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Skeptic Tries Prayer to Save Her Sister

“The worst was absolutely just seeing my mom battered and that's what I lived with is one day I'm going to come home from school and, you know, one of them are going to be dead, or both.”

Growing up with a mom and stepdad who were violently alcoholic was terrifying for Sheila.

“I would wake up and find the house just completely trashed. I would always pick up the glass, or you know, furniture upside down, everything just seemed to be broken. And sometimes there would be blood on the floor and the walls, and a lot of beer bottles and ashes…”

The regular chaos also left Sheila - the middle of three sisters - feeling helpless and insecure.

“Absolutely love and security would be what I needed and wanted and desired.”

After Sheila’s stepdad died when she was 14, her mom started taking her anger out on her.

“When my mom would fight with me, it was mainly just pulling hair, hitting in the face, and biting … and a lot of verbal, emotional - mainly slapping and backhands.”

Even then, she felt sorry for her mom and protected her by lying to school authorities when asked about her bruises.

“I knew she loved me, but I always knew that it was the alcohol. And I just wanted so badly for her to be, you know, free of that.”

But it was the pain no one could see that hurt Sheila the most.

“I wanted to fit in. I never fit in when I was a child. You know, I didn't have a normal life. I don't think I ever felt confident, you know, about being smart, being pretty or being insecure about my body image.”

In high school, she found comfort in food, but that opened the door to bulimia.

“And I realized, you know, I have a hole in my soul and nothing is going to fill that. And so when I was bulimic, you know, for a moment, the comfort of eating a lot of food filled that hole.”

Sheila would struggle with bulimia throughout college and beyond, where she also drank and smoked pot heavily. A few years later, that all stopped when she married and became pregnant with her first of two children.

“I realized, at that moment, literally the hole was filled. And I assumed it was ‘I needed love’ and I had a baby and I always wanted my own baby. My dream of a family was fulfilled. I was a good mom and we had a great marriage and everything was just beautiful and perfect, in my eyes.”

That was easy to believe for a while - until she suspected that her husband was being unfaithful. Sheila was devastated, and years later they divorced.  Before they did, she had a short-lived affair of her own.

“I was seeking love. I was seeking security. I was seeking - looking for somebody that would just allow me to be me.

Two years later, Sheila started seeing another man.  Though still grieving over the divorce, she married him and they went on to have two children.  Her husband was a good man, but Sheila still hadn’t found the level of happiness she thought having a family would bring.  It was during those years, she met a neighbor who often invited her to church.  She went once, but quickly decided it wasn’t for her.

“I looked at people who said they were Christians as being just weak, like they have to believe in something that they can't see in order to make themselves feel better. I almost felt sorry for them because I would think, ‘Wow, they're really messed up to think that there really is, you know, a God that's going to help them.’"

Sheila was about to learn that she also needed god. In 2011, her younger sister, who battled drug addiction, came to live with them. Trying to “fix” her sister, Sheila asked her Christian neighbor, who was also a nurse, for advice. The woman invited them to a revival at her church that night.

“And for her to suggest me bringing her to a service like that and me say, ‘Okay,’ I mean, that had to be God.”

“So this time I prayed, ‘Please, God, take away her addictions,’ and I kept looking at the lights that were hanging in the convention center and I prayed and I prayed …  and the next thing I know, she is in a fetal position on the floor and she's hysterically crying …and the next thing I know, I'm looking up and just weeping uncontrollably saying over and over again, ‘I am so sorry I never knew you.’  And I’m thinking that my little sister is the one who needs help, and I saw myself as such a wicked person who was just cleansed, if you will, and all that yuck plucked out of me and the love just poured back into me.”

Sheila says that night was the beginning of her - and her sister’s - relationship with Christ. It was also the end of her search for love and security.

“I experienced this-this love. Like I felt like somebody had come inside of my body and plucked out every root of pain, of insecurity, of bitterness, of-of everything, and just took – and filled me with com – this love that I had never experienced.”

Sheila felt convicted that night to recommit herself to her marriage.
As she’s studied God’s word in the years since, she continues to grow in the love and lasting security found only in Christ. Now she loves nothing more than to share what she’s found with others.

“I went into that building and he literally cleansed me. And that's when I discovered ‘Oh, that was Jesus I was crying to - that “I'm so sorry I never knew you,”’ because you can't get to the Father unless you go through Christ.”


Sheila Booth Alberstadt and her team are in the process of producing Maggie McNair’s World.  Their mission is for the adventurous Maggie NcNair and her comical bug friends to inspire children to be a "light” in a world that is filled with darkness.  Their hope is to better equip children all over the world with the knowledge of Christ in a fun and visually engaging way, without being “preachy.”  There is an overwhelming need for wholesome, Godly entertainment for children, and they believe that Maggie McNair’s World is going to make a difference. 

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