Occasionally the Lord has blessed us with an opportunity to share our stories and His blessings to us with others IRL (in real life). Each opportunity allows us to say: “Live simply, love generously, serve faithfully, speak truthfully, pray daily, and leave everything else to God. This is the way of peace.
Through the years there have been Seminars, Church Services and Retreats for Women, where Dick or I were allowed to be the featured speaker or a ‘workshop’ leader. For a few years we taught in a small Filipino church where Dick served as their Pas’tor.
Each opportunity was phenomenal! And, after each one, the greatest desire of our life has always been to do it again.
One common thread has run throughout these phenomenal opportunities—we’ve adopted the orphans from the group—bringing them home to nurse their wounds and help them heal.
Over the years God has sent quite a number of these broken souls into our life, presumably to be trained up in walking in the way of peace. Each one came from a troubled home, a devastating crisis, or both. A few stand out in my memory as quite troubled but truly amazing.
Let me tell you about C.B. a young woman of perhaps twenty-two or three. I met her during a “Woman’s Retreat” at a Christian camp in the Sierra Mountains where I was presenting a workshop based on my book Don’t Settle.
The product of an ugly divorce, C.B. had grown up dominated by a bitter, spiritually broken, mother who shuffled them from one live-in “uncle” to another throughout her teenage years. One of these live-in men molested her during his tenure as “uncle”. Eventually, after dropping out of college, she had taken refuge in a same-sex relationship with an older woman. When I met her she was at odds with her partner, who was demanding she dress as a man, act like a man and accept the role of “father” to three children from her previous marriage. She was also estranged from her mother, who had now settled into a traditional Christian marriage with her latest lover and decided to condemn C.B. and her sexuality and her circumstances, telling her not to call or come home until she could give up “the life-style”.
The subject we discussed in the workshop resonated with C.B.’s lack of self worth and her understanding of God’s willingness to forgive and bless her life. She was desperately seeking forgiveness, hope and change. During that weekend, whenever I looked up, there she was—asking questions, seeking reassurance, begging for help. The weekend came to a close with me offering my phone number and any support I could give her. “Call me if you need to.”
A few weeks later she called. “I’m leaving my partner. I can’t live like this any longer, but I have no car, no money, no way to travel from here to there (a three hour drive, one way). Can you come get me and drive me to my mother’s place? Please! She has agreed to let me stay with them until I can find a job and a place of my own.”
I had, after all, said, “Call me.” So…I made the six hour round trip to help her move back to a Christian home and a different life-style. During the three hour drive back, during the meal we shared at a road-side diner, during the hours she spent in our home, while steeling her determination to go back to her mother’s house, I poured out everything I could think of regarding God’s love, God’s forgiveness, God’s provision and God’s ability to bring her into the path he had planned for her life.
By late afternoon I was worn out and out of encouraging words for her. That’s when Dick arrived home from school.
Now right here I have to tell you, Dick was, and is, accustomed to my dragging home strays, so he wasn’t too surprised to have me present him with this latest lost puppy, asking “Can I keep her? Will you please pray healing over her?”
Of course he did as I asked. That’s what he does. And the results were amazing!
I don’t know for certain what I watched happening as Dick held her and prayed, but in the spiritual realm, Jesus moved into our family room, took this troubled and broken spirit into His arms and healed her.
After another hour or so of pouring out her hear, this time with Dick, I drove her across town to her mother’s apartment, watched her lug her suitcase up the stairs, open the door and disappear.
We never saw her again!
We kept track of her, through a mutual acquaintance, for a couple of years…and the news was far from good. There were bouts with drugs, a jail sentence, another same-sex relationship and nothing about Jesus. Then word came of a miraculous change! C.B. had submitted her life to the Lord and was allowing his Spirit to work in her life at last.
We know nothing we did made the difference—but we thank God that His Word always accomplishes the thing for which He sends it.
On another occasion, at another retreat, God placed Lulu in my seminars This young mother was also the product of divorce, a self-absorbed mother and a home life devoid of Christ. Her coping mechanism was rebellion—against any and all forms of authority.
After the birth of her son, her marriage had become a series of battles against the traditional conventions of her Christian in-laws. She found herself struggling to cope with a world seemingly made up of rules—new rules—rules she had no inclination to follow.
As a beautiful and precocious little girl, Lulu learned to manipulate adults with lies and coquettish flattery. As a teen, she learned that if she wanted something badly enough all she had to do was take it. As a young woman, Lulu had honed her skills as a master manipulator, lair and thief to a keen edge. When we met, she was on the verge of divorce and questions were being raised as to her fitness as a parent to her two year old son. Her then husband and his family were fighting for custody of the boy.
Lulu, like C.B., was attracted to the message she heard me teach, and as a result I brought home yet another stray. This one did not disappear so quickly.
Over years and years of ups and downs Lulu continued to struggle with the conventions of religion and the expectations of any form of authority. To this day, Lulu’s response to authority is rebellion. Through crisis after crisis, relationship after relationship, down-turn after down-turn she has insisted on falling back into old patterns and ways of coping…manipulating and lying her way through the situation until it turns caustic, at which point she runs away to avoid the consequences.
Because God placed this orphan in our path, we continually pray for better choices and the wisdom of God in her life. But from Lulu we have learned—even the miraculous Word of God can be rendered null and void in a life by one’s personal choices. I have heard is said, “God will allow you to take your God given authority in the earth and use it against yourself. Adam did!”
And then, there’s Be-bee. She came into my life as a teenager through, you guessed it, another retreat. Angry, wounded, prickly as a porcupine, Be-bee had been molested by a trusted family member early in her life. When I met her trust for any adult was a huge issue for her. Her parents had divorced. Her father had re-married. His new wife was jealous…
At sixteen she turned to an older man for comfort and understanding, only to find herself expecting a child. When he found out, she discovered her lover was not willing to accept responsibility for a wife. Or a child.
There were several Christian women who attempted to offer her counsel and support…some were received and trusted…others not so much. But God held her closely, never letting go, always tickling her thinking with promises of love and healing.
We held her in our arms and in our prayers for a couple of years and then, when the baby was two, she met and married a young Christian man who wanted to raise her son as his own child.
Today her son and his little sister are teenagers but she calls me, from across the country, at least every other week, just to keep in touch and let me know what’s going on in her life. When she is in crisis, she asks for prayer. When she has questions, she asks for counsel from the Word. She regularly attends church with her family. Jesus is a growing part of her thinking, her plans and her goals. There are days when she struggles, as we all do, but even though she was quite troubled in the past—in Christ there is amazing grace, and continual healing.
Through these, and many other, encounters God has allowed us to see His power and love at work. His continual forgiveness and His favor and mercy have been made real before our eyes in the lives of troubled souls we’ve known personally. Through these encounters there have been so many amazing days of grace. And we continually thank God for each and every one.