2007 at 1:11 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Series Girl to Girl Talk Interviews
Today I want to turn to a topic that is close to both our hearts—biblical womanhood.
Nancy, you have strong convictions about the importance of biblical womanhood. Was this always the case? Why do you think this is such an urgent topic today?
Theologically, I always had strong convictions, because I believe the Scripture is so plain on this subject. However, on a personal and emotional level, that was not always easy for me to embrace. As a young woman, I so wanted to be used by the Lord to proclaim His Word, and felt deep down that if I had been a man, perhaps I could have done that more freely.
The Lord graciously began to help me understand more of His calling and purpose for women and the ways I could distinctively reflect His glory as a woman.
As a single woman, what do you think is most important for single women to understand about biblical womanhood?
Regardless of our marital status, we were made to glorify God and to reflect Him to our world.
God has made women to be bearers and nurturers of life—we can do that whether or not He chooses to give us husbands and physical children.
If a woman has a contented, grateful heart, she will experience joy, regardless of her circumstances (or marital status). If she does not have a contented, grateful heart, there is no circumstance (or marital status) that can make her happy.
How do you personally cultivate feminine qualities commanded in Scripture in your unique role of public speaker and leader of a ministry?
I am intentional about being in accountable relationships and submitting myself to others in the Body of Christ. I look for opportunities and appropriate ways to come under the spiritual covering and protection of godly men—sitting under the preaching of the Word and being responsive to the spiritual leadership of the pastors and elders in my local church; seeking counsel, direction, and input from the director of our parent ministry and from the Advisory Board that oversees Revive Our Hearts.
I am blessed to have mature believers—women, couples, and men—who care for my soul and are committed to speak into my life, to help me see blind spots, and to call me to repentance as needed.
Though I can’t do it as much or as often as I would like, I love opportunities to practice hospitality in my home and look for ways to have a more personal, nurturing role in the lives of women, children, and families that the Lord brings into my life.
2007 at 10:51 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
Series Girl to Girl Talk Interviews
Yesterday we learned about your growing up years and how God drew you to Himself and gave you a passion for ministry at an early age. Today you serve in many different arenas—writing, speaking, etc. Can you give us an overview of how you currently spend most of your time? What aspect of ministry do you enjoy most or get most excited about?
My time is divided between preparing and recording for daily radio, writing books and other resources, doing some speaking, and providing leadership for the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.
I love the variety of ways He has allowed me to serve Him and others. I consider it a great privilege to spend much of my time studying the Word, getting my own soul nourished, and then feeding others with the rich meat of His Word.
What is a “typical” day like for Nancy DeMoss?
Except for when I’m on the road speaking, etc., I spend the majority of my time sitting at my laptop, studying, developing new message material, writing, or working on email (which is a blessing, but can also be the single greatest distraction in my relationship with the Lord!).
Because I am single and work out of my home, I can generally work “two shifts” – in order to do that, I usually take a short nap in the afternoon!
I know that you work extremely hard. What are some of your favorite ways to rest and relax?
I love to read; I have a walking partner who pulls me away from my laptop; the Lord has placed some wonderful women and couples in my life who are a source of encouragement and grace; I love doing things with families—my friends’ children, some of whom I’ve known all their lives, are now having their own children—which makes me feel like a “Grandma”—I love it! A couple years ago, I started observing “computer-free Sundays”—that has been a wonderful and replenishing gift from the Lord—I only wish I had started years earlier!
How has your relatively new role as host of Revive our Hearts radio changed your life? What do you enjoy most about radio? What do you least enjoy?
The requirements of coming up with 260 programs every year, in addition to meeting publishing deadlines, developing new resources, and leading a growing ministry have forced me to be more disciplined.
I have a constant, conscious sense of my need for the Lord—that I can’t make it apart from Him (that’s a good thing!). I have seen more of my weaknesses and experienced more of His strength . . . more of my sinfulness and more of His grace. I’ve learned a lot (and am still learning!) about relinquishing control and letting the Lord and others manage things.
As a result of seeing Him come through on my behalf and the ministry’s behalf again and again and again (we call them “Red Sea moments”), I have even more reason to trust Him and less reason to doubt Him or to panic or be anxious in the midst of storms. Not that I never doubt or panic—I do! But my heart is steadied as I remember His faithfulness over these past six years.
The two things I most love about the radio ministry are (1) the times I’m actually recording new teaching programs (which I do with a live audience)—after all the hard work of preparation is behind me. I sometimes think as I’m teaching, “This is what I was made to do!” (2) Getting to meet and hear from the women whose hearts and homes have been revived as they have heard and responded to the message we are delivering. Though I do not have physical children of my own, the Lord has blessed me with many spiritual children—I have no greater joy than to know that they walk in the Truth.
2007 at 2:08 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Series Girl to Girl Talk Interviews
Today, we are excited to offer the first installment of a four-part interview with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy, you were raised in a godly home. Can you tell us a little about your parents, your growing up years, and how your childhood shaped your desire to serve full-time in Christian ministry?
How old were you when you repented of your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ? Can you tell us a little about your conversion experience?
[I combined these two questions into one long answer.]
My spiritual pilgrimage began months before I was born, as my parents dedicated me to the Lord and purposed to teach me (and the six children that would follow) the Word and ways of God.
Much as a greenhouse is designed to nurture young plants and protect them from influences that might damage their tender roots, the climate of our home was carefully controlled to minimize influences that could possibly be unwholesome (we did not own a television or take a paper, for example) and to provide constant nurture in the Word of God.
In that spiritual climate, the Spirit of God cultivated the soil of my heart, making it tender and responsive to His wooing, and making me aware of my need for a Savior. My earliest conscious memory is trusting Christ as my Savior at the age of four on May 14, 1963. (At the time, my parents were using a book called Leading Little Ones to God in our family devotions. This book is a chronological, doctrinal survey of the Scripture; it is still in print and is a great resource for parents with young children.)
Early in my Christian life, I learned about one of the most essential ingredients in nurturing a personal relationship with the Lord, as I became aware that my father began each day with a practice that he called “devotions.” From shortly after his conversion in his mid 20s, until the day he went to heaven, he never missed one single day of this devotional practice. Nothing was more important to him than cultivating his relationship with the Lord, and he believed strongly that nothing was more essential to maintaining that relationship than a daily time alone with the Lord in the Word and prayer.
Daily devotions was not something my parents forced on us, but the influence of my dad’s example and training in this area was profound. The image of my dad on his knees before the Lord is indelibly etched on my mind and in my heart.
My early years were also deeply impacted by reading biographies of great men and women of God and by meeting and interacting with godly believers and Christian workers that my parents hosted in our home. I loved to sit and listen to them talk about the Lord, to ask them questions, and to hear them pray. The Spirit used these two influences to give me a passion for Christ and for ministry.
You pursued music—piano performance—in college. What did you want to do with your life? How did you begin serving in ministry instead?
By the time I was six or seven years old, I had a conscious sense that God’s hand was on my life and that He had set me apart to serve Him. Although I had no idea what shape that calling would take, I have never been able to fathom doing anything other giving my life to further His Kingdom.
Early on, the Lord provided opportunities for me to serve Him and others. I taught my first Sunday School lesson when I was eight years old. From the time I was in junior high school, I began having regular opportunities to teach the Word—which I loved to do. All the way through high school and college, I made myself available to serve as the Lord opened doors. Most of those opportunities had to do with teaching or writing.
I studied piano from the time I was four and continued doing so through college. But much of my time in high school and college was spent in various types of ministry. God never wastes experiences—the disciplines, training, and sensitivity I received through my music studies have all been put to great use in the work to which He has called me.
Can you tell us about your early years with Life Action Ministries?
As a young teen, as a result of reading accounts of spiritual awakenings in the past—both in history and in the Scripture, God placed in my heart a deep burden for genuine, Spirit-wrought revival in the church. But I didn’t know anyone else who seemed to understand or share that burden.
When I graduated from college, I went to work in the children’s ministries of a large local church. That is where I first connected with Life Action, at the age of 20. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when I discovered a whole ministry that was devoted to the mission of believing God for revival in the church!
I have served with Life Action for more than 28 years—it has been a rich, rewarding relationship—a wonderful place for spiritual growth, encouragement, accountability, and partnering in ministry with like-hearted believers who take God seriously.
2007 at 8:39 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
Series Girl to Girl Talk Interviews
I first met Nancy Leigh DeMoss at a Family Life/Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood conference in March 2000. She probably does not remember our first conversation, but I will never forget it. We were walking to one of the sessions together and I asked her a question about her schedule—which to say the least was very full and demanding (and still is!). After a few moments of sharing, she turned and looked at me with tears in her eyes and said: “Isn’t it such a wonderful privilege to serve our Savior?” I was immediately struck by her sincere love for Jesus Christ, and as I’ve had the privilege of getting to know her better, her passion for our Savior has only become more obvious. Her love for God is displayed by a commitment to personal holiness and dedicated service to the body of Christ. No doubt many of you are already familiar with Nancy’s ministry and radio show, Revive Our Hearts, and I’m so glad you’ll have a chance to get to know her a little better through this interview. So grab your coffee cup and let’s sit down for a chat with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
I was born in East Orange, New Jersey.
One of the best “spiritual” books I’ve ever read (besides the Bible) is Fenelon’s The Seeking Heart; Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret . . . (I am a huge consumer of biographies!).
A “non-spiritual” book I enjoyed reading was David McCullough’s John Adams and 1776.
Right now I am (re-)reading Amy Carmichael’s The Gold Cord—an inspiring look at the principles that undergirded her ministry. I have found her insights extremely helpful and challenging as I seek to build our ministry on a godly (rather than a worldly) foundation. During Lent, I read F.W. Krummacher’s The Suffering Savior – wow! God used that book in a powerful way to give me a fresh picture of my sinfulness and to deepen my sense of need and my adoration for His atoning sacrifice and redeeming grace.
I’ve watched ____________movie more times than any other. Don’t laugh—I enjoy Pollyanna . . . I love the way her grateful spirit transforms her world – and it reminds me that I don’t want to become like the cantankerous older woman in the story!
The music you’re most likely to find me listening to is simple, quiet, instrumental hymns/familiar choruses.
My favorite food is anything high carb – pizza, pasta, breads, potatoes—all the stuff you’re not supposed to eat!
In the morning I drink… I pretty much stick with water—morning, noon, and night. I know—boring!
The household chore I most enjoy is…Is running the dishwasher a household chore?
If I have free time, you’ll most likely find me having dinner with friends; reading; playing Text Twist on my laptop; doing jigsaw puzzles.
My favorite place in the world is home!
A Bible verse I return to often is “And Mary said to the angel, ‘How will this be? . . . . And the angel answered her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you . . .’” (Luke 1:34-35)
The woman I most want to be like is Mary of Nazareth—I love her heart in responding to God’s supernatural calling on her life: “I am the Lord’s handmaiden; may it be to me according to Your word” (Luke 1:38)
2007 at 2:36 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Series Girl to Girl Talk Interviews
We’re pleased to have Noël Piper back with us for the third and final portion of our interview.
As I mentioned yesterday, Noël, you have a writing gift, which you have sought to use for the benefit of the church. You have written the children’s book, Most of All, Jesus Loves You!, as well as Treasuring God in Our Traditions, and most recently Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God.
First of all, I want to ask you about Treasuring God in Our Traditions. Why do you think this topic is so important?
Of course, reading the book is the best way to find out the answer to that question. The short answer is that if God is the center and treasure of our lives, that should (will?) reflect that reality in the way we choose to celebrate special occasions and to shape our everyday habits. With the book, I wanted to remind Christians of that and help them think about how it plays out.
Now that your children are grown, how have you seen the benefits of God-exalting traditions in your family life?
I believe that everything we do right in our family is, in some way pointing our children toward God. So the best thing I can see is that my children are following God and raising their children to treasure God.
If you had to pick, what would you say is your favorite Piper family tradition?
The one family tradition that I canNOT imagine abandoning is almost-daily family prayer/devotions. There are several related pieces to that tradition:
Family devotions with whole family togethr
Prayer time of just my husband and me together
Personal devotional times for each person alone, including for the children
Your most recent book is Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God which is filled with fascinating stories of women of faith. How can we as women in the twenty-first century benefit from studying biographies of godly women from the past?
Hebrews 13:1-6 admonishes us to live godly lives and reminds us that God is our helper. Then verse 7 tells us one way that God helps us: Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith. The writer of Hebrews tells us to look toward those who have gone before us in the faith, to listen to what they say about God and to look at the way they lived and to imitate their faith.
No one’s life is exactly like mine. And some lives seem too different to be of interest or use. But, when you consider a life, you discover similar emotions, fears, needs. For instance, I’m not afraid of imprisonment, but when I read about Esther Ahn Kim’s fear, I’m reminded how to deal with the things I AM afraid of.
I think that’s the point of the very next verse, Hebrews 13:8— Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever.
My life is not exactly the same as any other person’s, but when I look at someone else’s life in a biography, it’s not ultimately her life I want to see. I want to see her Jesus, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Are you currently planning or working on another book you can tell us about?
I’m just starting to research the life of Betsey Stockton. As far as I know, no book has been written about her. She was an American-born black slave in the early 1800s, living in Princeton, NJ. She was freed soon after her conversion, and in 1823, became the 1st single woman to be sent out as a missionary in the American missionary movement, which had begun just a few years previous with the sending of Adoniram Judson. She went to the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii), expecting to spend her life there, but had to return to America after just a couple of years. Afterward, she became a matriarch in the black community of Princeton.
I would be very thankful for any sources or information that anyone can send me that might relate to her life and places.
Finally, and I saved the hardest one for last, what do you think is the most urgent need among Evangelical Christian women today?
One urgent need for men and women—but perhaps it’s more a problem for women—is to love and trust and seek God’s truth more than we depend on our own emotions. When I don’t understand or I hate the ways things are happening, I may want to think (even subconsciously), “I surely wouldn’t do things like that if I were God.” And then it would be easy for my emotions to tempt me to say, “Therefore, God is not good.”
We need to know that God is God, and we aren’t. We need to acknowledge that we don’t always understand why he acts as he does, but to trust that he sees everything and knows everything and has all power—AND that everything he does is good. That’s what he tells us in his Word, and his word is truth.
What is one question you wished I had asked and what is your answer?
Noël, what ministries are you involved with outside the church walls?
And my answer would be:
I get really excited about 2 kinds of ministry, and just recently the 2 have overlapped in an exhausting and exciting way.
1. For a long time, I have loved doing all sorts of missions travel. Usually I will be visiting missionary families or groups that include people sent from our church. Different trips have different emphases: prayer walks and personal prayer ministry perhaps or maybe speaking at a conference. Whatever the official form of a mission, I’m praying that a key impact will be that missionaries are encouraged and strengthened to continue the work and life God has given them. Always I learn lots about how God is working in other places and come back home knowing a little bit better how to pray for particular people and places.
2. In various ways over a lot of years, God has brought me more deeply into ministry to and with people with disabilities. For the last few years I’ve been on the Minnesota Board of Joni and Friends, which has been the primary channel for this sort of ministry.
These 2 kinds of ministry overlapped recently when I was part of a team distributing wheelchairs in Cameroon, West Africa. It’s a humbling thing to see people coming to you however they can get there—crawling on hands and knees, dragging themselves, being carried by someone not much larger than themselves—and to see that for these people mobility is more important than dignity . . . And then to see the faces when they were in their new chairs and could meet the world face to face. It made me stop and realize that almost everyone I know who uses a wheelchair would be moving like that—if they could move at all—without the blessing of a chair.
I jotted down some other thoughts from this trip at the Desiring God blog. You can read more info about JAF’s ministries and resources at www.joniandfriends.org.
(I’m having to wipe my eyes looking again at this woman who couldn’t stop rejoicing.)
Noël, thank you so much for agreeing to be our first girl-to-girl talk interviewee. It’s been such a joy to get to know you a little better. We pray that God will continue to pour out His blessing on you and your family.
For our readers, we would encourage you to check out more resources by Noël Piper at www.desiringgod.org.
2007 at 1:19 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Series Girl to Girl Talk Interviews
Today we want to welcome back Noël Piper for the second part of our interview…
Noël, when did your children come along and what was the most important lesson you learned as a young mother? What do you enjoy most about being a mother?
Our oldest was born when we had been married almost 4 years. On their birthdays this year, our sons will be 35, 32, 28, and 24. Talitha came to us when she was 2 months old, one month before my husband’s 50th birthday.
During their young years, when my days seemed to be shaped by interruptions, I’d often think: wiping runny noses and messy bottoms is not my calling; calling the refrigerator repairman and rescuing the spoiling contents of the fridge is not my calling; washing dishes is not my calling, walking through the dried remains of spilled koolaid is not my calling. At the end of a day, when I had done nothing—except those things and others like them—it could be pretty depressing. What’s the point when that’s all there is in life?
My only hope was remembering that when God gave me children, he called me to be a mother. His calling to a mother is that she be his servant, his tool, toward raising little boys and little girls to be godly men and women. One important thing for me to realize was that God is the only one who can bring our children to himself. But he gives me the privilege of being part of what he’s doing.
It helped to remember that every job has un-fun parts, including mothering. It really helped to look at somewhat older mothers and remind myself that there will be other chapters later, when I’m done with crushed cheerios underfoot.
Nowadays, one of my great pleasures is seeing my children and their wives enjoy each other.
You’ve raised four boys. What is one piece of advice you would give to mothers of sons?
Don’t get sucked into arguments, so that it starts to sound like 2 children squabbling instead of a mother with her child. For me, this was especially important with teenagers.
One important thing I learned was that I didn’t need to respond to every outrageous thing a son said. When my 14-year-old said he was going to buy a motorcycle as soon as he was 16, I gave myself a second to think, “Well, that’s not tomorrow.” And I said, “Mm-hmm.”
If it wasn’t something that needed imminent action or decision, I might say, “Well, you and Daddy and I can talk about that sometime.” But mostly, I’d just say, “Mm-hmm.” That’s non-committal and gives nothing for your child to argue about (Except when your son explodes, “That’s all you ever say—“Mm-hmm!”).
Tell us about adopting Talitha. How did this come about? What would you say to other couples contemplating adoption?
The short version is that we had been active in the pro-life movement for several years. Then when the opportunity came to adopt Talitha, we talked and prayed and consulted with our children and close friends for a couple of weeks. I had been wanting to adopt for some time, because I had felt a yearning to do something that involved more of my whole life than simply picketing in front of abortion clinics or gathering at rallies at the capitol, as right and good as those things were.
There were important factors to consider. One was our age, for instance, facing our child’s adolescence when we’re in our 60s. One was race; from the moment Talitha entered our family, we became a mixed race family and could never again complacently just be satisfied to let others live with and deal with difficult color issues.
Through adopting, I’ve realized things about parenting that I hadn’t thought about before. It’s an awesome thing to see the questions the court gives to adoptive parents, to pay attention to the pledges you make about the care and upbringing of this child and the responsibilities you promise to carry. Nobody ever asked me such pointed and particular questions before I up and got pregnant and had children that way.
I saw new significance and emotion in the Biblical picture of God’s adopting us. For example, the first time baby Talitha threw her arms around my neck and squeezed, my reflex thought was, “She knows I’m her mother!” I had never had that thought before about any of my other children. I just assumed they knew me as their mother. Now, think of God and the moment we “throw our arms around his neck” and know that he IS our Father.
You’ve been a pastor’s wife for 26 years now. We have many pastors’ wives who read our blog. What would you say to encourage them if you had the opportunity?
Several years ago, the wife of one of our young pastors was working full-time at a demanding job. As we talked about the stresses in their family, some other pastors’ wives and I raised the possibility that she should resign or at least cut back to part time. We knew how erratic a pastor’s schedule can be, which makes it valuable for his wife to have a more dependable time at home. Otherwise, they are both stressed by their work outside the home, and may never see each other.
On the other hand, if the wife is not employed full-time, she is able to participate in appropriate ways with or alongside her husband, which is a great encouragement to him. This is an intangible, that we couldn’t describe to her exactly or measure out what its value would be.
She named the factors that made it impossible for them to live on just his salary. We told her to pray about God’s will here, because we couldn’t be sure we knew what was best for her. We encouraged her not be be afraid about finances, that if it was good for her to cut back at work, God would provide money in ways she couldn’t expect.
Later, she did cut back and eventually resign. God has provided. And they have been part of our staff for all the years since. And she has been an active part of her husband’s ministry.
So, I guess my encouragement is this: Your presence and support and availability is an intangible but vital ministry to your husband, and therefore to your church as well.
What would you tell women about how to best support their pastor’s wife?
When we first came to Bethlehem in 1980, we were in our early 30s and the church was mostly people over 60. They were eager for a young pastor and his energy. It would have been easy for them to expect lots from me too. But they were kind to me. Lots of people approached me about working in their ministry area or leading another ministry area or taking on one responsibility or another. But always they asked the question in a way that did not assume I should be doing this because I was the pastor’s wife. They would let me know about openings and opportunities, but in a way that left me free to say, “Thank you for telling me about this. I will pray about it,” or just to say, “I’m glad to know about what’s happening in that area, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to be involved right now.”
In other words, the people of Bethlehem gave me the gift of letting me follow God’s leading into or not-into specific ministry areas, rather than feeling like they were expecting or pushing me.
Your husband is not only a pastor, but an author. You have a writing gift yourself (which we’ll get to in a moment) but I’ve heard John say that you are his most valuable editor. How have you been able to use this gift to serve your husband?
Here’s one of the many differences between my husband and me. He depends heavily on spell-check. But I can’t stand the squiggly underlinings questioning me at every turn when I’ve said exactly what I mean to say. In any case, spell-check can’t tell you when a sentence is ambiguous or when an extra word has slipped in that changes the meaning of a sentence. It takes a human reader to do that.
At some point in a book’s production, I read it through carefully. My husband is such a good writer that there are seldom, if ever, major changes to be made. But every writer needs someone else to proofread and edit, because an author knows so well what he intended to write that that’s what he tends to “see” instead of what he actually did write.
After being a part of Johnny’s speaking, teaching, and writing life so long, it can be easier for me to catch things another editor might not recognize as a mistake. But I’m familiar with what I think he meant to say, so I can check it with him.
It can be perversely pleasurable as a proofreader to search out and highlight other people’s errors. So I try to be kind in my corrections and comments.
OK, I’m going to put you on the spot here…what is your favorite John Piper book and why?
I especially enjoy reading the books in the Swan Series—the biographies. I often find it easier to see how God is working in my life (or how I want him to be working) when I see it happening in somebody else’s life.
Please join us tomorrow for the final portion of our chat with Noël Piper.
2007 at 10:03 am | by Carolyn Mahaney
Series Girl to Girl Talk Interviews
We are so excited to welcome Noël Piper to our first girl-to-girl talk interview.
Noël has been married to pastor and author John Piper for thirty-eight years. She has also served alongside her husband at Bethlehem Baptist Church for the past twenty-six years. Noël, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with the girltalk readers!
First of all, Noël, we’d love to hear a little about your growing up years. I know you grew up with nine brothers and sisters! What was it like being a part of a big family? How would you describe your childhood? What about your early life at home prepared your heart to receive the gospel?
What was it like being part of a big family? Perfectly normal, as far as I knew. God gave me to my family and my family to me and that’s the way it was. Being the oldest of 10 was probably my best training for being a mother. The regular Christian traditions in my family and the examples of my parents were the most important human factors in my becoming a Christian. We had family devotions each night before the youngest went to bed, and we went to church every Sunday and Wednesday.
I can look back now and realize that those steady practices were like anchors when our family was going through rough times. We kept doing what we’d always done, sometimes maybe just because it was too hard to say, “Let’s don’t.” I learned that even when we don’t really feel like being together in God’s Word or praying together, God uses those times to bring healing and reconciliation and peace—even when it takes a long time.
(In this picture I’m the cool college girl in the middle with way too much bangs. The 1957 Ford wagon off on the right is the car that suffered my first accident.)
When and how did you become a Christian?
I was very young and can’t remember much of what I was thinking or feeling. Here are some “shapshots.”
I’m 5 and telling my Daddy I want to be baptized just like my cousin Jane, who is a couple of years older. He pulls me into his lap, explaining there’s more to baptism than just deciding to do it.
Some time after that, I’m sitting on the kitchen steps, weeping. Mother hurries out to see what’s wrong. “I’m so sad about all the bad things I’ve done.”
Another time, I am standing in my closet (Literally. Isn’t that what the Bible says to do?), wanting to confess my sins to God. But I’ve done this before. Does the Bible mean that I have to remember every sin I’ve ever done every time I confess to God. What if I can’t remember everything?
On my 7th birthday, I am baptized in Milner Baptist Church. Afterward, the whole congregation files by to shake hands with the ones who had been baptized. They are singing “Oh happy day, oh happy day, when Jesus washed my sins away.”
How did you end up in Illinois at Wheaton College?
That’s a story that shows how God uses our less-than-spiritual desires to bring about his good plans in our lives. Hardly anybody in my rural 36-student senior class was going to college, and if they were, they were staying in Georgia. I was writing for information from colleges I found advertised in Christian magazines at home. Mainly I wanted to go far away—I was ready to be on my own without my parents telling me what to do. Interestingly, as I look back I realize that I chose a college that had pretty much their same standards. So while I could indeed make more choices for myself instead of my parents telling me what to do, still those choices were within boundaries that were comfortable to me.
What were your hopes, dreams, and plans for your life as you embarked upon your college experience? How did those plans change once you met John Piper?
My mother and both my grandmothers were examples of women whose liberal arts college degrees were excellent preparation for all that God gave them in their lives, sometimes job or career, mostly marriage and family. I assumed and hoped that one day I would be married and at home with our children. I also held out the possibility that I might have a career (which changed every time I changed my major), without thinking through how the two would mix.
Would you be willing to briefly relate the story of you and John’s relationship from the time you met until you were married? Were there any funny/memorable moments you’d be willing to share?
Maybe the funniest happened before I met him. When I was a college freshman, I declared to my friends that I would wait a few years after college to get married, so I could see the world first (Assumption: nothing happens after you get married). AND, I would certainly never marry a preacher.
So, I met Johnny Piper the day after that freshman year ended and we got married during the Christmas break just as I was finishing college. (Since then, I’ve lost count of the number of states and countries I’ve visited). At the time of our wedding, I had my wish not to marry a preacher—that didn’t come until 11 1/2 years after we were married.
Everyone would probably ask…what’s it like being married to John Piper? I mean, is he sharing profound thoughts at the dinner table? What do you love most about your husband?
The answer is similar to a couple of the earlier answers. First, perfectly normal, as far as I know. God gave me to Johnny and him to me. And second, it’s an even better story of how God uses our less-than-spiritual desires to do wonderful things for us.
I was a silly, fairly shallow girl who wanted fun more than much of anything else. I don’t think I would have gotten involved with a non-Christian, but I wasn’t much more discerning than that. So when I met a cute, curly-haired guy who liked me, that was enough for me. In fact, it was extra cute how he thought so seriously about things, on the one hand, and on the other, how he played a wild game of charades and sang and moved his arms and shoulders (we didn’t dance) to the Beach Boys.
God was gracious to give me a man who would be his main tool for bringing toward maturity both me and my spiritual understanding.
Yes, sometimes Johnny’s sharing profound thoughts at the dinner table. More often, he’s figuring out how the father who’s used to boys shifts gears and communicates with an 11-year-old daughter.
And that is one of the things I love most about him. He cares about being a good father and husband, and he doesn’t let our moods and attitudes put him off. He cares about our being happy. And I know that at the root is his love for God.
Come back tomorrow to hear Noël share about her children and her reflections on being a pastor’s wife…
2007 at 12:44 pm | by Carolyn Mahaney
Series Girl to Girl Talk Interviews
We are very excited about a new feature here at girltalk. On occasion we will introduce you to godly women who are making a significant difference in the lives of others both in the church and in our culture. We’re calling it girl-to-girl talk.
Today we want you to meet the first of these godly women: Noël Piper. Noël is a pastor’s wife, mother, and author, and over the next few days we have the delightful opportunity of getting to know her better.
To begin, we want to share a brief profile of Noël’s life along with several pictures. Then, over the next three days, we will post portions of an interview with Noël.
So pull up a chair if you will, and join us at Noël’s kitchen table. We know you are going to thoroughly enjoy learning and laughing along with this godly woman.
You probably know me as: John Piper’s wife
I’ve been married for: 38 years
My children are: 4 adult sons—all married with 7 children among them, and our 11-year-old daughter
I was born in: Norfolk Virginia and grew up in Barnesville, GA
The best “spiritual” book I’ve ever read (besides the Bible) is: ...and besides my husband’s books . . . Combining bad memory with too many books, I’ll mention authors instead: Elisabeth Elliot, Joni Eareckson Tada, Edith Schaeffer. One with long-lasting impact is Schaeffer’s Hidden Art (now with the unfortunately-limited title, The Hidden Art of Homemaking.
The “non-spiritual” book I most enjoyed reading was: Bad memory again—it would probably have been a historical fiction saga or a multigenerational family memoir/saga.
Right now I am reading: Whatever I can find about Betsey Stockton and her early-1800s settings in the Sandwich Islands (Hawaii) and Princeton.
The movie I’ve watched more times than any other is: The Princess Bride (my children made me!)
The music (genre/artist) you’re most likely to find me listening to is: Mountain/old-time country gospel (when I’m by myself) or maybe 1960s folk.
My favorite food is: Chocolate eclairs (filled with custard, not cream)
My favorite morning beverage is: Strong coffee with cream or Yorkshire tea with milk
The household chore I most enjoy is: Enjoy? I’ll have to think on that—- a looooong time.
If I have free time, you’ll most likely find me: Reading or—more recently—you’d find me online arranging my computer “piles” of photos into photobooks that, when I’m done, we can actually hold in our hands, turn pages, and see the best pictures without plowing through hundreds of others.
My favorite place in the world is: Anywhere with a book and the sight and sound of water.
A Bible verse I return to often is: Romans 8:38-39—“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Woman I most want to be like: The one who’s on my mind right now is Joni Eareckson Tada. Probably no one but she and Ken, her caregivers and God really know how limited the hours of her day are once her basic physical needs have been dealt with. And only she and God know how limited her strength and stamina are. I find myself dragging at the imagination of it. And yet she travels frequently, and whenever she is with people, she gives herself wholeheartedly, smiling, greeting, giving an appropriate and upbuilding word. When you see Joni, you see the joy of the Lord. It has to be his, because she has every legitimate human reason to be a quiet, stay-at-home, reserving her strength.