Although my friend and would-be companion ended up unable to join me, and although I had to get up at 4:30am and leave just after 5am, I attended the Dangerous Women conference put on by the “Femina girls“: Nancy Wilson and daughters and daughter-in-law.
This was a pre-conference before the Grace Agenda conference, but I just went for the morning, lunch, and early afternoon, then headed home and was home before the kids’ bedtime.
And, since I didn’t drive with anyone, I had a whole 2 1/2 hours to think and pray about all the exhortations I’d just received. I think conversation might have been more pleasant. :)
So, I’ll share now the gist of my notes, which I hope will whet your appetite for the recordings, which can be found inside the Canon+ app.
Nancy Wilson: Dangerous Women
All women are dangerous women. We are either building our house or tearing it down. You want to be dangerous to the enemy, not to your children. There is no neutral option.
- You need to know who your people are (your people are God’s people), where you fit in the story, and make choices based on long-term perspective, not based on anxiety or fretfulness. You need grace and you need to be a woman of the Word.
- The Bible teaches that women are prone to deception; deception is our weakness, where the enemy (our sin, the world, and the devil) is most likely to attack us. We need to be aware of the thoughts playing in our head. If a lie or foolish thought pops into our head, it is a temptation that we need to reject, not consider, not converse with, just ignore and walk away from — replace it with a true thought.
- This is why we need to spend time in the Word — so we know the truth. A dangerous woman knows and believes God’s promises, and knows she can’t coast.
- A dangerous woman has a strong sense of purpose, she’s paying attention and always reminding herself of the truth, she knows when she needs to hit the refresh button, to regroup and remember where she is and why she’s there.
- She thinks long-term; she knows that God works patiently and He’s not in a big hurry, so she is not either.
- She’s not afraid of work. She knows a clean house is not the victory line at the end of the day, it is only a means toward the end of loving her people and her God. The end is serving God and cheerfully and heartily doing the work He places in front of you.
- She keeps her eyes open, she has a backbone, and she is not an easy target for unbelief and deception.
- Dangerous women not only build, but beautify and glorify what they touch — the woman’s touch. We are a glory, and we glorify. We are about the business of transformation, in tangible, real, daily ways.
- We love fruitfulness — not only children, but all abundance, taking something and making more of it, taking the fruit of the Spirit and manifesting it.
Home is where the action is. The enemy works to destroy homes. The home is where culture is born and bred and kept. All work outside the home comes back home daily. The home is a weapon and defense, a refuge and oasis.
- The table is the center of our home: who sits at our table? are people refreshed at our table? are souls as well as bodies fed? Remember that feeding is more than nutrition and bodily necessity; eating around a table is inherently symbolic. It is practice for heaven. Make it a priority.
- The table is potent and it is how we will rebuild culture.
- Do not be threatened by rude comments people make about you or your family. They make such comments because they are threatened by your family and by your joy (which can only come from Christ, it is a light that shines). Let them feel threatened; don’t feel threatened yourself. Your security is in Christ.
- Protect yourself from deception. How the serpent attacked Eve warns us about how we might be tempted. He blew the restriction out of proportion and closed her eyes to her blessings, he changed the command into a question and entangled her in a conversation, he questioned God’s motives and lied to sow doubt (a question can find an answer, a doubt is “what if” or a questioning that doesn’t want to find the answer), he minimized the consequences of disobedience and made her think it wasn’t a big deal to disobey, he got Eve to act unilaterally without her husband’s authority, he displaces authority. Thus she became a traitor and ate at Satan’s table.
- Pay attention to the thoughts in your head and flee temptation rather than debate with it. Keep your wits about you.
- If you want to be blessed, you must obey. God will not bless disobedience. (We don’t earn that blessing, but God’s not going to bless us no matter what what we do). God gives us the means and the strength to obey; we need to be asking for His grace constantly.
- God reclaimed Eve, put enmity between her and the serpent, and he’s reclaimed us. Know how to get back on your game (know how to repent and move on) when you fall — gaining wisdom all the while.
Rebekah Merkle: The Dangerous Woman as Wife
When the Bible speaks directly to and of wives, it speaks of two things we tend to see as unrelated: submission and fruitfulness. These are the two areas the curse addresses and the two things the world wars against. They are the two things we need to pay close attention to.
- Submission is not “the husband gets the swing vote if we have a disagreement,” so that happy, compatible marriages never have to worry about submission. Submission is a wife’s character, demeanor, and her filter.
- Submission saves us from our endless comparisons. Our standard is not Suzie Q., nor is it our imagined ideal of “perfect wife,” our standard is our own husband. There is no elusive ideal to “how clean should I keep my house,” or “should we homeschool” or “should we have another baby” or “should I do mega couponing” or “should I weigh less or more.” There isn’t One Right Answer to these issues of daily practice that applies across the board to everyone. The way we find out the right answer for ourselves is to talk it through with our husbands and honor him through all these practices.
- It is not that he is infallible or that he is the Boss, but that God has ordained the family to work this way, and even if your husband is wrong (and it’s not a morality issue), you’ll also be wrong to subvert your head (unless, of course, he wants you to sin). If you don’t know if it’s a morality issue or not, talk with your pastor or an elder or a wiser woman — someone who can be part of a solution, not an ear to listen to complaints.
- Submission is a protection for the wives, because women tend to want to be in charge and direct their husbands (part of the curse, subverting of God’s order) and because women tend to compare sideways amongst themselves and get trapped in envy, guilt, or pride. We also tend to put our identity into our methods: mega couponing, homeschooling, bread-baking, cloth diapering, gardening, house cleaning, sewing, etc. etc.
- We should be doing what we’re doing to bless our own families, not to prove something to others. You can be confident in your choices if you are in line with your husband’s desires. You don’t have to be defensive or evangelistic about your practices if your answer is, “My husband wants me to _____.” You submit to your husband and you allow your girlfriends (or women online) to submit to theirs.
- Your role as wife is to put legs on your husband’s ideas for your family and make it happen.
- Of course husbands and wives discuss and work out their ideas together, but if you know your husband’s wishes, how are you reacting to it? Which is more important, your husband’s desires or your facebook status or your blog entry or what your friends will think? Whose vision are you making happen — yours or your husband’s? Are the visions at odds? Are you setting yourself above him or under him? Are you trying to lead him down the path you want? Submitting is following him down his path.
- Submitting to your husband is obeying God, and God will bless your submission. Don’t look sideways at other women, look to your own husband and your own God and trust and obey. Think: What would bless your husband?
- Submission is how godly women adorn themselves. It is lovely and it is our clothing, our character. If you don’t do what your husband would like simply because you don’t want to, you are worse than a feminist, you are a feminist calling herself a biblical woman; you are a hypocrite.
- God sees fruitfulness differently than we do; it is not about numbers (widow’s mite) it is about faithfulness with what God has measured to us.
- Don’t compare your fruitfulness to other women’s, keep your eyes on your own business. God made all kinds of plants (people), fruit (deeds), and soil (conditions and circumstances). God delights in variety.
- You be fruitful where you are with what you have, and don’t cast sidelong glances to see how you are measuring up to other people or how they are measuring up to you — that’s not the way God measures.
- God makes straight, orderly wheat as well as runner beans, God makes tomato plants that pop up in unlikely and unfavorable places and tomato plants in well-composted and tended gardens. Don’t worry about what God made other people to be, worry about yourself and being faithful.
- Produce fruit and let God have the fruit — who knows where the seeds will fall or what will happen to them. That is God’s business, too. Your business is to produce the fruit and to glory in fruit of all kinds.
- Fruit (yours and other people’s) should make you rejoice, not wonder, not compare, not be guilty or envious or proud. Be grateful for all fruit.
Fruitfulness and submission are related
- A seed has to go under (the literal meaning of submit) the ground and die. It gives itself up, it doesn’t seek glory, it goes into the dark, moist, hidden ground and dies. Then, and only then, is it resurrected and made something beautiful and glorious and far better than itself.
- Submission is letting go of your own ways and letting God do what He will and accepting what God brings. Then he resurrects and you bring forth fruit — primarily, first and always, the fruit of the Spirit.
- If the fruits of the Spirit aren’t a part of the fruit you’re bearing, your fruit is just fake styrofoam fruit you tied on so you look good. Genuine fruit is of the Spirit and is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. No genuine fruit can be born apart from these, apart from the Spirit.
- Tying fake fruit on your tree for appearance’s sake will get you nowhere and do you no good. The fruit of the Spirit abounds to more and more life, more and more fruit. But to get to this wisdom and this fruit, you have to go through the hard part, the dying part, the submission part, the letting go of your self-created identity.
Conclusion: Be willing to drop your pet thing if it would make your husband happy. Drop your comparisons, and then you can be fruitful.
Rachel Jankovic: Dangerous Woman as Mother
Finally, Rachel Jankovic spoke to mothers. The way I’ve summarized the notes might make it sound bossy and all “you, you, you,” but that wasn’t the tone at all — just the tone I used in writing it to myself. She was funny, but the humor didn’t make it into my notes much — is that telling? Oh dear, I believe so.
- Mothers are a strategic target to build or destroy culture. We are easily discouraged in the day of small things and we spend too much time fussing with each other and with our children over petty things.
- The mothers are the glue that connects the father to the children. You create the atmosphere and opportunities for your children to be fathered as well as nurtured. Mothers turn the husband’s intangible or less tangible (provision, vision, love) into real, tangible connection (dinner on the table, food in the fridge, clean clothes in the drawers, time to talk).
- Your home is not where you have retreated, you are strategically placed. Making a home is making a dangerous family, not a warm and cozy feel-good neutral zone. You make the atmosphere, the environment FOR people, not for its own sake.
Mothers Make Fellowship
- Your role is facilitating fellowship. You aren’t making food because they need to eat, but because they need to sit around a table and be part of a people. You are giving your children their identity. So your home is one of the primary forces for cultural change, not through knowledge or lectures, but through table fellowship and identity-giving love. How you live preaches the gospel or lies about the gospel.
- Fellowship is the central aspect of the home. It’s easy to allow yourself a little attitude because you’re doing the work, but that forgets that the real work is fellowship.
- It’s easy to see children as an obstacle to your work, but they are the work and the point. Your attitude makes or breaks fellowship in the home. Don’t let anything disrupt fellowship in your home; that’s your job.
- Your children look to you to find out who they are and where they belong. They are vacuums for love, and affection gives identity. When you break fellowship with your children, you are breaking them and their identity, tearing them down.
- Hospitality should always be extended to your own first, and not outward if it means fellowship is broken during clean up time an hour before. Your love, contentment, and happiness makes your children loyal and feel like they belong.
- Your happiness shines, and it will annoy and threaten some people, but it bestows life and love to your children. If the life you give is external and unhappy, they will defect, be disaffected.
Churches are like families in a big scale, and the same problems that happen there can happen in the home.
- They can be consumed with new growth while neglecting other stages.
- The leadership can be hypocritical leadership.
- They can be consumed with either all squishy grace or all hard law
- They might be teaching people they wish were there instead of the ones that actually are (not paying attention)
- They can emphasize congregants tithing & serving rather than on their own feeding and equipping the flock.
Church is about unifying diverse people, binding them in fellowship, and it’s something only God can do. Churches and families and people are supposed to look radically different from one another, yet be unified together; do not compare and judge other’s homes — worry about your own.