So many sisters! So many wonderful, beautiful, unique sisters at Sister Nora's Place in Sacramento, California.
There were never such devoted sisters,
All kinds of weather, we stick together
The same in the rain and sun.
Two different faces, but in tight places
We think and we act as one.
No truer words were ever written than those, when it comes to Lizzie and Deborah, two very special residents of Sister Norah's Place. Women who stay behind the doors of this sanctuary can stay for as long as they need. Forever is just fine with Sister Libby who runs Sister Norah's and more, but we'll go into that another day. Right now, I want to share about these two beautiful ladies.
Lizzie married young had kids young and became a heroine addict young. She did many things she wasn't proud of during her addiction, including loosing her three children. Some of those things landed her in prison. Several times. She would have done anything to support her habit. She would have done anything to kick the habit too, but she just didn't have the strength to do it alone.
"I was just plum wore out when I went to prison the last time. It was third strike you're out and I thought I was gonna be behind bars forever. But then a miracle happened."
With California's Proposition 36 - treatment, not jail program - Lizzie was given a final chance at life. Life without drugs, life without fear and life with her children that were adopted out years previously. With tears in her eyes she talks about the reunion with her children after more than 15 years apart. One child has been in prison for 12 of those years, but through perseverance and a lot of hootspah, Lizzie was able to get a special pass to see him.
"I saw my boy again," Lizzie said with tears in her eyes. I never thought I'd see that day, and the good Lord willing I'll hug him again someday too."
Lizzie has been drug free for 5 1/2 years now. That may not seem like a long time to you or I but to Lizzie that's forever and she is rightly proud of all of her hard work. She doesn't take all the credit though.
"It's the Lord Jesus that done it for me. I never coulda done it alone."
Lizzie helps other women at Sister Norah's. She takes them under her wing and loves them back to health the same way other women did for her. She mentors many including her closest friend whom she calls sister, Deborah.
Deborah was 13 when her parents forced her to marry. It was an abusive relationship and carries the proof with her every day. A 7" scar along the side of her head was given as a wedding present. Having been raised in a household where beatings were the norm, Deborah didn't think to call the police, or if she did, she thought better of it, thinking the beating would be worse.
After 3 years of almost daily beatings, she decided to end her marriage. Her husband came home drunk one day and passed out on the bed. Deborah tied him to the bed and beat him with a cast iron skillet until what was left of him was unrecognizable. She then had the first stiff drink she ever had in her life, picked up the phone and called the police.
"I just killed my husband," she told the dispatcher. "Come get me." She sat calmly and waited for the police to arrive. Apparently the scar on Deborah's head wasn't enough proof for the courts that he beat her, and she was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life.
Deborah was released after serving 17 years. Having no family that wanted her, no friends that remembered her and no place for a murderer to go, Deborah turned to the streets. It was in the streets, she turned to drugs.
"They made me forget. Forget that I was unlovable," says Deborah.
Prostitution was what she turned to next. She had to have a way to support her drug habit and it was the only thing she knew she could do.
Somewhere in all of this, she met a man. A man that adored her in spite of her. A man that loved her enough to get her out of hell and give her the life that she so wanted. She married this man and spent the next 12 year in bliss. It was during those years she found God. It was after her husband died, she lost him.
"I didn't want to know nothin. My man I adored and adored me was gone and I had nothin again. I went back out into the streets, to the drugs and to the sex. I didn't care what happened anymore."
It was the love of Lizzie that brought Deborah out pf her self-destruct mode. She came into Mary's house which is a day shelter for women who just want a bit of privacy. Lizzie and Deborah hit it off instantly and with a bit of help from Lizzie and a lot of string pulling and hard work, Deborah was rewarded with a room of her own at Sister Norah's
It is here, through the love of Lizzie that Deborah found God again. She talks of Christ as the only man who loves her more than her husband. She talks of Him as other best friend along with Lizze.
Lizzie and Deborah spend their days knitting, painting, singing, doing each others hair. All the girlie stuff they never got to do before. Although the creative part is fun for them, it means business too. The blankets they knit are all for babies and are donated to local shelters, hospitals, and people who have no money and wouldn't otherwise have them.
The drawings they do often get transferred to t-shirts which are also donated to the Mustard Seed* kids and the clothing closet at Loaves and Fishes.** Deborah's artwork can be seen at the top of this page.
These two women who have been through hell and back live their lives fully now and each day is a wondrous delight for them both. They adore each other and although they may not share the same blood, the same blood runs through their hearts.
there were never such devoted sisters.
* & ** will be written about in the near future, so please stay tuned.