Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Being a Woman Isn't Easy

Leslie Basham: As a newly married wife, Karen Loritts struggled to accept the biblical concept of submission.

Karen Loritts: Submission stuck in my mouth all the time, but I had to deal with Scriptures. It wasn’t about Karen battling Crawford—who’s right and who’s wrong. It was, “Karen, are you going to obey what the Scripture says?”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, December 21.

At the end of 2008, Revive Our Hearts stepped out in faith and launched the first True Woman Conference. We were deeply thankful when the conference sold out. Thousands of women from around the world gathered in the Chicago area. Sometimes the crowds created some space issues.

Bob Lepine: If there’s an open seat next to you, would you just wave your hand so that those who are looking for seats can filter in and find a seat? That’d be great.

Leslie: The women who gathered met with God and each other, gaining wisdom and insight from other women. Nancy Leigh DeMoss had invited speakers who had a lot of important things to say. During True Woman ’08, many of those speakers and workshop leaders gathered to talk with moderator, Bob Lepine.

Bob: I kind of feel like I’m on The View. I’ll be Whoopi. How’s that? Actually, maybe we’ll call this The Other View—you think? Yeah! (Sounds of shouts and applause)

Leslie: Bob is the co-host of the radio program Family Life Today. At the True Woman Conference, he talked with speakers Mary Kassian, Karen Loritts, Barbara Rainey, Holly Elliff, and Carolyn McCulley.

Bob: Let me ask you about highlights. Who will go first and say, “I've got one?” Carolyn?

Carolyn McCulley: My highlight was actually as a break-out session speaker. I would go into these sessions and see women who were piled up the sides of the walls and down the aisles and on the floor who took it so seriously to have the opportunity for more teaching rather than to take that, I’m sure, much-desired nap or the opportunity for a long walk with a good friend. It was a highlight to see women who were hungry to keep coming for more teaching throughout the day when I know we’ve had so much good material coming out; it’s like a fire hose of information coming.

I was really honored to see the women who chose to come to these sessions. For me that was a highlight.

Bob: Yesterday I was with a friend of mine who is single who was in your workshop. She said, “I was so glad to come here and have something for singles because so often you’ll come to something like this, and singles aren’t acknowledged, or there’s nothing for them.”

Clap your hands if you’re single.

(Sounds of shouts and applause)

Bob: Tim Challies wrote on his site yesterday that when he got in the elevator to come down, he was the only man in the elevator, and the first thing somebody said was, “Are you single?”

(Sounds of laughter)

He’s not, but I thought, “Well, okay.” (More laughter)

Who else? Barbara?

Barbara Rainey: Well, my highlight is the same as Carolyn’s, so I’m going to piggyback off of her. It was just a delight to have so many empty-nest women come who are eager to learn about how they can use the second season of their lives for ministry and to watch them take notes and to stay and ask questions.

It was just so encouraging to me and to Susan to see the eagerness to learn and the eagerness to grow and to want to do this right and want to give their lives to the kingdom. It was really wonderful to watch.

Mary Kassian: Well, I have been immersed in the whole topic of feminism for a very long time. So for me this is just a profound experience because for the last twenty years I’ve been often feeling like I’m the only one standing there and taking the shots for it. So for God to raise up, and I’m looking out here, and I’m going, “God, You’re raising up an army, an army.”

(Sounds of applause)

Bob: That’s good.

Holly Elliff: Mine is really related to that because, as Mary was speaking yesterday, I was standing way back there, listening to her share. As she shared the history and then turned the corner into that challenge, realizing what God could do with these women who had His heart, I remembered a night several years ago when Mary and I and, I think, Nancy, and maybe Kim was there. We were all sitting in her condo chatting about how women had gotten to this place, and why they had gotten there.

As Mary shared the history part of it, it was like the Lord turned a light bulb on in my life, and what I’d been sensing and feeling for so many years suddenly made total sense, like God putting pieces of a puzzle together in my head. I saw that happening in this room yesterday, and that was just an incredible moment for me.

Bob: I’d like to ask you all, if we could roll back the clock and put you back at high school graduation . . .

“You don’t want to do that!”

“Seriously bad hair days.”

“You do not want to do that.” (laughter)

Bob: (laughing) Let’s go back. 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 do-over, One thing you would say, “If I could do the last x-number of years over, the one thing that I would really try to do differently than I did,”—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’m very grateful that the Lord did intervene in my life. 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. At 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 changed. I would have loved to have lived my life as a young woman as a believer.

Bob: You get a chance to work with a lot of single, young believing women today. The pull of the culture on their lives makes living for Christ exponentially harder, it seems to me, than it might have been in another era and generation. Is that primarily around issues of sexuality? Is it around issues of just what it means to be a woman? Where do you see that emerging as you talk to women in their twenties who want to live for Christ, but they don’t necessarily have a clear picture of what that means?

Carolyn: I definitely think it centers around issues of sexuality.

Mary: Identity and equality.

Carolyn: Exactly.

Karen: “Who am I?”

Carolyn: Yes. It used to be that the divide in our culture’s conversation was over economic and political issues—who had social control, class control, economic control. But in recent years it’s really over issues of sexuality and gender identity and issues of morality and immorality.

Bob: Okay. Who else has a do-over? You know what you’d want to do as your do-over?

Holly: I think, for my life, I wish I had become focused on what good God desired for me earlier in my life. Of course, I might have had sixteen children instead of eight if I had done that. 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: You were a believer at high school graduation?

Holly: Yes. 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, but my understanding was very shallow. I shared with the girls yesterday in my session on motherhood that, really, if I broke a fingernail it was a crisis. 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 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 ten years, and I was just so tired all the time. I felt like there was no way out, and I felt like there was no help. I was trying to do way too much of it on my own—my own power and my own strength. 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. 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.”

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. I’ve been in real serious Bible study for the last twenty years of my life. I think, “If I only had understood how valuable it would have been to me to have understood God at that level when I was in my twenties and my early thirties. It would have made a great difference.”

Bob: Was it personal devotional time or corporate study? If you could go back and re-do your twenties 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 devotional time on a fairly regular basis. I felt like a failure, though, because I couldn’t do it consistently. There were just too many interruptions 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’m 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 had the Bible in my hand and a pencil, and I was really studying God’s Word for me.

Bob: Karen?

Karen: I was going to say, for me, I think, in the midst of raising our children—our very first child, I really struggled with my identity. I wish there were small groups that talked about womanhood and what it really was. It wasn’t how many diapers you changed or that potty training took off really quick. It was who God created you to be, and you need to have support groups, if you would, or Bible studies to do that. I really struggled with that.

I was on staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, and I thought, if I make all my contacts on campus with the women, that was great. But when I had children, I was pulled away from that campus ministry, and then I thought I was nothing, a nobody. I had lost my identity.

I wished there was someone who had had the courage enough to maybe have a small group or something like that.

Bob: Like one of these women who’s been here could start with somebody else?

Karen: Yes.

Bob: How about you, Mary? Do you have 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. I wish I had 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.

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—in the marriage with my husband and I, where I defiantly, 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.

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?

Mary: Yes.

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. How would you say, “Here’s 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: That’s a hard question because there’s 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. 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 God built in him. I struggled a lot with our differences because we are so very different. We’re different in our personalities; we’re different in our interests, 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? (laughter) See, universal feeling.

Barbara: It is a universal feeling. One day I remember he told me, “You know, there’s more than one way to do something.” He was speaking of loading the dishwasher. (laughter) I thought because I had more practice, my way was better, but I finally realized, “He’s right. It’s really not that important, and I need to quit fighting over these things.”

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 to maintain that because our natural tendency is to drift away from one another and to want to do our own thing, to be my own person, and yet oneness is God’s goal and desire for us.

It’s hard to keep that in the front of our vision on a daily basis, but God knew what He was doing. 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’ve 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. When I submit to that plan and 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 because mine came 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. 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. 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 words.

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 Claire Huxtable. She actually wore white pearls and an apron every day, served her husband. 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.

God thought it was funny to have Crawford and I meet in college and for us to fall in love—this woman who came from a single parent, low-income family. He brought us together, and it was interesting the first couple years of marriage. I couldn’t cry enough to get him to change. (laughter) I couldn’t whine enough to get him to change, because he was the man, and he was going to listen to what God said. 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 was a cultural thing, and that was back then. I was trying every which way to arrange the Scriptures, but I couldn’t do it.

It had no pre-qualifiers based upon your race or your preferences or whatever. It was the Word of God. So when he said submission, submission stuck in my mouth all the time, but I had to deal with Scriptures. It wasn’t about Karen battling Crawford—who’s right and who’s wrong. It was, “Karen, are you going to obey what the Scripture says?”

I was really ready to be a bride, but I was unprepared to be a wife. So God took me to the woodshed a lot sometimes, and I did a lot of talking in the mirror. I stayed in the bathroom a lot. (laughter)

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 stayed in the family because you were biologically born in the family. The women ate up the men. So I had a struggle to bend my knee to God.

Ultimately my battle was not against Crawford, it was against what God had said. I had to say, “Yes, Lord.” That’s what I’m still doing even today, going on 38 years. I love my husband dearly, but it’s always the choice I have to make: “Am I going to believe God and serve Him?”

Bob: Yes. (applause)

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: Be in control.

Bob: “If I’m in control.” So I think part of the battle in marriage is a wife learning that she can be safe and secure and follow her husband’s leadership.

Karen: This is the thing about the Holy Spirit: There would be nights that I would just go to battle with Crawford, nothing really out there, but just my attitude. You know how we can freeze our husbands out, ladies? You know that, right? Yes, we can freeze these guys out, but when I lay down at night, when the lights were turned off, when I close my eyes, the Holy Spirit got me. You can fool some people all the time, but you cannot fool the Holy Spirit that indwells every believer. So I would be miserable, and it is miserable to be miserable.

Bob: (laughing)

Karen: So it’s being honest with the Holy Spirit.

Leslie: That’s Karen Loritts. She was part of a panel discussion along with Mary Kassian, Holly Elliff, Carolyn McCulley and Barbara Rainey. Bob Lepine was the moderator of that talk which took place at True Woman ’08.

Revive Our Hearts launched this conference over a year ago, and we’re excited about the three conferences coming up. Nancy Leigh DeMoss will again host these conferences. She’ll be joined again by Mary Kassian, Karen Loritts and Joni Eareckson Tada and some new speakers are joining us, including James MacDonald, Voddi Baucham, and Kay Arthur.

Make plans for True Woman in Fort Worth or Indianapolis next fall or join us in March in Chattanooga. The early bird registration for that first conference ends soon, so get details at ReviveOurHearts.com.

The first True Woman conference we’ve been hearing from today is part of a bigger movement among women embracing God’s design for their lives. The host of Revive Our Hearts, Nancy Leigh DeMoss is here to talk about it.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I believe God is orchestrating a powerful movement in this country and around the world. It’s made up of women with revived hearts and transformed lives; women who want their lives to adorn the gospel of Christ. They want to make Him known, and they want to further His kingdom.

Revive Our Hearts is an important resource to these women. For example, one mom told us that she listens to Revive Our Hearts every day while she’s picking her daughter up from kindergarten. God called her to respond to the message she heard on Revive Our Hearts in a specific way. She wrote and told us,

God revealed to my heart through His Word and Nancy’s teaching that He needed me to focus on my children and my marriage. Our marriage has always been challenging as my husband is not a believer. We also barely make it financially. So when I approached my husband about quitting my job, I was relieved when he told me that would be okay. We’ve been so blessed by the decision.

Nancy, you’ve helped me to realize God’s plan for my life and to follow it. Thank you for teaching the truth. If it weren’t for you, I don’t know where I would have been told these things.

Without the support of listeners like you, we would not be speaking to woman like her. Revive Our Hearts is a listener-supported ministry. That means that we need your prayers and your financial gifts in order to continue ministering through radio and our other outreaches.

Close to half of the donations that we need for the entire year are received in the month of December, so it’s really important that we hear from you this month as we prepare for some exciting new avenues of ministry in 2010.

It’s so important that some friends of this ministry have offered to match each dollar given up to a matching challenge amount of $280,000. We’ve been getting closer and closer to that amount each day.

Would you help us be sure that we meet and go well beyond this challenge? Would you ask God what He might have you give during this important time?

Leslie: Make your donation at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

Tomorrow, join us for the second half of the panel discussion we began today. Learn how to find a mentor and how to become a mentor. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

 Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

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