Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Daughter's Faith and a Mom's Faith

Episode Resources

Listen to: Cancer & Contentment with Scott & Karen Melby

Leslie Basham: God calls parents to raise up the next generation to be dangerous for His kingdom. Sometimes this means watching your children follow God into places outside of your comfort zone. Karen Melby knows what it’s like to feel that kind of discomfort. Her daughter had a big idea involving orphans in Uganda, a paddleboard, and the fifth largest lake in the world. Karen knew it was risky, and she wasn’t ready to give her blessing.

Karen Melby: I understand how, as a mother, the enemy can come in and try to destroy a relationship over fear.

Leslie: We’re about to hear the story on Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Surrender: The Heart God Controls. This is Monday, June 3, 2019.

This month on Revive Our Hearts we’re exploring the idea of perseverance. This month you’ll hear stories of women who leaned on the Lord to endure hardship. They faced their battles with faith and determination.

Today we’ll hear from a mother and daughter who learned a lot about perseverance by taking on a big adventure. Nancy recorded this interview just days after Karen’s daughter completed a major accomplishment.

This adventure happened a few years ago. Since that time Karen’s husband, who is mentioned in the story, went through a long journey of perseverance as well. You can hear about his battle with leukemia on some other moving Revive Our Hearts programs. Find the links on today’s transcript. Scott Melby went home to be with the Lord after putting joyful perseverance on display. Let’s listen as Nancy introduces us to this family and this story about perseverance.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: My longtime friend, Karen Melby, is here. Her daughter Ginny Melby is here. Let me set it up, and then we’ll let them tell the story. But first of all, Ginny and Karen, welcome to Revive Our Hearts. Thanks for coming down to the studio today to talk with us.

Ginny Melby: Thanks for having us.

Karen: Thank you, Nancy. It’s a joy to be here, and always fun to have the opportunity to see you!

Nancy: I’m glad for that, too. I got an email about a week or so ago, Ginny, from your dad, that he sent to a group of friends. He told about how you and two of your buddies from Maranatha Conference Center—where you and many other families spend meaningful vacations in the summer (you guys have a cottage there)—and your friends Craig and Trent Masselink have a cottage there . . .  

It told how the three of you were getting ready to stand-up paddleboard across Lake Michigan. Now, for our listeners who, like me, may not be into paddleboarding or understand Lake Michigan, just tell us what stand-up paddleboarding is.

Ginny: It’s like a giant surfboard. You stand on top of it, and you have a long paddle with the paddle just on one end. It’s almost like a canoe, but you’re standing up and you paddle a few strokes on the left side, then a few strokes on the right side. I think it was made for surfing, but it’s become a calm water, river, sport.

Nancy: You grew up spending your summers at Maranatha with your family—your family has been there for multiple generations—and it’s right on Lake Michigan, which is one of the best kept secrets in this country. I live right near Lake Michigan, too, and it’s really such a beautiful thing. So, you grew up in the water and really comfortable with doing things like paddleboarding.

Ginny: Yes, we live right on the beach, and all of us kids have just grown up together. About five years ago we brought some paddleboards over to the lake and started using them and sharing them with our friends. That’s our favorite activity. Every day we’ll bring the boards down to the beach and paddle for a while. I think that’s what got us going with this activity.

Nancy: But now, going across Lake Michigan—for those who are from other parts of the country and don’t have any concept of this—that’s not like paddling a couple of miles parallel to the beach. That’s a whole different story.

Ginny: Right, that is a whole different story. I think we just got the idea because my older brother, Drew, who’s really adventurous, had just toyed with the idea, “Oh, what if we paddleboarded all the way across Lake Michigan?”

Nancy: We’re talking how many miles?

Ginny: Eighty miles. You can’t see across Lake Michigan, so none of us really had any idea what that would be like. So we just decided to go for it.

Nancy: The idea was sparked because you just like doing adventurous things, but also . . . Karen, you and Scott went to a conference not too long ago in Austin sposored by Generous Giving. I remember when you were there. Scott’s email telling me about this whole project said that the genesis for this idea started at that conference.

Karen: That’s right. One of the keynote speakers at the Generous Giving conference was a man named Bob Goff. I had never heard of him before, but Bob gave an incredible message. He’s an exhilarating, funny, very engaging speaker. He spoke a message that came right out of the book Love Does.

As participants in the Generous Giving conference, we were all given a copy of Bob’s book. We took it home. Scott read the book and handed it to Ginny, as he often will do with our children for summer reading. He’ll pick up a few books that he would like the kids to read.

He handed it to her, and then he took off for Africa.

Nancy: Love Does

Karen: That’s right. So while Scott was gone, Ginny was reading this book. I’ll let her tell what happened from there.

Nancy: Ginny, what is the gist of the book?

Ginny: The book is a collection of stories about cool things Bob Goff has done, so it’s really entertaining and easy to read. He tells stories of ways he has decided to ambitiously and creatively love others. He gets these crazy ideas and does them.

He says in the book that love in the brain does nothing. Love in theory does nothing. We always think of ideas and ways to love people, but oftentimes we don’t follow through with them.

Nancy: Which is a biblical concept, “Little children, let us not love in word or talk, but in deed and in truth (1 John 3). So that’s exactly what he was illustrating.

Ginny: That’s exactly right. He says love is a verb, “love does.” It’s the whole premise of the book. So I read the book and then came to Maranatha. Craig was there. I gave him the book, and he gave me one—we just swapped summer reading.

The book struck something in his heart, too. Something we’ve always wanted to do is paddleboard across Lake Michigan, so we decided to do it and to turn it into an act of love. We just used what we had and what we loved to do already, which is paddleboarding, and that was our way of creatively loving others.

Nancy: Now, how was paddleboarding across Lake Michigan going to express love?

Ginny: It was a fundraiser for Bob Goff’s ministry, called Restore International. He founded this ministry as a way to get children in Uganda out of slavery and trafficking. By paddleboarding across Lake Michigan, we’ve been asking people to donate moneyWe’ve been giving them ideas on that . . . maybe give a dollar per mile—$80. It will add up, and then we can give the money to Restore International.

Nancy: When you first surfaced this idea ("We’re going to paddleboard across Lake Michigan to raise money and awareness for this ministry.”), Karen, what were your thoughts as a mom?

Karen: (chuckles) To be quite honest, I was very skeptical. Ginny and I actually went through a very difficult time relationally because I was fearful of this crossing. I grew up on the water as well. I’ve been out on the lake when it turns mean. Just that week, two strong men had died in Lake Michigan.

Nancy: It’s not unusual to hear those stories.

Karen: Not unusual at all. So as much faith as I had in Ginny in being organized and very thorough in her planning . . . and in Craig as well . . .

Nancy: . . . and responsible . . .

Karen: Craig is a trained missionary pilot. He’s very familiar with navigation and all of those things. Even so, I had a healthy fear of the Lake. It took me a long time . . . They gave me some ideas. I volunteered to purchase the spot tracker, which Craig suggested.

Nancy: Which was a way of following their progress online.

Karen: That way I would always know where they were at every point during the night.

Nancy: Not that that would do a whole lot of good when you were sitting on the shore.

Karen: Little did I know that that spot tracker would trigger a lot of interest in many, many people.

Nancy: I was sure following it!

Karen: Truly, it took me a long time to come around to believing in Ginny’s passion, believing her dream, and then trusting God with that.

Nancy: And you had to be happy that she was wanting to make a difference.

Karen: Absolutely.

Nancy: But maybe do it a different way?

Karen: Absolutely. I was just fearful of the journey, I think. I did truly trust the Lord with them, but it truly was a test for me to let go. There’s a little sign at Maranatha Bible Conference, where we are in the summer. There’s an old tabernacle where we hold all our services, and there’s a little wooden sign that’s been posted above the pulpit for probably eighty years. It says, “Let go, and let God.”

I truly thought that in a lot of ways, I’ve learned that. But this was another test . . . to let go of holding tight to Ginny and keeping her safe, and let God do something big in the lives of these kids.

Nancy: That’s probably not the first or the last time, as the mom of five young adult kids, that you’ve had to do that.

Karen: That’s right.

Nancy: That’s part of your sanctification as a mom.

Karen: It was probably the first time I’ve had to do it with Ginny. It was a different kind of test than anything that we’ve had with our other kids.

Nancy: Ginny, was it hard for you to understand why this would be hard for your mom?

Ginny: Yeah, it was hard. I was stuck between trying to honor my mom by letting this idea go, and also knowing that it was something we needed to do. It was something we felt was right, and the Lord kept opening doors for us.

We began emailing people and trying to make contacts. We visited the Coast Guard while we were toying with the idea, just seeing if this could actually be a possibility. We didn’t really have any closed doors.

We kept feeling the Lord telling us to “go for it.” We were really only fifty-five percent sure He would bless our efforts, but we were pretty sure we had a good shot with it. It was a leap of faith we needed to take in order to love others well. We kept gently pushing forward with it and praying that our parents would feel okay with it.

Karen: I mentioned that my husband, Scott, was in Africa at the time. He laughs, because he says he would get texts from me here all the way in Africa saying, “Scott, Ginny’s got this crazy idea to go across Lake Michigan. You’ve really got to pray that something happens and she changes her mind.” Or I would say, “Try to talk to Ginny about this.”

Nancy: And what were his texts from Ginny saying?

Ginny: What was I saying? "Talk to Mom! Talk to Mom!" "This is awesome! Look what’s happening!" "We got a sponsor!"

Karen: “But you’ve got to convince Mom.”

Nancy: So how long did you prepare for this trip? How did you prepare for it?

Ginny: Well, Craig is only here for about three weeks this summer, so that’s how long we had to prepare for it. We started getting things rolling.

Nancy: And then you enlisted his younger brother?

Ginny: Then Trent came up to Maranatha, and then the three of us started visiting people and practicing altogether and taking photos. So I think, total, it was about three weeks.

Nancy: There were a lot of neat provisions of what the Lord did. It the day before you left, the Lord provided—through a friend of a friend of a relative, or something—a larger boat for you to take as a support boat.

Ginny: Yes. The plan was that Craig, Trent, and I would drive, actually on the road, the boat on the trailer, all the way around the lake over to Milwaukee and then paddleboard eighty miles straight across Lake Michigan.

Nancy: With the boat following for support.

Ginny: Right. So we would just put the board on the car, and trailer the boat behind the car, and then drive over and then come back across the lake.

Nancy: It was a small boat, so you’d only be able to have a couple of people on it?

Ginny: Right, we’d only have the three of us and then, at the last minute, their Uncle Rob, who is a Navy-trained seaman, decided he would come along with us and take care of us. That was an answer to prayer as well.

Nancy: So when the Lord provided a bigger boat, that made a bigger crew possible.

Karen: Just the night before, with the provision of the larger boat, I had the opportunity to go. One of the crew members had said, “I really think that you should go, so that there’s a woman on board with all these men and boys." (Craig and Trent’s dad, their Uncle Rob, and then the two captains—the owner of the boat and his friend.)

So I had to ask Ginny's permission. I really wanted her to feel comfortable with me going and not me just horning in as a nervous mother.

Nancy: You were good with that, Ginny?

Ginny: Yes, I was glad she wanted to go along.

Nancy: Did that feel like a sign of support to you?

Ginny: It did. That meant a lot to me.

Nancy: So Karen, you’ve been through this journey now of being fearful, skeptical, not wanting this to happen. God’s worked in your heart, given you freedom to let this happen. You go from that scared position to, now, you’re a crew member on the boat. What a transformation.

Karen: Yes, it was. It was very much a surprise to me to be going the night before, and then thinking through, How can we be of help? Craig and Trent’s mom, Marie, and I scrambled the night before to go and buy all the food that they would need for the boat, put that all together . . . as well as thinking about being gone for the next three days and packing.

But it was an amazing thing to be there with her, to support my daughter, and that was—I felt—a real gift from God that He gave me, to redeem myself from the fear I had prior to that. It was a beautiful experience; it really was. I’ve journaled a bit about the intensity, of how difficult it was to watch her go through something that was probably one of the hardest things she’s ever done to this point, and may ever do.

It was intense physically; it was intense spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. I saw in her face sheer determination, sheer exhaustion, and yet in that intense, exhausted phase, she was just a beautiful girl that I knew deep down inside was doing something that she knew was not in her own strength.

That was the most beautiful thing to watch—she was fully trusting the Lord to give her strength. As difficult as it was to watch, as a mom, it was wonderful. I just thank God that He gave me the opportunity to see her trust in the Lord in such an intense time in her life and to see her struggle through it but not give up . . . to trust the Lord for the strength she needed. I am so grateful that I was able to be part of that.

Nancy: So, Ginny, after what you’d been through with your mom and this whole process over those weeks, what did it mean to you to have your mom there on that support boat?

Ginny: It meant a lot to me, and I think it confirmed to me that she really was my biggest fan. She only had our best interests in mind. The only reason she was fearful and not fully supportive of it was because she loves all of us kids so much. Seeing her on the back of the boat while I was paddling, when I was exhausted and about to break, helped keep me going.

She would tell me some Bible verses, and I knew she was praying for each and every one of us while we were paddling. It was an encouragement to have her along.

Nancy: Karen, I know you’re not the only mom who’s dealt with fear about letting kids go or when there are things on their hearts that they want to do. Talk to another mom who’s got a young adult son or daughter—or any age son or daughter for that matter. When there’s fear-based parenting going on, the tendency to cling, to hold on to, to try and protect them, to control the situation, what would you say to that mom, based on the journey God’s had you on the past few weeks?

Karen: I would first say that I understand. I understand firsthand that fear. It’s interesting, because I would have not thought that I was a fearful mom. In many cases I probably took pride in being able to let go and let my kids do some hard things. But this time, God really broke me and showed me a point of pride in my own heart. I realized that.

Ginny is twenty-one years old. She loves the Lord. I know that she has personal walk with the Lord. She has a very strong relationship with her Lord and Savior, Jesus. I see her in the Word of God. I see what she writes to her friends, to encourage people. I firsthand see her own faith walk. That said, I understand how, as a mother, the enemy can come in and try to destroy a relationship over fear.

I don’t know that I have anything profound to say, other than, we need to search our own hearts. If it’s valid fear, then that’s something we need to listen to. It could be that the Lord is using a parent to point something out. But, if it’s not a valid fear—if it’s a fear that comes from the enemy—then that is a check that has to be dealt with in our own lives. As a parent, that’s where I was.

It was my own pride, it was my fear, it was not part of God’s plan, and it was a point of sin. It needed to be broken.

Nancy: This was a chance for your kids to experience the power of God in their lives firsthand.

Karen: Absolutely. And you know, I’m so glad you brought that up. In fact, I have told many people that that was an amazing thing. There were a lot of little miracles along the way that were not meant for me, and they were not meant for anybody else except Ginny, Craig, and Trent. They were for God to show Himself strong in their lives. This was their journey with the Lord, and it was amazing!

Nancy: This was part of the transfer of relationship with the Lord from parents to the kids—so the kids aren’t just riding their parents’ spiritual coattails but are having their own experiences of faith. That’s a huge thing. We want the baton of faith to be passed on from one generation to the next.

Karen: That’s right. Even financially, there were little expenses along the way that we could have picked up, but God picked those up. That was all just part of His plan—showing Himself strong to these kids.

Nancy: That is all part of this journey. This wasn’t just a matter of paddleboarding across Lake Michigan. That really became the occasion for a journey of faith for you, Ginny, and for you, Karen, and for the guys who were involved, and both sets of parents, and a lot of other people, like myself, who have been watching and praying and been excited about this journey.

We’re going to pick up talking tomorrow about the actual paddleboarding across Lake Michigan and how that went. It’s a fun story to hear . . . fun now that we look back on it. So be sure and join us again tomorrow for Revive Our Hearts.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been talking with Ginny Melby and her mom, Karen, about the big adventure they took several years ago. For Karen, this was more than a trip across Lake Michigan. It was a journey of faith to overcome her fears.

We’re bringing you this story as a way to explore the topic of perseverance. You'll hear stories and teaching on this topic all this month. To help you learn even more about perseverance, we’d like to send you a new book. You probably know the name Elisabeth Elliot. She was a woman who endured much loss but never lost sight of God’s love for her. In fact, we’ll be hearing one of her classic messages later this week, here on Revive Our Hearts.

Elisabeth died four years ago, but her life message continues to inspire multiple generations. You can now read more about her personal journey with suffering in her brand-new book. It’s called, Suffering Is Never for Nothing. It includes never-before-published material from her teaching, and is filled with biblical encouragement for suffering saints.

We’d love to send you a copy of Suffering Is Never for Nothing when you make a gift of any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Your gift will help women find uplifting, biblical teaching available for free from Revive Our Hearts. Go to ReviveOurHearts.com today to give, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. Ask for the book Suffering Is Never for Nothing when you make your donation. 

So, what does it feel like to be on Lake Michigan, in a storm, at 2 a.m.?

Craig: So I climbed on the board; I stood up, fell in, climbed back on the board, fell back in. The paddleboard flipped over, and I remember just looking up. You couldn’t see the waves at night, you could only hear them, so you would just hear the next whitecap build to your right, and you know it’s about to hit you.

Ginny: They were three to five feet consistently, the whole time, and sometimes much higher than that. So there was lot of falling off the board, a lot of getting soaked, losing track of the boat . . . so we had to stay focused and keep paddling as hard as we could.

Leslie: Hear more about it tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is helping you trust the Lord in the midst of your fears. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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