family member of someone who’s in some kind of addiction, whether it be alcohol or drugs or gambling or anything. Al-Anon is for a person to go, and so that’s what I did.

Nancy: And God was in the process of drawing you to Himself. God had plans for your life, for Bill’s life, for your marriage, for your children, that you could never have imagined at that moment when you were so low and in such despair.

Vicki: Oh, so low. I would go to meetings and cry and cry and cry, and I would wonder, “How am I going to raise my two children by myself? How am I going to afford it? How am I going to physically do it?”

I had physically pretty much been taking care of them on my own at that point, but physically—the rest of my life went before my eyes, every minute of the day, wondering, “How is this going to work? How am I going to do this?”

I just felt like such a failure, Nancy. Failure that my marriage had not worked, failure that I could not get my husband off cocaine myself, failure that I really had no idea about parenting and I didn’t know what I was doing with these two precious children.

I had to go back to work when we separated, and that was more failure—leaving my kids behind with a brand new nanny who was nuts, it turned out. I felt completely like a failure.

Nancy: We have a lot of listeners, and I read the emails that they send in to Revive Our Hearts. They share their story, and I sometimes read those stories, and I think, “How much more difficult could it get? How hard this is!”

I know we have listeners who feel like a total failure. Their marriage is not working. Their husband has addictions, but they have no control over, cannot change, cannot fix it.

Women who maybe do know the Lord, but their husband doesn’t. They’re longing to see their husband come to faith. Women who feel like a failure as a mother.

I think sometimes, Vicki, God uses that sense of getting to the very bottom as part of the process to bring us to the end of ourselves and our own resources, and to bring us to Christ, to bring us to faith, to bring us to a place of brokenness and humility and surrender.

I know our listeners want to hear the rest of your story, Vicki. I think some of them are probably on the edge of their seats, because they’re thinking, “That’s my story!”

Or maybe it’s not your story, but it’s the story of a son or daughter or family member or loved one or friend. I just want to say, I hope you’ll tune in and join us on Revive Our Hearts tomorrow, because you’ll want to hear what God has done in Vicki’s life and in Billy’s life and in this marriage.

It’s all a tribute to the power and the grace and the mercy of God. There is hope, no matter how low you are. No matter how low you feel about someone you’re concerned for, there is hope.

God is in the miracle-working business, and we’re going to hear a terrific illustration of that. We’ve set the scene for it. Tomorrow we’ll pick up with Vicki again and hear this great story of God’s grace.

Leslie: Where does this important conversation find you? Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Vicki Rose about the emptiness that so many women experience.

Maybe while trying to fill that emptiness you’ve gotten caught in an addiction; or, like Vicki, maybe your spouse is an addict. You’ll find some information on our website that can help. Just visit ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com.

That’s also where you’ll find a transcript of today’s program. You can read it for yourself or email it to a friend who would enjoy today’s message.

You can also sign up for the Daily Connection or our podcast. There are so many opportunities to connect with great content at our website.

Maybe your husband isn’t addicted to cocaine like the husband we heard about today, but he’s done something else that seems impossible to forgive. Forgiveness is possible, and it can transform your relationships. Here’s Nancy to tell us more.

Nancy: Vicki Rose’s life is such a vivid picture of forgiveness, and I hope you’ll be back tomorrow to hear more. I’ve met so many women like Vicki, tempted to live in bondage and bitterness; but I’ve also seen God break into many desperate situations in an amazing way through the power of forgiveness.

I wrote the book Choosing Forgiveness after watching so many women find that kind of freedom. I want you to live free from bitterness, too. Your life can be a beautiful picture of forgiveness, even if it seems impossible right now.

When you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, we’ll show our appreciation by sending the hard-cover edition of Choosing Forgiveness. It will take you through the Scripture to discover why forgiveness is crucial, and it will show you a practical process of forgiving once and for all.

You can experience what so many others have—that forgiveness really is your journey to freedom. So get your copy of Choosing Forgiveness at our website. If you’d rather call with your donation of any size, the toll-free number is 800-569-5959.

Leslie: Well, it was a black tie dinner that finally got Vicki Rose’s attention and changed the course of her life. I hope you’ll join us for that story on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.