Forgiveness: From This Day Forward
Podcast #45 — Aired October 23, 2014

How can the power of forgiveness change your life? This week on BetterWorldians Radio, we’re talking to Amy and Matt Baumgardner, co-authors of From This Day Forward: A Love Story of Faith, Hope, and Forgiveness. Amy and Matt will discuss how addiction nearly destroyed their marriage and almost took the life of their little girl. They’ll tell listeners how the power of faith, hope, and forgiveness saved their family.

 

 

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Amy & Matt Baumgardner
Co-authors, From This Day Forward: A Love Story of Faith, Hope, and Forgiveness

Amy and Matt Baumgardner are co-authors of From This Day Forward: A Love Story of Faith, Hope, and Forgiveness. From This Day Forward is the story of Amy’s addiction to alcohol, the impact it had on their marriage, and the guilt Amy felt after a drunk driving accident left their 5 year old daughter in critical condition. Amy and Matt share how they weathered the storm of addiction and rebuilt their family and marriage one day at a time.

Episode Transcript

Raymond Hansell
This week on BetterWorldians Radio we're talking with Amy and Matt Baumgardner, co-authors of From This Day Forward: A Love Story of Faith, Hope and Forgiveness. From This Day Forward is the story of Amy's addiction to alcohol, the impact it had on their marriage and the guilt that Amy felt after a drunk driving accident left their five year old daughter in critical condition. Amy and Matt share how they weathered this storm of addiction and rebuilt their family and their marriage one day at a time. Hi Amy and Matt. Thanks so much for joining us today on BetterWorldians Radio. Welcome aboard.

Amy Baumgardner
Hi. Thank you for having us.

Matt Baumgardner
Hi, how are you doing? It's good to be here.

Raymond Hansell
You're very welcome. For both of you, welcome. Let me start out by telling our listeners a little bit about the early days of your relationship. Tell us a little bit about how that was all about.

Amy Baumgardner
Sure, well Matt and I, we were not high school sweethearts, but we knew each other since the eighth grade and we grew up as friends and eventually that friendship turned into something greater. It turned into love. We got married and we started a family. Our relationship was very vibrant. It was fun. We were very charismatic as a couple, so as you can imagine, our social network and our social environment was the same. It was very fun. It was very charismatic and in that was a lot of alcohol, and us being young, 22 when we met, 28 when we got married, we kind of allowed alcohol to play a very prominent role in our relationship and in our marriage until eventually as you read in the book it kind of took a life of its own. But in the beginning, we were happy. We were content as partners with each other in life, and when something like alcohol grabs ahold of your relationship, nobody is safe really. That's kind of what happened with us.

Raymond Hansell
So it seemed innocent enough in the beginning but then some things started to really begin to have the warning signals, begin to appear. What were some of the warning signs from your point of view that you might have missed looking back?

Amy Baumgardner
From my point of view, my whole outlook on drinking changed and my drinking pattern changed. There's always a reason to drink in my house anyway. There's laundry. The laundry is piling up. The kids are acting up. The bills need paid. But, for an alcoholic there's those reasons and then some. I started drinking in the morning when I woke up where I started out as a social drinker. When my marriage started to get rocky with Matt, I was an emotional drinker, and then once the alcoholism fully took over, I was an every occurrence drinker. So one of the main things that happened with me in my life that I didn't pay attention to is the pattern and why I was drinking, how much I was drinking and when I was drinking.

Raymond Hansell
And Matt, how about you, did you see some signs looking back you missed along the way?

Matt Baumgardner
Absolutely. I mean, you don't notice them when you're going through it, but having time to reflect, I mean, it's just things that obviously the amount. That's the first and foremost. Going from times where we would go out to lunch or whatever and have a few drinks with our lunch to the point when lunch turned into an all afternoon and evening thing with shots at the end and things like that. Really I guess the one big thing looking back now is changing our friends that we hung out with. That was a real big sign. People that we used to be around and hang out with which we now consider solid people, we did less and less of that hanging out with them and our social circle started to change into people that alcohol also that drinking was just the main part of their day. The type of people that can't wait to get off work to get to that bar stool and close the bar down at two a.m. and do it all over again the next day. Slowly by slowly, our friends that we used to hang out kind of stopped bothering with us and we latched onto a different group which obviously didn't help the situation, so that was really a big one looking back also I think, looking around who you are hanging out with changing.

Raymond Hansell
Right.

Amy Baumgardner
And let me point out that I was oblivious to the change happening around me. I think this is true for any disease or affliction. You just can't see what's going on around you as clearly as someone as an outsider would.

Raymond Hansell
So the pivotal moment in the story as we read it was obviously the car accident, Amy. Can you tell us a little bit about what happened there?

Amy Baumgardner
Sure. As I said in the book, I give stories on just how bad our marriage had gotten and I was a mother and a wife who was depressed and who was discouraged about the future of my marriage and my life. I took solace in booze. Matt and I had gotten into yet another argument about nothing and I needed to get out of the house and just get away and clear my head. My mom had called and said hey, let's take the kids ice-skating. Matt was equally as frustrated and thought okay, she's going to be with her mom so things will be fine. Well before I had gotten there, I had stopped at the store and I got little airplane bottles of liquor so that too, I went from only drinking beer to now I'm hiding little airplane bottles of liquor in my purse just to get me through the day. I had bought a couple of them. I drank some beers. I was also taking a prescription Klonopin for my depression which clearly says you shouldn't drink on it, and I did. I blacked out behind the wheel. I was going 60 miles per hour. I hit a tree and my five and seven year old were in the backseat. I don't remember the specifics. It's all very hazy. I do talk about the day and me coming too at the accident scene in the book. It was very pivotal for me because it was then that I could see myself through my husband's eyes, my daughter's eyes, my son's eyes and realize that I wasn't being the person God intended me to be and I certainly wasn't being the person that Matt had hoped that I would be for his children and as his wife.

Raymond Hansell
What was that day like for you and also the days that followed that accident?

Matt Baumgardner
Well the accident, I mean, we had been having issues and the drinking was getting progressively worse over the previous two years and we have had many screaming matches about stopping the drinking. There were some other times when police had to be called and things like that, so it got to this point where I was so frustrated and by this time I was not allowing her to have the kids by herself in the car. However that day, her mother for a Christmas present had gotten kids skates and whatnot and her mom was going to go and her brother and her sister-in-law so I figured alright, she's going to be with family so I went and did some work. I was finishing my master's degree so I went to do some work there. That afternoon, a Sunday, I got a phone call from a number I didn't recognize. I answered it anyway and it was a lady who seemed very frantic on the other end asking me my name, and basically saying she lived across the street and she believes my family has been in a very serious car accident. Obviously, I didn't know what to do. She told me where the accident was and I started about a ten minute drive. So I get there. I don't know how bad it is. She's telling me they might have to bring the helicopter in. She's telling me its not good. I got to the accident scene and there's emergency vehicles everywhere. I get to the top of the hill and I see the car. I could tell it was the color of our car but you couldn't even recognize it was a car. The whole front was I mean it was bad. I had gotten there just as they had put my kids in the one ambulance and Amy was being wheeled to the other. I saw Amy. We kind of made eye contact. She didn't say a word and she had some kind of look on her face, a kind of panicked look obviously but there was something that she didn't really reach out happy that I was there. Something was off. The whole ambulance ride I'm with the kids in the ambulance. I'm thinking how did this happen. Was it a deer jumped out? I'm going through applying all these scenarios of did another car run her off the road. Did a tire blow? I'm thinking there's no way this could be alcohol related. She was with her family. Fast forward, we get to the hospital. They're very concerned about my daughter. She has a lot of internal injuries. They can't get the bleeding stopped and they don't know if they're going to be able to so we're very concerned about her. Once they decided to transfer her to a children's hospital, a state trooper pulled me aside and started asking me some questions. My wife's name, her date of birth, social security number, whatnot. I figured this was routine. Then at that point, I asked him, I said I feel terrible saying this sir but my wife has had some alcohol issues. Could you check her blood? It was at that time that the trooper told me that's why he was there and that it was alcohol related. Talk about a punch in the gut. It went from me believing that this was some freak accident to absolute hatred and just despise for Amy that she would make that choice to put the kids in the car with the alcohol. So from that point, my mind was made up that this was the last straw. My daughter may not make it and I had to do something from this point on to keep my kids safe. So from that point on, it went from concern about Amy's fate to absolute disgust, hatred and that was that.

Raymond Hansell
Yeah, now Amy, you went into rehab following the accident. Tell our listeners what that experience was like for you.

Amy Baumgardner
When the trooper said to me, your daughter may not make it and we're going to wait and we're going to charge you with vehicular homicide, my mom came to my defense and pleaded for him to not take me to a jail cell, to let me go to a rehab, and it was a saving grace. There's definitely a divine order to things. I think that was one of the ways it was supposed to go for me. I got there out of fear. I went in out of fear and I was reluctant to even still say that I had a drinking problem. I went in there to try and hide from the consequences of my actions, but while I was there, I got much more out of it. I allowed myself to finally accept and recognize that I have a drinking problem. Anybody who puts their own children in the car knowing. There was a moment that I put the key in the ignition and right before I backed out of that parking spot there was just a moment when I thought I am not okay to drive, but then it was gone. It was fleeting.

Raymond Hansell
A little voice spoke to you but you didn't listen to it at that point.

Amy Baumgardner
I didn't listen. There was a whisper. There was absolutely a whisper and I ignored it.

Raymond Hansell
Now you two as you came through that whole rehab period, I'd like to before we go to the break have Amy and Matt just comment about you became pregnant after the accident when you came back from rehab and in the book it seems that your baby girl, Hadley Faith, who we have met by the way, very beautiful little girl, as is Madison, the girl who was also in the car, she had a big role, this newborn baby bringing the two of you back together. Can you talk about how you go about rebuilding a relationship that's that far gone?

Amy Baumgardner
Well for me, Matt had gone to a divorce lawyer and he can speak to that. He was ashamed and embarrassed to even tell his parents that I was pregnant. For me, now I have this new life and I was looking at it as this is my second chance. I wasn't even really seeing the grander picture of living in the grace. I was just saying okay this child inside me needs me to be strong and I need to move forward and I'm either going to do that with Matt or without Matt. I'd rather do it with him but he's telling me that all bets are off and he's going to a divorce lawyer. So the miracle of Hadley is we had gone seven years with really not trying to have another baby. And I had gone to the doctor and I've had some procedures done and I was told by my physician that it would be difficult for me to conceive again. Then all of a sudden one time at the exact time after I get out of rehab and my life is in shambles I get pregnant, so Matt and I definitely view Hadley as a miracle.

Raymond Hansell
Yeah, it sounds like a miracle. We're going to take a short break right now but we'll talk more with Amy, Matt and our cohost MarySue when we come back about this miracle and the comeback that they have gone through, which is really a wonderful story. In the meantime, I'd like to tell you a little bit about our kickstarter campaign that's now funding at ABetterWorld.com/kickstarter. A Better World for Kids let's kids have fun and make a difference through good deeds and positive thinking both in the online virtual world game and in the real world. Additionally A Better World for Kids has promised to pledge 10% of its post-campaign net profits to charities that help children, so if you get a chance, please check out ABetterWorld.com/kickstarter to learn more and to help us fund a better world for kids. We'll be right back. (Music)

Raymond Hansell
You're listening to BetterWorldians Radio, and now we're speaking with Amy and Matt Baumgardner, co-authors of the book From This Day Forward. And now, let's welcome back Amy, Matt and MarySue.

MarySue Hansell
Hi Amy and Matt.

Matt Baumgardner
Hello.

Amy Baumgardner
Hi MarySue.

MarySue Hansell
We were talking a little bit before the break about how you rebuilt your relationship after that terrible accident. Matt, can you tell us how you were feeling as Amy came back into your life after the rehab?

Matt Baumgardner
Well her being gone for approximately a month in rehab, I had gone to a divorce lawyer. I had sat in her office. I had gone through, I mean I felt great being there like this is finally what I need to do to protect my children. It felt right. After we got through all the paperwork and everything, she looked at me and said "Do you want to think about this? How about you think about this just to make sure? If you decide it's absolutely, just give me a phone call and I will put the paperwork through." That was the deal. I went home and I prepared for life without Amy, to be a single dad. I was starting to think about the future with my kids and how I was going to provide for them and this and that. When Amy finally came home from rehab, we were living in the same house but it was very cold. She came in, I went out. We didn't speak. This had gone on for a while like this. For some reason I didn't make that phone call.

MarySue Hansell
Well Matt, what melted your heart? What changed your mind?

Matt Baumgardner
After a while of this of just the coldness in the house, I started to come home and see changes in Amy, things that she used to do before the drinking, the person I fell in love with, doing things simply like rolling around on the floor and tickling the kids. That had stopped during the drinking. Making a nice meal for the family. That had stopped during the drinking. Taking care of herself as far as she used to run and be in the gym and that had stopped and she had put on a lot of weight from the drinking and things like that. Well now she's out running again so that was something. But the little things she did something each day that maybe I can't put my finger on but it was something that she took a step in the right direction to gain my trust little by little by little and each day I didn't make that phone call.

MarySue Hansell
Oh that's wonderful.

Matt Baumgardner
Each day I didn't make that phone call to the point when eventually I didn't want to make that phone call months later.

MarySue Hansell
I'm sure our listeners are really wondering about your daughter, Madison, since you mentioned she was severely injured in that accident. How is Madison today? Let everyone know.

Amy Baumgardner
Madison is great. She is a thriving ten year old. What I find so amazing is one of the reasons really how we met, MarySue. She does the acting. She does movies and theatre. She does a local theatre company here and when she was asked to be on your kickstarter for BetterWorldians, that's how we met. As you can see, you know her, you've met her, she's wonderful.

MarySue Hansell
She's a beautiful, very talented little girl and doesn't look like anything ever happened to her. She's a vibrant, sweet little girl.

Matt Baumgardner
She's very forgiving. She knows exactly. We're very honest with our kids. Her and our oldest son were both in the car. They both know what happened. They know why. They know it was alcohol related. However, the stuff that Amy has done to improve her life and our family life, because by Amy fixing things, it motivated me to be a better father also because I had to keep up with what she was doing. So in the end, she's an inspiration to me with just getting her life in order and again that helps me be a better father and want to be there for her and the kids are the ones who benefit.

Amy Baumgardner
Right.

Matt Baumgardner
She's very forgiving and the kids are very proud of their mother and the work that she's put in.

Amy Baumgardner
One of the things that we like to point out is just as there's a ripple effect to the negatives associated with drinking, alcoholism, addiction of any form, there's a ripple effect with the positive as well.

MarySue Hansell
That's great. Speaking of positive, I read in the book that you began keeping a gratitude journal after the accident. Why did you start the journal? What made you start it and tell us some of the things you wrote in there?

Amy Baumgardner
Sure. I wanted to kind of re-establish myself with my kids and spend quality time with them, just listening to them and reassuring them that I'm not going to hurt them again. There's no better way I knew to do that than to just be vulnerable and allow us to share what we're grateful for. It didn't matter what. Madison and I, and Gavin too, but it was more so with Madison would sit in my bed every night and we'd open up each of our journals and she would say "Okay, what should I write?" I said anything. She would write silly things. I'm grateful today that it didn't rain. I'm grateful today that my show came on at the time I wanted to watch it. Little things, silly things and then we would talk about them. Now I would write things like I'm grateful that everyone survived. I'm grateful for this moment right now. I'm grateful that I've gotten a second chance, a do-over. I mean mine were much deeper but hers were silly and that's how she and I began to reconnect. She had already forgiven me for the accident. She forgave me the first time I saw her when I was leaving to go to rehab at her hospital bed she said "Mommy, don't worry. I forgive you." My heart sank. How did she know that I needed that at that moment?

MarySue Hansell
Matt, I also read in the book that you really looked forward to seeing Amy writing in that journal and it really meant a lot to you to see her doing that with Madison. Why did that mean so much?

Matt Baumgardner
It goes back to the little things, the person, my bride, the woman that I fell in love with had disappeared for three years and she was unrecognizable and these are the types of things with the journal writing that I married her for, that I knew she was this type of person and she always had been until this rough patch. So just seeing her spending the time with Madison when that time not so in the distant past used to be leave me alone. I'm drinking my beer or I'm not even in the house. So just little things and to me it didn't matter what they were really doing but the fact that they were just spending time with each other just meant so much to me and that's exactly the mother that I want my kids to have.

MarySue Hansell
Amy, what would you tell someone who feels as though their spouse has done something unforgiveable?

Amy Baumgardner
Well, that's a loaded question only because I believe its what your believe is. I believe that everything is forgivable. I'm not suggesting that every marriage is salvageable but everything is absolutely forgivable if you have it in your heart to forgive. You have to be willing. There were times where Matt and I were asking God for the will to be willing. But, you have to be open so my advice to someone who is struggling with forgiving another person for whatever reason is if you are spiritual, meditate on it. Sit on it. If you are religious, pray about it. If you are a talker, talk about it. The only way that Matt and I were able to move forward is doing each one of those things because we're religious, we're spiritual, and we communicated with each other. So you have to start that hard conversation. It's hard for a reason but it works out.

MarySue Hansell
A really hard thing that you did do, and I'm sure listeners want to know from you, how did you find the strength and courage to move forward from your addiction? How did you do it?

Amy Baumgardner
Well addiction and recovery is a personal journey for everyone. Each person has a unique but similar story. What I did, I did all the necessary things. I got a home group. I got a sponsor. I attended meetings regularly and I did those things. I joined a book club and a Bible study and I did those things. But, no one could have prepared me for the amount of work it takes to forgive yourself. That's mental work and that started when I saw Matt coming back and forgiving me and I saw the children already forgiving me. And when my perception started to change on the accident and why that all happened was when I started to forgive myself. I forgive myself now and I know without a shadow of a doubt that it's absolutely the way my life and my journey was supposed to go. I was supposed to have that accident. You know you're forgiven when you can look back on a tragic event and appreciate the experience. You might not like it and it may have hurt but you can appreciate the lesson from the experience. I'm grateful for the accident. I'm grateful that I'm luckily a recovering alcoholic because without those two, I couldn't be the person that I am now. As cliché as that may sound, it's the God's honest truth. I love who I am now. I'm exactly the woman I was intended to be but I had to go through the mud and the dirt and the yuck to get to this place.

MarySue Hansell
You talked a lot about that when you were on Oprah's life class. How did you get to get on Oprah's life class and what happened there?

Amy Baumgardner
Again a natural order to things. I was blogging. I just was searching for the answers newly in recovery. I didn't understand what alcoholism was. I didn't understand why I had this cross to bear. I was very resentful so I just started reading books and blogging. I came across Oprah's website at my mother's suggestion and there was a spot on there that said share your story with us and I just started writing and then I got a rejection letter saying in 1,500 characters or less, share your story. So I shortened it and I just said I'm shackled to this guilt. Then I went from there. Actually the producers called me and they said "Wow, that's such a strong and profound phrase. I'm shackled to this." I said yes, here's why. They said "That will do it." It went from there. They invited me to New York to Oprah's life class taping and I was grateful for the experience. I left there feeling grateful. Then they called me about two or three weeks later and said we'd like you to actually come on the show. That's how that happened.

MarySue Hansell
So tell everyone about what happened on the show. I guess they'd be really interested to know who were you on there with? How long did it go and what happened there?

Amy Baumgardner
So Matt and I both flew out to Chicago and we were on with Iyanla Vanzant who is a very controversial and dynamic life coach in her own right. She's like a no-holds bar, tells it like it is kind of girl. As luck would have it, it's just exactly what my ego needed at that exact moment. There's even a segment where she's pulling the back of my hair and telling my ego to shut up.

MarySue Hansell
I had to laugh at that one.

Amy Baumgardner
I mean, yeah. I have to admit I was like no, this woman did not, but it is exactly what I needed to hear. And then she said something and I'll never forget it. She said "Give yourself permission to be okay. Tell yourself its okay to move forward." Because I was the only one still living in the past. Everybody else at that point who was relevant in my life had forgiven me; my husband, my children, my parents. I was the one beating myself up. My disease was telling me and my ego was telling me don't you ever forget what you did. You're a lousy mother and a drunk. Nobody else was saying that to me. I was saying that to me.

MarySue Hansell
I love when she told you I'm a story interrupter.

Amy Baumgardner
Yeah because she's right because we get stuck in our stories. Look, that day, January 10, 2010 could have gone a whole other direction, but there's a natural order to things. There's a divine purpose in everything. My story went my way because I believe that God only gives us what we know we can handle. Not everybody believes that and that's fine, but he gave me this cross of addiction to bear because he knew I could carry it and show other people how to get through it as well. So going on Oprah and having that national platform to kind of share my truth and be very vulnerable opened up this outlet to be here with you guys, to write a book and show other women and men, those sick and suffering that hey, guess what, I'm not fine either.

MarySue Hansell
How did the book come about? What inspired you to do it?

Amy Baumgardner
Well the first couple days in rehab, I mean you are just -- it's indescribable the mixed emotions coursing through your body. I was grabbing anything. I didn't know what my future was going to look like. I didn't know if I was going to prison. I contemplated suicide if my daughter died. I didn't know when the cops were coming. Nothing. You're in limbo 100% so I was just grabbing anything that I could get my hands on, particularly stories of women who were drinkers who had caused some kind of harm to their children. I was searching for hope is what I was doing and I couldn't find it. So I thought if this works out for me, I mean there was a spiritual awakening. I talk about it in the book and they're different for everybody that I had while in rehab and it was that moment that I said that is it. If I make it through this, I got up, if I make it through this I need to be the light and show others how they can be down but they can stand back up however that looks. I had no idea how it was going to manifest itself. When I went to Oprah, we were sitting after the taping she came back to the green room where Matt and I were and she was just like girl, you have to write this down. She said it just as plain as day as that.

MarySue Hansell
Oh, so she encouraged you to write the book?

Amy Baumgardner
She did.

Matt Baumgardner
Yeah, she came back after the show and her and Iyanla Vanzant came back and the four of us were there for about ten minutes in the dressing room just chit-chatting. Where's a good place to go to lunch and all that in Chicago and some of her favorite restaurants. With that came the story you guys have really needs to be written. Amy had already been journaling and writing a lot but maybe that was just, we joke about, that was just the nudge she needed. When Oprah tells you to write a book, you write a book.

Amy Baumgardner
You write a book.

MarySue Hansell
That's great.

Amy Baumgardner
Whether she connected knowledge that she played a part in that or not, like I'm sure she'll -- we said this to her before and she just like oh I did. I don't even remember what I said. That's fine, but that's how you inspire people. There's something you say is going to inspire somebody and that's true inspiration. You don't even realize it. You don't even know you're doing it. That's the miracle.

Raymond Hansell
This is an inspiration to all of us. I'm sure our listeners want to hear more. We're going to be taking another short break and when we come back, we'll learn more about Amy and Matt's story and about the book in more detail. As a reminder before we go to break, I just want to mention again that we're funding currently at ABetterWorld.com/kickstarter so if you have an opportunity, please check out our video and our landing page at ABetterWorld.com/kickstarter. We are promising to pledge 10% of our post-campaign net profits to charities that help kids specifically. In the meantime, we'll be right back. (Music)

Raymond Hansell
We're back now with Amy and Matt Baumgardner, coauthors of From This Day Forward.

Gregory Hansell
Hi Amy and Matt, this is Greg.

Amy Baumgardner
Hi Greg.

Matt Baumgardner
Hi Greg.

Gregory Hansell
Hey, so I know you started a non-profit called Forgive to help families having trouble completing inpatient drug and alcohol treatment due to financial hardships actually finish treatments. Can you guys tell me a bit about that?

Matt Baumgardner
Yeah, sure. Yeah so we're looking for we've been so fortunate that things went the way they have. One of the things that Amy and myself have agreed upon is that her opportunity to go to an inpatient rehabilitation facility and put the time in needed was pivotal, her having that opportunity for her recovery and for things to go forward. We also know that many times, health insurance, people don't have the financial means to stay the entire time. Medical experts usually say you need between 30 and 90 days at an inpatient rehab to really have a shot. It's so unfortunate there's so many people out there, on an average cost of about $1,000 a day don't have $30,000 to $90,000 sitting around. Sometimes obviously medical insurance covers a portion or that but what we've found out is that even quality medical insurance a lot of times covers about 15 days. After 15 days, the person obviously needs to come up with the other finances themselves or that's it. So what we wanted to do was we wanted to focus on parents, a situation like ours. For our Forgive Foundation we're going to be looking for mothers or fathers, still married, probably not for long if things don't change, with children, same situation as ours. We are going through help with directors of local treatment facilities are going to with money raised from Forgive will help complete their financial obligation so that mom or dad can stay the recommended 30 to 90 days and have a real chance to keep their family intact. So that's kind of what the slogan is, the Forgive Foundation: Helping Keep Families Intact. We believe that was paramount to Amy being able to be there to us keeping our family intact so we want to pay it forward. A portion of the proceeds from our book go to it. Right now we our lawyers have it and right now we're in the process of making it an official non-profit 501C3 with the IRS so that's just taking, the lawyers have it right now.

Gregory Hansell
That's excellent. Congratulations.

Amy Baumgardner
But anyone can feel free to go to our website, For/give.org and there is a donate button if they feel they want to.

Gregory Hansell
It's amazing. I don't think that people realize the expense and the importance of really sticking with that kind of program for so many people so I think it's a wonderful organization you guys are starting. Thank you.

Matt Baumgardner
Thanks.

Amy Baumgardner
Thanks. I appreciate that. Well I mean, it's necessary. Regardless of people want to talk about addiction or they don't, I mean there's such a stigma associated with saying I'm an alcoholic. Hi, my name is Amy and I'm an alcoholic. It's just shocking to me the whole system. I mean let's face it. There's an awareness day for every other inflection under the sun but if somebody says I'm an alcoholic, then it's almost like you're shunned. You're ostracized. So what we really want to do is show people that it's okay whether you believe it's a disease or not. It is not my responsibility to convince people that addiction is an illness. It's my responsibility to show you that I have a solution and the solution is treatment. That's from a clinical, medical professional.

Gregory Hansell
Well let me ask you, what else do you feel like you've learned about addiction from your experience?

Matt Baumgardner
As far as I'll admit when Amy was drinking and I'm coming home and screaming at her for being drunk again and not showing up where she's supposed to and not coming home at night, I let my anger get the best of me. The whole time I'm thinking she's choosing alcohol over me. She's choosing alcohol over the kids. So thinking like that infuriated me. One thing I've learned through this whole process, I go to meetings with Amy sometimes just to support her. We speak at different functions and whatnot so I've gotten a lot of the other side. Over these past several years I've changed my thinking and I've realized and learned that alcoholism is a disease. Amy didn't choose to drink over her love for me, or Amy didn't choose to drink over her love for her children. She can't help it. An alcoholic can't help it. For someone who is not an alcoholic, it's hard obviously to wrap your head around that concept. What do you mean you just can't? You just do it. Its easy. You just stop. You just choose not to. For an alcoholic it's not that easy. So as I have learned, I've totally changed my thinking and alcoholism is a disease and it can be treated obviously through the right process, through treatment. That's the big thing. That's what I try to explain to other people when we get in this conversation that these people are not choosing to drink to harm their families and loved ones. They can't help it. They need support. They need to get to a treatment facility.

Gregory Hansell
Well Matt, going back in time, what would you do differently?

Matt Baumgardner
Some of the things that obviously I look back and I kick myself for some of the things. My wife needed me. At the time my wife needed me the most to support her, although how difficult it would be, I abandoned her so many times. Coming into the house, seeing her drinking and instead of staying there and talking with her and trying to reach out to family members to get help, I would leave. I would go out the door and say you know what, she's doing her thing. I'm going to go have fun with my friends. I was embarrassed. I talk about in the book, on my side of the family, all through my aunts and uncles, dozens of couples, there's no divorce. So when this was going through, I was thinking, I was hiding it. I didn't want to ask for help. I didn't want anybody, my friends, my family to know how bad I had let my household become so I didn't talk about it. I didn't ask for help. I felt I could handle it myself. That was a mistake. Again coming home and leaving Amy all the time when I was upset with her. I've talked about well I've come home, my alcoholic wife has been drinking, I scream and yell at her. I get her more upset and then I barge out the door because I'm frustrated. Now I've just left an alcoholic even more upset alone and what do you think she's going to do. Pick up a drink. So those would be the big things as far as asking for help and communicating and being there for your loved one even though the easy decision is just to take off and go the other way. They need you to be there to support them to get through this.

Gregory Hansell
So Amy, I wanted to ask you the steps you've taken to overcome your addiction. Is that an everyday struggle?

Amy Baumgardner
It is an everyday struggle. It's an everyday commitment. Well, struggle is the wrong word because the compulsion has left me. I no longer need to have a drink and I no longer long for a drink. That's not to say I don't have my moments, because I do. I absolutely have my moments where I think wouldn't it be nice or oh I want one, or maybe someday I can have one. I mean I have my moments. But, it's an everyday choice and I definitely in my morning prayers every morning I'm grateful that I'm almost five years sober and at the end of the night I'm grateful that I got through another day, so it's definitely a choice. You're only a victim for so long and then you're a volunteer. So I absolutely would be a volunteer in the breakdown of my marriage and my life if I choose to pick up a drink again but now I know better. What did Maya Angelou say "When you know better, you do better."

Gregory Hansell
Well thank you both for sharing that. I wanted to ask you both together, we only have about two and a half minutes left. I know that you speak at marriage conferences, substance abuse conferences. What's your message to couples who are struggling? What do you want to tell them that are going through this and how do you hope your story can help other couples improve their relationships?

Amy Baumgardner
Well for our story, the whole point of us sharing our story is to help other couples share theirs, to help other people suffering share theirs. Our whole message is faith, hope and forgiveness. You have to have faith. You have to have some stability in your marriage wherever that comes from. For us, it's our faith. You have to have hope that things are going to get better. Things can get better, and then you have to be willing to forgive and move forward.

Raymond Hansell
That is really an amazing story. I really appreciate both of you joining us today and sharing your story with all of our listeners out there. The show is really full of some amazing experiences that you shared with us and it ends in such a positive way. We're really very, very happy for both of you. I want to mention again that it was such an amazing coincidence that when we sought to do this video on our kickstarter that we actually weren't going to cast this on the outside. We were going to use family and friends. It was at our home and actual sweet little Madison showed up as a member cast and there we began this, as you put it, divine purpose that we were brought together and subsequently we were inspired to tell this great story of Amy and Matt's recovery from this and their journey towards restoring their faith in each other and their faith in God as well. Once again, thank you both for joining us here.

Amy Baumgardner
Thank you very much.

Raymond Hansell
You're very, very welcome. For our listeners you can find out more about Amy and Matt Baumgardner and their book From This Day Forward by going to MattandAmyB.com. Join us please next week on our BetterWorldians Radio when we'll be speaking with best-selling author Sarah Bon Brannock. Sarah will talk about her widely popular book, Simple Abundance, and her new children's book, The Best Part of the Day. It's a wonderful book. It's a beautiful story. It's very well illustrated as well. To find out more about our upcoming kickstarter campaign for ABetterWorld.Kids, once again you can go to ABetterWorld.com/kickstarter. As we end our show each week we like to share our BetterWorldians mission once again with our listeners. We're really about making the world a better place by encouraging the best in everyone. Today we heard a story of two people struggling to do just that, and that's what we want to do on a weekly basis. In the process we focus on positive thinking, positive values and positive actions. In short, our vision is to bring out the BetterWorldians in everyone so that we can all make it a better world. Until next time everybody, please, be a BetterWorldians.