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How God Redeemed My Teen Pregnancy (Part 1 of 2)

How God Redeemed My Teen Pregnancy (Part 1 of 2)

Lindsay Pepin Ophus, her mother, Scarlet, and her aunt Bethany share their inspiring story of how God brought about redemption in their family when Lindsay became pregnant as a teenager. Our guests describe how God's grace turned distress into hope when Bethany was moved to adopt her niece's baby. (Part 1 of 2)
Original Air Date: February 19, 2020

Excerpt:

Kinley Pepin: I’m seven, and, um, my name’s Kinley. I wanna be a vet. I wanted to be a doctor, but I like dogs and all kinds of animals, so I wanna take care of them.

End of Excerpt

(Laughter)

John Fuller: So, at seven years old Kinley is already starting to dream about what she’s going to be doing in life. Today on Focus on the Family, you’re going to hear how God is already using her as a seven-year-old as a testament to his perfect plans. Your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. And I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John we’re able to interview some very well-known guests on this broadcast. And that’s always an honor. But sometimes my favorite conversations and the broadcast that the listeners seem to connect with most are with ordinary people who have extraordinary stories. And that was the case when we had Scarlett Pepín and her daughter Lindsay in the studio. Their story is about an unplanned pregnancy and Lindsay’s bravery and sacrifice, God’s grace and the family’s choice to adopt a precious girl named Kinley, who we just heard from in the beginning there. And I wasn’t surprised when this broadcast had a huge response from you, our listeners, and it became a best of 2020 program. So today, we wanted to share this broadcast again to remind you that God can and will always use your mistakes and your pain for a greater purpose.

John: And let me mention that Scarlett and Lindsay have written a book called Joy Will Come Exchange Shame for Redemption. And we’ve got that at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And now here’s how we started part one of this best of 2020 conversation with the Pepin’s.

Jim: Lindsay and Scarlet, welcome to Focus on the Family.

Lindsay Pepin Ophus: Hi. Thanks for having us.

Jim: It is great.

Scarlet Pepin: We’re glad to be here.

Jim: Yeah. We’re so glad you’re here. And thank you for the courage in writing the book and – and your willingness to speak. You speak often on this topic and what, uh, God has led you through. And so, we’re grateful for that. Lindsay, let me start with you. You were a senior in high school, and everything was going smoothly, right?

Lindsay Ophus: Mm hmm. Yes.

Jim: Pretty much.

Lindsay: Right.

Jim: But you had a bit of a secret going on. And this is so good for all of us Christian parents to hear. Um, and I – again, I especially appreciate your willingness to talk about this. And there’s no shame.

Lindsay: Definitely.

Jim: There’s only going forward and correcting errors and seeking forgiveness…

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: …From the Lord and those you love. And so, I hope you feel that today.

Lindsay: Definitely.

Jim: It’s already got me in tears here.

Lindsay: Aw.

Scarlet: Aw.

Jim: But, um, know that and…

Lindsay: Thank you.

Jim: …As we unfold your story. But what was that secret? What was going on?

Lindsay: Yeah. So, like you said, I grew up in a – in a seemingly perfect family. I had the all – all the cards stacked in my favor. Um, you know, I – I was blessed with the best parents. I went to church every Sunday. Um, but my big secret was that I was sleeping with my boyfriend. So, I had been dating someone on and off for about five years, and, um, we were making decisions in our relationship that I knew weren’t right. And, um, I felt the weight and the guilt of that, and I tried to go to God consistently. But I got to the point where I just felt so shameful and so dirty and so – you know, I just kept feeling that gap of I can’t go back. I can’t go back to God. He cannot fix this. I’m too dirty. I’m too messy to go to the cross, so I need to figure this out on my own.

Jim: Yeah.

Lindsay: And when we get to that point where we’re – we’re gonna figure it out on our own, that’s when we’re really in some trouble. So…

Jim: Wow. I mean, phew, you have really prayed this through, thought this through.

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, you’re articulate on this. I can’t wait because there’s so many directions here. I’m already poppin’. My head’s full of questions.

Lindsay: Right.

Jim: An obvious one, you know, with such a good, stable environment, uh, why? Because, you know, we as parents, I’ve got – I’ve got two teenage boys. And I’m sittin’ there, goin’, “We’re hoping we’ve done everything right.”

Lindsay: Right.

Jim: I’m sure, like your mom and dad – we’re gonna hear from you in a minute, Mom…

Scarlet: (Laughter).

Jim: …But, um, I’m sure they were, you know, approaching that formula and thinking, “OK, we’ve got all the boxes checked.”

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: She knows the Lord. She, um, prays before bed.

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: She prays with us at mealtime. She’s going through the family devotional together.

Lindsay: Right.

Jim: But still, there was that area of your life. Can you – can you tell us why?

Lindsay: Yeah, I think that’s the number 1 question I get from Christian parents, is why.

Jim: Yeah.

Lindsay: Why did it not work out? What happened there?

Jim: Well, because we as parents, we’re performance oriented.

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: So, we’re thinking we’ve done all the right laps. We’ve done all the right things.

Lindsay: Yeah, definitely.

Jim: And we’re – we’re, like, stunned.

Lindsay: Right. And they did do all the right things. That was the thing. And, you know…

Jim: So, it’s not about us, maybe.

Lindsay: It – and that was the biggest thing.

Jim: (Laughter).

Lindsay: That’s the number 1 thing I say, is your children make decisions that are their decisions. And as parents, you have to remember that you can’t take on their decisions is a reflection of, “Oh, well, I messed up. I did this. I did that.” They’re humans. They’re budding adults. They’re making new decisions. They’re testing out the waters. They’re trying out new things. Um, so that’s – that’s the first and foremost, is, parents, your children will make decisions that go against everything that you’ve taught them. And that’s just life.

Jim: Right. Let’s go to that day. And it’s – Scarlet, we’re really gonna get you in here, but I wanna hear from Lindsay first. Um, let’s go to that day when you actually found out you’re pregnant. What – what was the environment like?

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: What was the setting? And what did you hear, and how did you respond?

Lindsay: Yeah. So, um, it was kind of a threefold finding out. Um, you know, I took a pregnancy test. It came back negative. Um…

Jim: How old are you?

Lindsay: I am at this point – I am newly 18.

Jim: OK.

Lindsay: So, I was a – I was an older senior, but, um, newly 18. I took a pregnancy test, came back negative. Phew, dodged a bullet. OK, we’re good. Um, multiple days went by, and I still did not start my period so then I took another pregnancy test, and this one turned positive as soon as it got wet. So, it was – it was ready to go. So, it was positive, and it was, “Oh, my goodness. What’s going on? This can’t be right. You know, I’ve had a negative. Now I’ve had a positive. I need to go and get this checked.” So, um, the first thing I think of is, “I can’t go to my pediatrician. They’re gonna call my mom, so I – I need to go somewhere else.” So, um, the only place I knew to go was Planned Parenthood. So that is where I went. Um, I went. I filled out paperwork. I filled out all the information and the whole time thinking, “There’s no way this is my life. There is no way this is happening. I’m a Pepin. Pepin’s don’t get pregnant. Pepins don’t go to Planned Parenthood. Pepin’s don’t have these scenarios. This – this isn’t happening.”

Jim: Mom, Scarlet.

Scarlet: Yes.

Jim: OK. The mom’s listening, or going, “When is Mom gonna talk?”

Scarlet: Yeah (laughter).

Jim: But let’s hear your heart. Um, how did that go down when Lindsay came home, I’m assuming…

Scarlet: Yes.

Jim: But you paint the picture.

Scarlet: Yeah.

Jim: What was that discussion like when she said, “OK…”

Scarlet: Yeah.

Jim: “…I’m pregnant.”

Scarlet: So, we thought we kinda had the ducks in a row as far as parenting. And nothing was perfect in our eyes, but everything seemed to be going on trackSo, it was a Saturday morning and, um, one of those just easygoing mornings. And my – Lindsay sits down at the kitchen table, says, “What do you guys have planned?” And I said, “Oh, I think we’re gonna head to Home Depot.”

Jim: (Laughter).

Scarlet: It was that casual.

Jim: Sounds like a Saturday morning (laughter).

Scarlet: Oh, just a Saturday morning. We – you know, my husband had…

Jim: The to-do list (laughter).

Scarlet: Yes. My husband had made pancakes, just a normal feeling…

Jim: Yeah.

Scarlet: …Saturday morning. And at that point, we say, “Home Depot.” And Lindsay’s head hits the breakfast table like a rag doll. I mean, her long hair’s hanging down. And a sound came out of my daughter I have never heard. It was in between a moan and, um, a wail. And to hear that sound from your child was very much a panic “What is wrong? What is wrong?” And she’s sobbing and can’t get the words out. Um, my husband said his first thought was, “Did she hit someone with the car last night?”

Jim: Right.

Scarlet: Like, it was that much of an emotional reaction that we…

Jim: Some big wrong.

Scarlet: Huge.

Jim: But that caught him. Like, something bad happened.

Scarlet: Oh, yes. It was a we’ve gotta help our kid. What is going on?

Jim: Yeah.

Scarlet: And she said two words that I never saw coming. Absolutely. I could not believe that these words came out of her mouth. And they were just two words. And it was, “I’m pregnant.” And my first reaction was, I’ve gotta leave the room. If I leave the room, that means this scene didn’t just happen. And so, something happens psychologically. You’re not thinking it through. But it was like, I – you know, maybe it’s fight or flight.

Jim: Yeah.

Scarlet: But it was like, maybe if I run or get out of this room, then my life is different than what just happened (laughter).

Jim: You know…

Scarlet: Really an odd feeling.

Jim: This is really important because there are some listening that either this just happened to or it’s about to happen to.

Scarlet: Yes.

Jim: And I wanna make sure parents hear this really clearly. This is the moment of truth. Um, how you react in this moment could very easily set the relationship with your child for the rest of your life.

Scarlet: Yes. That’s a great point.

Jim: What did you do?

Scarlet: But when it was happening, I didn’t realize I was setting that (laughter). You’re just – in fact, it’s almost a – first thing is a little bit of a selfishness. Your first thought is, “How did this happen, um, on my watch?” You know, hate to make it all about me, but that’s…

Jim: But guilt. Guilt?

John: Yeah.

Scarlet: …The first reaction. Guilt, absolute guilt.

Lindsay: Yeah.

Scarlet: And I said…

Jim: What will my friends say?

Scarlet: I wasn’t that far along in the thinking…

Jim: Yeah.

Scarlet: …Because you’re too much in a panic of those words didn’t just come out. And so, my first, I think, sentence – well, first, I said, “No,” as in this can’t be true. And then the next thing that came out was “I would have helped you.” So, it went to guilt immediately.

Lindsay: Yeah. She just kept screaming, “No, no,” and then, “I could’ve helped you. I could’ve helped you,” and kept getting in – like, even leaning into my face, “I could’ve helped you.” And it was this complete panic as my dad’s banging his fist on the table.

Jim: So that’s what – that was your dad…

Scarlet: Anger.

Lindsay: Yeah, he went to anger.

John: Oh.

Lindsay: “Who did this? How did this happen? When did this happen?” Wanting all the facts and banging his fists. And I’m just a – a puddle, just, sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, and just couldn’t – couldn’t – you’re watching – you just created this tornado. You crushed your parents’ feelings and their hopes. And they’re in complete, utter shock and panic. And you’re the source of all of it. So much instant shame and guilt.

Jim: So how did – either one of you, how did you process the next 10 minutes, 30 minutes, hour, day? I mean, what…

Lindsay: Day would be accurate. (laughter) Yeah.

Scarlet: Yeah.

Jim: What – what was that like. What were – OK, how do I get my balance? How do you come back to the room?

Scarlet: Yeah. It was just a punch in the gut that I don’t think – for 24 hours, you’re just – you’re just reeling, trying to – what do we do? What do we do? What do we do? And a lot of times – and, um, anger’s a secondary emotion. And so, for my husband, anger was first. How could this happen on my watch, was his feeling. And so…

Jim: Every dad of a daughter is saying, “Yeah.”

Scarlet: Oh yeah.

Jim: Agreeing with you.

Scarlet: And, you know, he felt like, I – I – I met every any boy that dated her. We met at the door. I shook his hand. I told him that there’s a strong presence here, a fatherly presence. And so, he felt a failure. How did this happen? And like I said, I think it was the surprise factor in that it – this was not a – a teenager that had given us worry or concern.

Jim: Right.

Scarlet: So that day we – I remember we went – Brad, my husband, got right, you know – OK, we’re sitting down. I wanna hear everything. I wanna hear where you were. I wanna hear when it happened. I wanna hear – remember? He would say…

Lindsay: Oh, yeah (laughter).

Scarlet: Give me location.

Lindsay: Do I remember? Yeah.

Scarlet: I need – it was just, how could you?

Jim: He was down to data.

Lindsay: Yeah.

Scarlet: Oh, he was down to data and – and logic…

Jim: Yeah.

Scarlet: …And that, um, through his pain. The other part that played an interesting point, uh, or part of this, is that we had an eighth-grade daughter at that point. And she – well, we still have her, but now she’s all grown.

(Laughter)

Scarlet: But anyway, so in eighth grade, she had never, you know, even thought, you know – maybe thought about it – but never kissed a boy or held hands or anything like that.

Jim: Sure.

Scarlet: And so, to watch that child too, as a parent, she is just devastated because she’s hugging my husband. And she goes – she told me later, “I could feel Dad shaking. I’ve never felt my big dad shake, you know?” And so, to watch her and the anger that she put towards Lindsay on how could you do this to us, I mean, it really became a – how could you, Lindsay – her quote was, “We’re the Pepin girls.” So, it kinda…

Jim: That meant something to you.

Lindsay: Oh, yeah.

Jim: I mean, not everybody would have that, but there was a standard that you felt.

Lindsay: A thousand percent. A – our last name carried so much weight on who we were. We were a unit. We were the Pepin family. And the Pepin family had standards and responsibilities and, you know, upheld certain values. And – and I think a lot of that came to a lot of my shame and a lot of my hiding and a lot of my guilt was, like, I’ve ruined the family name. Like, I’ve tarnished who we are as a unit. And it was – it wasn’t, you know, oh, well, you know, Lindsay’s pregnant. You know, the rest of the family’s gonna move on. I mean, it shattered our whole family.

Jim: Yeah.

Scarlet: Think we were just so tight knit. And I didn’t feel as a parent that we were trying to hold up a name. But our kids did.

Jim: Wow. That’s interesting.

Scarlet: That’s kind of clueless (laughter).

John: This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. And you can find the book – and you can find this story captured in the book Joy Will Come: Exchange Shame for Redemption, written by our guests, Lindsay Pepin Ophus and Scarlett Pepin. And, uh, we’ve got copies of that and other help. In fact, we have a counseling team. If you’re finding yourself identifying with the crisis moments that they’re describing, uh, that’s all at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Or give us a call. Uh, our number is 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Scarlet, let me – let me tap into something I think you just mentioned, um – in – specifically in the book Joy Will Come. You talk about the scrapbook analogy.

Scarlet: Yes.

Jim: Um, because I think a lot of moms are going to identify with…

Scarlet: Yes.

Jim: …Especially Christian moms. I’m thinking my wife, Jean. And, you know, they’re just trying so hard to be perfect.

Scarlet: Yes.

Jim: You know, so you scrapbook, and you get the pages and the pictures.

Scarlet: Yes (laughter).

Jim: And you’ve got them on the wall.

Scarlet: Absolutely.

Jim: And you’re paying $14 million a page to do that scrapbooking, by the way…

(Laughter)

Jim: …Which us husbands go, “What? How much are we paying for a scrapbook?”

(Laughter)

Scarlet: Yes, yes.

Jim: But I get it. And, I mean, so many of the listeners understand that, too.

Scarlet: Yes. So, I would say probably my number 1 job in my life that I felt responsible for was being a great mom – a great wife, too. But this motherhood thing was – it was the most important thing to me, I feel like. Um, and so the scrapbook analogy was just a feeling of, here I’ve been handed this little girl, Lindsay, you know, 18 years before and put bows in her hair and taught her to brush her teeth and taught her about Jesus and memorized her love languages and tried to get it all down just right. And then you turn the page, and they’re growing up. And she’s doing – you know, taking her to Sunday school and enjoying who she is. But I felt like I got to the point where – she announced she was pregnant within that next week. I felt like I had left my whole project out in the rain. It was almost like I had grabbed my scrapbook – figuratively, you know, as an analogy here – that Lindsay’s life – now what? And not that I was labeling her as the pregnant teenager. But now what? The plans for, OK, do they get married? Is she gonna get married? Is she gonna go off to college? You know, I had things kind of going down – down the road that I thought was – was great. You know, like, um, – their – first grade, they hold up the sign – this is what we do in Tulsa anyway. They hold up the sign in front of the front door – first grade. You get their picture. Second grade – their picture.

Jim: (laughter) Right.

Scarlet: And you’re watching them grow.

Jim: Yeah.

Scarlet: But I didn’t picture senior year pregnant. That just didn’t ever cross my mind.

Jim: Right.

Scarlet: And so, the scrapbook analogy is just kind of seeing those pages look like all the dreams I had for her.

Jim: Well, and to go a little further in that direction, uh, you had that startling realization that maybe you had made idols out of your kids.

Scarlet: Yes.

Jim: Speak to this because so many moms are gonna say, that’s me.

Scarlet: Yes. And I will tell you I did not know that. That’s what’s so interesting.

Jim: Define it, though, ’cause moms don’t know…

Scarlet: Yes, yeah.

Jim: How much they idolize their kids.

Scarlet: Idolize their kids. Yes. And it’s all for a good cause, we think. You know, that’s a good thing to be a loving mom. But even good things can become an idol. They’re almost sneakier that way, I think.

Jim: What’s that boundary line? I mean, you’re saying it, but help me. I don’t quite get it. When do I cross the line to creating an idol out of my child?

Scarlet: When I look back at it, I think it came down to I love God. I love the Lord. I’m spending time, you know, in the Bible. But if my kid has a school project, I will get back to God (laughter). In other words, I gotta stay up until 3 a.m. to get this school project done when in my heart and in my spirit, I can feel the Lord drawing me to, “Hey, come away with Me. Let’s spend some time together.” And the only way I can explain it is – you’re reading the Word. You’re spending time with the Lord. You’re putting Him first. Also, it unraveled some of my identity. I’m a good mom. So, um, that was part of my identity. Um, these kids – you can make them all about them, especially, I think, in our society now. Um, Instagram and all the postings, and they have their own hashtags, and I’m not – I’m not slamming on anybody, but I think as mamas, we need to be real careful, um, because nothing can come before our relationship with the Lord.

Jim: Yeah. This, uh, this area – I’m gonna ask a couple of really sensitive questions. And I appreciate your honesty toward each other. You’ve obviously gone through this and processed it, so I’m not shocking you by this. But, um, Lindsay, you say the pressure to be the perfect Christian girl made you vulnerable. All of us parents just went “What? What?” ‘Cause we don’t – we’re not grabbing that.

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: And looking back, was there anything anyone could’ve done differently? And what set you up? You use this story in the book about giving the stars for achievement. That’s something we’ve talked about here at Focus a lot.

Scarlet: Mmm hmm. Yes.

Lindsay: (laughter) Mmm hmm.

Jim: You know, we think that’s a good thing.

Scarlet: Right.

Jim: You know, put a star when you hit the mark, and you do your chores, and that’s a good thing. How did the star chart play into this…

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: …About this idea of perfection?

Lindsay: Yeah. I think really what it boiled down to was, um, there were such a standard and there was such a place that you had to achieve. You had to get all your check marks. You had to get all your stars to be the good daughter. And there was rewards – if you do this, then you get this reward. If you do this – if you don’t do that, you don’t get your star. You don’t get your reward. So, it felt like my love with my parents was tingent on if I met all the check marks. If I did everything right, my parents would love me. And then it went back to – at church, “Well, are you guys reading your Bibles every morning? Are you praying every morning? Are you -” Well, if I don’t read my Bible this morning, then God doesn’t love me today? And I started to really interpret it – if I don’t hit all the check marks in every area of my life, then I am unlovable. And so when I started to believe those lies and get into that isolation, then when I started to make decisions out of – well, I’m not gonna be perfect anyway, so I might as well do whatever I want, and I kind of moved – kind of swung a little too far, it became…

Jim: Because you couldn’t hit the mark.

Lindsay: Yeah. There was a – there was a – I couldn’t hit the mark. I could never achieve, so I’ll just go ahead and swing. This person seems to love me, so we’ll go ahead and swing this way. And then it turns into, well, now everybody thinks I’m still getting all my check marks, so I can’t go get help. I can’t go to the church because they think I’m a good Christian girl. If they only knew, then God would definitely not love me. I could never show up to church. If my parents knew, they would disown me. They would never, you know, allow me to see this person anymore. It turned into – I had a facade of, yes, I’m perfect, so now I can no longer get help because there’s no authenticity in who I am.

Jim: Well, and you – you’re really on it. And again, I appreciate the thoughtfulness in which you’re saying this. And I think all of us as parents – Scarlet, don’t feel guilty. We’re all doing it.

Scarlet: Mmm hmm. Oh, I’m on the couch – I thought this – right? Yeah.

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: We’re all – we’re all doing it.

Scarlet: Uh-huh.

Jim: But what yeah. How do you react to that?

Scarlet: Right. Uh, because our – our way of thinking and still was – well, obedience has rewards, right? Like, you do it God’s way, and you have this great life. So, one plus one equals two.

Jim: And that’s true.

Scarlet: Right. But there has to be a human factor in there, too, that somehow, we missed. Um…

Lindsay: The grace factor, honestly, when it comes to God.

Scarlet: The grace and free will, too.

Jim: Yeah.

Scarlet: I think that plays into it, too. There’s some free will. These are – our children are not robots. Um, but – yeah, go ahead.

Jim: How – well, I was just gonna say, how – help me. I mean, I’ve got a 17-year-old at home.

Lindsay: (Laughter) Yeah.

Jim: So now I’m all anxious. Now…

Lindsay: Right?

Scarlet: (Laughter) Not helping.

Jim: No, seriously, though. But on behalf of all the listeners, uh, what – what can we do as parents – and really, from both of your perspectives now that you’ve learned when we’re putting the stars up there… And we’re giving the accolades, and we’re making it a very performance-based relationship, how do we augment that? What could have been done in your opinion to help us to do a little better job of talking about God’s grace?

Lindsay: Yeah. I think the candidness. I – this is something I think about when I’m gonna be, you know, raising children in the future is, what will I – what will I personally do differently? And I think that’s the candidness of, yeah, even Mom and Dad make mistakes, even Mom and Dad sin. Yep, Mom told a lie the other day, and it really wasn’t great, and here’s how it made me feel, and here’s – you know, kind of letting your children learn from you, even when you’re, you know, being ugly and not – and in sin, let your kids see the different areas. Talk to them about what you struggled with and – and validate and make it a conversation, and here’s – you’re not isolated. I get it. I used to be a teenager. You know, having those conversations of, “Let’s be open, and let’s all talk about this.” And I think about it from a parent standpoint and even from the church standpoint. We need to be OK to say, from the pulpit, “Yeah, I’m the pastor, and I still make mistakes, and I still sin.” “And I still fall short. But God’s grace is constantly there. You can always come back home.”

Jim: Yeah.

Lindsay: “We always have open arms.” And I think – I think just some candidness. Because, to be honest, as I’m an adult and I hear things more now about my parents and, you know, shortcomings that they’ve had in the past, it’s like, why didn’t you say something? Like, oh, my goodness. And it was crazy, when people found out I was pregnant, how many of my friends’ moms and older, you know, Christian women in my life said, “That happened to me, too.” Or “I struggled with that, too.” Or “I’ve walked that, too.” And I’m like, where were you when I was struggling in my sin? Why were we not having these discussions when you could have helped stop and prevent me from getting to the point where you’ve now felt that hurt, too? And so that was a long, roundabout answer, but it…

Jim: No, it’s really helpful. That authenticity is what I hear you saying.

Lindsay: Authenticity, yes.

Jim: And – and yet, you know, the thing is, we want to project this perfection.

Lindsay: Right.

Jim: Because we want you to live up to it.

Lindsay: Yes.

Jim: That’s the bottom line.

Lindsay: Yep.

Jim: Now, this is a horrible trap for you. I mean, it’s – it’s vicious.

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: How low did that get, bouncing between living this dual life of, “They don’t know what I’ve done or what I’m doing…”

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: …Which was having sex with your boyfriend…

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: …Versus winning the stars and doing all the things to win you accolades about your Christian life?

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: I mean, wow. Did you – what was your lowest point in that regard?

Lindsay: I mean, I think the leading all up to it. I mean, that was – it was something that ate me alive from the moment that I made the first decision to, you know, move into that type of relationship. I mean, it was something to where I would practice lies in the car before I got home so that I could be candid to my parents on what I actually did that night. I got to that point where I’m like, well, I have to make sure even my lies sound good, so they believe me. And I just – I mean, my self-worth was completely deteriorated. I kept having those thoughts of, Lindsay, what are you doing? This is not who you are. You need to – you know, it was the Holy Spirit – I know that now – saying to me, “Come on, girl. Like, you – you know better than this.” And then it just turned into, I’m just too far gone, that it just is what it is. There’s – there’s no saving me at this point. And I’ll just get through, you know, high school. I’ll leave my parents’ house. I’ll then live my own life, and we’ll go from there. And if I come back to God, I do. If I don’t, you know -it just was, uh – it was just rock bottom.

Jim: So, I’m sure some women are saying, “You could make this problem disappear.”

Lindsay: Yep. Yeah.

Jim: “Quietly.”

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: “You didn’t have to be that embarrassed girl or that embarrassed family.”

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: And I want to talk to you about that.

Lindsay: Definitely.

Jim: But just so we don’t leave people wondering what did you do, you did not abort the child.

Lindsay: Correct. I chose life for my daughter and placed her for adoption.

Jim: And we want to come back next time and talk about that aspect of the story because it’s equally intriguing.

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: Um, there’s so many elements to this. It ended up being a family member.

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: And we’re gonna bring her in and talk with her…

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: …Next time about the solution and how you guys worked through this. And here’s the question I really wanted to hit. And again, if, uh, a family has just gone through this or if you’re even unaware, Mom and Dad, you’re about to go through this, sin has a way of working itself – and for the Lord, using it for His and for our good.

Lindsay: Yes.

Jim: That’s the thing we – we don’t always embrace. Because I’m hearing the two of you interact right now, watching you – you’re in a good place.

Lindsay: Oh, definitely.

Scarlet: Mm hmm. I think better than before the pregnancy.

Lindsay: Yeah.

Scarlet: And our – my husband, too.

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: But it doesn’t mean – encourage your daughter to go get pregnant.

Scarlet: Right.

Lindsay: Right. Don’t. Don’t.

(Laughter)

Jim: That’s not the point at all.

Scarlet: No.

Jim: But the point of it is, is this life has and magnifies our shortcomings.

Lindsay: Yeah.

Scarlet: Mmm hmm.

Jim: But God can use that, like he did in David’s life…

Scarlet: Yeah.

Lindsay: Yes.

Jim: …King David…

Scarlet: Oh yeah.

Jim: …To be more than what he was in that moment. And that’s what I see in you guys, that the Lord has used this and used it in your life so you can actually be closer to Him…

Scarlet: Yes, absolutely.

Lindsay: Definitely.

Jim: …Bolder for Him, a warrior, spiritually speaking, for Him.

Scarlet: Yes, absolutely.

Jim: Does that resonate?

Lindsay: Yes.

Scarlet: Yes. We’re a stronger family because…

Lindsay: Yeah.

Jim: Oh, the Pepin family…

Scarlet: Yes.

Lindsay: Yes, we’re back.

(Laughter)

Jim: …Is actually stronger now?

Scarlet: We are stronger. We’re more real and have a testimony and an absolutely beautiful granddaughter.

Lindsay: Yes.

Jim: Well, we’re gonna come back and talk about that and the solutions that you struggled through next time. Can you stick with us?

Lindsay: Definitely.

Jim: Let’s do it.

John: Be sure to tune in next time for this best of 2020 Focus on the Family broadcast. We’ll continue the conversation with Scarlett and Lindsay and Kinley’s adoptive mom will join the conversation as well.

Jim: Ah John, I so appreciate the reminder that if we invite God into our mistakes, challenges and hard times, he can make us and our families stronger than ever before. That’s the point. It’s great to remember here at the end of such a challenging year. Families in crisis, struggling parents, couples on the verge of divorce. Thousands of families have reached out to us in the past months who are desperately longing for the hope of Jesus. And this Christmas, you can be a conduit for that hope. We need your support here to continue providing life changing spiritual help to hurting families. Please join our support team today. And right now, through a special matching opportunity, your gift will go twice as far. So, give now before the matching deadline and give families the gift of hope. And when you give, we’ll send you a copy of Lindsay and Scarlet’s book. Joy Will Come: Exchange Shame for Redemption to say thank you for being a part of the ministry.

John: Yeah, we’re listener supported and you can join that support team when you call 800-A-FAMILY or donate and get the book at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us for Focus on the Family, I’m John Fuller, inviting you back as we continue the conversation and once more help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

Joy Will Come: Exchange Shame for Redemption

Receive our guests' book Joy Will Come for your donation of any amount. Your gift between now and December 31 will be matched – dollar for dollar – up to $6 million!

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Cover image of the book "The 40-Day Sugar Fast"

The 40-Day Sugar Fast: Where Physical Detox Meets Spiritual Transformation

Welcome to the 40-Day Sugar Fast, a fast that begins with us giving Jesus our sugar and ends with Jesus giving us himself–the only thing that can ever truly satisfy our soul’s deep hunger. On this 40-day journey you’ll learn how to stop fixating on food and other things you use to fill the voids in life and instead fix your eyes on Christ. Anyone who runs to sugar for comfort or a reward, who eats mindlessly or out of boredom, who feels physically and spiritually lethargic, or who struggles with self-control will discover here not only freedom from their cravings but an entirely new appetite for the good things God has for us.

Understanding the Root of Your Child's Misbehavior - Part 2

Often, children act out because they are used to getting attention through bad behavior. Dr. Kevin Leman offers advice to help parents transform their child’s behavior. He discusses the benefits of allowing your kids to learn from real-life consequences and describes the importance of understanding your child’s temperament based on his birth order.

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman

Dr. Kevin Leman is an internationally known family psychologist and an award-winning, New York Times best-selling author. He is also a popular public speaker and media personality who has made countless guest appearances on numerous radio and TV programs. Dr. Leman has written more than 50 books including The Birth Order BookHave a New Kid by Friday and Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours.

Bundle of Why Your Kids Misbehave

Why Your Kids Misbehave and What to Do about It

Tantrums. Talking back. Throwing toys or food. Meltdowns. Slamming doors. Kids know just how to push your buttons. You’ve tried all sorts of methods, but nothing seems to work. In this book, Dr. Kevin Leman reveals exactly why kids misbehave and how you can turn that behavior around with practical, no-nonsense strategies that really work . . . and are a long-term win for both of you.

Loving Your Spouse Through the Seasons of Marriage - Part 2

Debra Fileta has identified the four seasons of marriage that correspond with our natural seasons – spring (new life and new love), summer (things get hot!), fall (showing our true colors), and winter (long days ahead). In this interview, she will help couples better understand the four seasons of healthy relationships, what to expect during each one, and how to carefully navigate them for a stronger marriage.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage.

Love in Every Season: Understanding the Four Stages of a Healthy Relationship

Every relationship goes through four life-changing seasons: Spring. Summer. Fall. Winter. Each season plays an important role in taking your relationship to the next level. And depending on how you navigate each season, your relationship will either flourish and grow, or it will slowly die. Whether you’re single, dating, engaged or married, join licensed professional counselor and relationship expert, Debra Fileta as she takes you on an eye-opening psychological and spiritual journey through the four seasons that she has observed in every healthy relationship.

Reconciling Faith and Science in a Medical Crisis

Dr. Lee Warren is a neurosurgeon who has faced many heavy challenges in his life – from serving in the Iraq War to removing deadly brain tumors to experiencing the loss of a teenage son. He’ll share about his difficult quest to find answers to some of life’s toughest questions, while holding onto his faith in God and the sure hope of heaven

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Dr. W. Lee Warren

Dr. Lee Warren

W. Lee Warren, M.D., is a brain surgeon , inventor, Iraq War veteran, and author of I’ve Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon’s Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know, winner of the Christian Book Award®. His previous book, No Place to Hide, was included on the 2015 U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. Dr. Warren has appeared on The 700 Club and the CBS Evening News, and his writings have been featured in Guideposts magazine. His Dr. Lee Warren Podcast, which is heard in more than 60 countries, helps listeners use the power of neuroscience, faith, and common sense to change their lives.

Cover image of Dr. Lee Warren's book "I've Seen the End of You"

I've Seen the End of You: A Neurosurgeon's Look at Faith, Doubt, and the Things We Think We Know

This gripping inspirational memoir grapples with the tension between faith and science—and between death and hope—as a seasoned neurosurgeon faces insurmountable odds and grief both in the office and at home.

Praying Scripture Over Your Child’s Life - Part 1

Jodie Berndt loves to pray for her children. She’s been doing that for the past thirty years. Now she helps other parents to talk to God, asking for the salvation of their kids, and for wisdom, self-discipline, purpose, a future and much more. She offers fun and practical encouragement that moms and dads can put to work immediately in their daily lives as they prepare their children for a life in Christ.

Headshot of Focus on the Family broadcast guest Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt is a public speaker, a Bible teacher, and the the author of 10 books. Find out more about Jodie and get some free resources (including printable prayer cards and calendars) at her website, jodieberndt.com.

Cover image of Jodie Berndt's book "Praying the Scriptures for Your Children"

Praying the Scriptures Over Your Children

You will discover how using the Bible to shape your desires and requests opens the door to God’s provision—and frees us from things like worry and fear in our parenting! This expanded edition of the bestseller features updated content on issues like technology and identity, and comes with new material designed to invite children into the family prayer circle. Purchase now and receive 10% off your product.

Mothers and Sons: Being a Godly Influence - Part 1

Rhonda Stoppe describes her early motherhood challenges of raising a son, which was intimidating to her. She found help through group of older women mentors. She urges moms to see their role as ministry in shaping sons to be good and godly men. Rhonda outlines several practical suggestions to moms about spiritual training, how to communicate with boys, and supporting the father-son relationship as a wife.

Headshot of Rhonda Stoppe

Rhonda Stoppe

Drawing upon 35 years of experience as a mentor, pastor’s wife, and homeschool mom, Rhonda Stoppe offers encouragement and guidance to women as an author and public speaker. She is popularly known as the “No Regrets Woman,” as she is especially passionate about helping women live life without regrets. Rhonda’s books include Moms Raising Sons to Be MenReal Life Romance, and The Marriage Mentor, which she co-authored with her husband, Steve.

Cover image of Rhonda Stoppe's book "Moms Raising Sons to be Men"

Moms Raising Sons to Be Men

Mothers of boys have the special calling to shape future men of God. Popular speaker Rhonda Stoppe, mom to two sons, knows this opportunity is a challenge, a joy, and probably the most important work of a woman’s life. Drawing from years of experience, this inspirational resource will revive the faithfulness and fortitude a woman needs to partner with God as they shape the character and heart of a future godly man.

Identifying Triggers in Your Marriage Part 1

They were both convinced they had married the wrong person. From almost the very beginning of their marriage, Amber and Guy Lia experienced various tensions and personality clashes related to house cleaning, backseat driving, workaholism, and intimacy. In this two-day Focus on the Family broadcast, Amber and Guy discuss how they bravely faced the triggers head-on, and committed to working on their own relationships with Jesus. As you listen to the Lia’s story, you’ll feel hope that you, too, can see real marriage transformation!

Headshot of Guy and Amber Lia

Mr. and Mrs. Guy and Amber Lia and Mrs. Jean Daly

Amber Lia is a work-at-home mom, blogger, public speaker, and co-author of two best-selling books. Her husband, Guy, is a former TV, feature film, and VFX development and production executive who has worked on popular TV shows and films. Guy and Amber own Storehouse Media Group, a faith- and family-friendly TV and film production company based in Los Angeles,

Cover image of the book "Marriage Triggers" by Guy and Amber Lia

Marriage Triggers: How You and Your Spouse Can Exchange Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses

A husband-wife team offers practical advice for married couples to end the cycle of reactionary arguments by examining the most common issues that trigger disagreements and apply God’s Word to radically transform relationships.

What to Do When You're Not Okay - Part 1

Life can be pretty stressful. Between work, relationships, and other obligations, the pressure builds, and we lose sight of who we are. Counselor Debra Fileta helps you better understand your emotions, assess your mental, physical, and spiritual health, and intentionally pursue a path to wellbeing. In dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks, Debra understands the importance of self-examination as well as the benefits of seeking professional help. She offers biblically-based advice, tools, and encouragement to help you get on a path toward healing and wholeness.

Author Debra Fileta in the Focus on the Family broadcast studio

Mrs. Debra Fileta

Debra Fileta is a licensed professional counselor specializing in relationship and marital issues. She is also a public speaker and the author of multiple books, including Married SexChoosing Marriage: Why It Has to Start With We > Me, Love in Every Season, and Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are, How You’re Doing, and Why It Matters. Debra’s popular relationship advice blog, TrueLoveDates.com, and her Love + Relationships podcast reach millions of people each year offering guidance on topics including love, sex, and marriage. Debra resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, John, and their four children.

Are You Really Okay?

Are You Really OK: Getting Real About Who You Are

In Are You Really OK? author and licensed counselor Debra Fileta challenges you to get real with who you are and how you’re doing spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically so you can recognize where you need growth and healing.

Navigating a Toxic Culture with Your Daughter - Part 1

As a pediatrician, Dr. Meg Meeker has seen thousands of girls come through her office through the years. They struggle with eating issues, sexual identity, social media…and many other challenges in this toxic culture. Dr. Meeker will encourage parents to invest love and time in their daughters and develop their character to give them the best opportunity for a bright future, all rooted in a spiritual foundation. The discussion also includes healthy feminism vs. toxic feminism

Mrs. Meg Meeker

Dr. Meg Meeker is a pediatrician who is widely recognized as one of the country’s leading authorities on parenting, teens and children’s health. With appearances on numerous nationally syndicated radio and TV programs, her popularity as a an expert on key issues confronting families has created a strong following across America. Her work with countless families over the years served as the inspiration behind her best-selling books which include Strong Fathers, Strong DaughtersStrong Mothers, Strong Sons and The Ten Habits of Happy Mothers

Cover image of Dr. Meg Meeker's book "Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture"

Raising a Strong Daughter in a Toxic Culture: 11 Steps to Keep Her Happy, Healthy, and Safe

Meg Meeker has been a pediatrician for more than thirty years, is a mother and a grandmother, and has seen it all. She knows what makes for strong, happy, healthy young women–and what puts our daughters at risk. Combining that experience with her famous common sense, she explains the eleven steps that will help your daughter–whether she’s a toddler or a troubled teen–to achieve her full human potential.

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Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!