It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (December 3, 2009)
***Special thanks to Christy Wong of Tyndale House Publishers for sending me a review copy.***
Pam Farrel is a relationship specialist, international speaker, and author of over 25 books, including best selling Men are like Waffles—Woman Are Like Spaghetti. She hs been a pastor’s wife and director of women’s ministries, and is president of Seasoned Sisters.
Visit the author’s website.
Doreen Hanna is founder and president of Treasured Celebrations Ministries. She is the co-author of Becoming a Modern-Day Princess, a biblically-based rite-of-passage program for teenage girls. She is a faculty member and motivational speaker for CLASS (Christian Leaders, Authors, & Speakers Seminars), and has been a women’s Bible study teacher and trained biblical counselor for more than 25 years.
Visit the author’s website.
List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. (December 3, 2009)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Seeking My Father’s Blessing: What Every Young Woman Longs For
‘I’ll be a Father to you; you’ll be sons and daughters to me.’
The Word of the Master, God.
—2 CORINTHIANS 6:18 (MSG)
I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics; even if they dress in rags; even if they aren’t pretty, or smart, or young. They’re still princesses. All of us. Didn’t your father ever tell you that? Didn’t he?
—A LITTLE PRINCESS (1995)
Lying in my bed, I [Doreen] lifted the shade and peeked out the window. Except for a sprinkle of stars and a sliver of a moon, it was now pitch black outside. My sister’s gentle snore let me know she was sound asleep. The TV was off and I had heard my parents’ bedroom door close. It was time for my escape.
Earlier in the day I had picked out my best purse for this “runaway.” It was red, rectangular in shape, with hinges on it, like a little suitcase, and a mirror on the lid. It could only hold my hairbrush, two pairs of panties, and a package of crackers. But for an eight-year-old, that was good enough. I was ready to go.
However, I began to have doubts. I considered how hard it would be to walk down the hall past my parents’ bedroom without them hearing me because there was a board in the floor of the hallway that creaked. But if I attempted to open the heavy wooden window of our bedroom and tried to remove the screen, I knew for sure that my sister would wake up.
Suddenly, or so it seemed, those warm covers felt so good as I heard the wind blow through the trees on that chilly, late winter’s eve. I couldn’t seem to keep my eyes open. I fought it, but it felt like someone was gently closing them. The next thing I knew, it was morning, and once again, I had failed to make my great escape.
This scenario played out many times in my elementary years. But it wasn’t until I was in my twenties, seeking help for challenges in my marriage, that I discovered why I continued to replay leaving home but never making my way out.
As a child, there were certain securities that kept me there. My mother loved me, food was always on the table, and I had a lovely home to live in. We lived in a middle-class neighborhood where I enjoyed many childhood friendships. I enjoyed spending time with both sets of grandparents who lived close by.
I remember the enjoyment of watching Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best on TV and wishing my dad was like one of those TV dads.
From the age of five well into my teens, I loved watching the Miss America beauty pageants, and wished that I would someday be beautiful enough to be crowned a princess.
I wept deeply for the first time in my life as I spoke those words out loud to my counselor. He sat and listened as I began to describe occurrences that clearly displayed the lack of my father’s acceptance throughout my life. This seemed to open the floodgates of memories and hurt and angry feelings I felt toward my father.
Seen but not Heard
I recollected how resentful I was toward my dad for so often sending my sister and me to bed by six-thirty in the evening so he could have our mother to himself.Many summer nights I would peer out my bedroom window, yearning to be with the rest of the kids on the block who were playing hide-and-seek at dusk while I was supposed to be sleeping; all because my dad thought children were to be “seen and not heard.” I believed that this was just a convenient out for him on many occasions, when those words followed his request that we leave the room.
I expressed to the counselor how I was told by my mother every night, for the first 12 years of my life, to “go and kiss your father good night,” no matter how I felt. He most often sat comfortably in his easy chair, watching TV, expectant of my nightly kiss. I could not remember one time in my childhood when he came to tuck my sister or me into bed and kiss us goodnight. That longing was heightened when I saw my friends’ dads do this for them whenever I had spent a night in their homes.
I recounted how, in my teen years, I dreaded our nightly family dinners. I would set the table thinking, What will he find fault with tonight? Would it be my acne? Or would I draw his criticism for putting butter on my bread? Or maybe it would be my posture, bringing a threat that he was going to make a wood brace that would force me to sit up straight.
His harsh, critical words about my appearance caused me to feel that I would never gain his favor or have boys interested in me.
I Will Prove Him Wrong
By this time I was becoming rebellious. I was determined to prove him wrong. I would get a boyfriend.
I found, in those early teen years, that flirting with the boys brought quick attention and some form of emotional gratification. I was so hungry for them to compliment me or just kiss me—validating me as a young woman. I didn’t understand why all the other girls didn’t flirt with the boys like I did. I thought it was fun. I lost the trust of some girlfriends and made enemies playing that game, luring the other girls’ boyfriends away from them. But the relationships were short-lived so I thought, What’s the big deal?
I looked for every opportunity to be away from home—a school football game, a party, a church activity, or anything else that was acceptable to my mother. My dad never minded how much time I spent away from home unless it interfered with the chores he required of me. In fact, I truly believed Dad appreciated my time away from home as much as I did.
By the age of 17, I was a senior in high school and had dated almost every guy I had hoped to. However, that had left me very lonely. I didn’t even have a date to the senior prom. I had proved my father wrong, but all to no avail. I had isolated numerous potential girlfriends and was left with no boyfriend. I had a huge hole in my heart and nothing seemed to fill it.
The Man of My Dreams
Within two weeks of my high-school graduation, the man of my dreams came into my life. He had just finished a three-year term in the army and had returned home to establish himself in civilian life. He was the potential “catch” for every girl between the ages of 18 and 22 in the church where our families had attended for many years.
He was 22 years old and very handsome, over six feet tall, blue eyes, a great sense of humor, and—very important to a beach-city girl—a surfer! One night, as I jumped into the backseat of his parents’ car for a ride home from church, there sat Chad. I was excited but jittery, knowing I was sitting right next to the “catch.” I spoke more to his parents than to him because I was so nervous.
His dad pulled up in front of my house. As I slipped out of the car Chad said, “Boy, those are some great legs!” My heart leaped—Chad Hanna thought I was pretty! By Friday he’d asked me out and within six months we were engaged.
At barely 19 years of age, marriage seemed like the best solution to escape my father’s house. My dad viewed life with a strong work ethic. He did not regard higher education as a necessity and had informed me that if I were to consider going away to college, I’d have to pay for it myself. That seemed impossible. So I was soon working full-time and saving my money for a beautiful wedding.
My father was not happy that I was marrying Chad. I remember one day, just weeks before the wedding, he said to me, “I thought this would be a time in your life when you could spend some time with me.” I couldn’t believe my ears! I was instantly angry and thought, He’s ignored me for the last 19 years of my life and NOW he wants to spend time with me?
It was the first time in my life that I sensed I had begun to build a wall in my heart—a wall that I thought would keep my father from hurting me anymore.
The day of the wedding, as I stood waiting to go down the aisle on my father’s arm, he turned and touched the edge of my veil. I thought for just a second that we were going to share a special moment. Instead he stated, “My mother would have never let this happen.” I looked to see that my veil had been trimmed slightly unevenly. “Your grandmother would have trimmed this in satin,” he stated proudly.
Rightly so, my grandmother was a well-known seamstress and had I asked, I’m sure she would have done it for me. Once again, I had failed to meet my father’s standards.
Still, that walk down the aisle gave me such hope. I had proven that I could find a man to love me and would finally be free from my father. I believed that saying “I do” would eliminate my frustrated and angry feelings toward him. Yet, there I sat in a counselor’s office 10 years later, dealing with all my “father” issues.
Break Down the Wall
With kindness and gentleness, my counselor helped me realize that the wall I had built in my heart ultimately never hurt my father; it only hurt me. He continued by saying that I would never be free emotionally or spiritually until I could forgive my father. OFFER forgiveness? I couldn’t believe it. I thought to myself, Shouldn’t my dad be seeking MY forgiveness?
As I left the counselor’s office, pondering his advice to forgive my father, I drove to my parents’ home to have a chat with my mother. I was considering the possibility that my memories might be distorted and I wanted to gain her perspective.
As we sat and talked, things began to unfold. She told me something I had never really understood before. I was a honeymoon baby. My father was not only shocked that, at 19 years of age, he was going to be a father within months of being married, he was also very disappointed that he was going to have the responsibilities of a father. He had told my mother prior to their wedding that he wasn’t ready for children and had wanted to wait at least five years before starting a family.
So, upon my birth he found me an obstacle to having my mother fully to himself. Ah ha! Now I was beginning to understand why I had been sent to bed by six-thirty so many nights of my life!
My mom also told me how critical his mother and other members of my father’s family had been toward him as a child, calling him various “pet names” that were very degrading. He, too, at the age of 18 couldn’t wait to marry and flee from his home.
Driving home after chatting with my mom, I thought about what she had told me and seriously considered the words of my counselor. His desire was to free me from the inner turmoil that comes from harboring unforgiveness. In addition, he pointed out how this turmoil was overflowing into my marriage relationship—the reason I was there to see him originally! He explained to me that I had put many of my unfilled expectations of my father onto my husband. He then humorously expressed,
“It would take at least three men to fulfill all that you are expecting your husband to fulfill!”
As I walked through the door of our home that night, I determined that I would seek Chad’s forgiveness for the unrealistically high expectations I had placed upon him during our marriage. That night as we slipped into bed, I expressed to him how I now realized why I had been asking so much of him. I was trying to have him fulfill what I had desired from my father all of my life. He understood my feelings and forgave me. I closed my eyes at peace now with my husband, but still—what about my dad?
The Power of the Blessing
Within weeks aftermy counselor’s challenge to forgive my father—which I wasn’t yet ready to do—I went to a local bookstore to pick up a gift for a friend. While there, I happened to also pick up a book titled The Gift of the Blessing, authored by John Trent and Gary Smalley (Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1993).My eyes were immediately drawn to the following sentence on the cover:
Dr. John Trent tells of his search to receive the blessing from his father and how, with the new insight he received from God through that search, he has sought to pick up the pieces of his shattered dream.
Those words jumped out at me. My dreams had been shattered and I was trying to pick up the pieces. And I surely did not want to be like my father. I wanted to do things differently for my daughters. I bought the book and began reading.
Chapter after chapter, I remember thinking, Oh, how I wish my father had done that for me. My self-pity was stopped short in the last chapter when Dr. Trent presented this challenge: “If you have not received your parent’s blessing, begin to bless them and see what God will do.” I was again confronted to face my “father” issues head-on.
Within days of finishing the book, I called my father and asked if I could take him to lunch—just the two of us. He said “yes” without hesitation, and we met together the next day. I can still remember exactly where we sat at a small Mexican restaurant in Cave Creek, Arizona.
As he finished his last few bites of an enchilada, I mustered up the courage to share my feelings. “Dad, I now know that when I was a child you demonstrated your love by providing a home for us, nice clothes, and food on the table. However, I’ve always felt that you didn’t like me.”
Those were some of the hardest words I had ever spoken. I felt that by saying this out loud to my father, I was taking the risk of his complete rejection.
Conversely, he quickly responded, saying almost word for word what my mother had said about him, “I didn’t want children immediately after marriage, and I was taught that children were to be seen and not heard.”
I could sense regret in his words and it was reflected in his demeanor. For the first time in my life I felt sorry for my father, and the wall I had built in my heart began to crumble.
When he had finished talking, I said, “Dad, I want to have a good relationship with you; one that also includes my husband and children. With the counseling I have received recently, I’ve come to realize that I’ve had a deep resentment toward you for a long time. I would like for us to have a better relationship from here on and I need to ask for your forgiveness. Will you forgive me?”
My father’s eyes welled with tears as he replied, “Yes I will, and will you forgive me?”
I wept out those healing words: “Yes, Dad, I forgive you.”
Wow! What a huge step in our relationship. While, in all honesty, I had hoped to hear “I love you,” I was satisfied at that time with, “Will you forgive me?”
As the years progressed, our father/daughter relationship began to grow. We could laugh and talk together for the first time in our lives.
From that day—he in his forties and I in my twenties—we were both seeking to grow spiritually, prompting engaging discussions between us.
In addition, at our now numerous family gatherings, I would delight as I watched my father and Chad enjoy each other’s company.
The Perfect Father’s Day Card
Some years later, I remember searching for several weeks, seeking to find the perfect Father’s Day card. At the end of a discouraging search, I felt prompted to pray and ask the Lord if He had something that He wanted me to write for my father. As I lifted my head from prayer, it was as if suddenly the creative writer that was deep within me came out and my fingers began to speed across the keyboard, typing out a poem for my father.
I had never felt that I had a poetic gift until that day! I sat in amazement of my own work as I reread the poem. I quickly printed it out and sent it on its way to arrive by Father’s Day.
My father and I were living several hundred miles apart at this time, so the following Sunday I called to wish him a happy Father’s Day. I was so eager to find out whether he’d received the poem and hear his reaction to it that I urgently asked, “Dad, did you get my poem?”
He, rather casually, just said, “Yes, it was nice.”
My heart dropped. I thought the poem was fabulous and all I got was an “It was nice.” I made every effort to mask my disappointment in his response. We went on to other topics of conversation. But as we were closing our phone call, he said, “I love you, Mija.”
Whenever my father called me Mija (a Spanish word of endearment) I always knew I was in his good graces. This was big—very big! I heard an “I love you” coupled with a “Mija!”
I quickly responded, “I love you, too, Dad.” I got off the phone and fell into a heap of happy tears. I had heard the words I had yearned to hear all of my life from my father: “I love you.”
Several months later, I had a business trip that took me to Phoenix, Arizona, where my parents lived. When I arrived at my parents’ home, only my mother was there. We chatted for a few minutes and then she said, “Before your father gets here, I must show you something.” She took me into their bedroom, and there on the wall hung a 3×5 copy of the poem, done in calligraphy on parchment paper and lacquered to a beautiful piece of wood. I wept with joy, not only realizing how much he valued that gift, but also appreciating how often since that Father’s Day he had told me he loved me.
In that reflective moment, the thought came to me that I was living out the last chapter of the The Gift of the Blessing, which stated, “If you want to be a person who honors your parents, you will be a person who blesses them. When you truly honor them and do what is right in God’s eyes, it will even prolong your life; living free of resentment and unforgiveness does prolong our lives, enabling us to live years longer!”
We sat across the table in a restaurant in Canada. My husband, Bill, and I had just appeared on theTV show Marriage Uncensored with Dave and Christie. Over dinner Dr. Dave Currie and his wife, Donalyn, along with Bill and I, were talking about our children and our families of origin.
Dave and his wife have two remarkable daughters, whom we had met as they sat in the studio audience that night. As we sat at the table that evening, Dave shared a story that penetrated me to the core. When his daughter Jody was a very little girl, she came home and announced her love interest in a little boy. Dave said to her, “Honey, when you are much older, there will be a day when you will want to give your heart to a man. He will have to be really special, and you will need to feel confident that he is the one God wants you to marry. Until then, I will keep your heart. I will keep it safe.”
Dave’s wife made a heart that hung in the Currie home and on it hung two gold keys, one for each daughter. Any time Dave prayed with his daughters, tucked them into bed, or acted out any of the other daily interactions a loving father would have with his daughter, he’d say, “And who has the key to your heart?” His daughters would answer, “You do, Daddy.” Anytime he had to set a rule or make a correction he would begin with, “Remember who has the key to your heart?” And the girls would answer, “You do, Daddy.”
Then Dave would explain how because he, their daddy, has their best interests on his heart, he had to make decisions and choices to protect his daughters and provide the very best path for them. Dave would explain, “God has called me to do this because God and Daddy love both of you little girls very much.”
Dave shared, “One day Jody met and fell in love with a fabulous man, Chris. She came to me and asked if she could have her heart now because she had found the man she wanted to give it to. I agreed and prayed and released her heart.”
The day of their wedding, Dave asked one last time, “Who has the key to your heart?” But this time the answer was different; it was the name of her new husband.
Then Dave sang a song he had written for this moment, The Transfer of the Sacred Trust:
As man to man, we stand here today,
Though the time is so right, I won’t give her away.
Yet you are my answer to the prayer for God’s plan
Please listen close, Son, as I give you her hand.
God gave me a trust as head of my home
To look after my family, to protect through life’s storm,
To comfort and build these put in my care
And cover them daily with a fatherly prayer . . . that’s why
I won’t let her go, but I will let you start.
To treasure her most, you must carry her heart.
I’ll still be her Dad, but relinquish I must,
It’s the transfer of the sacred trust,
The transfer of the sacred trust.
There comes a day in every girl’s life
About leaving and cleaving, ’bout becoming a wife,
I’ve protected her heart from all other men
The depth of this moment, please understand.
God gives you this trust now as head of your home
To look after my daughter, to protect through life’s storm,
Your love dare not waver as you carry her heart
Please hold her real close as I did from the start . . . you see
I won’t let her go, but I will let you start.
To treasure her most, you carry her heart.
I’ll still be her Dad, but relinquish I must,
It’s the transfer of the sacred trust,
It’s the transfer of the sacred trust,
I transfer now my sacred trust.
(reprinted with permission)
Right after he sang the song, he gave Chris, his new son-in-law, the key that had hung in the Currie home, the key to his daughter’s heart.
Then six years later, for his second daughter, Keldy, Dave repeated the passing of this sacred trust, and gave the key to her heart to her new husband, also a prince of a man.
A dedicated dad holds the key to the heart of his Modern-Day Princess until the day God’s prince of a husband comes to care for the heart of that precious young woman. It is a sacred trust, passing from the two men who should love a woman more than any other: a father, then a husband.
I sat at the table weeping because that is the kind of love I had always longed for as a daughter. That is the kind of love that builds courage and confidence into a young woman’s heart and life.
Looking for My Key
In a nutshell, I grew up in a home that was confusing. One night I might be dancing around the living room with my daddy, but the next night he might be in a drunken rage banishing me to my bedroom in fear. I would slide my chest of drawers in front of the door to keep him from coming in my room while he was so angry. I always thought our family might make the front-page news, but not for a good reason, rather a headline that would read, “Man shoots family then shoots himself.”
When I was in high school, one night I was awakened from a deep sleep to my mother screaming, “Help me!” We three kids bolted from our beds, running through a pitch-black house thinking, Oh no! We need to rescue Mom! We broke open the door into the garage and there we found, not my mom in need of rescue, but rather my daddy, trying to hang himself from the rafters of the garage.
My brother, Bret, a high-school football player, pulled my dad down and dragged him into the living room, pushing him onto the sofa. I took the noose off his neck and began to pray aloud over my father. I knelt and prayed with my siblings and my mother for hours, singing hymns, praying, and begging God to rescue my father from himself.
Later that same day, God spoke to my heart, “Pam, you have been pushing me away. You must think I am like your earthly father: distant, demanding, and demeaning. I am not like that! Open up the Bible; find out who I am.” Shortly after that day, I came upon Romans 8:15, which says we call God “Abba, Father.” I was reminded again of the reason I made the decision to begin a relationship with Him. I recalled in a powerful way that the King of Kings was my Daddy and He loved me unconditionally. My best interests were and are on His heart. It was as if He were saying, “Who has the key to your heart?”
You do, Daddy, my
Abba Father, I am your daughter, a daughter of the King.
For the next three years I kept a journal and I wrote down all the verses I found that showed God loved me and was a Father I could trust. That journey was my personal rite of passage into becoming a woman of God.
Those verses placed my tiara on my head as I was crowned a Modern-Day Princess. Because of this journey, I was able to recognize my own prince, Bill, when God sent him into my life. I could see that Bill, a healthy, godly man who loved me fully, was worthy to hold the key to my heart.
God sent many people into my life to help me understand what it meant to be God’s princess. You will hear some of those stories, and hear more of my own journey to grasp what it means to be a daughter of the King.
Highly Motivated, Greatly Needed
You see, the two of us [Pam and Doreen] are highly motivated to help young women learn what it means to be daughters of the King. Somehow girls around the world have lost their way. Consider the following statistics:
One in three girls becomes pregnant before age 20.
The median age at which young women have their first sexual experience is 17.
One in four will contract an STD (sexually transmitted disease).
Forty percent of girls at a contraceptive clinic are there without their parents’ knowledge.
One third of all teen pregnancies will end in an abortion.
We also know that many girls are turning into bullies. Nearly one third of all juvenile arrests are girls, and one-third of all property crimes are perpetrated by girls. About one-quarter of all aggravated assaults are committed by girls. A girl is more likely to be violent at home, and the victim more than any other is her mother.
Dr. Dallas Jackson, professor of educational leadership at Argosy University/Tampa and assistant principal of curriculum at Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School in Pinellas County, Florida, says, “Over 50 percent of the bullying incidences involve one girl picking on another.” Cyber bullying has made picking on each other more common and deadly.
On March 30, 2008, high-school cheerleader Victoria Lindsay was lured to a friend’s home in Lakeland, Florida. While two boys stood guard outside the house, six girls attacked Lindsay. They knocked her unconscious by slamming her head against a wall. Then the perpetrators posted the attack on the Internet. After the authorities arrested the teens involved, one asked if she would “make cheer practice,” apparently uncaring of the seriousness of the attack.
Cyber bullying can consist of mean or critical comments, sharing personal information in a public setting, or demeaning or undermining another girl’s social standing. Today, this kind of pain can travel at light speed through text messaging, IM chatting, or social-networking postings.
And girls pick on the guys, too. On December 5, 2004, the Ottawa Citizen reported: “Considerably more boys than girls say their dates yell at them, demean them, pinch them, slap them, and out-and-out attack them, according to preliminary findings in a study on dating violence.”
However, teen girls are hardest on themselves. Teenage girls are more likely to develop depression than teenage boys. (The Heritage Foundation found that those who were sexually active had a much higher depression rate). Depression in girls might also extend to behaviors like cutting, anorexia, bulimia, and other self-destructive behaviors. Girls experiment with drugs and alcohol in higher numbers than boys. Often, girls use drugs and alcohol to lose weight.
Girls think about and attempt suicide about twice as often as boys, and tend to attempt suicide by overdosing on drugs or cutting themselves. A new, desperate, self-destructive behavior is “sexting,” which includes text messaging pornographic photos of themselves; over 20 percent of girls have engaged in this risky behavior.
Consider the young women around you. Can you think of just one girl you know who seems to have lost her way? When I [Pam] met Emily, she was suffering from the hurt and pain of a dysfunctional family. Her mother, distracted by her own pain, was unable to help her daughter. Emily needed someone to care enough to come alongside her, to reach out and show her God’s love. There are Emilys all around us.
My [Pam’s] motivation in writing this book was heightened on September 5, 2007, the day my first granddaughter, Eden, was born. Even while she was in utero, and since, I have prayed she will step into her priceless identity as a daughter of the King. I pray that her mother, Hannah, will have all she needs to impart a godly heritage to her. I know my son Brock will impart a blessing on his daughter because he already does, in the way he gently loves and cares for Eden. But I also know Eden will need more voices, more wisdom—the help of mentors—to help her safely step into, and then walk out, her identity in Christ.
Can you hear a host of teen girls crying, asking, and waiting for your help and guidance? Right now, think of a young woman, a tween or teen, you might know. She may be your daughter, your niece, or just a young girl you’re acquainted with. You could be the person in her life to dust off her tiara, place it on her head, and help her see herself as God sees her—a person valued and loved. And you could do this for many girls, moving a multitude of young women into a healthy, whole, and wholesome future as adult women who make a difference for their generation.
Out there among you, there are many “Doreens” who are longing for affirmation; “Pams” who are longing for attention; “Emilys” who are longing for affection; and “Edens” who are looking for agreement. One voice to confirm her value can make all the difference in a girl’s life. Every girl deserves a mentor, a mom, and a memorable blessing—a rite of passage to womanhood—and a chance to be a woman who reflects God’s character and lives it out to leave a positive imprint in a world that so desperately needs it.
It’s Mother’s Day, and I [Pam] answer my cell phone often. I have only three sons, but several young women will call me on this special day and thank me for being their “spiritual mom.” Though I am not a biological mom of daughters, I am a mentor to many women.
Let me share my journey to becoming a mentor. It first began when a series of women sacrificed their time and energy to mentor me. I, myself, had a terrific mom who came to know Christ the same year that I did. I was 8, my mom, 28.
But I grew up in a home filled with the drama of an alcoholic father prone to domestic violence. My first mentors were two women I didn’t even know were mentors until years later because I had no idea what the word mentor even meant! They were two of my mother’s friends, Kathy and Mrs. Beamer.
Both of these special women saw the chaos in our family and compassionately invited us to attend church with them. At Kathy’s home, I saw what a healthy marriage looked like and how a healthy family functioned. At Sunday school, Mrs. Beamer taught me about Jesus, the Author of love, and prepared my heart for the personal decision to receive Jesus I would make before my ninth birthday.
What I learned most from these women was:
• Love lavishly and trust the results to God.
• Be faithful in the little things because you don’t know how that little act of kindness, integrity, or wisdom might ripple to impact hundreds, thousands, even millions of people.
In college, I was looking for love in all the wrong places, trying to add up awards and accolades in a frantic search for self that was leaving me feeling empty. As I watched my parent’s marriage implode and fall apart, I felt helpless and very alone in life. I was a young woman with a heart to do good but a fatal flaw inside my heart that threatened to destroy my life before it ever really got started.
At the time, I had an overstated need for male attention. I was a virgin at 18 but a tease and very disjointed in my personal value system. I just wasn’t sure what I believed about much of anything. It was as if I had been dropped by a plane into a vast wilderness and I was looking for my compass. In my life, Tina, my next mentor, became the compass giver.
I met Tina at a Campus Crusade Bible study; she was the woman who, with her husband, organized the event. Tina asked me questions, hard ones at times: Who did I think Jesus was? What did I think my life purpose was? Did I read the Bible? Attend church? Tina also answered my questions, held me accountable to make wise choices, expected me to reach higher and further in my goals, and challenged me to be a better person and leader than I had ever pictured for my life. She encouraged me to dress more modestly, act more lady-like, think more critically about principles, and decide more strategically about my future and my place in the world.
Her nurturing of me in the area of what constitutes healthy dating, engagement, and marriage set the foundation for the strong, vibrant marriage I have today. I would have completely missed my godly, amazing husband, Bill, had Tina not entered my world and gotten me unaddicted to men. She pushed me to interview couples with healthy marriages to get a better view of what dating boundaries work best. She pointed me to God and Scripture to form my core relationship values.
What I learned from Tina:
• Always ask the tough questions.
• Expect the best from people and they will rise to meet those expectations.
• Be a woman of sure principles in an unsure world.
The woman who mentored Tina also mentored me. Her name is Faith. Faith and her husband, Cal, had a vision for building a home across the street from the college campus where students could come and get wisdom, training, and a safe place to make better choices in life as they were launching out on their own.
I came to Faith because I was in a dilemma: I had overcommitted myself with extracurricular activities. Faith listened to my heart, prayed with me, gave me some Scripture verses to read, and then said something like, “Pam, you have a pure heart for God. I am sure God will lead you through His Word to the answer your need.” And God did. As I read one of the verses about not “loving the world,” I realized my future was in serving Jesus. I was to invest in that path for my future. It was a clear call.
What I learned from Faith was:
• Love the Lord and love His Word and you’ll have all the answers you need.
• Treat young people with respect, and trust that if you give them the tools God will lead them.
• Relationships matter. God uses relationships to expand His work.
This last one has an important side-note story. Faith mentored me, but she also had similar meetings with a young college woman named Mary. That same Mary ended up going on staff with Campus Crusade, then was hired to be president of Women of Faith.
It was while Doreen was working for Women of Faith that she and I met. Doreen was in Kansas laying the groundwork for Women of Faith. I was speaking at an event in Kansas where she gave an announcement for the upcoming Women of Faith event. I was speaking on Women of Influence and gave a message on mentoring! Now, years later, all those connections (and more) led us to write this book on raising and mentoring young women.
In seminary and ministry, I have had a series of women invest in my life. When I look back on these women, and others who poured their time, talent, or trust into my life, I realize God was preparing me for living an adventure with Him.