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unhappy girlThe young women who find their way to the Lighthouse, a pregnancy and parenting resource center in my home town, might seem familiar to you. Actually, they could be your neighbor’s daughter, your pastor’s daughter or your daughter. They are not “bad” girls; rather, they are “normal” girls.

A negative pregnancy test provides opportunity to talk about their “normal” lives. One young woman, with goals of finishing high school and going on to college, opened the door to that conversation with a heartfelt confession. “I don’t understand. I’m not any different from my Facebook friends. I’m not any different from the people on TV. I dress like the models in my favorite magazines and do the things everyone else says they are doing. But if I’m so normal, why am I so unhappy?”

As a campus psychiatrist at UCLA, Dr. Miriam Grossman spent a lot of time with “normal” but “unhappy” young women. These educated women with goals of med school, performing arts or corporate law had little in life to complain about. They had active social lives, enough money and caring families. “Life is good,” they would tell Dr. Grossman, “so why do I feel so depressed? So emotionally stressed? So worthless?”

“If I’m so normal, why am I so unhappy?” This question—asked in small town pregnancy centers and on Ivy League campuses—should tug at the heart and soul of every pro-life parent, grandparent and pastor. “No amount of Prozac or Zoloft,” writes Dr. Grossman, “is going to solve this problem. These young women must, for their physical and emotional well-being, change their lifestyle.”

Change their lifestyle? But aren’t young women today more liberated than ever before? Haven’t the barriers that prevented complete happiness been chipped away? Isn’t it true that women can compete with men in sports, the workplace and the bedroom? It’s true, but all the supposed liberation in the world only puts us in conflict with ourselves.

In Genesis 1: 27, we learn that God created humans to be male and female. Later, and with more detail (Genesis 2), we learn that God created male and female at different times, in different ways and for different purposes. Try to ignore it if you will but a woman is built to bear and nurture children.

Matters of a woman’s heart are influenced by her biological design. Yes, my feminist friends, I said biological design. “The blurring of differences between male and female,” writes Dr. Grossman, “is a radical agenda unsupported by hard science.” One of the failures of nearly every kind of sex education, including Christianized sex education, is that we lump boys and girls together as equally “sexual beings” who just need more information and more comfort with their sexuality. But Dr. Marianne Legato, founder and director of the Partnership for Gender Specific Medicine at Columbia University, sees women’s health as more than a political or feminist issue because women differ from men in every system of their body.

It would seem that this important piece of biblical and scientific truth has been withheld from the young women who carry the burdens of depression, disease, fear, and broken hearts in the door of the Lighthouse and every other pregnancy center across this country.

Matters of a woman’s heart, by design, are connected to the love of one man, home and family. At the Lighthouse, however, we see young women who’ve been disconnected from all that is naturally womanly—most especially anything related to motherhood and childbearing—as something to be managed, minimized or even overcome. They have been shot up with Gardacil and soon after, like a right of passage, ceremoniously prescribed the Pill. They are prodded onto the football field, wrestling mat and arena of combat—no “holds barred”—which puts them at odds with their own biological and psychological functions and renders them more vulnerable. In abstinence class, they are reminded over and over again that sex is the most wondrous of all earthly gifts but not to be opened until marriage after first getting their degree, securing a good job and paying off loans. However, next to their heart is a biological clock that “tick, tick, ticks” the years of fertility away.

Girls have been told that they are no less sexual than any boy and have every right to enjoy the pleasantries of intimacy. But most girls have not been told about oxytocin, the neurochemical that floods a woman’s brain during a cuddle or a kiss. By design, oxytocin promotes trust and serves to bond a woman to the man she is with. Oxytocin at work in a wife who is sexually intimate with her husband helps produce long-term connectedness which is good for children.

But bonding is like glue. It can’t be undone or ripped apart without great emotional pain. Once, I asked a young woman why she was spending nights with her boyfriend. She responded, “Well I was hoping that if I did, he would ask me to marry him.” During another visit, she told me how much she liked tending “their” garden and decorating “their” house. “But,” I asked, “when it’s the end of the day and you sleep over, whose bed do you sleep in? Do you think of it as his… or ‘ours’”? Her eyes dropped. Her shoulders slumped. She whispered, “It’s his.”

A great many young women, despite the cultural acceptance of multiple partners, want to be married to one man and make a nest for their children. But a woman’s consent to play house without commitment of marriage actually encourages many young men to postpone marriage.

“I’m just doing what everyone else is doing. I’m normal.” So then why is this girl so depressed and unhappy? Because it is simply abnormal for a woman to be in conflict with the design of her own body. “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, who frustrates the signs of liars . . . who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish” (Isaiah 44:24-25).

At the Lighthouse, we take matters of the heart very seriously. We want to guard the physical and spiritual health of a young woman just as we want to guard her right to a childhood, right to girlhood, and right to maidenhood.

This was first written as an article for LifeDate (LFL).
Linda Bartlett is co-founder/president of the Lighthouse Center of Hope
and author of The Failure of Sex Education in the Church:
Mistaken Identity, Compromised Purity

(Amazon – Our Identity Matters)
Miriam Grossman, M.D., is the author of Unprotected (Amazon).

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woman reading bibleThere is a lot of opposition to God’s Word and to the way He wants us to pass on the truth: generation to generation.  With that in mind, let’s consider one more opportunity —

#7: Mentor in the Midst of Opposition
One generation shall commend Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts . . . They shall speak of the might of Your awesome deeds, and I will declare Your greatness (Psalm 145:4, 6).

Let’s stop fooling ourselves. Everything is not okay with young women today. Girls are coming of age in a society in which institutions of marriage, family and church have been badly weakened putting them at risk in ways their grandmothers and great-grandmothers were not. Everything that is naturally womanly—especially anything having to do with motherhood and children—is regarded by feminists as something that has to be overcome rather than embraced. Providers of contraceptive and abortion services have replaced mothers as the main source of authority on sexual matters. A growing number of young women who are in and out of relationships experience chronic depression. But, there is hope! A young woman whose parents set boundaries for their daughter’s sake, remain involved, and help her see the bigger picture of her life seem to make healthier choices.

Be aware of the opposition. Our “adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). As mothers and grandmothers, we need to be “sober-minded” and “watchful”. We do not “wrestle against” Victoria’s Secret or Planned Parenthood, but against the spiritual forces of evil that use sexual immorality, sensuality, idolatry, jealousy and rivalries (Galatians 5:19-20) to shape the minds of young women and lead them away from Jesus Christ. View for yourself Planned Parenthood’s website for teens (www.teenwire.org). The knowledge offered by the opposition holds no promise for this life or the one to come. It is for this reason that God’s Word instructs the believer in 1 Timothy 4:7-10 to train for godliness; “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it hold promise for the present life and also for the life to come”. Take heart! In spite of the opposition, God remains in control. His Word is true. Jesus is victorious. The Spirit is at work.

Don’t be afraid; be equipped. We are engaged in a battle for young hearts and minds, but God has equipped us with armor and sword (Ephesians 6:14-18). Stand where you have been placed by God—as a wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, friend—and engage the world on behalf of your children, grandchildren, and neighborhood of children. When we practice the same faithfulness as Christian women before us we will mentor a new generation of biblically-courageous women.

Build a bridge between generations. Each generation wants to be a little different from the one before. Young women have always believed that they were more progressive than their mothers. But a younger generation needs an older generation to warn away from pitfalls and precipices. The babyboomers have much to apologize for, but parents who’ve taken their sins to the Cross can testify to children that “the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Break out of your peer group. A friend of mine explained what happened after she married and moved far away from her mom and church family. “In a strange new place, I was anonymous. My husband was not a believer, so we did not join a church. I really had no one to be accountable to; no one to talk to about the things in life that troubled me. When my daughter was born, I wanted to be the kind of mom my mother was to me, but she was too far away and I didn’t have the benefit of older, wiser women. I assumed that ‘experts’ in child care would be better for my child than me. Actually, I was looking for love, affirmation and encouragement… but in all the wrong places. I became involved with someone other than my husband. I had an abortion and a divorce soon followed.” My friend didn’t need the advice of her peers who were in circumstances similar to her own. She needed an older woman who had learned to trust pure wisdom, Jesus Christ (Proverbs 8).  She needed an older Christian woman who could help her resist the deception of a sinful world and flee youthful passions.

Opportunity #8 (Mentor Purity) and #9 (Mentor and Encourage Biblical Manhood) coming soon!

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

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grandparents & grandchildrenNot long ago, I was approached by a gentleman following one of my presentations. “I know your focus is on biblical womanhood,” he said.  “And I appreciate that you’re trying to contrast the myths of feminism with God’s magnificent design of women, so I want to affirm what you’re doing from my professional point of view.”

“As a compounding pharmacist,” he explained, “I’ve developed a special interest in the health care of menopausal women.  It is absolutely amazing to me that a woman’s body is literally built for child-bearing and mothering.”  He didn’t say it, but it comes to me now that he was describing how a woman’s body is also built for grandmothering.”

I think that pharamacist  was referring to a harmonious symphony of female hormones through the natural cycle of life.  But there are those who oppose God’s design and direction.  They have little regard for the cultural influence of mothers and grandmothers.  (They deem fathers and grandfathers “unnecessary”.) Who are these people?  They are the social scientists who deceive women to a sexualized life and perpetual self-satisfaction.

Dr. Judith Reisman writes that Alfred Kinsey encouraged “the idea that women are supposed to retain an aggressive libido well into old age.  [Today’s women] report anxiety and depression triggered by their belief that they should, despite hormonal changes, still be sexually aggressive.  Yet, the blessings of the aging process naturally incline them toward the joyful role of grandmother, with the many rewards that noble calling implies.” [1]

Clinging to a “sexual” identity, a woman might expend every effort trying to maximize or minimize all that is female.  Such a woman—at every age and in any circumstance— might never see herself as any more than a body which seems perpetually disappointing.

But a woman who trusts her identity as a daughter of God in Christ can navigate the changes and challenges of life.  Her physical body may frustrate or disappoint her, but she knows that she is more than just body.

She is body, mind and soul.


[1] Judith A. Reisman, PhD., Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences (Crestwood, KY., The Institute for Media Education, 1998, 2000), 124.

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prison cellThe 28th of October — three days from now — marks the tenth year of incarceration for my young friend Travis.  His life was forever changed when the jury pronounced him “guilty.”  He has no excuses.  Travis knows that he made terrible choices that led to life-threatening drug addiction.

He remembers that day in court when the verdict was read.  His mom reached for him, begging for one last hug but was denied by the U.S. Marshall who cuffed him and dragged him away.  Travis describes himself as a scared little boy in a man’s body unable to grasp the reality of what was happening, yet conscious of frightful images.  Where was he going?  With whom would he be imprisoned?  What would they do to him?  Would he be raped, stabbed or killed?

Travis writes, “I began to plot in my head how to end it all . . . life was not worth living anymore.  I thought of creative ways to use a bed sheet, or perhaps I could pick a fight and hopefully be killed in the process.”  But God was with Travis.  “The comfort I felt when I cried out to Him in one last ditch effort before I ended my life was so amazing.  God really did put His arms around me and lifted me up.”

It would be easy to languish in prison, to let the depression win and the hopelessness take root.  But there, in the most unlikely of places and under the Potter’s own hand, Travis has learned his true identity.  The world calls him a criminal.  A drug-abuser.  A law-breaker.  A bad boy.  A misfit.  But that is not how God identifies him.  God calls Travis His son in Jesus Christ.  A forgiven sinner.  A person of value.  A man with a future of hope.

Travis could remember October 28 as the end of his life.  Instead, he remembers it as the beginning of new life.   Before prison, Travis was captive to the lies.  In prison, he was set free in the Truth.  Before October 28, Travis had forgotten who he was.  On October 28, The Father reminded his child, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

It is in darkness that light shines brightest.  Travis admits to struggling with fear, doubt, sadness, anger, and depression.  But knowing who he is in Christ, Travis also knows he is being transformed.  As a son of God in Christ, Travis has purpose.

You are . . . his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light . . . once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2:9).

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prison cellIs it possible to change our thinking and behavior?  Leave bad habits behind?  Resist evil and despair?

Yes.

Evidence of change is all around me.  For some, change has come with maturity or wisdom gained from experience.  Some literally kicked and screamed all the way to a new place in their life where change took them by surprise.  Some are being changed through pain and suffering.  Others are changing, but only after falling into the darkness of bitter despair.

Travis is one of them.  Travis had fallen so deeply into the pit that he could never pull himself out.  I believe that Jesus literally reached down into that pit to lift Travis upward.  The circumstances in which Travis finds himself are grave.  He is serving 20 years in a federal penitentiary without parole.  Travis is in a place of shame but, face to face with his Savior, true freedom and dignity are being restored.

What follows is a letter from Travis:

Often, people ask, “Why did you throw everything away to pursue a life on drugs?  You threw away your relationships with good friends.  You threw away your good reputation.  You threw away the respect of your family.  You threw away everything that you ever worked hard for.  Why?”

I have never been able to come up with a rational answer to these questions.  Sin, I’ve figured out, is always irrational.  Sin doesn’t consider the consequences.  It just leads us to say, “I want more.”  In my case, becoming addicted to meth was that sin that gave Satan a strong foothold in my life.

I’ve come to see things a little more clearly today.  In John 10:10, Jesus says, “The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.”  Satan wants to steal my joy.  He wants to steal my freedom.  He wants to kill and destroy everything that makes my life worth living: my relationships, my peace, my sanity.  He will use any means: deception, lying, and false promises to keep me from enjoy God’s plan for my life.

When I was enslaved to my sin of addiction it was evident that something was wrong with me.  Not everyone noticed, however, because I put on a good mask.  But, my life was full of filthiness.  My thoughts, speech, conduct, and even my house was filthy.  I would find a lewd or filthy element in any situation.

Satan was working to steal my morals, relationships, will, and dignity.  In the end, Satan wanted my life.

Once I started doing meth, I experienced dreams and visions.  While driving on a particular curve into town, I imagined taking my own life.  Perhaps, I thought, it would relieve the pain I was experiencing.

I didn’t like the person I had become.  A couple of girlfriends tried to help get me sober.  One helped me escape to her family’s cabin.  She would help me detox and get sober.  I would sleep, eat, and begin to act normal… only to return to my habit five days later when I got home.  Another girl begged me to get sober.  She wanted my family to help.  I said, “No!”  How could I face the people that had raised me so well?  The last thing I wanted to do was admit I was a failure.  I thought I could do it on my own.”

Travis is suffering the terrible consequences of his addiction and sinful ways.  He is separated from his family and shamed by incarceration.  Although his faith has grown, he is taunted by unbelievers.  He has explained to me that despair comes often to visit, yet the mercies of God really are new every morning.

Those mercies recently came through a fellow prisoner.  Travis was feeling especially low at Christmastime when, unexpectedly, he crossed paths with a man he had met early in his imprisonment.  Travis had befriended that man and encouraged him with words of hope.  The man apparently never forgot Travis and, in a moment of darkness, the man reappeared as a ray of light with reciprocal words of encouragement.  “You made a difference,” the man told him.  “You helped me get through a tough time.”  Travis was reminded that Jesus knows just what we need when we need it most.

Travis is painfully aware that Satan, in partnership with his own sinful nature, is a powerful force.  Alone, Travis cannot defeat the liar and thief.  But, another force is working in Travis’ life.  It is the force of love.  Forgiveness.  Hope and new life.  Satan wants to steal Travis’ soul, but Jesus Christ died for that soul.  He has already won for Travis the victory over sin and death.  Victory is hard to see through the veil of depression and discouragement; even so, I believe that the Holy Spirit has been at work in Travis adjusting his perspective and restoring the dignity of his personhood.

Perhaps prison is the Potter’s wheel where Travis is being carefully shaped as a vessel for noble service.  I really do believe that Travis sees himself a different man than when he stood haughtily before the federal judge.  As a different man, he will find himself at odds with the world.

In that world, Satan will continue to press on Travis.  Satan doesn’t want change.  He wants Travis captive to his sinful nature.  He wants him haughty.  Dependent on self, yet burdened by failure.  But, in Christ, Travis is no longer bound to old sins and failures.  In Christ, Satan holds no lasting power over Travis.

Travis told me,

Addiction never filled me up.  I was never satisfied.  The thief really does come to steal, kill and destroy, but read the rest of the passage!  Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”

Is change possible?  God says it is.

“Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.  Put away falsehood, speak the truth with your neighbor . . . give no opportunity to the devil . . . Let all bitterness and wrath and anger . . . be put away from you . . .” (Ephesians 4:22-32).

Because change is possible, Travis can live as the beloved son of God in Christ that he is.   He can leave the filthiness and foolish talk and crude joking behind.  He was in darkness, but now he is in the light of the Lord.  He can try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.  Expose deception.  Be filled with the Spirit.  Give thanks. (Ephesians 5:1-21).

Yes, echoes Travis,

Thanks be to God!”

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Experts in New Zealand praise the healthy habit of self-control.  Those with common sense respond, “Well, duh!”

New scientific research shows that if adults cultivate the practice of self-control — starting early — in children, a great many could be saved from addictions, poverty, and crime.  Isn’t that just like scientific evidence?  Always lagging behind but, when pure, testifying to God’s order of creation.

This ezerwoman is a better helper — of men, children, and society — when I practice self-control.  Lest I forget (or resist), God consistently reminds me to be “self-controlled.”  The books of 1 and 2 Timothy refer to the virtue of “self-control” at least four times.  At least five times, the book of Titus instructs older men and women to practice and mentor “self-control.”  There’s good reason.  Self-control glorifies God.  It can result in more hopeful consequences.  It can even reduce depression

Self-control is the opposite of living our lives however we please.  Doing whatever makes us “happy.”  Insisting that our “needs” be met.  Serving self over others.   Perhaps this is what happens when times are good.  We give ourselves license… for whatever, whenever.   We have (in my American lifetime) “lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence” (James 5:5).  For sure, it is what happens when women are encouraged to let their emotions rule.

But, encouraging girls and young women to let their emotions rule has not made them happy.  It is widely reported, writes Dennis Prager, that women suffer depression at twice the rate of men.  If the clinical assumptions are true, Prager suggests that we consider the following:

“Wise cultures have learned that happiness is attained only when we conquer our nature.  This is true for male and female.  With modern feminism, however, came a belief in the superiority of the female nature.  The result?  Society was urged to suppress both the negative and positive aspects of the male nature with little or no suppression of the female nature.  Historically, societies and parents have always known it’s a good thing to teach boys to control two aspects of their male nature — their sexual desires and their predilection for violence.  Decent men were taught from youth to touch a woman sexually only with her permission and to channel physical aggression into sports or into helping fight evil by joining the police force or military.  Men who didn’t learn to control these aspects of male nature not only became bad men, but unhappy men.”

He continues, “Societies and parents also knew it was important to help girls control their natures — in particular, their predilection to be ruled by their emotions.  Women who allowed their emotions to rule them not only became destructive (to members of their families first and foremost), they became unhappy women.  But, while modern society continued to teach boys to control themselves, it stopped teaching girls to do so.  Girls’ emotions and feelings were treated as inherently valuable.  In fact, to repress a girl’s emotions or feelings was labeled ‘sexist’ and showed a ‘hatred of women.’ ”  (Excerpted from “Wanted by women: A few good old-fashioned men” by Dennis Prager, The Washington Times, 6-30-08)

Hmmm.  I’m reminded of the woman who showed up at an abortion clinic.  Why?  “He kissed me and I melted.  I was filled with passion and couldn’t help myself.  Now, I’m pregnant and must take control of my body.”

Lack of self control + unhappy woman = desperation and hopelessness.  Ugh.

There is another choice.   Mature men and women can be examples of self-control and mentor younger ones to do the same.  There is promise in such practice: Hope for living out our lives in anticipation of Jesus’ return (Titus 2).

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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 her friends.  Comforters.  Encouragers.  We are imitators of the Good Shepherd who walks beside the heavy-hearted through a dark valley toward “goodness and mercy.”  A mother who mourns the loss of her child needs a Good Shepherd (John 10:1-18).

You and I must take care not to soften the seriousness of sin.  This devalues the magnitude of God’s forgiveness, bought and paid for by the sacrificial life and death of Jesus Christ.  At the center of our forgiveness stands the Cross of Christ.  Forgiveness is costly.  Our forgiveness cost the innocent Son of God His life.  There is no forgiveness without blood being shed, without paying a price, without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  But, because of Jesus’ sacrifice, sin cannot defeat us.

Peter, a follower of Jesus, sinned greatly, but he confessed his sin and received God’s forgiveness.  Through Jesus’ forgiveness the Holy Spirit enabled Peter to live a changed life.  That same power of the Holy Spirit works through the Gospel to change our lives — to enable us to live lives that reflect God’s love for us and withstand the temptation of Satan, the world, and our sinful flesh.

You and I can love and accept people burdened by their sin, but only God, in Christ, can heal them.  A woman who’s suffered an abortion may believe that God has forgiven her, but has difficulty forgiving herself.  Jesus is the key that opens the door and sets all sinners free.  What was the process for David in Psalm 51?  David was sorry for his sin, confessed that sin, turned from that sin, received God’s forgiveness, and was restored from sin.  Then he rejoiced over God’s healing touch of forgiveness and was eager to witness to others of God’s great forgiveness.  You and I can assure those who grieve that the memory of their aborted child will remain with them, but,

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Word of Hope is a ministry of hope and healing after abortion.  I have volunteered with this ministry for many years.  We know that God has called each child by name.  We grieve their loss, but entrust them to God.  We also know that He has called every mother, father, grandparent, and care-giving friend by name.  May we encourage all in a manner that honors the One who named us.

If you would like to talk with Grace Kern at Word of Hope,
please call (888) 217-8679 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting            (888) 217-8679      end_of_the_skype_highlighting

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