Keys of Truth: Unlocking God’s Design for the Sexes: Coffee with the Author Cristie Penn


Last month I was blessed to go to a small ladies brunch group….THE GREATEST SMALL GROUP EVER….and hear Cristie Penn talk to us about prayer over coffee and some kind of oatmeal berry yumminess.  At the end of our time she disclosed a small bit of her book Keys of Truth: Unlocking God’s Design for the Sexes and I wanted to know more, so I asked her to have coffee with me.  I also bought her book and have been reading it at night…amazing….and life changing.

I stalked her website ( ) to find out some more information on my friend and this is what I discovered:

Cristie Penn is a wife, mom, and teacher with a passion to communicate God’s truths about how our unique gender differences are not weapons for war but rather tools for teamwork that should be celebrated. The vision for Keys of Truth was birthed from Cristie’s 36-year marriage, the adventure of raising her son and daughter, as well as teaching and sharing biblical principles in small and large group studies throughout the past two decades. In recent years, God has sharpened her focus on the dysfunctional interactions between males and females of all ages in families, workplaces, and personal relationships. Her passion is to help these dysfunctional relationships move from frustration to partnership where the love of Christ abounds between the genders.

In this first part of three gleanings from Cristie we go over the following:

  • Who would she have coffee with dead or alive?  
  • What drove her to write her book?
  • What IS God’s design for the sexes?



Me:  If you could have coffee with anyone dead or alive who would it be?  And you can choose one dead and one alive…I will give you that.

Cristie:  The person that is dead that I would like to have coffee with would be…my mom.  Because she passed away when I was 36 and when she passed away my family was mad at me because they thought that I had left our church and they thought that I was fanatical so I think that it would be her because….people will say “Does it break your heart that she was mad at you when she passed away?” and I say..No.  Because the only issue we had was my faith and who Jesus was.  So now I am no longer a disappointment to her because now she knows who He is.  So NOW I would love to have coffee with her.

Me:  After being with Jesus…YES.

Cristie:  So that will be the person that’s dead…the person that’s alive…to keep from being too churchy…this is the truth…I would like to have coffee with Joanna Gaines.

Me: YES (I think I said yes…but it really sounded like a happy chirp)

Cristie:  From Fixer Upper.


Cristie:  And maybe even Chip but for sure Joanna.  Because when I was writing the book, I wrote them a letter because they encouraged me from a distance that I wasn’t crazy, and to continue on writing about what they really personified in their relationship and in the way they are working….even in the way that they treat their children and all that.  So I would really love to have coffee with her for sure, and then the way that she lives out her faith in such a way that it is almost like incognito.  What I mean by that is if you are walking with Jesus you see Him in it or if not you see something that is very….

Me:  Just beautiful.

Cristie:  It is almost intoxicating.  The following that they have because of that show and God being in every part of what they do, the way they treat people that are chosen…the way God’s multiplied and magnified that show all over the world…I would love to talk to her and say…Does this seem like a dream?  How do you balance everything?  I think I could learn a whole lot from her.

Me:  Yeah because she is not just restoring homes…she is restoring people.  I have been ministered to so many times watching that show.  I’m like….it’s my heart…the Lord is restoring my heart.  It is just so good.

Cristie:  I love everything about it.

Me:  I love it.  So…when you do get to have coffee with her will you invite me?

Cristie:  Yeah…we’ll just go.

Me:  Yeah….I went to Magnolia Market too…I love it.

Cristie:  What an awesome thing for Waco!

Me:  Oh…yes!

Cristie:  Our daughter and son-in-law went to college there…and I am like what an amazing thing for that little city.

Me:  That is their vision too…they want to redo Waco…

Cristie:  Flip a town.

Me:  YES!  They knew that that is where they wanted to establish roots and they said let’s really affect our town.  Let’s restore it.

Cristie:  What used to be beautiful…

Me:  Yes, and let’s be a part of that change.

Cristie:  It makes everyone want to live there.

Me:  Yes!!  I have thought…

Cristie:  Me too!

Me:  Several times.

(If the vision of Chip and Joanna Gaines is not correctly stated above…someone please arrange a coffee date for me to have coffee with Joanna, so I can get it all cleared up….oh…and Cristie too!!!)

Me:  Okay, the main reason that I asked you to coffee is because of your book Keys of Truth: Unlocking God’s Design for the Sexes.  I know a little bit about your story and you write about it, but tell me again vocally…because it helps me to hear…what drove you to write this book?

Cristie:  I would say pain and believing in my heart that God had more for my husband and me that I had yet discovered.  That was probably half of it, the other was having done ministry for over two decades with women…bible study in Bible Study Fellowship and then in our home and churches.  Leading and training facilitators knowing that no matter where women are on their journey that there was pain…confusion…and for lack of a better word there was lacking.  There must be more…God must have intended more for me and my husband, and for a model to my children that I have yet recognized.  I saw that for years I felt that it was just me, so I would try to be the “perfect Christian woman” and play this part because if I did it like a T bar and listed all the ways that I was blessed on one side…that far out weighed this lack.  So I would justify that by saying…look at what all God has done…I should be happy.  I should be happy now.  But I wasn’t….I really had this sense of loneliness.  God showed me that it wasn’t just me but that it was almost every woman that I knew that had come through our home.  Probably 600 women had come through our home in 13 years.  I saw the same countenance that they had…what’s wrong with me…and I believe there could be more.  So over time we started doing a study with men and women and God began to show me that men were feeling the same thing.  It didn’t matter where we came from, it didn’t matter our spiritual maturity…it didn’t matter what denomination we came from men were feeling the same way.  As Christians I think we kind of just push it back and keep on keepin’ on  thinking that when the kids are grown and out of the house we will come back together and we were in that season and we were okay, but we were not living the life abundantly like the Word says.  God started showing me….and we had been to a lot of conferences and I am sure there are pieces of every conference we have ever been to woven in there somehow.  What He began to show me was that I was praying so hard for Him to change Don but what He wanted to do was change this evangelical feminist in me that I didn’t even know existed.  Over time He began to tell me simple simple things like…how often do you think something positive about your husband but you don’t verbalize it?  How many things a day does He do for you and you just think that’s just his job and this is my job?  Did you tell him thank you for taking the trash to the street and bringing the empty trash receptical back?

Me:  I have to text him that and say thank you.

Cristie:  Yes, they are little bitty things.  You think they are so strong but they need to hear your affirmation because to a man gratitude is such a big part of his love tank…where validation is for us.  I started doing those little things, and because we are so opposite in our personalities not just because of our gender but in our personalities…he wasn’t real communicative so after about 6 months of doing these things he stopped walking out of the room in the middle of a conversation because he wasn’t engaged or listening because his brain was somewhere else.  As a mechanical engineer running two companies with all these things on his mind it was really very hard for him to stand and listen to me for very long.  I started doing these little things and doing what we talk about in the book “hero language” just speaking life into him and being grateful for things he began to stop not hearing me and would turn and look at me.  The next step was when he started not just paying more attention but I could tell his heart was more open and he felt….what he would call attacked…even though I didn’t view what I was doing as attacking…he viewed what I was doing (in the past) as an attack.  We talk about in the book about being hunters, and warriors and kings.  He is a warrior and if I wasn’t perceived as immediately being on his side he thought he was being attacked.  There were a lot of things that came out of that and then about 6 months he said, “I don’t know what you’re doing, but I feel like a guinea pig with benefits and I like it.”  I thought it was so subtle and simple because it is but he began to open up his heart and be more receptive because he felt like he didn’t have to compete anymore, and I didn’t even think that I was doing that.  So…it was pain in my life and pain in other people’s lives and so when those processes started working and those ideas started coming to life and growing legs and beginning to be applied to our world.  I thought this is probably just for me but it was my husband Don who said I believe you need to write a book.  Now to many couples that may not seem very odd but in our life it was extremely odd because he had never encouraged me to do anything but be a wife and a mom and I did ministry on the side as long as it didn’t effect our life and our home, so for him to say that he was willing to invest a lot of money to start a ministry, to pay to brand a ministry, to begin social media, to pay someone to do that, to let you go write this book, to get a graphic artist to do the cover, to hire an editor to edit it….it has become much bigger than I ever thought it would be…if I had known I probably wouldn’t be obedient.  God put it on my husband to encourage him to encourage me to keep this ball rolling.  I believed in the message for me but I truly didn’t believe that it was broad enough for anyone else until he pushed me to  do it and we have done two conferences that we have hosted ourselves and that was how I was kind of testing God to see if it really was real because I really didn’t believe it…I really thought that it was just for me.  At those conferences to see men stand up in a microphone and say…more than one…that they graduated from seminary and they are in tears saying that they have never heard this…why have I never heard this?  The generational cross over from my generation even some of my friends parents that they want to have it and then the next generation….and it’s your generation, the generation behind me that I feel convicted about because of what we’ve passed to you.  I feel like that is why the Lord has given me a heart for the next generation because I feel like we need to do something to rectify what we’ve passed down even though it feels like turning the Titanic around.  It is a long answer but in so many ways multi-faceted but God is so multi-faceted.  He never works in one area at one time.

Me:  There were so many questions that just came to my mind.  But let me ask this first…what IS God’s design for the sexes?  If you were to take it and say…listen…this is the message that I am burdened for the next generation…my generation…if you were to say…you are having coffee right now with the next generation and you were to say…listen, Megan, take this message and YOU spread it now….what would you say it would be?

Cristie:  I would say that it is so simple, but the gospel is simple and we make it difficult.  We all make it so much harder than it is.  I would say simply that we all know that men and women are different, but rarely do we know why.  I believe that God has not only shown me the grief in His heart about the confusion but why.  I think that He did it because He took half of Himself and half of Himself and put both together to make a whole.  I believe that on purpose He created females to have voids and males to have voids and the simplicity of it that you could benefit from and that we could all benefit from is that He put the voids in the female and the voids in a male so that the voids of the male fill in the voids of the female.  He (male) can’t feel totally whole until he is providing for and protecting females in his life, and we can’t feel totally whole until men are filling in the voids in us.  Ironically, He created men with a need to give what He created in us a desire and need.  So it is what we call in the book a zipper effect.  It grieves me because a lot of single women will say…so you say I need to be married.  No, not necessarily.  When we drive down the highway and it is a stormy day or snowy day in the mind of a female we are considering that what if something should happen what male in our life would be able to come and help us.  We don’t want to admit that that’s what we are thinking because that is not really politically correct and it is not good to seem weak like we need men but we do.  So whether it’s a brother, a dad, an uncle, a coworker, a neighbor, a brother in the faith we need men in our lives and men need women.  God said it is not good for man to be alone.  Adam had God, but God said it is not good for him to be alone.  You need a companion and a helper.  It was the divine design to make us need one another, and I think what has happened in our culture that breaks my heart is that in the 60’s the pendulum swung from the abuse of women being pushed down and being discarded.  The pendulum swung to this fear based off “I will not need a man because it is weak”, and now what breaks my heart for your generation…and especially single women is that they feel shame when they admit that they need a man but yet that’s the way they were created.  So they walk around with this secret that was God-designed in them.  They walk around with this secret and try as they may to be men…which is impossible and exhausting…they feel defeated in so many ways and it was never God’s intent.  On the other hand, men have the desire for women they find it emasculating to admit that they need a woman, so they try and pretend that they don’t.  So there is this inner conflict and, what I would say, a distraction from really looking at God and what He designed…embracing that and trying to figure out what that means in your life…what that means in my life.  It’s hard to raise children in that atmosphere.  In many cases the masculinity of a man hasn’t been nurtured and called forth.  Men have been told that I want you to be more emotional…I want you to be more sensitive…it’s sad to me because these swords that they are supposed to have in their right hand seem offensive to a lot of women so they just drop it.  Then the women are like…well you are not going to protect me so I am going to protect myself and then the women become the enemy.  It is just really sad to me, but we aren’t defeated.  We just need to know the truth, take our positions and let the people around us take theres, and if they don’t take their position they may not be healthy enough to at that time.  I think that we have enabled them…on both sides.  Guys don’t open doors for women or treat them like the queens that God created them to be and then the men  walk around defeated because they really don’t know what they are supposed to do.  It’s sad because now I get so irritated when we go to a movie and you just see all the trailers for the next movie and it is not just that women are emasculating men but now men emasculate each other…and it’s funny…it’s supposed to be funny.  And if we don’t feel like it’s funny because it doesn’t bare witness in our spirit we think something is wrong with us, but there are so few movies that have people in the position that they are supposed to be in….it is just in our culture.  It’s sad but we are not defeated.

Me:  It’s not over till it’s over.

Cristie:  That’s right…and it’s not over until HE says it’s over.


My Gleanings

Peace has not come to me very easily as I began to work on this gleaning.  I felt uneasy in my heart…my will was rearing up.  Even now, I have had to take some extra time to get into worship and the presence of the Lord to ask Him why.  Why do I feel uneasy?  Why does working on this make me a little grumpy?

This is the answer:

Because you are scared of the message.  You are scared of what it means for you and what it means for others.  Things must change.  Things must go deep to take root and until the bad thinking and old ways of doing things are uprooted then new life can’t be planted.  Take a risk, trust Me, and begin to fully walk in the way I designed you to be. 

It makes me uncomfortable because the Lord is calling me to go deeper in a word that He has been planting in my heart for the past few years now.  That word is that…I needed to submit to my husband.  In Ephesians 5:22-33 it says for both spouses to submit to each other in some sacrificial way.  In our marriage the Holy Spirit was calling me to make the first move…a step of faith.  It was a risk that He was asking me to take.  Submit yourself to Kyle and see what happens.  I have been walking in it, but I need to go deeper.  I will go into that journey a bit more in the other parts of my gleanings with Cristie…perhaps…but now I want to focus on my discomfort, and fear of this message.  Our discomfort is a signal to draw us to change and not to ignore it.

In my journey I began to change the way that I spoke to my husband Kyle and used “hero language” as often as I remembered.  “You are the strongest man I know.”  “You are a stud.”  “You are amazing.”  Thank you for this…thank you for that…however great as that was…the way that I saw and treated him wasn’t correct.  I saw that he was the leader of our household, but certainly not a warrior or king.  If he wasn’t walking in the ideal of that yet…instead of speaking life into him and calling it out…I would judge him and become frustrated.

We talk about in the book about being hunters, and warriors and kings.  He is a warrior and if I wasn’t perceived as immediately being on his side he thought he was being attacked.

My husband Kyle is a warrior, hunter, and king.  I must SEE him in those positions already, step out in faith, and treat him as such.  The more I treat him that way…the more he will fully step into those roles.  I can’t just speak life into him and use “hero language” I must TREAT him that way too.  

Lord…help me.  Seriously, these next few gleanings are going to do a number on me….and I couldn’t be more excited.  It is a beautiful weeding process.

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