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Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

Basking in God’s Mercies (Part 2 of 3)

Basking in God’s Mercies (Part 2 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 2 of 3)
Original Air Date: June 12, 2012

Opening:

John Fuller: Welcome to another edition of “Focus on the Family” where we’re going to hear about one woman’s tumultuous journey in life, where she thought she could find peace and comfort in a bottle or in the arms of a stranger. But what she really needed was an encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Teaser:

Mrs. Yvette Maher: 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.

End of Teaser

John: That’s Yvette Maher, a former colleague of our here at Focus on the Family and last time she began sharing her remarkable story of a very difficult past. And we’re looking forward to hearing the rest of the story today. Your host is Focus president and author, Jim Daly and I’m John Fuller

Jim Daly: In many ways, Yvette’s experience reminds me of the parable of the Prodigal Son found right there in Luke 15. That wayward son left home and rebelled against everything he knew. And meanwhile, his father was patiently waiting for him to come back.

Last time Yvette described a similar journey of that kind of brokenness. At age 15, her parents divorced and her dad had an affair, which crushed her world. She had been part of a “happy family,” as she described it, where she found love and security. But all of that, wham, was taken away when that affair occurred.

With her father out of the picture, Yvette began looking for love and approval from other men, which led to an unplanned pregnancy, then an abortion and her life continued to unravel from there. If you missed this powerful program last time, get the download or the CD. You can also get the Focus on the Family app for your smartphone and listen there. This is one of those incredible God stories about His grace.

This is Sanctity of Human Life Week and we are celebrating the value of human life and this seems like an appropriate program to highlight that very message. And as you’ll hear today, Yvette eventually did find her way back home to her heavenly Father and He has used her in mighty ways, both here at Focus on the Family and in her new role at New Life Church, where she currently serves as one of the executive pastors.

John: Let’s go ahead and pick up the rest of Yvette Maher’s story on “Focus on the Family.”

Body:

Jim: You wrote an incredible book and that’s what we’re talking about last time and today, the title, My Hair and God’s Mercies–

Yvette: (Chuckling)

Jim:New Every Morning. A lot of women will identify with that in so many ways. And Yvette, I want to compliment you, because one of the things that I have seen in you over 20 years, working at Focus on the Family, shoulder to shoulder, is that authenticity that you have. You are a real person who talks about the pain of life. And I’ve always admired that in you.

Yvette: Oh, thank you.

Jim: So, it is great to have you here to further the story. And as you share your testimony, no atheist, no one can deny you what God has done in your life. And as we talk to Yvette today, listen through that filter. Hear what a gracious God has done in this woman’s life. Yvette, quickly last time, we ended where you had, had the abortion after getting pregnant by your boyfriend at 19. You leave Kentucky.

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: It sounded like you’re runnin’ from your dad and even runnin’ from your mom who now had turned to the Lord, was praying for you, but you were runnin’ hard from both of them.

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: You end up in Colorado. Recap what happened.

Yvette: (Laughing) Well, I ended up in Colorado and truly fell in love with my now husband, I’m proud to say. But Jim, even in those early years of Colorado and sadly the choices there, the promiscuity [was] there until I met my husband. When we met and I fell in love with him and we truly did hit it off, but we had a very rough upstart [sic]. My husband and I, again neither one of us in a believing relationship with the Lord and so, we were living in this world and of this world and we moved in together.

And so, we started out on that foot, if you will and Jim, I was pregnant again. And at that time, my husband, Tommy and I, we were on again, off again, on again, off again, rough, rocky, I mean, you see what baggage I came into this relationship with and it was not Gucci (Laughing). I always laugh and say, “The baggage I brought was not designer.” But in that first year when Tommy and I were on again, off again, and I am pregnant and I tell him I’m pregnant, he said, “I’m out. I want nothing to do with this.”

John: Hm.

Yvette: “And you are certainly not ready to become a mother, nor a wife.” And so, I made an appointment here at our local Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs for an abortion. And I went for an abortion. And I couldn’t go through with it. Now remember, I’ve played this tape. I know how this story ends and yet, there I sat thinking, “This is my choice; this is my option. I’m not ready to be a wife. I’m not ready to be a mom. I’m not ready to give over, if you will, this life that now I’ve become very familiar with.”

And sitting in that abortion clinic, I just couldn’t do it and I got back in my car and I drove back to where I was living at the time, not with Tommy. And I called him and said, “I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it.” And he said, “Then I’ll help you get back to Kentucky to raise this baby, but I want no part of this.”

John: Hm.

Yvette: So, for two weeks we made the plans for me to go back to Kentucky and I thought, “Oh, my goodness. I have to go back and I will need the support of family and people and friends.” And I called Tommy and I said, “I think I can do it this time.” I made another abortion appointment. I went back to Planned Parenthood. I went back in and I got much further in the process this time, in fact, all the way to the hospital gown. And I just couldn’t get a good breath and I just said, “I just need some fresh air. Can I just walk outside for a minute?”

And I walked outside and I got in my car and I just started sobbing and I said, “I can’t do this again.” And I left. (Weeping) And I called Tommy and I said, “I can’t do this. I’ll go to Kentucky. I’ll have this baby.” And the next morning, there was a note on the front door, a yellow legal pad note and it said, “I love you. I want to have this baby. Let’s do this.”

Jim and John: Hm.

Yvette: I will never have the words in my limited vocabulary to explain or describe what my heart did at that moment. It was acceptance; it was, “We can do this.” It was somebody believing in and partnering and thinking, “We can do something better than what we’ve been doing” and what I’ve been doing.

And I was elated and so, we got married. We got married in 3 1/2 weeks, believe it or not. We quickly whipped together (Laughing) a wedding here in Colorado. And Jim and John, a month after we were married, I went for my ultrasound for this baby and I discovered it’s twins.

Jim and John: Hm.

Jim: Wow.

Yvette: Two abortion appointments, two babies.

Jim: It’s remarkable.

Yvette: I had no idea. Tommy had no idea. (Laughing) That was quite the day. I have a new husband. I’m pregnant. He comes home from work and he said, “So, how’d the ultrasound go?” I said, “Well, maybe you want to sit down (Laughing) so you don’t fall down. We’re having twins.”

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: And from that point again, another demarcation. We can do this. I had a man who was gonna believe in and do this thing with me called “marriage and family.” I was on the upswing. I knew I was on the upswing.

Jim: Yvette, that is so powerful and you know, I think in the Christian bubble, we tend to forget, if I could say this, you’re exactly the kind of person Jesus talked and engaged when He walked this earth. You were the one He was lookin’ for.

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: At that moment at Planned Parenthood when you went out to the car, do you look back on that and see that as a point of God’s grace in your life?

Yvette: Oh, my goodness, yes.

Jim: I mean, you didn’t know the Lord at this point.

Yvette: I didn’t. I didn’t.

Jim: His grace was extended to you, like the Scripture says. “When we were still sinners” He loved us and died for us.

Yvette: He gives us what we don’t deserve–His mercy–and He doesn’t give us what we do deserve. I surely did not deserve His forgiveness, His love.

Jim: It was a holy nudge, wasn’t it, not to terminate that pregnancy with your two kids?

Yvette: Oh yes, absolutely. And it was, you know, emotions drove that, ’cause I didn’t cry out and say, “God, give me Your strength.” I didn’t. I was just so emotionally broken and hurting, yes.

Jim: You knew in your heart somethin’ wasn’t right.

Yvette: There’s gotta be something, something that’s different than this life I’m living right now. I am eating with the pigs. I know what the slop and the trough smells like. I’m sick of this.

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: And it was the turning point.

Jim: And your knight in shining armor–

Yvette: Yay!

Jim: –Tommy, arrives, both of you still not Christians though.

Yvette: No.

Jim: But he did this out of goodness and responsibility.

Yvette: He did, good responsible guy!

Jim: Yeah.

Yvette: Remember, he is a good responsible guy.

Jim: I mean, right and so, you move forward. Here you have your two beautiful girls who I know.

Yvette: Yes.

Jim: They have babysat for us many times with our two boys. And they grew up to be fantastic young ladies.

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: But the story doesn’t end.

Yvette: It doesn’t end.

Jim: You had additional trauma. What happened?

Yvette: Well, the girls were born in 1987; we were married in 1987. I can always remember (Laughing) how many years we’ve been married by how old our twins are. And then we had a son a year later. We had Buck. And in 1990, we moved back to Kentucky. Tommy and I moved back for a job. And we were there for a very short time, but in 1990 is when I truly gave my heart to Christ.

Jim: Uh-hm.

Yvette: And that is the prayer from my 25-year at that point, just this journey and seeking, that’s the prayer where I said, “Lord, I give it all to You. I will trade you my yuck life and everything that’s goin’ on,” because I was still very lost. And even when my babies, my precious babies were little, I was still smokin’ pot.

Jim: Uh-hm.

Yvette: I was still doing bad decisions. Even though I’m now married and I have three children and it all looks very responsible, I still was making bad choices. And when I went to my class reunion it was [with my] full intent to party all weekend, ’cause Tommy was home with the babies. And on the way home from that class reunion, I just was sickened there, because I was sharing my pictures of my kids and I was so proud of my beautiful three children and my husband. But yet, it was with people who were drinking and partying, you know. This was my crowd.

And it just made me sick and I remember leaving the hotel and driving back to home and I missed my exit getting back home. And I spent a lot of hours in the car that night and back to tears, back to crying, back to, “Give me something.” So, I made a deal with God and said, “I’ll give you a year. I’ll give you my yucky life, everything I’m doing–my every afternoon happy hour, my pot smoking, my bad decisions–I’ll give You everything for a year. You give me what You’ve got,” ’cause this beautiful friend, Ranie, had been telling me about Jesus Christ, my neighbor.

And Ranie, God bless that woman, she loved me unconditionally. And we would take our kids for a walk and I remember this one particular day, I hit my foot and you know, blue expletives came out (Laughing) of my trash mouth. And sweet Ranie too my face that day and she said, “One of these days, that mouth is gonna be so offended by that language.”

Jim: Hm, boy, that’s bold.

Yvette: Yeah, right. And she said, “I’m gonna go even one step further. One of these days, that mouth is gonna proclaim Jesus Christ.” And I was like, “Ranie, Honey, you’ve lost your ever-lovin’ mind.” But you know what? Ranie loved me. Ranie was a Christian. Her family was Christian. She lived next door to this heathen and she loved me unconditionally.

Jim: Let me ask you, because it’s so important in how we engage people that don’t know the Lord, you’ve touched on it, but what did Ranie express in terms of the fruit of the Spirit that made a difference as a non-believer. You were a heathen.

Yvette: Right, absolutely. She loved. Ranie had joy. Ranie had just fun, peace. I was attracted to the peace that Ranie had in her life and in her family, ’cause mine wasn’t, even though we’ve got the house. We’ve got the three kids. I’ve got the husband. I got the [sic] ring on the finger.

John: You’ve got the happy family that you wanted to have.

Yvette: Yeah, uh-huh, but she had peace. She had true joy. She had unconditional love. She had selflessness.

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: I had never seen someone give and give and give, to someone like who took and took and took. And God blessed that woman. And here’s the thing, too, Jim. She kept inviting me to church, not pressuring me, not saying, “Well, you really need to get your life straightened out. You’ve got three kids. She didn’t preach at me. She walked with me.

Jim: She stood with you.

Yvette: She sure did. They needed a softball player on the church women’s softball team and she kept asking me to come and I’m like, “Ranie, okay, I don’t think your church wants this second baseman (Laughing) on your [team], I really don’t.” And she said, “Yes, we do.” She pursued me in love.

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: She pursued me unconditionally. And the night I came home from that class reunion and I had made my deal with God in the car, I went in and I told Tommy. He said, “Why are you home early?” I was supposed to be gone all weekend, partying it up. And I said, “Something just happened. I don’t know exactly what just happened, but I just made a deal with God and said, ‘I’m gonna give You a year to show up in my life.’ And Tommy, I don’t even know what that looks like or what that means, but I have to change what I’m doing in my life. I want to be a good wife and a good mama and I don’t know how to do that.”

Jim: And both of you are non-believers at this point.

Yvette: Right, absolutely.

Jim: How did Tommy, your non-believing husband, respond to that?

Yvette: Not well. (Laughing) He did not take this well.

Jim: Because he was threatened by it? Was he comfortable with the lifestyle?

Yvette: Well, he was comfortable and he just said, “What on earth? I mean, who are you? So, what does this mean for us? If you’re gonna do this, does that mean I have to change, too? You know, if you’re not gonna have happy hour every afternoon, ” no, he didn’t anyway, but he just said, “What’s this mean for our relationship?” And he actually took a very bizarre turn into science and needing to prove everything that the Bible said. So, he went on his whole other journey of proving.

Jim: Well, so your faith statement challenged him to rationalize.

Yvette: Exactly.

Jim: Fascinating.

Yvette: And at that beautiful point, that night I pulled in the driveway and I tell Tommy all of this and he’s like, “Well, just leave me out of it, you know, whatever this new thing is you’ve got; leave me out of it.” The doorbell rang. It was Ranie, standing in tears. And I said, “Ranie, I have to tell you something that just happened in the car.” And she said, “You don’t have to tell me.” She was standing there with a Life Application Bible in her hands and she said, “I’ve been prayin’ for you since your car left the driveway–

Jim: Oh, my goodness.

Yvette: –to go. I have not stopped praying for you.” And I didn’t have to tell her. She just stood there. She embraced me and Ranie and a group of women, loving, non-judging women came around me and they started pouring into my life and loving me up as Christian women and not using words, but using their actions, they loved me up. They welcomed me into their Bible study. They just sweetly welcomed me in to what was going on in their beautiful homes.

Tommy will now tell you today, he saw a change. He didn’t hear a change, because the best counsel I got from those women is, “Yvette, don’t shove this down his throat.” Now having had it shoved down my throat, that struck a nerve with me.

Jim: Uh-hm.

Yvette: I embraced that and they said, “In Scripture from Peter, let your actions speak; let your actions speak.” And that was the best counsel and that’s the best counsel I can give anybody right now who has maybe an unbelieving spouse. This journey that we were on was a three-year journey. Tommy did accept Christ, but it was a three-year journey of me trying to hold back this mouth, yes believe it or not (Laughter), this mouth. I tried to hold back and let the Lord speak through actions and speak through the faith and He showed up in amazing ways.

Jim: In that context, you’re taken in under the wing of these wise women. Sounds like your friend is almost an angel.

Yvette: (Laughing) She is an angel.

Jim: I mean, it’s amazing. And they counsel you on how to continue. I want to go back to the deal though, ’cause a lot of people and you know, 1 in 4 people, John, that listen to “Focus on the Family” don’t have a commitment to Christ. And that’s wonderful and we’re glad you’re listening. But I want you to hear what Yvette is saying right now, because what she’s saying is, it’s okay to lay that in front of God.

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: You said, “God, I’ll give You a year.” Those of us that are Christians, we wince. Oh, you don’t speak to the Lord like that. It’s almost what the Pharisees might say. But the Lord says, “Bring it on, Yvette. You give Me a year, I’ll give you My best.”

Yvette: Uh-hm. He did.

Jim: What happened in that?

Yvette: He has such a great exchange program. (Laughter)

Jim: What happened?

Yvette: I truly made a decision to live differently, because I had made this deal with Him in the car. I said, “I will give you my every afternoon happy hour,” for example. And I even called up a sister and friends and said, “No more gin and tonics for me by the pool every day at 4 o’clock.” And I was met with, “Oh, now, so do gin and tonics make you go to hell?” Well, there was a whole conversation even in that to go, “Okay, I’m not saying that. I’m saying for me personally, the deal I just made was no pot, no alcohol. I’m cleanin’ up my mouth. I’m cleanin’ up my life. I’m givin’ God a year to show up.”

Jim: So, it cost you somethin’ though with your friendships.

Yvette: Oh, it did cost me friendships. And old friends, thank You, Lord, old friends who were truly friends and who could see through what needed to be happening in my life, stuck with and some fell to the wayside. And the Lord exchanged new beautiful friendships in my life. I can look back on it as clear as day and know that in that year, He was transforming me, my mind. I fed on the Bible–that Bible that Ranie showed up with that night, my Life Application Bible.

Jim: Beautiful story.

Yvette: I started feeding there instead of feeding in the places that were familiar, the trough if you will with the pigs.

Jim: So, the end of that year, you have a growing faith now in Christ. You’ve made a commitment.

Yvette: Absolutely.

Jim: It sounds like during that year, it may have been on that drive when you asked the Lord, “I’ll give You that year,” that may have been the point your heart was redeemed.

Yvette: Yes, absolutely, I guarantee it was.

Jim: Yvette, with Tommy, he accepts the Lord eventually as you said.

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: And then with the girls after that, you begin to worry. And I think this is so normal for a couple that went through what you and Tommy went through and particularly for what you went through with the divorce of your mom and dad. What happened emotionally for you as you saw Tommy being the father of your two little girls?

Yvette: Hm. Well, you know, on the one hand, of course, great excitement. Look how beautiful and the bonding and the relationship. But then on the other hand, my baggage kept creeping in, going “Wait a minute. That’s how my dad was with me when I was little.” And I hate to admit this, but one particular day, Tommy was playing horsey, you know, on the floor. And the girls were riding on his back and they’re laughing and having so much fun. And I looked at that and I remembered being that little girl. And then the next trigger of emotion was, and then I remember how painful it was when he left.

Jim: So, what did you want to do right then?

Yvette: As a response, I even said and I hate saying this out loud, but it’s the truth. I said, “Girls! Why don’t you go outside and play for a little while?” I broke it up because right then I thought, it’s gonna be too painful if he ever leaves.

Jim: Yvette, you’re describing something that takes incredible awareness, I mean, for you to put those dots together that, that’s what was driving a simple comment like, “Girls, go out and play.” Did you really have that in your heart? You knew what you were thinking?

Yvette: I did; I did, because again, it was so beautiful and yet, that pain. It was beautiful and it was like a stab happened.

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: And it was, “Uh!”

Jim: So, you’re trying to protect them.

Yvette: The closer they get. the more bonding that happens and the more fun and love-up that happens here, if he ever leaves like Dad did, my dad did, that’s gonna break their hearts like it did mine. So, as a mom, let me protect them.

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: Let’s balance this out. “Girls, go play.” I regret that. My husband is so beautifully bonded and their relationship–the father-daughter relationship–is so beautiful. But I will tell you, in my flesh and in my emotion and with my filtering and my baggage, my response was protect ’em and break that up.

Jim: Is that a lot of women today, [who] have that kind of deep mistrust of men, maybe because of their own poor relationship with their dad? How would you encourage them?

Yvette: Hm.

Jim: What do they need to do to flip that switch? How do you get ahold of that and say, “Okay, it’s safe. It’s okay.”

Yvette: I think you have to know that, that father hunger you’re searching for is not your earthly father. It’s your heavenly Father. Those voids that you need filled and as a young girl, that I needed filled by men, was not earthly men. It was my heavenly Father. That’s the open wounded heart that needed the love and the grace of my heavenly Father. And so, I would say to them, “You have to look beyond this lifetime. You have to look beyond this level of men in your life–your fathers, whoever it is that you’re looking to fill those. It’s just not gonna happen.” Only by our heavenly Father can we then say, “Oh, it is complete. It is whole.”

Jim: Peace and confidence.

Yvette: Absolutely. And I don’t yearn for and I don’t need that earthly affirmation if you will.

Jim: Yeah.

Yvette: I have His grace and abundant love and mercy in my life. I’m good, but you have to get there. It’s hard.

Jim: Oh and Yvette, it is hard. At the top of the show, we talked about how your story is very similar to the Prodigal Son, who in the midst of sin and discouraged by the choices he had made in life, finally decides to come home to his father, who’s been waiting for him. For many people like you, Yvette, their earthly father might not be there for whatever reason.

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: But you found hope through your heavenly Father, as you said. If I can turn and speak to you, the listener. God, your heavenly Father, will not turn away from you. I know that from my personal experience. No matter what you’ve done, He will not abandon you. He welcomes you with open arms as the Prodigal Son or daughter. And even if you’re the parent who turned your back on your kids, God will forgive you. There’s still hope and forgiveness waiting for you, too. And we’d be happy to talk to you about that relationship, that bond that will never be broken, that kind of relationship with the Creator of the Universe. And John, I know you’ll give the details on how people can connect with us.

John: Sure will.

Jim: Yvette, there is more to your story of God’s grace in your life and what He’s taught you through these difficult years. So, if you can, let’s keep going and we’ll air the rest of this discussion next time.

Yvette: Love to.

Jim: Let’s do it.

Closing:

John: That’s how we concluded day two of our conversation with Yvette Maher, talking about her book, My Hair and God’s Mercies…New Every Morning. This is “Focus on the Family” and as Jim Daly said, we’re here to help you and your family with whatever issues you might be dealing with. Call to connect with one of our counseling team members or to get any other of our family resources. Our number is 800-232-6459; 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY or visit www.focusonthefamily.com/radio to learn more.

And when you get in touch, ask about Yvette’s book and a CD or a download of our program. We’ll include all three days of our conversation with her on that disc or download.

And let me invite you to support Focus on the Family financially. We depend on the generosity of friends like you who want to see families thrive. And it may be that you’ve benefitted from something we’ve done this past year, these radio programs, our websites, a resource or an event. If that’s the case, please help us do the same for more families. Donate today when you call 800-A-FAMILY or at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio and if you can make a generous donation of any amount today, we’ll gladly send you a complimentary copy of Yvette’s book.

Well, coming up next time on our program, after Yvette chose to follow Christ, she thought she had the perfect family she’d always dreamed of until her unmarried daughter became pregnant. Learn what happened next tomorrow on “Focus on the Family,” as we once again, help you and your family thrive.

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

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