Revive Our Hearts Radio

The Transformation

Leslie Basham: Here’s Vicki Rose.

Vicki Rose: I started praying with the children daily that their daddy would come to know Jesus. I was so angry and so hurt and so blame-oriented. In my mind, everything was Billy’s fault. He had destroyed our family. It was all him. I thought, “How am I ever going to forgive all this? I don’t even want to forgive.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, February 10.

Here’s Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If you weren’t able to be with us yesterday on Revive Our Hearts, you’ll want to order a CD of the entire series, because this is just a powerful story we’re hearing this week of God’s grace, His transforming ability in people’s lives. Our guest is Vicki Rose. Vicki, thank you so much for joining us here on Revive Our Hearts this week.

Vicki: It is my pleasure to be here. Thank you, Nancy.

Nancy: We’ve waited for this for a long time. It’s been probably a year or two that we’ve been talking about doing this. Vicki is a long-time friend of my mother, the other Nancy DeMoss, and has an incredible story of how she came to faith in Christ, of how God brought her husband to faith, and how God took a hopelessly messed up marriage and two hopelessly messed up lives and transformed them by his grace.

Vicki: That is exactly right. We had reached nine and a half years of marriage, and Billy was completely addicted to cocaine, and I had asked him to leave. We had a one-and-a-half and a four-year-old child, and I started to going to Al-Anon meetings, and I had to return to full-time work all at the same time.

Nancy: And both of you, I might add, from Jewish backgrounds.

Vicki: Correct.

Nancy: So we would not be expecting either of you to be sitting here on Revive Our Hearts today telling how Jesus changed your lives.

Vicki: Nor would some of our friends still expect that. Yes, that’s exactly right, attesting more to God’s love for his people and his grace.

Nancy: And let me just say, Vicki, that you have a background—for those who might be interested in knowing a little bit more about the background apart from your marriage—you had a successful buying career in retail at Saks Fifth Avenue and then later at Macy’s. So you knew what it was like to be successful in the world.

Vicki: I was a dyed-in-the-wool New Yorker. I was born there and raised right in the middle of Manhattan and actually have spent my whole life there until we moved to Florida eight years ago. So I was a New Yorker through and through. I had worked at Saks for about eight years and then retired when our son was born in 1982.

I definitely wanted to be home, although when I did leave work to be home with our son, I really did not have a lot of parenting skills, a lot of mothering skills. My mother was not that nurturing of a mom, somewhat abusive. And I didn’t have anyone to come alongside me and help me learn to be a mom. And I was pretty lost.

Nancy: And you didn’t have the Lord.

Vicki: I definitely did not have the Lord.

Nancy: And you had a lousy marriage.

Vicki: I had a really difficult marriage. At the time our second child—two-and-a-half years later—was born, Billy opened a restaurant, a sports bar and restaurant, which had terrible hours. His cocaine addiction increased there, and alcohol, and all sorts of things.

Nancy: And let me say we have focused on some of the issues that Bill had that any wife would say, yes, that’s got to be really rough. But there were other issues in your own life and who you were that may not have been as obvious as the drug addiction or the alcohol. But there were things in your life that probably didn’t contribute to a great marriage either.

Vicki: Well, that’s exactly right. The emptiness in my life . . . I so much thought that if I had enough things, materially, and I had my life all organized—as in marriage, a home—that I would be happy. I thought that was the answer. I really think I bought into the live happily-ever-after myth that you read so much as a kid.

Nancy: And you were looking to Billy and to things to fill that emptiness.

Vicki: I was looking to Billy and things to fill that, and the problem is when you do that, nothing is ever enough. I’d get a new something, and I’d want three more new somethings.

Whatever it is you get—whether it’s a brand new beautiful pair of shoes—an hour later or five minutes later, the emptiness is right back. It’s fun to get them. It’s very exciting to get dressed up in them. And then you’re right back to where you started from.

Nancy: So you were a discontented woman.

Vicki: I was a very discontented woman and really put that on my husband. In some ways, I drove him . . . I mean I know he made his own choices. But yes, I was discontented. And that is never a good thing to be as a wife. It doesn’t help support your husband. It doesn’t help encourage him in any way. And it makes him feel like he’s never providing enough.

Nancy: So the whole thing was a recipe for disaster.

Vicki: The whole thing was a disaster, yes.

Nancy: And you came to the place sitting on that beach at Hilton Head where you said, “I just don’t want to go on like this.”

Vicki: This can’t be all there is. This can’t be what marriage is about. This can’t be what life is about. I went home from that vacation where Billy was trying to detox himself . . .

Nancy: Unsuccessfully.

Vicki: Unsuccessfully. And a week later, I asked him to leave. I couldn’t continue the craziness of our life, covering up for his erratic behavior, lying—you know, telling people that he couldn’t go out because he was sick, when in fact, he just had taken too much drugs. He wasn’t involved with the children at all. I couldn’t go on like that anymore.

Nancy: So he left, and you started into this . . .

Vicki: I started going to Al-Anon and heard about a higher power and started to pray actually to God, not knowing who He was, that He was Jesus Christ.

Nancy: But God was turning your heart, drawing your heart.

Vicki: Most definitely. And I was desperate. I was just very lost in hopelessness, in anger at my life having not turned out the way I wanted it to, just in despair.

Nancy: Aren’t you glad that God pursues lost sheep?

Vicki: Yes, yes, yes. When I look back and see how He was drawing me to Himself and how He drew me to a place so mercifully and with so much tenderness, where I was willing to just say, “I don’t want to do it my way, Lord, anymore. I want your way.”

Nancy: It was about this time that you and my mother first met. How did that come about?

Vicki: Well, Billy and I separated, and a year later I went back to work. I went back to R.H. Macy & Company as a corporate buyer, which involved traveling to Hong Kong and Singapore and all across the Orient, where we manufactured. And I actually thought that going back to work would be great.

I figured my children would be better off with some Mary Poppins kind of nanny. So I hired a new nanny the day I went back to work. She started the day I went back, which was a bad choice right then and there. And the third day that I was back to work—first time since I had children—the third day, the children were by then three and five, I got home, sat down to dinner, and Doug told me—he was five years old—he said, “Mommy, Hansy took us to the A&P in the double stroller and left us outside and asked me to look after Courtney while she went inside to do the marketing.” And there I was . . .

Nancy: Wrong nanny.

Vicki: Wrong nanny, but I did not even have the presence of mind to fire her. All I could think of was, “I have to be at work. I have to be at work. I’ll tell her that’s not right.”

We’d been separated for a year. We had no formal agreement of any kind. And Billy kept saying, “I can’t pay your bills anymore. You have to get a job. You have to get a job.” And I figured I had to get a job. So that was just one nanny story.

Another nanny . . . Sunday night, before she was due in the next Monday morning, she called to say her boyfriend had beat her up and she was in the hospital with an arm in a cast over her head and she wouldn’t be able to work for a couple months. So my sister came to the rescue. It was story after story. And finally, we did find a nanny, but still she favored one child over the other, and a part of my heart was broken.

Even though in my head, I thought, “I have to be at work,” and, “They’re better off with someone who loves to play,” I didn’t have the ability to sit and play with my kids at that point because I was so anxious and worried every minute of the day about the state of my life and being separated and not knowing how this would work out. Billy was living with another woman at this point two blocks away from us. Everything was wrong, and I had no peace whatsoever.

I got back from a trip to Hong Kong and arrived in my apartment to find that Douglas had fallen off his top bunk bed two nights before and had been in intensive care . . .

Nancy: While you were gone.

Vicki: While I was gone. Billy hadn’t even stayed with him in the hospital; the babysitter had. When I got home and Douglas started to share that with me, the babysitter tried to tell him not to tell me right away, that I had just walked in the front door from a long trip. And I thought, “What are you? Crazy? This is my child. I’m his mother. He’s got to be able to tell me.”

On the mail table from when I had been away was an invitation to a dinner party. It said, “Mrs. Arthur S. DeMoss invites you to dinner to meet and hear Secretary of the Interior, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Hodel to talk about Christianity in the world today.” And then in the very bottom left-hand corner, it said “black tie.”

And I thought, “I’m going. It’s an opportunity to get dressed and go out!” It really wasn’t that I was interested in the topic, or that curious about it, but it was a dinner party and an opportunity to go out. As a single mom, you don’t have much opportunity to do anything but take care of your kids and fall into bed exhausted to go to work the next day and start the cycle over again.

Nancy: And this, by the way, most of our listeners wouldn’t be familiar with the kind of dinner you’re describing. But when I was a little girl, my parents began hosting those kinds of dinners first in their home and then in other kinds of places—this one that you’re referring to was in New York City. They would bring in a business or professional person to share their testimony of faith in Christ.

They would invite unbelieving business and professional people to come and hear the gospel. By this time, my dad was with the Lord, but my mother was continuing to do this in New York City, just as an outreach in that city. She didn’t live there.

Vicki: Right.

Nancy: But somehow . . .

Vicki: Actually, the somehow is one of the nannies that we had had for a year. She had worked in our restaurant for a short time, and I was in a nanny-crisis before Billy and I ever separated. I had asked to borrow her.

Her name is Debbie Kirby. And Debbie went on to work for your mom’s ministry in New York City. She’s the one that sent me the dinner invitation to the dinner party. She was the only sane nanny we had, and wonderful with the kids, and I loved her. There was something very different about Debbie.

So when this invitation arrived, it had a little note from Debbie—"I hope you’ll come. It’s going to be a special night." Actually, she had sent me one before, maybe six months before, and I had accepted and completely forgotten to go. I mean it was just one of those things where you’ll have a day and you don’t look at your calendar, and there’s like this little nagging thought. Well, it was that dinner.

Debbie called me the next day, and I thought she’s going to be so mad at me. I didn’t go to the dinner party. She was so kind about it. That really was different than most people were about anything in New York City in those days. Just to put a year to it, it was 1987. It was November 1987.

I accepted the invitation. I remembered and went. It was the night my life completely changed. Donald and Barbara Hodel shared that night something that in all my years in church and all my Bible memorizing and everything that I had never learned, and that was that God loved me and had a plan for my life and that He wanted to have a personal relationship with me. He shared that man is sinful and separated from God because of man’s sin.

And I thought, “Well, in spite of the fact of wanting to kill my husband, I haven’t killed him. So I’m really not a sinner.” But they explained that night that sin was anything like worry or envy or gossip—things that I completely dabbled in all the time.

So the first thing they said was God loved me and had a plan for my life, but that I was separated from God because of the sin in my life. But the good news was that God sent his only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the penalty for my sin, that if I placed my faith in Him, that I would spend all eternity in heaven and all my sin would be forgiven.

And the fourth thing they said was they were going to offer us an opportunity to pray and ask Jesus Christ into our life. All this was in a black-tie dinner party in a grand ballroom in a hotel in New York City, and there were 900 people there. It was as if God spoke directly to me.

Parts of the Hodel story matched my life. They had a son who was also addicted to cocaine, and they shared all sorts of things that I could completely relate to. But the thing that I understood the most that night, somewhat, but not fully was that I wanted and needed Jesus Christ.

I prayed with them, when they offered the opportunity, and asked Jesus Christ to take over my life and asked Him to make me be the person that He created me to be.

Nancy: Of course, at that point, you had probably no idea of how significant a transformation was taking place in your life.

Vicki: I had no idea. But I do know that they also invited anyone that wanted to come to Bible study the following week. I felt like there was a 50-ton magnet drawing me. I wanted to go so badly. I had thought about studying the Bible in my life. It had just never presented itself, thankfully, because I would have ended up in a Jewish Torah study, not in a real Bible study.

I had always had a curiosity. So the following Wednesday night, I was at The Ministry House in New York City, ready to study the Bible.

Nancy: And that hunger for the Word, that’s an evidence of . . . you know, newborn babies want milk. It’s hungry.

Vicki: Right. And it clearly wasn’t for me. It was clearly the Lord drawing me to Himself and to His Word, which is how . . . the only way to know Him is through His Word. I remember John Rossi teaching just three basic classes at the beginning of getting there. And I just ate every word.

I remember the first story he told about a month before there had been flooding on 73rd Street in New York City where the house was, and all the houses on the street had been flooded on the basement but not this particular house . . .

Nancy: Where the ministry was . . .

Vicki: Where the ministry was meeting. God had honored their ministry work and their prayer. I believed that so thoroughly that night as a brand, brand new believer. I could not get to Bible study fast enough every Wednesday night.

God gave me an insatiable hunger right at the beginning for His Word. I’m thankful that He’s continued that in my life until today. Because that’s given me the foundation and the basis to work through the next part of the story with Billy.

Nancy: And you started reading the Word with your children.

Vicki: Well, Debbie, who had invited me to the dinner, gave me the book called Leading Little Ones to God.

Nancy: Do you know that that is the book that our parents were reading in our family devotions when I trusted Christ in 1963.

Vicki: I did not know that.

Nancy: Yes. It was new then, and they were giving it to everybody they knew. We’ve recommended it to our Revive Our Hearts listeners, but it’s a great little tool.

Vicki: Not only was it a great tool for my children, but it was a great tool for me. I was a brand new believer. I really didn’t understand what I was.

Nancy: It’s basic Bible doctrine. It takes you through the Scripture.

Vicki: My children by then were three-and-a-half and almost six. And I started reading it to them at breakfast. My first reason was yes, I wanted to share it with them. But second of all, the mornings were so chaotic.

I was getting dressed for work, and Courtney and Douglas were getting dressed for school. And Courtney was one of those children who you put the first sock on the right foot and it would itch and kind of feel funny. It was a bad sock. So we’d go through maybe three pairs of socks before getting dressed. So getting dressed was quite a . . .

Nancy: It was a trial.

Vicki: It was a chore. So I started reading this just to get them to the breakfast table and to get their focus and to have things calm. I learned with them about Jesus Christ and what he had done for us and that we were His.

One morning Douglas said, “Mom, we should pray for Daddy.” Because reading Leading Little Ones to God you’d read a Bible story and then there would be a part to pray.

And he said, “We should pray for Daddy to know Jesus.”

Nancy: And keep in mind Billy was out of the home, had been gone for . . .

Vicki: Almost two years by now, maybe a little more.

Nancy: And was a mess, was living with a woman, cocaine-addicted . . .

Vicki: Right, all of the above. And Douglas, six years old, said, “Mommy, we need to pray for Daddy to come to know Jesus.”

Well, in my head, I thought, “Pray for this guy? Let’s just kill him. I don’t want to pray for him.” I didn’t want to present Billy to the kids in a negative way. I said to Douglas, “You’re right. We do need to pray for Daddy.”

So we did. We started to pray every morning at breakfast that Daddy would come to know Jesus as his Savior. Every night before bed we started to pray, the children, that Daddy would come to know Jesus.

And the church we worshipped at, during the prayer time, we formed small groups, pulled our chairs together to pray for each other. And my prayer request every Sunday was that Billy Rose would come to know Jesus.

Nancy: So every day now you’re praying with your children. And when we pick back up with your story on our next program, we’ll share how Billy finally did come to faith in Christ. But in the mean time, God was really working in your own heart.

Vicki: I started praying with the children daily that their Daddy would come to know Jesus. And I was so angry, Nancy. I was so angry and so hurt and so blame-oriented. In my mind, everything was Billy’s fault. Everything that went wrong at home—everything was his fault.

He had destroyed our family. It was all him. So I started to ask—I had started to read the Bible. I would read at my lunch hour at Macy’s, and I had read that I was supposed to forgive.

Peter has this conversation with Jesus about forgiving. Peter says, “Should I forgive seven times?” And Jesus said, “No, seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22, paraphrased), which I was led to understand meant continually. Pray to forgive continually.

I thought, “How am I ever going to forgive all this? I don’t even want to forgive.” But I really had come to a place of not wanting to do things my own way anymore in my own life. So I started to ask God that He would cause my heart to desire to forgive and to forgive.

And He did start to soften my heart. Several other things led up to that, one of which was there was a singles and dating seminar offered at the ministry where I was going to Bible study. I signed up really fast. I thought okay, here I am. I’m a new believer in Christ. I’m a Christian, and I want to find out how to best date.

I desperately wanted a husband still. Now I wanted a godly man to help raise the children because being a single mom is just, I think, the hardest, heart-wrenching job there is. There’s definitely need for two people to raise children. There’s always something missing. And children need a father and a mother. They need both people.

And doing it by myself, I would cry some nights reading Laura Ingalls Wilder to Courtney just because I was so tired and so angry that I was trying to do this all by myself. I would cry from exhaustion.

So I signed up for the singles and dating seminar to learn the biblical way to start dating as a new Christian. And it was kind of a disappointing day, because what I learned was that in God’s eyes, I was still married, because Billy and I weren’t divorced yet and we weren’t even legally separated.

So therefore, in God’s eyes, I was still fully married to this man who was living two blocks away in an apartment with another woman. And therefore, I was not eligible to date anyone of any kind.

And, oh my goodness, that was a rude awakening for me, because I did not want any part of my marriage restored. I wanted no part of being back with Billy Rose. I could not imagine going back into the craziness and the chaos of that relationship. And I couldn’t believe that I could not meet someone else.

Nancy: So your heart was now turning toward the Lord, Christ had come to live in you, He had made you a new person . . .

Vicki: Right.

Nancy: He was starting to change you, starting to change your values. You were wanting to do it His way. You were getting the Word into you. But there was still a whole lot of remodeling, rebuilding, remaking, restoring. And when God started to touch on this area of your marriage, you weren’t sure that this was something you really wanted to see God restore.

Vicki: Absolutely. I did not want God to restore it. Although I really wanted to do what God’s Word said. The first step of that for me was to say, “Okay, I won’t date and I will wait and see. I will just do that, because I know God is saying that right now because I’m still married.” That was the first step.

And the second step was to say, “I will pray. I will pray for this man to come to know Christ.” So I was at that place of really wanting to seek His kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33). That’s the verse that God had given me to follow.

And so if that meant not dating, if it meant praying and asking Him to teach me how to forgive—then that’s where I was at that point.

Nancy: We’ve got to cut in here, and we want to pick up this story on the next ReviveOur Hearts, and I know you’ll want to join us. And you’re going to see that as God was changing Vicki little by little, God had a purpose and a plan for this marriage and for these lives greater and grander than anything, Vicki, that you could have imagined at that point.

And I just want to say to a listener, you may not be able to imagine right now that God could bring anything good out of the chaos and craziness of what you’re living with in your marriage or in your home or some other circumstance, but God—He is a redeeming God who delights in mercy, who delights in making all things new.

And I just want to encourage you to at least come to that point that Vicki did where she began to say, “Lord, I want Your will more than my own, and I’m willing to pray that You will have Your way in this situation.” To pray for her husband that she wanted to kill—but to pray for him.

And as she began to pray, God began to change her heart. God will change your heart as you come to that point of surrender to the will of God and pray and say, “Lord, what do You want to do in me? What do You want to do in this situation?”

Leslie: If you’re praying that way, don’t give up. We’ll hear what God did in the marriage of Vicki and Billy the rest of this week. Today’s program brought up some tricky questions about forgiveness.

  • Can you forgive someone even if they haven’t asked for forgiveness?
  • What if you don’t feel like forgiving?
  • Does offering forgiveness still count?
  • What if someone is still in blatant sin? Should you forgive?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss has addressed these questions in a helpful book called Choosing Forgiveness: Your Journey To Freedom.

Everybody deals with this topic since everybody is in some kind of relationship, but not everyone deals with forgiveness in a biblical way. Nancy will show you why forgiveness is so important as she takes you through a process of completely wiping the slate clean. She asks you to get honest about the hurt others have caused and helps you heal from those offenses.

This week when you support Revive Our Hearts with a donation of any amount, we’ll send you the hard cover edition of Choosing Forgiveness: Your Journey to Freedom.

Just visit ReviveOurHeartsRadio.com or ask for Choosing Forgiveness when you donate by phone. The number is 1-800-569-5959.

Today we heard that Vicki Rose started attending a singles and dating class at church, but when the leader of the class told her to divorce her husband, Vicki was confused. It seemed to contradict the Bible. Find out what happened next tomorrow on Revive OurHearts.

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

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.

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