Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Mother's Example

Leslie Basham: Moms, your kids are watching. Here’s Carolyn Mahaney.

Carolyn Mahaney: From a little girl, I always wanted to grow up to be a wife and mother because of my own mom’s example—her love for her family, her love for the home, her dedication to the home. She was always so joyful and peaceful and contented that I thought, “Why would I want to do anything else?”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, July 9.

Today we thought we’d talk to a special mom and her daughters. Here’s Nancy to introduce our guests.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Several years ago I came across a series of tapes taken from Titus 2 entitled “Wisdom for Women.” They were by a speaker I had met just briefly. Her name is Carolyn Mahaney, and I was so excited about these tapes.

As I began to listen to them, I wanted the wives I knew to listen to these same tapes; so I ordered, I think it was 50 sets of those tapes and began to distribute them to a lot of wives and moms I knew. I said, “You need to hear this set of tapes.”

Now those messages by Carolyn Mahaney are available in a book called Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother. Carolyn, thank you so much for joining us this week.

Carolyn: It is such a privilege to be here. Thank you, Nancy, for having me.

Nancy: You really are a kindred spirit. Even though we haven’t had a chance to get to know each other really well, I’ve felt that you were someone I would really enjoy knowing.

I told you when I first saw your book, this is a book I wish I could have written. You’ve done a beautiful job with expanding on the Scripture from that wonderful passage in Titus 2 that really gives us an instruction manual as women.

Before we get into the book, I want to say that we’re delighted also to have your three daughters with us sitting around the table, Nicole and Kristin and Janelle. You look like peas in a pod. I’m so glad to have just met each of you girls; thank you for being a part of this.

We’re going to let you chime in because you know what your mother really believes about these virtues. You’ve seen them illustrated in her life, and now that you are each young married women yourselves, you’re having a chance to reproduce in the next generation these virtues that you learned from your mother, and, Carolyn, that you learned from your mother.

Carolyn: This is true. Actually, she was the woman that most affected my life in regards to these virtues.

From a little girl, I always wanted to grow up to be a wife and mother because of my own mom’s example—her love for her family, her love for the home, her dedication to the home. She was always so joyful and peaceful and contented that I thought, “Why would I want to do anything else but do what my mom does?”

So she is the woman that has most affected my life with regards to these seven virtues. I am indebted to her.

Nancy: Did you dedicate this book to your mom?

Carolyn: I did. I actually wrote a whole chapter on her. The very last chapter is called “Margaret’s Story,” and it was actually a surprise because she didn’t know I was doing this.

Several days ago the book was delivered to my house. I wasn’t there to receive it. We were on the way to the airport, and one of my daughters called me and said, “Mom, the book just came.”

Initially I was disappointed because I wanted my mom to have the very first copy, but my husband encouraged me to go ahead and call her and tell her and have my daughter take the book over. So it was a real treat for me.

I got to the airport and called my mom, and I said, “Mom, my book has come, and I want you to have the very first copy.” Then I said, “I’m sad I can’t be there to give it to you, but Kristin’s going to come over and bring it to you, and you have to read chapter 9 first.”

Nancy: Which is really a tribute to your mother.

Carolyn: A tribute to my mom. I dedicated the book to her, and she, of course, read it, and as I talked to her later, she said she ended up in the bathroom just sobbing.

Nancy: That had to mean a lot to her.

Carolyn: It did. Today is her 81st birthday, so it was just a real, sweet kindness from God for me, to allow me to dedicate that book to her, and that she was here to receive that dedication, because she has so affected my life.

Nancy: I don’t know what your mother's background was, but she was a godly woman who influenced you to walk with the Lord, to love the Lord, to serve Him. Now you have done this with not only your three daughters, but a younger son who is still in your home.

Now your daughters and, Lord willing, one day your son, will be reproducing those qualities in the lives of the next generation. Isn’t that really how we’re to pass on the gospel, the ways of God, from one generation to the next?

Carolyn: This is true, and I believe that one of the important points of the Titus 2 chapter is the whole mentoring relationship. There’s no more important mentoring relationship than the mother/daughter relationship, so by God’s grace, I trust I have passed on these virtues to my daughters, because I have certainly benefitted from my mom’s example and her godliness. It so affected my life.

Nancy: Let’s just back up for a minute, for a frame of reference for some of our listeners. When we say “Titus 2,” that may not mean anything to them. I want to encourage our listeners, if you’re in a place where you can actually pick up a Bible and follow along, that will really help you in this series.

The book of Titus is one of the small New Testament letters written by the apostle Paul. Chapter 2 talks about how we’re to conduct ourselves in the family of God. It talks to men and to women in various seasons of life, and the book Carolyn has written is based specifically on verses 3–5.

Let me take just a moment to read those verses, and then we’re going to talk about what they mean for us as 21st-century women. Paul says,

Older women . . . are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderous or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be reviled.

Now, Carolyn, I think that for some women, when they hear that older women are supposed to teach young women, maybe a thought that first goes through their head is, “I’m not a teacher.”

Or, “I have really failed so much in my own life; how could I possibly be involved in mentoring younger women?”

Carolyn: Well, I think Scripture describes the qualification for helping young women, and that is godly character. I think older women have learned so much, even through mistakes that they’ve made as a young wife and mother. They’ve learned so much that they could impart to the younger women, and it’s such a needed ministry in the body of Christ.

I have such a desire to see their responsibility to the younger women, because there are so many secrets to godly wisdom and experience that we can gain from older women, that I think younger women would benefit so much.

It’s really about godliness. Not that you have to be a theologian, and not that you have to have some kind of teaching gift, but if you meet the qualifications of what it says there in verse 3, then you are to be imparting what you have learned to younger women.

Nancy: I look at your daughters—you girls are in your 20s—and I think of young women that I know today, young mothers, young wives who are so longing for someone to come alongside of them and give them a hand as they get into marriage and into mothering. There’s no textbook that comes with that.

I’m wondering, as you girls think about moving into being wives and mothers, who are the older women who have helped you, who have mentored you and are mentoring you now as you are entering into marriage and mothering?

Nicole: I would say, and I think I can speak for my sisters, that our mom really has been the primary Titus 2 woman in our lives. Not only has she been our example—we’ve watched her live out these virtues as we grew up in our home—but also she specifically taught us these virtues. She sought to impart them very intentionally to us.

Even now I don’t think a day goes by when one of us isn’t calling her. I think I probably call her sometimes multiple times a day and ask her, “Mom, how do I do this? What do I do about this situation? Tell me how to love my husband here. How can I serve him better? How can I care for my child?” Not only practical questions, but spiritual ones as well.

Nancy: Carolyn, I bet you love getting those calls from your daughters. You remember one that’s come recently?

Carolyn: A recent phone call—my youngest daughter just got married, what, four weeks ago now? In the process of wanting to set up her home and get it organized, she made that call: “Mom, please come; can you help?”

So you can help in practical ways. Oftentimes there’s a young woman who just needs someone that they can pick up the phone and call.

I remember when I was first married—because I had moved to Maryland and my mom lived in Florida, it wasn’t conducive to just pick up the phone every day and call her—how desperate I felt for an older woman in my life. Yet all my friends were primarily in the same season I was in, so there was no one to call.

So now it’s really my heart to be that for my daughters, to be that older woman, to be there when they need someone to talk to, and to encourage other older women to take up that responsibility and serve the younger women in that way.

Nancy: You talk in your book about how Nicole, who was speaking just a moment ago—when she was a baby, you needed your mother to help you in a practical way with some things you didn’t know about babies.

Carolyn: This is true. When Nicole was born, I was clueless about how to take care of children. So, to put her to bed, I used to nurse her to sleep, or later I bottle fed her to sleep, and then I would take her in and lay her gently in the crib, and oftentimes she would wake up.

So I’d pick her back up and start the whole process over again. This could sometimes end up being a 45-minute to an hour-long process.

Well, 14 months later I had my second baby, and my mom came up to Maryland to help me in the process of caring for my second child. She watched me walk through this arduous routine of taking Nicole in, feeding her, trying to put her to bed, and then she’d wake up screaming, and I’d start the whole process over again.

She just looked at me and said, “Carolyn, put that little girl to bed and let her cry. You need to be able to take care of your second daughter.” So I did that, following her counsel, and I was amazed. The first time I did it, she cried for 15 minutes. The second time I put her to bed, she just whimpered a little bit, and the third time I put her to bed, she didn’t cry at all.

I thought, “I went through this arduous routine for 14 months of walking through this. If I’d just had this simple, practical advice from an older woman in my life, it would have saved me so much time.”

Nancy: Carolyn, in this book you outline seven different virtues talked about in Titus 2. It really forms a curriculum that the apostle Paul gives us, inspired by the Holy Spirit, that older women are supposed to teach younger women.

Let’s talk about what those virtues are, and then we’ll spend some time later this week camping on a couple of them in particular. Tell us what those virtues are, listed in Titus 2, and then we’ll talk a little about why they’re so important for us as women.

Carolyn: Well, the seven virtues are:

  1. loving our husband
  2. loving our children
  3. being self-controlled
  4. being pure
  5. working at home
  6. being kind
  7. being submissive to our own husbands.

Nancy: Now, it’s interesting that so many of those feminine virtues center around a woman’s role in the home. Why do you think it is that God thinks that’s important? Of all the qualities He could have listed for us as women to develop in our lives, why do you think so many of them focus on our relationships at home?

Carolyn: It’s interesting, as you study the whole passage, He explains why it’s so important to develop these qualities, and that is for the reason of the gospel. If we cultivate these virtues, He goes on to say in verses 5, 8, and 10 that it makes the gospel attractive. It actually adorns the gospel, which really puts it in a whole new perspective.

Cultivating these virtues is much more than just creating a happy home life, although I believe that’s a by-product of cultivating these virtues; but far more important, it’s for the sake of the gospel. It’s to commend the gospel, and that can be such encouragement as we seek to cultivate these qualities.

This puts the gospel on display. This commends the gospel. This promotes the gospel. I draw great encouragement from that as I seek to cultivate these qualities in my life.

Nancy: So if a woman loves her husband, loves her children . . . and girls, feel free to (do you mind being called “girls”?) . . .

Daughter: Not at all.

Nancy: I’m in my 40s. I have three sisters, and we still call ourselves “the girls.” Married, single, it doesn’t matter, we’re still “the girls.” So I’ll refer to you as “the girls.”

As you think about a woman who loves her husband, loves her children, she’s self-controlled, she’s pure, she’s a keeper of the home, she’s kind, she’s submissive to her husband—how does that make the gospel believable? How does that adorn the gospel?

Nicole: That’s a good question. For me this fact is so inspiring, to think that as I wake up in my little townhouse every morning and go about my day, as I am obedient to God’s Word, then my life will reflect the fact that His truth has changed my life, that He has transformed my heart; and my neighbors will hopefully see that. The people I interact with at the store when I go grocery shopping with my son will hopefully see that.

The gospel has transformed our lives, and we are able to be kind or self-controlled or submissive. These aren’t things that we’re able to do apart from the gospel’s transforming work in our heart. We aren’t naturally kind. We don’t naturally submit to our own husbands.

So as we do that, we are displaying to the world that this gospel is the most amazing thing, and it’s transformed our lives. They can’t help but notice.

Janelle: I think it also gives a wonderful open door to share the gospel. I was with a friend recently that I hadn’t seen in a long time, and they said, “So, Janelle, what do you want to do with the rest of your life?”

They knew I had just recently gotten married. I said, “I want to care for my husband, and I want to raise my children to be godly children,” and it caught them off guard. They didn’t understand.

It gives an open door to explain “this is why I want to,” not “just because,” but because of the gospel, because of my Lord and His sacrifice on my behalf. I have a desire to follow His Word, and there is the true joy.

Carolyn: People are not really interested, necessarily, in what we believe. They are interested in seeing that what we believe makes a difference in our lives. So when they see us loving our husbands, loving our children, cultivating these qualities, that can oftentimes pique their interest and make them want to ask, “Why are you that way? What is different about you?”

It was interesting, just recently my husband and I were on a trip, and we were taking a transit from the airplane over to the terminal. We were just standing there on the transit, it was about a minute ride, and we had our arms around each other.

The gentleman next to us, there with his family, looked at us and said, “How long have you all been married?” My husband looked at him and said, “Well, we’ve been married for 28 years.” The man just stopped and said, “Boy, you don’t see that much!”

We’ve had so many times where we’re just interacting as a family, or we’re interacting as a husband and wife, and we’re just doing what we normally do—showing affection or showing care—and it can oftentimes create situations where people will ask questions; it can often create opportunities where you can share the gospel.

Nancy: I think particularly as it relates to the family, people are so hurting in their family relationships; there’s such brokenness and fragmentation and stress and pain in families that when people see—even though it’s not really politically correct to say that a woman’s life should be centered around her home—when people see a woman who really does love her husband, really does enjoy her children, that kind of does catch people off guard. It is attractive.

Kristin: I think they’re affected by the joy they see when we’re all together. We were in a restaurant this morning, downstairs here in the hotel, and we were all just laughing together. We were probably the loudest people in there.

Everybody turned and looked at us, but that’s typical of what happens when our family gets together. We love being together. We love laughing together. We love speaking into each other’s lives and having quality times of fellowship. That’s the fruit of what my mom has instilled in us: the godly family.

Nancy: Carolyn, you’ve written a great book called Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother. I’m so glad you taught these principles through your tapes, through your conference ministry, through the women’s ministry of your church, through this book.

But I have to say, sitting here listening to your daughters, that probably the greatest contribution you have made as a woman is through these young women who are sitting around this table. They are making your teaching believable.

I know that many of the mothers who listen to Revive Our Hearts want the same thing to be true. They want for their children to carry on the heart, the character, the values of Christ and of His Word.

So we’re going to pick up this conversation next time and continue to talk about these principles from Titus 2. We’re going to jump into the first one, how to love your husband.

I know that whether women feel like they have a great marriage or a marriage that’s in need of major divine intervention, they’re going to find through Carolyn and her daughters, the Mahaney women, some principles from God’s Word that will be enormously helpful.

Father, thank You that You have called us as women to reflect to our world the beauty and the wonder of who Jesus is and what His gospel means. We want to be women who represent You well, Lord.

I pray that You will teach us Your ways and help us to embrace and, by the power of Your Holy Spirit, to live out these qualities that You have told us are so very important. Do revive our hearts and make these qualities real in our lives, I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: I’m so thankful for counsel from wise women like Nancy Leigh DeMoss and today’s guest, Carolyn Mahaney. If today’s topic has helped you, I hope you’ll read a copy of Carolyn’s book Feminine Appeal. We’ll send you one when you make a donation to Revive Our Hearts.

Ask for Feminine Appeal when you call, toll free, 800-569-5959. Or visit us online at

If you want to learn more about the beauty of biblical femininity, consider a unique opportunity. Join us in the Chicago area October 9–11 for True Woman ’08. This women’s conference features John Piper, Joni Eareckson Tada, Mary Kassian, and a long list of wise, godly speakers who have a heart for women.

Find out more about True Woman ’08 at Nancy is going to speak there as well.

Nancy: I am so looking forward to being at True Woman ’08 and hearing what God is going to be saying through all of the different speakers He has brought for this conference. I’m looking forward to seeing and meeting as many of our listeners as possible. I do hope, if you have not registered for True Woman ’08, that you’ll go ahead and do that just as quickly as possible.

Many, many months of planning have gone into this conference. It’s been a huge undertaking and a huge financial investment for our ministry. We could not reach out to women with initiatives like this, our first national conference, without the support of listeners who say, “I share your heartbeat for calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ, and I want to be a part of what God is doing through this ministry.”

In fact, I’m holding in my hand a letter we received not too long ago from a listener. “Dear Revive Our Hearts: I thank God for your ministry.” This woman gives us the station where she listens to Revive Our Hearts, and then this paragraph that I found so moving.

She said,

I’m presently unemployed and seeking full-time employment. However, I wanted to sow into your ministry. Your daily outreach has not only calmed my anxiety, but has also taught me that God’s grace is sufficient.

I just think, when I read something like that, “Thank You, Lord, for this woman who has a heart for Your kingdom above her own, and is giving sacrificially.” It’s hard to accept a gift like that, yet I know that God will bless that woman for responding to the prompting of His Spirit.

So I want to encourage you, if God has used this ministry to be a blessing to your life, to minister grace to you, would you consider making a contribution this month to Revive Our Hearts? As you do, you will be used by God to multiply the outreach of this message into the hearts and homes of women all across this country.

To make your gift, you can call us at 800-569-5959, or you can visit us online and make your contribution. When you contact us, be sure to let us know the call letters on which you listen to Revive Our Hearts.

Thanks so much for being a partner with us in this ministry that is touching the lives of so many, many women each day.

Leslie: Every husband is different. Do you know what uniquely communicates love to your husband? Carolyn Mahaney will be back tomorrow to help you think about it. I hope you’ll join us for Revive Our Hearts.

Child: Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries, and my mommy is a true woman.

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