True Women Speak Out, Part 1May 5, 2009
If you could have a “do over” in life, what would you want to redo? Barbara Rainey, Karen Loritts, Mary Kassian, Holly Elliff and Carolyn McCulley comment on the hardest part of living out biblical womanhood in their own lives.
If you could have a “do over” in life, what would you want to redo? Barbara Rainey, Karen Loritts, Mary Kassian, Holly Elliff and Carolyn McCulley comment on the hardest part of living out biblical womanhood in their own lives.
Bob: Wouldn't it be nice to be able to sit with a group of godly older women, women who could share with you from their successes and from their failures?
Karen: In the midst of raising our child, I really struggled with my identity.
Holly: My kids would overwhelm my husband's needs, and Billy would end up at the bottom of that list.
Mary: Well, I always had a really independent spirit, so I just – so I wish I would have learned how to bow quicker.
Barbara: Well, I tried to do a personal devotion time on a fairly regular basis. I felt like a failure, though, because I couldn't do it consistently.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, May 5th. Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. Today you'll have the opportunity to be challenged and encouraged as a panel of godly women share from their lives with you. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. I imagine, maybe, a few of our listeners today were actually in the audience when the panel discussion, that we're going to hear a part of today, was first recorded back at the True Woman '08 conference in Chicago back in October of 2008.
But before we get to that panel discussion today, Dennis, we need to let our listeners know a little bit about what has been happening here at FamilyLife recently.
Dennis: Bob, I've been at FamilyLife since 1976, and I have to tell you that in all my years of giving leadership here, I have never, ever faced the financial challenges that we are facing today. Many of our listeners may recall back in December I addressed them for a number of days, sharing about a financial need we had, and they responded generously. But here we are, four months later, and we're still facing a substantial shortfall. In fact, we are nearly $1 million behind in donations from where we were at this time last year.
And we have taken appropriate measures. We've had a staff reduction of 14 percent. We have instituted pay cuts of 5 percent to 10 percent. As a ministry, we don't have any debt, we are committed to staying out of debt, and I think our listeners need to know that when I ask them to give, it's something that Barbara and I have been doing from the beginning of this ministry. We donate all of our royalties from our books to FamilyLife. And so we count it a privilege to be a part of this ministry just as many of our listeners are, and that's why we're coming to you right now to ask you, frankly, in an urgent way, for your help. We need your help right now.
Bob: And now is a particularly good time for you to help us because we've had some friends of the ministry come along and offer, during the month of May, to match every donation that we receive this month on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a total of $356,000. That means when you make a donation of $50, they're going to match it with another donation of $50. In essence, your donation is doubled.
So we want to ask you to either go online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call us at 1-800-FLTODAY and make a donation either online or over the phone. Simply do whatever it is you can do. And if all of our listeners would do that, make whatever kind of a donation you can make, it would really go a long way to helping us in the midst of this financial challenge.
Dennis: Right now, I need to ask for your help. We need a number of you to step forward and say, "I can do something. We want to stand with you right now."
Bob: Once again, our website, FamilyLifeToday.com – you can make a donation online or call us, toll-free, at 1-800-FLTODAY.
Now, I think there are going to be a lot of wives and moms and – well, a lot of women who are going to be encouraged by what they're going to hear on today's program, Dennis.
Dennis: Well, you're going to hear a number of women who are seasoned veterans. In fact …
Bob: Do you want to explain what "seasoned" means?
Dennis: Mature women – we're talking about ladies who have been down the road and who have experienced a few of life's ups and downs. Barbara Rainey is on there.
Bob: Your wife is on the panel.
Dennis: I know a few of the things she's been through. She is married to me. Karen Loritts, the wife of Crawford Loritts; Mary Cassian; Holly Elliff, Carolyn McCully – it's really a phenomenal panel of women who are wise in the daily skills of life. And I think that's what younger women need today, is they need to hear from this – well, these seasoned veterans.
Bob: This panel took place at the True Woman '08 event hosted by Revive Our Hearts, Nancy Leigh Demoss's ministry. It was held in Chicago in October of 2008, and I had the opportunity to host this panel and ask the questions.
Dennis: You did.
Bob: So we'll hop right in and hear what the women had to share as a part of this panel conversation.
Bob: Let me as you all – if you could – if we could roll back the clock and put you back at high school graduation, all right?
Woman: You don't want to do that.
Woman: Seriously, bad hair days.
Woman: You do not want to do that.
Bob: Let's go back, and we'll say it's your high school graduation, and you're going to get a do-over from high school graduation until today – one thing you would say, "If I could do that last "x" number of years over, the one thing that I would really try to do differently than I did it, what would your do-over be? Do you know? Carolyn?
Carolyn: I wish that I would have responded to the Gospel. I wish I knew the Lord as a young woman rather than a convert at 30. Although I am very grateful that the Lord did intervene in my life.
But I look at the young women today, and the teenagers I know who are on fire for the Lord and making a difference already in their generation, and at those times I will look at them sometimes and weep, not out of self-pity but, really, out of a sense of just profound joy at all the possibilities of what God can do through young women like that. So that would be my main item. I would have loved to have lived my life as a young woman as a believer.
Bob: Holly? Do you know what you would want to do as a do-over?
Holly: I think for my life I wish I had become focused on what God desired for me earlier in my life. Of course, I might have had 16 children instead of eight if I had done that. You know, God is so faithful to redeem those years, and I'm grateful for that, but I would love it if I had known the truth that I know now a little earlier.
Bob: But you were a believer at high school graduation.
Holly: I was a believer.
Bob: You went into ministry right out of that, right? That seems pretty focused to me.
Holly: I got married in college – well, but my understanding was very shallow. Really, if I broke a fingernail it was a crisis, and I was very focused on myself. And it took the Lord some years to show me why that mattered.
Barbara: My do-over would be that I wish that I had understood the power of studying God's Word in my life sooner. I was so overwhelmed, as Holly was saying, she was with kids. I had six kids in 10 years, and I just was – I just was so tired all of the time, and I felt like there was no way out. And I felt like there was no help, and I was trying to do way too much of it on my own – on my own power and my own strength, and I didn't understand the power of the Holy Spirit, I didn't understand the power of God's Word in my life. I was at church every Sunday, so it wasn't that I wasn't hearing the Word, but I wasn't in the Word the way that I needed to be for my own life and my own strength.
And I rationalized, "I'm just too busy, I'm too tired, I've got too many kids and too much to do, and I just can't add that into my life." But looking back, I just realize what a source of strength being in God's Word would have been for me as a young mom, because I know now what a source of strength it is, because I've been in real serious Bible study for the last 20 years of my life, and I think if I only had understood how valuable that would have been to me to have understood God at that level when I was in my 20s and in my early 30s, it would have made a great difference.
Bob: Was it personal devotional time or corporate study or – if you could go back and redo your 20s and be in the Word, would it be precept or BSF or community Bible study or your personal time or what?
Barbara: Well, I tried to do a personal devotion time on a fairly regular basis. I felt like a failure, though, because I couldn't do it consistently. There were just too many eruptions with children. I have learned about myself that I need to be in some kind of Bible study that requires accountability. In other words, I have to pay money to get the book, and I have to be there at a certain time every week because if I don't have that, I am less likely to do it.
So, yes, it would have been precept or BSF or some other good, inductive kind of Bible study where I was doing it on my own – not just reading a book about it, but I have the Bible in my hand, and a pencil, and I was really studying God's Word for me.
Bob: Got it. How about you, Mary, have you got a do-over?
Mary: Well, I always had a really independent spirit, so I just – tell me what to do, and I'll put my back up against it. So I wish I would have learned how to bow quicker, because God had to whack me at the back of the knees a little bit to get me to learn how to kneel, and that wasn't just the case in my relationship with the Lord, it was also – I had to make some tough decisions. I was sharing with my daughter-in-law just where we have come from, my husband and I, you know, where I defiantly, you know, just defiantly, like, even if he would suggest something at the very first, it was an issue of my will and my willingness to obey the Lord that I had to deal with.
So if I wish I would have learned before the truth that C.S. Lewis has is that you stand taller when you bow in God's economy.
Bob: You needed a white handkerchief back then, didn't you?
Bob: Let me follow up on that with the married women who are up here. Living out biblical womanhood in your marriage, what's the hardest part of that, and how would you coach these younger women from your experience? Say, "Here is what I would encourage you to do to really be God's woman to your husband?" I'll start with you on that one.
Barbara: Well, that's a hard question, because there are lots of things that are difficult about marriage. I have told all of my girls that if any of us knew how hard marriage really was before we got married, none of us would probably get married, because it is much more difficult than we would ever believe it is when we're planning a wedding and thinking about walking down the aisle in that white dress. I mean, it was way more difficult than I thought.
One of the challenges for me has been to understand that my husband – that his desire for me and his desire for oneness with me was really a godly thing, and that it was something that God built in him. I struggled a lot with our differences because we are so very different. We are different in our personalities, we are different in our interests. If you put us on some kind of personality chart system, we would be opposite on every category.
And so Dennis and I have this good complement, because we do balance one another out, but we are so very different, and I fought against that for many, many years thinking that my way was the better way, and that he should learn to do things my way.
Bob: How many can "amen" on that? Universal feelings …
Barbara: It is a universal feeling. One day I remember, he told he, he said, "You know, there's more than one way to do something." He was speaking of loading the dishwasher.
And I thought because I had more practice, my way was better. But I finally realized, you know, he's right. It really is not that important, and I need to quit fighting over these things.
But I learned how important oneness is in marriage and how hard it is to maintain oneness and unity in marriage. It's a constant battle, it's a constant dilemma, trying to maintain that because our natural tendency is to drift away from one another and to want to do our own thing and to be my own person and yet oneness is God's goal and desire for us.
Bob: So what can a true woman do to pursue oneness and to make it a priority?
Barbara: Well, a true woman needs to understand that oneness is God's plan and design and that by pursuing an intimate relationship with your husband, relationally, emotionally, spiritually, sexually, that you are pursuing God's design for marriage, and it's hard to keep that in the front of our vision on a daily basis, but God knew what He was doing, and there were plenty of times when I thought He did not know what He was doing when He designed marriage the way He did. I thought He'd made some mistakes, but I have come to see that His plan is good. He knew what He was doing when He made man the way He made man and woman the way He made woman. And when I submit to that plan, and I trust Him that He knows what He's doing, it's better.
Holly: I think mine would be a little related to what you were saying. Mine, a little later in my marriage, as we started having more kids, I found that it was very, very difficult to balance loving my kids and loving my husband, and if I wasn't really careful then my kids would overwhelm my husband's needs, and Billy would end up at the bottom of that list.
And so I found that I had to make very conscious choices to still be his girlfriend and his lover and not just the exhausted mother of his children.
Bob: That's good work.
Karen: I was going to say for me, as an African-American woman, I had a couple of challenges. There was the racial challenge and the cultural challenge. Crawford and I come from two very different households. Crawford had a great mom who just loved Jesus and loved her family. She was not the June Cleaver, she was the Clair Huxtable.
She actually wore white pearls and an apron every day; served her husband, and her husband was a man's man. He loved his family, provided for them, he was just a picture of what you see in the Bible, and God thought it was funny to – Crawford and I to meet in college and for us to fall in love – this woman who comes from a single-parent family, low income – so He brought us together, and it was interesting, the first couple years of marriage. And I couldn't cry enough to get him to change, I couldn't whine him enough to get him to change because he was the man, and he was going to listen to what God said, and so I did a lot of crying on my knees saying, "God, I don't know anything about this marriage thing, and that Apostle Paul, it cannot be in my Bible that he really meant those words. That's a cultural thing, and that was back then," and I was trying every which way to arrange the Scriptures, but I couldn't do it. It had no prequalifiers based upon your race or your preferences or whatever. It was the Word of God.
And so when it said "submission," submission stuck in my mouth all the time, but I had to deal with Scriptures. It wasn't about Karen Batling [sp] Crawford – who is right and who is wrong? It was, "Karen, are you going to obey what Scripture says." I was really ready to be a bride, but I was unprepared to be a wife, and so God took me to the woodshed lots of times, and I did a lot of talking in the mirror. I stayed in the bathroom a lot.
But it was a challenge for me as an African-American woman. I had no role models. Women were the main event in our families. If you were a male, you were a male, you stayed in the family because you were biologically born into the family. The women [inaudible] the men, and so I had a struggle to bend my knee to God. Ultimately, my battle was not against Crawford, it was against what God said, and I had to say, "Yes, Lord." And so that's what I'm still doing, even today, going on 38 years. I love my husband dearly, but it's always the choice that I have to make. I'm going to believe God and serve Him.
Bob: I think God has put in the heart of every woman a longing for safety and security. And I think most women think "The only way I can be safe and secure is what?"
Karen: Being in control?
Bob: If I'm in control. And so I think part of the battle in marriage is a wife saying, learning, that she can be safe and secure and follow her husband's leadership.
Karen: But you know, this is the thing about the Holy Spirit – there would be nights that I would just go to battle with Crawford, you know, just nothing really out there but just my attitude. You know how we can freeze our husbands out, ladies? You know that, right? Yeah, we can freeze these guys out.
But when I lay down at night, when the lights were turned off, when I closed my eyes, the Holy Spirit got me, and you could fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool the Holy Spirit that indwells every believer. And so I would be miserable – and it is miserable to be miserable – and so it's being honest with the Holy Spirit.
Bob: Mary, anything you would add to that in terms of the struggles being God's woman in your marriage?
Mary: I'm glad you repeated the question, I couldn't remember what it was.
So – let me say that just in terms of true womanhood, one of the things that was a real struggle for me was what does it look like, and how do I live according to priorities, biblical priorities? I've got a professional degree, I'm a professional woman, culture is screaming at me what that should look like and what that means.
So there were some really tough decisions – Brent and I talked about that often, and wrestled through that because it would be so easy if we could come up with a list of what it looks like, but there is no list. God doesn't give us a list, okay, it's appropriate, and the guys need to fix the cars; the women need to do this. He just doesn't do that. He's concerned about our hearts and gives us principles, but then you wrestle with what does that look like and how do I live that out in my marriage?
Bob: Yes, good.
Bob: We have been listening to questions-and-answers that took place as a part of a panel conversation that was held at the True Woman '08 conference for women in Chicago back in October of 2008. You know, listening back to this, Dennis, I'm just reminded of how much help each one of us can get from the wisdom of someone who is just a few laps farther around the track than we are.
Dennis: Yes, and how often we need to just pause and get off the racetrack ourselves and listen to sage advice that has embraced the Scriptures – not perfectly but with authenticity. And, you know, listening to these women, you're hearing different perspectives, because each of them came at life through a different set of circumstances, and that's how our listeners come at life, and that's why we do what we do here on FamilyLife Today. We want to come alongside you as a wife, a mother, a single woman, and give you the biblical blueprint, what it looks like to be a woman in this culture.
And I have to tell you, if there has ever been a time and a need for that blueprint to be shared, it's today, because you're not going to turn on the TV and get it. You're not going to hear that kind of perspective we just heard on that panel in primetime television.
And I'm really proud that we can do that for our listeners and encourage them as they raise the next generation of young ladies who are going to form the next generation of families. The Christian family remains the greatest and most powerful conduit of the truth of Jesus Christ that's available on the planet, and a woman shapes that family. She is really important to Christian homes.
Bob: Yes, a number of the women who were a part of the True Woman Conference, contributed to a book called "Becoming God's True Woman," that was edited by Nancy Leigh Demoss, and it's a book that we have available in our FamilyLife Resource Center. If our listeners are interested in getting a copy, they can go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com, and there is more information available there about the book – again, it's FamilyLifeToday.com.
In addition, we have Carolyn McCully's new book, which is called "Radical Womanhood." It takes a hard look at the influence of feminism on biblical thinking and helps women understand what God's Word has to say about true womanhood. Again, both of the books are available from our FamilyLife Resource Center. Go online at FamilyLifeToday.com and there is more information about these books available there. You can order from us online, if you'd like, or you can call 1-800-FLTODAY for more information – 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY. When you get in touch with us, someone on our team will let you know how you can get a copy of either or both of these resources sent to you.
And, quickly, let me remind you of what Dennis talked about at the beginning of today's program. We have had a very generous offer made to us here at FamilyLife this month. A number of donors have come together and have offered to match every donation that we receive during the month of May on a dollar-for-dollar basis up to a total of $356,000. And, frankly, it couldn't come at a better time for us as well as for many of you. These are challenging economic times. We are asking all of you to do what you can do this month, whatever that is – go online at FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FLTODAY, make whatever donation you can make and know that that donation is being matched dollar-for-dollar. Help us take full advantage of this matching gift opportunity.
Again, you can do that online at FamilyLifeToday.com, or by calling 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.
Tomorrow we'll hear more counsel from Barbara Rainey, Karen Loritts, Carolyn McCully and others as a part of this panel conversation. We'll find out from them what books or individuals have been their mentors, and I hope you can join us for that conversation.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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