by Mark H. Hunter
(Editor’s note – This story was compiled from a podcast testimony Rea Lolley gave at a Healing Place Church New Beginnings program and also from an interview at the Lolley home.)
At first glance, the marriage of Keith “Bo” and Rea Lolley is a picture of success. They recently celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, and renewed their vows in a service at their church, Healing Place. They live in a nice home on a nice piece of land near Gonzales. They drive nice vehicles, they both have good jobs and they’ve raised two beautiful, educated daughters. She is small in stature but has a big personality; enthusiastic, outgoing, always wears a bright smile and talkative. He is big and tall; college linebacker-sized, and quiet. “The strong, silent type,” she says with a laugh, and he nods his head in agreement. They’re both 52-years-old and are active members of HPC where she serves in the infant nursery and he’s on the security detail. Just about every time the church doors are open they are there. But for a long time, that wasn’t the case. “I’m a recovering crack addict,” Rea says with a straight face, then reads from Hebrews 10:22, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” “I feel like I’ve been washed since November 2002 when I became sober,” she said. They both grew up in the Baton Rouge area, she was Catholic and attended Catholic schools and he was a Baptist and attended public schools. They both partied as teenagers and only got wilder as they grew older. “I wanted to be loud with loud people and started drinking and using drugs in high school,” Rea said. “He was into fast cars and fast women.” Rea said she flunked out of nursing school, but discovered she had a gift for cutting hair and snipped her way into owning a very successful salon. “This guy came in to get a hair cut – and he talked about staying up all night and I thought – that’s my kind of man and I want to do some of his drugs,” Rea said. “That’s how we got started. For a long time we did drugs together and we drank – and it was fun.” They got married in 1999, worked hard, built a new home and – began smoking crack. “We were making a lot of money and spending all of it,” she said. They had a baby girl, Dara, now 21, and then another baby girl, Dena, now 18, but they kept on using and spending until they lost their house.
“We had two precious kids and, of course, we didn’t have Jesus,” Rea said. “I’d get so high I couldn’t go to sleep for days and I’d pray please God let me go to sleep.” “Then I couldn’t show up to work all the time so I just quit,” she said. “Then his business fell apart. We looked crazy and we were crazy. I’d stay gone for days.” She tried different treatment programs but none of them worked. One time she was on such a drug binge she wandered the dark streets of Glen Oaks in north Baton Rouge, all alone, smoking cigarette stubs she found in the gutter. After another 11-day binge, Bo had enough. “I finally had to put her out – I think that was one of her wake-up times,” Bo said. “I quit doing the things we were doing and we separated.” He kept the girls, who were 5 and 7 at the time, and they lived in a mobile home his parents let him use on their property. Rea lived in Baton Rouge. “It was horrible,” he said. “I got the kids ready and took them to school and went to work all day and came home in the evening – you just began to deal with it.” As he straightened out – both chemically and spiritually – Bo sought the Lord and prayed often for his absent wife. “Thank God she finally realized where she was in her life because I really think she would have ended up dead the way she was going,” he said sadly. “It was that bad.” Rea went to an outpatient treatment program where a counselor told her she would never be successful until she got God in her life. Then her sister invited them to Istrouma Baptist Church. “When we were separated life was so difficult – it wasn’t supposed to be that hard,” Bo said. “When I started listening to what God was saying in His word it actually became simple.” The girls got involved in an AWANA youth program, (Approved Workers Are Not Ashamed, II Timothy 2:15), and they both went forward one Sunday to dedicate their lives to God and Rea got baptized.“November 11, 2002, is my sobriety date,” Rea said with a big smile. Two years later she and the girls went on an Istrouma mission trip to a reservation in New Mexico. “We were in the church van, I just started laughing,” Rea says with joy in her voice. “There I am, two years sober, I can’t quote anything out of the Bible and I was in charge of putting on a Vacation Bible School. “It was so profound because I realized God could use me in spite of everything I had done – I was finally being obedient and being the person God made me to be,” she said. They began attending Healing Place and got deeply involved. She volunteers in the infant nursery because “I love the babies,” she said. She drives a school bus during the week because “I love the kids and they love me.” So their advice to BRCL readers on how to keep a marriage and family together after what they’ve been through? The same advice they received years ago from a godly HPC woman named “Mimi” who is now in Heaven, Rea said. “In the words of Mimi – every time the church doors are open – you need to be there – you need to participate,” Rea said. “There is always hope – no matter how far down you go or how far away you go there is hope, but you have to have that hope in Jesus.” And, Bo adds, “We’re very blessed.”