Getting Back to the Basics
by Drenda Keesee
In the Forties and Fifties, families used to pack a picnic, jump in the car, and go for a drive. It wasn’t about entertainment, something on a screen, or everyone sitting around the table on their smart phones without any talking or communication. Mentorship is the byproduct of communication.
Many of today’s families operate like a boardinghouse. They occupy space in the same house, but they have no connection or unity. The family is meant to be more than providing free room and board. If your situation is like that, you’re missing out on one of the greatest blessings God gives.
I want to give you the hope right now that God’s power and grace are greater than your mistakes. It’s never too late for a fresh start. It’s never too late to make a difference in your current circumstances and the lives of your children, and also in the families around you.
I’ve gotten to know Connie through our ministry and met her four sweet children, but little did I know the road leading up to her beautiful family. Connie’s past was marred with family dysfunction and pain. At the age of three, she overheard her mom threaten her dad that she would tell Connie she didn’t really belong to him. Connie understood that something wasn’t right in her life, even though her dad showed her love. Not long after a relative sexually molested her at the age of six, her parents got divorced, leaving her feeling responsible for their divorce.
Her mother turned to alcohol, and when her father remarried three short months later, he radically changed his behavior toward Connie and her brother. She found out he was not her biological father, but that he adopted her when she was two. Her new stepmom and her father began to beat Connie and her brother until the day Connie’s father told her she reminded him of her mother. He packed her stuff into trash bags and left her at her mom’s presumed employer. But since she was no longer employed there, the employer had to locate Connie’s mother, who lived in a very impoverished area of town.
Connie practically raised herself from that point on. As she grew older, she started smoking pot, acting promiscuous, and lost her virginity at thirteen years of age. Connie found God and started to transform her life. She wrote her father a letter that explained she had forgiven him and still loved him. When she delivered it, her father told her he had never loved her, but he would let her know if that ever changed. Connie stopped going to church after that, developed an addiction to drugs, tried committing suicide with pills and cocaine, and when she woke up alive, she drank bleach to finish it off. The hospital staff said that the only time they saw that amount of drugs in someone’s system was in autopsies.
Connie survived, went to rehab, and gave up drugs, but life didn’t get easier. She struggled through a divorce and began life as a single mom. She decided she was tired of being hurt by men and that she would use men instead; she just wanted to have “fun.” In the midst of her “fun,” she got pregnant with her second child. Devastated, she prayed she’d miscarry and considered getting an abortion. That was when Connie turned her life back to God, and everything began to change. She felt God leading her to allow a family to adopt her baby, and that He had a plan and a purpose for who the parents were going to be. When Connie heard the couple’s name, she knew instantly that this was their baby. It was a smooth process, and Connie still has a great relationship with the adoptive parents today.
Connie continued to turn her life around, giving up her hate and bitterness toward men and trusting God to lead her and guide her steps as a parent. She didn’t think she would ever remarry or have another child, but today Connie is happily married with four children. Despite her past circumstances, she has continued to grow her family and strengthen her walk with God, trusting God to show her how to be the mother figure she didn’t have growing up. Connie says that all of the things she’s had to overcome seem insignificant compared to all of the victories in her life now.
Connie says, “God has used my husband to show me that the past is the past, His grace is sufficient for all things, and that all things are made new in Him. If God can do this in my life, He can do it for anyone! It doesn’t take long for your life to change.”
Courage comes when we know our Maker, our identity in His love, and what we possess in Him. No matter what has happened in your past, God has made a way for you, and you are redeemed through Him. If you’ve gone through a divorce, there’s still a future for your family. Your past doesn’t condemn your future, and God can heal the wounds from that situation in your family.
The future of your children is not determined by how your parents raised you. You don’t have to make the same mistakes they did. If your parents divorced, it doesn’t mean you have to get a divorce. If you didn’t have parents who modeled success in marriage or parenting, you can still have success in your marriage and family. God will give you the grace and the instruction. God’s grace is enough for you.
Excerpt from “The New Vintage Family” by Drenda Keesee
Drenda Keesee’s contagious zeal and humorous personal experiences help make her ministry of spiritual, emotional and relational wholeness one that will bless your life and spark a new fire in your spirit.
A wife of over 30 years and a mother of five children, Drenda has ministered at churches, seminars, and conferences, and through the mediums of television and radio, for more than 20 years.
Her books, The New Vintage Family, Better Than You Think, and She Gets It are available wherever books are sold. In these heartfelt books, Drenda shares her personal journey and the life lessons that have brought her to where she is today, as well as practical answers that all people need to live a joyful life.
Drenda and her husband Gary founded Faith Life Now, a ministry designed to spread the message of freedom in the areas of finances, faith, marriage, and family. Faith Life Now hosts conferences worldwide, and sponsors both Fixing the Money Thing, which Drenda co-hosts with her husband Gary, and Drenda.
Through their own life experiences, the Keesees have found the principles from God’s Word to be powerful and effective. At one point, Drenda was a young, suicidal feminist with no hope of ever being “good enough” for her own standards of perfection. She never wanted the “inconvenience” of a husband or children, and she was on her own path to success. But the stress of trying to achieve perfection and perform for love left her broken and used. She had success, but it was nothing compared to the pain and loneliness it had also brought.
That’s when God got a hold of her heart. It was there—at her lowest point—that she found the One who accepted and loved her, faults and all. Since that transformation, Drenda has had a passion to reach women who find themselves where she once was.
She married Gary after attending college, and there she found herself in a personal boot camp of sorts. She says, “I cried and told God, ‘I can do anything but be a wife and mother.’” She committed to learning how to do it God’s way. Through the many years of raising their children and struggling to make ends meet, Drenda learned from their mistakes. “I didn’t know how to be a wife and mother, but God saved our marriage, taught us how to parent our children for success, showed us how to have financial success, and then irony of all ironies, He called us to ministry.” It’s truly because of these life experiences that Drenda can now share so many insightful principles for people who are now going through the same struggles.