Posts Tagged ‘motherhood’

thinking womanLet’s continue with opportunity #3 —


A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised (Proverbs 31:30b).

Fear and Love the Lord.  Martin Luther begins each of the meanings for the Ten Commandments with: “We should fear and love God . . . .”  In a sinful world, “fear” and “love” hardly seem to fit together.  But the Heavenly Father can be both feared (for His justice) and loved (for His mercy).  How does this give freedom to modern women?

Reject the Deception of the World.  The Christian woman is often reminded of the Proverbs 31 woman.  But do we know why she was praised?  Church Father St. Bernard of Clairvaux draws us away from the idea that this woman was praised for her spectacular work.  He wrote, “You have been able to reject the deceitful glory of the world . . . you deserve to be praised for not being deceived.” (The Lutheran Study Bible ESV, Commentary on Proverbs 31:30-31, page 1047.)  How was the first woman, Eve, deceived?  Why did Satan approach her rather than the man?  What is the deceitful glory of the world?  How do we resist it?  How do we help others resist it?

Discern Personal Mentors.  Whose counsel and advice do we seek?  Do we surround ourselves with women in the same situation and circumstance as our own or do we glean wisdom from “older” women who have matured in the face of challenge?  What kind of reading material is on our coffee table or by our bedside?  Have we been influenced by human opinions and fickle emotion… or the Word of the Lord who calls Himself “the Alpha and Omega”?

Resist the Temptation to Divide Generations.  Bring older and younger women together in Titus 2-style groups.  Suggested resources include Titus 2 for Life, Dressing for Life: Secrets of the Great Cover-up (a ten-lesson reproducible Bible study on modesty and clothing available from CPH [#LFLDFL]), Men, Women and Relationships: Building a Culture of Life Across Generations (a 12-lesson Bible study with leader’s guide from CPH [#LFL901BS]), The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Girl Talk: Mother-Daughter Conversations on Biblical Womanhood by Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre, and Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss.  We can encourage and be encouraged by building relationships across generations.

Take Care Not to Burn Bridges.  Sometimes, the relationship of two women can suffer because of a difference in thought or behavior.  Even so, the Holy Spirit may keep that person close to the heart.  Perhaps we will be nudged to send a simple “thinking of you” card or a gift on her birthday.  We do well in not resisting opportunities to reach out.  For example, years after a Christian woman had an abortion followed by a divorce, she wrote her friend, “Thank you for keeping the communication open and not burning any bridges.  You have not abandoned me.”  That friendship was restored in greater measure.  How do such invaluable lessons encourage others?

Send a card.  This may be the age of e-mail, texting and Facebook, but none of these replace a personal phone call, handwritten note or card.  We all like to be remembered, don’t we?  It is not uncommon to send a card and then have the recipient, sometime later, ask, “How did you know that I needed encouragement that day?”  If we can’t find the right message or can’t afford a pricey card, we can write a favorite Bible passage on a note and tuck it in an envelope with a tea bag or pre-packaged coffee pouch.

Start a Mother’s Group.  Include “older” and “younger” moms.  In a mobile society, young moms are often miles away from their mothers and grandmothers.  They are in need of older women who can mentor self-control, purity, homemaking, kindness, and why submission to husbands is obedience to God (Titus 2:5).  Offer opportunity to learn from faithful biblical practice in the home, but also mistakes made and lessons learned.  Experienced moms can point to the discipline of God’s Law and offer the forgiveness and life-changing hope of the Gospel.  Even in a changed culture, God’s Word for women provides all we need to persevere in the vocation of motherhood.   Can you count the ways that godly motherhood influences children and impacts society?

What’s Next?  #4: Mentor a Changed Attitude

Ezer’s Handbook is a resource developed by
Linda Bartlett and presented at Titus 2 Retreats

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women & health careGod created woman to be a helper (Hebrew: ezer).  God knew man would not be complete without woman to help him remember and trust God’s Word, be a good steward of all that God has made, and build a culture of life.

In a fallen world, however, woman is challenged by Satan, sin and her own doubting nature.  But there is hope in Jesus Christ!  And, because of Jesus Christ, there are countless opportunities for each ezerwoman to make a positive difference in her home, church and community.  Where can ezerwoman begin?  By making use of a resource I call Ezer’s Handbook.  Let’s begin with opportunity #1 —


The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down (Proverbs 14:1).

Build on The Word.  The Word is Wisdom.  It is unchanging Truth.  The Word provides everything a man or woman needs for living in today’s world, meeting today’s challenges, and mentoring generations.  Paraphrased Bibles are fine for personal reading, but don’t count on them for accuracy.  Highly recommended is The Lutheran Study Bible (ESV).  The commentaries offer historical and archeological evidence as well as Greek and Hebrew origins of words.

Prepare for the Battle of Worldviews on Sex and Sexuality.  Begin with the Bible study Men, Women and Relationships: Building a Culture of Life Across Generations.  This twelve-lesson study is appropriate for men and women who are single or married.  Although the world tells us that men and women are the same, no different from one another and both just “sexual beings from birth”, God tells us we are far more than that.  (This Bible study with leader’s guide may be ordered from Concordia Publishing House #LFL901BS or by calling 888-364-LIFE.)

Be Equipped with Resources.  Married or single, a woman has a sphere of influence that leads others to–or away from–God.  How are you mentoring biblical womanhood in your home?  From your office?  At school?  In the your church and community?  You will find resources for mentoring biblical womanhood at Titus 2 for Life and The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

Be Careful Who You Let Shape Your Worldview.  Ideas of sex, sexuality, love, relationships, marriage, motherhood, morality, clothing, behavior and life in general are mentored in one way or another by every newspaper, magazine, website, TV commercial or self-help book.  As a follower of Christ, it is our responsibility to be discerning.  WORLD and CITIZEN are publications that offer a biblical perspective in contrast to Newsweek and Time.  Websites with current information offered from a biblical worldview rather than humanist perspective include Parental Rights, Answers In Genesis, LifeNews, the Family Research Council, MercatorNet, and Concerned Women for America.

Use Spiritual Discernment.  A Titus 2 mentor reaches out with the Truth of God, both Law and Gospel.  We are called, however, to be discerning in the proper use of each.  The woman who doesn’t recognize her sin is in need of the Law, but the woman who has been convicted of her sin longs for the Gospel (Psalm 32:3-5).  A suggested book that will help you better distinguish Law and Gospel — as well as the time and place for both — is Handling the Word of Truth by John T. Pless.

Mentor, Don’t Preach.  The woman who builds her house on firm foundation must be prepared for “hot button” issues that stir memories and emotions.  In our circle of relationships are women who have been mentored by someone with a humanist or feminist perspective.  Among us are women who have been wounded by a past abortion, divorce, or physical or mental abuse.  Jesus never compromised the truth nor did He break an already bruised reed.  May we, too, speak truth with a gentle love for souls.  One very effective way to mentor without preaching is story-telling.  No one can deny the lessons learned from a person’s real-life experience.

What’s next?  #2: Mentor Confidence in the Created Order.

Ezer’s Handbook is a resource developed
by Linda Bartlett and presented at Titus 2 Retreats.

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two women talkingAnother Titus 2 for Life Retreat has concluded.  I am tired, but encouraged.  In a culture such as ours, the need for mentoring grows daily.  This was affirmed most especially this past weekend by the younger women who attended.   Perhaps it will be helpful to share a few quotes from their evaluations.

  • I wasn’t sure what to expect . . . considering the topics, I thought it might all be too judgmental . . . but it was not.  You see, I spent my childhood and good part of my young adult life wishing I was a boy because no one had ever pointed out the joy and biblical blessing of being a woman.
  • I will be getting married soon and this was a great springboard and encouragement for helping me understand my role in our new family.
  • It’s o.k. to be a woman!  This retreat really laid to rest a lot of the horrible post-modern and feminist myths that were always a part of my life but were causing such pain and discontent.  Thank you for being such a real person and addressing the foolish women in all of us with forgiveness.
  • As I approach motherhood, I wanted to attend this retreat again . . . I love how you share with us God’s purpose and esteem for women and womanly traits . . . there is no indignity in God’s design of the woman as ‘helper’ . . . it helps to remember that Christ was submissive and that the Holy Spirit is a helper.
  • Many of my friends are unhappy, kind of restless and certainly discontent.  They hear so many voices of the world which seem in conflict with their own heart.  This retreat was like ten years of godly mentoring in just a few hours!
  • I was afraid this retreat might be hours of anti-abortion rhetoric.   Instead, it affirmed my value to God, reminded me that my Christian upbringing is not a lie, and why my faith makes me so weird to the world . . . I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that God made women not to compete with men but complete them.  I’m very competitive . . . high school girls need to know about biblical womanhood.
  • The discussion on sex education and our mistaken identity was so important . . . I have had abstinence education for years but, no different from the culture, it was a constant focus on sex.

And what do I say to these young women?

Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

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I don’t apologize for a Biblical worldview.  It answers the important questions: Who am I?   From where did I come?  What is my purpose?  Why do bad things happen?  Is there hope?

So, as I continue to ponder the topic of women in combat, I do best to use God’s Word on the topic.

According to Genesis, man was created to be the defender of life.  He is the steward over all.  God gave to man the instructions for life and the warnings against death.  Sin messed up the perfect world, but God still used His created order for the benefit of women, children, and society.  Man would continue in his roles of stewardship and defense as husband, father, and warrior.

Woman was created to be man’s helper.  She would help him be a good steward over all of life.  Together with God, the two would procreate new life, but the woman alone would bear that life from conception until birth.  Sin may change how some women feel about motherhood but, nonetheless, women are still the bearers of life.  Generational hope comes through the womb.

So… what sane and civilized people would send the bearers of life to be targets for the enemy’s bullets?

I began really paying attention to what was happening in our military during the Gulf War.  A photo in the Dallas Morning News (2/20/91) of Spec. Hollie Vallance tugged at my mother’s heart.  Dressed in fatigues and helmet, Hollie was holding her 7 month-old baby in a final good-bye before being sent away.  She was quoted, “I never really thought about going into combat.  I never dreamed anything like this would happen in my lifetime, let alone right after I had my first child.”  She continued, “I’ve built an ice wall around my heart to try to cool the pain, and sometimes I worry that my husband and baby daughter won’t be able to melt it away.”  Hollie’s husband was quoted, “It isn’t that she’s a woman that makes it harder.  It’s that she has a baby.  I’m afraid Hollie might not be the same person when she comes back.”

Bearers of life on the front lines of battle.  Mothers separating from children.  What about womanliness itself?  The female anatomy?  A woman marine who served in Iraq as a Humvi driver explained that she would go all day without water.  It was one thing for men to stay hydrated because relieving themselves is a simple procedure and requires no bush.  But, it’s both difficult and risky for a female soldier.   First, it’s awkward to manipulate the clothing of war.  Second, if there is a bush for privacy, does walking to it require leaving a safe zone?  What about that time of month?  What about shared living space with men?   I know a guardsman who, while serving time in the Persian Gulf, had to share his tent with a woman soldier.  It mattered to him… because he was married.

Most men I know believe in chivalry.  Chivalry was first practiced by Jesus Christ.  He literally sacrificed His life for His Bride, the Church.  He laid down His own life so that she might be spared.  Although not every man on board the sinking Titanic was a Christian, most all practiced chivalry.  It was, after all, the rule of the sea: Women and children into the lifeboats first.  Men, whether they knew it or not, were influenced by God’s Word for life.  So, what does a chivalrous male soldier do if a woman soldier is being attacked?  If she is taken prisoner?  Sexually abused?  In battle, is she “just one of the guys?”  But, not in battle, is she different?  What is the price of honorable — or dishonorable — sexual distraction?

Memorial Day approaches.  I wonder what our veterans would have to say about “equal rights” on the beaches of Normandy or Iwo Jima?   About “equal opportunity” for the bearers of life to unload from amphibious transport onto the open spaces of water and sand under enemy fire?

I think I know.

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“The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing . . . she takes a seat on the highest places of the town” (Proverbs 9:13-14).

“The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down” (Proverbs 14:1).

These verses, inspired so long ago, describe the feminist movement of today.  As a  young wife and mom, I know some of my thinking was shaped by twisted feminism.  But, my eyes were opened by a variety of experiences: my own and those of other women who had taken me into their confidence.  Today, my eyes more easily see the vivid contrasts between the woman God created me to be and the woman deceived feminists think I should be.

My library contains the work of many women who’ve left the feminist movement because it was foolish.  I’ve listed a few recommendations below.   Be prepared not only for a courageous read, but to have some of  your own illusions shattered.

All of my reading tells me that the early suffragettes would find little in common with today’s feminists.  Women like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were pro-family (not anti-male) and were strongly opposed to abortion.  Compare them with the National Organization of Women (NOW), or the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), or Planned Parenthood (PP) whose women consider abortion their cornerstone.

Betty Friedan, author of The Feminist Mystique, never found joy: not as a girl, a daughter, a woman, a wife, or a mother.  Certainly she had choices, as we all do, but she chose to speak ill of everything womanly.  Rather than leave dysfunction behind and seek healthy mentors, she blamed society for woman’s woes.   She was “loud,” “seductive,” and “knew nothing” about the created beauty and purpose of women.  Knowing nothing, she “took a seat in the highest place of town” and led women of my mother’s and my generations into foolishness.  “It was easier for me,” Friedan wrote in her book, “to start the women’s movement than to change my own personal life.”

Folly — the woman captivated by modern feminism — has not built a house, but “with her own hands tears it down.”

Did the women who followed Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem find contentment?  Did they help women adjust attitudes away from “me” toward others?  Did they raise — or lower — the standard for women?  For men?  For children?   Did they help younger women find joy in their beautiful design or turn them against their created nature?  Did they soften or harden hearts?  Did their demand for an “equal playing field” produce victory — or defeat — for family and society?

All that I see (and that’s no exaggeration) tells me that the foolish women of the modern feminist movement opened the door to promiscuity and “friends with benefits,” girls less protected by boys and men, depression, increased vulnerability to STDs (how cruel not to tell young women that their very anatomy makes them more susceptible to sexual diseases), mothers turning hearts against their own children, an explosion of weary and lonely single moms, and no-fault divorce.

Had it with Folly?  Then, turn to Wisdom.  Wisdom is Jesus Christ.  Look up all the verses in Scripture that describe Wisdom.  The wisdom of Jesus Christ is life-changing.  Problem-solving.  Creative.  Hopeful.  Pregnant with promise.

Was feminism a mystique or a mistake?  (Read Diane Passno’s book Feminism: Mystique or Mistake?)

Who distorted what the early suffragettes believed?  (Read Christina Hoff Sommer’s book Who Stole Feminism?)

Did our own mothers forget — or refuse — to tell us something?  (Read Danielle Crittenden’s book What Our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us)

Is modern feminism built on a lie?  (Read Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly’s new book The Flipside of Feminism)

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Abortion does not think about the future.  Seventy six million baby boomers could soon realize that the lives might become a burden because 53 million people who would have supported an aging population were aborted.  That’s an economic nightmare.

But, there’s a more personal side to this nightmare.  Each one of the 53 million boys and girls who have been aborted in the U.S. alone since 1973 had a name (Isaiah 43:1-2).

I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine,” says the Creator and Lord God

Abortion drops a name placed upon a unique and treasured person.  It is a name known by God before all eternity for all eternity.  It is a name of a boy or girl who would have impacted this world in ways we’ll never know.

Abortion drops a name from a teacher’s grade book.  From 4-H club or Boys Scouts or junior olympics.  From schools of music, agriculture, or medicine.  From the consumer index and first-time home ownership.  For the tax rolls.  From bonds of marriage, parenthood, and genealogies.

Abortion drops a name from baptism, confirmation, and the mission field.

There is an emptiness when a name is dropped by abortion.  Women we know who have suffered the loss of an aborted child would explain this if only we’d listen.  That’s because a mother knows that a child created and named by God can never be replaced.

God named each on of this nation’s 53 million aborted children.  For each one He had a future and hope.  Even though each would have been born into sin, God had for them a robe of righteousness because of what Jesus did on a Cross for them.  Our world is less because these children are not with us.  Our world suffers when people created for a purpose and called by name are considered “untimely,” “inconvenient,” or “fearful.”

But, God has also named every mother who feared her child; who failed to see her child’s future and hope; who, deceived by other voices, doubted that God is good and can be trusted in every circumstance.  He calls each empty mother by name: “My daughter in Christ!  Life your countenance toward Me!”  He waits with open arms for each mother with a broken and repentant heart. “Turn to Me . . . acknowledge your sin . . . and I will forgive your guilt” (Psalm 32:3-5).  “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; thought they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool” (Isaiah 1:18).  “Woman . . . neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11).

A woman who faces the reality of her abortion is in need of someone else whom God has named.  That person is you.  It is me.  We are “friends.”  “Comforters.”  “Encouragers” on the journey from the dark valley toward “goodness and mercy” (Psalm 23).

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Marisol Valles Garcia is a 20-year-old mother of one child.  In November of 2010, she became the police chief of Praxedis G. Geurrero, a small town near Ciudad Juarez which is Mexico’s most violent city.  Marisol is a criminology student who says she loves the town of Guerrero where she’s lived for ten years.  She was offered the chief’s job a year after her predecessor was murdered.  This quiet farming community has turned into a “lawless no man’s land” into which, it appears, no man is willing to step.

Two rival gangs, Juarez and Sinaloa drug cartels, battle for control of a drug trafficking route along the Texas border.  Marisol, described as tiny but energetic, finds herself in the midst of this war.  She says she plans to hire more women, but “will leave most of the decisions about weapons and tactics to the town mayor, Jose Luis Guerrero.”  Marisol has two body guards, but chooses not to carry a gun of her own.

About the same time Marisol took the job of police chief in her Mexican border town, another woman “top cop” was murdered.  The CNN report on her death read, “One of a small number of women who have filled a void by becoming police chiefs in violence-torn Mexico was gunned down” in November 2010.  Hermila Garcia, 38, was not a mother.  She was a lawyer and willing to serve the people of Meoqui.  “Was she courageous or foolhardy?” asked CNN.

Several reports on these two women read the same.  The situation in the Juarez Valley along the Mexico and U.S. border has become so desperate that women are filling the void.

I am reminded of Deborah.  She was a prophetess and judge filling a void during a desperate time in Israel’s history.  She sent for Barak, the son of Abinoam, and said to him, “Has not the Lord, the God of Israel, commanded you, ‘Go, gather your men at Mount Tabor . . . and I will draw out Sisera, the general of Jabin’s army, to meet you by the river Kishon with his chariots and his troops, and I will give him into your hand’?”  But, Barak replied, “If you will go with me, I will go, but if you will not go with me, I will not go.”  (Judges 4:4-16)

Deborah said, “I will surely go with you.  Nevertheless, the road on which you are going will not lead to your glory, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hand of a woman.”  Deborah went with Barak, but only as far as Mount Tabor.  She did not go down into battle.  She fulfilled her role by encouraging Barak and his troops with the words and promises of God.  The woman into whose hand the enemy general, Sisera, was “delivered” was Jael.  When Sisera was being pursued by the Israelite army, he fled to the tent of Jael.  Jael, the wife of Heber, killed the enemy general not with a sword or military weapon, but with a tent peg which was a common household item.  (Judges 4:17-22).

Marisol is a mother living in the midst of a Mexican drug corridor.  In a desperate situation, with no men stepping forward, Marisol is filling a void.  In doing that, she is a target for enemy fire.  No biological children of Deborah are mentioned in the passages from  Judges.  However, in a desperate situation with no men stepping forward, Deborah filled a void.  In filling that void, she did not position herself as a target for enemy fire but, instead, played a motherly role by encouraging and strengthening her people.

The question posed by Marisol and Deborah is this: When the enemy threatens a family or nation, a woman can step up to face him, but should she?

A long time ago, life in another quiet farming community was threatened.  Eve was tempted to engage the enemy.  Adam did nothing.  God’s order for His beloved creation was ignored.  What were the consequences?

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