Focus on the Family

Focus on the Family with Jim Daly

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

Basking in God’s Mercies (Part 3 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 3 of 3)
Original Air Date: June 13, 2012


John Fuller: A few years earlier she had an abortion and then found herself pregnant again, so she scheduled another abortion. Yvette Maher describes how God began to get her attention at that dreadful moment.


Mrs. Yvette Maher: I made another abortion appointment. I went back to Planned Parenthood 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 got in my car and I just started sobbing and I said, “I can’t do this again.” (Weeping) And I left.

End of Teaser

John: This is “Focus on the Family” with Focus president and author, Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller and over the past couple of days, we’ve been sharing Yvette Maher’s remarkable and very difficult faith journey. And we’ve heard how God’s love and grace was right there with her, even though Yvette didn’t realize it at the time. And Jim, I’m really looking forward to hearing the third part of this story.

Jim Daly: John, we rarely devote three days to a topic, but I think our listeners, they’re gonna understand why we’re making that exception today. Yvette was our colleague for 20 years here at Focus on the Family and she has a wonderful spirit about her. Man, she can embrace anybody and that’s just who she is. Most people didn’t know about her painful prodigal past, but God used those experiences to give her a heart for the brokenhearted and a compassion for those in need.

And that has continued to serve her well in her ministry at New Life Church, where she works on the pastoral staff with my good friend, Brady Boyd. Yvette has an amazing testimony and if you missed the earlier programs this week, contact us to get the download or the CD or you can get it through our app for your smartphone.

John: And you can learn more about these different ways to hear our program and these conversations and helpful resources, including Yvette’s book, My Hair and God’s Mercies…New Every Morning–

Jim: I love that.

John: –when you visit or call us. Our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. And this is Sanctity of Human Life Week. It’s so important for us to recognize the value of human life, of course, not just this week, but all year long.

Jim: Oh, I agree, John and sanctity of human life is one of our core values here at Focus on the Family and that’s another reason to share Yvette’s story today. Let me give a quick recap of what she shared in our previous programs to bring you up to speed if you missed them.

Yvette grew up as a farm girl in rural Kentucky. She had what seemed to be a happy stable family, but then her parents divorced because her dad was having affairs with other women. His life took a turn for the worst when he killed a man who was sleeping with one of his former wives and he went to prison for that.

Meanwhile, Yvette started making poor choices of her own with drugs, alcohol and sex. She had an abortion when she was very young and then she moved to Colorado, where she met Tommy, who is now her husband. When Yvette became pregnant again, Tommy didn’t want to have anything to do with the baby. And as we heard a moment ago, Yvette contemplated yet another abortion.

But thankfully, they decided to keep the child who turned out to be twin girls and we’ll hear more about them in a little bit. We should add that Yvette accepted Christ as a result of her next door neighbor and I love hearing stories like that, where Christians are so winsome in their faith that they can’t help but bring others into that life with Christ.

John: Yeah and that really does characterize who Yvette is today as a person and with that introduction, let’s go ahead and hear the balance of Yvette Maher’s story on “Focus on the Family.”


Yvette: And in our marriage and communication and learning and then raising up our children, we did it by the book, by the Book, because Focus on the Family was there and we were guided in Scripture and great resources about purity and abstinence and communication and time and intentionality and relationship. You know, I can spout this all out (Laughter), because that’s how we raised our family. So, the very last thing we expected ever was that one of our children would come home with an unplanned pregnancy.

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: And yet, in January of 2008, that’s exactly what happened.

Jim: Yvette, you know, as I hear the story, that had to fill your heart. I mean, everything that you had gone through at 18, 19, one abortion and then potentially a second and pulling back and the very daughter that you’re talking to, that you sat in that Planned Parenthood parking lot–we gotta put this in context; you almost ended her life.

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: And there she was all these years later saying to you, “Mom, I’m pregnant.”

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: “What do I do?” What happened in your heart right then?

Yvette: Goodness, at that particular moment I can see it in my mind’s eye. She’s folded over sobbing, sobbing. And she said, “I’m pregnant.” And I folded over top of her sobbing and I said, “Honey, I’ve been here, but for right now, just know that I love you unconditionally. And by God’s grace and by God’s mercy, you are here. You are pregnant. We will walk this out and you will not walk this alone.”

Jim: Yvette, I’m choked up, because I’m thinking of her emotions. Man, maybe it’s just the Lord, but how often do we as Christians miss that opportunity. The angry dad, the angry mom and to be able to hug your daughter and say, “I love you and I know God loves you even though you’ve made this mistake.” That had to be a powerful moment.

Yvette: Jim, if I had, had somebody and I don’t want to cast out blame, I’m not–I own my decisions and my choices–but I look back and think, had somebody put their arms around me, my dad, my mom, if I had told them, if I had told someone and they put their arms around me and said, “We’ll get through this together. You don’t have to make the choice that would seem obvious to you, because you’re not married and you’re in school and you don’t have finances,” and you know, all the things that girls are faced with. I look back and think, oh, my goodness. And that was God’s beautiful again, His grace and mercy in my life to be able to hold my LeeLee and say to her, “We will get through this.”

John: Earlier you mentioned how bonded Tommy was with your girls. And we’ve heard you respond with grace and acceptance for Lee when she said, “I’m pregnant.” How did Tommy handle that news?

Yvette: It’s a great question. John, it absolutely destroyed his heart and here’s why. Not that he didn’t love her, not that he didn’t put his arms around her, because he did.

John: So, he gave her what you didn’t get from a parent.

Yvette: Absolutely. He wrapped his arms around her. He told her he loved her. That was what happened between him and Lee. But in the privacy between my husband and me as we had to unpack that as a couple, his questions were, “What didn’t I do? What didn’t I say? What didn’t I give her that she would have gone looking for this particular love outside of marriage? What did I do?” He carried the weight of that.

John: Uh-hm.

Yvette: And we had to unpack the, “Tommy, you did everything. You did everything. I’ve watched you. I’ve been a witness to your life.” You have loved these girls. You have been a wonderful father, a man of God, the leader of our household. But here’s the thing. She had free will as we all have free will. She made this choice. And I think so oftentimes as parents, you know, we do those things. We do the things that Focus on the Family tells us to do (Chuckling). And yet, when it falls apart, if it falls apart in our families, we then go immediately to, “What didn’t I do?”

And I have to say to anyone listening right now, our kids have free will just like we have free will. And Lee will tell you if she were here today, she would say, “I never sought for anything more than what my earthly father and my heavenly Father gave me. but I made a choice.”

And you know what? I love my daughter and my son-in-law today, because they are both walking with the Lord and they would tell you, goodness, this was an easy trap to fall into. So, families, be aware. It’s an easy trap. But they would tell you that now in hindsight, they knew better and they made that decision.

Jim: Yvette, you told Lee about your past. She was 17 or 18 at this point. You had chosen not to talk about those things for all those years for different reasons. I’d like you to share with us so that parents can hear the wisdom in that or in hindsight, would you have shared more of your story earlier to help your kids understand it?

Yvette: Great question. You know, I sought wise counsel all through their growing up, Tommy and I did. And we kept thinking between us, when do we tell? When do we tell? When do we tell? And the wise counsel that I got said, “If you can do this, when these three things align, one, when they have a personal relationship with Christ themselves.

Jim: Uh-hm.

Yvette: They need to be able to really lean into that foundation as individuals. Two, when you have a good relationship and communication with your kids. Don’t tell them about your past during a hard time when you’re at those rocky spots, you know in their school or different things that they’re going through. If these three things can align, a personal relationship with Christ, a good relationship with you and your spouse and then thirdly, if you can avoid those hormonal adolescent years when they’re forming their sexuality and judgments and you know, they’re piecing all that together. If you can avoid that season. That was the counsel I got and that’s what Tommy and I adhered to.

Jim: So, do it a little after that.

Yvette: Yes, now I know that’s not gonna be the same for everybody. It’s not a one-size-fits-all. But we really did try to follow that and the kids would say things, like they would ask us questions. “Mama, did you ever smoke pot when you were growing up?” And I would say, “You know what? That is a big question with a big answer and someday we’ll talk about that.”

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: Or “Mama, were you a virgin when you and daddy got married?” “You know what? That’s a big question and someday we’ll talk in detail when you’re older.” Okay, I put ’em off, if you will.

Jim: You know, I heard a story from Corrie ten Boom where she talked about how her father used a suitcase I think it was as a way to explain why he couldn’t answer those probing questions about sexual sin. I thought it was a wonderful way to explain it. Her wise father said, “Can you pick that suitcase up and carry it up those stairs?” She said, “Oh, it’s too heavy.” And he said, “Well, that’s kinda like your questions. I’d be a poor father if I asked you to carry that luggage, because it is so heavy. And Corrie, it’s the same way with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. And when you’re older and stronger, we can discuss those issues that you can then manage. For right now, you can’t carry that suitcase. You need to trust me to carry it for you.” That is a really beautiful way to manage that with your kids. And I’ve used that already–

John: Hm.

Jim: –with my own boys. Let me ask you in hindsight the tough question. Do you think if you would’ve talked with her a year or two before her first boyfriend, would that have made a difference?

Yvette: You know, we have talked about it. My honest answer is I don’t know.

Jim: Yeah.

Yvette: I truly don’t know. I will tell you though, it was January 7th when Lee came home with this unexpected pregnancy news. And on January 20th of 2008, we did a family meeting. And we sat down as a family and I said, “Remember dad and I have always told you some day we would share our stories. It’s today.” And Tommy and I unpacked our past. We told them about my unplanned pregnancies. We told them about my abortion. We told them about our poor choices. We told them about our years of drug abuse.

Jim: This is really like your testimony.

Yvette: Totally, we told them everything. And all three kids sat in shock, ’cause remember, all they’d known is mama works at Focus on the Family.

John: Yeah, right.

Yvette: She’s a Christian. She’s a spokesperson for these things, okay. So, at that point, especially Lee, who’s sitting there pregnant is sob crying [sic]. And I said, “Lee, what’s on your heart?” And she said, “Mom, the fact that the Lord in His grace in all that you’ve been through and you with my story, would allow you to speak on His behalf gives me such hope.”

Jim and John: Hm.

Yvette: And she said, “I’ll get through this and the Lord’ll use me some day, won’t He?” “Oh, Honey, absolutely. Let me be a poster child for His mercy and His grace. You will be used,” as is anyone listening right now who has made that decision that they regret. The Lord can use it and He will.

Jim: I think that Scripture that talks about in our weakness the Lord is made strong. It’s not in our perfection. And I think it’s a wonderful place to be, a broken place. Yvette, after hearing that you were about to be a grandmother, you got some more unexpected news just a few days later. Tell us about that.

Yvette: I was actually driving into work here at Focus on the Family and got the phone call from my sister. And she said, “Dad has shot his girlfriend and he’s gone. The police are looking for him. They’ve got the helicopters. They’ve got the dogs.” Remember, he is a convicted felon. He served 10 years in Kentucky State Penitentiary for killing a man. He did his time. It was reduced to first-degree manslaughter, so he served out his 10 years. He had two years out of prison, which we all welcomed and were so excited to have dad back. And now we get a clean slate with dad and isn’t this great? And look, dad, look what you’ve missed in 10 years. You’ve got grandchildren. You’ve got great-grandchildren. We so welcomed him back and with such excitement and–

Jim: Right.

Yvette: –great expectation. So, the phone calls comes. My sister calls me and she says, “Dad has shot his girlfriend. They can’t find him. You need to get home.” Second phone call that I’ve had, “You need to get home.”

Jim: This is three days again, after your daughter’s told you, “Mommy, I’m pregnant.” Talk abouto an avalanche.

Yvette: Yeah, so, I turned around. I called into work that day. (Laughing) Focus on the Family, I’m not gonna make it. And I turned the car around and went back home. There sat Lee with her hair frankly, pulled up in a ponytail holder, because she’s having morning sickness. She’s there with her little sleeve of crackers. I can see the whole thing. Lee is sitting there. My husband, Tommy is there. And I walk in and say, “Sit down. Poppy (which they call my father) has shot his girlfriend, Sandy and he’s on the loose and I have to go.” And Lee starts crying and God bless my family. We just kick into gear. And I went and packed a black dress, because frankly, that’s all I thought I would need, because my sister kept saying, “This is not gonna end well.” So, I packed a black dress and my black shoes. That’s what I threw in a bag and went to the Denver airport.

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: When I got on the plane in Denver, I had to connect in Chicago before Lexington. I didn’t know if he was alive or dead.

Jim: Right.

Yvette: And so, I get on the plane. I finally arrive in Chicago, get a signal on my phone. I call my other sister, Sherry and I say, “What’s happened?” And she said, “He shot himself.”

John: Hm.

Yvette: “We don’t know if he’s alive or dead.”

Jim: Oh.

Yvette: “So, get on the plane. Get here.”

John: Goodness.

Yvette: “And when you get off the plane, we’re going to the hospital.”

Jim: I mean, torture; what torture.

Yvette: Yeah. I cried all [the way]. (Laughing) I mean, looking back on this I think people on the airplane must have been, “Oh, my goodness, what happened?” That’s all I could do. I just had so much overwhelming emotion.

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: And Lee’s back home and that whole thing and now this whole thing. And I just said, “Lord, how much does one person have to go through? I can’t take this. Why? I mean, Lee, that situation is enough. Why now dad again?” And I just cried out to Him and actually wrote in my journal–

Jim: Oh.

Yvette: –which is part of the book, what was happening at that moment. And I got off the airplane. My sister and my best friend, Lona met me there and we drove to the hospital. And at that point, the hospital’s surrounded by Kentucky State Police and there’s no way you’re getting in that hospital. And they wouldn’t tell us anything. And I just was sobbing to the receptionist saying, “Can you just tell us if he’s alive or dead? Just tell us if he’s alive or dead.” And she said, “You will have to call in the morning. You’ll have to get a judge’s orders,” which told us at least he was alive, somewhat, but we didn’t know.

Jim: Right, right.

Yvette: So, you know, that’s a whole story. I’ll say, read the book for the details, but he did live. He shot himself. He didn’t die. He shot half of his face off. My father is now missing his right eye and they were able to put in his jawbone and replace that.

Jim: Hm.

Yvette: So, fast forward, the woman he shot also did not die, but my dad is now back in prison serving a life sentence plus 10 years.

Jim: He’s in there today.

Yvette: Yes.

Jim: Oh, Yvette.

Yvette: Yeah.

Jim: Yvette, Boy again, just hearing your story, you know the Lord died for you. He died for your father, your mother–

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: –for your girls, for your kids and it’s just a powerful reminder that nobody is beyond God’s reach. Nobody is so low that God does not love you.

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: He loves you. He cares for you. Can I ask you [to pray]? We’re at the end of the time here. Can you pray for people that are going through maybe half of what you’ve gone through, maybe more than what you’ve gone through maybe half of what you’ve gone through, maybe more than what you’ve gone through. Can you pray that they might say to the Lord, “I’ll give you a year.”

Yvette: Uh-hm.

Jim: “Will You show up for me?”

Yvette: Absolutely, and Jim, I have to just say, I want to also pray, anyone walking through journeys similar to mine, like you said, or their own story, forgiveness is such a key. I can sit here today and tell you how much I love my father.

Jim: Yeah.

Yvette: We have a pen pal relationship now.

Jim: Oh.

Yvette: We write. I visit as often as I possibly can, love my mother, love our family, but the key I think in hindsight has been forgiveness.

Jim: Absolutely.

Yvette: So, I want to pray that.

Jim: It’s the difference.

Yvette: Lord, we just bow before You. Father, we come to You and anyone listening right now, Lord, I ask You, draw them in. Give them that hope, that peace, that love, that unconditional response that only Your grace and Your mercy can show them. And Father, may they open their heart to You. May they right now relinquish and say, “I am done; I’m tired. I give it over. The good, the bad and the ugly, Lord, I lay it at Your feet.”

And Father, I know that You will receive that and by Your blood, You have redeemed that. You have restored that and You will work in their lives. So, Father, I pray right now for anyone listening who’s heart is breaking, who needs that hope that only You can offer. I pray for them right now. I pray, Lord, that they would forgive, that they would grab ahold of Your truth and Your love and let go of the pain and the hurt that they’ve experienced. Forgiving and relinquishing and accepting the beauty of Your grace and the beauty of Your mercy.

Father, may they walk today differently than they’ve walked ever before and say, “Today moving forward, Lord, it’s Yours and I give it to You.” And we pray this by the mighty power and the name of Jesus, amen.


John: And what a beautiful prayer from Yvette Maher to wrap up our three-day series with her on “Focus on the Family.” And Jim, Yvette has so wonderfully expressed a profound truth, that God is gracious and compassionate. He’s slow to anger. He’s abounding in love and forgiveness. And her life reflects that so beautifully.

Jim: That’s a powerful reminder to all of us, John, because I’m sure there are many people listening to us right now who have gone through really difficult circumstances, perhaps similar to what Yvette experienced and those have left you angry, bitter, maybe confused. Where was God when your marriage fell apart? Or maybe when your prodigal child left home? Or when you didn’t get the answer you’d been praying for, for so many years? Where was God in those circumstances?

It’s clear from Yvette’s story that God was there all along, just like her mom praying for her as she got home drunk as she described,. When she didn’t feel like God was close to her, He was there. And of course, no one can explain why terrible things happen in this life other than to say, that’s the reality of our broken sinful world.

Jesus Himself warned us that we would face trouble and persecution and suffering in this life. He also promised to be with you in every one of those difficult circumstances. And if you’re struggling and you need to find a sense of godly hope again, I encourage you to contact us here at Focus on the Family. That’s why we’re here. We have many resources and tools–programs, websites, a counseling team. All of these are designed to help strengthen you in your marriage, in your parenting, in your family. So, contact us today. Let’s see what God will do to transform your life and bring you hope.

John: And our number is 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459 or you can find help for you and your family at .

Jim: John, we mentioned at the beginning of our program that this is Sanctity of Human Life Week and this is when we celebrate the precious gift of human life that God bestowed upon each one of us. Tragically many people don’t see the value or worth of life in today’s culture. Yvette Maher didn’t either when she had the abortion as a teenager. And then she contemplated another one before she married her husband, Tommy. Then many years later, Yvette and Tommy faced the decision again when their daughter, Lee experienced her own unplanned pregnancy. Thankfully, the family made the godly choice to keep the baby and they all pitched in to support Lee.

I can remember we actually did Lee’s baby shower at our house. Jean hosted it. That’s something we can all do, is to pitch in and help a young woman who finds herself in this difficulty, to help rescue teen girls and young women who think they have no other option by abortion. Like Lee and Yvette, these women need to know about God’s love, to know someone cares about them and their baby and to know there’s hope for the future.

I’m reminded of one woman’s story I heard not long ago. She contacted Focus on the Family and said this. “I want to thank your counselor for his encouragement. When I called, I was in the midst of contemplating having an abortion. One hundred percent, hands down, it was your counselor and my nana who talked me into keeping my baby. He just turned 1 and every time he does something new, I think of how grateful I am for your ministry.”

And let me just turn to you to say thank you for supporting Focus in such a way that we can be there on the phones, with counseling, through our Option Ultrasound ministry; 382,000 babies have been saved through that program. And it’s because of you and the Lord blessing what you’re doing sacrificially to give to Focus. And it wouldn’t get done without you. We’re the conduit, but you are pouring into people’s lives through Focus on the Family and I want to say thank you for that.

John: And that number, Jim, 382,000 babies saved through Option Ultrasound is incredible, but the cost for the program is relatively small. It’s just $60 to save the life of one of those precious kids.

Jim: You know, John, when I compare that to what it costs to perform the abortion, it’s about $600 for an abortion. We could save the life of a baby for $60 and that is hopefully, motivating for each one of us, me included, me and Jean, to support Option Ultrasound, to be there in that moment of crisis for these women. I hope you could do that. Let’s save lives today. Can you send $60 to help us do that? I hope you can.

John: To donate, simply call 1-800-A-FAMILY or stop by And please allow us to say thank you for your generosity by sending a complimentary copy of Yvette Maher’s book, My Hair and God’s Mercies… New Every Morning.

Also when you get in touch, be sure to ask about a CD or a download of our three-part conversation with Yvette that we’ve enjoyed for these past three days. Now coming up tomorrow on “Focus on the Family,” why Christians need to engage today’s culture with a lot more kindness.


Dr. Barry Corey: Not just to do kindness in some “Nike-esque” kind of way. We don’t do kindness; we love kindness and that means kindness is not a random act. It’s a radical life.

End of Clip

John: That’s Dr. Barry Corey. He’s the president of Biola University and wants to bring this Christian virtue of kindness back into today’s political and social arena. I’m John Fuller and on behalf of Focus on the Family president, Jim Daly and our entire team, thanks for listening and join us again tomorrow, 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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