Focus on the Family
Search

Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

Basking in God’s Mercies (Part 1 of 3)

Basking in God’s Mercies (Part 1 of 3)

Speaker and author Yvette Maher offers listeners an encouraging reminder about God's grace and mercy as she shares her testimony of coming to faith in Christ as a prodigal who endured a turbulent upbringing as well as the consequences of poor choices made in her younger years. (Part 1 of 3)
Original Air Date: June 11, 2012

Opening:

Teaser:

Jim Daly: There are teenage and 20-something girls that are still lost, looking for their father’s affection.

Mrs. Yvette Maher: Uh-hm. I’m 50, Jim. I’m still looking for my father’s affection.

Jim: Yeah.

Yvette: I’ve had to learn where to look for it appropriately and in my heavenly Father.

Jim: Well, and that’s the point.

Yvette: I still have a longing for my dad to write me a note or say something.

Jim: He never did.

Yvette: Not really, no.

End of Teaser

John Fuller: That’s a conversation between Jim Daly and Yvette Maher and you’ll hear more on today’s “Focus on the Family.” Yvette has a powerful story to share about longing for her father’s love and she referred to that in the clip there. And in the absence of that, traveling on the wild side of life for so many years before she finally found peace and security with Jesus Christ.

Jim: John, what makes Yvette’s story so incredible is that she worked faithfully right here at Focus on the Family for 20 years and no one would’ve ever known about her prodigal past. And she is a dynamite human being. She wasn’t hiding anything, but when you saw her joy and enthusiasm for the Lord and how well she served Him, you would’ve thought she’d grown up in a fine Christian family and went to church every day of the week.

And as we’re gonna learn today, those difficult circumstances and deep pain in her life shaped Yvette in significant ways, giving her a special kind of grace for others who are suffering from their own mistakes and sinful detours from God’s plan. These experiences gave her special insights for ministry, both here at Focus on the Family and now in her current position as an executive pastor with New Life Church right here in Colorado Springs.

John: And she wrote a book about her life and her faith journey that has a great title. It’s called My Hair and God’s Mercies…New Every Morning. And that really represents her heart and her humor, as well. Here’s how we started that conversation with Yvette on today’s “Focus on the Family.”

Body:

Jim: You are comin’ from an amazing life story and when we look at our testimonies, I know that you agree with me, these were bought with a price, the blood of Jesus Christ. And I’ve said it this way. As we walk our testimonies, they’re not our stories anymore.

Yvette: Right.

Jim: These are the Lord’s stories. I assume you would agree with that.

Yvette: I absolutely agree. The Scripture that tells us that there is power in those testimonies and I think by sharing these, hopefully and prayerfully, even today as we’re sharing and talking about this book and the things that I have walked through, that someone will be touched and think, oh, my goodness. There’s hope and there’s mercy and there’s power and I can do this, yeah.

Jim: You’re a girl that grew up in Kentucky and I love being in Kentucky. The people there are so warm and friendly. And you know, you land at the airport. You can really get a flavor for the personality of a state or a city. In Kentucky, they’re just so doggone friendly there, Yvette.

Yvette: (Laughing) But it’s the land of all things fried, Jim. (Laughter) I mean, really, hello.

Jim: I haven’t eaten that much there.

Yvette: It’s good food, good people. Oh, you need to.

Jim: I need to eat more of that food, but you grew up in Kentucky. Tell us about your mom and dad and that’s where things begin to break down and it’s such a story, because this is what Focus on the Family wants to do each and every day, is to help repair marriages that are broken and your folks had a broken marriage.

Yvette: We did and you know, back in the day, divorce was unheard of in our community. We really didn’t have people that divorced. I remember the first person in our circle of friends who were going to divorce. And I remember being, well I don’t know; what was I, 7 I guess and thinking, “That is the most devastating thing I’ve ever heard of. Why would people not be a family anymore? How can people not be married anymore? What’s that gonna do to their kids?” I remember having that thought and thinking, “I’m so glad that’ll never happen to us in our family,” because we were the happy, good, hard-working, just family. We were the average family.

Jim: Now were you a Christian family? Did you go to church?

Yvette: You know, we went to church. Here’s the thing about being in the South and I think a lot of people can relate to this. We went to church, therefore we thought we were Christians because we were not Jewish or we were not, you know, any other faith or denomination, as we would maybe understand it. We just thought by going to church at Easter and Christmas and my grandma would make us go to church and we would do vacation Bible school in the summer and so, that made us a Christian family.

Of course, later in my life I learned that it is a little more than that. As Corrie ten Boom used to say, “Being in a garage does not make you a car.” (Laughter) You know, so I have learned that a lot of people though, go to church and therefore think, “I am a Christian.” That was our family.

Jim: And what happened? How old were you when your mom and dad could not continue in their marriage?

Yvette: Well, I was 15, 16, that age. There’s never a good age, but I will tell you, being the youngest of three girls, my older sisters were already married and out of the house and so, it was just me, my mom and dad. And we just had the happy life thing going. And even to this day I will tell you, we really were the happy family.

Jim: What happened though?

Yvette: One of the reasons it was so devastating is because truly I thought everything was perfect.

John: Hm.

Yvette: I had two parents, yeah, absolutely.

Jim: So, on the surface, yeah.

John: You didn’t see any signs.

Yvette: Nothing was signaling that we were headed for a train wreck, but in fact, we were, because my dad came home and announced to my mom and to me that he had met another woman. And that started everything right there, that day. That is the demarcation line of our family and not only just me. My mom and dad, my sisters, our cousins, my grandparents, our extended community fell apart at that moment.

Jim: As a 15-year-old girl, do you remember those emotions? When you heard those words fall from his lips, what happened in your heart?

Yvette: Oh, my goodness. Everything I had believed in changed, everything. I trusted, I believed in my parents. I believed in marriage. I believed in happy family. Everything changed. I no longer trusted anybody.

Jim: Especially men.

Yvette: Especially men, especially men and especially that happy façade of happy home. And at that particular time and it was devastating. My mother truly did go through a year of a nervous breakdown. I was the only one home as I stated and I was there to pick up the pieces. As a 15-year-old girl, I was picking up the pieces of the devastation. My dad, I’ll say it like this, my dad went in a totally different direction than anything our family, our extended family, our small community had ever known.

My mom, I’m blessed to say, started going to church. People from the church did reach out to my mother at that time. And it is a beautiful story, but in that, I was stuck at this crossroad.

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: I truly was standing at this crossroad and I’ll tell you, Jim and I hate admitting this, but it’s true; because my mom went so far into her Bible and prayer and church and new church friends coming over and being in her midst all the time, I saw her crying every day during this nervous breakdown and praying and asking God to bring Dad back and He didn’t. And for me, that said, I want no part of that. So, at that crossroad for me, I saw that as weakness.

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: And it just made me crazy. I would come home at night and my mom would be on her knees, by her bedside praying.

Jim: So, you were irritated.

Yvette: And frankly, I just saw that as weak and I was so irritated. And I saw my dad now on this new path of sadly, rebellion, but yet he looked strong to me. And I followed in Dad’s footsteps. And frankly, can I say it, all hell broke loose.

Jim: Yeah. Tell us about that next step, because I think it’s critical. You’re 15. You’re trusting in what you believed was right and was right. It was good and you did have a happy family and things were normal. And then this devastation, your dad having an affair, falling in love with another woman, comes home, announces it. The feeling and emotion of that and then, you kinda hitch your wagon to your dad. And I would think at 15, for a girl or a boy, all of a sudden, the world’s open to you.

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: And what happened to you in your behavior at that point?

Yvette: You know, I had been the good girl. I had never jeopardized or compromised my purity, both physically and in drugs or anything else. I was just the good girl. We were just fun. We played on the farm. We played in the barn. We played with all of our farm animals, me and my girlfriends. I mean, it was healthy; it was pure.

And at that point, it just all came crashing down and I frankly, just threw my hands up and said, “Pshew! Who cares?” I started a life of drugs and sex and everything else that I could find to fill the void of searching and longing for what was and that trust and that love and especially from my father. And he was out of the picture at this point with the new woman, who I despised and who, you know, I blamed everything on at that point. And so, I just took a route of numbing the pain. I took a route of starting out with smoking pot with friends riding to school in the morning. And even that, Jim, I rode to school now with different people. My friends changed.

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: I started hanging out with the crowd that frankly, didn’t care either.

Jim: Who probably had a lot of scars themselves in the same way.

Yvette: Absolutely, of course. In hindsight I can look back at that and go, “Oh, my goodness; my heart breaks,” but they were there.

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: And you know, so many of our kids today are looking for someone to belong to. And they were there.

Jim: Yvette, you said something and it can sound like a cliché and I want to drill down and understand it better. But you said you were trying to fill the void and you’re tryin’ to, you know, soothe the pain. What does that really mean? What does a 15-, 16-, 17-year-old boy or girl who is having this traumatic situation, what are they really trying to fill and soothe?

Yvette: You know, everybody wants affirmation. Everybody wants encouragement. Everybody wants to think that they’re doing well and that they are making good decisions. And frankly, at that age, you know, I can look back now and have a very long list of the things my father never taught me. That maybe is the next book–

Jim: What were some of the examples?

Yvette:The Things My Father Never Taught Me. Jim, I never balanced a checkbook. I never had any kind of planning or thought towards responsible living and things that you know, we would take for granted today. We never talked about higher education in my house, ever. College wasn’t a topic of conversation. It was, “The cows need to be milked twice a day,” period, end of story. And I’m the youngest as I said, of three girls. So, we were the farm boys (Laughing), you know. I mean, we had to milk the cows. We had to work and do the things helping Dad.

All that changed as well, because Dad was gone. We milked and then we ended up selling that farm. And so, you know, to have a father to be there at that critical age, to be able to say, “I think you’re beautiful. I think you matter. I just love you. I just love, you know, your personality.” Or “Hey, let’s talk about school. You know, how’re you doing with your homework right now?” And sports, I played basketball. My dad never came to a basketball game.

Jim: Uh-hm.

Yvette: He was just all of a sudden gone.

Jim: Disconnected.

Yvette: Totally disconnected. And I think looking back now as an adult, I can look back and say, wow, he was (Sigh) under a lot of pressures and guilt and shame and I think his decisions were driven by those, because that one horrific decision that he made in divorcing my mom and our family falling apart just took him on a downward spiral. And from that, there was that woman that he married. There was a divorce from her. There was another marriage and so, you can sorta see this pattern. Now again, this man, who is this man? And we were all–the three girls, my mom, my grandparents–we were all just spiraling and watching this unfold going, “What is happening here?”

And so, from 15 to 18 to 20, we watched as our family took on an entirely different personality if you will. My uncle sadly murdered his wife, murdered her at an elementary school–my elementary school in our small town and then took his own life, leaving two children with no parents. That devastated us, so there was another blow to my grandparents, to our family, to our community. I never want to leave out our community, because you know, divorce and bad decisions don’t just impact a single person. There are so many people that are impacted by our decisions. And that was a blow and then, my dad sadly, just again was on that spiral of bad decisions and drugs and alcohol playing heavily in his life. And he then shot and killed a man, who was having an affair with now his wife–

Jim: His third wife.

Yvette: –Dad’s wife–

John: Wow.

Yvette: –yes. And he shot and killed him and we went through that tragedy. In fact, Jim, I was here at Focus on the Family the day that phone call came.

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: And I will forever be grateful to this ministry, because the benevolence of Focus of the Family put me on an airplane that day. And my sister called and said, “Dad has shot and killed someone. You need to get home.” And I didn’t have a plane ticket.

Jim: Yvette, you think about that. I mean, that whole history, from the point of 15 and what happened, it just is a continuing downward spiral, like you said. In the midst of that though, at 18, you’re doin’ the things that you’re now doing, sounds like to run from your mother, to cling to more worldly things that you found power in.

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: But it backfired, didn’t it?

Yvette: [It] did backfire. I again, made similar choices like my dad, just numbing and shame and one thing led to another. And I’ll just bluntly say, losing my virginity that I was so proud that I had been pure and held on and I was the good girl. And frankly, that bad decision took me down that spiral, because then it was, “I don’t care; I just don’t care anymore.”

So, one thing and one guy led to many. And there were many guys [who] just happened to be there to fill that void, to numb that feeling, to numb that longing of affirmation that I so wanted from my dad, looking for love in all the wrong places.

Jim: Yeah and Yvette, in that context, you ended up pregnant.

Yvette: Uh-hm, I did.

Jim: Tell us about that, at 18, 19.

Yvette: [I] did end up pregnant, again with a guy that truly I loved. I can tell you, you know, this was the guy that my heart just fell in love with. And he was from a very wealthy family and I was very much not (Laughing). I was on the way other side of the tracks, as you can imagine. Now my reputation at this point by the way, our good name changed overnight. I was so proud to always be a Greer girl. And the next day, I didn’t want to tell anybody my last name.

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: I remember distinctly thinkin’, you know, “Now whose daughter are you?” And I didn’t want to answer the question.

Jim: Shame.

Yvette: Shame, completely. And so, in this particular relationship with my boyfriend at the time, you know, we had talked about marriage. We had talked about getting together. And his mother absolutely said, “If you marry that girl, you will [be disinherited].”

Jim: Oh.

Yvette: And so, then I was pregnant. And it sadly was yet another bad decision on the spiral of things that I was looking at from a filter of, “Well, it doesn’t matter anyway” and we aborted the baby.

Jim: How old were you again?

Yvette: I was 19 at that point.

Jim: Yvette, many people are probably thinkin’, where’s your mom?

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: What happened to mom here? Mom’s goin’ to church. Where was that relationship between you and your mom?

Yvette: You know, it’s always been a good relationship. It really has. I remember one time coming home in a drunken stupor, stoned out of my head. And the way our house was situated, I had to come down the hallway there to get to my bedroom. My mom’s was off to the right. Mine was off to the left. And I remember her door was cracked and she was in there on her knees late at night, praying, crying. And oh, it just grossed me out. And I thought, “Oh, good grief. Get a spine.”

And I turned to the left and I passed out. Looking back on that now, when you ask me where was my mom, my mom was on her knees praying for this girl and praying for me and praying for our family. And it is a testimony to my mother today that I’m even allowed to speak into this microphone the name of Jesus, because she prayed me through these years. She prayed me home.

Jim: Yvette, you are touching on a nerve that I think many people will resonate with. There are moms listening that have wayward teenage daughters. There are teenage and 20-something girls that are still lost, looking for their father’s affection.

Yvette: I’m 50, Jim. I’m still looking for my father’s affection.

Jim: Yeah.

Yvette: I’ve had to learn where to look for it appropriately and in my heavenly Father.

Jim: Well, and that’s the point.

Yvette: I still have a longing for my dad to write me a note or say something.

Jim: He never did.

Yvette: Not really, no.

Jim: What about that mom? You were the rebellious teenage daughter. Your encouragement to that mom who continues to pray, would be continue to pray.

Yvette: Oh, never give up hope. Never, never, never give up hope. If they’re breathing, mom and dad, there’s hope. Let me be your poster child for hope, because they’ll come back. I firmly believe truly the Scripture, that if they are raised and as we said earlier, we weren’t that really strong dedicated Christian family, but I knew from my grandparents, I knew from our little community there. I did know right and wrong. I did know it and I wanted that back again and yet, I just didn’t care.

And so, the prayers of my mother, but then I finally got to the point where I’m sick of this. I’m tired of being tired. I’m tired of being stoned. I’m tired of waking up and not even remembering who that is beside me. I got sick of the lifestyle and ended up leaving Kentucky after the abortion and my boyfriend and I split up. I left Kentucky and just said, I’m sick of the whole mess. I have got to get away from this.

John: Yvette Maher is our guest today on “Focus on the Family” with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller and Yvette, goin’ back to Jim’s question, was there anything your mom said that you listened to? Were you open to anything she said? I’m just thinkin’ of the parent who’s saying, “Well, I am praying. What else can I do?”

Yvette: I love, John, that question because I’ll be honest, no and here’s why. She had so much of Jesus. And you know, anytime you salt something too much, you can’t eat it. She literally has so much Jesus, so much prayer, Bible layin’ open, Scriptures stuck everywhere and at me it felt like that I gagged on it. It was too much salt.

And now in hindsight I look at that and think, oh, my goodness. Let me balance, you know, the salt with grace and compassion. Let me balance Jesus with some reality, because frankly, it wasn’t balanced. It was, “You need to do this. You need to do that. You need to turn away. You need to get home”

John: So, it kind of shut you down.

Yvette: It totally shut me down.

Jim: But I want to come to mom’s defense, because I’m sure there’s this sense of desperation. This is your baby the last of three girls, the last one home, the one that stood by my side when my husband said goodbye to me.

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: And I’m sure that she felt she was losing you in every way, too, just like she lost her husband.

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: I can imagine that emotion for her as a human being, clinging, wanting to get you right, but it did work against you.

Yvette: Key word, “clinging,” clinging, hanging onto me and my life frankly at that age, you know and clinging onto me for her hope. And it’s like, get off me. Okay, you have got to go get you strong [sic]. I have got to get me strong, but just get off me. It was smothering.

Jim: What happened though, Yvette? I mean, we’re winding down. We’re gonna come back next time if you can stick with us. But I think to be fair to the listeners today, John, we gotta know, when did Jesus enter your heart?

Yvette: Hm.

Jim: What happened?

Yvette: Nineteen ninety and that was a beautiful time of saying, “I’m sick of it.” And that’s truly the catalyst. That was the next demarcation if you will, of saying, “I can’t do this anymore.” Now we have to fast forward, because 1990 I was married with three children, living in Colorado. And I had gotten away from Kentucky. I got out of Kentucky. I came to Colorado and frankly, had a very promiscuous, wild lifestyle here when I arrived.

And met a guy that truly just took my breath away. I can remember the first time I laid eyes on my husband and I thought, “Oh, my goodness; that is a hot (Laughing) guy that I want to get to know.” (Laughter) And it was the brother of my best friend. My best friend in Colorado was Frank and this was his brother. And I said to Frank that night, “Who’s that guy you’ve been talking to.” and then he goes, “Oh, that’s my brother.” And I was like, “You’re kidding me. You haven’t introduced me to him.” And he goes, “No, you have nothing in common. He’s responsible.” (Laughter) That’s exactly what he said.

John: Oh, ouch. Oh, my goodness.

Yvette: “He’s responsible” and he is responsible. “And he likes to hunt and he likes things outside and you are a party girl and he doesn’t do those things.” And you know what? That struck in me back to the day before the wheels fell off, back to the day when we were the good family. That’s what I thought, “Oh, I could be a part of a good family.”

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: I could have that back. I can make a decision and a choice. I want to be attracted to that guy, ’cause he’s a good, responsible guy. He’s not the party guys that I’ve been hangin’ out with for several years now.

Closing:

John: Well, this is “Focus on the Family” with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller and we’ve been listening to a conversation that was recorded with Yvette Maher, a former colleague of ours who now serves on the staff of New Life, a very large church here in Colorado Springs.

And we ran out of time today, Jim, for the program, but we know the circumstances in her life began to slowly improve and eventually, Yvette gave her heart and her life to Jesus Christ, but she experiences so many twists and turns along the way.

Jim: And John, as we’ll hear next time, things got a lot harder for Yvette before they got better. But the good news, John, as you say, is how God was right in the midst of her troubles, calling to Yvette and slowly drawing her to Himself. Wasn’t it interesting that she said there at the end about wanting to be part of a good, responsible family and that is the heart cry of so many people.

And I’m certain many people listening right now can relate to that desire. Maybe you’re the prodigal like Yvette was and ran away from your family and your faith and life has gotten difficult for you. And maybe you’re tired of running. You’ve come to the end of your rope. Or maybe you could be the parent of the prodigal and you’ve been praying for so long for your child that you’re starting to lose hope.

If that describes you, contact us here at Focus on the Family. We want to do everything we can to help you get reconnected to the Lord and find the comfort you need to keep trusting Him. We have caring Christian counselors who want to hear your story. They want to pray with you, maybe put a resource in your hand, whatever you need, we will do what we can to be there for you.

John: And our number to talk is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY or stop by www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.

Jim: Every day we hear from people and families who are simply trying to survive and because of the generous support of so many of you to this ministry, we’re able to respond to these needs. A woman named Lynn contacted us about how God has used Focus on the Family in her life.

Clip:

Lynn: I’m just so grateful because I was that woman who was struggling in those early years. Focus on the Family helped me tremendously and I am forever grateful for your ministry. I send people to you guys on your website and I am so thankful that you guys are there.

End of Clip

Jim: Well, and I tell you what, John, we are grateful to the Lord for being able to have that kind of impact in someone’s life. If Focus has been an encouragement to you and you’ve benefitted from these resources, I’ll ask you to take the next logical step and help us help others like Lynn who need to know that someone cares. Send your gift today and when you do, I want to say thanks by sending you a complimentary copy of Yvette Maher’s book, My Hair and God’s Mercies…New Every Morning.

John: Yeah, it really is a great resource and we hope you’ll get a copy to pass along to a friend or a family member. Our number again is 800- A -FAMILY or you can donate at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.

And when you get in touch, ask about a CD or a download of our conversation. And then make plans to join us for more from Yvette and her incredible story. Tomorrow she’ll talk about facing another unplanned pregnancy and contemplating another abortion, but God intervened and Yvette did learn to trust Him fully.

I’m John Fuller and on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire Focus on the Family team, thanks for listening.

Today's Guests

My Hair and God's Mercies ... New Every Morning

Receive Yvette Maher's book My Hair and God's Mercies ... New Every Morning for your donation of any amount!

Recent Episodes

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Home Schooling: Giving Your Child a Strong Foundation

Home schooling is one of the fastest growing forms of education in the United States and a lot of families are interested … but intimidated as well! Monica Swanson describes how she was reluctant at first, but soon reveled in the many benefits of home schooling. Things like prepping them for life in the real world, shaping the character of her sons, and providing them with a solid Christian worldview.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Practical Ways to Celebrate Your Marriage

Jay and Laura Laffoon laugh their way through a conversation on practical ways to celebrate your marriage. This couple of over thirty-nine years talks about how to enjoy your spouse by improving your day-to-day habits and attitudes. Work, parenting, and the realities of life can keep couples from taking the time to invest in each other, so Jay and Laura advise couples about how to be intentional and connect more deeply.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Moms and Anger: Understanding Your Triggers (Part 2 of 2)

Amber Lia and Wendy Speake discuss common external and internal triggers that can make mothers angry. They share their journeys overcoming their own triggers, like when their children disobey and complain, and when they have to deal with exhaustion. Our guests offer encouragement to moms and explain how they can prepare to handle their triggers in a healthier way. (Part 2 of 2)

You May Also Like

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Accepting Your Imperfect Life

Amy Carroll shares how her perfectionism led to her being discontent in her marriage for over a decade, how she learned to find value in who Christ is, not in what she does, and practical ways everyone can accept the messiness of marriage and of life.

Sara Hagerty, author of Every Bitter Thing is Sweet

Being Seen by God

Offering encouragement found in her book Unseen: The Gift of Being Hidden in a World That Loves to be Noticed, Sara Hagerty describes how we can experience God in ordinary, everyday moments, and how we can find our identity in Him apart from what we do.

Focus on the Family Broadcast logo

Being the Hero Within You

Rodney Bullard, Vice President of Community Affairs at Chick-fil-A, encourages listeners to make a heroic impact on the world in an inspiring discussion based on his book, Heroes Wanted: Why the World Needs You to Live Your Heart Out.