Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Carolyn McCulley likes to debunk fairytales with her nieces and nephews. Here's the type of thing she says . . . .

Carolyn McCulley: "You know, it's not just one dance, and it's going to take more than a glass slipper, and what do you know about that prince anyway? You better find out something more." I am always talking to them about what to look for in a future husband or a future wife. I am waiting for them one day to wake up and say, "Hey, why was Aunt Carolyn always telling us that stuff? She was single."

Leslie Basham: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, June 15th. Here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We talk a lot to moms on Revive Our Hearts about biblical principles of motherhood and rearing children to have a heart and hunger for God and leaving a legacy. Periodically, some of our single listeners or married women without children will write and say, "I feel kind of left out when you talk about all this mothering stuff."

Well, I'm a single woman and have never been married and have yet found that God has a mothering sort of role for all of us women, and that's what we want to talk about today on Revive Our Hearts.

Our guest is Carolyn McCulley. She's an author. She's a speaker. She's on the staff of Sovereign Grace Ministries in Gaithersburg, Maryland. She's become a dear personal friend, and she's written a great book that we have been talking about this week called, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Carolyn, thank you for writing the book; thank you for joining us again on Revive Our Hearts.

Carolyn: Oh, it's a joy to be here. Thank you.

Nancy: I love the way that you take Proverbs chapter 31, which typically single women aren't real crazy about reading, and you say, "This is a passage that applies to all of us as women. It's a passage about femininity. It's a passage about glorifying God as women." One of the areas that you tackle here is a chapter on children. "Her children rise and call her blessed" (Proverbs 31:28). You wouldn't think that a book about singleness would have a chapter about children. What's the connection here?

Carolyn: Well, throughout Scripture what we see is that God's heart is for us to communicate the values of the gospel and the instruction and the authentic example of the gospel's change in our lives to the next generation. That's what gospel-centered parenting really is, and it's a lot of work. So as childless women we are to participate in that. It's a community goal to evangelize and disciple the next generation.

That's what it says in Psalm 145. We are commanded to share the works of the Lord with the next generation and to come alongside of the parents and to invest in their children. This is a wonderful aspect of our femininity. Even if we haven't born those children we can still nurture life by investing in them, to spend time with them, to help point them toward the Lord, to help their parents communicate the need for a Savior and just to show affection and enjoyment to these children. It goes a long way to help quell that loud ticking sound of our biological clocks.

Nancy: Let's talk about that for a moment. We'll come back to how we can minister to other people's children, but I do think for a lot of women as they get into their thirties, their late thirties, their early forties, how do you deal with that sense of longing as you get . . . . Now you're into your forties, thought that you'd have children, had hoped that'd be the case, but God hasn't granted that desire. How do you deal with that ticking biological clock?

Carolyn: You hit the snooze alarm, and you go and find children you can serve. I mean there really isn't any other way to view it. I do have friends who have gotten married in their forties and had children in their forties.

Nancy: And there's always Sarah.

Carolyn: There's always Sarah, and you know what, there's also Rebekah. You know when she got married, Isaac was around forty and presumably she was late teens, early twenties. He prayed for twenty years and didn't have any children. They didn't have children until he was sixty, so putting her somewhere around forty. So her youth didn't guarantee that they were going to have children easily. And Sarah's agedness did not rule out God's ability to bring about children.

Nancy: As I got into my forties I reminded myself that if it's God's pleasure and His will for me to have children, then age is no object to him. Yet I am in my mid-forties and I'm not married and don't have children, and humanly-speaking, it looks like that will probably never happen. So what can I do as a woman? What can a married woman who doesn't have children of her own do to pass on the works of God to the next generation? How do we do that?

Carolyn: We have several roles already as single women or as childless women. We are somebody's aunt, generally. We are a good family friend. We have the opportunity to invest in those who are in our churches. We have relationships with children already. God has brought them across our path and for a purpose.

Now, I have six great nieces and nephews. I've dedicated the book to them, and I have made a big campaign out of being their favorite aunt. I'm so grateful that my sisters and their husbands are willing to allow me to invest in them and to spend time with them and that they encourage our relationship.

So, I'm intentional about spending time with them and about applying the things that I have learned from parenting classes, from ministries such as FamilyLife and other places. I can apply those same principles of parenting in my role as an aunt or as a special family friend, and doing it in a consistent and loving and affectionate and tender way.

There was girl that I had babysat years ago. She decided she wanted to emulate my example as a babysitter when it became time for her to start. She got a note from one of those children saying, "You know you're my favorite babysitter, and I feel the time, attention, and care you put into the time you spend with me." And that note got passed along to me, and I was in tears.

Nancy: Does it make you feel like you have spiritual grandchildren?

Carolyn: Yes, in a way, but also just it seems like drudgery I am serving somebody else so that this couple can go have their date night. They get to have a date, and I want a date, but instead I've got to watch these children. If that's the attitude we walk into, we will miss these rare and precious opportunities to make a difference in these children's lives and to have a legacy. It's a small one, but here it is being passed along a couple of generations, and that tugs at my heart every time I find that note.

Nancy: You know, you say it's small, but it may be a huge legacy because there are probably some things that you have been able to speak into your nieces' and nephews' lives and into friends' children's lives that they may hear better from you than they do from their own parents.

Carolyn: Yes, and there are times when my sisters hand me the children and say, "Here, what we are working on is this, go to it."

Nancy: You know that experience with children is particularly important if there's the chance that God will give you children of your own. I think of a friend who was married in her late twenties. She had never held a baby until she had one of her own. She was from a broken home. She was clueless about parenting. She was clueless about dealing with children. She had no experience and really had no idea what to do with this baby when it came into her life. For women whom God will give the privilege of mothering their own children, what an incredible preparation, investing in other people's children can be as they think of preparing to be parents themselves.

Carolyn: Yes, I think making that kind of investment in other people's children would make that transition in your own life, while you're sleep deprived, so much easier. But on a more serious point, as I get older, I think I may not produce a child from my own body, but God has given me faith that if I were to get married to consider adoption. I would pray that my husband would too because there are so many children on the face of this earth who don't have parents and who need loving care.

If I've had experience reaching out to children and loving children and having affection for children who are not from my own body, then what great preparation this would be if God called me to adopt. So many churches encourage parents, even those who have their own natural children, to expand their family through adoption, because there are these children who need this kind of care.

Nancy: So, in every season of life there are opportunities and a responsibility for us as women to be mothering, to be investing in the lives of those who are the next generation. You know I really believe, and if you listened to Revive Our Hearts for any length of time you have probably heard me say this, that all as a family of God, as the church of Jesus Christ, bear a collective responsibility for the hearts of the next generation. I have in a sense a responsibility for your children.

Now, God will hold you as a parent ultimately responsible for your investment in their lives, but what a privilege and incredible opportunity it has been for me to come alongside of believing parents or children who don't have believing parents and to invest in their lives, to spiritually nurture those children, to communicate God's heart and God's truth to them, and to say, "I am concerned that you have a heart for the Lord. That you love him. That you serve him."

Oh women, we can pray for these children. We can love them. We can encourage them. We can help these tired moms who are sleep deprived and come alongside of them and say, "How can I be a blessing and an encouragement to you?" We're part of a family. We're part of a body. If you are a single who is lonely and miserable, then there are some choices you can make that will really set you free from that.

Carolyn: Especially if you know single mothers. I can't imagine that if I were a single mother I wouldn't want somebody out there encouraging others to come alongside and help me in this project of raising children and rearing them for the glory of God. If you have friends who are single mothers, help them with this. If you desire to have children, then help the mothers you know who need that help. Make that investment be others-oriented.

I started keeping a journal for each of my nieces and nephews, and I write to their future adult selves about our interactions now, memories that we've had now, things that they have done that have been cute or funny or even my explain something about their personality or characteristics later on in life. I am being purposeful, not only about building those memories with them so that I can write about it, but also I am being faithful to write it down. Already, my nieces and nephews are ages four months to eight years, already I go back and read things that I've forgotten about but are so telling about their lives or such precious moments and memories that I am glad I didn't just let them disappear.

Leslie Basham: Carolyn McCulley has been talking with Nancy Leigh DeMoss about the important role singles can have in the lives of children. Caroline talks more about this in her book, Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? She gives more examples of how she's invested in the lives of children and offers hope to any woman who worries that she'll never be a mom.

You can get a copy by calling 1-800-569-5959. That's 1-800-569-5959. You can also order from our website, ReviveOurHearts.com. When you contact us, would you let us know how God is using this program in your life. You can drop us a note and address it to Revive Our Hearts, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501.

Here's Nancy on how important your feedback is.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: You know some days I find myself wondering if all the time and effort and financial resources involved in this ministry are really worth it. Then I get a letter like this one.

A man wrote to say to us, "I will forever be in debt to you and our Lord Jesus Christ for your radio program. I listen to it almost every day. I love your ministry to women, and you minister to me, too. But what I really want to praise God for is the way your program touched my daughter's life. She had told her husband to get out of the house. I began to intercede in prayer for her."

And by the way, what a blessing it is to hear of a dad praying for his married daughter and for the needs in her life and marriage. And then this man said, "I heard your program and encouraged my daughter to go to your website and listen to it. It changed her life completely. She made a 180, and now they are back together again. They still have a long way to go but with God's help they will make it. They go to church every Sunday, and they have fallen in love again. Praise God. Hallelujah. Thank you, Jesus, for using you and for Revive Our Hearts."

You know this ministry and those kinds of testimonies just would not be possible if it were not for God's people who pray and who give financially to support this ministry. I thank the Lord for every person who had a part in helping to reach this woman through their gift to this ministry.

Your gift to Revive Our Hearts doesn't just go to equipment and salaries and stations. Your gift ultimately is an investment in the kingdom of God, in this message, and in the lives that are being transformed and the hearts that are being revived as a result.

Leslie Basham: You can send your donation to Revive Our Hearts, Box 82500, Lincoln, Nebraska, 68501.

Tomorrow we'll hear a discussion on singleness: beauty and aging. We hope you can be here for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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