Revive Our Hearts Podcast

God’s Beautiful Design for Women, Day 46

Leslie Basham: In Titus 2, women are invited to share their life wisdom with those coming behind them. Jessie Klein has seen how that works out in real life.

Jessie Klein: Fun and laughter and community is really meant to draw these relationships together. I don’t have to be with Sandy, but I like to because she’s fun. And I can laugh with her and cry with her—sometimes at the same time.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for Monday, April 10, 2017.

For over a month, Nancy has taken us through Titus 2:1–5 in a series called, “God’s Beautiful Design for Women.” In the series we’ve addressed so many practical topics, but one main theme that keeps coming up is this: Older women are to teach younger women.

Today Nancy will talk with three women who are living this principle out. If you don’t like the word mentoring or think it sounds intimidating, do yourself a favor and listen to this down-to-earth conversation. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: It’s easy sometimes, and even our churches, I think, contribute to putting people in all-age segregated groups, so that you miss the value of relationships that are generational.

This is a fun group of three blondes here. You’ve heard of The Three Tenors, this is The Three Blondes. All of these are very special women in my life, but they’re very special women in each other’s lives as well.

You’re all twenty years apart. Is that right? So, I won’t say what the ages are now. Of course, once you get into this Titus 2 lifestyle, you don’t mind people knowing what the age is, and these women don’t mind. But I remember when Jessie turned thirty. She’s the youngest in this . . . it’s not a group. They’re just friends with each other. Sandy was turning fifty, and Gayle was turning seventy, which I know is hard to believe—look at this woman!

But I just would love to hear from you women—and you can just pass this back and forth between you. Talk about a friendship and the value of inter-generational friendship. Maybe start, Jessie, because you’re the youngest of this threesome, this trio. What has it meant to you to have women of different seasons of life involved in your life?

Jessie: This is an interesting topic for me because I often shy away from the word mentor. I don’t know why. I haven’t quite unpacked all of that. But I also feel like my life has really been so rich because of what would be considered mentorship. I have a lot of different mentors from a lot of different places. When I moved this area, Gayle and Sandy became instant mentors to me, not because they signed a paper or that we had scheduled times to meet, but just because we were in the same place doing life at the same time.

I had a lot of unanswered questions about life that needed to be answered by someone who knew what they were talking about. Neither of them acted like they knew what they were talking about, but they did. And that was very attractive to me. They were humble, and they weren’t trying to make me be anyone or make me conform to anything. They just really cared about my life.

It wasn’t just personal stuff, but professional stuff. I remember just challenges professionally, or changes professionally, feeling encouragement and freedom to share where I was at, which was really cool.

I also feel like going from a single woman to a married woman was really interesting, too, in those relationships because often I hear people talk about the difficulty to connect with single women when you’re married or married women when you’re single. But I have not felt that in these relationships. I’ve felt them in other relationships, but I felt like Sandy, as a single woman, is a huge encouragement to my marriage—she’s a really good listener. She’s extremely interested in my marriage, and I have really enjoyed hearing perspective from a single woman. That helps me even learn how to be a better wife, a better supporter, a better encourager. That’s been really helpful.

My husband and I had Gayle and her husband mentor us as we were dating. Before I was married, I had this agreement that I got “Gayle time and Ed time” on Tuesday nights. There was a $1.00 burger night at a restaurant in town. There were a couple of other girls who really wanted in on that meeting, but I said, “You can schedule your own burger night. This is my night.”

I’d get uninterrupted time with this couple. We would spend about an hour-and-a-half, two hours, and I got time to ask them anything on my mind. We would go from anything really serious to just joking around and telling stories. It was a really rich time.

So when I started dating James, I started bringing him to these Tuesday-night events. We felt like our relationship just grew from being able to ask them about anything we wanted all through our dating, and then it kind of morphed into pre-marital counseling, and we still see them every Tuesday night, which is so cool. My relationship with Gayle has turned into my husband having such a relationship with Ed, Gayle’s husband. In fact, he even calls him his son.

So, on Thanksgiving morning, he called James and said, “I’m just calling all the kids.” That means so much to James to hear, not just our relationship having an impact on our marriage, but a man investing in him and teaching him what it means to be a man of God, a husband, and so on.

Sandy Bixel: I, too, don’t really care for the word mentor because I’ve been in situations where you’re assigned a person, and that doesn’t always work well for me, but it really is just doing life with each other. I’m thinking of Gayle and just coming to her with questions—no real big agenda, but I just have questions—and she’s always willing to share her point of view.

One thing I really appreciate, as a single woman hanging around married ladies, is just the challenges that they have in their marriage. But I walk away thinking, Oh, okay, my life isn’t as bad! But they do it in such a way where they’re not bashing their husbands, but they’re just saying things that they are learning—learning not to be as selfish—and I need to learn that as a single person. So those types of relationships, that communication has been so good.

And Jessie is wise beyond her years. I just learn from her. Sometimes I think, Oh, I was not nearly as smart as she is at that age. It’s so encouraging to see that younger generation questioning—they question things different than I do. So it just gives a very wide variety spectrum of what life is about, and I think having these friends helps me relate to my nieces and nephews.

Gayle’s walked through many things. She is a great listener. She probably pulls things out of me that I don’t know that I need to have things pulled out of. She just asks good questions, and it really gets me to stop and think.

So those are the types of mentorings—Jessie is mentoring me as a younger woman, and Gayle is as well.

Gayle Villalba: I’m sure, Nancy, you cover this in your book—thoroughly—but one thing I’ve learned about being an older woman with younger women is, again, we’re using the word mentor, but when I think of mentor, I think of a weekly Bible study accountability, something really complex and time consuming. With our relationship, all we do is ask questions and listen and pray for each other. And that’s an easy thing to do.

I think, primarily, the thing we need to do in relationships is be good listeners and know how to pray for each other. There are people in this room, other people in this room with whom I have that kind of relationship. It’s a mutual trust. We know what we say to each other goes no further. And we lovingly confront each other when we need to. But, yes, it’s not very complex.

I’m really looking forward to reading your book.

Nancy: I watch some of you . . . I started to say you older women . . . us older women. People like Jessie, who’s forty years younger than you are bring . . . My husband has said that when Jessie walks into my life, when he sees her and me see each other, he says, “You light up because she brings something really.” And Sandy, he talks about how you light up a room.

My husband loves my friends, and I’m so glad.

You think that it might not be fun to be hanging around someone who’s forty years younger than you are, but you really do enjoy it.

Gayle: Oh, I totally do. I think that’s a closely guarded secret for older women. We hang around with younger people, and that keeps us young at heart.

But I wanted to say something else that I think is really important. We’ve had a really rough year health wise and the death of our son. These are the people that were there for us. I mean, it was just hours before they were at our door and ministering to us and caring for us. We are not anything special. We just spend time together. But you need those people in your life.

I have a jar in our home. Someone gave me a sign that says, “The grace place,” and it has a little jar on it. After we lost our son, and we had named our home “The grace place,” I thought, What do you do with this little jar? It was a glass jar. I couldn’t really put flowers in it or anything.

And then it came to me that our house was “The grace place” because of grace vessels like these people who had come to our house and ministered to us and called us and texted us and, in just every way imaginable.

So I spent some time writing out a list of some people that were there for us and put them in that jar. And when I forget, and when I start to feeling sorry for myself, I pull out one of those names, or several of those names, and thank the Lord for people who were vessels of grace in our lives. And these are just two of them.

Nancy: That which you just shared illustrates also how it goes both ways. It’s not that one is the one with the answers and the other one is the one with the needs and the questions. I mean, there can be those kinds of relationships, too.

The younger women have come to you with questions and wanting wisdom in dating and wanting pre-marital counseling, but when you and Ed had a need, these were the women who . . . the tables were turned in a way.

Gayle: Absolutely.

Nancy: And that’s when you needed the prayer and encouragement. It’s not always that clear-cut. Jessie got married, what was that, about a year before Robert and I did, a year-and-a-half?

Jessie: Yes, a year-and-a-half.

Nancy: Actually, Jessie was living in my home for several weeks before she got married because she had sold her home. So I had the joy of having her around. We were close friends already, but having her around . . . In fact, her family lived in my home during the week of the wedding, which was a great joy, too.

And then when, a year-and-a-half later, when I was getting married.  . . Now, I’m quite a bit older than you are. I can’t do the math on that. 

Jessie: I’m older than you in married time. (laughter)

Nancy: That’s true! You said some of the wisest, most helpful things to me in preparation for marriage. You didn’t know you were. It was just in the course of conversation. I didn’t go and say, “Jessie, can you help me get ready for marriage?” But in the course of doing life together, just as we would see each other, the Lord had Jessie say some really wise things—and other people in this room that would be true of, too. You had been there a year or so longer than I’d had, and you’d experienced some things I was about to experience, and you spoke encouragement and grace into my life.

So here I am, an older woman, but a newlywed, and a younger woman, who’d been there just a year longer than I’ve had, was giving grace. So it’s this ebb and flow, back and forth.

Sandy, we’ve worked together for a long time. We work together, but God gives us opportunities, sometimes it’s just through email, sometimes it’s actual conversation, but to connect, to encourage each other. So much of this Titus 2-type thing we’re talking about happens in the context of friendship.

I don’t see any of these women real often, not on a regular basis, but when we do, we’re doing life. We’re interacting. We’re sharing. “Here’s what God’s doing in my life. How’s it going?” Asking good questions is probably as important as being a listener. You need both, because if you’re not going to ask each other, “What’s happening? How’s it going?” then we’re not really going to draw out . . . What is it? Proverbs, I think it’s 25:2, says, “Wisdom in the heart of a man is like deep waters . . . counsel in the heart of man is like deep waters; a man of wisdom will draw it out.”

And so there are things in our friends’ hearts, whether they’re younger or older, or peers, that we can draw out if we’ll ask good questions and then listen to the responses.

Jessie: There are a couple of things: I got married, and then I turned thirty. And before you all tell me how young I am, I just want you to know that thirty has really helped me reflect on life because by the time you turn thirty, most of your major life choices have been made. It has helped me just really come to a new place of gratitude for how I see God’s grace in my life, the decisions that I see God’s hand in helping me make. I was not smart enough to make those choices. I know that the Lord was good in that. And along the way, I see women of God who had great impacts in each of those choices.

I also feel like one of the key things for me in choosing those women of God to have in my life is just the ability to laugh and have fun. Before I care what they know, I just want to know that I can let my guard down and have fun. I don’t want to over-spiritualize it, but I just think that’s a really beautiful piece of this life that fun and laughter and community is really meant to draw these relationships together.

I don’t have to meet with Sandy, but I like to because she’s fun. I can laugh and cry with her—sometimes at the same time! And same with Gayle. But we can do that together and both of those elements are really important for long-lasting relationships that aren’t scheduled, but I care enough about them to schedule them myself and pursue them.

The other thing is just thinking over life. I think of the first woman—who is my mom—who taught me just the beauty of aging well. Every year she would rejoice that she was turning another year older. To this day she cannot wait for another birthday. I find that so attractive—just her joy in getting older. She couldn’t wait until my Dad’s hair got gray, and she can’t wait to be old, and she’s so happy she’s a Grandma. And I just find those things to be so attractive and have sought to put some of that joy into my thinking.

Elisabeth Elliot was a person I learned from as a young girl. I read a lot of her books and as a very young Christian. I wanted to glean from her and what it meant to be a missionary and a person who made kingdom impact in the world.

I think of just different people who mentored me in ministry and then people like Sandy who make singleness look so beautiful to me. Her womanhood and how she defines it isn’t based on married or single. It’s based on who God has created her to be.

There are so many things like that—Gayle’s joy to accept whatever came to her this year—what God gave to her and what He took away and her acceptance of that. There are so many things like that that I learn from women, not because they’re meeting with me at scheduled times.

Nancy, I often sign thank-you letters at the organization I work with now because I’m in donor development. I learned of things from you in that, and I think of you often throughout the day of how to speak words of kindness and gentleness to people, how to speak gratitude to people. There are many things in that situation and others you’ve taught me over the years.

And I just wonder . . . I work with people in poverty every day, and I see the effects of what it’s like to not have those women in your life and the lostness that it brings to women who are my age but who are just depleted, lost, and dark. So a lot of the things I’m reflecting on as I’m beginning my thirties. I’m not thirty anymore, I’m thirty-one. So you can do the math—but those are just moments of grace that I see God giving me through people, and it’s been very rich.

Nancy: These are three amazing, precious women. I’m looking over here at Carrie, too, who also has a lot of . . . These are women who’ve been connected with Revive Our Hearts. We’re a women’s ministry. We do a broadcast. We do resources and books and conferences. You see kind of the big stuff.

But what I love is seeing this in action. It’s seeing women who it’s not their job to disciple or to mentor. It’s not so structured. Sandy’s relationship with her nieces and nephews. Half of these women, somebody can stop by their cube and can pray and encourage and laugh. It’s the modeling. It’s the example. It’s what people find attractive and causes them to gravitate, and it’s doing life intentionally, being relational.

Robert and I had the chance to be out with Carrie and Dennis the other night, and we were just talking about some of this and the burden that God has put on Carrie’s heart for women. Now her children are grown. She’s a grandmother. She has family involvement, as does Gayle, but they’re also tuned to the women God’s put around them—not just walking past them and thinking, Somebody else will minister to them. And every one of us could be that way.

Gayle, I love . . . First of all, I can’t believe you’re seventy-one years old—not that that’s ancient, because it's sounding a lot younger—but you do this with beauty. You do it with grace. I think a big part of it is you have kept younger women in your life.

You and Ed haven’t just gone off and sat in a rocking chair. Ed’s had health issues, and you have had loss and busyness and grandchildren miles away. People might understand if you guys said, “We’re just going to go live our life.” But you have said, “Life is too short. We’re going to keep investing in other people.”

So you meet with people as couples. I don’t know how you guys find the time to do it all, honestly, but you make time. You make space in your life for other people. I think that’s part of what is keeping you vibrant and energized. It’s your pouring out, but it’s also what they pour back into you.

Gayle: Oh, we’re getting so much more than we’re giving, Nancy. We feel selfish when we get to spend time with people because it just gives us joy. It fuels us. That’s what it does. It fuels us. And it makes us so grateful that at our age the Lord is still using us. It just surprises us all the time. We’re grateful.

Sandy: I think that’s just the beautiful thing. I think, as a single, it might not have been the life that I would have chosen, but I’ve had other single women that have been such a model for me. And having older women that are modeling what it means to grow old graciously, it’s beautiful. Ao I want to be like that. I want to be like Gayle when I grow up. Or, I want to be like Nancy.

It’s important for people to have models. That’s my prayer as I’m trying to do that for nieces and nephews or just people in my sphere of influence—not that I get the glory, but that the Lord gets the glory—so they see that life can be fulfilling. It has its challenges in every season, but it can be fulfilling in whatever season, if you allow it to be, where God has placed you, and use what you have is my challenge.

Nancy: And here’s another observation: All of these women, Carrie and myself, and everybody in this room, but I know these women pretty well. We all have been through some really hard life moments, circumstances. There are things that could make you basket cases. Right? All of us are basket cases apart from God’s grace.

But these kinds of friendships that are intentional, that are invasive, that are purposeful, that are fun, that are Christ-centered, this, I think, does more than any single factor to help women to be healthy—emotionally, mentally, spiritually in their souls.

I think we could do away with a lot of professional counseling and therapy. I’m not saying all of it because there are some kinds of issues that really do need specialized kind of care. But I think a lot of that soul care sort of stuff can get handled in the context of relationships before it gets to be crippling.

I’ve watched these women go through unfulfilled longings for marriage, relationships that weren’t God’s will for marriage, death of a family member—I’m not naming names—children issues, and things that could put you in the hospital if you let it. It’s not that these women are just, like, strong, and they just buck up, and they say, “We’re pressing on.” It’s that there’s a network—and it’s not just one relationship. I’m just looking at these three beautiful blonde women—a fourth over here—and I say it’s because of these ongoing relationships.

Three of these women are married. They have good husbands. They have good marriages. But your husband cannot be that only person in your life. Women need women, also, in healthy, wholesome, pure, sweet, Christ-centered relationships.

I’ve watched these women. I’ve known all these women now for years. Gayle and I, we go back a long, long way. We’ve walked together through a lot of life. These are women I admire; I respect. They’re women I look up to. They’re women I want to be like when I grow up. They’ve encouraged me. They’ve walked me through some hard times. But we do this together. We live out the beauty of the gospel together.

So I just wanted you to have the chance to see one of these relationship networks at work and see the beauty and the value of that.

Leslie: We’ve been hearing a practical conversation about how older women can get involved in the lives of younger women. Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been talking with Gayle Villalba, Sandy Bixel, and Jessie Klein. They’ve discovered the joy of getting involved in life-on-life discipling relationships. It’s the kind of relationships Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been describing in her series, “God’s Beautiful Design for Women: Living out Titus 2:1–5.”

One young mom has been listening every day with her Bible study. They’ve been listening at home, and then they get together to discuss the series. She wrote to tell us:

I have seen and experienced friendships grow and become restored since we engaged in this endeavor. So thank you for this series and the practical applications it provides. I’m working my way through Nancy’s book, Adorned, and loving every page.

That’s the brand new book, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. We’ve been offering to send you a copy when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size during this series.

As you work your way through Adorned, you’ll get an in-depth understanding of these important verses in Titus 2. And like this listener, you’ll come away ready to engage in deeper relationships with other women in the Body of Christ.

We’ve been making the book available for your donation during this series, which ends this Wednesday. So contact us right away with your gift of any amount. You can support the ministry at ReviveOurHearts.com. You’ll see a place to check that lets us know you want the Adorned book, or ask for Adorned when you call 1–800–569–5959.

Another important topic that has come up during this series is the importance of wives respecting their husbands. Tomorrow we’ll hear from Nancy’s husband Robert. They’ll talk about what makes a man feel respected. I hope you can be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth believes in older women teaching younger women. This program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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