Marty Neal: Blessed Beyond Measure

Marty Neal: Blessed Beyond Measure

Marty Neal is a busy man.  As CORE’s intake specialist at our Branson location, he’s always in his office – dutifully answering phone calls, meeting with clients, and updating important files on his computer screen.  After regular office hours, he teaches classes.  Finding a free hour to talk to Marty is harder than making Will Smith behave at the Oscars!  

Not that he minds.  In fact, Marty thrives on activity.  Recovery has given him a second wind in life, and he doesn’t want to miss out on a single moment.  While at CORE, Marty not only manages the men’s intake house, but he also teaches classes for 12 Step recovery, spirituality, and CSR presenter training.  He’s an EDGE advocate for our younger clients, too, and he’s doing all this in addition to spending eight hours a day at the office.  On top of this, Marty is recently married, and busy putting together a new household with his lovely wife Alyssa.  Whew – just thinking about it all leaves us breathless.

Marty is just hitting his stride, however, and an active schedule suits him just fine.  When finally we were able to corner him, all he wants to talk about are God’s miracles and blessings.  It’s a miracle that he’s even here at CORE, he says, and he’s genuinely grateful for his new life in recovery:

It blows my mind, every day.  Every day is a blessing.  It doesn’t make sense, and I’m still baffled by it, but I shouldn’t even be here.  So I don’t take this for granted.  If God never did another thing for me, this would be enough.  Recovery’s a miracle.  That’s what it is.  

To help the Reader understand where Marty’s coming from, please consider his background.  

Marty ran wild as a kid, first landing in state custody at the age of 13.  He spent the rest of his youth under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, and he missed out on a normal high school experience completely.  There were no “high school proms, class trips, sports, or school dances” for Marty. 

Not surprisingly, as an adult he also got into legal troubles, consisting almost entirely of possession charges.  He’s had so many that you can’t stir them with a stick, and he was never able to string many months of sobriety together.  He spent much of his adult life in custody.  How far gone was he in addiction?   “I once spent four days in ICU,” he says, “I overdosed on fentanyl – practically dead.  I flatlined twice in the ambulance and once at the hospital.”  

Marty was fortunate then, in 2020, when a court granted his conditional release to CORE.  It took a while for him to get here, and Marty gives his probation officer due credit for making this happen.  “My PO is why I’m not locked up again.  When I got out [of jail], she could have violated my parole any time she wanted to.  I asked her, why haven’t you locked me up?  And she said, because I see potential in you; I’m not willing to throw you away again.”  With her encouragement, Marty came to CORE.

With the pandemic raging outside, Marty made progress on his sobriety within our recovery community.  Here he found people who took a daily interest in his welfare, and there was real accountability too.  Whereupon, Marty threw himself into his Big Book studies and committed himself to actual recovery.  Big changes happened almost immediately.  “When I decided to get my heart and my head right, that’s when my circumstances changed,” he tells us.

Accordingly, Marty began accepting additional responsibilities within his recovery house and spoke with newcomers about the 12 Steps.  In time, he began teaching CSR classes for clients.  He was popular with them because he’s authentic; he’s really been there.  (He’s personable and likeable too!)  Whereupon, one day last autumn CORE’s principals inquired whether he might be interested in working for our organization.  Marty didn’t need to be asked twice – he jumped at the opportunity!

So, good things were happening for Marty, but there was still one more big challenge to address: another prior, outstanding possession charge to answer for.  By now, however, Marty was recovered in mind and body.  He was willing to accept life on life’s terms, and he’d lost his fear of today, tomorrow and the hereafter: 

The power of God is amazing.  After all that had happened, what mountain wasn’t He going to move for me?  As long as I kept my heart right and continued to do what He asked me to do, I wasn’t going to worry.  In fact, it would have been a sin for me to worry.  At that point my doubt would have been like calling Him a liar.  Because He’d been faithful, and always would be.

Just last February Marty went to court and was permitted to plead to a lesser charge.  Nobody insisted that he take a rap for possession that would have landed him in jail again.  Thus, as of today, there are no more legal entanglements hanging over his head.

On the personal side, Marty has other good news too.  When he first got to CORE, Marty began regular church attendance here in Branson.  There he met Alyssa who, as of a month ago, is now his wife!  She’s a bona fide believer, Marty tells us.  “I never understood that God might put someone in my life as an instrument of sanctification,” he says, “but that’s what she is.  She prunes me, really.  She’s an absolute blessing.”

Marty readily sees blessings everywhere he looks these days: 

God’s blessed me in every way – my relationships, finances, everything.  I have a career today and love coming to work.  I’m a husband, father, son, and friend, in all the roles I’ve never been.  There’s nothing about my life that’s recognizable from before.  People I know from behind bars and on the streets think I’ve lost my mind when I talk about Jesus or the Steps.  Maybe I have lost my mind.  But I’ve got a new one.  And a new life.

Presently, Marty and Alyssa are busy building their life together as husband and wife.  Domestic life brings new challenges, but Marty looks forward to them.  As to CORE, Marty says “This is where God wants me to be.  I’m thinking I’ll be part of this place for a long time.”