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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mesu Andrews Posts: Mother-Daughter Wars

by Anita Mae Draper

I'd like to introduce a special lady, Biblical fiction author,
Mesu Andrews, who shares her personal story of discovery here.
May it bless you as much as it has blessed me.


Mother-Daughter Wars
By Mesu Andrews

Why do so many women experience a love/hate relationship with their mothers? Our mothers give us life, kiss our boo-boos, and tie our bows. But they also train us to be polite, eat our vegetables, and scour toilets. A mother-daughter relationship is complicated from the beginning, but my mother and I were doomed to tangle when theology became the family battleground and Scripture the weapon.

Mesu's Mom, Mary Newton
My mom has always been a beautiful, confident woman. As the daughter of the county prosecutor, Mary Newton was the middle of three girls and sang like an angel. Her operatic recital was as close to heaven as she thought she’d get since she was playing devil’s advocate with the preacher’s son. Charley Cooley was the star of the basketball team and the poorest kid in school. His father pastored a small country church, and the coach had to beg Charley’s folks to let him play the heathen sport. The only thing Charley like better than basketball was Mary. Neither cared much about the God Charley’s parents adored.

After a few years of marriage, the road got rocky, but Charley and Mary persevered for the children’s sake. A daughter was born and five years later a son. The perfect family, right? When Mary was 35 years old, her children fourteen and nine, she thought life would once again become her own—and then a terrible blow. Pregnant again! A third child. No! she railed at God, this invisible power who had played a cruel joke. How could He? How dare He? Why would He?

Because I love you. I’m giving you a child so you will LIVE. I gave my son to DIE for you, so you can LIVE eternally with me...

The realization that she had NO control over her life drove my mother to accept Jesus as her Savior. Control. She’d always fought for it, but if she must surrender, she would do it with excellence. My mother does nothing partially or with mediocrity. So when she became a Christ-follower, the whole world was placed on notice. They were in dire need of salvation, and it was her mission to tell them!

My dad, on the other hand, was suffering from a bit of whiplash—the sudden change from his worldly wife to Missionary Mary—which he remedied by taking our family to a nearby Quaker church. He attended Sunday school, while the rest of the family endured the whole morning. I was about six years old when my mom felt called to a Charismatic church—my dad didn’t feel the same call. Thus began Church Wars at my house.

Mesu's dad, Charles Cooley

My first memories of family changes involved things like Christmas—we quit celebrating it. I spent childhood Christmases at my best friend’s house or boyfriend’s house. I wasn’t allowed to go trick-or-treating or participate in some of the parties at school. The changes caused terrible tension between my parents. I remember them almost divorcing because of it.

As I grew older, my parents let me choose whether I would attend church with mom or dad. Now, think about it. When you were twelve years old, would you rather attend a three-hour, marathon worship/sermon or a ½-hour Sunday school? I opted for Dad’s church and Sunday school class, making me mom’s evangelist target.

The harder she pushed, the further I strayed from God. By nineteen, I was an alcoholic and was deeply committed to an unhealthy five-year relationship that I thought would end in marriage. He simply decided it should end. I thought my life was over—and tried to make it so. My best friend saved my life in more ways than one. She arranged for her boyfriend, her and me to go out as a foursome with an old high school friend of ours. We were all sophomores in college at the time. Her one caution? “He went to a Texas college last year on a basketball scholarship and got religion. The scholarship dried up and he had to move back home, but I heard he’s a little weird.”

Roy and Mesu, June 30, 1984
My reply? “I’ve been around religion all my life. I can handle weird.” But our old friend showed up in a tie to take me to a football game—and that was the most normal thing about that night. He was totally changed from the hot-tempered, foul-mouthed jock I’d known in high school. We’d been good friends, held much in common. But this young man of peace and a gentle spirit was completely new to me. This guy’s God was real. This Jesus was more than just a topic for debate at the dinner table.

Three months later, we knelt together on my parents’ living-room floor and prayed. He led me to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. The next morning, I emptied all my bottles of Jack Daniels down the sink. My mom happened upon the scene and was a little more than shocked. I said, “I gave my life to Jesus Christ last night.” Before she could gush, I added the words I knew would cut her deepest. “I’m following Roy’s God. Not yours.” I saw the words wound her, and the satisfaction I thought they’d bring didn’t come. Why do daughters intentionally hurt mothers?

A few weeks later, Roy and I were engaged, and my mom laid another bombshell at our feet. She could not, in godly conscience, attend our wedding if we chose to have it in a denominational church. My initial reaction was outrage, but my amazing husband asked me the most important question I’ve ever been asked. “Is your mom doing this to hurt you or to honor the Lord with her whole heart?”

There have been many times since that I’ve asked that question about my mom. Her convictions run so deep, her devotion to Jesus is so strong. My husband and I were married at a Holiday Inn banquet hall, and my mother was there to see it. I will NEVER regret that decision. It was a beautiful day, and my mom made my pure white going-away suit. There was love in every stitch.

Years passed and wounds healed. My mom became my best friend during those years when we moved and friendships were difficult to forge. We still struggled to agree on spiritual matters, but she was my lifeline when it came to everyday topics and emotional health.

My husband was called to vocational ministry. He attended seminary in Ashland, OH, and we served our first church in northern Indiana. A group wanted to travel to Israel, to explore the Promised Land, and we decided to open registration to those outside our church family. My mom was excited to join us. Those ten days are some of the most precious memories of my life. Our baptismal day at the Jordan River was a special treasure—even our Jewish guide was moved to tears. My husband who prayed me into the Kingdom, baptized my mother who brought me into this world—and then he baptized me.




A few days later, we were given the opportunity to plant a tree in Israel, to make a contribution to new life in the Promised Land. For my mom and me, it planted a seed of newness, enabling us to share spiritually like never before. The scabs and scars of past battles, that once made spiritual sharing uncomfortable, were washed away in Jordan’s muddy waters.

My mom no longer sees an evangelistic bulls-eye painted on my chest; and she’s no longer the door-to-door salesman I ignore, pounding on my heart. I truly believe that the Lord used my childhood confusion to motivate my hunger to know the Scriptures personally. When I come upon a confusing biblical passage, I don’t skip over it. No way! I MUST know its author, context, audience, etc. in order to gain some insight from the Holy Spirit’s whisper before I can move on!

And guess who I call when I get an especially insightful lesson from God’s Word? Yep. My mom. We are friends, confidantes, mother and daughter. No other relationship compares.

Charles Cooley (Dad); Standing (L to R): Mary Newton Cooley (Mom), Susie Cooley Hunt (sister), Newt Cooley (brother), and Mesu Cooley Andrews.

Questions for today... stop by and chat ...

- What spiritual positives have evolved from hard circumstances in your childhood?

- If you could visit anywhere mentioned in Scripture, where would you like to explore?

- To which biblical character do you relate and why?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thank you for sharing your testimony with us, Mesu.

Mesu is giving away a copy of her new release, Love's Sacred Song to one person who comments on this post before midnight, Friday, March 16th. Use this format to avoid being tagged by spammers and those weird cyberbot spider things: awesomeinkwellinspyreader(at)mail(dot)com.






Names will also go in for the 1000th Post Party (With Prizes) draw going on all this week. Click the link for details.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mesu Andrews is an author and speaker who has devoted herself to passionate and intense study of Scripture. Her debut novel, Love Amid the Ashes, released in March 2011. Her second novel, Love's Sacred Song,  is a March 2012 release. You can find Mesu online at http://www.mesuandrews.com/ where she talks about her books, her name, her Chronic Illness Battle and other information. 



26 comments:

  1. Amazing post Mesu. Will you come back soon and often? :)

    What a lovely story God has given you yet none of us would ever choose the travel that path a second time, would we?

    I'm going with the easy question first - I'd love to go to Corinth and Ephesus. Jeruselem of course, and my deeply spiritual answer really just means I'd love to go to Greece and Turkey!

    I'm going to wait and see what percolates for your other questions. Thank you so much for guesting with us today and I hope for much success and many lives touched by your new book.

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  2. What a wonderful testimony. Thank you for sharing. To answer your first question, God has taught me forgiveness by living through divorcing parents, an absent mother, and a needy sibling. He also blessed me with a wonderful church family that served as support during the rough years. I had many prayer warriors :)

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  3. Oh, Mesu, thank you for this post! I can relate so well to church wars and scripture battles between mother and daughter. My own mom and I have warred over everything from Christmas trees to Santa Claus to Halloween to whether Christians should eat meat to resting on Saturday because it's the real Sabbath to church attendance to... yeah. I can relate.
    It has taken a LONG time, but God is mending those wounds, on both sides, and I'm very thankful.

    As to those questions...
    I'm mulling over #1.
    I'd like to visit the Sea of Galilee.
    Which Biblical character? Oh, I'm prone to being a Martha... "worried and troubled about many things." I'd much rather be a Mary.

    Thanks for coming today!

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  4. Welcome to the Inkwell, Mesu, and thank you for sharing your testimony with us.

    I've often thought of writing Biblical ficiton, and although I have story ideas, it's not even at the simmer stage yet. Writing about cowboys and the Old West still haven't worn off me yet.

    I liken myself to Ruth although I'm not one for obedience. I think of her as a traveler though, and that's what I am. Of course, her romance with Boaz is the stuff of dreams, too and that's close to my heart.

    Thank you for the giveaway. Someone will receive a treasure.

    Anita Mae.

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  5. noseinanovel - welcome to the Inkwell.

    I realized as I read your comment, that I forgot to add the criteria that you need to include you email address in your comment to be considered for the draw.

    Oh, and don't forget to write it out with the (at) and (dot) so the net spiders can't spam you.

    Hoping you'll stop by again. :)

    Anita Mae.

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  6. I kind of relate to this. My mom has incredibly strong theological views, and whenever ours don't match up perfectly, there's always a lot of angst involved. It led to fights sometimes when I was younger, but now we actually attend the same church and can talk about these things more easily.

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  7. What gracious and warm welcomes! Thank you so much!

    Debra, you're absolutely right--I'm so thankful for the testimony of my past, but I would certainly have never chosen it! ha! But what a joy and comfort to know God never wastes ANY pain.

    To "noiseinanovel" - isn't it interesting how we cannot learn the deeper things of our God until we experience the deeper hurts of this earth. It sounds as if you have learned the joy of trials...resting in His arms as the world rages. It's a continual choice, isn't it?

    Niki--it sounds like we've traveled parallel roads, eh? It's difficult to relax and enjoy those precious family relationships when we're always in "defense" mode. Now that my folks are older, and I live 2200 miles away, each time I see them I treasure every moment. I'm so glad your family is experiencing some of that same mending of wounds.

    Thanks to you all for sharing your hearts.

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  8. Greece and Turkey sound fabulous! Sign me up! LOL!

    Jerusalem was amazing. We spent (I think) 4 days there. I'd love to go back because so much has changed in twelve years. We didn't get to see Hezekiah's tunnels, and that's what I REALLY want to see the next time.

    The Sea of Galilee was beautiful! We sailed in a boat that was supposed to be roughly the size of the fishing boats the disciples used. And we had a meal of the famed "Peter's fish." (It still had the eyes in it...when food looks back at you, it sort of takes the fun out of it.) The Galilee area is very tropical. Beautiful area.

    So we have a Martha and a Ruth...
    Anyone else?

    I've always loved Hephzibah...because she has a funny name like me, and her name means "The Lord delights in her." Love that!

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  9. What a powerful post, Mesu. Thank you for sharing your testimony.

    As for the questions:

    1) Your post enlightened me to a few things, but I won't share them today. I'm glad I thought through this question, though!
    2) I'd love to follow Jesus' footsteps--Bethlehem, Galilee, Jerusalem.
    3) I think I'm a Martha too. Consumed with lists, tasks, etc, when I need to be more focused on the Lord.

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  10. a wonderful posting, mesu...thank you for sharing...and special thanks for the chance to read your latest masterpiece :)

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

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  11. When I used to think of the Holy Land, I thought, sure, I'd love to go and see it. Period.

    But then I read Reflections of God’s Holy Land by Eva Marie Everson and Miriam Feinberg Vamosh, Thomas Nelson 2008.

    That book opened my eyes. I still want to go to the Holy Land, but I can't decide which part. If I'm going to dream, I'm going to dream big - I want to see it all, just like Eva Marie did. :)

    Anita.

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  12. Mesu, welcome to the Inkwell! Yours is an incredibly powerful story, and I'm so thankful you shared it with us. And I totally agree, God doesn't waste our pain. The knowledge doesn't make the pain go away, but I think it helps us to praise Him in our trials.

    Susie D and I are so much alike. I, too, would love to walk everywhere Jesus did. :-)

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  13. I'm so glad you gals were encouraged by the post. I have to tell you that my mom read it aloud to my dad this afternoon, and they both enjoyed it as well. What a joy to be able to share God's triumphs with them, to see how He has used all of our joys and pain to strengthen our relationships with each other and with Him.

    Susanne, Bethlehem was an interesting place. One of the Muslim merchants there got a little nasty with our Jewish guide and followed him onto our tour bus. The Bethlehem police forcibly removed him--yikes!!! I'll never forget THAT little episode! ;)

    Thanks for your post, karenk, and I don't know about a "masterpiece," but I sure hope you enjoy the book! Please let me know what you think of it!!

    Anita Mae, I'll have to look up Eva Marie's book. Sounds fabulous!!

    And Suzie! Hello, NW friend! ;) You're absolutely right...there is something VERY special about walking on the ground Jesus trod. Seeing the same mountains, rocks, stars and sky. It's absolutely breathtaking...

    This has been so much fun, gals! Thanks for a fabulous day! I'll continue to check back to say "hello" to anyone else that stops by.

    Blessings!

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  14. What an amazing testimony.
    I am really excited to read this book.
    It looks and sounds great!
    dymesich[at]juno[dot]com

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  15. wow... that is some testimony. i'm so glad that you were able to find the Lord despite your conflicts with your mom. my mom is similar in her exuberance for the Lord, but perhaps not as "militant" (?)

    i was very, very young when my mom came to know the Lord and i was around four when i gave my heart to Jesus. i don't know what it is like to be without God's presence in my life - much due to my mom's influence.

    as for a Bible character...when I was little, I wanted to be Deborah, the Judge because I shared her name. Now? Hmmm, I too, relate more with Ruth, but Esther fascinates me as well.

    When I was 13, I spent a summer missions in Israel and visited a lot of places. I think I'd love to revisit the wilderness of Engedi again (the area David hid out from Saul).

    the book sounds really neat.
    nm8r67 at hotmail dot com

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  16. Thanks for stopping by, Leah and Deb! Both of you have Bible names! Love it!

    How fascinating to have spent a summer in Israel, Deb! We didn't get to visit En Gedi, so I'd love to see it when we go back!

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  17. What an awesome testimony! Am interested in reading this book.
    Thanks for the chance to win it.

    seventysevensusieq[at]yahoo[dot]com

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  18. DebH, that settles it. I'm taking you with me if I ever get a chance to go. :)

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  19. What a great family story. My Mom and I had hit a few rough spots when I was in my teens. We have a great relatinship now. I have two daughters (14 and 12) and I hope we can skip over some of the rough patches. Your book sounds great.

    arsmelser6(at)gmail(dot)com

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  20. Hi, Mesu. Thanks for sharing your life with us! Your story also reminded me of my mother, who passed on December 25, 2004. I look forward to the reunion!

    I lean to the Martha view of the world.

    Andrea Schultz
    Ponderings by Andrea blog
    http://andrealschultz.blogspot.com

    andrealschultz(at)gmail(dot)com

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  21. What a great post and such thought provoking questions!! I have picked #1 to answer....while in 3rd grade we moved to a new state/new school and I was an outcast, yet I knew God loved me so I continued to try and make friends until I had friends. A lesson I have never forgot!
    Thanks
    Darby
    darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

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  22. I would love to visit Jeruselem and Bethlehem but due to the unrest in the land I doubt I ever will.
    Enjoyed your post today. Thanks for stopping to chat and share with us. I have this book on my wish list.
    Thanks for the opportunity to enter giveaway.

    misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

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  23. Y'all are sooooo fun! I love chatting with you!!

    Amy, we have two daughters also, and went through some rough times; but it seems the Lord uses all those experiences to refine and strengthen the relationship...if we allow it. ;)

    Hi Andrea! Fun to see a pic of you! I'm sorry to hear of your mama's home-going, but as my mom is in her early 80's, I keep reminding myself of that eternity that we'll share. I would imagine we'll always miss our moms on this earth.

    What a great lesson to learn, Darby, and at such a young age! I went to the same school from K-12, and I found making friends in college VERY difficult. Good for you!

    Misskallie2000--I've contemplated the unrest in Israel, too, as I've longed to return. While doing the research for my 3rd book, I was soooo excited to use Google Earth to actually SEE the Tekoan Wilderness (south of Judah). Even though my feet can't walk the soil, it's amazing how much we can see with the technology we have available. I'm awed!

    Thanks so much for stopping by everyone!!

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  24. Mesu - Very thought provoking look back at your relationship with your mother. Gave me some food for thought as I deal with my mother and some of her struggles right now.
    Thanks for another opportunity to win a copy of your new book.
    Sharon
    smoore at tcq dot net

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  25. Mesu, I love using Google Earth for my research. I've been down to Wyoming while doing research for one of my wips, but it's such a wild, wonderful landscape that I didn't believe my memory was accurate.

    With GE, I confirmed it was even more beautiful than I remembered because I was able to see things from above that I couldn't while driving through it.

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  26. Using random.org, I drew a name to win Mesu's new release, Love's Sacred Song.
    And the winner is...

    karenk!

    Congrats, Karen. Mesu will be in contact ref your postal info. :)

    Thank you to everyone for an interesting discussion, and especially to you, Mesu for blessing us with your testimony.

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