Instructing the Next Generation of Wives and Moms
About the Guest
What will your daughters remember as your best advice to them? Will it be a recipe? Or will it be instruction in achieving a life of meaning and purpose? Join Barbara Rainey as she shares wisdom from letters she wrote to her daughters.
Barbara RaineyAfter graduating from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, Barbara joined the staff of Cru® in 1971. With her husband Dennis, whom she married in 1972, the Rainey’s cofounded FamilyLife®, a ministry committed to helping marriages and families survive and thrive in our generation. Barbara is a frequent speaker and guest on FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s award-winning nationally-syndicated daily radio broadcast. She is the author or coauthor of...more
What will your daughters remember as your best advice to them? Join Barbara Rainey as she shares wisdom from letters she wrote to her daughters.
Instructing the Next Generation of Wives and Moms
Bob: If your goal is to be a godly wife, do you ever find yourself crushed by comparison? Here’s Barbara Rainey.
Barbara: I remember, years ago, going to church on Sunday morning. There was always a couple that seemed to always walk in and have it together. She seemed to always be perfectly dressed.
All of us women struggle with that; don’t we? We struggle with comparison. We struggle with looking at other women and thinking that they have it together, and “I don’t.” We struggle with looking at other marriages and thinking, “Their marriage is better.” But God doesn’t want us to look at other people. He wants us to look at Him and get our marching orders from Him, not from other people.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, August 30th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey. I'm Bob Lepine. How do you deal with the comparison monster, as a wife? How do you tame it or dismiss it from your thinking altogether? We’ll spend some time thinking about that today with Barbara Rainey. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Tuesday edition. I’m trying to do the math here and figure out just how many daughters Barbara has at this point; because she wrote this book, Letters to My Daughters, and—well, we have 40,000-plus who have bought a copy.
Dennis: Oh, yes! [Laughter]
Bob: So, I guess everyone who’s buying the book is a newly-minted in daughter; right?
Dennis: That’s a good idea!
You know, she wrote the book originally for our six daughters.
Dennis: We have a couple grafted in through marriage—so two daughters-in-law come to us through our sons.
Actually, the book was written and dedicated to Marsha Kay Rainey, just out of her requesting Barbara to give her some coaching / write her some letters. That started Barbara thinking and researching a little bit. When my wife gets on an idea—even if it does take her ten years—she can execute! She’s efficient no matter how long it takes!
Bob: She wrote this with your daughters in mind. At the time she wrote it, only five of your six daughters and daughters-in-law were married. Now, the sixth one is engaged. Has she read the book?—the engaged daughter?
Dennis: You know, that’s a good question.
Bob: We need to find out.
Dennis: Should we call? She’s working here today. Let’s find out if Laura has read it.
Bob: Because she’s getting married here in a few weeks.
Dennis: Get her on the phone, Keith.
Bob: Let’s see if we can find out if she’s read the book.
Laura: [via phone] Dad!
Dennis: Are you there?
Laura: I’m here.
Dennis: We’re in the studio, and Bob just asked me a very thorny question.
Laura: Oh no; Bob, you—Bob.
Bob: We’re about to hear Part Two of a message from your mom, where she’s talking about themes from her book, Letters to My Daughters. I said: “I’m sure the married daughters have read it, but what about the engaged daughter? Has she read the book yet or not?”
Dennis: And I said: “Of course! I mean, Laura—you know, Laura would have read every page and probably been through it two or three times by now.
Dennis: “She’s getting married here in another two months. She’s on it, Bob! She’s nailed it!”
Bob: Actually, what he said is: “I don’t know. Let’s call her.” [Laughter]
Laura: Yes. Well, I am the model daughter. Everyone knows that—waited the longest to get married. So why not wait the longest to read it? [Laughter] Just kidding!
Bob: So, what have you—are you halfway through / you read a few chapters? Where are you?
Dennis: Have you read the Introduction, sweetheart?
Laura: No, I’ve actually read quite a bit of it.
I started reading it prior to getting engaged, after Mom gave it to me. I think I may have stopped right before Chapter Six.
Dennis: But don’t read the part on sex.
Bob: That’s Chapter Six.
Laura: That’s Chapter Six.
Dennis: Yes; don’t—skip that until later; okay?
Laura: Well, yes.
Bob: Even later—I want to talk to you about it later. I just want to know what it’s like to read what your mom has to say about that, as a daughter.
Laura: About sex—right.
Dennis: No, no; about being a wife! [Laughter]
Laura: What I think about being a wife. I was like: “I don’t know—this just feels a little bit…” Well, another thing, too—Bob and Dad—is that I watched and/or listened to the interview from Nancy Leigh DeMoss—Wolgemuth, actually.
Laura: And Dad said, “Oh, I didn’t know you told that story!” So then I was like, “Okay; we’re shutting it down. [Laughter] We’ll go ahead and shut it down.” But yes, I read quite a bit of it.
I mean, I read it for lots of reasons / for many reasons; but were you going to ask me something specific about it?
Bob: This is not a quiz. We’re just trying to gauge who’s read it and who hasn’t, because I said to your dad, at the beginning of today’s program, that by this point your mom has about 40,000 daughters—
Bob: —because that’s about how many have read the book.
Bob: You just happen to be one of the biologically-related daughters.
Laura: That’s exactly right. Honestly though, I love it for a lot of—obviously, a lot of reasons. I’m so proud of my mom for writing it. I mean, it took her ten years to write it; but it’s not only beautiful and lovely, there’s just so much wisdom in it. I think our culture has lost the art of finding older women and having those women invest in younger women’s lives.
We think we may do a really good job of it when, you know, the kids are in high school or in middle school—talking to them and speaking into their lives in that way / in those formidable years—but I think it’s super valuable to find older women and to find people who will speak into your life even in your 20s and your 30s.
I feel like this book—for those women who may not be able to find someone through their church to speak into their lives—I really feel like this book is that treasure for them—just good wisdom / good nuggets of truth—and not a preachy sort of way, but practical like “The Bookend Principle.” I use that all the time with my fiancé—I’m like, “We have to follow-up with a positive…” [Laughter]
That’s even translated into everyday relationships—work relationships / friendships—I mean, it’s not just specific to marriage relationships. I would encourage women, even if you are single, to look up the book and to get it and to—you know, you can pick and choose which chapters you read—and just prepare. I mean, maybe you’ll be a wife someday, and maybe you won’t; but I think it’s valuable at any stage.
Bob: Well, I’ll tell you what—our listeners are going to get a chance to hear some of your mom’s wisdom, because we’re going to play Part Two of a message where she was speaking to a roomful of wives about their assignment. So let’s pull that in. Thank you, Laura, for joining us.
Laura: Yes; of course!
Bob: Here’s Laura’s mom, Barbara, talking about the importance of perseverance as a wife.
Barbara: The second thing I want to talk to you about this morning, after the necessity of the Holy Spirit in your life, is the necessity of listening to the music of your individual marriage. Ephesians 5:32—talks about marriage being a mystery. I don’t know about you—but that’s a great word to describe it for me, because marriage is very mysterious. There are a lot of things about marriage that I simply do not understand, and I don’t think I ever will.
But God intends for it to be that way so that I have to trust Him as the Author, and the Artist, and the Composer, and the Choreographer of my marriage so that I will trust Him; because He created it and He designed it.
God has intended each unique combination of two people to proclaim a one-of-a-kind story that reflects a different facet of who He is. What He wants you to do is what only you and your husband can do. Figure out what that is that God wants you to do that’s unique to you, as a couple. He’s planted you on this planet to accomplish something that only you can do.
And let me give you three suggestions on this. First of all, every couple has a unique calling, and I just made mention of that. God has taken all of us, as individuals—we have different personalities, and our different kids, and different combinations of children and interests to help us reflect the multi-faceted picture of the Trinity.
We need to find out what our purpose is—what God has put us here to do.
Secondly, every couple has unique challenges. Not only do we have gifts, and we have talents, and we have the positive qualities, but all of us have brokenness. All of us have weaknesses / all of us have challenges that are going to make our marriage different than anyone else’s marriage on the planet.
Then third, every couple struggles with unhealthy comparison. I remember, years ago, going to church on Sunday morning. There was always a couple that sat on the other side of the aisle that, for whatever reason, I noticed them. They weren’t really good friends. They seemed to always walk in and have it together. She seemed to always be perfectly dressed. They only had three kids, and I had six, but that didn’t matter to me, because I looked at them and thought—I thought they had it together. I didn’t think they struggled with learning disabilities, and sibling rivalry, and allergies, and all the stuff that we struggled with because, from afar, they looked perfectly fine to me.
All of us women struggle with that; don’t we? We struggle with comparison. We struggle with looking at other women and thinking that they have it together, and “I don’t.” We struggle with looking at other marriages and thinking, “Their marriage is better.” We look at other husbands and think, “He seems like an awfully good guy, and my husband is not.” But God doesn’t want us to look at other people. He wants us to look at Him and get our marching orders from Him, not from other people.
Every marriage has a purpose, and that purpose is to reflect God’s love and His relationship to a watching world. First of all, you’re to reflect that purpose to your children / those of you who are grandparents, to your grandchildren—they’re watching you. They’re watching your marriage / they’re watching your relationship.
But then God wants us to reflect who He is through our marriages to our friends, and neighbors, and extended family, and even strangers. God has a great purpose for our marriages, and He wants to use you and your husband to accomplish good in your community.
Then last, I want to talk to you about this—and that is number three: The Necessity of Never Quitting / The Necessity of Never Quitting. I have learned that God will be faithful to give me what I need in every situation, no matter how hard it is / no matter how inconvenient it might be at the time. God will give me what I need if I will ask Him. The problem is—I don’t always ask Him. I’m too much of a Martha. I try to fix it on my own / I try to find answers on my own. Too often I try to take care of it myself, and I don’t go to God and ask Him what He wants me to do.
But He will be faithful to give me what I need / He will be faithful to give you what you need. He will help us rise above any challenge if we are teachable and don’t quit.
Every marriage will have repeated difficulties, with repeated opportunities to give up—and to either quit, as in divorce, or to retreat in a truce. You don’t have to get a divorce to quit on your marriage. You can quit on your marriage and stay married; but when you quit on your marriage and stay married, you’re not being teachable and you’re not becoming all that God wanted you to be. That’s really easy to do—is to quit and stay married. But God doesn’t want us to do that either. No marriage is immune from wanting to quit. No matter what age you are, there are going to be temptations to want to quit on your marriage.
I want to mention a word about sex, too; because no book on marriage can be complete unless there’s a chapter on sex. I have one in my book too.
When my girls were growing up, there was a movie that we watched—the movie was about Mary Lennox and The Secret Garden. I loved watching that movie with my girls, and I loved reading that book with them. It’s about a little girl named Mary, who was orphaned and sent to live with her uncle in a great, big mansion in England, probably not unlike Downton Abbey.
This little girl Mary was living in this huge, huge house. There was nobody to play with—so she would wander the halls and go back into dark rooms. Then she would explore the grounds. One day when she was out exploring the grounds, she found this walled area that was covered with weeds. One day, she found a way to get in that door. When she opened the door, inside was this garden; but the garden was all in disrepair. There were branches broken off of the tree, and there were weeds and things piled up in the corner. It was a mess, but Mary saw the potential of what it could become.
It became her mission to clean up that secret garden and to make it beautiful again. Every day, she would sneak away, and she would go to that garden, and she would unlock that door, and she would go inside, and she would work on cleaning up that garden.
I talk about that in this chapter, because sex in marriage is a lot like the secret garden. It’s supposed to be a place that’s protected. It’s supposed to be a place that is safe, and it’s a place that is only enjoyed by the two of you in marriage. It’s supposed to be beautiful.
But like Mary Lennox’s secret garden, many of us enter our marriages, and many of us even in marriage, having secret gardens that are not beautiful. There are a lot of broken places. There are a lot of things that need to be fixed. Even here, our temptation, as wives, many times, is to quit. I know a lot of women who are in the middle season of their lives, who have quit on sex in their marriages.
They’ve decided: “Been there and done that. I’ve done it enough.” Whatever their thinking is—they’ve resigned and they’ve given up on that area of their marriage too. But I want to encourage you—all of you—not to give up on this area of your marriage either.
I want to read you a little piece that I wrote about a conversation that Dennis and I had a number of years ago:
Dennis and I had another thorny conversation about sex.
Sometimes, when we have conversations about sex, it feels like that—they’re thorny. They’re hard conversations. They hurt / they’re painful.
But instead of getting stuck by the same things we’d said dozens of times before, with no resolution,—
Did you hear that? We talked about it lots of times, and lots of times we didn’t have solutions.
—this time…He asked if I would explain to him what I meant when I said, “I sometimes feel confused about our sex life.”
He showed genuine interest when he said, “I’d like to hear more about what you think and what you really mean by that.” I said I hadn’t really thought about it / “I’m not really sure what I mean by that.” And since we were driving in the car to visit a friend in another town, we had plenty of time to dig into that and to talk about what that meant for both of us. As a result, we had greater understanding, in the end, than we’d ever had before. We heard each other at a deeper level, and the Lord stripped away those particular thorns in our relationship.
I don’t know what this area of our marriage is going to be like in ten years. I have no idea—I’ve never been there. But I do know that God will be there in five years or ten years; because He has promised to be with me, and He’s promised never to leave me or forsake me. No matter what we face in five years, He will still be there—or in ten years.
In sex or in any other area of our marriage, He’s going to be present. If I go to Him, He will help me, by His Holy Spirit, to do what He wants me to do in our marriage.
One of the things that I love most about God is that He loves to redeem. When He has the opportunity to do some kind of redemption work in our heart, I think He just delights over that; because He loves to redeem His people. It’s why Jesus came—Jesus gave His life to redeem us. God wants to continue that redemptive work—day after day after day—changing those hard places, helping us be open with our husbands, helping us be more real, helping us be more transparent—all of that is God’s redemptive work in our lives.
One of my very favorite verses in the Bible—and has been for many, many years—is
Luke 1:37. That’s the story of Mary after she had the visit from Gabriel. Gabriel told her that she was going to bear Jesus. She was just bewildered, and overwhelmed, and confused. And she said to Gabriel, “How can this be? How can this be?”
Have you ever said that in your marriage? “How can this be? How can I figure this out? How can I survive this difficulty? How can I get through this? How can I manage this?”
Gabriel answered Mary and he said to her, “Nothing is impossible with God.” No matter how hard your situation feels, no matter how difficult, no matter what you have done / what your husband has done—nothing is too hard for God. What I love so much about God is He didn’t just say that one time in the Bible. He said it eight times in the Bible. I need to be reminded of that every day and more—that nothing is too hard for God.
Nothing is too difficult / nothing is impossible; because there are so many seasons in marriage when it feels difficult or it feels impossible. I, as a woman, need to remember that nothing is too hard for God.
I’m going to tell you this real quickly to illustrate this. If you had gone to Paris and you purchased a ticket to go on a tour of the Louvre Museum—the Louvre Museum is one of the most famous art museums in the entire world. As you were standing in line, and before you went in, there was an earthquake; it wasn’t a terribly bad earthquake. They opened the doors, and you went on into the Louvre, and you walked around in the Louvre.
But you noticed that on the floors in all these different gallery rooms were paintings and sculptures all over the floors. They were broken / they were damaged because of the earthquake. Half of them were on the floor and half were on the wall.
That’s a picture of the divorce statistics today. We look at all the ones on the floor and we think, “There’s no hope!” But we forget about the ones that are on the wall that are still displaying the glory of God.
So my challenge to you is—I want every marriage in this room to be a portrait of God Himself, through you and your husband. I want to encourage you to stay on the wall, where God can use you to proclaim who He is to the watching world.
Bob: Well again, we’ve been listening today to Part Two of a message from Barbara Rainey about a wife’s assignment—a lot of this material found in a book that Barbara has written called Letters to My Daughters on The Art of Being a Wife. It’s a book that we have in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. I’d encourage our listeners to go to FamilyLifeToday.com and find out more about the book.
Dennis: The book has only been out for six or seven months. It would still be considered a new book; wouldn’t it, Bob?
Bob: I think so.
Dennis: First year of print.
Barbara’s talking about how love doesn’t quit; and Paul writes about that in 1Corinthians, Chapter 13—he says: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things. Love never ends.” It doesn’t mean it doesn’t get tested. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t get hard. Doesn’t mean things are just going to flow smoothly to the finish line, but it does mean that you have to hang in there. You have to ask God, “Will You give me the strength to represent Your love for my husband?”—or if you’re a husband listening to us—“…for my wife?” and express the love of Christ for her.
If you haven’t visited the book of 1 Corinthians recently, take a look at it and read all of Chapter 13.
Just take a look and then ask yourself, “How am I measuring up as a great lover of my spouse?” That’s what Barbara’s after, Bob, when she calls women not to quit and go the distance—it’s to hang in there and keep loving.
Bob: Well, and to know how to do it—to go the distance, not just gritting your teeth and enduring, but to go the distance with joy—that’s what Barbara’s helping wives to do in the book that she’s written, Letters to My Daughters: The Art of Being a Wife. If you don’t already have a copy, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. You can order from us online, or you can call to order 1-800-FL-TODAY—-800-358-6329. Again, the website—FamilyLifeToday.com—the title of the book is Letters to My Daughters from Barbara Rainey.
Dennis: And Bob, I just want to step back in. I want to say, “Thanks,” for all those who are donors to FamilyLife Today—Legacy Partners / monthly donors to FamilyLife.
You make this broadcast possible on this station.
This is the end of the month of August. That’s our yearend as a ministry. If you haven’t given this year—I know it’s close to the last day of the month but not the last day of the year—would you consider a gift? We’re running a little behind in the number of people that we’ve heard from this year, and this would be timely here as we finish our yearend in August. Just want you to know: “Thank you,” if you do and “Thank you for listening.” We’re here for you and your marriage and family—but also for a lot of others / billions of others, both here in America and in more than three dozen countries around the world in multiple languages. FamilyLife Today is heard all over, and the sun doesn’t set on this broadcast.
Bob: You can go online at FamilyLifeToday.com to make an online donation.
You can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate, or mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; and our zip code is 72223.
And tomorrow, we’re going to hear a conversation that took place between your wife, and Ann Wilson, and Lysa TerKeurst—all about being a wife. I got a chance to ask some of the questions. I hope our listeners will tune in to hear that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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