Reflections on My 65th Birthday: The Little Red Hen

I’m reflecting on a few verses in Titus 2. When I was young, in my 30s, I wanted so much to one day be an older woman teaching the younger.

But life can end up looking different from what we expected when we were younger, you know what I mean?

And it seems in some circles that those who call attention to abusive teachings and behaviors are not considered to be “Titus 2” women.

So I wanted to compare my current life with the description Paul gave in verses 3-5 of Titus 2. After telling Titus

That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.

Paul said this about older women (here in the KJV):

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

 Let’s think about it.

The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness (ESV, “that they be reverent in behavior”). I teach the importance of living lives of integrity before God, the same in public, in private, and in secret. This is the life by God’s grace I seek to live myself. Speaking and acting in a way that shows I am gladly aware that the most holy Most High God is ever present with us.

Not false accusers (ESV “slanderers”). In my public work, I generally try to analyze teachings as compared to God’s Word, the Christian Scriptures.

I would never accuse anyone falsely on purpose, but in my private work, I tend to believe those who have been harmed.

Not given to much wine. Well, people tease me for it, but my “not much” is none.

Teachers of good things. Yes! I teach the beauty of the Christian life as lived in our Lord Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. These are very good things.

That they may teach the young women to be sober. Sober: “restored to one’s senses.” This is what the Untwisting Scriptures series is all about. I also wrote more about that here.

To love their husbands. I do want women to love their husbands. If their husbands are abusers, then here are some thoughts about the way to love them.

To love their children. Oh goodness yes. As I learn more about attachment and brain development I understand far more now as a grandparenting.

To be discreet. This means “being of a sound mind, sane, in one’s senses.” So much of my Untwisting Scriptures work is about that. This word also means “self-controlled, temperate.” I do have that opportunity when, for example, a woman wants help with a pornography addiction. As we work together we can see the Lord change those desires, attractions, and addictions as He draws near and she experiences the joy of His presence.

To be chaste. This means “pure from carnality.” Yes, this is one of my longings, in this increasingly “carnal” culture, for young women to be able to turn their hearts more fully toward the Lord Jesus Christ and be filled with His Spirit, resulting in increasing purity of heart and soul.

To be keepers at home. When home is a place of well being—that is, love and safety—what better place is there than home? It is my favorite place to be. Even if life circumstances mean that a woman cannot be at home as much as her heart desires, she can still have a heart to guard and keep the home. Yes, I do want to encourage this, very much.

To be good. I pray this be one of the heart cries of each younger woman who comes to me. “Lord, I want to be good.” Yes, this is possible in our Lord Jesus Christ!

To be submissive to their own husbands. “To have the attitude of voluntarily cooperating and assuming responsibility and burden bearing.” I do want to encourage this, and when a husband and wife practice teamwork as this word implies, it is a beautiful thing. When the husband is not a good man, or if he has a mental illness or disorder or other issue that makes him unsafe, I want to help younger women see how to get themselves and their children safe while still recognizing their husbands as individuals that our Lord God wants to redeem.

That the Word of God be not blasphemed. When I think of the “Word of God,” I first think of the Lord Jesus Christ. Our desire is that the Lord Jesus Christ not be evil spoken of. We want to shine forth His glory, power, and love in our lives. I pray that my life will always point others to Him.

 

Recently I posted some of my life journey on my Untwisting Scriptures Facebook page. Here is (a slightly edited version of) that story.

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Check out the girl in the white shirt and sweater. That’s me at the tender age of 19 in the spring of 1977, about a hundred years ago now.

That’s when I went to my first Bill Gothard “Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts” seminar, in large part because I had a slight crush on the guy who invited me. I managed to get there for all 30 or so hours, if I remember correctly.

And somehow, Bill Gothard was the most brilliant man I’d ever heard. I took my red notebook on our family vacation at the beach that summer and spent my hours reading over all the material again, causing my mother to be concerned about what had happened to me.

Brilliant. Just so brilliant. Here was the man who held the secrets of life.

I went back to the seminar again and again, because alumni get to attend free, and I knew a deal when I saw one. I was going to imbibe those teachings until they breathed out of me.

After I married, the only reason we didn’t become a completely immersed ATI (Gothard homeschooling) family is because my husband said no to it. He never bought into Gothard the way I had.

When he said no, I let the matter drop. I thought it would be too ironic for me to insist on doing something that was supposed to help me be a more submissive wife, when I would have to take matters into my own hands to do it.

Then in the 1990s my husband applied to work at Headquarters. If you have any background with Gothard, you know what “Headquarters” is.

How that happened is too long a story, but we were there, and we met Gothard and marveled about how short he was, and we stayed in the Corrie Ten Boom apartment.

I thought it would be a dream come true. The young people were so great! I was puzzled why the young women and young men never interacted with each other, but they were all so polite and pleasant I didn’t dwell on that question. Something about “not wanting to defraud,” which I didn’t understand, but I just shrugged and enjoyed the lively atmosphere.

My husband saw red flags that he didn’t fully get either, but he knew it wasn’t the place for him.

The red notebook was still on the shelf, but I never opened it anymore. I felt a little wistful that we weren’t an ATI family, but we carried on.

Then it went into the attic. And years rolled by. YEARS, I’m telling you. Decades, even. We raised our four children and homeschooled for 24 years.

Then social media came along.

Through friends in the Greenville, SC, area, I became aware of the sexual abuse investigation in the Bob Jones University world. Someone told me that as a child she had been told to “yield her rights.” Which meant horrible abuse.

I was so appalled. But I was also scrambling through my brain. It sounded familiar.

I pulled my red notebook out of the attic. There I found statements like this in my own handwriting: “When we get rid of our rights we will get rid of our anger.”

But now I was in my 50s, and life looked very different. (I had also spent many, many hours in the Scriptures.)

I began to speak out about the problems. But only on social media, not at Here’s the Joy.

“Keep Here’s the Joy separate from these abuses you’re seeing,” I told myself. “It’s a devotional blog, not a place to talk about abuse. Keep it separate. This isn’t the place for that.”

Sometimes I couldn’t help myself, like here. But for the most part, I tried to keep a lid on it.

But then in 2014, something happened.

Lack of logic and common sense, as it turns out, drives me a little nuts.

Taking Bible verses out of context does the same.

So then, imagine the crazy-making happening in my head when I was speaking up on social media in 2014 about abuse in the Bob Jones University world, and I found that the pushback I was getting (a LOT of it) was full of illogic and out-of-context Bible verses.

“That doesn’t make any sense,” I kept sputtering.

“That is NOT what that Bible verse is about,” I kept muttering.

After some time I came to what I might call an epiphany. “Christians don’t know the Bible. And Christians don’t think logically.” (Of course it wasn’t ALL Christians, but I was expressing what I felt like I was being surrounded with at the time.)

It took a while to wrap my head around it all.

On social media, as the Bob Jones University issue came to a head, I found that I had to keep responding to the same Bible verses so much that I wanted to make a website with a page of FQBVs (that’s Frequently Quoted Bible Verses, heh).

As I kept doggedly writing and responding, one friend said to me, “Rebecca I think your strength is analysis.” Well, that was a relief. It was good to find out I had a strength.

Eventually the responses to the FQBVs and illogic and other pushback went onto the now-dormant BJUGrace website. Eventually I started addressing sermons and writings.

At the time, I felt passionate to untwist some very particular twisted thinking for some friends of mine. I researched to find WHERE someone SURELY had addressed the concepts of “bitterness” and “rights” from a Biblical standpoint. (Not just said that it was wrong, but studied the whole thing in the Bible and laid it out.) I couldn’t find it ANYwhere.

I scoured the Recovering Grace website. Bill Gothard had originated or at least propelled these false teachings, so plenty of people were talking about them. But no one that I could find was actually taking these particular teachings back to the Scriptures . . . and to logic . . . to straighten them out.

Finally, like the Little Red Hen, I said, “I guess I’ll have to do it myself.”

So I did.

 

 

I did the same thing with the noxious concept of “not taking up offenses.” I saw some people saying it was wrong to “take up offenses,” but I couldn’t find where anyone had gone to the Bible with it and laid it all out Biblically.

I needed to do it myself. So I did.

All three of those untwistings became multiple blog posts first on the BJUGrace site, and then eventually a few of them went here, on my Here’s the Joy site, 2014 through early 2016.

And then I was urged to write a book about these things. I had been resisting that.

It wasn’t that I couldn’t or didn’t want to write—I was a writer. But I wrote nonfiction for children. I helped other people write nonfiction for adults.

I was not qualified to do this on my own, I said. I had no credentials, I said. This was not my job, I said. Someone else should do it, I said.

Blah, blah, blah.

Finally I said, “Yes, Lord, I’ll do it myself.”

So I did.

Right away, I knew what I wanted to call it: Untwisting Scriptures that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind.

But I remember thinking, as I worked on that book, sometimes through tears, “Nobody’s going to read this book. Who do I think I am trying to write a book like this? I am NO ONE. I have no credentials. I have no formal training. I have no following. I have no authority. Why would anyone read this book?”

In the back of my heart, I truly did long for that first book to be the first of a series, but I was so afraid it would be a complete failure and I would never write another that I didn’t put “Book 1” on it.

That was six years ago. I continue to receive grateful responses about Book 1, and I remember those lonely days writing and formatting and publishing that book.

If you’ve been following me for a few years (hardly anyone has been, lol), then you already know all this. If you’re new, that gives you a glimpse into how I got where I am now.

And not long ago my daughter asked me, “How many of these books are you going to write, Mama?”

I said, “Well, I could probably write a hundred.” So many twisted Scriptures. So little time.

That was exaggeration, of course, as well as physically impossible. But there could be a few more, for sure.

The fourth one just came out last month. All of them are written with very nearly as much toil and tears as the first. All of them are written with love.

And all of them are written with the groaning desire for the truth of who the true God really is, the true Lord Jesus Christ, to be manifest to His people.

He longs to gather His people to Himself, as a hen gathers her chicks.

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Oh my young friends, you think when you get old, the best life will be a coast downhill?

Follow Jesus, continue to learn of His goodness and love, commit to do hard things for Him as He leads, and you might just find that He says, “Come on, let’s go have an adventure!” You might find that He grabs you by your hand and starts racing. It won’t matter that your feet can’t keep up, because they’ll be flying out behind you like in the cartoons.

Well, maybe it won’t happen that way for you. But it has certainly felt that way for me.

Even as I am aware of great evil—dark, demonic, even satanic—I am also aware that our Most High God is good and loves to rescue the souls of those who look to Him for that rescue. In my own personal adventure of faith, I get to see that often. And for that, I praise Him.

That Time I Tried to Be Like George Mueller: Reflections on My 64th Birthday

Many thanks to those of you who met my birthday deadline for giving feedback on the first half of my new book Untwisting Scriptures that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind: Book 3 Your Words, Your Emotions. 

My blog subscribers are the ones who get offers to read early versions of my books. If you’d like to be included in these offers in the future, subscribe via the blue bar above.

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“You have to get up and eat something. You can’t go on like this.” Continue reading “That Time I Tried to Be Like George Mueller: Reflections on My 64th Birthday”

Reflections on My 63rd Birthday: The Box of Things I Don’t Know What to Do With

I’ve found that it takes me about four years to be ready to blog about something hard in my life. So here we are.

Four years ago my birthday blog post was called “A Warrior’s Tale.” Of the few pieces of creative writing I’ve done, it might be my favorite (even if all its Facebook “Likes” have been removed).

Maybe that’s because I know what was behind it. That piece of work was born through retching sobs.

My birthday post has been an annual tradition since my blog started in 2009, and in 2016 I was ahead of the game, having already written one for it in July.

Then came August 2016. Continue reading “Reflections on My 63rd Birthday: The Box of Things I Don’t Know What to Do With”

Reflections on My 62nd Birthday: “What if Your Life Were Written as a Story?”

The question

I’ve spoken in a number of Christian school chapels over the years. As a professional storyteller I’d speak in chapel with a true story from one of my missionary books, and then as the “visiting author” I’d go around to the classrooms and answer questions.

One of the questions I’d often get was this: “If your life were written as a story, what would you want it to say?”

(A student would ask it, but I always had a sneaking suspicion that it was a teacher who came up with the question.)

My reply would consistently be, “Oh, I’d never want my life to be written as a story. My life is way too boring.” Continue reading “Reflections on My 62nd Birthday: “What if Your Life Were Written as a Story?””

Reflections On My 61st Birthday: “Why Don’t I Ever Meet Those People?”

In the early- to mid-1990s, we sat in our first church small group. (We’d been wanting small groups in our previous independent Baptist church, but the pastor wouldn’t allow them.)

This first one for us was at Bean Blossom Mennonite Church—which I’ve blogged about before, here—the church with the “Strangers Expected” sign over the front door, the church where the entire congregation sang in four-part harmony, the first church I joined where the women wore pants, where I couldn’t possibly bring myself or allow my daughter to do the same, a now-embarrassing memory that I can perhaps explore one day in a therapist’s chair. Continue reading “Reflections On My 61st Birthday: “Why Don’t I Ever Meet Those People?””

Reflections on My 60th Birthday: Reframing My Name

Sixty years is one of those zero milestones, you know. So I’m remembering.

I remember that as a young person I didn’t like my name. My sisters had names that meant “lady,” “little lamb,” and “princess.” My name? It meant “snare” or “restraint” or “binding.”

Great. Just great. It was some sort of curse, I thought. I had visions of deep dark pits with nets over them and bear claw traps and little bunnies with broken legs.

My mother tried to help me “reframe” the meaning of my name to see it as my “snaring” men with my beauty . . . but especially to a shy and awkward teenager, that just made me feel over the top uncomfortable.

But then in college a young man gave me a wise word, a word of hope about my name.

“I looked it up,” he said. “It means ‘snare’ or ‘fetter.’”

I shrugged slightly and looked down. “I know.”

He pressed on. “It reminded me of this song.”

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be.
Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.

 I looked at him as if he had just given me a precious gift.

He added, “So I see you kind of like a fetter to help bind people’s hearts to God.”

He couldn’t have possibly said anything to encourage me more. I don’t know where he is today, but if I could I would thank him, even now forty years later.

As I’ve become more aware of spiritual darkness and the spiritual battles that rage in the heavenlies—especially in interactions with two or three particular friends who are sex trafficking survivors—I’ve been learning more about how important it is for the hearts of those who have been shattered to be sealed—bound, held, even fettered—for His courts above.

This sealing for His courts above is impossible to accomplish through coercion or manipulation or threats. Instead, it is accomplished through love, and the loving offer of the Kingdom of God through Jesus Christ.

It’s also accomplished through warfare prayer against the powers of darkness, something I’m still learning about. (In some ways I still feel like such a child.)

But the meaning of my name comes back to me.

Some people have been bound with ropes of lies, threats, confusion, and trauma. (In some cases physical ropes have been used, but some abusers are so expert at their mental manipulation that they don’t need those.) They have been bound and fettered with an identity—a name—that has cursed them and held them in bondage to darkness.

The rope with the millstone attached with which Jesus threatened anyone who hurt one of His little ones? Well, the ones who were hurt as little ones might sometimes think that they’re the ones who deserve to have that millstone tied around their own necks. . . . For no other reason than that they have been bound up with lies.

Instead of the binding of death, they need to know that the binding available to them is a binding of life, and life more abundant.

A couple of years ago as I was praying over this very kind of situation, an old song came to mind that reminded me of the song that reframed my name.

I’ve found a Friend, O such a Friend; He loved me ere I knew Him,

He drew me with His cords of love and thus He bound me to Him.
For round my heart so closely twine those ties that none can sever
For I am His and He is mine for ever and for ever.

When I told one of my sex trafficking survivor friends about these songs and the meaning of my name—“reframed”—she reminded me of Psalm 147:3. “He heals the brokenhearted [the Hebrew language implies broken in the context of violence] and binds up their wounds.” She observed that the binding is intrinsic to the healing.

Then she was reminded of Hosea 11:3-4, which says,

Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love
.

“He came to bind the brokenhearted,” she said. “And He uses people to help with that.”

My name is Rebecca, and I am sixty years old. I look around at a house that is comfortably cluttered that no longer seems like a Goliath. I know now that there are far bigger Goliaths to face.   

My name is Rebecca, and I am sixty years old. I still make ministry-related mistakes all the time—made another one just this past week—but my heart’s desire is through love to provide a sealing, binding, and fettering for the courts above of our great Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.

My name is Rebecca, and I am sixty years old. I connect with younger women through something called “social media” that thirty years ago wasn’t even imagined. I sit with them to hear stories that thirty years ago I didn’t even know existed. I remind them of a love of God that thirty years ago I myself wasn’t fully aware of. I cry out to God for an empowerment by the Holy Spirit that thirty years ago I didn’t even understand was available to me.

My name is Rebecca. I will not be ashamed to say it. I am a fetter. I am a binding. I am one who seals. I am a cord of love.

Reflections on My 59th Birthday: A Warrior’s Tale

“You have said you are Incapable?” He stood tall, looking down on her.

“Yes,” she stammered. “That’s my name.” She pulled a wisp of hair from her eye where it had stuck because of her tears.

He responded simply. “Your new name is Warrior.”

Her eyes darted up to His. Was that kindness she saw there, or was He laughing at her?

“It doesn’t fit,” she replied with a slight shrug and looked down. How could His garment be so white, so shining?

breastplate of righteousnessIt appeared that He hadn’t heard her. From out of somewhere, He produced Continue reading “Reflections on My 59th Birthday: A Warrior’s Tale”

Reflections on My 58th Birthday: Found Faithful

In January of this past year, I completed the marathon of 24 years of homeschooling. And yes, that is every bit as big a deal as it sounds, and I’ll add that all my homeschooled kiddos are surviving the Real World and, as far as I can tell, they’re overcoming all the things I did wrong.

Two weeks ago today, our number three out of four was married. Continue reading “Reflections on My 58th Birthday: Found Faithful”

Reflections on my 57th Birthday: Stepping Heavenward

Stepping HeavenwardWhen I was sixteen, my mother put an ancient plain-covered hardback book in my hands, wanting me to read it. It had the most boring title ever, Stepping Heavenward. This was her book when she was young, she said.

I groaned inwardly. Did I mention that it was ancient? And how could a book possibly have a more boring title? I assumed it was an ancient devotional book, and devotional books and I had never gotten along. Continue reading “Reflections on my 57th Birthday: Stepping Heavenward”

Reflections on My 56th Birthday: Thoughts About Moving Into the Basement

Four years ago on this day, September 5th, 2009, I wrote my first “Reflections” piece on my blog. I mentioned something about a bleak financial picture and downsizing.

The fact of the matter was that that morning—the morning of my fifty-second birthday, we had told our children that we would be moving into our basement. Continue reading “Reflections on My 56th Birthday: Thoughts About Moving Into the Basement”