As we drove the long, windy roads home from John and Laura Adams’ house, I distinctly remember my husband remarking, “Wow. Well, that is the type of couple you want in your church.” He was referring to the generously committed and graciously devoted hearts that we had just got to know over the Adams’ dinner table. I have now been privileged to witness Laura’s incredible wisdom over the course of two years, and am so excited to share it with you today.
Vintage Wisdom is a series of interviews with women in our church who are humbly willing to share what they have learned throughout their decades worth of walking with God. They met my list of thirty-three, real-life questions with raw, unshielded responses filled with personal successes, failures, and a conviction in their voice that can only come from a life in love with their Savior. My only regret is that you could not all sit in and hear the uncondensed form of these ladies’ wisdom that I was able to extract over a cup of coffee.
Interview with Laura Adams by Randi Peck
*The following conversation was edited for length and clarity
Laura grew up completely apart from church culture and the teachings of Jesus. God radically saved her life at the age of 27.
Randi: Why should women study the Bible?
Laura: Because you’re being taught theology all the time. You’re being
discipled all the time. If you let the world teach you theology, you’re going to have the wrong expectations.
What tools have you found to be helpful in finding the truths of the Bible and applying them to your life?
The very first tool I ever used was just a regular dictionary. I can remember looking up the word “grace”, and when I had absolutely no concept of the Biblical definiton of grace, I felt that the Holy Spirit directed me to it… even with a dictionary. Now my favorite resource is Blue Letter Bible.
Don’t look at [Bible study] like an academic exercise to better your life. It should transform you. Study should be transformational not informational.
Laura has been married to her husband, John, for 31 years.
If you could give marriage advice to your engaged self, years ago, what would you say?
The expectation we have going into a marriage about a husband completing us is going to completely disappoint us… He isn’t that fairy tale. Christ Himself is going to satisfy that.
What are some practical ways women can strive for a more gospel-centered marriage?
A gospel-centered marriage means first of all that both of you are pursuing the gospel, meaning that Christ is your all in all and that He is the Satisfier of every longing. You’re not striving to have each other meet your needs. You’re not building your own kingdom… You’re on God’s mission.
A great resource for marriage is “You and Me Together” by Francis and Lisa Chan.
It is important to be transparent with other women about our marriages, to receive godly counsel and support- and yet, often, we cross that line of “TMI” or disrespecting our spouses. Where is the line of what to share and what not to share?
You have to understand in your own heart what you’re trying to accomplish. There are a lot of times we don’t want council, we just want to commiserate. I think we can find ourselves disrespecting our husbands because we want someone else on our side. And of course, that’s a really wrong thing to do and, in the long run. really destructive to the relationship.
Proverbs 31:11 is my mantra for marriage: “The heart of her husband safely trusts her.” And if you have that in the front part of your heart when you’re having a conversation with anyone, if you really want counsel then you’re going to remember that even when you’re sharing really important things… And you want to make sure [the person you’re sharing with is] for your good, for you’re marriage’s good.
What advice would you have for a woman married to an unbeliever?
That’s easy: contend for the covenant! Display the gospel in the way that you represent God in that broken place.
Are there “rules” you and your spouse adhere to when it comes to “fair fighting”?
Absolutely. We don’t bring up past arguments… You don’t drudge up the past, and if you do it’s because you didn’t really deal with it before.
We don’t assign blame to character… It’s not like “you always”. It’s about the issue, it’s not a character thing.
The other thing that’s helpful is a preventative measure, which I highly advise. We have a day a week, usually Saturday mornings, and we talk about things. We talk about them in the safety of not being in that crisis moments… we do it on a regular basis, so it doesn’t end up being a fight.
To use a popular phrase, what are some ways women can “re-fall in love” with their spouse?
If you cultivate a sense of gratitude of the things your husband does for you, that is going to always keep that kindling fire burning. It’s when you start to take them for granted. And I’ve had women say, “Well there’s absolutely nothing I can thank God for my husband.” Well, does he pay the bills? Does he come home every night? Thank God for those things, because not everybody has those things.
Part of Heritage’s views as a complimentarian church is that a woman submits to her husband as head of the household, but that does not mean she is less than, or has no voice or opinion. How does this theology play out practically when a woman feels her husband is making an unwise decision?
Both John and I are leaders, you know, we have very strong personalities- and I am very submissive to John’s leadership. When it comes to things like that- at this place in our maturity this works usually really well , but in years past it didn’t- but I would call John into that reminder that he’s accountable before God for the decisions that he’s making and I’m doing my very best to serve him in that.
If I’m in absolute disagreement, I caution him again not to move hastily because when we’re in disagreement, if something goes wrong, it’s going to end up being divisive… What John has done, now, is if we are in disagreement about a decision we either don’t push forward or if it’s something that absolutely has to be made, he has to make that decision. And once he does, even if I’m in disagreement, I will support him.
Laura has two daughters and one son, and three (almost four!) grandchildren.
We all know we’re suppose to put our marriage #1, kids #2… the problem is, practically, how do we do this when the physical needs of our children tend to drown out the seemingly non-urgent needs of our marriage?
I think we think of time, sometimes, as quantity and not quality- not that quantity isn’t important.
I remember that my husband wanted counters clean when my kids were little. Everything was chaos, you know how it is. Toys everywhere, you’ve got laundry done, and you’ve barely got your head above dirty diapers at the end of the day. So John would come in wanting the counters clean, and I would be thinking, that’s the most ridiculous request and I would go “Psh, whatever. If I get to it, I get to it.” One day John was like, “You know, if you really loved me, you would care about the stuff I care about.” I was like, “Wow.”
I would be so busy with the kids, I would think [that] justifies my being unloving. But it doesn’t. So I started thinking about it that way and saying, even if it’s a small thing… remembering what he said was important to him- that’s quality.
I think they feel more loved, when in the busyness of our kids and all that demands of us, that we heard them and we actually responded. Not out of compulsion, but because we really wanted to bless them that way.
Young women are often pressured to keep their houses clean and orderly. And yet, we’re also advised to “not sweat the small stuff” and that “the laundry will be there when the kids are grown”. How should women balance the importance of order with the burden of always being “together”?
I think motivation is the key for everything… If you’re thinking of Susie Whoever who has everything together, and she’s coming over for prayer so you want everything together, I think that’s bad motives. But if your husband’s like mine, his work is a very chaotic reality and he needs sanctuary in his home- then you do need to contend for that.
The kids would know, an hour before he got home, it was like, “Okay, let’s pick this up.”… He came into order. That helped him feel peaceful.
What is pleasing to your husband? What is sanctuary in your home? And don’t chase perfection.
Raising your family in a pre-digital age, how do you see that it has changed day-to-day life for women? What are the benefits and/or pitfalls from your perspective?
I think everything, again, is motive. Everything is amoral, meaning its neither good nor bad. Some people are anti-Facebook and anti-smartphones, because they think they’ll ruin you’re life. But I love those things because I think in discipline and using them correctly, you have a great asset. So like everything else, you need to decide if that thing is for your relationship with God, for your marriage- and then decide based off that.
How do we take care of ourselves, honoring God and our husbands with our outward appearance, while not finding our identity in our looks and pursuing the world’s definition of beauty?
We are beauty. There’s something that God created in us that is suppose to embody and display that and the world has twisted that.
I think that a woman who loves the Lord, a woman who loves her husband, a woman who loves other people- is beautiful. When anyone comes close in intimate relationship with me, I want them to see what’s in me, and I want them to find that beautiful… that’s the goal, rather than a certain shape or size or hair color.
What would you say to a single woman who ultimately wants to be a wife and mother? Is it wise to be investing time and energy into a career and education?
Absolutely. I think women who are waiting around for a husband are denying the fact that they’re valuable without a husband.
I think many younger women desire to “bridge the gap” and be discipled/mentored by women who are older and wiser. How should women go about this?
Observation is your first thing. I don’t think we look at the right things when we look for mentorship… We want to be like “so-and-so” because they have the perfect house and the perfect kids or the perfect husband or whatever we thought. But to really look at how they talk about their husband. If I was really wanting someone to start mentoring me, I would pay attention to how they spoke , how they talked about people in general. I would want to spend time with them… I would really want to know that they were solid in that, and then I would ask them: “I’m really wanting to grow up in my walk with the Lord. You’re a little further down the road than me. Would you mind helping me walk along?”
And last but not least, what is your encouragement to older women who may not even realize how wanted and needed they are?
My experience is that my generation is very broken, and they’re so afraid of looking broken that they’re not willing to get healed. What I’m trying to tell the women that I know is that there are women out there that need us and to be healed is to become helpful.