Revive Our Hearts Podcast

WANTED: Older Women To Disciple Younger Women

Leslie Basham: When a woman mentors other women, there’s a side benefit. Kay Barker encourages the older women . . .

Kay Barker: To reach out to the younger women and feel more like you, too, are a younger woman.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Adorned, for July 8, 2019.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Are you an older woman who feels like you’re not really getting anything out of Bible studies anymore because there’s not anyone your age there? Or maybe you’re a younger woman just wishing that someone with just a little bit of gray hair would help you through this hard season or a difficult decision?

Well, if either of those sounds like you, this program is for you. My dear friend, Dannah Gresh, is here to talk about exactly that. I’m going to let her introduce our guest today because . . . well, we have a special guest. Dannah?

Dannah Gresh: Kay Barker is with us today. She is a passionate community leader, along with her husband Dan. Together they’ve started many long-standing community events in central-Pennsylvania including the Central-Pennsylvania Fourth Fest, which The Wall Street Journal touts as one of the tenth largest fireworks shows in the United States.

They are successful business owners, owning an international fireworks company, but Kay’s true passion is Jesus. She’s helped lead the National Day of Prayer of Saint College and other local Christ-centered ministries and events.

And recently, she’s been hosting a weekly Bible study in her home called Soup for the Soul. It’s attended by over two dozen women of all ages, and the group is currently studying the book, Adorned.

Welcome to the program today, Kay Barker.

Kay: Thank you, Dannah.

Dannah: It’s very exciting to get to talk to you about the topic of Adorned and women mentoring women because I was the first woman you ever mentored. (laughter)

Kay: You were.

Dannah: Because Kay Barker is my mother. How awesome is it that we’re sitting here on Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s Revive Our Hearts program together?

Kay: Well, it’s one of those . . . I think, this morning when I was going through some of my notes from our Bible study, I was reminded of my favorite Bible verse: Habakkuk 1:5, because years ago God told me, “Watch and see what great things I can do in your lifetime.”

I never told anybody that was my favorite verse until many years later when I saw you sitting behind a mic, and I realized then that this kind of moment was one of those great things.

Dannah: Well, I think every time I sit behind a mic or I stand on a stage, I’m very mindful that your prayers and your mentoring are part of the reason I’m there.

I want to kind of go back to the beginning, because you had a really dramatic salvation story. Tell my friends how you came to know the Lord.

Kay: Do you want me to cry?

Dannah: If you need to. (laughter)

Kay: Well, when I was a young married woman with you, the first child, I felt this need to go to Sunday school with you, to get you to Sunday school. We would visit churches but just weren’t encouraged, and I’d usually leave crying, thinking, That wasn’t it.

But, actually, it was Easter, forty-eight years ago, almost forty-nine now, I think. We were invited to three different churches, and we didn’t know which one to choose. So I said to my husband, “Well, we’ll choose the first one that we were invited to”—which my brother had invited us.

We went to the church, and when we left, I was ready for the negative comments, and he said, “You know what? That pastor was great. I think I could go back and hear him again.” Which we did, Sunday after Sunday.

That same year, our first son was born, Darren, in July, and four months later he came down with Spinal Meningitis.

Dannah: Which is very, very serious.

Kay: Very serious. He was in a coma for ten days. We weren’t sure that he was even going to live.

Dannah: Yes.

Kay: I remember the first day that we sat in the hospital. I was sitting outside his room and just depressed, very depressed. And Pastor Dibble, Raymond Dibble, the pastor that pastored the church that we had been visiting, came to visit me. We went down to the chapel of the hospital, and he talked to me. I remember just feeling so empty and so, just . . . I didn’t know how I felt. It was just an emptiness.

He spoke to me and told me that he had lost a son as a young baby. And he said, “I can’t heal your son, but I can heal your heart.” He introduced me to the Lord, and I gave my heart to Jesus that day.

But I did make a “deal”—and I know you don’t make deals with God . . .

Dannah: You know that now.

Kay: I know that now.

Dannah: We know we don’t make deals with God the moment we come to know Him.

Kay: That’s right. But I said, “If You will heal my son, I will walk with You for the rest of my life.” So He has kept His end of the deal—He always does. I try very hard.

Dannah: That baby, I believe, if I remember you recounting this story over and over again, who was in a coma smiled at you.

Kay: Well, my mother and I were in the room one day and we didn’t know at that point how things would turn out. But I remember saying to her, “If he would only look at me and smile, I’d know everything was going to be all right.” And he lifted his little head up off the mattress and smiled at me.

Dannah: Then the doctors thought you were crazy. “That couldn’t have happened. This child is in a coma. This baby’s in a coma.”

Kay: Yes, they did.

Dannah: And when he awakened, they said, “He won’t move.” But then he started moving around in the crib.

And then they said, “He won’t talk.” And you kind of have a theory for why he didn’t talk for, what, a few years.

Kay: Well, I think you were that theory. (laughter) He would point to things, but he would never ask for them or talked. My brother who is older than me and wiser said, “Well, he’s never going to talk because you talk for him”—because Dannah talked for him. He would want something, and you’d say, “He wants this, or he wants that.”

I was angry at my brother. I thought, Now, he hasn’t been through what we have. He doesn’t understand this. But one day Darren was pointing at something, and I said, “No, Darren, I won’t get it until you tell me what you want.” And he said, “I want a bowl of cereal.” (laughter)

Dannah: So that ended my—what are they called?—translation career for my brother.

Kay: Yes, exactly.

Dannah: So it was shortly after that really dramatic encounter with a wonderful pastor in the hospital that I came to know the Lord, very quickly.

Kay: Yes.

Dannah: And I look back, and I marvel that you were such a brand-new baby believer, had not been mentored by another woman, as far as a mother, a Christian mother, telling you how to be a Christian mother. And yet, I remember I was about eight years old, and you handed me a Daily Bread and told me, “It’s time to start having devotions every day.”

I don’t know if you remember that, but, obviously, it was very formative. It built the passion and love that I have for the Word of God. You handed me that Daily Bread when I was eight years old. How did you know to do that?

Kay: Well, you had a desire to know the Lord and didn’t even understand that, I think. And I saw that. You asked our family to have devotions. Do you remember the Bible verse you gave us?

Dannah: I do.

Kay: What was that?

Dannah: “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God stands forever” (Isa. 40:8 NASB).

Kay: That was the Bible verse you wanted us all to memorize.

Dannah: And I think I had a family flag—The Barker Family Fellowship.

Kay: (laughter) Yes, you did. And once a week we were to get together. I guess, in all honesty, I feel guilty a little bit about that because we didn’t always make that an important issue, but you did. You said, “We need to get together and study the Bible.” So it was important to you.

Dannah: Wow. Well, it’s interesting. I think you have a perspective of blessing me, and I have one of blessing you because I just remember a mother that said, “You’re old enough to understand. You’re old enough to study. You’re old enough to read. You’re old enough to pray.”

I guess that is the burden on my heart. That’s why I started True Girl, to create a way for younger girls to study the Bible and God’s Truth, and also for moms to be encouraged and equipped to know how to encourage that.

So, as a mom who mentored me well as a little girl, thank you. But what would you say to the moms out there who are feeling like, “I don’t know where to start here. I don’t know how to mentor my daughter.” We’re going to talk about mentoring today on the program, and many women I see are, like, “I need a mentor. I want to be a mentor.” And right there in their own home is a little woman just craving the same thing. They want to be mentored.

You did that for me. You did that in my life. What would you say to that mom who’s just feeling overwhelmed. She doesn’t know how to do it. How does she start mentoring her daughter?

Kay: Well, I think it’s important you start talking to them. I remember, specifically, one day when I was working . . . I was curling my hair, I think, in the bathroom, and you were sitting on the edge of the tub, just staring at me. So I started asking you questions about your life—not really about your life, but I said, “Do you know about this, Dannah?” And you said, “Yes, I do.”

But I think just asking questions in general, just bringing out the day-to-day events. They don’t always want you to say, “How was your day at school?” But be specific, and then work it into God’s Word. Talk about what God would say about that. “What would He tell us?” And share that with your daughter, and say, “Well, you know what? Let’s read about what God would say about that.”

I think just one-on-one time, spending time together, going out to lunch together, taking your daughter with you somewhere where nobody else is interrupting your time. That means a lot to them.

Dannah: Right. I guess that’s where I got the passion to call moms out and say, “Hey, you need to have this night or this study time all alone, just you and your daughter,” because you did that with me.

I really think the idea of asking questions is key in a mentoring relationship no matter who you’re mentoring or what age or stage. I think a good question might be—if you’re listening—ask your daughter if she’s having a daily quiet time with God.

Kay: Yes.

Dannah: We asked that question when we wrote Lies Girls Believe, and about 30 percent of moms found out that their girls were having a Bible study time, and they needed a little encouragement and mentoring in that area. About 48 percent weren’t, and their moms needed to step in and encourage that. And about 22 percent of moms realized they weren’t really aware whether their daughter was having that time or not.

And that really is the foundation of a woman growing up to be a biblical woman. And so, maybe ask your daughter today:

  • How is your quiet time with God? 
  • Do you read the Bible?
  • Do you spend time alone with the Lord praying? 

I think that’d be a really good gift to give your daughter.

Kay: Yes.

Dannah: Now, let’s fast forward to this year because, though I was the first woman you mentored, I certainly wasn’t the last. I could think of multiple women through the years, as I was growing up, and as I’ve been an adult, watching you mentor women.

But last year God did something really unique and special, and that’s what brings us here today, because Nancy’s book, Adorned had a little something to do with that.

Kay: Yes.

Dannah: What was happening last summer in terms of your desire to be in Bible study and be mentoring women?

Kay: Well, I had started the Bible study with Missy Babcock probably five or six years ago. At that time there were probably 50/50, young women/older women, in the study. But as a couple of years would pass, some of the older women stepped down, stepped out of the study, and a lot more younger women were coming into the study.

And so, last fall when it was time to choose a Bible study, I thought to myself. I told God that I was going to go to a study with women more my age so that I could relate to them, so that I could feel more comfortable with being with women more my age. I didn’t pray about it. I hadn’t planned to. I thought, I’m just going to go to the church in the evening and see what’s available, and I’ll make my choice then.

Meanwhile, Elaine Savage, who is along with other women, was heading up the Soup for the Soul. Soup for the Soul is really neat because we not only enjoy three or four different soups that the ladies make, but we enjoy conversation together.

Dannah: For the soul.

Kay: “Soup for the Soul.” That’s what our Bible study has been called for the past five or six years.

So then Elaine Savage called me and said, “Kay, we’re having a little difficulty this year coming up with a host home for Soup for the Soul. And every time I pray about it, you come to mind.”

Dannah: Busted. (laughter)

Kay: “Would you be interested in hosting our Bible study this year?” And I thought, Oh, what do I tell her? I’m not even planning to go this year. So I said, “Well, you know what, Elaine? Let me pray about it.”

So we hung up the phone, and just as clear as you hear me speaking, I heard, “If you’re not going to go to them, I’ll bring them to you.”

Dannah: Oh, wow!

Kay: And I sort of laughed because I thought, Really? Okay.

Dannah: Just like God.

Kay: Just like that. So I knew what God wanted me to do. I called her back a few days later, and I said, “Elaine, I will host the Bible study this year.” 

And she said, “Oh, by the way, did I tell you what we’re studying this year?” 

And I said, “No, you didn’t.” 

And she said, “We’re studying Nancy Leigh DeMoss—Wolgemuth . . .”

Dannah: You did good with that name! (laughter) You did really good!

Kay:Adorned, which is Titus 2 women, which, (she said) is older women investing in the lives of younger women.”

Dannah: Busted again!

Kay: Busted again! Oh no! So I got off the phone, and I actually . . . I don’t know if I laughed or cried, but I thought, Isn’t that just like God? I had my plan, but He had His.

Dannah: That’s awesome because I can’t think of a greater gift for a woman than to be mentored by you.

Kay: That’s because you’re my daughter, but thank you.

Dannah: No. It’s because you’ve been so fruitful in so many lives. I think it is a temptation for older women—I don’t know at what age it happens—but to kind of feel like, “Okay, I’ve paid my dues. I’ve done my thing.”

I read an article recently that really broke my heart about comparing the Church’s noise about the mass exodus of millennials from the Church, those twenty- or thirty-somethings. They’re leaving the Church in droves, really.

But at the other end of the Church attendance spectrum, at the older end, Baby Boomers, and the generation known as Elders, just older than Baby Boomers, so anybody born before 1964, they’re coming to church less and less frequently, and they’re especially volunteering less. Even if they’re showing up and sitting in the pews, they feel like, “I’m finished.” They are just kind of gravitating toward people their own age. And it’s not because of difficulties or disabilities, but just this sense that, “I’m done, and I want to be with people my own age.”

And I just think it’s so like God to take a woman like you, who loves them so much, and say, “No, no, no, Kay. That’s not what we’re going to do. We’re going to step back into this place, and I’m going to bless you.” And He did bless you, didn’t He?

Kay: He did. He did. I’ve had more fun this year than in any Bible study. And it’s not just with the younger girls. I mean, we’re all having a good time, and we’re learning so much from the book, Adorned. Nancy is incredible, and she’s written about all the areas of our lives that we’re dealing with from no matter what age you are.

One quote that I like, she said, in her book, “Women don’t wake up at eighty-nine and suddenly find themselves spiritually fruitful and blossoming.” And I think we think that, “Well, once I age, I can do this.” But it’s now. It’s now. We don’t know if we’re going to age and blossom later.

Dannah: That’s true.

Kay: We have today, but we don’t have tomorrow.

Dannah: So, Mom, I want to ask you this: Let’s say there’s a woman listening who is your age, which we don’t need to actually say your age. (laughter)

Kay: Thank you.

Dannah: (Laughing.) You’re welcome. But she’s older, Mom. She’s a grandmother, maybe a great-grandmother, and she’s feeling a little bit like, “I think I don’t fit in here in this Bible study anymore. I’m going to find a Bible study with women my own age,” or “I’m just going to stop doing Bible study because I’ve done them all.”

What would you say to her right now?

Kay: I would say that’s a mistake because I felt the same way, but now that I’ve experienced the energy and the love, and just the . . . all the things that I get. I mean, if you give of yourself, God’s going to give back a whole lot more. And that’s what He’s doing in this study, I think, to all of us. He’s giving back so much more than we could ever give.

So I would encourage her to reach out to the younger women and feel like, you, too, are a younger woman.

Dannah: As you’ve obeyed the Lord and followed through on being a part of this Bible study, in what kinds of ways has God rewarded you and shown you that He’s actually moving and opening your home to these women is fruitful?

Kay: Well, I think the third or fourth week . . We try to stick to a time frame because these are young mothers. They have children. They have to get up in the morning and get them off to school, or whatever. So we try to end the study by 8:15, 8:30 at the latest.

But one night, everyone had gone, and there were two mothers, two young mothers, sitting on the floor, weeping and praying together. And Elaine said to me, “Should we send them home? Should I tell them they have to leave?” 

And I said, “No. This is what it’s all about. They’re sharing in each other’s lives and praying for each other. And that’s what it’s all about. Don’t tell them to go home. They can stay for the night if they want to.”

Dannah: Have there been some moments as you’ve studied Adorned that have been just really pivotal moments where God spoke to your heart through the content?

Kay: Oh, wow. Yes. I think Nancy has covered so many areas of our day-to-day areas of our lives. No matter what age you are, we’re all dealing with these things. Obedience, slander, addiction, self-control, purity, they’re all in the book.It’s incredible the way she has explained it to us. I think the one that impacted me the most, and I think our group, was loving our husbands and submitting.

Submission, I think that’s a hard one for a lot, no matter what age you are, married or not married, even in your workplace, as she explains. We submit to somebody, somewhere, at some time. And that one, I think, was one of our better nights of discussion because we weren’t sure what submission meant exactly.

We had three different groups, three different age levels. We had women who had been married for twenty years, in my case, fifty, and we had two newlyweds—rather newlyweds—and one woman going through a divorce. You could feel each one and their story and their situation. And it really spoke to me because not one of us does not have to deal with it.

Dannah: It’s a struggle for all of us.

Kay: It’s a struggle for all of us. And that was really . . . I think that lesson was one that impacted me the most.

Dannah: So we all struggle with submission because that’s, ultimately, what happened in the garden at the base of the tree. Eve was struggling with submitting, first, to God, but also to Adam. The Bible says he was standing right there next to her, and yet, she was usurping his authority and moving forward in leadership, and obviously, leading in the wrong direction.

I look back at your marriage, and I see tremendous submission. So how do you struggle with it? How does it show up in your life?

Kay: Well, I’m working with my husband—for probably thirty years now. When he asked me to join him in our family business, I went to my boss. I loved my job, and I didn’t want to leave it. I said to my boss, “If we work together and live together and never get time away from each other, I’m afraid we’ll get divorced.”

Dannah: Wow.

Kay: And my boss said, “You know what? If you get there, and you find it doesn’t work, you have a job back here.” So I felt I had a way out. I could come back. But it’s been wonderful because I think we learned to . . . He had his job; I had my job. There were times, and there still are times, when I have to submit to his leadership. But I think he respects my abilities as well, so we’ve learned to do that.

But it’s not always easy. There are times I walk out of the office and want to scream. But then I pray. (laughing)

Dannah: That’s a much better option.

So I want to say this, Mom, as I’ve watched you be a very strong, powerful, international business woman, submission has been a safe and good thing—not always an easy thing—because Dad’s not perfect.

Kay: Really?

Dannah: You didn’t notice? (laughter) And you’re not perfect. It’s always going to be complicated.

But for the woman out there listening who maybe is in a place where submission hasn’t been safe, I think it’s really important for us to say that when God tells us in the book of Ephesians to submit as women, He is also equally speaking to the men in our lives, the husbands in our lives, and saying, “You must love her in such a way that you lay down your life the way that Christ laid His down for the Church.” And in that kind of submission, a woman is not being a doormat. She’s not unsafe. She’s being affirmed and tenderly loved.

Bob is the tiebreaker in our home, and that’s made a lot easier by the fact that I always know he’s going to put my desires and my dreams and my passions first because he is actively laying his life down.

You just opened your Adorned book to a certain page, as if you’re looking for something you needed to say.

Kay: I did . . . page 270. And what Nancy says here is:

When a woman denies the natural urge to resent her husband or to retaliate against him, when she runs to the cross instead of running her mouth, when she maintains a gentle and quiet spirit and steadfastly hopes in God, regardless of her husband’s behavior, that is no spineless, mousy, whimpering puddle of dominated femininity. That is a woman of power.

Dannah: That’s what you’re talking about when you say, “When you want to scream—you pray.”

Kay: Yes.

Dannah: That’s beautiful.

Nancy: Woman to woman, older to younger, and day to day, life to life, this is God’s good and beautiful plan.

We’ve been listening to a conversation between Dannah Gresh and her mother, Kay Barker, explaining the need for life-on-life relationships with other women. Those kinds of relationships are what the apostle Paul encouraged young pastor Titus to foster in his church. We read about that in Titus chapter 2.

I dive deeper into that passage in the book that Dannah and Kay were just discussing. It’s called, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. We’d love to send you a copy of that book as our way of saying “thank you” when you support Revive Our Hearts with a donation of any size.

This is a listener-supported ministry, so we depend on gifts from friends like you to keep our program on the air and our podcast on the Internet.

Again, be sure to ask for the book Adorned when you contact us to make your gift. You can do that at our website, ReviveOurHearts.com, or by calling us at 1–800–569–5959.

Now, today we heard how Kay obeyed the Lord’s prompting to start a Bible study in her home. That opened the door for developing some informal mentoring relationships. Dannah?

Dannah: So, Mom, if you’ll come back with us tomorrow, I would love to talk about the two women that, as you obeyed God and participated and hosted this Bible study, God allowed some informal mentoring relationships to form. One of them is with Missy Babcock, who you mentioned earlier today. Will you come back tomorrow, and we’ll talk about those two relationships?

Kay: I’d love to.

Nancy: Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants is helping you live out the beauty of the gospel. The program is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

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

Join the Discussion