I would like to highlight my childhood best friend Lindsay Holloway in this essay. Lindsay lived a life of drug addiction for 8 years. She was facing 10 years in Federal prison for firearms charges back in 2010. She told herself if God wanted her to do that time in prison, she would serve him wholeheartedly while locked up. On the other hand, if he wanted her to be free, she would serve him and make an impact on her community. Lindsay ended up getting her sentence suspended and given two years federal probation. Since then, she has dedicated her life to making changes in Criminal Justice Reform through the Beacon Center of Tennessee, by sharing her story and encouraging a change in policy. Lindsay saw a gap in reentry services for people coming out of prisons and jails to reenter society successfully. She also partners with Prison Fellowship as an advocacy speaker for Criminal Justice Reform. Lindsay has spoken in jails, prisons, schools, Criminal Justice Symposiums, and was invited to speak in Washington D.C. to share her vision of reducing barriers for those coming out of incarceration. Her drive and dedication to use her public speaking skills to make a difference in our state is nothing short of heroic.
Lindsay has effectively built important relationships in the community to further impact the recovery community, individuals, and families of those still suffering. She founded This Is Living Ministries, a non-profit organization in Cookeville, Tn. This Is Living is a 12-month faith-based residential reentry home for women coming out of Tennessee Department of Corrections. The program disciples’ women and supervises them in the community. TILM teaches women how to live a life of integrity, job skills, making connections in the community to be able to build relationships to eventually sustain their independent living. The opposite of addiction is not being sober, its connection. Lindsay has insight into the recovery world because of her past experiences, criminal history, and her motivation to change her life has made her an expert in navigating resources. She had a troubled past and childhood. Instead of claiming that identity and suffering in it for the long-term, she has used her pain to bring about good. I have seen countless women come out of incarceration with nothing but the clothes on their back and a heavy heart. TILM gives these women an opportunity to seek their identity. 2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.” The very first step to finding and sustaining recovery of any life-controlling issue is to know your identity. After that, an individual may then begin to tackle the lies about themselves they have believed their whole life and begin to change. I have seen women find healing in this program. I have seen women find their place in the workforce, get custody of their children back. I donate and volunteer with TILM, like many others, because Lindsay’s leadership skills have proven to be impactful.
Lindsay and I grew up together and witnessed our dads struggle with addiction. As young adults Lindsay and I also used drugs together. We now serve the Lord together and work in ministry together. She has inspired me to start speaking in our local jail with the Putnam County Jail Ministry over the last couple of years. The first time I went in the jail, I told her I just wanted to observe. We got into the minimum-security pod, and she announces that her best friend (me) is going to share her testimony. I was so nervous and even forgot part of my story and had to ask her for help. That was the first step for me doing the hard stuff, stepping out of my comfort zone, and making a difference. I know in life the only way to grow and improve is to do the uncomfortable stuff, does not mean it is easy, but it is so rewarding. This experience is an example of a great leader and role model. A leader puts people in positions to become leaders themselves. The following year I was put in position of Putnam County Jail Ministry Leader for women through Life Church. Lindsay is known to place people in situations where they can step up and into their calling, and I am so proud of her accomplishments over the years.
Lindsay and I are both Certified Peer Recovery Specialists for the State of Tennessee. Our job description is to inspire hope through sharing our recovery stories and what worked for us. It is a dream job for people like us who for many years of their life thought they would die on the streets homeless or in prison. We now have connections in the community and people come to us for help and advice. I think there is a quote about it is not how you start the race; it is how you finish. I am honored to know Lindsay my whole life and witness first-hand the redeeming love and power of Christ and the life he has for anyone who calls on his name.