Ep. 73 || Ruth Chou Simons: Faithfulness & Work in the Season of Young Children

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. We’re so excited to share this interview with Ruth Simons today. She’s someone who has influenced both Emily and I in gospel-centred motherhood. We originally found her through her Instagram account where she shares strong encouragement about things like motherhood and marriage and securing your identity in Christ. Her handle is @gracelaced, and you definitely need to go follow her.

But one of the reasons we want to chat with Ruth is that, well, she has a lot going on. She’s married, has six boys and is currently home-schooling them. She has a thriving business and a brand new book. And yet, even with all this going on, she remains faithful to her calling as a mother, to disciple her children in the gospel. As I mentioned, she has a new book, it’s called Gracelaced, which features her beautiful artwork and is a great devotional to encourage you in any season you’re in. You can find a link to her book on our Show Notes page, on risenmotherhood.com.

And with that, I’ll let us get to the interview with Ruth, Emily and myself.

Laura: Hi, Ruth. We are so excited to have you on Risen Motherhood today. Thank you for joining us.

Ruth: Thanks for having me.

Laura: I’ve got my sister-in-law, Emily here too, so she’s joining in.

Emily: Super excited for this conversation.

Laura: I know; we’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time. And we know Ruth, that this is a busy week for you. We’re recording during your book’s big launch. How are you feeling?

Ruth: I am feeling great. I am super grateful and just glad to be here and glad to be sharing my heart, and on different platforms, including your podcast. So, thank you.

Laura: Can you tell us a little bit about – for those people who don’t know you, or maybe don’t follow you on Instagram – your family, your boys, and what a day looks like for you. I am sure it looks different, but...

Ruth: Sure. I am a mom to six boys. My oldest is fifteen and my youngest is four, so I feel like right now we’re in a really interesting stage; having teenagers, and that pre-school not-able-to-tie-his-shoes-yet kind of stage.

My husband’s name is Troy and we’ve been married for almost 20 years. We have been through various seasons – I have ministry and work, we have founded a school together, started a church. He was a preaching, teaching pastor for seven years, and so I was a pastor’s wife. I’ve been a blogger for 10 years. There have been various seasons, and I know we’ll probably get into it a little bit today. But my day right now looks a lot different than it used to because right now, as a family we do Gracelaced, the business, full-time. My work schedule is very different than it used to be when the kids were young. However, I still work from home, and so my day very much still looks like a lot of juggling and a lot of prioritizing and deciding on the spot, what is the most non-negotiable important things of each day. That’s something that – and again we can talk about it more today – for sure that I’ve had to learn, that each day is a new beginning and is a new opportunity to learn those things. When eight people do home-school and business and life together in one home, including several employees that come in and out of our house, there’s a lot of grace that has to be applied to one another, and to learn a rhythm that will benefit and bless one another, rather than just declaring what you need for your day. We do school around the kitchen table, we do business in our garage, I paint wherever there is a clean surface [laughter] and so our days are full. We’re very, very normal, and yet it – admittedly – is not entirely normal to have seen my dream realized at this stage of my life.

I am turning 42 in a few weeks, and I say that just because I speak at conferences sometimes where I meet young twenty-some-year-old young moms and a lot of times, young ladies ask me things like, “What should I do to be where you’re at?” And I want to say, “20 years” [laughter]. I want to say, “It takes time, and it doesn’t mean that it always includes those 20 years. But it means that whatever the Lord has for you, it usually doesn’t mean instant gratification.”

Laura: You’ve touched on about six of our questions here [laughter]. We love it. We are so excited [laughter]. So going with that, maybe I’ll take the interview here since you started touching on that. Emily and I have followed you for a long time, and as we’ve watched your stories unfold, we know that you have slowly expanded your business to be able to pursue your dream. As you said, it is a little bit of an unusual lifestyle that you lead, to be able to accomplish this. And in many ways it does seem like a lot of moms’ dream gig is like, “Hey, I am home with my kids, I’ve got a thriving business, I have a book.” It’s really neat things, but we know, Ruth, that you are really grounded in the gospel. What kind of gospel-centered advice do you have for a mom who’s thinking to herself – she’s home with one baby, maybe two - and thinking, “Arrg, I want a side gig. I want to do something more fulfilling. Is this all that there is?” What should play into her decision as she thinks through those thoughts?

Ruth: My favorite thing to say to women in that position is, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Sometimes we look around and we see all these opportunities; it’s like you can take a webinar on how to grow yourself on social media, you can go to this conference and hobnob with just the right person and maybe you’ll get ahead a little bit. Or you might see somebody else who’s just as talented as you are and you think, “They did it, why can’t I?” But the thing that’s amazing is, it reminds me of, I think it’s in The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis when Aslan is telling Shasta that Aravis’ story is not for him to hear. He says, “Well, why did you do that? Why did you this? Why did you do that?” I am paraphrasing of course, and C.S. Lewis does it so much better, [laughter] but he says, “I only tell each person their own story.”

The trouble with social media right now is that we can, in the moment that we’re in somebody else’s feed, we might think that their story is the right one. We think that their story is the only one that can be told. The thing is, we can all have very, very different circumstances, and every motherhood journey is different; every creative journey is different. But the Lord is always after the same thing. He’s always after us – realizing and seeing that He redeems us so that we might become full in the likeness of Christ. That we might actually be image-bearers the way He intended for us to be - proclaiming the gospel with our lives, living out the reality of death to sin and forgiveness and redemption, through whatever creative means He’s given us. That might look like creatively setting out the table for dinner of mac and cheese and salad for the night. It could mean having a dinner party, or it could mean sewing your way through an apron business. It could also mean starting an art business. But it may not mean that you see fruit the way it looks on the outside for other people.

One of the things that I really had to come to grips with, because before I had the art and writing dream, my dream was actually to be overseas and to be a full-time missionary. Troy and I were on the fast track to being lifelong missionaries either in China or in Latin America, and that felt like running after purpose and serving the Lord. One of the biggest things that I had to learn was that as I became a mom, the mission field wasn’t out there. It was right in front of me, at the kitchen table. I say that a lot, but I mean it in that it certainly does not look like a mission field when you step up to the sink full of dishes because really what we want to say is, “Isn’t there anyone else who knows how to rinse dishes and scrub this off?” [laugher] Or you want to say like, “Did I really go to college to have these toddler conversations of what pink is? Pink and red.” [laughter] Or, “Am I really listening to these little sing-songy things?” All of this.

We would all agree that there are days when motherhood is beautiful. We are just sitting there, we’re like, “This is glorious” [laughter]. I’ll be, “I am the luckiest woman in the world." And even on hard days sometimes we’re like, “This is beautiful.” But, honestly, 75 percent of the time, it is fighting against everything our flesh wants to do with our day. We don’t really want to change another nasty diaper. We really don’t want to deal with colic or screaming or crying. We really don’t want to deal with the three or four-year-old throwing themselves on the ground and kicking and screaming, right? What we really want to do is just read the book that tells us what we can do to get over this stage and do it successfully [laughter]. And then how we can balance it all so that we can actually produce really great things we want to produce, and do something that will be like, “Look what I did with my day.” 

Because honestly, at the end of the day, most of the time we’re just like, “What did I do?” As a young mom, you could be like, “I know I folded laundry today, but I can’t show anything for it because my house is still a wreck.” Part of the mercy of God is that He gives us areas in our lives that we can’t dominate. We just can’t dominate them, and that lack of being able to own it and rule it and be like, “I am amazing at it,” causes us to fall at His feet. Early motherhood is a time where try as you might, you could run a full-time business, but no one can do everything. And so, in those years you’re going to have to make a choice, and it’s not that that choice is the same for everybody. But the reality is there’s no such thing as “having it all.” If you give the majority of your time developing a business, you’re probably not going to have much bandwidth to developing the lives of your children and your time with them. That is something that will not stand still for you; time will not stand still for you, your kids will not wait around for you to get your business off the ground. I am not saying that to guilt anybody. Everybody has a different story, and some moms find themselves absolutely needing to work during those early years, and God will absolutely provide for that. But that goes back to why we have to look at our motive, right? And you touched on that, with the whole question of, if a mom says, “I want something else. I want to do something else.” What is the motive behind that desire to do something else?

Emily: First of all, [laughs] you’re speaking so much rich truth. I feel like moms with little ones, you’re describing my day and my heart and what’s so hard. But just that idea of wanting to see the fruit right now, and really struggling because the input is constant.  We’re not seeing yet, a lot of that tangible progress either, in our children, or in the things that God is growing in our hearts. I just really appreciate it, and I am not going to quote it exactly, so maybe you’ll be able to tell it back to me,  where you say, “You’re growing...” what is it about? You use it as a hashtag all the time, about the fruit?

Ruth: That, “You don’t have to be blooming to get flowers...”

Emily: Yes!

Laura: There you go [laughter]. We both have newborns... [laughter]. I love that.

Ruth: I am in a season right now where publicly, people can see a lot of fruit. You can see a lot of blooms going on, but you know I started motherhood before I was even on Facebook right? It was back in a time when there were no pretty pictures that went along with your faithfulness every day. I love to mention this, especially to young moms that, “What is lived out in the unseen absolutely informs your platform someday.” Whether that’s a little stage in which you get to minister to ten women in a Bible study, or whether you’re speaking to 500,000. Whatever it is that the Lord gives you impact over, is what you do behind closed doors, and with the people that are never going to share about you on social media. That’s where it counts the most; your children are not giving you shout-outs all day long, “Hey, shout-out to my amazing mom, #bestcookever.” That’s not happening with our children, right?

No one’s giving you credit for those 30 minutes you spent in the bathroom, dealing with a child who seems too hard-hearted to admit that he’s wrong. Those are hard things that you do day in and day out. But, you may not see the fruit of it right now, but it’s changing you. It’s not just changing them; it’s changing you. Maybe you’re a young mom that says, “I sure would love to write. I sure would love to have a platform, or I sure would love to share my heart and encourage other moms.” My biggest encouragement would be, use what the Lord has given you right now, and be an encouragement within your immediate sphere of influence. That might be with your two-year-old, or with a young lady from church. That might be simply applying the truth to yourself first, because in time - when you’re not looking for the stage – the Lord will open up opportunities for you to use the content that you learned in secret, and He will give you opportunities to share those in the public forum. But when we aim for the public forum, that’s when it goes backwards.

Laura: Emily and I talk a lot about, even just with the Risen Motherhood platform like, “Wouldn’t it be a shame if someday Risen Motherhood is huge and big, but our children felt neglected when they were young?” Or, “Wouldn’t it be a shame if someday down the road we’ve realized all our career dreams, but our children, and when we asked them, “Hey, how did you think you felt like your childhood went?” they would say, “Oh, you were distracted, you were always stressed, you were always gone.” Our hope is that we can keep that balance because it is a tricky thing. But like you said, whatever the Lord has in front of you, to be content in that. That’s why I’d love for you to talk a little bit about, what are some simple strategies for a mom who is maybe feeling this way? Or feeling like she wants more? To keep your identity rooted in Christ, rather than your success? Even the success of your child’s behavior – of them doing well, or seeing their mom...

Emily: Being the perfect homemaker.

Laura: Right, because it can come in all forms of our pride, where it hits. So what would you say, “Here are some simple strategies that I’ve done to help keep my focus on the Lord?"

Ruth: Well, first and foremost - I don’t mean for this to be a Sunday school answer – but sometimes we go to God’s word thinking that we need it to do our job. As in, we need it to be able to know how to love our kids. We need it because we’re a child of God. We need to commune with the Lord, and if I were to be honest, I would say that’s the first thing that I want to put aside. I am like, “Oh, I don’t need to be in the Word today. I need to get after my list.” I don’t even say it that way, I just say, “I don’t have time right now. I need to get on with whatever I need to do,” or, “I need a few more minutes of sleep.” 

I’ll tell a real quick story about when one of my boys was three and four. For pretty much two years he would wake up like seven times a night, and we couldn’t figure out why. He would just wake up and start screaming. Like, it felt like night terrors, maybe there were some cramps, we didn’t know. But it got to the point where we were like, “Lord, we’re here listening. What do you have to say to us?” because it got a little like, “There’s no answer for this.” We tried lots of things – we tried everything from going in and patting him on the back, or cry it out. Anyway, long story short, we were so low on sleep honestly, that I just remember Troy, my husband, getting up really early this one morning. I noticed he got up after having slept maybe sporadically for a few hours that night. And I was like, “What are you doing?” And he goes, “I need to get up and spend time with the Lord and read my Bible.” I was like, “How can you survive this day [laughter] without more sleep?” He’s like, “How can I survive this day without being with the Lord?”

That has always stuck with me, and not because he’s heroic, and amazing, and he always is perfect at reading his Bible. No, that’s not the point. The point is that we forget that the very things that are the hardest about that season, and those little years, and just how stretched we feel, are meant to drive us back to the Lord and cause us to commune with Him, rather than use Him as like, “Hey, what scripture verse will get me through the next moment?” But rather like, “What do I do to thrive in Christ, and to remember my identity in Him?” It’s like I’ve written about in the book, there is no follow through in obedience, that I can come out of simply saying, “I want to be better, I want to do better, I want to tick off my list.” There’s no power in that. You get discouraged, you stop, you say, “Whatever, just throw in the towel.” 

That’s where all the jokes come in, where moms empathize with one another and lower our standard for what it is that we’re even trying to do. We don’t find it a divine calling. We say, “Arrg, let’s just make it through.” But instead, when we concentrate on the character of God and who He says we are, then you recognize that whether He’s given you Zimbabwe to minister to, or a two-year-old and a coloring sheet, it’s equally kingdom work. That keeps us aligned with knowing, “It’s not me that’s determining my worth today, it’s Jesus.”

Emily: I relate, that’s my go-to;  that, “Oh, let me go to my to-do list.” But it’s really, that is so temporary. Literally, sometimes I have a to-do list written on a crinkled piece of paper, and by the afternoon, somebody’s colored on it and thrown it in the trash. When I am thinking about the eternal things, and really remembering, “This is momentary, and what’s going to last forever is the Word of God and my relationship with Him.” It’s like, “Of course it’s worth investing in time with Him and the relationship because that’s the only thing that’s going to stand." But I feel like that takes a lot of practice, and speaking truth to our own hearts. It’s like that backward thinking; it’s counter-intuitive to what our flesh wants to do, which is this temporary thing that I can immediately accomplish. [laughs]

Ruth: It’s choosing it every day. The thing is, I am such a perfectionist that I feel like unless I have it down perfectly, and I am the most routine person in the world. I don’t know how to pick back up and try because honestly, I am not the most perfect routine, disciplined person in the world. And there are seasons when I am getting to my Bible at the wrong time of day, and I am like, “Wow, tomorrow morning, I want to start earlier.” That’s an adjustment. We need to be okay with adjusting. But to get back to, Laura, just a little bit more, at a practical level - because I don’t just want to speak on only a big paradigm, and paradigm is important - and that’s why I always start there because we have to have the mind of, “My self-worth in Christ is what’s going to determine what I do today.” It absolutely has to start there.

But once we lock ourselves into the fact that there is no circumstance or no action today, that defines my worth more than my identity in Christ, once we have that in place, that will determine how we use our day. We can’t just be willy-nilly, we can’t just be sitting around going, “Let’s see how this day goes,” because if we were to be honest, this day would go to Facebook. [laughter] This day will go to social media, this day will be like us chasing a few legit links that take us to a bunch of non-legit links. [laughter] That we’re all of a sudden not reading anything that’s even beneficial, and we’re just all of a sudden going, “Wait, what happened here?” or, “Who is this person?” And your day’s gone.

Just on a practical level, I would say – I have written about this before – but we do a lot of team meetings as a family. We have a lot of getting together at the breakfast table, and going through our day, and making a plan for our day. And partly we have to do that because our kids are home. We’re all home, so we really have to determine, “Hey, when do we convene together for snack time? When is it quiet in this house? When do you need to respect that mama’s door is going to be closed and you can’t come in? During that time, these questions will be taken to dad, or these questions will be taken to one of the girls that help in the shop, or these questions will be taken to whatever it is. You have a list and you know what it is that you’re supposed to be doing during that time. Kids can’t respond accurately to things that you haven’t prepped them for.  That’s one of the things that I keep learning is that you have to set yourself up for success in that you have to prepare hearts. You can’t say, “Hey, I want quiet, and I want time to work.” There’s nothing wrong with having time to work, but you can only have time to work if you predetermine what that looks like, and as a family, agree on the cost, right? We will say, “Hey, it’s costly because I am not available during that time. But I am available after this time. And during that time, I am putting my phone away and we’re going to work like this.”

One of the things that I feel like we do a lot as a family, is we discuss what it is that I do because I don’t want any mystery to it. I don’t want them to be like, “Oh, she works, and then she’s on her phone a lot." No, I’ll say, “Mama’s Instagraming right now. I am writing out a post. Let me read it out loud to you. Why don’t you guys read this with me? What do you think? Does this describe the way we’re seeing the Lord work in our lives today?” I actually have them, they don’t really help me at it, but they read it with me. They look at the photos, or they preview this post that I am doing so that they’re a part of it.

And sometimes I ask forgiveness and say, “You guys, I can’t come to dinner just yet because I am on a deadline. I am going to finish this and then I’ll join you guys in a minute.” And so verbalizing and acknowledging, rather than feeling guilty about how you’re not juggling it all perfectly is a really practical way to enter into that conversation with your family. So rather than being like, “I am pretending,” or “I am just going to put aside the fact that I am not perfect,” and just be like, “I am just doing my best, you guys. I feel so guilty here." Rather than doing that, just to say, “Hey, can you all offer me a little extra measure of grace this week because I’ve got a few deadlines? It’s like other jobs where sometimes it’s busy or sometimes it’s less busy. But can you guys pray for me? This is what you can expect; I will be done by this time, and then let’s go for a walk." It’s really good to lay out expectations ahead of time in your day.

It’s funny because it leads me back to that story about Susanna Wesley, about how she flipped her [laughter] apron over her head. She taught her family that there’s a signal for when mom needs alone time with the Lord. And that is just a picture; we clearly don’t wear aprons or flip them over our heads. But maybe it’s something that you will do to communicate with your family - the kind of time you need, and when you need it, and how your family can support one another, based on certain signals and predetermined things that we do as a family, to make those times sacred.

Emily: What a wonderful example of how to communicate the gospel to our children. Of just bringing them in; it doesn’t always have to be this formal, set-aside thing. It can just be a matter of saying, “Mommy is flawed” [laughs] and “Mommy needs Jesus and I am depending on Him right now. I don’t have it all together, I am not juggling. I need this just like you do." I just need that reminder that I can stop and invite my children into the mess, and I can invite them into, even the hard places in my heart, and the ways that I am struggling, and say, “Hey, let’s stop and pray.” Even the practical preparing, well I don’t do that enough. [laughter]

Laura: The importance of communication just can’t be overstated. As we’ve said, like explaining, “This is exactly what I am up to." My son knows the jingle to Risen Motherhood at the beginning, and he knows, “momma has a podcast, and she tells women about Jesus.” At three and four, that’s where he can understand and  it can just grow with your children. I am curious for, especially like your littlest ones, or maybe when your children were younger, were there any other practical things that you did, to help bring really young children into your work? Or even just like Emily said, of informal ways of passing on the gospel to your children? We know you guys are a really intentional family, so we want to get some practical tips out of you. [laughter]

Ruth: For one thing, I would say we really believe in conversation. As a family, we are a very conversational, always-chatting family. Personality-wise, not everyone’s chatty, and not everyone’s communicative in that sense. I happen to have a verbal processing kind of family. But, we lead out on that, so we choose to not divide the sacred with the secular. Meaning it’s not like, “This is the time that we are going to track practice. We’re in the car getting ready for track practice. This is not church and discipleship time.” We just say, “It’s all discipleship time." So looking for teachable moments is a really big thing with little ones, because we all want to say everything we want our kids to change and grow in, in the moment of disobedience. Or when they’re throwing a fit, we’re yelling louder over them like, “This is not okay. You need to learn!” and they’re kicking and screaming and we’re going, “Why are you not hearing me?”

But what I find so special is that you actually make so much room for those kinds of conversations, when you’re finding teachable moments. So for example, with my four-year-old, if I am painting, legitimately for work, and I give him a spot next to me and say, “You grab your watercolors, but here’s the thing, mama’s painting. In fact, I might even record something while I am painting it, so you need to be really quiet, okay? So if you want to join me in my work, you need to be real quiet." And then as we sit there and we do the work, he feels welcomed, and he’s not in trouble. There’s not something major going on where I am trying to teach him about something; he’s just enjoying my presence. Then, it’s a real opportunity to say, “You know what, you were so quiet just like I asked you to. I really see the Lord working in your life and causing you to understand obedience more and more. Do you remember? Doesn’t that make you feel so happy? Are you happier when you see you and mama are on the same page, and I am asking this of you, for your good, and you’re obeying? We’re enjoying one another, right? Do you remember the other day when I said ‘Hey, you’ll be most happy if you do it the way I am asking you to do it,’ and you said: 'No, I am going to do it my way.' Were you really happy that day?” – Obviously, I am going off the top of my head here, and just rattling off this conversation. But usually, some version of that he’ll say, “No, I wasn’t happy." 

So you take a moment where there’s really sweet communion, and that’s the opportunity to say, “You know, it’s kind of like that with the Lord. It’s kind of like that with our relationship with God, where we’re in sin, and we can’t come to Christ and we don’t realize that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty of our sin." Obviously, I am using bigger words than I would with my four-year-old at this moment. And maybe not, we’re growing into that. But it’s a perfect opportunity to say, “We’re the happiest when we’re in the right fellowship with the Lord, and He makes that possible through Jesus on the cross."

We’re not happy when we aim for all these other things that we think will get us closer to being okay with God, and we’re really not unless we recognize how He made that possible.

So those are the kind of conversations that you creatively think to yourself, “What if my everyday life illustrates pointedly, the way God provides for us through the gospel?” And you just find ways to invite that conversation to be something that doesn’t happen just at church, on the way home from church, on the way to VBS. You invite those conversations in the most normal moments of your life.

Emily: It requires us to slow down. I was just thinking, you’re talking about something that requires me to put my phone down. That requires me to make eye contact during the meal time or to just have moments in my day where I am not untouchable. It’s like, “Mom is so busy on a mission to get this house cleaned up, to get this laundry folded, to take care of this other thing” that you can’t even approach me in a teachable [laughs] moment because we’re just on a mission. So that’s really convicted to me, just to think about slowing down so that those conversations can even happen.

Ruth: I don’t know if any of your listeners will feel this way right this moment, but sometimes women hear these conversations and they roll their eyes and go, “Oh yeah, slow down. Sure, if I can afford to do that.” So sometimes I like to say it another way – and I’ve posted on this before – where rather than make it seem like this is a hard thing to nail, what does it look like to slow down? What does it look like to have leisure in your life?  Instead, I like to say, “This is proactive. This is actually something you do do, is that you plan for nothing.” I like to talk about that because that’s something you can achieve; you know how to plan nothing in your schedule. Sometimes it’s hard to know what it looks like to slow down, or to be like, “Oh, enjoy your kids.” Well, what does that look like? But if I tell somebody, “Look at your calendar and cross out at least half of what would naturally be scheduled in.” Just plan for nothing because that’s when it happens.

When you plan for nothing and you don’t schedule every minute of your day, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Just because you feel obligated to have dinner with everybody that you want to have dinner with, doesn’t mean that you should have dinner with everybody. It doesn’t mean that you should be constantly filling up your schedule with those things. Some of the sweetest times that we have with our kids is actually when they say, “So, what’s going on tonight?” And we say, “Nothing.” And then they go, “Oh, let’s go on a walk.” So then we go on a walk and you usually talk when you’re on a walk. And so things come up, and I can actually ask the question like, “So, tell me about that weird look that you gave [laughter] me the other day when I mentioned such and such.” You know you can actually bring those things up now because you’re on a walk, and they know that they have you, and your attention.So, for entrepreneurs, for busy people, something proactive we can do is actually to schedule nothing.

Laura: I like that idea, maybe even putting it on my to-do list - “Live out the gospel with my kids,” or “Talk about the gospel,” just so that every time I look back, I am like, “Oh yeah, that’s something that I would want to do. That’s the most important task of my day,” physically maybe even writing it down.

Ruth, as we close here, is there anything, any charge you want to give to young moms? We know you’re just a couple steps ahead of us. It’s probably still pretty fresh – these diaper days and nursing days and things like that. So is there any charge that you would want to give to young moms as they invest well in their children, if you could speak into their life now?

Ruth: I would say, “Don’t discount the most ordinary moments. Do not discount and think that it’s a waste.” I have let too many years go by where I thought that I was trying to arrive somewhere; like, “I will be more effective once I am out of the diapering stage. I will be able to speak to my kids once they’re over the tantrum stage, I will...” whatever it was. I am so aware right now, that the Lord is sanctifying us in every single step of the way, even in those sleepless nights when a baby wakes you up in the middle of the night, and you can’t go back to sleep and you’re lying in bed. That is not a wasted time because if He gives you that particular thorn and that trial in your season, and you’re lying there in bed going, “I just need another extra hour of sleep, why am I awake,” let that drive you back to the cross and say, “Everything is meant to cause me to give my heart back to Him.” That might be in the middle of the night, that might mean that when your kids are crying and crying, crying, you put on a Curious George for a minute, and you think, “Aah, I can’t believe I am just putting them in front of the TV.” Rather than immediately going from one extreme to the other like, “I am the best mom /I am the worst mom,” stop and just say, “Just like our Christian work, our work with the Lord is not about performing our way to acceptance.” Or, “I am feeling so much, that we’ll never make it back. It’s the grace of God that sustains us; that’s the way it is in motherhood as well. When you hide yourself in Him, [laughs] you can’t fail hard enough. You can’t succeed enough to make your kids brilliant, and you can’t fail hard enough to cause them to be a wreck. The Lord is in control, and you’re just part of the process.

Laura: What a relief. [laughter]

Emily: There’s this collective sigh of relief here.That’s what the gospel does. I feel like the gospel removes the burden of guilt and performance that we have, and that’s resting it right there, a sigh of relief. [laughs]

Laura: Well thank you so much for being on the show today Ruth. We just loved talking to you so we really appreciate your time.

Ruth: Thank you so much for having me guys.


Ep. 72 || Questions, Appointments, Evaluations and Differences: When Your Child Doesn’t Fit the Mold

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Hello, and welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I have my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen here with me. Today, we’re excited to announce something new. As you guys all know, we have an arm of Risen Motherhood called RM|Equipping, and through that branch of Risen Motherhood, we have worked to create resources to help equip you in gospel-centered motherhood, particularly to grow in Biblical literacy, and to help strengthen you to stay focused on your ultimate mission as mothers, to show your children Jesus, day in and day out.

We have a new section of RM|Equipping, called "The Vault." Basically we will still have all of our base resources for free (all of those resources that you guys have come to know and love), and they are super easy to access. But The Vault will hold any additional Equipping resources we have - the only thing you'll need to give us is your email address. We’re not selling your email address and we’re not going to spam you, but the big reason for that is we want to consistently be adding new materials to The Vault when we can and when we do, you'll receive an email to allow you to know that, “Hey, there's something new in there; I want to go and check it out.” 

Then you can easily log in, and go ahead and download whatever you want. So those resources are still monetarily free. They are easy to download and you can print as many as you like. You can share them with your friends, but this is just a good way for us to be able to create a backend system that has all these resources for you guys, which we hope, if time allows, we can continue to build up that area, so that you guys can just scroll through there and say, “Hey, these are six things that I want; I want to download those and print them out.”  We hope that it will be beneficial to you. We wanted to let you guys all know just about that new twist on the website [laughter], and we just pray that it will be a blessing to all of you. 

Emily: Super excited about the Vault. Now, some of you guys hopefully heard the interview that we did with Abigail Dodds, about having a child with special needs. If you haven’t, definitely go look that up in our archives; there are so many encouraging, applicable truths for anyone who's walking through a time of suffering, and does not understand why God is allowing something to happen in your life; it’s wonderful. We know there are a lot of moms out there – Laura and I included – that maybe have a kiddo that we either aren’t ready to, or we don’t identify as being a child with special needs. But there is still maybe some unknown things going on with their health, or their development, or maybe we’re just not sure how to apply the gospel when a child seems to be a little bit different, or doesn’t fit the mold like we think they should. 

Laura: Maybe your child is in therapy for speech or occupational, but you wouldn’t necessarily call them a “special needs” child, yet your child is receiving some extra help. Or maybe they have a physical difference on their face or their body that is pretty noticeable to other people; even glasses, or hearing or vision issues; things like that. What other ideas?

Emily: It can even be something like a sensory issue that makes it harder to go out and do “normal things” in public. Or even I know sometimes food allergies can make regular meals or eating out or getting together with other families difficult. 

Laura: So there's a gamut; obviously it’s always a spectrum, and as you're processing and navigating, you're learning new things every day, and especially when you're at the very beginning stages of figuring out, “Hey, this is something that I am noticing that is different about my child,” or “What kind of medical care do we need? What kind of help do we need? What can I do?” We just want to talk through how the gospel applies, because for both Emily and I, it’s something that we’re currently experiencing, and we know firsthand what a confusing season it can be, and just how lonely it can feel at times. Em, do you just want to share a little bit where you're at?

Emily: Sure. And we will apologize in advance for being a little bit cryptic because as you guys know with your own kiddos, you want to be protective of your family and all of that, but we also want to you to hear where we’re at. So one of our kiddos – our little boy who’s now two – basically around six to nine months, he just stopped reaching a lot of developmental milestones, and it started us on a journey of understanding, like, “What's going on here?” Most things seemed healthy, and eventually we got into therapy, we went to see a lot of specialists. It’s been probably a two-year period that we have been in that process, and it still feels really unknown – what we’re dealing with and what the future looks like. We go to a lot of doctors’ appointments for him. But we've also been sanctified in the process, we've been really blessed by him, we enjoy him so much, and so it’s definitely been something we've had to apply the gospel to and believe God’s goodness, and all of those things, in the midst of something that’s very unclear. 

Laura: I think I would have two children that fit into this category. I think one of mine is very similar to what Emily’s experiencing, which has been really the grace of God that Emily has walked this path a little bit ahead of me. One of them isn’t meeting their developmental milestones, and we’re just in the process of figuring out what that means, and really even what the root issue is, or what's really going on. So like Emily, a lot of doctors’ appointments, a lot of therapy checkups. Right now, we’re really just taking it day by day with her, and trying to figure out what exactly is going on, and how serious it is, and there are a lot of questions for our family.

And then with another child – my son, so you guys will know right away who he is if you’ve seen any pictures, he actually has a lot of vision needs, which we've been dealing with since he's been an infant – everything from glasses and patching and even surgery to help him get the best sight possible. He's also in a little bit of OT (occupational therapy) for both vision things, and other things as well. I feel I am navigating that area with him, and have been for many, many years. But especially on the visible side of things, I can really relate with anyone who's struggling with that because when you deal with glasses and patching and different eye things, there's a very visible marker of something else that’s going on. 

Emily: Yes, those are just two experiences we know of. We know there are millions out there, and everybody’s story is a bit different. If you're a mom and you're like, “I have a kiddo and I have some of these feelings,” we want to know how to apply the gospel there, and the first thing is just remembering, what we typically go through here on Risen Motherhood: creation, fall, redemption, restoration. The other night I was taking a bath and I was thinking about something that my child did, and I just thought, “It’s not supposed to be like this.” That’s so true; it’s not supposed to be like this. God created humans to be perfect, and Adam and Eve were not struggling with these types of issues. They wouldn’t have had to go to a doctor’s appointment or receive an evaluation, or whatever. Pre-fall, if they would have had a child, there wouldn’t have been issues with that. It’s just important to remember that feeling we have of, “It’s not supposed to be this way.” It’s because we long for perfection in the way that God originally designed things to be.

Laura: I think redemption and restoration gives us so much hope even in the midst of that longing, just knowing that God is sovereign over the way they were created. He knits our children together. Your child might not fit the mold, or they might not be exactly who you expected, but God is ultimately over that, and sovereign and in control. That is a hard truth – going back to the Abigail Dodd's episode would be helpful – and we’re going to talk a little bit more about it here today. But just remembering that God is ultimately for our good, and His purpose is to get glory. These are hard truths, especially when we’re dealing with our children, because I always keep thinking, “Lord, just do it to me, not to my kids. I’ll take it, but I can’t handle when this is dealing with my child.” But we can image Christ in our response, and in the way that we love our child, and we can remember the promises in Christ are true for both my very healthy children, and my children who were navigating these really hard situations, and I can still trust God with that child’s life, as much as I trust Him with my more able-bodied or more healthy child.

Emily: It’s a quick caveat there that one thing I've already noticed with a kiddo that’s got some developmental issues is that it can be easy to look at my kids and be like, “I need to be raising them up in the Lord, and giving them the gospel.” And I look at the other kid and I am like, “I need to be given him therapy and special doctors and whatever the thing is.” These promises are true for our children, what every one of our children needs more than anything, is the hope of the gospel. It’s not the hope of being “normal,” our hope is not in finding a normal for them. Our hope is in Christ, and their hope, we want to give them hope in Christ too. That’s just something we wanted to throw in there.

Laura: And going back Emily, to talking about the Garden, and the perfection in the Garden and how we long for that, we can look at that in restoration of how one day we all will be redeemed. Our child will have a whole and perfect body, and that already, I look forward to having more. When you're dealing with a child that has differences, you long for that for them, and in our culture these days, it’s pretty easy to just forget about Heaven because life can be a little easier or really good at times, which is a mercy of God. But at the same time, it’s good to long for Heaven more; it is so good to have Heaven at the forefront, to desire eternity. We know that we have that hope; that it’s inexplicable if you don’t have the gospel, that one day we will see our child fully restored, fully redeemed, and we can have hope in that, in the midst of sometimes a very grievous situation.

Emily: We don’t have a good ton of practical one because Laura and I are in the midst of processing through this. But we just wanted to offer some thoughts; here are some things that are in our inner conversations, that are on our hearts and minds, some things that have brought us comfort and some things that have challenged our thinking. One of the first things we wanted to say is a reminder,  sometimes when our kids have “everything they need and want” – materially, socially, mentally, physically – it can be harder for them to see their need, sometimes, for the word. Not all the time; I am just speaking in generalities. But sometimes, when a kiddo comes up against challenges, it’s actually a mercy, and a grace because they may be a little bit quicker to see their need for the Lord, to have sorrow, and to have a need to depend on Christ. So again, we just have to re-orient our thinking to know that sometimes limitations are actually gifts, to be able to see God’s grace greater.

Laura: I often think with the different challenges that my kids have, even looking down the pipe to adoption, and knowing that some children that we bring home will probably have needs, I know my kids will be better for it, our whole family will be better for it, and that God is going to use this to help our whole family, my extended family, all the people around us that love us. He is going to be using that to point to Himself. As we model God, and as we model His character and His love and His grace and mercy for our differences, we can be a witness for the gospel and draw people to who God is, because it is a beautiful picture when we are comforted in God’s sovereignty over each individual child in our family. 

Emily: This is true for all Christians, but another thing to remember, and that I have to remember often is - my husband and I deal - is God uses all these things in our lives, sometimes including the challenges of our children, to make us more into the image of Christ. One of the things Paul talks about in his epistles is that, as believers we want to keep maturing. He talks about that being a goal of his, is to present believers as mature. But we do that often through hardship and through suffering, and through disappointment, and through having to be patient, and having to wait on this or that resolve, or having to be sad about the way that situation turned out. And then turning back to the Lord again and finding freedom from the things that the world says are going to make us happy, and going, “I don’t have those things,” like, “The world says my child should be a star athlete and should have all these talents and should be good in school – whatever all those things are in order to be happy. If I don’t have that, where am I going to find my happiness?” Well, it’s got to be in Christ because everything else is shifting sands. So those are just incredible and hard ways to depend more on Christ.

Laura: I think it can be really easy to have an entitlement mentality about our children, or even ourselves, saying, “My kid doesn’t deserve this.” We all want easier lives for our kids, right? At one level, we want them to find success and do well and get married. Like Emily was saying, a lot of those cultural beliefs that we have for our kids and often, even with ourselves like, “Gosh, I don’t deserve to have to spend so much time on doctors’ appointments.” Or “This isn’t fair to my other kids,” or just navigating all of the time and emotion and the commitments and the behaviors that your child’s exhibiting.

But really, we don’t deserve anything, but with Christ, we receive it all; we receive everything that matters, so we have the eternal reward that we’re waiting on, and that we wait expectantly here. And just knowing that this life has not been promised to be easy; this life has not been promised to be something that you're going … to find that success - everything Emily was talking about – is a gift in many ways because you can know Christ more fully in these weaknesses. And like we were saying too, even your child may more easily see the graces of God in his or her life because of something that’s a little bit different about them.

Emily: So just along the practical lines, one thing that Abigail Dodds mentioned in her interview, which I personally need to hear, [laughs] is that it is okay to grieve, and it is okay to have sorrow over the way that sin and the Fall has impacted everything especially our children, and that it’s okay to be sad about that.

Laura: Yes, and it’s important to keep perspective on the individual child's needs versus the needs of the family; that’s something that Emily has shared a lot with me especially going before me on some of these things. That it can be very easy to get tunnel vision and obsessive, especially if you have multiple children, to obsess about one child’s needs or differences - wanting to fix it and to go into that mode of, "Doctor Google" and all of those things. And those are important and good things that we must advocate for our children, but we want to make sure that we’re looking at the family as a whole, and sometimes that means you're not able to do absolutely everything that a doctor recommends or the home therapies or other special things. All those different things; you just do the best you can, and trust that God is sovereign, and that He will care for the needs of our family better than we can. I think that often, I want to sort of control all the environments, and make sure everything is perfect, and I can’t. It just brings me to full humility about my limitations as a human, and I have to trust that God will extend those efforts and that He will care for those that I love because He loves them more than I do.

Emily: And as you keep hearing Laura mentioning, we talk about this a lot. So let people in that you feel are safe, and that can hear some of the details of the situation. That probably shouldn’t be everyone, [laughs] but there should be people in your life that you can really be candid with, and just talk about the struggles. There was this quote that came up that we wanted to share; I think Laura I sent this to you at 2 a.m.

Laura: Yes, and I’d already bookmarked it that day, and I saw it at 2 a.m. because we were both feeding babies [laughter]. It’s this quote by Kathy Keller, and it says, “God does not give hypothetical grace for our hypothetical nightmare situation. He only gives us grace for our actual situation."

Emily: I know that is something we talk about a lot, and Laura and I have to remind each other – when we start to get like 10, 15, 20, 50 years in the future – worried about this or that thing, to say, “What God has put on our plate with this child today: right now, this hour, this moment, He has given me grace for it. I can do the next feeding, I can do the next appointment, or whatever that is. God has given me grace for that.” He has not yet given me grace for the things I do not know are going to come or not come.

Laura: And just remembering that future grace waits for you. When you look at a family and you're like, “How do they do it? I don’t understand!” I just think to myself, “That’s future grace,” because God’s grace will meet you. For everything down in the future, God’s grace is waiting there for you. But you don’t need it now, and you don’t have it now, so just remember that God is near to the broken hearted, and He wants, and is ready to comfort you. He gives wisdom to those who ask sincerely, and with the right heart, and He desires to conform you into the image of Christ as you depend on Him every day. If you're in the situation, know that we stand in solidarity, and we just know that it’s a tough season, but that God is gracious, and He has met Emily and I every time when we've not known what to do. He has been so good to meet us where we’re at, and to meet our children. I just always take such comfort in knowing that He does love them more than I do, which is sometimes hard to believe, but He knows what's best, more than I do. 

Emily: On that somber note - but we hope that it was also encouraging – you can find a lot of these quotes, and like we said, we’ll try and include more scripture references and articles that have been helpful, and books that have been helpful on things in our show notes at risenmotherhood.com. You can also find that Abigail Dodds interview there that we were referencing. And you can also find us on social media at Risen Motherhood on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. So, we’ll be back next week.

Ep. 71 || Mom Bods & The Gospel

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. We are so excited to be back, recording after a maternity leave for both of us. We both had babies this summer. 

Laura:  Yes, it’s been an incredibly long time since we recorded. We’re both feeling pretty rusty and sleep deprived. I am literally sitting in spit-up laid-in yoga pants. [laughter] I am the epitome of a tired mom that has a newborn; that’s for sure. 

Emily:  Today, our goals are to share some exciting stuff with you guys about the fall. We haven’t necessarily been recording, but we have still been doing a lot of stuff behind the scenes for Risen Motherhood we that want to share with you and then also, we are going to talk a little bit about mom bods, mom bodies, body image after you’ve had children. Obviously, Laura and I are heavy in the thick of it right now.    

Laura:  [laughs] I am not sure we should be talking about this right now. 

Emily:  I shouldn’t even be using the word ‘thick’. [laughter] 

Laura:  That is a word that describes us quite well. [laughter]  No, it’s a little sensitive topic right now but we are excited because I feel like it’s real, and it’s real for no matter where you are at, after babies, so we are excited to talk about that later. 

Emily:  First off, in case you don’t follow us on social media @RisenMotherhood, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, Laura had Eden Lynn on June 8, and I had Evelyn Ann August 4.  

Laura:  They are both sweet little ladies and we are excited for them to be both best friends growing up. [laughter] We also have another announcement. We added our sister-in-law, Becca Jensen. She is joining our team, which we are super excited about. Emily and I are more on the writing and the content creation of things and we ... basically can’t count at all. [laughter] 

Emily:  We can do some math. We are smart in different ways, but our sister-in-law, Becca was a middle school math teacher. I always love that whatever we say, she’s already gotten to the solution of the problem mathematically before we’ve even thought that there was a math problem to begin with.

Laura: We’re excited to have her on to help us out with the financial stuff. It’s so fun to be three sister-in-laws working on a project about the Gospel, which is something we are all so passionate about. We are really, really blessed to have her added to our team. Also, you guys have requested this over, and over, and over again and so we are launching transcriptions this fall. We are slowly back filling the archives, so we’re trying to get those as far as we can, but going forward as well, we will be doing those as the shows come out. Even this show right now, you can hop onto our website and you can click on ‘view transcription.' If you work, or if it’s just easier for you to read, or we’ve heart you guys are using these podcasts to discuss with a group of mom friends, hopefully it will be a great reference for you to be able to check out the transcriptions, see it in writing and consume it another way.     

Emily:  Another thing we are really looking forward to – we’ve been wanting to do this for a while, is to continue to add more voices to Risen Motherhood, and more experiences, and so our blog, will, Lord-willing this fall will feature a lot of different writers, and different voices, and different topics that maybe Laura and I don’t feel equipped to cover. We are really excited about that, and also excited about a lot of highly requested shows that we’ve processed through over the summer a little bit, and we are going to try to tackle some hard topics this fall, getting some great interviews, and I think we have an ‘Ask Us Anything’ slated for October, right Laura?     

Laura:  Yes, it’s one of our top listened to shows, which always blows me away, and it was really fun because that was one that we didn’t prepare super heavily for last spring, but we were able to shoot some stuff off the cuff and get more candid with you guys, so we are looking forward to that.  

Emily:  The final thing I want to mention because I just drank out of it this morning, and I’m super excited about it is Risen Motherhood mugs have arrived at our sister-in-law Becca’s house, and we’re planning to give some of those away this week, right Laura?   

Laura:  Yes, and we want to give away some of these mugs to you guys! We worked with The Created Co. to get these coffee mugs made. They are really fun. I haven’t seen them yet – Em, can you describe them?  

Emily:  They are mat black, which is cool, to reflect the Risen Motherhood brand and they have a pretty pink peony on them. It says, “Risen Motherhood,” pretty small. You don’t have to scream Risen Motherhood on anyone while you’re drinking it. [laughs] It’s really nice and subtle and hopefully, something that is just fun. I don’t know; I always like a new coffee mug.  

Laura:  We are really excited to have them and you can’t buy them anywhere so we hope that you win one this week. [laughs] 

Emily: I think that that was our business that we wanted to take care of, our announcements, our ‘hey’. We hope that you guys are excited about the fall and here are things that are coming but now it’s time to dive into the mom bod conversation. Obviously this is something that is high on Laura and I’s mind [laughter] because both of us are pretty newly postpartum. There is a lot of pressure from the culture postpartum to immediately look like you didn’t have a baby. 

Laura: Pretty much. And today we’re talking about even beyond postpartum, I think it’s near and dear to our hearts right now, but we’re talking about how after babies everything changes permanently. It doesn’t matter if you get back to that goal, the weight, or you fit into the pants, sometimes the pants still don’t fit you quite right! It’s a permanent change, having babies. There’s so much pressure on what we need to look like, and how we should feel, and how our bodies should act after babies. So we’re talking about all the changes that happen and how hard it is, but also the hope of the gospel.

Emily: And Laura, I don’t know what influences your mind as you’re looking at your postpartum body, but I know that generally, right after I gave birth, I had this moment where I’d look in the mirror and think, “I am so skinny.”  And I am so proud of how I am doing, and then you get home, and four days later, you look at yourself again and you’re like, “Whoa, I look like five months pregnant still!” [laughter]

Laura: I know! I told the nurse, right after I had my son; my first born, I was literally laying on the table, I just looked at my son, and I just said to her, “Look how skinny I am!” [laughter] I literally said that to the nurse. [laughter] That’s how delusional I was.

Emily: It’s literally like the race is on for your stomach to go back. It’s like you start the mental countdown, like, “Okay, how many months of an excuse do I have before I feel like I should look normal again, and if I don’t, I am out of excuses?” That’s kind of the stuff that goes through my mind, which is really distorted.

Laura: And far beyond, after you recover and you feel like you’re looking great; the body image thing, up and down, your body is just not "20-year-old pre-baby" anymore. There are long-lasting effects on your body image after you have kiddos.

Emily: Obviously this is something we want to apply the gospel to. We don’t want to just accept what the culture’s telling us, or accept the messages that are in our own mind about the way our body looks, and how we should be prioritizing that or not. We’re going to think about, in creation, how God originally designed Adam and Eve perfectly. Laura and I, as we were preparing for this show, we talked about how Eve would have had the perfect Whole 30 diet [laughter]. She had the whole garden; whole 30. She probably would have had a great body that wasn’t – not necessarily "greatness"  in the sense of what our culture thinks is great – but however God originally designed it to be "great." She wasn’t impacted by age or stretch marks or scars or any type of habits like gluttony that would have put on extra pounds, and things that weren’t necessary.

We don’t know all the details of that, but what we do know, is that God originally created her to be beautiful and perfect, and to reflect Him.

Laura: At that time too, a big key point is that she delighted only in God. He delighted in her exactly as she was, and she wasn’t focusing on self. But because of the Fall, we know that that stopped. Immediately she started wanting to delight in herself, she wanted to worship self, she began to doubt God’s version of beauty and she truly wanted to be divine, and not having those limits of restrictions.

I think we’ve mentioned Hannah Anderson on every show almost since we’ve had her on our show, but I love the quote from Humble Roots; it flipped my world upside down. She has a few pages on body image, but she says, “We do not hate our bodies for what they are; we hate them for what they are not. We hate them for not being God-like.” And basically she goes on to say that just like Adam and Eve, today we reject the bodies that tell us that we can’t be God. And so that’s what happened in the Fall, that all of our value was put in ourselves, and not in its proper place. 

Emily: That’s when all of the shame entered too. The shame of how we look, and worrying too much about that. But thankfully, God did not leave us there, and we have freedom in Christ; we are free from having to feel shame about our outward appearance, or being dissatisfied about the way we look because it’s not about us. It’s about God, and it is about what He is doing in our hearts, and that’s really what God cares about – our motives.

That Hannah Anderson quote is really important in the gospel, and redemption reminds us that we have to be dependent on God at the cross, we have to accept our limitations, we have to see our imperfections, and be repentant, and that we don’t need to be focused on ourselves. We’re not living for ourselves anymore. We have died with Christ, we’ve been raised with Him, and now we are going to live for Him, and not for our own idea of the way we should look.

Laura: Every time I pick up my 40 pound toddler and my arms start to shake, – you know how after pregnancy you suddenly get weaker or have wrinkles, moles, or more freckles and stuff – every time I look at things like that I am like, “This is weakness. This is the sign of things changing and the fall, and now that can be a picture of my dependency on Christ.” Every time we see another wrinkle, you have another C-section scar, or you have stretch marks, those are signs of the fall, but those are also signs that point you to the fact that you are limited; you are not God, and that Christ came back to save you, and that you serve a limitless God.

Emily: I love that as we look ahead to the future, and where our hope is, we are going to have a restored body someday when Christ returns, we don’t have to have it now. In all of eternity, the verse says, When we see Christ, we will be like Him.” We don’t know all the details of that, but again, Christ came back with scars, and I don’t know all the deep theological nuances, but we can know that, “It’s okay because this is short and momentary, and we are truly here on this earth to serve Him and do good works. We don’t have to have the perfect, non-weak body right now.” 

Laura: God isn’t asking us to have this perfect pre-baby 20-year-old body. [laughter] That is not found in the Bible, and it’s important to see that there is very little emphasis ever placed on what your body looks like, or even certain healthy eating styles or exercise regimens.  We’re supposed to be self-controlled, self-disciplined, but we’re not getting this pressure from scripture to be this goddess-like body. It’s definitely coming from culture. God’s ideas about beauty are all heart-related things.

Emily: There’s no Galatians 5:3 “This is how you should look on the outside [laughter] and this is the time by which your jeans should button again. [laughter]

Laura: You need to have a six-pack please.” [laughter]

Emily: I think one of the reasons why we wanted to talk through this and think through this, is because sometimes, we think body image issues are isolated in our minds. At least that’s what I think like, "I’m the only person who knows that I think about this, and I am the only one who knows I am worrying about this." But really, it spills over into every other relationship that we have. I see that it hinders my ability to love those around me, and it hinders ministry and things, so we just wanted to talk through a couple of ways to be aware that when we’re not believing in the gospel, and what it says about our body image, it is probably impacting relationships.

Laura: The first one is, are you letting the way that you believe you look, affect your intimacy in marriage? Are you able to accept compliments from your husband? Do you believe that you are worthy of his, or anyone’s – for that matter – love and affection? Our body image can do a huge number on affecting those things, and so we don’t want to let that control us, in the way that we interact, especially with the person who is most dear to us.

Emily: Some of you guys know I welcomed my first daughter this summer, and I have four other sons, and even to think about how I’m passing along God’s idea of beauty to her as she gets older. Does she see me focusing on external appearance all the time? I just started to think about, wanting to pass on the importance of heart motivations. That is what God cares about and it’s crazy because if I have a distorted view of how important my physical appearance is, or even how quickly I want to get rid of my mom bod, I am going to impress upon her,  without realizing it,

Laura: The conversation always lends itself to daughters pretty quickly, but both of us, having sons, body image and the way we view ourselves, affects our boys too. They’re watching us; men are not immune to unhealthy body image. A big thing that we can model to our boys is that, not only how they view themselves when, maybe a girl rejects them someday for a date, or they don’t make the baseball team or something. But also, when they are looking for a wife someday, we can help them know what kind of woman to look for. Do they go after the ones who are really insecure and fretful about what people think about them? Or are they looking for a woman who’s really confident, and the only one whose opinion matters, and that’s God’s.

Emily: Other ways it can also affect us, obviously is our attitude. I don’t know Laura if you’ve experienced this, you probably do, feeling a little- 

Laura: I know what you’re going to say. [laughter]

Emily: You’re feeling a little frumpy [laughter] and you’re feeling a little not happy about your external appearance, and it can really affect your attitude and the way that you treat those around you. I feel ultimately, that that is as a result of self-focus. Any time we’re overly focused on us, and how we’re doing, it can cause that. But for sure, with body image.

Laura:  I feel like my attitude just spills - my frustration about what I look like – spills right into my relationships. 

Then looking at our our time; it can be easy to spend an unhealthy amount of time on body image. Not just in, “I have to do this workout, I have to eat like this, I have to put on this makeup, I have to take off this makeup and put on special overnight creams and all of those things.” Which aren’t bad in and of themselves, but then again we also spend all this extra time thinking about it, researching, "What are the right things? What’s going to make me look ageless? What is going to make me feel good today?" When we start putting all of this time into it, we’re focusing in on the wrong things. I love the Keller quote that says, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less. And so let your affections be on Christ, and not on yourself.”

Emily:  Speaking of thinking of ourselves less, the more that we’re focused on dissatisfaction with the body that we have, the more reclusive we can be. We are meant to live out the good works that God has prepared before, and for us. We want to be bold in our serving. Sometimes I feel like, when we’re focused on body image, we can say “no” to opportunities because we don’t want people to see we haven’t lost that 10 pounds from baby. 

Laura: I remember getting asked to do some announcements in front of a women’s bible study, and I was like, “Mmm, no” because then everyone will see all the things that I don’t like. That is all that they’re going to look at; they’re not even going to hear me, they’re going to be focusing on all those things I don't like. That is warped and incorrect, but I wanted to pass on a serving opportunity simply because I didn’t want all eyes on me. So, there’s an example. Don’t let that be you. [laughter]

Emily:  Practical is always subjective, but we wanted to leave you guys with a few ideas. 

First of all, you’re probably not going to be surprised by this, but get in the Word. I feel like that’s about the only way we can renew our minds and have right thinking and be able to meditate on what is true – to know the gospel, to know what it is that God wants us to be focused on and caring about. To know what it is He’s not asked us to worry about and honestly, just to get our hearts focused on the right thing. We can’t do that if we’re not regularly in God’s Word, which I am now preaching to myself because postpartum, that is incredibly hard. 

Laura: We were both just talking before we recorded the show about how much we have lacked and missed being in God’s Word, and how we feel ill-prepared to record, but we’re grateful. God uses all seasons, and He shows up for us. Yes, get in the Word, and we’re preaching to ourselves. Also, along with that praying for a proper view has been my number one thing that has changed my view of self. It’s asking God to change my heart, and to adjust my expectations of being fully satisfied in Him, and not looking for that in the way I look.

Other practical things are like, maybe you need to stop weighing yourself, or you need to stop trying to put on those jeans that are too small [laughter] and dying all day because they’re way too tight [laughter]. 

Emily: You know when you put on something in the morning, you’re like, “It fits!”  and then at four o’clock you’re like, “It does not fit. It definitely does not fit” [laughter]. 

Laura: Emily Voxed me the other day and was like, “Today I put on my first pair of real jeans,”  and she’s like, “This is worthy of an announcement!"  Like, “But they were way too tight, way too tight but I did it” [laughter] 

Emily: I regretted it. I wanted all the maternity pants back in the afternoon [laughter]. 

Laura: I was cheering you on!

Emily: I reburied them in my drawer [laughter], get those out of sight. But in general, maybe it is spending less time on hair, makeup, clothing, getting ready because you’re like, "I have been really focused on that." Maybe there’s this season to just let off of it a little bit. Or maybe you’ve just been avoiding taking care of yourself because you feel ashamed about the way you look, and so you haven’t invested any time in that. Maybe you need to. Go get a haircut, get a new whatever it is that’s going to help you stop, not be so self-focused, and feel a little bit more comfortable.

Laura: Or maybe you need to think about your words in front of your children and just check yourself. If they’re in the bathroom hanging out with you while you put on your makeup, or you’re at the pool and you’re not willing to get in the water for reasons that are, because of the way that you look, maybe a lot of it is just checking your words, and how you speak about yourself in front of your kids.

Emily: And final caveat, I feel like when you have a mom bod, you’re always worried that other people are looking at you and judging you, and speaking of myself, I am never looking around and thinking about mom bods [laughter]. Honestly I am always looking around thinking about how awesome, especially my friends and stuff, what a great job they’re doing and things. It’s just funny; we always think people are worried more about our bodies than they really are. They’re not!

Laura: Yes. A hundred percent. That is so true, Emily. [laughter] In closing, just remember that your body is supposed to be imperfect. It will never be like the airbrushed, photo-shopped pictures, it wont do everything that you ask it to do because we’re made with limits. 

We have to learn to adjust our expectations, and while it’s important to be healthy and self-controlled and take care of the body that God has given you, we also need to embrace that weakness that we have, in full humility, and let it point us to God who is limitless, and is perfect. We want our weakness to point us straight to God, and the God who saves us, and one day we’ll redeem our bodies as well.

Emily: For more information and resources on this, you can find us at risenmotherhood.com. Check us out on social media at risenmotherhood.com. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  Hope you guys join us back here next week.



Ep. 33 || Intentional Motherhood Starts at Day One - Transcripts

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. Before we get started, we wanted to talk about something that would be encouraging and helpful for us - leaving an iTunes review.  

Laura:  I know we always ask about this and we usually try to leave it at the end but it seems like all the other podcasters are putting at the beginning, so [laughter] we feel like we can do that every once in a while. I put together a whole page on how to do an iTunes review and a rating and even how to subscribe to a podcast. We are going to have those up on our website, risenmotherhood.com because we have heard from many of you, “Hey, I want to leave a review but I don’t know how, or it seems too hard.”

It is not hard; I absolutely promise. If you know how to use Facebook or email or anything, you can do it. We desire to reach the Gospel message about motherhood to as many moms as possible and that is the best way to do it. If you think about Amazon reviews and how those work, or maybe you read reviews before you buy clothing or anything like that, that’s what people are doing before they listen to podcasts.

If you have already done that for us, we want to say a massive thank you. Ultimately, this isn’t about Laura or Emily. We really hope that all of you are feeling like the show is about Jesus. We desire to get out of the way, and we hope that you are encouraged to draw more deeply into your relationship with God. If that’s something that’s happening for you, we would ask that you leave a review. We are asking and humbling ourselves a little bit [laughter] because it is hard for us to do that but we really would appreciate that because it’s huge for being able to be ranked in iTunes and all their silly algorithms and such.

Emily:  Today though, we are trying to answer the question, when does God start working in a child’s heart? I felt like when I had my first child and he was a little baby, that all the spiritual stuff and all of the God stuff was going to come later. Even more so, I had in my mind this beautiful picture of sitting at the kitchen table and doing these memory verses, and having deep theological conversations, and doing catechisms. He’s four and it still doesn’t look like that. [laughter]  

Laura and I think it’s important that we don’t devalue the time when our children are infants because now looking back, which is just a tiny bit of time [laughs] I can see how important that stage was, and how the Lord was working in my children’s hearts even when they were infants and forming a bond and helping their brain develop and all of those things. That’s what we’re talking about today.    

Laura:  We want to talk through the importance of even when they’re babies and they’re not really responding to things – investing the Gospel into their lives starts the moment you meet them.

Emily:  In the Bible, there’s even evidence of Mary, who, when she’s pregnant, goes to her cousin Elizabeth and her baby leaps in her womb. Laura and I don’t have all of the answers today but the Lord is working long before we even realize. I can remember working as a nursery worker at a local Bible study in the infants’ room. At first, when I was joining it, I was like, “I guess this is important, but is this a job where I’m really getting to pass along God’s love to these children?” At the end of the year, I was so humbled because after singing over those children and praying over those children and even speaking basic Bible stories to them, I had so much faith that God was planting seeds in their heart at that time even if I couldn’t see it.   

Laura:  I have always called myself ‘not really a kid’ person but I’m a ‘my kid’ person. [laughter] I really struggled with the baby stage because I wasn’t getting anything back or that's what it felt like. There was part of me that wanted to speed though it and get them talking and feeling like, “You’re my buddy.” [laughter] I remember when my son was 18 months old, I was like, “You’re my best friend!” we do everything together all day. Prior to that, I was struggling with wanting to wish it away until I could feel like I was being more intentional and having more feedback and things. Both Emily and I have stories of things that we’ve done with our kids prior to being a walking, talking, somewhat logical – though there’s a debate on when [laughter] when they become logical.  

Emily:  That takes a while.

Laura:  Before that, things where our children have remembered songs or were able to say some scripture or prayers; different things that we have repetitively done, and even building a love for the Bible, reading it every night and them to help them understand what it is. There are a lot of things that our children soaked up during that time that we didn’t even realize.   

Emily:  If you are a mom of an infant right now and you’re waiting for the big work to start, take heart because you are doing big Gospel work right now. God is not limited like we are, by language or maturity or being able to understand. I don’t remember what speaker I heard this from one time but talking about how the Lord knows all things and He is all-powerful. He has access to a baby’s brain and heart and is able to work in there in ways that we don’t always understand. Be encouraged and know that this is an important season to be an image bearer of God to your children.   

Laura:  We image Christ as life bearers and so this is a huge gift for us to show our children who God is, what He is like, not only through our actions, how we serve our child over and over again. It’s a lot of repetitive actions. If you think about it, we are like babies towards God. We really can’t do anything on our own. God continues to gently care for us especially when we are new believers. The whole milk to solid food saying, there are a lot of parallels that you can see come alive when you’re nurturing a baby.   

Emily:  There’s this part in 1 Thessalonians where Paul talks about how he treated the people of Thessalonica like a nursing mother. I love it and there’s those types of imagery that are used all over the Bible. He talks about how he was gentle with them and He gave of His whole self. Anyone who’s fed a baby at all, in any way, knows how much sacrifice every couple of hours it takes to feed a baby. Think about all of the spiritual realities that we are imaging for them even if they don’t understand it. The Lord sees other people. It is a beautiful picture of what discipleship looks like and what God’s love for us looks like.       

Laura:  Another big thing that I’ve been learning as I go through this adoption process is, I feel like I’m learning a lot about what’s happening in the infant stage, because we are planning on adopting children that are two to four years old, somewhere in there. It's a huge amount of development that’s happening in those years, that we as moms don’t even realize, the foundation that we are setting with these infants.

I’m reading through this book, The Connected Child and it’s by Karyn Purvis and a couple of other people. I will link to it in the show notes. Honestly, even if you’re not adopting, it’s a great book to check out. I have highly recommended it. It’s one of my favorite books on parenting in general. A lot of the stuff that they talk about, even from a research standpoint is that even a mom’s emotional circumstances during pregnancy affect the newborn, which is an amazing thing that God has done. Things are happening. even from the moment of conception.

Especially learning about adoption, when children don’t have a caretaker that shows affection, they don’t learn to process sights or sounds as well. Often, that can result in a sensory disorder or even difficulties in how to bond with people. That’s from not having a caretaker who is lovingly holding a child or gazing into their eyes, mirroring their face, using a warm voice. A lot of children don’t develop moral compasses; they don’t understand how to not hurt someone because they’ve never closely connected with a person so they don’t have that bond. It’s really fascinating research.

I have more but I won’t even go into it, [laughter] so read the book. It shows how vital God has made that time of bonding with a mother or father or grandparent, but specifically, we’re talking to moms today, of how a mother could care and nurture for that child. Now I’m looking at, with my adoptive children, again, I haven’t done it yet so I can’t speak from first person experience, but of needing to make up for that time that my children may have missed having someone to closely nurture them, and the after effects of what will happen.

Emily:  From what I remember, especially being in the baby stage, a couple of times like you were saying Laura, there’s this feeling of wanting to rush through it but feeling like it’s less important. Like Laura said, there are majorly life-altering important foundational things being developed and laid. This is the groundwork from which you can talk to them about the Gospel, or talk to them about the Bible, or talk to them about obeying God down the road. If they don’t have language, or they don’t have a bond … with your own baby, all of that naturally happens, but see it as important and that it is part of being able to pass some of these deeper things on later. I always joke that it’s like making good Iowa soil so that when they are a toddler or when they are a little bit older, you have great heart soil to be planting seeds in because you’ve been nurturing it. Today, we thought we’d go through some specific ways. You probably know a lot of these but: taking time to snuggle them, taking time to be face to face with them. Taking that time to linger and interact, and make sounds and being with them.  

Laura:  Those are really good, especially when you have more subsequent children to keep in mind because what’s harder for me, the moment I had baby two, it was like my attention’s divided and only pressing needs are met. Totally a normal stage. God is so gracious that just because we give our first, all this adoring eye contact and our second, we’re like, “Hey, if you’re crying hard enough I'll give it to you.” It’s a good reminder of taking that time out even when that baby isn’t needing our attention, but of intentionally making sure as your family grows larger, you are able to do those things.

Emily:  What’s fun too, at least I’ve experienced as I’ve had subsequent children, it’s a gift. It is such a joy for me to be able to go be with the baby because my other kids, [laughs] they climb up onto my lap and they’re needing things. It’s a little bit more stressful. View it as a gift because that time is a joy. It’s a nice break. The other night my husband was like, “Can I feed the baby?”  and I was really possessive of him like, [laughs] “I have to do the other kids? No, this is my little time that I have with him.” Find those times and make it special. Whether you have one child or four children or more, you can find those little times.  

Laura:  Other practical tips. One that was really helpful for me is to speak scripture over my kids during a diaper change. I taped a verse above my changing table so my husband could do it or I could do it. We would change them out weekly or when I would remember. That’s a very practical tip - to trigger in your brain, “I want to speak scripture to them.  

Emily:  The practical ideas are awesome though. Those are the ones that are really inspiring to me. I was at a baby shower one time and the woman who was giving the devotional was talking about this investment, even in your baby. She was saying every night her husband would recite a Psalm over her baby’s crib. They did this every night not really thinking anything of it. Then when their daughter was somewhere around two years old, one night, she stood up in her crib and she recited the whole thing. They didn’t even know she was really listening and she said the whole thing for them and they were shocked. It’s like, “Wow, that is deeply imprinted.

I know I’ve had the exact same thing happen with two or three things, especially with my oldest who I’ve seen time pass a little bit. Things that I told him spiritually that I said over and over and over again, or even songs that I know I did not sing much to him past the age of two, that he sings to me now word for word like "Amazing Grace." I’m like, “He retained that from before he could talk.”  

Laura:  My son knows "Amazing Grace" as well, and a lot of the verses because we both sing it. I’ve heard that of people, having a hymn for their child and that’s the main one that they will sing over and over them again. Any time it comes on, then they hear it at church and they’re like, “Hey, it’s my song,” Starting that when they’re really, really young of like, this is their song or a life verse, a lot of people do that.

That ties into another one of going to church with regularity. I remember with my first child, it was pretty easy. When you’re newer to motherhood and trying to figure out, there’s a lot going on and a lot happening. It can be easy to slough off some of those commitments, especially with naptimes and those things. Making that a priority, allowing your child to see even as a baby is important. I know it seems like they’re not learning anything but they are as we clearly talked about here. They'll get familiar and comfortable with how a service works and understanding that church is super important to mom and dad. It’s part of our weekly routine. It’s vital to our fellowship with other believers and my relationship with God. Even as an infant, they can begin to build that block into their life.  

Emily:  Other practical things would be things like, go out and start a routine with them. Maybe it’s reading a little Bible before bed, or it’s praying before meals, or it’s speaking a blessing over them before bed. I know we’ve done that with our kids since they’re babies. Whatever you start, even if they’re not totally aware of what you’re doing and they’re squirming around, what’s cool is when they get to the toddler stage where they’re starting to push back on things, a lot of times if they’ve been doing something their whole life already, they don’t know any different. I remember an older, wiser mom said, “If anything, start the routine for you, for your self-discipline as a parent more than anything.” This is the easiest time to start, when they are a baby. Not that you can’t start later; you can start any time. [laughs]  

Laura:  These are a few ideas to get you started. Talk to your mom friends; see what other people are doing. There are a million great ideas out there. We want you to feel like, hey, this time is really special and to realize the foundation that you are building as an infant is so important. That God is not limited by language; He’s not limited by maturity. A lot of times we’re constantly thinking like, “This is what I’m going to feed them, this is when they’re going to nap.” We’re very focused on the physical, which is important - and is in your face -  with a baby. But we want to encourage you guys to be very aware as well as what’s going on spiritually and that God is not limited in His work for them and their hearts right now. He started long before they were even conceived. For you, that hands-on work is starting the moment they are in your arms.     

Emily:  [laughter] That’s encouraging for me too. We hope that even though you are not seeing all the fruit right now, that you are encouraged to go be an image bearer of the Gospel to your children as you are giving life by your sacrifice like Jesus did for us. We hope that you enjoyed this today. We will have all of our show notes on risenmotherhood.com where we will try to include more links.

Laura:  We’ll put in maybe a children’s Bible or some music that we like, some of those practical things.

Emily:  You can find all the practical things, anything that we mentioned on our show notes. As always, you can find us on social media @RisenMotherhood, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Don’t forget about the rating and review on iTunes. Thanks for joining us guys.

Ep. 32 || Gloria Furman, Missional Motherhood - Transcript

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to Risen Motherhood. Laura and I are so excited for you guys to hear today’s special episode. It’s an interview with Gloria Furman. We’ve been holding onto this for a little while now, and we know you’re going to enjoy hearing wisdom from her, as much as we enjoyed having the conversation.

Gloria is a mom to four little ones, a wife to Dave Furman, and they actually live in Dubai. She’s a writer and she’s on a lot of big websites like the Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, and you’ve probably seen her stuff shared on our Facebook page and on our show notes. She’s also an author, a speaker, a volunteer doula, so she does many thing, but we wanted to have her on the show, specifically to talk about her new book, Missional Motherhood.

Laura and I both read it, loved it, and thought she did such a great job of communicating how God speaks to moms through the redemption story. Today on this interview, you’re going to hear Gloria talk about that in more detail. God’s plan for moms since creation, the way that sin affects everything we do, but there is still hope, and God has an ultimate future grace for us that we can cling to. She is also going to give some great practical ideas about how to preach the gospel to yourself, and even how to have time with the Lord in the midst of really busy moments as a mom. Definitely stay tuned through the whole thing as there are some great nuggets in there, even at the end. We are so excited for you to listen in, so enjoy our interview with Gloria.

Laura:  Hey everyone, thank you so much for joining us today on Risen Motherhood. We are so excited to have a very special guest here, Gloria Furman.  She lives in Dubai, so we are grateful that she is willing to join us through technology. I also have Emily, my sister-in-law here.

Gloria, do you want to take a second to introduce yourself? We are thrilled that you are here, but we’d just love to know a little bit more about you. Can you tell us about your family, what you do? All those good things.

Gloria:  Thanks for having me. This is so fun. I love talking about these things, and it’s really nice to have an adult conversation in the middle of the day. [laughter] Thank you for providing that outlet for me. My name is Gloria. I have four kids, my husband is a pastor and we live in the United Arab Emirates which is on the Arabian Peninsula. We’ve been here – next week – it’ll be eight years - so this is home. Our kids don’t know anything but the desert, so it’s always fun to see them have culture-shock when we go visit the United States like we did this last summer. We’ve just come off of a nice summer, and then a holiday, and school is going to start in 12 days but who’s counting? [laughter] So I am counting down the days to school, and that’s what I do, at least right now. And maybe when the kids are in school, I’ll find a hobby or something to do.

Emily:  Gloria, you also do some writing. Tell us how that fits into your day.

Gloria:  It fits into my night [laughter]

Emily: Into your night!

Gloria:  Before I had a smart phone, I would keep a little golf pencil and pieces of paper in my pocket and then I would write down words or phrases or Bible verses throughout the day, and then compile them together and then journal them in the night time. But then I got a smart-phone – so fancy [laughter] - and it has notes up on it, and so I just keep that in my pocket. So when words come to me throughout the day, I write them down; phrases, Bible verses, concepts, ideas. I keep them and then merge them onto a word document after the kids are in bed and I have some time. If we’re not doing anything that evening,  it all comes out.  Writing doesn’t really fit in during the day, pèr ce... [laughter]

Emily:  We’re in the same boat. We totally understand. [laughter]

Laura:  It’s why we’re recording with you, our time at 6 a.m.

Gloria:   Thank you for that.

Emily:  I know that we wanted to jump into our main topic of our conversation today, which is about how God speaks to moms through his Word. Laura and I have experienced this before, we’ve talked to other moms who’ve said, “I wish there was a moms passage in the Bible!" [laughter]  But that’s not really quite how God speaks to motherhood. Instead, it’s through this greater redemption story, and so we were just excited to have you on. So Gloria, can you just share with us a little bit, how God’s redemptive plan speaks to moms?

Gloria: I’d love to. How much time do we have? [laughter]

Laura: I know it’s a loaded question. 

Gloria:  God’s redemptive plan. There’s two ways to look at your motherhood. With a microscope, and you can examine, “How do I spend my afternoon? How can I maximize this time?” or “Let’s think about this individual child and their challenges and struggles,” or, “Look at the fridge. Goodness, something needs to go in it. What should I do?” [laughter]

You can look at it with a microscope lens and you can also look at it from afar, from up, up high, and then just use a telescope to look down and you see the big picture. You see the landscape of where you’ve been and where you’re going. The book, "Missional Motherhood," is about how taking the big, long view helps recalibrate our ideas and our thinking about motherhood, which directly affects the way you think about those little things; like the individual children in your life, or the people you’re discipling, or the ministry you have in your home, and all those little details.

Redemptive history, of course, stretches way back into eternity past, once upon a time before there was time in the mind of God. And we see that God is the author of motherhood, his idea in the first place, and he has goals and aims and plans for it. And all of it culminates in Christ’s being exalted above all things, and all things being summed up in Him, so motherhood isn’t merely a social construct in which we nurture people who are helpless. So not with a circular mind-set that says, “We need moms because, 'Who will raise the little kids?' or 'Who would clean the house?' or 'Who would do those things?'" It’s not a social idea, but an eschatological idea where all these things are summed up in Jesus. The book takes the long view which is past potty training, though that seems so far away. [laughter]

Emily:  We can make it past potty training! [laughter] There’s life beyond potty training!

Gloria:  Past potty training, or high school graduation, or past all these other landmarks into eternity. So it takes a long view from eternity past, and then to eternity, in the future. All of that plays out of course, we see it play out in redemptive history from the inception of motherhood, to the redemption of it in Jesus, and then the future fulfillment of all the things that God set in place at the coming of Christ, when He returns and sums up all things in Himself, and hence the Kingdom to His Father. All of that is discussed in the book. Because I have a word count I wasn’t able to make it a big, huge, fat book [laughs] which would have been fantastic to tease out all of that. But the first half of it is going through the Old Testament and redemptive history, and then seeing nurturing work of women throughout that. And the second half is examining the personal work of Jesus and how He impacts on motherhood – how He’s created it, He’s redeeming it, He’s our Prophet, Priest and King and all of those things.

Laura:  Something that we talk a lot about in Risen Motherhood is why things are like they are, as in a mom’s life. And also, how God has provided restoration, or has redeemed those things, and how we can see that. I know you have talked about this a little bit in the book – but can you just articulate for us a little bit how the fall generally impacts on motherhood, and how Eve’s response to the snake mimics our own response to temptation everyday as a mom?

Gloria:  We have to understand that the fall fractured everything,– our bodies, the environments, the way that we think, the systems in place around us. Everything is fractured by the fall. So chaos and disarray are nothing under the subjection of the Word as it’s designed to be, as it ought to be, and as it will be. So there’s redemption and hope because God is kind and full of mercy.

So when Eve and Adam fell in the Garden, God pronounced curses and judgments, but in the midst of that, He also gave them hope and said that He would send a deliverer who would be the seed of the woman. So they’re looking forward in anticipation to this deliverer coming through the seed of the woman. There’s redemption in there, but all of it is still fractured by our sins. The way that we think about our motherhood, the way that we execute our motherhood, the way that the people respond to our motherhood, our intentions are all stained by sin, and so we have to see that all of this must, and needs to be redeemed by the word of Christ. So He is our only hope. All of those things, it’s not as though we could just have, “Well, lets do this part of motherhood well, and then I’ll give Jesus this other piece of it and He’ll help me.” We can’t have that view at all. We’ve got to have all of it in His hands, needing Him prostrate, everyday, “I need you for all of this. We can’t hack any of it on our own.”

Emily:  I love how you were talking about in the Garden, after sin, and after the curse in the midst of that, there was hope and how, as moms, we get to hope at what’s coming as well. Over the weekend, I was reading through 1 Thessalonians, and there’s these two actions in there about the coming of the Lord and the day of the Lord, and at the end of both of them, it says, “Encourage one another with these words.” I love that idea of encouraging each other as moms, that in the midst of our sin and everything in our day that’s stained with sin, that we get to be encouraged by the fact that there is redemption coming, as Adam and Eve experienced in the Garden.

Gloria:  We’re unashamedly supposed to pursue hope in the future grace that’s coming to us. As moms, we feel guilty about not appreciating the here and now all the time, perfectly, which is a natural, normal response to sin. And all of this is not as it should be, and so we feel bad. “Oh, I should be grateful, I should be overwhelmingly grateful all the time for all these things,” and then you feel bad about hoping for the future when all things are summed up in Jesus. But we’re explicitly told to look forward to that future grace, and encourage each other with those words too. So I love that you brought that up.

Emily:  That is really interesting. Next time I am tempted to look ahead to bedtime, I am going to go, “No, there’s something even better!” [laughter] That is the future grace and go, “This is pretty great!” That’s the future grace. I love it. So just practically for you personally – I know you have all these amazing concepts and really are able to synthesize these Biblical truths in the book, but for you personally, let’s just talk about on a day when all of these things you’re handling are a lot, and no one’s really giving anything back, and it’s frustration after frustration as a mom. What are some things that you do to apply your understanding of these truths, to change your interaction with your children and your family, and your ability to serve them? What does that look like for you personally?

Gloria:  I have to talk to myself. [laughs]  There’s the idea of preaching the gospel to yourself. It’s now becoming more common catch-phrase, which is fantastic, to “preach the gospel to yourself,” remind yourself of these big picture truths, and how they anchor in your heart, in your living room, in your bathroom, in the doctor’s office, in the pick up line at school. These things land in real life, and so I have to talk to myself. There was dramatic uncertainty just a couple of weeks ago concerning administrative stuff and just in my tears, I had to tell myself, “You believe in the Man who rose from the dead. Don’t forget you believe in the Man who rose from the dead, you follow Him. He rose from the dead, He’s alive!"

And reminding myself of Easter, the tomb is empty, they couldn’t find His body because He’s alive. And tell myself, “This is the Man who you worship, could you ask Him for help? And so that re-centered my thoughts from what was me, and “What am I going to do?” to, “Let’s ask Him to do something.” 

It sounds dramatic, but it’s not really dramatic enough, considering the stone was rolled away, and they didn’t find Him. He’s alive, He presented Himself to 500 people and ascended back into Heaven, brought His flesh up there with Him, there’s a Man seated on the throne in Heaven. So it’s not dramatic enough to tell yourself these big, crazy things – “I believe in Him and that He rose from the dead; I believe in the Holy Spirit; I believe God created everything; I believe that Jesus died on the cross, took every single one of my sins with Him!” [laughs] It might look a little crazy if someone sees you speaking to yourself, but hopefully it’s modeling for others around you – the people you disciple, your kids, and maybe even your neighbors - that you’ve got to have your mind renewed with the truth because if you’re just looking to the other things that you see around you, the things that you can see, we’re just prone to forget the things we can’t see.

Laura:  I like your point; just meditating on God’s power over death and God’s power and knowledge of everything. Often, when I am dealing with a behavior situation, I rarely stop to ponder, “God knows everything about this child,” and and “What’s going on in his heart and what he needs?" And just that you mentioned, Gloria to stop and cling to those truths. There is someone who has power over this, and has access to this child and has a plan for this child and man, how much that would change our day to stop and think about that.

Gloria:  Another fantastic thing to do, is to do a little bit of a word study, in Revelation, and you look up all of the ways that Jesus introduces Himself. Who does He say He is in John’s apocalyptic vision? He says things, dramatic things, like, “I have the keys to death and Hades.” Oh well, drop mic drop. [laughter]

“I have a sword in my mouth. It’s my Word that stands, every other’s word that comes out, I cut it down. It’s my word, I am the Risen, behold I am the Risen One. I was dead, yet now I am alive.” Thinking about truth, practically, you might need to put it in different places to find it – Bibles, different places of your house, write things down, put it in your pocket, lock screen on your phone - whatever it is you need to remind yourself because the cares of this world are not going to affirm God’s truth for you, or tell you, “Hey, think about the word.” It does everything to affirm distraction from the truth, so it’s add that to the list of practical things.

Laura:  And a major place, where we can get that is in our quiet time. That’s something that is important - just getting in God’s Word and soaking in His truth and getting our mindset right before we engage with the day. As you probably remember as a young mom, or maybe still, sometimes throughout the day, you’re just hoping that you can fit it in, or you can just read in it at the counter for a couple of minutes. But what are you doing right now for quiet times? We’d love to hear what that’s looking like for you, and maybe even when you were a mom with a lot of littles, how that would slip into your day, or what you did for it.

Gloria:  I have four kids and my husband is a busy pastor. He’s also physically disabled, so he needs help with some things everyday, at different times of the day. So I’ve really struggled to find just – I don’t want to use the word “me” time  – there wasn’t any, and I would think that if I could finally wake up before a baby needed to be bathed, or before David needed to get out of the house, and then someone interrupted me and I’d say, “Satan’s trying to get me,” [laughter]

But he’s not, I'm getting ministry opportunities, so there’s nothing hostile in that. And so I came to appreciate having noisy time, too. And then having the time in the Bible and reading it out loud. And so now the kids just know if they see me slip the Bible open, then they want to come sit on the couch, they’re going to hear it and I’ll just talk it out loud. Now they’re old enough to discuss things and ask questions about it. But when they were little, they would just sit and listen like it was just any book, “Mom’s reading a book on the couch.” They’d just cuddle up and instead of it being private time, it’s kind of a family-seat idea.  Now I see them doing it to each other which is so sweet to see. I am reading aloud, and whoever is available to listen to it, they’ll read it you aloud.

I read through a whole book at a time, and then try to read it as many times as I can straight through first, and then start digging through, slowly piece by piece. So the last two years - before the summer – I’ve spent about two years in Ephesians. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it all the way through. But then I took a verse at a time and then sat down with some books and commentaries around it and wrote after all that. So that’s usually what it looks like; it’s just doing a book at a time, like that.

Laura:  That’s incredible.I have never even crossed my mind to say, “I’ll spend that much time in a book,” but I can imagine these truths and just how well you know God’s Word when you do that.

Emily:  I love how you mentioned in the middle of it – that will stick with me – “God’s given giving me opportunities for ministry right now!” I know most of you are usually like, “Aargh!” I like that. [laughs]

Laura:  I see my kids are an interruption, or Satan coming in and saying, “No, no quiet times,” so I loved it too. What a shift in perspective! I love that.

Gloria:  It helped me to think of my sisters here who don’t have the liberty to have “me” time and stuff like that. You just think about your sisters across the globe – women who live in refugee camps, women who work seven days a week, women who live in accommodations with dozens of other women, believers, sisters who are struggling to have these things, the idyllic situation where we think, “God’s going to meet me if I have a latte, and a fluffy chair [laughter] , then He will meet me”. The Word will meet you in His word wherever He is around the world, and whatever opportunities you have and whatever the means may be for that. It strongly encourages my faith, that, let’s face it, He’ll be with me. He said He’d be with me, promised, swore, “I will be with you,” especially when I think about all the women who don’t have the same opportunities I have. I am sitting in a nice fluffy chair right now. [laughter]

Emily:  That’s a really good reminder. I know that’s something Laura and I are learning a lot with young children. We often try to communicate how much discipleship is walking with God and treasuring the gospel in front of our children. Just letting them in and bringing them alongside us with what we’re already doing, and stop seeing it as this compartmentalized thing where, “Okay, I am going to do my prayer, my quiet time, and my stuff over here, and then I’ll do my stuff with my kids later.” Certainly that alone time with God is so refreshing and so necessary, but like you’re mentioning, just bringing your kids alongside you and say, “Come sit by me,” this is how we do the Christian life, this is how we live out the gospel.

Laura:  Awesome. Gloria, is there anything that you – I know we talked about this sort of, in and out and throughout the whole conversation - what would you charge moms to say, to encourage them to stay focused on that eternal picture? Moms who are ready to give up hope, or they’re ready to just throw in the towel, at the end of the day and say, “Whatever! We are going to survive until bedtime.” What’s one type of hope that you would offer them to stay focused on God’s redemptive plan?

Gloria:  Know the redemptive plan, know that big picture plan. We tend to get discouraged if we try to dive into pieces of the Old Testament, and "I don’t understand the historical context, I don’t know why these guys upset Rebecca, [laughter] I’ll just give up, or I’ll stick with something that I know." Take some time and just do it. Read through the whole Old Testament, get a big overview Bible, a Bible reading plan and just do it. It’s worth losing sleep over.

When I tell that to women, their eyes get so big, “Really?” Really it is, trust me. I have four kids, my husband is sick, and we’re very busy. It is worth losing sleep over; this is your very life. You need this more than you need sleep. You really do. Read Psalms. Find overview books; the first half of Missional Motherhood is intended to serve that purpose. My Grand Goals already has these really great overviews as well. They’re highly accessible; According to Plan is my favorite one to give away to new believers. Take time to do that, and then when you jump into an Old Testament book, you’ll know where it fits, and then you’ll appreciate it all the more because you’ll understand that big picture.

The first step, I’d say, is to get to know that big story.  When you do grab that five minutes here or there, or that one minute here or there, and you can read something in the Word, or you’re reminded by something you stored in your heart. It just means volumes more because you get it, the impact of this one phrase. I like to encourage women with the verse from 2 Corinthians 9:8, where it says, “God’s able to make all grace abound to you having sufficiency in all things, at all times, you may abound in every good work.” He’s speaking to the Corinthians about the gifts or offering that He’s collecting, giving out of their poverty, and offerings He’s collecting. But as mothers and women who are making disciples, we’re giving, giving, giving. But guess what?

God is able to make all grace abound to you. You may think you’re out-giving everybody else, but you will never out-give God as He makes all grace outbound to you. And I love the phrases Paul uses, “So all self-sufficiency in all things, at all times.” So there‘s no time around the clock, no 2 a.m. feeding, no 4 p.m. pick up time that is not covered in this verse! [laughs]  And it’s so that you can abound in every good work, and of course these good works that he’s talking about are not to earn our salvation, but they’re expressions of the gifts that we’ve been given, in Jesus’ ultimate gift of Himself on the cross.

Emily: Wow, that is such an encouraging truth. I feel so ready to meet the day. [laughter] I feel I found my next verse to memorize and to have my husband learn, and all of my mom friends to know that. That’s a wonderful reminder of truth. Gloria, that about wraps up our time, but we are so grateful that you joined us, and that’s about it.

Laura:  Thank you so much Gloria.

Gloria:  That you ladies, this was so fun.

Laura:  It was. Thank you so much.

And if you want to hear more from Gloria, definitely check out her book, "Missional Motherhood." It has this awesome gold foil cover that I am completely obsessed with. So, if nothing else, get it for the cover because it’s beautiful. But there’s there is wonderful content in there, and of course you can find more from Gloria all over the web, as Emily mentioned at the beginning of the Show.

You can find her on some major websites as well as on her blog, gloriafurman.com. There you’ll find all of her social media sites. You’ll also want to check out all of our show notes. We have some great links for some of the stuff that Gloria talked about in this show, as well as links to several of her different things and where you can buy the book. I know you can get it on Amazon.com, and I know there’s a companion study too. So if you want to study with a group of women, all the hard work’s done for you there.

In addition, if you're international, internationalbookdepository.com, also will ship Gloria’s book to you for free. So definitely check that out and visit risenmotherhood.com just to get all the links to all of this stuff and to find us on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter and all those good things. And as always, we really appreciate a review if you enjoyed the show today over on our iTunes. Thanks again for joining us.


Ep. 31 || Momma, Fear the Lord, Not the Election Season - Transcript

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Emily Jensen, here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler, and we are really excited because next week we have an interview from Gloria Furman. She wrote the book, Missional Motherhood. We had a Skype call with her a while back, and chatted about living intentional motherhood and light of redemption, and we are so excited to share it with you.

Laura:  If you have not heard of her, you’re going to love her. She has this gorgeous book that is beautifully written and you will really enjoy it. It definitely gives you more purpose and inspiration in motherhood and how to apply yourself to God’s design for motherhood. I felt more excited to be a mom after reading her book and listening to her talk.

Emily:  When that pops up on your feed next week, take a few minutes to listen to it. But today, we are going to be talking a little bit about this season that we’re in, the election season. I’ll admit I was super-nervous to talk a little bit about political things. But don’t worry, I want to reassure all of you that we’re not talking about candidates, what you should do [laughs]…

Laura:  Or who you should vote for. No, we are not here to tell you about that because, trust us, we’re as confused as you are about what is going on out there [laughter]. Politics are crazy every year, but it definitely does seem a bit more daunting this year. We’re going to try to tackle – not who to vote for - but a little bit more about how we should view it.

Emily:  I think sometimes it starts to feel like this is the worst thing that has ever been in the history of the world. But it’s always good to remember again, even if you walk through the Old Testament, or any history book, and even when you look at other country’s politics, it reminds us that this is part of living in this sinful, fallen world and it’s going to be confusing and crazy, and silly at times.

Laura:  Politics are so hard because there are so many issues out there, it’s hard to even know your own position of what that is. You don’t know what the media is; if they’re telling the truth, or if they’re just twisting everything. For me personally, I feel I want to be involved, I want to be a contributing citizen to society, and to know what’s going on, but it feels so overwhelming.  So even when it comes down to the time to vote, or the time to take a stand on issues, I feel like, “Whoa, I don’t even know the truth behind all of these things,” or “I don’t even know what my position should be,” because it’s just so complicated! [laughter]

Emily:  I feel with the age of the internet, you can read every side to everything, everywhere and you’re convinced, “Yeah, oh yeah, I agree with that,” and then in the next cycle, “I totally agree with that!” "Never mind that’s a better one!" So it’s a good reminder that we can’t stand on the shifting sands. "This different leaders says this, or this prominent Christian person says that," or whatever. We can only go to scripture and pray, and believe the Gospel, and do our best to sift through these things with wisdom, but just knowing that there isn’t a sure thing out there that, “That’s my silver bullet article or information, and now I know what to do, and everything is simple.”

Laura:  And guess what, the Gospel does speak to politics! As we are walking through this election season, it is going to get a little bit more crazy all the way to November. But remember who you are. That’s a big point that Emily and I just want to drive home today. It has been so comforting to me to remember that I am an exile on this Earth. 1 Peter, 2:11, that’s what Peter calls us, “I urge you as sojourners, and exiles.” And remembering Philippians 3:20, “Our citizenship is in Heaven.” 

This is not our home moms, this is not our children’s home because a lot of times politics instils fear for my own children. I think, "I can handle it, I’ll be okay,” but I worry about my children and what their future is going to be if someone gets elected, or if whomever is on the Supreme Court. We must remember that though Satan rules here, he has been given temporary authority, but we are always looking and longing for our true home. We are citizens, but not of the United States; our story is not wrapped up in the U.S.'s story. Our story is wrapped up in Heaven and we are citizens of Heaven.  I just want to encourage you today to look forward to eternity and your citizenship that lies there.

Remember moms, as you see the news media, you can say, “But I have hope. I have so much hope beyond what I am seeing - all this scary stuff on TV. I’ve so much more hope in front of me because I have eternal hope in Jesus Christ my King”

Emily:  This whole election season has reminded me to teach our kids and instill in them that this is not their permanent home. We need to figure out how to teach our kids that this isn’t a cultural thing, that you’re going to sit in like a Christian and feel comfortable. How can I teach them that from a young age? What a gift that as a young child I go, “You are not going to grow up in a world that is going to be friendly if you trust in Jesus.” So we’re going to learn as a family, to trust in Jesus and love Him and live for Him in a world that may disregard us, or even persecute us some day, and we’re going to understand this feeling of being a sojourner.

Laura: The important flip-side of that, that the Bible talks about, is knowing that while we’re exiles in this land; we still need to respect the authorities that are put in place. So this is where the politics come in, and I love what Jeremiah charges, the Jews living in Babylon, who were longing for their home; longing for Jerusalem. They were in Babylon, and Jeremiah says to them, “Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare, you will find your welfare.” So Jeremiah charges these Jews to still look to the welfare of the city while they’re there. We can model that, we can still seek and be involved and have an attitude that still desires to be involved in what is happening with the U.S.

Emily:  It’s the great commission that we’ve come to. We want to see God’s redemption, even in our local community. We want to see the Gospel brought to our neighbors, and to our local community, to the nation and to the world, and so figuring out even with your kids and family, “How are we going to do that?” Just a side note too, if you are feeling powerless and alone in it (laughs) one thing you can do is start with your neighborhood. Ask yourself: "How can we spread the gospel in our neighborhood? How can we do it in our local community? Are there city council meetings we can go to? How can our church impact things?" It’s just cool too to be motivated by that -  wanting to bring God’s redemption to light in our communities now and loving them, and being desirous that they would come to see Christ.

Laura:  And this "seeking the welfare of your city," doesn’t mean that you have to go crazy - go run for mayor, [laughter] or be on Congress because sometimes we can feel, “I am not involved in politics, so how can I make any change?” And we’re going to get into some of those practical application things, but like Emily said, this starts in your backyard. It’s so important to remember that we don’t have to fear the future. I know we sort of touched on this a little bit earlier, but I love 1 Peter 3:5 where it says, “Do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.” This has always struck me, “Don’t fear anything that’s frightening” – if it’s frightening, I am going to be afraid! [laughter] I love that, but the whole reason that we don’t have to fear something that’s scary, like the upcoming elections, or just American politics in general, is that we have a hope that is beyond this grave. That we don’t have to hope in this world. Again, our story is not tied up with our governments. We have our own story and we know the ending, and we know that we will be redeemed one day with Jesus. That’s something to stick in your back pocket mom when you’re watching TV, to remember that, “I don’t have to fear this!”

Emily:  I almost want to let out a “Woo hoo!” right there! [laughter]  As you’re mentioning fear Laura, it triggers this idea as well, that we tend to always think about Christian persecution, or an environment that’s difficult for Christ’s followers, or that isn’t according to our world view, as a bad thing. But from God’s perspective, it’s important to remember that sometimes God actually strengthens and matures his true believers, and grows the church through persecution. That is a hard thing for us to swallow, but it’s the same thing as when my kids have toys everywhere and I say, “You are going to clean up these toys”, and they’re looking at me like I am some mean, horrible dictator. [laughter]  But really, I am loving them in the best way possible by making them do something that doesn’t feel good to them in the moment, because I have the long-term view about what is going to shape their character, and I can see things that they can’t. We have to continue to remember that as this political season is going on, it may seem to us that our whole world is going to pot, but God has a purpose that we don’t see, and He is able to overcome and use evil for His good, and even strengthen the church sometimes. Our children may be stronger believers because of this.

Laura:   It’s so true, and that’s looking on the bright side. Indeed, all things are for God’s glory, and are good, but again, I often fear for my children more than I fear for myself. I can handle whatever, but I can’t handle something happening to my kids. But that gives me hope, and asking myself, what do I long for most for my children? I long for them to know Jesus, and to have a solid understanding that He’s got their backs, that He is always for them. So if persecution is going to do that, I pray that I will have the courage to understand that this is a good thing and that my children will as well, and that God is going to take care of us no matter what. There’s so much practical application that goes into some of this stuff; recognizing that there are absolutely no perfect parties, there are no perfect candidates, and that all are flawed. Even when we feel, “They’re worse than everyone else ,” we must remember that everyone’s a sinner. [laughter] What else?

Emily:  It’s also being patient with our brothers- and sisters-in-Christ especially, and remaining unified in this time, having these conversations respectfully with each other and again, trusting God, and not getting overly worked up about things. Praying is important too.

Laura:  And when someone has a different view than you, not letting that become a family issue. That’s huge; saying "unifying" doesn’t mean we all vote the same way. I’ve read articles from believers that are, going in a hundred different ways; how they’re voting and everything. I don’t think it means they have to vote with you, but that we’re all trusting God to care for us throughout this season.

Emily:  And continuing to be loving. Our witness as Christians is just devalued when amongst ourselves we just act crazy. I see some things sometimes and think “Really?” [laughter] But we can continue to show the world a bright light when we are loving one another, hoping in God and saying “Hey, what’s going on with this group of people that doesn’t seem to think that the sky is falling? They’re concerned and they’re involved. These people have this common hope and they aren’t having a massive breakdown.

Laura:  It’s going to look so different to the world, and hopefully that is ministry in and of itself. We should recognize that we have the freedom to vote, we have the freedom to be involved in this system, and even though our system is broken, it's still the way they’ve set it up. So if you want to be involved, do that. Go out there and vote. A lot of us are all talk and no action. I have a friend who’s really challenged me in writing letters to my congressmen and my governor and there are lots of great sites online where you can literally copy and paste, and put it with your name. These things do incite change, and we can be involved by seeking the welfare of our city, and doing that by being involved in politics. Again, you can do that being a stay-at-home mom. You can do that being a working mom. That doesn’t mean you have to be the Governor. [laughter]

Emily:  Hopefully this has been a little bit helpful and encouraging for you guys. Obviously, we were a little bit anxious to talk about this, but again we wanted to look to Christ and be hopeful in the midst of this, and remember that we don’t have to fear, and that there are some things we can do. And especially to see that God has a good plan for our children and for the eternal redemption of the Earth.

Laura: It’s just about a mind-set, and we can set ourselves apart from the world by remembering exactly who we are. We are not of this country and of this world, but we are women who have been redeemed, and we look far, far beyond the grave to the resurrection of the eternal, Jesus Christ.

And don’t forget you will find lots of articles on our Show Notes on risenmotherhood.com. From there you’re going to find our Facebook and Twitter links so you can follow us on social media for more gospel-hope like this. If you have a chance, please give us a rating and review on iTunes; I know we’ve said this at the end and you’ve probably all turned it off by now, but if you’re hearing this, we would very much appreciate you hopping over to iTunes, doing a little work to just hit “subscribe” and write a review. It’s not nearly as hard as you think it’s going to be. [laughter]  Look forward to next week when we talk to Gloria Furman.

Ep. 30 || Why You Don't Have to Live With Mom Guilt - Transcript

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I'm Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. Before we jump into our topic today we wanted to share that we have another awesome, free, new print from Give it Pretty and it's Colossians 3:2 “Set your mind on things that are above,” which is something that we like to talk about a lot here at Risen Motherhood. It’s keeping our eyes fixed on Christ and remembering the Gospel, and living in light of those truths, and not being controlled by our circumstances or the things of the earth. Go to our show notes to find that printable. We will have a link there. Remember it's free and you can find more from Give it Pretty at giveitpretty.com

Laura:  Today, we're talking about a topic that every single mom is going to identify with. We are talking about mom guilt.

Emily:  Mom guilt is a topic we don't address very much and when we do as moms, our first response is we have so much false guilt. Let's move on and avoid that topic a little bit – but it is a very real thing – and it at least impacts me on a daily basis. It's a serious battle.

Laura:  I don't know a mom that could say, “I’ve never felt guilt. I don’t feel guilt.” I think that would be a bold-faced lie. We can all identify, and what Em and I are going to talk about a little bit today, though, is differentiating between a true sense of conviction from the Holy Spirit that can feel like that guilt, versus self-condemnation and when it's false guilt because that's a question all moms have. It’s, "I have this feeling. What in the world do I do with that? How do I shake it off?" Not to break out into Taylor Swift [laughs] but I feel it's a huge question that every mom has. I have it all the time.

Emily:  We're totally hoping today that this is at least is going to start some conversations. As all things here on our show, we cannot dive into the depths of what needs to be talked about with mom guilt and we're going to be way overgeneralizing. It's probably more complicated than fixed into one or two categories. We hope as you're listening and when you walk away, you’ll at least have a couple of ideas of what you should do if you're feeling trapped, because the truth is that regardless of whether you're experiencing some true conviction or false guilt, God does not want you to stay there. He does not want us to live in guilt. He wants us to walk in freedom. He wants us to believe the Gospel and to be at peace with Him. That is a really important thing to remember, that He wants us to do something with that, so that we can ultimately be at peace.

Laura:  We're going to talk through a couple of personal experiences of things that we have had. I can't speak on behalf of Emily but the list is crazy long for things that I can manage to find guilt about during the day. A lot of times for me, specifically, I can get down on everything from not being that activity and craft mom, comparing myself to other moms and feeling bad that my kids aren't. I start going down the train and I'm like, “My kid won’t know his ABCs when he's 15 because I didn’t do something today,” or feeling guilty over yelling at my children or not speaking to them. (I mentioned before that I tend to get silent sometimes with my kids, but still just having like a wrong, immature, guilty heart attitude towards my children.) This one would be a good example of that self-condemnation that isn’t true guilt. Back when I was breastfeeding and I ended up switching to formula, I felt an enormous amount of guilt about feeling I wasn't providing. I wasn't being mom enough for my kids and that's a good example of false guilt, which we'll get into in a little bit.

Emily:  I can relate to all of that when I feel guilt. I have petty things that I feel guilty about like, “I'm letting my kids watch too many shows and I probably shouldn't have fed them chicken nuggets for lunch today. I don't give my kids enough healthy food. I don't read them enough books and I don't put them in enough activities.” Then sometimes there's bigger things too that I feel guilty about, like I'm not consistent enough with discipline or as you mentioned Laura, I speak harshly with them or I raise my voice or I’m impatient with them. To me, it's everything from the small things to this general cloud of, "I'm a bad mom" and getting to the end of the day and feeling, "Wow, I did nothing good for my children today. I did nothing good for my family today," and feeling generally bad about that.

Laura:  We can have it in what our schooling choices are for our kids. We talked about formula breastfeeding, cloth diapers, disposable diapers, being away from our kids too much, not getting them away from us enough and involved in other activities, discipline, screen time. Those things start to pile up and some of those, as we talked about, can be pointing to areas of change that you need in your life, but some of them are totally false. As Emily said at the beginning of the show, God doesn't want us to stay there. The first step in dealing with this guilt is – to deal with it. Don't just live with it. That's what a lot of us do. We complain about it a little or talk to our friends about it or let this cloud hang over us, this fog in our life and God wants us to bring that to the throne and evaluate it - what is this and what do I do with it?

Emily:  The thing is we don't win if we stay there because probably one of the few things that’s going to happen is you're either going to grieve the Holy Spirit, and our conscience can become numb to something over a long period of time, if we don't respond to a conviction that God is trying to show us. Screen time for me, is one I've had to battle with because I feel for me that it’s a heart attitude thing sometimes. When I ignore that, I notice my conscience getting dull and that is not a good thing. That can happen or sometimes you can become depressed about your role as a mom and lose your joy. You can lose perspective. I feel guilt, and condemnation, and even unrepentant sin can poison your life. That's why we want to deal with it and move forward. We want to get more into what we mean when we say conviction versus condemnation.

Laura:  A good way of looking at it is when we talk about conviction, it's usually specific. The Holy Spirit pricks our heart and you need to apologize for it. "I should not have reacted that way when my kid peed their pants again." "I should not have reacted that way when she told me about how those things that she does, and in my heart, I felt this prick of 'Maybe I need to to do better.'"

Emily:  We have to remember conviction is sin and we can find those things in Scripture. It's usually either something overt like fits of rage, yelling at your children, or it may be a heart attitude that we know we weren’t being patient enough or we weren't worshipping God in this. I was worshipping in my comfort. Whenever we're feeling conviction from the Holy Spirit, there should be something scriptural to back that up verses condemnation. Maybe you're feeling guilty that you didn't throw your kid a very nice birthday party. There could be a heart attitude thing under there somewhere but most likely, that's a cultural expectation. That's not a scriptural thing that the Holy Spirit is likely heaping upon you.

Laura:  It's usually an idea that you need to change your expectations about what motherhood is and what it looks like for you, and it's not fitting into the cultural mold.

Two is self-condemnation. It often leads back to you, like, "I need to try harder. I need to do better." It's one of those things that is trying to change who you are as a mom and not what you're doing as a mom. Self-condemnation leaves you in guilt and leaves you feeling defeated. It leaves you feeling totally condemned, whereas with conviction, it leaves you with hope. It leaves you knowing that there is a solution to these issues. It's something that says, I need to submit this to God, trust Him and obey and turn and repent in obedience and not continue doing this thing. Two, there's a feeling that's different. I feel we're getting muddy as we speak about this, Emily but the way that you deal with it feels very different.

Emily:  Maybe if we try to give some examples. One time that I felt condemnation was when I was pregnant with my twins. I was put on bed rest for a month or so and I had my older toddler at home. He was 14 or 15 months and I needed pretty much full-time help. Anyone who's had a toddler that age knows they are super busy and I felt like a bad mom and I felt I wasn't doing enough for my older child. I felt I wasn't contributing to our household and I wasn't helping my husband, and I was being a bum, and my identity was so challenged. Even after I had my twins, for the first few months I was so occupied with feeding them, and it was a ton of work and I still felt I couldn’t be with my older child as much as I wanted to and I needed so much help. I felt so guilty during that season. I wasn't doing anything wrong. That was the situation and the circumstance God brought into my life that I needed to trust Him with.

I needed to trust that He was going to take care of those things and provide for me during those times. I needed to see that I was doing valuable things. I wasn't sinning. [laughs] As I looked back on that situation, I have just had to realize that was false guilt. That was not something that I needed to repent of. That was something I needed to trust God and then have freedom from because He was sovereign over that time in my life.

Laura:  That's a great example of differentiating between what a true sin issue is and when the accuser is trying to make you feel guilty about things that are not true. For conviction, we've given a lot of examples of what those are, but I can get upset with my kiddos for whatever reason. There's shopping carts and they love pushing them around into everything and they're incredibly loud and often I'll lose it. I'm like, “This is way too loud kids, quit running into the back of the cart. I’ve told you so many times.” I can almost start to shame them. That's where I have felt a true like, “Laura, you need to go apologize. That is not the way the Bible asks us to speak to our children. That was not gracious. That was not self-controlled,” and it feels very precise and I know what to do with that conviction. I feel the Holy Spirit is literally saying, “Go apologize to your children and turn and don't do that again.” If you're feeling those things, that's something you need to act on and not just say, “I'll deal with that tomorrow or I'll sleep on it and then see what I'm going to do.” Those are things that are a true conviction from the Holy Spirit. That's where you need to deal with it. Let's talk through a little bit more. If it is conviction, what else do we do?

Emily:  I like that you said, I'll deal with it tomorrow. It’s so common to think, "I'll do better next time," and when we find that we are in sin, and we shouldn't just brush that off. We shouldn't just say, “I keep repeatedly feeling I should be doing something about this every single time it happens. I'm feeling guilty but I want to ignore it.” If we look at it, we find there is sin there and we need to repent and turn back to God and say, “Lord, I need your help to overcome this sin. You hated this sin so much that your son had to die for it but I am reconciled to you. You’ve poured all of your wrath out on Christ and now we get to walk in freedom.”

That is such a wonderful, hopeful place to be when we can have peace with God again, and know that as we've talked about in previous episodes, that moment of sin does not have to define our whole day. It doesn’t have to define who we are as moms. We are defined by Jesus and that is freeing.  Don't ignore it, because there is freedom on the other side of this and often I'm scared to look at my guilt and figure out what's under there. I don't want to know what’s down there but we need to know and then repent, and move forward because it's freedom.

Laura:  So often, as moms, in our culture today it's not a sin issue. We don't want to hear every time it is going to be a sin issue because there are so many times where I know that I can feel this false sense of guilt for not measuring up to my next door neighbor, or this lady at church that’s sooo intentional, or whomever. I can feel this comparison trap of, "I'm not a gentle person, I don't speak sweetly enough, I don't talk to my children like her, I don't do things that she does, I didn't consider this deeply enough. Am I really evaluating my food choices to the most minute level?" We don't want you walking around feeling every time, it's going to be an issue. That's not true.

God does not want us to live there and thank God for speaking to us in those sin issues but also thank Him for releasing you from any false guilt and compare that Biblically. What does the Bible say? Does this line up with the Bible, that I need to care about this or I need to deal with this? If it doesn't speak to that then don't put it in there.

Emily:  This is what we're saying. We hope that this at least starts some conversations or some trains of thought for you, because it may require you to get counsel from someone who's a little bit wiser and older, or a friend that you really trust because some of these things are matters of your conscience and what God has called you to do. Some of these things are as Laura has said, they are false. They are good things to do for our family but they're not things that we have to do. You need to lay those things down, but our big takeaway for you guys today is don't ignore your guilt. If there is something that over and over and over again, when you do it, you are just under a low lying, black cloud, figure out what is going on. Don't go another day where you do that thing and then walk in guilt.

Laura:  Like Emily said, find an older, wiser woman that can look into your life and speak truth there because I know how hard it is to discern whether or not that's sin. I constantly battle where I can see Biblical basis for this, but I also feel I'm not sure. I don't have peace about that. Talking with other people and sharing your conviction will encourage them to take a hard look at themselves as well, especially if it's a fellow mom. It holds you accountable for whatever decision you make, and no matter what you're going to walk away in freedom, mom. If you are struggling under that guilt and you are feeling so heavy, as we keep saying, don't ignore it. Don't continue to feel bad. Don't stuff it down and don't run. Don’t write off for tomorrow. Examine it, understand it and walk away in freedom because that is what Christ offers to us. Any last thoughts, Em?

Emily:  Just a reminder. We did not go deep into any of this. We barely scratched the surface but this is such a big topic. We wanted to start the process of talking through this. This is something Laura and I have wanted to talk about probably since the inception of Risen Motherhood and we had a sweet listener encourage us to start this discussion. Look forward to more on this and we will be providing more resources on the show notes of more in-depth and helpful things to do when you're experiencing guilt. Hopefully, this just started the conversation and gave you a couple of ideas, even if they were small, of what to do if you are struggling with guilt.

Laura:  Thanks for joining us guys.

Ep. 29 || Using Life-Giving Words with Our Children - Transcript

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. We are so glad all of you are tuning in today. I have got, of course, my sister-in-law Emily Jensen with me. Today, we are talking about using life-giving words with our kids, honoring our children with our words, being gracious, and kind, and affirming to them. I feel like it’s sometimes a lost art these days, to do this thing.  

Emily:  It’s a lost art and yet, a huge thing that I feel our culture emphasizes and talks about positivity and being kind. Still, it’s so hard to do and I’ll be the first to admit that. I feel like I’m a pretty peppy, friendly person and I have been amazed, especially since bringing our fourth child into the world how under stress, it can be extremely difficult to control the tongue. [laughter]   

Laura:  We want to do a whole show on saying mean things, [laughter] the opposite of this. At some point, we will do that but today we are like, “Let’s go with the fun side of things.”  It’s funny because our children are listening to everything even if we’re not speaking directly to them. Emily, have you noticed your kids picking up on things you’ve been saying to your husband or other people?

Emily:  We’re getting into that stage where we have to be careful about saying names in front of our children because our oldest now knows who people are. The other day we were driving in the car and the oldest, who’s four, wants to take up the role of the backup family disciplinarian [laughter] when I’m busy. One of his younger siblings was complaining in the back seat and whining. Here’s me turning the music up, “Oh.” I already made this comment 100 times today and I hear him go, “You get what you get and you don’t complain about it.” He’s exactly in my tone and everything. I was like, “Wow. I don’t think I say that that often,” It’s interesting to me because he doesn’t always respond to that comment, but boy, he was able to whip it out.    

Laura:  I remember when my son was maybe 24 months or something like that and my daughter, as we’ve discussed, had colic, so she cried all the time. I remember a lot of people would be like, “Is this your sister? Who is this?” and he would say, “Colette, cry all the time.” [laughter] It was so funny because we used to be talking about how she cries all the time and literally, that was her name; those four words. I know that he picked that up from us saying it. He didn’t even know what he was saying probably at the time but definitely, kids are repeating things.   

Emily:  You pick up on affirmation too because, again, my oldest will constantly come up to our baby. He will hold out his arms and go, “You are just the best baby. You are such a good baby,” [laughter] and again, says it in my exact inflection. It’s good to remember that they do pick up on the good things too.  

Laura:  They do. My son will say, “Hey sweetie, come here. Hey sweetie.” [laughter] It is hilarious to see a three-year old boy calling his sister over, “Hey sweetie.”  Indeed, words do matter and kids pick up on the good things, and pick up on the bad things as well. They are listening to us all of the time. Emily and I know that it’s just going to increase. We hear stories from moms with older children about how much that really grows and changes. Definitely something to think about.    

Emily:  It can come more naturally to some people than others, depending on how much you value those affirming words, or those loving words, or maybe even what your parents did for you, and how comfortable you are with saying, “I love you,” or giving your children compliments or affirmations about who they are. I do think there’s a Biblical word towards this as well.

Laura:  That’s different from what the world’s saying. That was something that at the beginning we started talking about;  that it’s a really big emphasis. Emily has a teaching background so I’m going to let you explain this because she made a really good point to me the other day about this.

Emily:  This idea of positive reinforcement, and if you catch your child being good enough and if you affirm their good behavior, you ignore the bad behavior and you don’t say anything negative, eventually the bad behavior will go away. While I get that and believe that over time that can work, in the Bible we say that sometimes life-giving words and honoring words are hard words.

Jesus said hard things, God rebukes and there is a place for rebuke in a loving way. Even the commandments are phrased in a negative way, [laughs] “Do not do this. Do not commit adultery.”  While all of us could benefit from saying more affirming things, which we’ll get into, it’s good to remember that that doesn’t mean that you don’t ever say anything hard or that you don’t ever challenge your child or rebuke them.  

Laura:  As a believer our affirmations, or our life-giving words, are going to look different than a nonbeliever. It’s not just what the world’s saying of, “Talk about how great they are at soccer,” or, “Talk about how great they are when you see them being nice to somebody else.” What we’re trying to do with our words is that we are teaching our children our values; we are showing them Jesus in our words. Every single day we are making breakfast, we are putting them to bed, we are speaking words of life to them and we are giving them hope. Our words will change their hearts and their attitudes too. Well, God changes hearts. I’m going to rephrase that a little because I don’t want to get all – [laughter] whatever.  

I think you know what I’m saying here is that our words have so much power to convey God’s truth to our children, especially prior to them being able to read, or when you’re controlling their environment. There’s a lot of shaping that’s happening with your words.      

Emily:  I know something I try to communicate to our children is the Bible talks about; we want to build people up with our words. We want to say things that are going to give grace to those who hear. We don’t want to say things that are going to be tearing people down and complaining and criticizing a lot. That’s what we’re saying is affirmation, that is loving and is kind and it’s what we should be doing. 

Laura:  When your children feel safe, they feel like, “Mom and dad are safe. They love and care about me. No matter what I do, they are still going to speak kindly to me and in gracious ways,” whether that’s rebuke or affirmation. When they feel that, they are willing to be more vulnerable with you. They are willing to be more honest and confessing sin and fears, and being teachable.

We can create a home environment with our words that foster family unity and honesty; it’s not perfect. I don’t want come here and say, “If you just say the right things, your kids are going to be perfect.” But there seems to be a lack of recognizing great character qualities in our children, that through  fostering, you can strengthen weaknesses and you can strengthen strengths through words.       

Emily:  You may be tired of us harping on this, but one of our main callings as a mom is to pass along the Gospel to our children; to pass along our faith. They are watching us walk this out, and so if we are constantly negative or griping, that sends a message. If we are sharing Gospel life-giving words to our children, that is one of the many ways that we are passing along our faith to them and discipling them and showing them, “This is what the fruit of the Spirit looks like. This is what allowing God to control our tongue looks like. This is what it looks like to offer a gentle word when you want to say a harsh one. This is what self-control looks like.” It’s a great opportunity to disciple.          

Laura:  It’s a call to model the life of Christ and He presents a great model. While He does say hard things, He also extends so much graciousness as He’s ministering to children. He is often so gentle with people’s feelings and offering encouragement and affirmation to His disciples, and the people that He served. We want to model that as well, of women who have received grace, being able to show grace with our words and, as we keep saying the catch phrase here, life-giving words. That’s what we want to try to do.  

Emily:  We wanted to get into a little bit of the practical because it can be like, “What does this look like in daily life?” One of the things that we were discussing is, even in situations where you’ve gone to the store, or you’ve sat through the church service, or you’ve done whatever the thing is that you’ve trained your children to do, take the opportunity afterwards to point out specifically how they did a good job. In my education background, they would always be like, “You don’t say good job, you say great walking feet.” [laughter] That’s this name-specific thing; what they did. As a Christian, we can name what they’ve done that is a Biblical character quality or something that is pleasing to God.    

Laura:  I think that’s huge - using the Biblical terms of things that are happening, both sin and positive things, like, “You are diligent.” That’s a word that you don’t hear everybody say but the Bible talks about being diligent or a good steward, or you are "serving." There are a lot of words that gets them familiar with Biblical language, helping it to be not quite so foreign sounding as they grow up and can read and get more involved in their faith on their own.

Another thing that I had to learn is, I remember when my son was six months old and I was watching another mom. Her daughter was pointing out a bird, “Look at that bird mom,” and the mom was like, “Yes, the bird is blue just like your blue eyes. Isn’t God great how He created both of those things?” Honestly, I was like, “That’s weird.”

But as I have grown more in love with the Lord and understanding, drawing these connections about Gospel truth, that is a simple way that we can teach them the theology of, “God made all things and didn’t He do a great job?” I feel like that’s a twist of what the world would say, that as a believer, we would change that of, “It’s not about your child, it’s about God. It’s about how great He is.” I can say from personal experience, this was really hard for me. I felt awkward, stupid and weird. But as I have practiced it more and as I have filled my mind with better things and with the Gospel truth, it’s come more naturally for me.   

Emily:  Have hope and keep practicing. I know that I throw things out there sometimes with our kid and I’m like, “That sounded weird. I’m not going to say that again.” That’s okay, because they don’t really remember everything. They remember the things that sometimes we say over and over again. Another practical thing we wanted to mention was speaking into their future. I love this thought. I know again, my oldest son will talk about the baby and wanting to be a dad. I love getting to say, “Someday, you are going to be such a good daddy and you’re going to love being a daddy,” I love that. Or talking about their gifts, and seeing the things that God has gifted them to do like, “Wow, you are really able to construct interesting things. This is such a neat gift. I’m so excited how you are going to use this to help people,” those types of things too.   

Laura:  Moms, I am going to be super honest here, that is hard. It’s hard to draw those connections. I remember feeling like, “That sounds a little foreign and that sounds different.” We want to encourage you today to just try. You’re going to mess up or it’s going to sound awkward. I have said things that make no sense if someone were to hear me. I feel like, “How can I get like that? How can I talk like that?” I love God and I want to portray that to my children!

So remember that "practice does not make perfect" here but practice helps a lot, and filling up your own soul. What are you reading? Who are you talking to? Are you reading your Bible? Are you studying God’s Word? What podcasts are you listening to? What friends are we speaking with? We really have to fill our minds and soul with quality things, saturating them with Gospel-centered things. What goes in, comes out. I can say to you that I am an example of this, of someone who, sometime back, Jesus-speak felt weird for me. Even talking to a child, like Emily was doing an example of, usually made me think, “I’m not a teacher. I don’t know how to do this.” I have grown in that area. While I feel like it’s awkward, while I still struggle, that is something that I see is of so much value in transforming our children’s hearts. I want to encourage you, if you think it’s weird, to try it.  

Emily:  Perfect plug Laura, for also surrounding yourself with other moms who are doing a good job of building up their children. I literally have some friends who are beautiful at this. It is like I want to be parented by them. [laughter]

Laura:  There are some good moms out there. Can we record what you’re saying and I’ll memorize it? That’s what I want to do.

Emily:  If you feel like you’re stuck in a rut and you’re like, “Wow, the people around me are not talking this way or they’re not encouraging me to talk this way,” reach out to a mom at your church or that you know that’s encouraging her children well. Do a play date and watch what she does. I think that’s awesome.  

Laura:  We want to encourage you guys to be intentional with your words and say, “I love you,” often. Find connections between your children and God’s character and who He is. Point them to Jesus with everything that you say. Like Emily said, if you don’t know people who are doing this or you feel embarrassed, start in the comfort of your own home, practice there and build out.

Know that this is something that you are going to get better at and you don’t have to be perfect at. God is going to use your words; He’s going to give you the right things to say. Even if you’re embarrassed by what you just said, your kids probably didn’t notice.  Know I am there with you and I want to encourage you guys today in giving life-giving words to your kids.      

Emily:  We hope that you’ll check out our show notes. We’ll try to include more resources with some practical tips that we find for doing this, and then other explanations for what this looks like in the life of a Christian parent. Check out the show notes and then share this with anyone that you think would be helpful. It’s another way you can connect with moms. Leave us a rating or a review on iTunes, that would be awesome.

Laura:  All right, thanks everyone.


Ep. 28 || On The Same Team: Getting On the Same Page as Parents - Transcrip

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. Before we jump into our topic today, I wanted to let you all know that  Laura and I have been talking about a pregnancy that she’s having, [laughter] a paper pregnancy! 

Laura:  Yes, I’m adopting. We were chatting and I said, “I never said anything on the show about it. I announced it on my personal blog, and on Instagram, and Facebook and all that stuff but realized I never said anything here. We are adopting two kids from Eastern Europe; from Bulgaria to be specific. We are finished  with our home study, we are in the process of completing a few final things and then our paperwork will be over there and we’ll be eligible for two kids. We are looking for two kids of ages four and under. We are really excited. It’s pretty crazy. It’s pretty surreal to finally be doing this thing, something that we’ve talked about for so long.

Emily:  That leads us into our next topic. We’re doing another episode related to marriage. We know that that’s something that gets bluffed out the conversation a little bit in motherhood, and yet it is such a huge part of our calling and living out our calling well. We are talking about getting on the same page as our husbands when it comes to parenting strategies and discipline, and how we approach more of the practical things in the lives of our children. Because with two different people, two different genders, from two different backgrounds coming into a marriage with children, it’s always interesting if you let it play out naturally.   

Laura:  Sounds like a recipe for failure. [laughter] It’s so funny because especially when you first become parents, you’re like, “It’s so much fun. We’re changing diapers and doing these fun things." Then they start to grow and you start to see all of these behavioral issues. You see the sin in their heart and then you start to see more sin in your spouse, and you start to see more sin in yourself. It’s definitely a huge thing to get on the same page, but it can be so hard to do.  

Emily:  Laura and I had fun talking about stories of how we’ve had a hard time getting on the same page with our own husbands. My husband is more black and white and he is more objective and more authoritative, and I am more reactive or more passive. I like to think that I am more nurturing and more gracious. [laughter] In my mind, I’m not passive. I’m patient. Well, not true.

He tends to respond immediately and is very consistent and I can tend to let things go. Basically, our kids can get whiplash because we’ve got good cop/bad cop going on if we haven’t planned. My husband is jumping in and getting it every time and then it’s like, “If I ask again, mommy may make an excuse and let me get away with it,” so we have had to be really intentional. What’s cool is that when we are, it works great.  

Laura:  A specific example I’ll share is my husband loves to wrestle with our kids, just like a lot of dads love wrestling. There have been times, especially when my son was a little bit younger that he would go after my husband’s face and press on it, sit on it and stand on it and whatever, and my husband was just laughing. It was all in good fun, as they were both joking around, and neither of them was trying to hurt one another but I was like, “You cannot do that because you better believe the next time he sees another kid, he’s going to be trying to sit on his face.” It was one of those things where as a mom, I saw something different in how that’s going to play out in other situations.

That happens on both sides. There are things that I let slide that my husband’s like, “I don’t think we should probably do that because that’s going to come out in a different way.” That’s even a small thing but something where’s it’s important is to get on the same page. I don’t want to freak out in the moment and be like, “Oh my word, don’t do that. That’s so bad,” but instead for us to have a calm conversation of like, “Hey, here’s why I think maybe we shouldn’t let him try to peck out your eyes with his fingernails [laughter] or whatever. Here’s the reasons why. Do you agree? What do you think?” It goes so much smoother than me freaking out in the moment or being so angry and simmering in the corner about, “He’s teaching him bad habits,” because I do the same thing. That’s a very practical example.

Emily:  If you are struggling with a spouse who truly is on a different page because they are not a Christian or maybe not leading the way you were hoping, we do have an episode a while back that we’ll link to in the show notes, about how you can encourage and help your husband to lead your family. I will direct you there but we can’t get into that in this episode. Assuming you guys are both Christians, I think a starting point is that you want to be on the same page, that our main calling as parents is to pass along our faith to our children.  

Laura:  We both should have the same goal as believing parents and that’s disciplining our children and bringing them up in the way of the Lord, and living out whatever ways God has called us to uniquely live out that vision. At the same time, the way we execute that plan or that vision looks so different because we are two different people and we’re both sinners; we’re both imperfect. The way that plays out is interesting. The nitty-gritty of parenting is, “Are we going to let them throw their food off the table?” or, “Are we going to laugh at that?” “Are we going to deal with this behavior or that behavior?” Some of that nitty-gritty comes out differently because our personalities are different. It can be hard to know what to do exactly.  

Emily:  I find that it is good to believe the best about our husbands intentions, and respect them, and their authority, their ideas and their preferences. A lot of times, my husband may care about a behavior, exactly like what Laura was saying, that I don’t have a stronger preference about but there are ways that we can say, “You know what? Great. This isn’t a huge deal. “ I can listen to him and believe that he has a good idea about this.

We don’t want to treat our husbands like they’re another one of our children [laughter] and be like, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” or, “He hasn’t done the research,” or, “He hasn’t been around as much.” I continue to be surprised. Even though I may read more books, my husband has awesome instincts as a parent and awesome wisdom and insight into what to do. Probably better than mine a lot of times. [laughter]

Laura:  It’s a good point because I think they can come in often more objectively, especially if you’re home with the kids. Even if you work, often moms tend to be, as Emily was starting to say there, we tend to be the researchers and we read the books and we talk to our mom friends. I think we just swap information and consume information a lot more. It’s not a blanket statement. I definitely know dads that are super into that too and that’s awesome.

But I think sometimes husbands can come in and offer a more objective viewpoint on discipline or behaviors, and things and how to deal with them. Whereas often, I feel like I’m too close to the situation. I have emotions and passions and [laughter] "I have had it up to here with X, Y, Z1!" My husband can come in and be like, “All right, let’s bring it down a notch and look at how we can deal with this.”    

Emily:  I tend to give myself a lot of grace when I mess up and I tend to excuse things and then if my husband doesn’t say something in just the right way, I’m like, “Why did he say it that way? Doesn’t he know we’re supposed to say it this perfect way according to book?” and that’s silly; that’s craziness. I want to make sure that I’m giving my husband the same leverage [laughs] and the same grace that I’m walking in, and knowing that God’s grace is just as sufficient for him and we both have off days, and that’s okay.  

Laura:  Remembering that God is sanctifying us too is important. We always talk a lot about how motherhood is sanctifying; (That’s a hashtag on Instagram!) but then, marriage is sanctifying. God is working through our spouses and as Emily was saying, He is just as sovereign over our sins as He is theirs. We trust God that through our flaws and through our errors as moms, He will still care for our children. We have to believe that when we see something with our husband that we want to be super critical of, or, again, we use a harsher standard of judgment for our husbands. We have to remember that God is just as sovereign. He died on the cross for them too. He gave them grace just like He gives it for us.      

Emily:  He is sanctifying them too. Then another thing that popped into mind, if that is something where you’re like, “That is such a stressful topic for me,” Laura and I did a show called Is Your Child’s Faith Your Responsibility where we dive into that topic super deep.

Laura:  How does this look practically? We talked a little about it, why does it happen, what’s the importance of it, or what grace to give our husbands, but what does that look like practically? I have a few ideas and there are probably so many cool ways to do this. The first thing we want to talk about is getting on the same page, not just in the same book, but in the same page. If you work or even you’re at home, the big thing is catching up our husbands. Maybe you picked up your kid from a care provider or maybe you’ve been home all day and you’re heading in the bathroom, [laughter] whatever that may be. If dad comes home then it’s all about catching him up on what’s going on, what child is hitting who that day, or is stealing toys a bunch, or this child doesn’t feel well, this child missed their nap. All of those things. I think it’s important to give them the 101 and really talk through, “This is why we are doing what we’re doing,” or, “This is why it seems harsh but really, it’s not because I’ve been dealing with this for five hours.”     

Emily:  I’m finding more and more that it’s important that I do this pretty quickly and that I do it in a way that’s not complaining. I used to, when my husband came home, [laughter] immediately lay in to, “The kids have been so bad today.” Now it’s more at the dinner table and I’m like, “Hey so and so, let’s talk to daddy about what happened this afternoon,” and we try to keep it a lot more positive. It doesn’t have to be this big intense scary conversation every afternoon because I’m sure that’s not pleasant to listen to either.    

Laura:  It’s showing your kids too that you guys are on the same team, and that they can’t work the two parents to get what they want. My husband and I tend to have car rides or date nights  or whatever, where we talk about specific issues or things that we are seeing in our kids; strengths and weaknesses, or areas that we would like to foster some growth. I realized I need to come into those meetings with a very open heart and with a desire for him to ultimately lead our family and to be able to see areas that we can fix or grow in. I want to be open to his advice and not think, “I have all the right answers because I have researched this to death. I am dealing with it and you don’t actually care about it.” Instead, coming in with an open heart that is prepared to hear his thoughts and prepared to be flexible on what I think needs to happen. 

Emily:  Like Laura was saying, there’s these meetings that we have that we can go through the specific issues. I know my husband and I have also had bigger philosophical conversations about what we think we should be doing with discipline. A lot of those honestly have happened on road trips when we have the kids in the back and we’re like, “We have five hours together and we want to talk.” When else do we have five hours of [laughs] try to sit and talk? We will go through and just map out, “Okay, if this, then this,” with all of our kids. Then even if we have fist-pounded each other before we’ve gone on a trip, or we’ve done it overnight at someone’s house, and we’re like, “Okay, we’ve got our plan.” We talk down to the specifics of, “You’re going to be in there with them first, etc.” It’s just amazing how much better it goes.

Laura:  We talked about moms being the major researchers. I read and consume a lot more information than my husband and so one idea is I'll ear mark one page of a book for him to read, or send him a blog post, or share, “Oh, this mom said they do it this way and I really liked that. What do you think?” It’s great to synthesize information and help them catch up because sometimes that can be my frustration. I’m like, “You don’t care about this as much,” but it’s because I’ve spent a lot more time and I’m closer to the situation.    

Emily:  Also, after you’ve been at a play date or a dinner or wherever, talking about how it went afterwards. We talked about this, “Where were you when so and so was running off?” or, “Did we execute our plan well?” “What did we observe some other families doing? Is that something that we would want to try or is that something that would never work for us and why?” even evaluating what other people do has been super helpful for us.   

Laura:  Everything that we’ve just said here, it has to come from the right heart attitude. Not the heart attitude of wanting to be critical of other families, of your husband, of your children, but coming in as, “Hey, we want to get on the same page as parents. We want to do this together because this is important. Our ultimate goal here, of helping our children know and love what God loves, and to hate what God hates, how does that play out day-to-day? That’s what this is all about. It’s about coming in with good attitudes and an open heart to say, “I want do this with you and I don’t want to work against you.”

Emily:  It feels so good when you are on the same team. It’s awesome to have somebody that you’re like, “We are doing Kingdom work together. We are accomplishing something together." Even if we’re not guaranteed how our kids are going to turn out but we are in it and we are on the same team. It’s an awesome feeling when you get there. The more we’ve experienced that, the quicker we are to rendezvous and get on the same page. I think it’s worth pursuing.     

Laura:  With that, I think it’s a good spot to close the show. Of course we have lots more thoughts but you can head back to some of those other episodes that Emily mentioned. We will link to them in the show notes. In addition, we will have lots of fun articles that you can read about this topic and get more inspired on ways to be on the same page with your husband.

If you wouldn’t mind, we would love it if you would leave a review on iTunes. There is a little star thing that you can rate us and there is a place where you can leave some text about the show. That’s the best way to get the word out, we’d really appreciate it if you like what we’re doing here. Then of course, you find us on Facebook and Twitter. All right, I think that’s it. Have a great day everybody.  

Ep. 27 || Intentional Motherhood: It's The Little Things - Transcript

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen with my sister-in-law Laura Wifler.  Before we get started today, we have a little, exciting announcement. [laughter] We finally made the jump on Instagram, which we know has been around forever, but we just arrived as "Risen Motherhood." Also, today we’re talking about the everyday moments at 3:01 p.m., [laughter] at 8:23 p.m., 2:00 in the morning and whatever. The mundane parts of the day that don’t necessarily have a special event or activity attached to them. We want to talk about how those count and that’s what makes up most of our life.

Laura:  We want to talk about the value of those things. Em and I both saw this Jen Wilkin interview about parenting until 5:00 p.m. and it was one of those things that convicted both of us, of applying ourselves throughout the day all the time.

Emily:  One thing that she mentions in that interview, and we will definitely put that in the show notes because it’s worth watching, is the, "I’m killing time" mindset. I even said it yesterday. Last night, I was talking to my parents, and our kids have fevers, and I was trying to get to dinnertime. I was like, “If I come over, can we take a bath? “Yes, they can take a bath, that would burn some time.” [laughter] It’s my vocabulary of, “How do I get from point A to point B? What’s going to make that clock tick as fast as possible?” Whether you are home with your kids all day, or you are home with your kids in evening, or on the weekends, whenever you are around your kids, there is that temptation, especially when they are really little, to "kill time."

Laura:  I’ve talked to my friends at work or everybody who stays at home. Either way, it definitely seems like as a mom, you want to pass the time. It’s important that whatever we have with our kids, it is intentional. With my husband, a lot of times when he’s not home in the evenings, I’m like, “The whole day’s out the window.” I want to be like, “Let’s go out to eat. I’m not going to make dinner or let’s just eat this junk for dinner, PB&J sandwiches  for the second time of the day,” or whatever it may be. I know that I want to throw in the towel when I hear that he’s not coming home until after bedtime, and try to survive the end of the day. That definitely tends to be my ‘kill the time’ end of day stuff.

Emily:  I can totally relate to that; wanting to throw in the towel and jump into survival mode. I have all these triggers that it’s like, “If this happens, or that happens, or that happens, then we go into survival mode.” I like to pretend those are only extreme things, but probably there’s something that happens every day that can knock me into survival mode. I don’t know if you guys can relate to this or not, but I’ve always been a future-living person. When you are in middle school, you are like, “I’ll do this when I’m in high school.” When you are in high school, you’re like, “I’m going to be this way when I’m in college,” or when you are in college it’s, “When I get married or when I have kids, I’m going to start this thing.” I can live that way as a mom too of, “Well, this is an exception. Today’s an exception. Tomorrow I’m going to do something different or next week or when the next season comes.”

I think we totally devalue the importance of those moments when we are all saying, “When 5:00 p.m. gets here or when tomorrow gets here, then I will do something more meaningful with my time.” [laughter]

Laura:  It ultimately comes down to, what are we worshiping in that? Is it something fun and exciting in the future, or later this afternoon, or is that we feel like, “I only have to do something if someone is around or if it’s going to be seen and if it’s going to be recognized.” For me, a lot of times, I can get into the mode of wanting to complete tasks. It doesn’t matter if somebody sees them but if I personally can check off something off my to-do list, I can value that over investing intentionally with my kids. You have to look at some of those things that you are worshiping.

Emily:  We’ve talked about that on other episodes, too, I think Idols to the Mom’s Heart. We’ll link to that on the show notes. What we do here at Risen Motherhood, is give a broader perspective of our calling, that it is to pass along the Gospel to our children. It happens in the big exciting moments and it happens at church or when you do a devotional time. It also happens in all of the everyday moments, and the things where you don’t necessarily have your Bible out or you don’t necessarily have a specific agenda that you are trying to teach your kids. 

What is our perspective of passing on faith? Is it that big, broad view, or is it, “As long as I meet these basic checkpoints, that’s all that matters? 

Laura:  When you have a two, three, four-year old, a lot of times we are like, “There’s so much time. We can shape and form them later.” Actually, we have such little time, moms. There is the formative years through junior high and then they are starting to look to other people to help shape them. That’s when we have to set these moral compasses now. It’s important that we view our role as important today and, like Emily said, not waiting for that second season. “I’ll do that when they are in preschool. I’ll do that when they are in grade school,” but looking at, “These little years really matter.” We need to be intentional today.

Emily:  My oldest just turned four a couple of minutes ago. I had that crisis moment, exactly what you are talking about Laura, where I realized, “Wow, these most intense young training years have passed us.” [laughter] Obviously, there’s still lots of time and opportunity but it is amazing how fast it does go in hindsight. Now I look back already with my oldest and go, “I wish I would have done this or that a little bit different,” but that happens to every oldest child. [laughter]

Laura:  When we are talking about this, guys, it can sound vague like, “Yes, we need to be intentional,” but what does that look like? To be super clear from the get-go, what we are not saying is that you have to be doing something so important from the outsiders perspective, super intentional every second of every day. What we are saying is we want you to be aware of where your time is going, and how it’s being spent. That doesn’t mean TV is wrong. It doesn’t mean the iPad is wrong. It just means how are you managing those things and do you have a handle on those things? Are you saying, “Hey, I’m first using my time for the Kingdom and everything else can fall into place under that.”

Em, do you want to start us off as we get into that because I know you have some thoughts.

Emily:  Awhile back my husband and I went to this talk. It was about technology, but Tim Challies was sharing. He introduced this concept that I’ve really not heard explicitly presented before. The idea is that we make more impact in our children’s lives in the daily moments, over the course of the years. The things that you do five days a week, or seven days a week at 9:00 a.m., or at 7:00p.m., those little things make more impact than those big events that happen in your child’s life. It’s backwards but it’s the things like, how did you speak to them every day? What did you emphasize in life? Were you available? Were you distracted? Were you stressed? What were those things? That is what is going to build who they are. It’s not necessarily what you did for holidays. Those things are important and yes, they are going to make memories, but that’s not really what’s going to shape their character.

Laura:  I can speak to this personally of seeing my parents, as I grew up and they were hosting and serving. There was constantly people in the house. It was never this big talk of, “This is why we serve,” but I saw it lived out every single day. Our house was a revolving door. I know that I do a lot of that today because of them. I feel I channel that. I saw my parents live that and do that faithfully, humbly and willingly. Today, that’s something that I know I’ve applied in our life and it’s because I saw that lived out every day from my parents, not just over Christmas or big holidays and things like that.

Emily:  So how can we live out faith and see those moments as important? We know that we should value that because that’s what God tells us He values in scripture, but it is the humble moments. It’s the prayers that we do when no one is watching and the way we are faithfully disciplining our children when we don’t have any reward on the horizon necessarily. It’s the mundane work that we are doing that we don’t get thanked for. When we do all of those things out of our heart of worship to God, with a desire to see Him be glorified and to pass our faith along, that is a beautiful thing and God values that.

Laura:  There are so many Biblical examples of people who have taken the time to live intentionally and to trust God in those mundane moments, and not see as, “I have to get to the end.” We can take Paul for example, of his time in jail. When he was unable to engage in the physical part of his ministry, he still was intentional. He wrote letters. He encouraged the church from where he could. He did what he could, where he was at, to be intentional for the cause of Christ.

Or the Proverbs 31 woman. She is a rock star. Every time I read that passage I’m like, “I need to be a little bit more industrious.” [laughter] She’s like a real estate rock star. She’s waking up early. She’s caring for her family. She sees things, sees opportunities and she acts on them. I don’t know, we can continue to go on and on. Ruth, this was a good one. She continued to be faithful when she was with Naomi, doing that mundane work and going out and gleaning in the fields and then she met Boaz. Ultimately, that became a great redemption story and part of the ultimate redemption story. God used that; her being faithful in the small things to carry out His plans.

Emily:  There’s so many good examples. We see that all throughout scripture, how people were going about their lives and it was part of God’s greater narrative, and of this redemption story. It wasn’t meaningless work. There were no meaningless moments and we need to think of our lives the same way. Jesus was that way too. Thankfully, He didn’t come to earth and say, “I’ll start obeying God as soon as my public ministry starts.” He lived faithfully as a carpenter. He obeyed His parents as a child and He was faithful even before His public ministry started. Again, thankfully, He didn’t go, “Well, I just have to get to the cross.”

He did have a point in time that He was working towards on earth but still, along the way, every person that He met, He was faithful in His interactions, and He was intentional to reflect God, and obey God in each of those moments, and they all mattered. It wasn’t just the cross that mattered. That’s a good example for us, as we are trying to model a life lived like Christ, that there may be big moments in our lives that are important but we don’t just say, “Well, none of these other things matter up until those big moments.”

Laura:  If we look at the long goal, we have to look at the path of what it’s going to take to get there. Much of that, as we said before, is shaped in these little years. Again, it’s such a short amount of time when you look at the long picture, and anyone who has a child older than one can say, “It really does go as fast as they say it does.” A big thing of this is intentionally structuring our day to fill those moments well, instead of burning through them.

Emily:  For me, I’m trying to remove the words, “How can I kill time, or how can I burn through this, or how can we get to the end of the day, or how can we get to bedtime?” I’m trying to remove those phrases from my vocabulary, because when they come out, I realize that’s what I’m doing. I can do it with things other TV too. We can do it by running mindless errands or going to Target for the hundredth time when you don’t need to, or whatever. There’s a ton of ways we do it. We are just saying, how can we look at our day and not view it as trying to run out time but instead say, “This time matters,” It’s okay that we go do these other things as long as we don’t see it as a waste.

Laura:  It is speaking to your children, and every moment, about Christ, seeing connections between God’s Word and your kids’ lives. A lot of that is done through communication and pointing out the Gospel to your kids. So much of it, as we talked about, is your actions. How are you responding to your kids? What are you valuing? Where are you going all the time? What are you spending time on, dragging your kids along to? Like Emily said, is it a mindless errand? That’s okay at a certain point but then overall, what are they going to say, “This is where my mom took us all the time,” or, “We went and we served in this place,” or, “We volunteered over here,” or, “We were at church.” They are watching all those things.

Think about when your kids start talking and saying things, and you are like, “I must say that a lot.” [laughter] It’s just going to be greatly amplified in the future of, “This is where my mom spent her time, and this is how she did things, and this is how she responded when I did something wrong. Here’s how she responded.” They are watching that and they can see the Gospel played out in the way that you live every single day. They are seeing Christ, and that’s what we want to show them; how Christ would respond and where Christ would spend His time. Being more purposeful with how we structure our days so that we are making every moment matter.

Emily:  There is no perfect time to start. It’s right now, wherever you are.

Laura:  Don’t wait. Literally, right after you listen to this show, mom. [laughter]

Emily:  Start thinking about how you are living out your faith for them right now, not waiting until a more convenient time, or a more exciting time. That’s what we want to encourage you guys to do today. Is there anything else Laura?

Laura:  No. Go follow us on Instagram, please.

Emily:  [laughter] Definitely do the Instagram thing. Leave us a rating and a review on iTunes if you think of it. That’s super helpful to us. It helps get the word out and helps other people know what they have to look forward to if they listen to this. That’s it.

Laura:  Go forth. Be intentional.

Emily:  See you guys.


Ep. 25 || Preparing for Birth Heart Attitudes When Writing Your Birth Plan - Transcript

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Today, we want to start off by thanking our listeners. We want to take a second to say we are overwhelmed by your responses to us, the notes of encouragement, and how you share things. It’s been amazing. Emily and I are super overwhelmed by the awesome listeners we have.

Second, we want to take a moment to ask, if you haven’t yet, if you would please share this and maybe slap a review on iTunes, or give it a rating. We appreciate when you guys do that, and that’s the best way to get word out about the show, help new people find out about how the Gospel impacts everything they do as moms. If you can take a moment and if you like what we are doing here, please share it with your friends, pop it into a Facebook group or send it via email to some moms that you know that might enjoy. We would appreciate that. Today, we’re talking about birth plans.

Emily: As usual, Laura and I had such a great time preparing for this show because it meant that we got to recount pretty much all the details of our birth planning.

Laura:  We love a good birth story.

Emily:  We do and we could sit and listen, and talk about them forever. I feel that’s my favorite thing to do -  to run to the hospital, and hear how somebody’s story went, and hold their baby.

Laura:  It’s the first thing I want to know. You hear about a new baby and I’m like, “How did birth go? Tell me every detail. [laughter] I want to know.” Em, do you want to start us off and talk through a little bit about how your births went? Guys, remember Emily has had three pregnancies, three labors and deliveries but she has four children. She had a set of twins there right in the middle.

Emily:  It’s going to be so hard to condense this because as Laura and I said, you want to share all the details. With my first one, I did the traditional planning approach, and went to the hospital, took the class, walked around the birthing ward and we were ready. We knew all the medical facts. I read a couple of random books that people gave me but honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. I was a little naïve about it, and I didn’t have a lot of plans, and then my son ended up coming unexpectedly; four weeks early. I’d had a healthy pregnancy, no reason to believe I was going to have my water break in the middle of the floor but he came early. It ended up being more painful than I could have imagined, and it was hard. It got me thinking for the next one that I need to figure something out because that didn’t go so well, at least according to me.

Then I had twins the next time. That changed the story again, and as things went along, I began to see that I needed to give a lot of trust to my doctor and to the hospital because there was a ton of factors, and there was a lot of safety concerns for myself, and for the babies. It was a higher risk pregnancy, and what was interesting is that birth ended up going well because for me, I was a lot more flexible, and I had educated myself even more on a lot of the different ways things could go, and what we were going to do. If it went this way, then we were going do this, if it went that way, then something else. It ended up being a good experience and because I had a pretty good experience, I thought for my third one this is going to be my epic natural delivery.

The moment has come. I have the experiences. I can do this now. I did all the research on natural birth. I prepared for it for about six weeks in advance and I got to the hospital and it ended up being my longest, hardest labor yet. It was like 24 hours. They always tell you they get shorter on each pregnancy.

Laura:  That is such a load.

Emily:  I was so disappointed because even though I had done everything right, it ended up being one of my most high risk.

Laura:  When you say you’d done everything right and prepared...

Emily:  I had practiced all my breathing, and I had done all the mental things you are supposed to do, and I had prayed, and I had my spiritual music, and it was good. I feel I was very worshipful in it but it didn’t go like I wanted. It was still a lot harder and I still felt it wasn’t in my control. Imagine that. [laughter].

Laura:  My turn. With my first, I was totally the mom that had read every book on the planet that has ever come out about anything resembling childbirth. I was on every forum, on every blog, reading all the stories and taking notes, and I compiled the best of each piece into a beautiful Google Doc. I was the mom that had every detail down. I literally wrote on my birth plan, “I want the lights dimmed. I want them low.” That was in writing so it better happen! [laughter]

I had chosen a midwife.  But at the actual birth it ended up being an OB as my primary care provider because my midwife was out on vacay. Starting with that, that birth completely did not go to plan. Literally, the only thing I got was those lights being dimmed. [laughter] That was it and beyond that, the birth went completely different than I could have ever expected.

Someday I will share that birth story on the podcast - I’ll to link to my birth stories in the show notes. I’ve written about them on the blog so you guys can certainly read them but someday I will share the story here. We’ve got a few show ideas around birth and our personal stories and experiences that we’ll dive into but for now, just know that that birth was everything I didn’t want [laughter].

For my second, I went in with super open hands. I didn’t even want to think about childbirth. I was in some ways probably avoiding planning or thinking about labor and delivery because of the things that had happened through my first. I ended up in some therapy. I ended up hiring a doula. I went with the same midwife and guess what happened? She was gone. Again, I had an OB deliver. My doula couldn’t be there. She was sick, so I had a replacement doula. That birth went significantly better and I think a lot of it had to do with how I prepared for it. I’m not going to say that my first had anything to do with the things that happened because of how I prepared for it. I’m not saying that, but I am saying some of the emotional healing or scars occurred because of the way I held my birth plan and the way that I held onto how it should go and my expectations.

That draws us into the point of the show today - birth doesn’t go to plan.

Emily: It doesn’t. I think that, like a lot of things in life, we want to put our hope in our plan. I remember, especially with my last one it was like, “Okay, I’ve got my chiropractor appointments lined up, and I’m doing the exercises, and I’m doing the walks, and I’m doing the stretches. I’ve got my play list and if I just manipulate all these certain things then I can be in control.” Then I will have a “healthy, happy experience,” and sometimes it does turn out that way but we operate like it’s a guarantee.

Laura:  It’s still important to be informed in your health care. Throughout the show, we do not want to make it sound like, “Hey, you shouldn’t plan for birth at all.” No, that is a good thing. You need to be informed and you need to understand the risks and the benefits of an epidural before you say, “Yep, I’m going to do that.” That’s important no matter what you are going to do in healthcare.

We are not saying that at all, but we are going to talk today a lot about the heart attitude behind a birth plan. I was the girl that was like, “Okay, minute one, I am going to walk around the house. Minute two, I’ll maybe jump into that bathtub. Honey, you better fill it and have it ready. It better be warm. I want some lavender aroma therapy prepared.” I was that girl at the beginning that was like, “This needs to go my way or else someone’s going to get hurt.” I was so caught up in my heart attitude of control and wanting this perfect birth story, assuming that if I can control enough, I am going to get this perfect story out of it.

Emily:  It’s understandable why we would want to control this event, in particular, because it’s one of the most painful things that we are going to experience as a woman, just from a physical perspective of child bearing. Of course, we are interested in doing whatever we can to make it a smooth experience. I always say, not painless necessarily, but to make it a good experience. That’s God’s grace for us. But when our heart attitude is primarily focused on, "How can I eliminate anything that might be hard or scary for me and trust in a book or a method, then I think we’ve veered off track. I’ve done it, and Laura has done it, and that was one of the reasons why we wanted to talk about it.

Laura:  It’s important to look at how the Gospel plays into childbirth. Are you surprised we are going to talk about the Gospel? Remember childbirth and child bearing was before the fall. It is  a good thing. God created it. But because of the fall, because of sin entering the world, there came a curse on childbirth. Now there will be pain in child bearing and He’s going to multiply it. That is part of the curse and there is a lot of grace, which we will get into. This is part of it. Having issues in childbirth, whether that just be physical pain or complications and things going wrong, and you need an emergency C-section, or different kind of care, or hemorrhaging, etcetera, there are so many things that can go wrong in childbirth. It’s important to remember where that originated from but it also shows it’s because of our sin: our desire for control, our tendency to trust in ourselves and not in God.

Emily:  We can even get wrapped up into pride or despair, which we’ve talked about on other shows. If your birth story does go well, or it did go according to your plan, you can start to feel like, “Hey, if you prepare like me, or you do what I did, or you subscribe to this method, then yours is going to be fine too.” That becomes your Gospel and you can become very proud or you can start to despair and feel like something is wrong with you. “This is all my fault. If I would have done something different …” and neither of those sides of the spectrum is true, although, that’s where we go and our flesh either wants credit for it going well or wants to think that it’s all our fault if it doesn’t go well. We have a part in the story but God is in control and He is the one that’s over our birth story.

Laura:  So as we're planning our births and how we want it go, as we're sitting there taking notes, or we are even mentally thinking through it – whatever that is for you – I think ultimately, as you are writing that birth plan, your first thought should be, “I have to have an open hand with this and I have to trust God that He is going to work.” He already knows how my birth is going to play out. He is sovereign over this and again, still think through how you would like it to go, but checking your heart attitude as you are prepping that birth plan.

See if you are saying, "God is in control." I have to trust in the One who has already overcome this pain and look towards your eternal future, your eternal glory and say that what I’m about to experience now - that pain, that suffering, that deep heartache of childbirth and child bearing, should point us to Jesus in recognizing that He is in control and He is sovereign over all.

Emily:  I love that word, talking about our eternal hope – it seems kind of obscure. What does my eternal hope have to do with the fact that I’m getting ready to have contractions and all of that? If you look at the whole redemption story across scripture, that is the big story. God is going to overcome all pain, and suffering, and that the labor pains of life and sin in the flesh are going to end, and there’s going to be joy on the other side of that. It’s a beautiful picture that we get to live out, and in that we can experience God’s grace, which is what Laura and I also wanted to bring out on this episode.

It’s how much God has provided relief for the curse in our lives through all kinds of things, through doulas, and midwives, and methods for breathing, and medical advances that allow us to have more safety than women have had in the past, or air conditioning. We don’t have to be necessarily sweating to death or we can give birth in a bathtub. I remember thinking about that whirlpool when I was in labor. You push the button and the jets come on, on your back. I thought, that is God’s grace. I can listen to music or have people there that bring me comfort. There’s so many things that have just given grace in the midst of that pain.

Laura:  Let’s all take a second to recognize what grace it is that we live in 2016 and can benefit from these things. Em and I were talking about childbirth, through history and thinking how amazing it is that we have modern, medical graces from God, to be able to deliver and to deal with those things. The point is, as you plan your birth, it is totally okay to say, "These are some of the things that I really hope to have." That’s the key word - hope to have. But you also look at it and say, “Gosh, I want to thank God for this modern medical care,” that Emily was talking through. All of the grace that is in birth, the choices that I have, the care that I can receive. Being grateful that there is help for when things don’t go to plan and second, trust that God is in control. That he is working for your good. That this is again, as we’ve been talking about, pointing to our ultimate rescuer to the ultimate person who will rescue us and deliver us from all pain in all of life.

Emily:  No matter what happens, we are in Christ and we don’t have to be tied to our story. We are not our birth story.

Laura:  Amen. It’s placing trust in God and that He is over everything. That He is our refuge. That we can’t trust in training, or in a person’s experience, or a book, or a method, or plan. That is the great hang up of birth plans, at least it was for me. I was trusting that in my plan, I was going to somehow get this great birth.

Emily:  No matter what happens, our identity is not found in our birth plan, or how it goes, or whether it’s good or bad. Our identity is tied to Jesus. That is a good place to close today. I know Laura and I could sit and talk birth plans for a long time. We are going to have some good resources. There’s a lot of good articles out there about planning for birth and trusting in Christ, and giving glory to God regardless of what your situation looks like. We’ll be linking to some of those things on our show notes.

Again, as Laura said, thank you guys so much for listening and for sharing, and yes, we’ll touch base with you guys next time.

Ep. 24 || Joy In Motherhood - Transcript

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I, of course, have my lovely sister-in-law, Emily Jensen here with me. Today, we’ve got a few housekeeping things. Em, what do we have?

Emily:  We have another Free Printable which is really exciting. Hopefully you guys got our last one but this one is, again by Give it Pretty and it’s a quote that applies to motherhood that Laura and I both liked for a long time, by Elisabeth Elliot. I’m going to read it to you because it’s a mouthful. [laughter] “This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is to be done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job not in some other, God looks for faithfulness.” It is really pretty and we hope that you guys download it.

Laura:  Go download it and be encouraged and remember what your job is for. We love those words by Elisabeth Elliot. We hope that you are blessed by them as well.

Emily:  Speaking of, we are excited to be talking about joy today. Joy is something in motherhood that we are all looking for and that we all want and yet it feels so elusive. It’s like trying to get a hold of a two-year-old or an 18-month old. They are staring and looking at you, and you are creeping, and you are like, “I’m getting close,” and you reach out, and then they bolt. You’re like, “Why?” Trying to have joy in motherhood can feel like that sometimes.

Laura:  We can feel guilty about feeling we don’t have that joy, and a lot of times, for a lot of women it’s like, “Becoming motherhood is what I want and I’ll finally be so happy once I become a mom.” Then the reality of it all settles in - of the spilled milk, and the poop, and the sleepless nights and all those things. You are like, “This was not as fun as it looked like from the outside.”

Emily:  [laughs] Then we have a lot of pressure. Like Laura said, not only do we look forward to motherhood but we feel all this pressure to be doing everything right, and then it becomes one more thing we are failing at. At least, I feel that way when I’m not having joy. It’s like I already wasn’t meeting the 10 criteria for super-mom and I’m not smiling through it all at the same time, so let’s just heap that guilt on too. [laughter]

Laura:  What we want to get at today, is looking at how a mom can have joy in motherhood and how that reflects your attitude day-to-day. We are going to be differentiating two different types of joy. One is eternal joy and the other is momentary joy. We want to take a second to dissect those two and talk about the difference and how ultimately, you as a mom, can have that eternal joy on a daily basis.


Emily:  Momentary joy, which is probably something we are all familiar with, is like Laura said - the circumstantial joy. It’s something that everyone can experience and it’s a good thing. It’s something that you can find in the laughter of your children, or decorating your house, or eating a great piece of chocolate cake, [laughter] or spending time with people you love, doing your hobbies. There’s a million things that can give us that momentary joy but it’s ultimately circumstantial. It’s based on a thing that you experience, or something people around you are doing, or how you are benefiting, and it’s something also that doesn’t last for very long. Sometimes, you can have a joyful experience that maybe you are happy for days on end but usually, the circumstances eventually change. The cake is gone and then the joy goes with it. I don’t know what else you’ve experienced with momentary joy, Laura.

Laura:  It’s very short-lived. It’s what we were talking about earlier; that elusive section of joy of, yes, I’m eating this awesome ice cream and then it melts, and spills on my shirt and it’s not so awesome anymore, or whatever.


Eternal joy on the other hand. That is a joy that is so much deeper. When we really grasp what it is, it’s so much longer lasting. It’s taking joy in God and His promises, His word, His love; everything that He has done for us. I like to think of it as keeping one eye on the cross and one eye on redemption. We are looking back and looking forward at His promises. When we have this deeper joy of this expectation, of what God will do for us and how He will redeem us and one day our reward will be in the future, and it will be so much better than these small little rewards like M&M’S, and [laughter] Crunch Bars, and things like that that we love, that joy sustains us so much further. It looks very different. When a mom is trusting deeply in her Savior and being grateful in what God has done for her, that’s when we are able to respond to our family so differently than if we are basing our stuff on circumstantial joy. That’s what we want to talk through today, how do we have that eternal joy and what does it look like when we have it?

Emily:  Laura and I have both experienced trying to hope in momentary joy and having to figure out what that eternal joy looks like in our own personal situations. As we were prepping for this show, we were both laughing about some experiences we’ve had personally, of feeling like motherhood, as Laura said, wasn’t that fun and going, “How could I do all of the joyful things that scripture talks about when I have children that are crying a lot?”

For me, having so many young children, there are a lot of long, intense days where there are sometimes a lot of tears, and a lot of tantrums, and a lot of correction, and training, and discipline and a lot of fights. It can feel like, if I am hoping in a day going smoothly, or in my children’s behavior, or being able to do fun things, there’s just no…

Laura:  There is no hope.

Emily:  [laughs] I’m in trouble. I’ve had a lot of people in the last six months, after accessing Risen Motherhood or blog stuff, ask me, “How are you having joy in the midst of it all?” and I was like, “That’s a good question. I should figure out the answer to that,” but it’s been a good journey for me to figure that out. I probably have more joy than I thought but in new ways, which Laura and I will get into.

What about you Laura? Have you had those experiences of trying to find joy?

Laura:  Yes. I often look back, as we were chatting through times when we couldn’t really trust in our circumstantial joy. A big season for me, that I’ve talked about before, was about a year ago last spring, when I felt my life was completely falling apart. My daughter had colic and there were other factors at play to be sure, but that was a season where I did not enjoy my daughter and I questioned when am I going to find joy in her? I wanted that deep joy in having a newborn, and being a second-time mom. It was a hard season for me that I realized really quick that if I’m going to be dependent on my children for my joy, or my circumstances in my home, or in my friends, it wasn’t going to happen.

That was where I was brought very low and realized I’ve got to figure out a different source of happiness or I’m destined for depression. That’s where God came in, in a big way and taught me what eternal joy looks like. I realized how in the midst of suffering, in the midst of hard things happening, you can have a deeper joy that is running beneath the surface; running your engine. Honestly, I look back on some of those days and how busy it was, and all the things that were happening and zero sleep and I am like, “God totally sustained me and He gave me a supernatural power to be able to respond to my children and love. Was I perfect? Absolutely not. [laughter] I have a lot of days that I wish I could erase from my memory, that I was not behaving in the right way. But when we are trusting in that everlasting joy of the promises of God, and the things that He’s done before us, that is a way that can supersede or overcome all of our natural attitudes and desires to respond impatiently or to act selfishly, and things like that.

Emily:  What you mentioned is awesome. When you were going through that, I remember not even necessarily knowing that you were in such a hard place, which I think is evidence. [laughter] That’s a picture of joy because you and I are pretty close. You were hoping in the Lord to some extent and that’s a great witness of, “Hey, there’s something going on there. That person is being sustained even though they are in a hard place.”

As I was also thinking through this, I was picturing a mom and we are in the trenches of a battlefield just covered in dirt, and markers, and [laughter] unidentified bodily fluids, and everything else. Our hair is not washed and we are trying to win at all costs. The difference is we have a war that is already won. What if somebody told you in the middle of the battle, “This already turns out in your favor! This already turns out well!” How does that change how you are fighting? How does that allow you to fight from a place of rest and from a place of ultimately, “Yes, I’m going to keep going,” but almost motivates you because you are like, “Okay, this is going to be won so I can keep going.”

I heard this interesting story yesterday on another podcast, a Ted Talk podcast about Florence Chadwick. She was a channel swimmer. She was going to swim a channel from an island off of California to California. She swims for 15 hours, and it’s foggy, and she’s like, “I can’t do it anymore.” She gets out of the boat and shortly after she gets out of the boat, the fog clears and the shore was a mile off. She about dies because like, “Okay, if I just could have kept going.” She said, “I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have kept going.” She did it again, she said, with the shoreline in mind and she made it.

That is such a good picture of this joy of looking with our reward in mind, with eternity in mind, to keep swimming. We can keep going. I’m not going to quote Nemo but- [laughter]

Laura:  Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming! [laughter]

Emily:  That’s a mom illustration right there. Why did that stupid line pop into my head?[laughter]

Laura:  Hey moms. Every time you have Finding Dory or Finding Nemo playing on your TV, which is probably a lot, think about swimming for Christ. [laughter] I like it Em.

Now to take us from Finding Nemo to a Puritan pastor because I love Richard Baxter. I don’t know if any of you guys know about that guy, but he’s from the 1600s so we are going old school, but he has this quote. It’s not specifically about joy but basically he says, “If everlasting joys were more in your thoughts, then your spiritual joys would abound more in your hearts.” I love that quote. It’s a much larger quote, and all of it is so good. I love that because what often keeps us joyless is our expectations. That’s either not expecting what God has promised for us in the future or we are expecting what He didn’t promise. 

I love what Emily says about keeping that eternity in mind, of swimming towards that future. That has been a huge thing for me as I have transitioned. A lot of our joylessness is a fact of unbelief and not trusting in those promises that God is going to give us in the future, and not even fully comprehending or understanding it. I know to a level we can’t understand that future reward that we are going to get. God promises eternal rewards with Him in heaven. That He will come back and all will be restored; all will be redeemed. If we truly believe that, moms, if we truly did, we would have so much joy and hope and we would live fearlessly.

I feel that’s something that God’s been working on me; eradicating worry and fear, and I love thinking about, if I can place my hope there not in how I have to mop the floor again, and vacuum upstairs, and clean up puke, and do all these errands, and do laundry, again. If I put my hope and joy in Jesus Christ and the coming return of my Savior, that changes everything. I wish I could bottle it up and pour it into each of you that are listening.

Emily:  Laura and I wanted to talk a little bit about how to find joy, which she just got into and what we’ve been talking about, of looking to our internal reward and also recognizing joy is found in the presence of the Lord. I think sometimes too, when we are not experiencing joy, and we are having a hard time, remembering what God has done for us through salvation, and being grateful, and we are having a hard time thinking about His promises, we also haven’t been in His presence.

It’s really important to meet with the Lord, to pray and to worship Him and to have scripture in your heart. We talked about that in the Quiet Time episode, which you can go back and listen to. Another thing is having fellowship with other believers. I talked about praying. Even singing songs to God and obeying God’s word can produce joy in our hearts. You can study that in scripture and find a whole bunch of other ways that you can experience joy, not only in motherhood but as a person. I think that a lot of times joy isn’t necessarily a passive thing. It’s an active thing. It’s something that we can have in suffering. It’s something we can have in hard situations and it’s available to us.

Laura:  True joy is way easier to see. It’s more bright when our circumstances are the worst. If we have that true joy, that’s when it’s really revealed, and this happens when we are going through that suffering. The biggest number one, is spending time with God. We talk about that a lot on the show. It’s also important to be grateful and to take time to thank God and praise Him. Emily and I both have Val Marie Paper’s prayer journal. She has a new Gratitude Journal out that I haven't done. Em, have you done it?

Emily:  No, I haven’t.

Laura:  We love her prayer journals. I bet the Gratitude Journal is super good. I’ve been following her on Instagram and saw it there – but praying before meals, that’s a great natural worked-in reminder to thank God or before bedtime. You can also do that with your kids. Em, any last thoughts before I do?

Emily:  We want to remind you that, when you are in that moment and you are like, “I really want to have more joy,” before you run to the momentary things like the M&M bag – which you should know that joy will end up in your hips - just pause and think about what you are doing and realize, “Hey, I may find some joy here momentarily,” and that’s okay but it’s not going to sustain.

Laura:  Those things are good in their right place. We are not hating on M&M’S. We do love M&M’S but like Em says, do a quick heart check first.

I feel this has been quite the whirlwind episode but if you are looking for show notes head over to risenmotherhood.com. Find us on Facebook, you guys. We are doing Facebook live a lot, and it’s been fun and sort of petrifying, but we’ll be sharing more over there. Find us on Facebook and give us a like. Find us on Twitter and then of course, we appreciate when you guys take time to write a review and rate us on iTunes. That is the best way to get the news out about the show besides you maybe blasting your friends with a link as well. That would be awesome.

See you guys next time.

Ep. 23 || Hope After Miscarriage: Two Moms Share Their Stories of Loss & Healing - transcript

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Hey guys. I want to welcome you to a special episode of Risen Motherhood today. From the very beginning, Laura and I knew we wanted to address the painful experience of miscarriage and give gospel hope to hurting moms. While neither Laura or myself have been through this personally, we both have dear friends and family who we have watched walk through painful loss in pregnancy. We really wanted to do due diligence on this topic and so we’ve got a couple of women to interview so that you could hear firsthand truth from the mouths of moms who have walked through this grief, with their faith still in Jesus.

Today you’ll be hearing from Madison Hofmeyer and Abby Hummel. While they are both different women with different stories, they both have experienced multiple miscarriages before the birth of their first child and they both, as you will hear, felt abandoned by God at times. They questioned His goodness and their faith but they also found deep comfort and help in the promises of God, as they were trusting Him through the pain of miscarriage.

Today, Laura and I hope that whether or not you’ve experienced a miscarriage or maybe you know somebody who’s experienced one, or you’re walking through a really hard circumstance as a mom, we want you to know that this episode and these interviews were recorded with you in mind. Our prayer is that these women would leave you more in awe of God’s deep love for you and His deep care for you. We also desire that you would hope in Jesus even in the really hard places, which is exactly where He wants to meet each and every one of us. Without further ado, I will let you guys listen in to Laura and Madison.     

Laura:  Hi guys. Today, I am really excited to have my friend, Madison Hofmeyer here on the show. Madison and I go way back, and we’ve known each other for quite a while. We met in college, right?

Madison:  Yes, we met sophomore year in college.

Laura:  I’ll let Madison introduce herself to you a little bit further so you guys know her background. Suffice it to say, she is amazing and a wonderful friend of mine, and someone who I have always admired as I watched her go through things, and walking through life with her for nine years now. I will let her do the introduction and tell you guys a little bit about her beautiful family – who she is and what she’s about.     

Madison:  Like Laura said, my name is Madison Hofmeyer and I blog over at espressoandcream.com. During the day, I am a freelance food writer and recipe editor. I live in Iowa with my husband Joe, and our 15-month old daughter, Ainsley and two very adorable but rambunctious dogs. That is me in a nutshell. We just moved from Minneapolis, and we are now living in a small town in Northwest Iowa.         

Laura:  You guys have bounced around a little since college but it seems like you’ve found a good home base. You’ve told them what you did, and where you live but what about your blog?  

Madison: Yes. I don’t blog fulltime or anything like that but I like to share encouragement. It used to be a food blog and it turned into a mom blog – though I said that was never going to happen. [laughter]  

Laura:  It happens to all of us. [laughter]

Madison:  Now we write a little bit about everything. Laura is my design inspiration. We renovated a house and now I’m trying to get inspiration from her.  

Laura:  This is what you should really know about Madison. [laughter] She won "Rachel Ray’s Hey Can You Cook?" 

Madison:  I had my 15 minutes of fame on reality TV doing a cooking show. [laughter]

Laura:  You’ve done a lot in media – you used to work for Better Homes and Gardens.  

Madison:  Then I worked for General Mills. Lots of opportunities to do media and camera and lots of cooking.  

Laura:  If you google her, you’ll find some really amazing things. [laughter]

Madison:  And some really embarrassing things as well.

Laura:  What we are talking about today though is a very serious topic. We are talking about miscarriage. When Emily and I were chatting through this topic and wanting to bring gospel hope to the topic of miscarriage, one of the first people that I felt I wanted to bring on the show, and have her explain her experiences was Madison, because Madison has been very public about her experience. You can go to her blog and read a lot more.

She is one of those women who carries through trials with excellence and grace. Her perspective on this has been really enlightening, encouraging, and helpful for me, as someone who hasn’t had a miscarriage. Madison has taught me so much about how to care for others and how to speak to them. It’s been amazing to see God work in her life. I brought her in today because I want her to share her story.

Madison, can you explain or share your experience of what’s happened in the past?      

Madison:  As Laura mentioned, we do have experience of miscarriage. My husband and I had two miscarriages prior to having our daughter, Ainsely. We weren’t trying to get pregnant the first time around so it came as a complete surprise. I don’t even know why I had a pregnancy test at our house. My husband was on a work trip and I decided that, “Hmmn, I might be pregnant,” and took a pregnancy test. It was positive and the typical emotions you have when you’re totally caught off guard sprung up but very quickly, those uncertainties turned into excitement. We were thrilled.

In our naïve nature, we told all of our family right away before we even had a doctor’s appointment. I went to my first doctor’s appointment by myself thinking they’re just going to do boring things like blood work and all those things at eight weeks, but they decided to be overly eager and do an ultrasound. I would have preferred that Joe was there but he wasn’t. When they did the first ultrasound, it showed that the baby did have a heartbeat but a very low heartbeat. They sent me home and said, “Don’t worry about it. Go home for a week and we’ll see you back next week.” Of course, when people say, “Don’t worry about it,” what do you do?       

Laura:  You worry. [laughs]

Madison:  Right, and so I did too much Googling. We came back a week later and the baby no longer had a heartbeat. It really caught me off guard as I was not prepared. I didn’t know a lot of people who talked about miscarriage and I didn’t know much about it myself so it was a big education for me right off the bat. I talked publicly about miscarriage later on but at first, I didn’t.

I kept it to myself for a good three months before I even thought, “Maybe this is something I want to process in a more outward way.” Eventually, I did write about it on my blog and shared about our experience and the healing process that I had been going through, and was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support, love, and encouragement that people sent my way. People sharing their stories - it was amazing. I just needed to know I wasn’t alone.

Our doctor assured us like I’m sure many other women have, that you don’t usually have more than one miscarriage in a row. It’s very common, it doesn’t mean anything to have one and so we proceeded. We weren’t trying to have our first but we decided we were excited. We wanted to start a family and four months later, we got pregnant again. At this point, both of my sister-in-laws were also pregnant so we were all going to be due within six weeks of one another. As you know, there’s a lot of excitement with that.

We anticipated what it would look like and had a healthy ultrasound at seven weeks. We had every reason to believe things were going well. We went to our 12-week appointment getting ready to announce to everybody, and they weren’t able to find the baby’s heartbeat on the Doppler. Then we went in to an ultrasound. I still remember the feeling in the room as I knew what they were going to find. I had a mom intuition that things weren’t going to be okay. I had said to my mom before I went to that appointment. I said, “If our baby is not okay, I don’t know how I can believe that what God says is true and I don’t know how I’m going to recover from this.” I said, “I can’t watch my sister-in-laws move on with their pregnancies if we can’t move on with ours” so it was both my own personal sadness but it was also compounded by being in such close proximity to pregnancy, and to celebration and all of those things that made it that much harder. It was a very scary time and a terribly hard one. I was asking a lot of questions of God and a lot of questions of myself and my own hurt, at the same time.      

Laura:  Can you explain some of the questions, specifically, that you asked God?

Madison:  The thing that I came to ask more than anything, was I wrestled with this whole, how can God be good? Did I do something to anger Him, to insult Him? I really struggled with hearing all these moms talk about their babies. I think the thing that hurt me the most was hearing, “I’m so thankful that God thought I was fit to be a mom of these kids.” I started to feel like, “Wait, what does that say then about me? Does God not see me fit to be a mom? Did it have anything to do with my faith? Is my faith not strong enough? Why am I experiencing this?” Ultimately, the question that I, through processing and through writing, got to ask was, "Is God still who He says He is even if He doesn’t give me what I want?"

I think what many women want, more than anything, is to be a mom. They came up to us and they said, “It’s going to be okay. God is going to give you that baby that you want,” or, “I just know you’re going to end up with a healthy pregnancy.” I know they meant it from a great place of encouragement but to me at that point, I said, “You don’t know that. Who are you to say that that’s true?” I want to believe it’s true, I want to hear hopeful stories but I also need to be at this point where if God chooses to say no, if that door is not opened, that He’s still the same God that I read about in the Bible that I believe in. His promises are just as true in that, as they were if we had a kid.         

Laura:  I know you guys can’t see Madison and I but we both have tears in our eyes. I remember walking by the river with you, and we were chatting about a lot of these things. It still feels so raw. I can sense the emotion and how it feels for you still today. How many years? A couple of years?   

Madison:  We’ve got a couple of years, yes. Two and a half years.

Laura: Any time we are going through trials or suffering or pain to say, “Is the God that I believed in a year ago or a week ago or whatever, is that God the same and how can God allow suffering?” that is a question that we’re not going to get deep theologically into today. I’m so sorry and I know that that is one of those red flags that we want to answer. Maybe Emily and I will tackle that at some point.

Madison, can you explain too, how God worked in your heart to show you that He was still good? At some point, I’d really love for you to share your third baby’s story as well, because I think that will play in. Did you have scriptures or verses or a moment that people shared with you that gave you hope?     

Madison:  I think the thing I come to – because I wanted to be able to celebrate my sister-in-laws’ pregnancies and I wanted to be able to have joy in that – that was the biggest, hardest part, to be in close proximity to that and yet at the same time wanting to be able to celebrate. I really clinged to the verse that said, “Laugh with those who laugh. Mourn with those who mourn or cry with those who cry.” I thought, “I’m going to dig into the hurt.”

I did say, “I am going to give the middle finger to the devil and say you are not going to steal my ability to celebrate and to be joyful for the people I care about.” I said, “I’m going to throw a baby shower for my sister-in-law. I’m going to send my maternity clothes off to one of my sister-in-laws. I am not going to allow this to steal all that joy even if I didn’t always feel it,” because I’m human. I did not always feel it. It was very hard but at the same time I was like, “I’m going to dig into the hurt and hope that that brings joy,” and it did. Being able to think outside of myself and my circumstances really helped me to continue to move forward.         

Laura:  You chose your attitude; your response.

Madison:  Sometimes it was my actions and my response, and it wasn’t the attitude, but that came later.

Laura:  That’s a great distinction that we won’t always feel. That is again why I love Madison. She’s a class act and she just carried through all of that with grace. I think that shows a real strength and God’s graciousness on your life, even through these horrible trials that happened. He gave you and granted grace to say that you can maintain relationships with those around you even in the midst of a difficult miscarriage.    

Madison:  It can be very isolating. You withdraw from friends who have kids or friends who are pregnant and pretty soon you’re withdrawn from everybody.

Laura:  What would you say to someone who’s feeling that inclination of wanting to put up walls and barriers?

Madison:  I found that a lot of the healing came from sharing more openly. Not everybody’s going to know what to say and you can’t expect them to know what to say. Laura had not experienced that. I didn’t expect you to be able to come to me and have all this wisdom or whatever but I think you need to remember people are generally well intentioned. Even though it might come across the wrong way to you, they probably are not sure how to walk with you in the grief.

I would say that you lean into it. People might be awkward, they might not know what to say but people were so good to us too. They sent us flowers and they brought us meals. At first, I felt a little silly, like, “I’m still okay. I can walk around and make dinner,” but letting people love me, and then it taught me a lot about being able to love other people in difficult situations too. If you’re comfortable, the more transparent you can be, the more it will bring healing. It will show you there’s more purpose in your grief than just your own.      

Laura:  That’s very true. Madison, we’ve seen your story being shared all over. I feel like I see Madison’s stories [laughter] pop up on Facebook from random people all the time. It’s been amazing to see how God has used that time of suffering for you, for ultimately His greater glory because you have always been one to point the glory back to God. Can you think of or point to other specific areas of hope that God has given you through miscarriage now, on the other side? Evidences of His grace that you’ve seen?    

Madison:  Our daughter now is 15 months and the way that the pregnancy’s progressed, there would have never been a way to have her - it would have overlapped, we would have been able to have one baby and not the other. I think that was totally God’s grace. Some people ask, “Does it still really, really hurt?” Yes, it does and it still obviously brings me to tears but at the same time, I see our daughter now and I think she couldn’t be here if it weren’t for the sequencing and timing of the other events.

That helped me process because I felt she is exactly the baby God wanted us to have. It doesn’t diminish our other children. They are real and deserve to be celebrated just as much as our daughter who’s in the crib upstairs. That helped me realize God has a plan. He really does and He works it out in an intricate, sometimes confusing and even painful way, but it really does work out even though it sounds so cliché because people say that all the time, [laughter] “It will all work out. It works out how God wants it to.”            

Laura:  Can you share a little bit, the story about your daughter? This is amazing you guys. You’re all going to have chills. [laughs]

Madison:  We had a D&C after our second pregnancy and we got pregnant six weeks after our D&C. I had never had, with any of our miscarriages, any bleeding or spotting. With the third pregnancy, I started bleeding and spotting right before Fourth of July and so we went into the ER. My husband had a work trip coming up so he said, “We’d better figure out what’s going on.” They did a very early ultrasound at five and a half weeks. When I went in, the ER doc said, “I’m really sorry to tell you but it appears you’re going to have a molar pregnancy.”

For those of you who don't know, that’s a mass of cells that can potentially turn into cancer. It may or may not. It’s very intensive. You have to have six months of clean pap smears before you can even start trying again. It’s very rare. I said, “What are the chances that we have three miscarriages in a row?” and then also, this is a molar pregnancy.

I was just angry. Honestly, I took the piece of paper, ripped it in half and I walked out of the ER and I said, “Forget you.” My doctor told us to go and see our regular OB doctor as they were more skilled at ultrasounds and so I did. I went in the next day and they said, “I am sorry to confirm but we believe the same. It’s a molar pregnancy and this will not turn into a real baby.” My doctor, I think in trying to be merciful to us having walked this road with us, said, “We can get the D&C tomorrow. You can have it done before the holiday weekend. We don’t want you travelling.”

I went home and I talked to my husband and I said, “I can’t do this. I need to move forward and have this done. I just want it taken care of.” I was just so emotionally spent at that time. I was going to pick up the phone and call, and make the appointment and something stopped me. Our pastor had talked about leaving room in our life for God to do miracles in this day of science, and of knowing all the facts. We said, “Let’s wait. Let’s put it on Instagram. [laughter] Lets ask everyone to pray for us and wait a week,” and we did. We went in on our third anniversary. I had the D&C scheduled but we went in to the ultrasound room right before and they said, “You’re not going to believe this but we see a baby and the baby has a heartbeat. I don’t know what we saw a week ago but there is a real live baby here.” Sure enough, our real life baby is here. [laughter] She’s a healthy fifteen month old. Everyone was in disbelief but it was another story of God working miraculously.          

Laura:  Ainsley is so beautiful and to hear that story of redemption, that God brought you through is amazing. Lots of surprises and unexpected things and deep sorrows and then it feels like a complete miracle when you bring Ainsley into the story. Every time I see that little girl, I feel like there is a story of God’s redemption and healing at work, and His mercy in all of our lives.

Remembering how miscarriage comes from sin because we have broken bodies, because the world is corrupt, that’s the causation of it. That’s the reason why painful, sad things like that happen. But in God’s great mercy, He has created redeeming stories and definitely done that for you and been gracious. Like you said, Ainsely would not exist had so much of this painful story not happened. I’m so grateful that you can see the blessing in it and on the other side have hope, and how you’ve been so open in sharing your story. Is there anything else you want to add or encouragement maybe for a mom who’s specifically going through something like this?    

Madison:  I would encourage you that sometimes your greatest ministry might come in a way that you don’t think it does. I promised God, I said, “I’m going to tell everybody we know about our story and about Ainsley’s story.” It has been such an introduction to talking about God and Jesus in unexpected ways. Somebody says, “Your daughter is cute.” Sometimes I’m the weird person who says, “She is such a miracle, [laughter] let me tell you.”

Down the road, you find a great ministry through your suffering. Whether that be that your child was adopted or you ended up with a whole plethora of biological children. God writes cool stories and allows you use it for His glory.    

Laura:  That’s so true. Everything you don’t expect is for His glory. Thank you so much for being on the show Madison. I really appreciate it. You can find her blog espressoandcream.com and then find her on Instagram and Facebook.  Check her out and find her old stories. We will post her stories in the show notes. You can certainly head over to Risen Motherhood to find the direct links to some miscarriage posts that have been really impactful.

Madison:  Thanks for having me.


Emily:  I am glad you guys are joining us today for this special episode about miscarriage. Today,  I’m with my friend, Abby Hummel here. I am excited to have her. We have known each other for four or five years now, right?

Abby:  Yes, something like that.

Emily:  We met through a Bible study. We were the only two really young women in this leadership group and so we instantly bonded. Eventually her and her husband ended up at our church, and we got to know each other a lot better for several years before they moved, which was really sad. But we’re glad that they are on to other things that they should be doing with their lives. I definitely miss having her around.

Abby will be sharing more about the things that she does. She is a fellow writer and I call her in my mind a fellow theologian [laughter] whose feed discusses all things. If I have a hard-hitting question or a topic, she will sit and discuss it with me. I love that Abby has a nerdy side like I do, about different things. She has a heart for children and for her family, and for the Lord. I know you guys are going to relate to what she experienced and you’re going to leave feeling encouraged by what she has to say.

Abby, can you share a little bit about your family make up and maybe what your days look like and what you do writing wise?         

Abby:  My husband Aaron and I have been married for eight years and we have two children that are very young. They are exactly 13 months apart so they are almost two and almost one right now. Before they were born, we had three miscarriages over the course of four years. They were spread out and then right after the last one, I got pregnant with my daughter very quickly and when she was four months old, I found out I was pregnant with my son. We are like feast or famine with babies around here so I am thankful for the feast right now.     

Emily:  That keeps you super busy during the day [laughter] as I know those little ones have lots of needs. What do you do when you have any extra time on your hands, or make extra time on your hands? [laughter]

Abby:  You definitely have to make it. In my dreams, I would do crafts and write on my blog. I would have these fabulous articles and series and I would be cranking it out. In reality, I’ve moved two times in the last two years and so I have spent a lot of my free time painting trim and figuring out how to make my furniture work in different houses.

Emily:  You guys have a dog too, in the mix.

Abby:  Yes, so I keep myself busy [laughs]

Emily: Abby has an awesome blog that we will link to and she’s got a lot of articles where she talks about miscarriage. Have you done any other interviews too? I feel like you have content in other places.  

Abby:  I did one that I probably won’t link to because it’s a little bit long and rambling [laughing] but I have talked about it sometimes. I’m really happy to do this.   

Emily:  I am grateful that you’re willing to talk about this. That was one of the things that I appreciated and learned much from Abby when we were walking through this season. I might have been pregnant with my first child when we became friends. You were probably walking through your second miscarriage by then, right?   

Abby:  Yes. I remember the first time we got together. We might hit on this later but I remember you were standing out as a rare woman. You were pregnant with your son and I knew you were going to ask me what we were thinking about kids. I was honest with you and you were very gracious to enter into that with me instead of letting it become this awkward thing we didn’t talk about. That was a great gift to me.    

Emily:  The appreciation is on both sides because I think I had a lot to learn. Walking through that with you was really helpful for me to see too. It gave me a lot of different gratitude and perspective and compassion. I’m a little bit more cautious when I ask women who’ve been married for a while. I want to ask in a way that is gracious because you don’t ever know what somebody has been experiencing.

You shared that you had three miscarriages. What was that timeline like? Can you explain that experience in more detail, maybe some of the things you were feeling?   

Abby: The first time I got pregnant, I was 24 years old. I had been married for two years and I ended up losing that baby at about eight weeks along. Then a year later, almost exactly, I got pregnant again, had another miscarriage very early and then it was two years until I got pregnant again. That miscarriage was weird and funny, and there were some more complications that went along with that one, but everything happened when I was about 12 weeks along.

I had very different experiences with each situation, which really taught me a lot. There’s not just one miscarriage story that everyone has. Everyone has their own experience. I found it really challenging to my spiritual walk with the Lord. I was a Christian; I would say I’d been a Christian forever but man, I got really intimidated. I would go online and I’m searching Google, “I just had a miscarriage,” or, “What does the Bible say about miscarriage?” I was really intimidated with what I found because there wasn’t a lot of information available coming from a Christian perspective.

The stuff that I did find was usually people that would say things like, “I trusted in God the whole time. I was leaving the hospital from my D&C and I had this overwhelming sense of peace that God was sovereign and taking care of me.” That was not my experience at all and I felt like God had abandoned me, or that I was missing out on my call because I wanted to be a mom so bad. So I’m like, “Am I missing out on what God wants me to do?” The Bible doesn’t say a lot about miscarriage so how is this relevant to me at all? Am I going to be isolated forever? Am I always going to be looking at my friends who are moms and wondering if I can even fit into their lives?

Emily:  How did that send you on an exploration process? I know that you have a deep relationship with the Lord now. Do you feel like, in that time, you were able to turn to scripture? Did He lead you to some of those answers, on your own as you studied the Bible? How did you get to a more hopeful place or work through that, if you felt very abandoned?   

Abby:  I definitely hit a point after my second miscarriage where I was like, “I have to figure this out because if the Bible is not relevant for this, if I’m going through this…” It’s a really emotionally difficult thing for me. I was very, very affected. If the Bible does not speak to this and if God’s like, “Hey, I am totally sufficient for you. I’ve given you my word but you are on your own for this,” I was like, “I might have to be done with this whole Christianity thing. I have to figure out what’s going on. Screw this.”

It cemented my ability to look at scripture as a whole and not just individual verses. I used to think that maybe it was just the context. I wanted to know what was going on with the author. Where Paul was coming from and who he was writing to and I’ll figure out what he needs here. But really, the ability to look at scripture and see the gospel on every page, that’s what I needed to do to fit miscarriage into this.

Looking at it from that perspective, I was able to see that God created things to work the right way. His first command is be fruitful and multiply. God created us to procreate and have babies. It’s good that I wanted to do that and that’s what would be happening in a perfect world.

Then the fall, death comes in, so the death, very early on of a baby, happens because of the fall and then the redemption comes. Jesus paid that. Jesus also died. Jesus is the son of God and so I’m not alone in that because God had to watch His child die, and then we see the restoration. Whether it’s the Old Testament prophets like Isaiah saying, “All flesh will see the Lord together,” that will happen. Or maybe in Exodus when God’s people are going to the Promised Land and God promises them, “In the Promised Land there will be no miscarriages or barrenness.” That’s also talking about heaven. Fitting all of that in was what I needed to do, to see God at work in this and to know that I was not abandoned in my grief.

Emily:  It is so powerful to me. I love what you shared about God watching His own child die. I know that any mom that’s listening, whether she’s had a miscarriage or not, that is one of our deepest fears as soon as you have that pregnancy test, is that you’re going to lose a child. Whether that’s inside the womb or outside, I think we can all relate to that. It is just amazing to me that God can relate to that. That is an amazing truth and I’m glad you brought that out. How do you feel the redemption portion gave you hope or ultimately, how did you see God working in your life after you saw the Gospel throughout scripture and started to see all of that play out?     

Abby:  In one sense, it helped me to figure out where God wanted to use those situations for my good. A good thing that came out of that was a better understanding of how God is speaking in scripture to every situation that I face. I also feel like I had a vision for using the grief and that difficulty and those very frustrated maternal instincts that were coming along with that, to bless other people. I feel like now that I have two babies, it’s a little bit harder. I know there are people that email me and want to talk, and I am not always great at responding to those because I have so many little needs. The way that I can care for other people who are suffering, using the things that I want to do to mother the children that I will never meet, that energy gets focused on building other people up, that are also hurting and suffering.  

Emily:  Indeed, that has been an incredible ministry that has come out of this. It seems like that’s a way that you are able to share the gospel with women or speaking to tough places that you previously wouldn’t have.  

Abby:  I’m really humbled to be able to do that and I hope that it’s something other people are doing as well, because miscarriages are really common. A lot of people have miscarriages but I’m glad to see that so many people are able to talk about it in terms of the Gospel, because it’s a shame to have a common experience like this. So many women experience this. Being able to talk about it in terms of the Gospel is so important to share this with people and to give hope to them.

Emily:  If you were able to have this one-on-one coffee conversation with every woman listening who’s been through miscarriage, and is either in the grieving process or is still trying to understand if God is still for her in this, what hope would you share? Honestly, on the other side, you have two children and you’ve had a little bit of time to heal. Would you say there’s hope there?  

Abby:  The first thing primarily is that the Gospel gives us the freedom to breathe in this. and it is okay for death to be a big deal. If death was not a big deal then the fall is not a big deal, then Jesus coming back is not a big deal. This is a cornerstone so it is okay for death to be bad and for a miscarriage to take you to the depths of your soul, if that’s what needs to happen there. You don’t need to be ashamed of feeling bad about anything with that.

The other thing is by Jesus dying, you are not alone in that grief because God is there with you. We see this in that knowing God watched Jesus on the cross but also I think the Psalms are a really great place to turn in this. All throughout the Psalms we see, like in Psalms 119, “I am weary with sorrow. Strengthen me according to your Word. Psalm 31 says, “I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love for you have known my affliction,” you have known the distress of my soul. We see throughout that there are so many times we see, “I am in sorrow, I am weary, I am afflicted, I am in pain,” and God says, “I am with you. My Word is the ocean for you.”  

Emily:  That is really encouraging even for me to hear and be reminded.

Abby:  You’re not alone. The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and that is our comfort. His Word preserves our life.

Emily:  Abby, I have been really encouraged by talking with you today and hearing the way the Lord brought you through this and continues to bring you through it and has given you a gracious heart to minister this to other women and helped you point them to Jesus, which is the answer for all of us.

No matter where you’re at or what you’re struggling with, we don’t want to make it more complicated than it is but at the end of the day, we all need to turn our eyes upon Him and rest our hope in Him. I’m so glad that you are willing to share today. I wish we had another whole episode [laughter] to talk with you about your cute babies and all of the things that happened after that. I hope that we were able to at least get this part out that needs to be talked about.

We will have on our show notes today a link to Abby’s blog. We’ll have a lot of articles that are relevant if you are struggling through a miscarriage. Abby and Madison have both been really gracious to provide a lot of good resources there. Thank you again for joining us. You can find us on risenmotherhood.com. If you have any feedback about this or you have any questions or you want to get connected to them, you can always email us too. Thank you guys for listening and thanks for being here Abby.       

Abby:  Thanks for having me Emily.

Ep. 26 || When Birth Doesn’t Go According To Plan - Transcript

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am here with my lovely sister-in-law Emily Jensen. This week we’re talking about birth plans – when birth doesn’t go according to plan. If you tuned in last week, we were talking about making the birth plan and how as we make a plan, it’s a good thing to make decisions and think about what we want in our birth, what we want it to look like, or what medical care we want, but at the same time, we can’t hope and trust in anyone but God.

This week we’re going to be talking about when it doesn’t go according to the plan which happens – I think I looked at some stats - for 70% of women, it doesn’t go according to their plan.

Emily: That’s a super-common experience. Even if you didn’t have a super-hard birth, or super-unusual experience; maybe you had good medical care, there can still be that feeling of disappointment, that you’re like, “I gave in to the epidural, and I said I wasn’t going to.” Or maybe you knew you were going to do that, but it just took so much longer than you thought. Or maybe a family member stepped in the room, that you didn’t really want there, or your husband said the wrong thing, and you were not happy about it. There’s a million examples like that. It’s hard to deal with afterwards

Laura:  It’s hard because we can be disappointed by something small. I’ve heard other moms say, “You know, I really was bummed out when my baby came so late and I had to be induced,” or “They came super-early and I wasn’t ready for them.” It’s so funny because birth is so out of our control, and we're all about the plan. We're like, “Okay, I listened to all the deep breathing CDs, and my essential oils are all lined up, and I’ve got my focus picture, my hospital bag;” we’ve got all these preparations and plans and even the best laid plans do not go to plan.

For first-time moms, we go into birth feeling super-confident, feeling like, “I can do this, I have prepared, My husband knows exactly the place for counter pressure, [laughter] we’re going to nail it,” And then you come out of it, and after going through the experience, we are way less confident, and we’re like, “What happened?”

Emily: Laura and I both have friends who have had great experiences, and I literally love hearing their stories. So if you’ve had an experience that you’ve loved and you treasure, I think that is awesome; there’s totally room for that too. With birth, there’s always people involved and whenever there’s people involved, there’s also relationships that become strained. This can be a marriage, or like Laura said, if you had a nurse that was attending to you that didn’t say something graciously, or an anesthesiologist, or a doctor, there’s a whole range of things that can happen relationally as well. 

Laura:  There’s huge pressure these days to have this perfect birth experience. It gets so built up especially if you’re anywhere online. It can feel like, “You have the power to have the exact birth you want, and you’re in charge, and if you just grit your teeth enough, and if you just plan enough, and if you have enough mental stamina and physical energy, then you’re going to get that perfect birth.”

But most of the time it doesn’t happen exactly as we planned it in our head. Then we have all these different kinds of feelings that come – and they come in different forms and they come at different intensities at different times. But some of the things that Em and I were tossing around are feelings like, shame and disappointment, anger, frustration, pride - feeling like your pride was crushed potentially, or proud of certain areas that happen – questioning your womanhood and feeling less maternal, or feeling inadequate, blaming others, guilt, comparing yourself, like, “Why didn’t mine go like hers?” or “I did everything that she did. Why did she get that perfect experience?”

And one thing that we want to make perfectly clear today is that sometimes, these feelings after birth can result in birth trauma or in post-partum depression. However, we want to clear today that we’re not going to be talking about those. I personally have experienced a traumatic birth which is on the docket for Emily and I to talk about, and so is post-partum depression. We know that that’s a really common thing, and we want to address that for you since we’ve had some requests for dealing with those issues. But we want to make it clear that today, those aren’t the things that we’re talking about.

Emily:  For me, it’s gotten harder to process my birth as I’ve gone through them. My third time around, I was like, “Okay, I’ve been through this. I’ve done this twice now and I kind of know what it feels like. I’ve been to the same hospital too. Aren’t those births supposed to get a little bit easier? Aren’t they supposed to get a little shorter? Don’t I know how to handle contractions by now? [laughter]

It’s gotten almost more disappointing as I’ve worked into the situation more prepared with more things [laughter] that I know, and it still hasn’t gone according to my plan. I’ve had the hardest time processing my most recent birth - my third birth – than I did my first one because on my first one I was just like, “Well, I didn’t really know what I was doing and I couldn’t have known that. I couldn’t have known what that labor was going to feel like [laughter] and I couldn’t have ...” All of those things. Now I am like, “Oh, I don’t have those excuses any more." I’m like, “I did know how bad it was going to be," or, “I did know this”, and I think for me, the shame was even deeper this time.

Laura: Interesting Em. What are some of the areas that your birth didn’t go to plan? How soon into birth did they not go to plan?

Emily: Immediately, [laughter] but I know you want specifics. This last time, one thing that was … I keep saying disappointing but I don’t have a great word for it.

Laura:  It’s a good point though Em, that sometimes it’s hard to describe what exactly it is that we’re feeling about it, or to pinpoint exactly what it was that made the birth feel like that. So it’s totally fine.

Emily:  My baby was posterior this time, and this was my second delivery that I’ve had a posterior baby. For those of you who’ve been through it, you know it really changes the way that you have contractions. It can also impact your progression and labor. I just remember feeling like I had done all of the ball bounces and the appointments, and I was contorting my body the right way on the bed, [laughs] and feeling like I was dying through it; all those things. He didn’t turn for a really long time, and my labor went poorly – I think as a result of that. That was really hard for me because it was something I didn’t have a lot of control over, and yet it had such a huge impact on my birth. Still, almost a year later, I am like, “What if I would have done this thing or that thing?” or “If my doctor would have just broken my water earlier, maybe he would have turned and maybe it wouldn’t have been 24 hours and maybe he would never have experienced trauma.”

Laura:  We start to place blame on other people. We feel anger, or we feel sad. Mine was the same way; like immediately – I think it was literally the moment when I went into labor. I had a midwife and she ended up being on vacation for the births of both my children. [laughter] It was just funny because then an OB delivered – I had nothing against OBs – I saw an OB for the first half of my first pregnancy – But it was just so disappointing to feel like the midwife whom I had spent 40 weeks with wasn’t going to be there. Immediately, I just felt a lot of disappointment.

During my second birth, I had  hired a doula and she was sick! It was [laughs] unbelievable. I knew the moment I went into labor that my care team wasn’t going to be there, so it was like a million things that went differently. I planned with them, prepared for all these natural births, went to all the natural birth classes and I really desired a natural birth. For both births, I ended up with an epidural, and ended up with Pitocin for one of them. I joke that the only thing that went according to plan was that my lights were dimmed when I walked in there [laughs] and I was kind of like, “Ah. Well, I got something!” 

Anyway, the question we want to ask is, “Why doesn’t birth go according to plan”?

Emily:  We know that it is because of the curse and the fall, childbirth is now extremely hard, and it’s been very hard through history. It’s been life threatening to both the mother and the child and now we have enough medical advances, at least where we live, so at least that’s not as much of a factor. If you want to know more about why birth doesn’t go according to plan, and more about the fall, and some of God’s grace, then you can definitely go back and listen to our previous show.

But today we want to address questions like, “What are we supposed to do afterwards?” When maybe we didn’t have something traumatic happen, as Laura mentioned, which we’ll talk about in later episodes.  But today, if you’re like, “Hey, I feel like I shouldn’t feel bad about this, but this is hard for me to process," then where do we go from there?

Laura:  The first thing that I had to remind myself was that God is sovereign over everything that happened in my birth, whether or not it went according to my plan, it went according to His. Sometimes that can be a real hard truth and it’s the same in a lot of areas of life, anytime we’re dealing with suffering or frustration. I think it’s one of those things that we have to remember that God is still good. The God that I worshipped yesterday is the same God today, and He is still good even if my birth wasn’t according to my perfect plan.

It’s like, “I want my will be done, not Your will be done Lord” – That’s kind of how we can act. But He’s still good and He is still sovereign over that. It’s an important truth to remember and believe, and even go into saying, “I believe. Help my unbelief."

Emily:  It’s easy to want to leave the hospital with an invisible label on your head that’s like, “I am the mom who didn’t survive the natural contractions and had to beg for the epidural.” [laughter] We can start to associate our identity with that instead of going, “No. I am in Christ. My identity is secure with Him. This is one part of my whole life, and it doesn’t define who I am. It doesn’t define me as a woman.” We need to be cautious and not wrap up our identity in how our birth went, whether that was positive or negative. We can also do that on the positive side too and say, “Wow. I did such a good job by doing this and the other. I prepared so well that this went awesome.” All of these things have impact, but ultimately that’s not who we are.

Laura:  I’ve read a lot of books, especially after my first birth, and I remember literally telling my husband “I am a warrior!” [laughter] Isn’t that the kind of stuff that they tell you? It’s like, “Oh, your birth can be almost pleasurable!” I am not even going to say some of the words that the books said [laughter], but some of these books, and the cultural mentality these days is just like, “Man! We are power houses!” Tell us that as women, our bodies were built to give birth – which is true – but we’re not the ones who do these things.

We are worshipping the "created over the creator." We have to remember that God is the giver of life, not us. He demands all the praise and all the glory. As Em was saying, if you’re finding pride in your birth story and how well it went, or maybe in one of your birth stories, and then in another one, you're frustrated and disappointed in things that happened and you feel ashamed or less womanly or whatever – and you’re like, “Where was my sword or my warriorness in birth?” I think we need to look at, who are we ultimately trusting in? Are we trusting in our bodies, in ourselves, or in methods, or doctors? Or recognizing that God is in control overall, and that anything less than that undermines who He really is?

Emily:  I agree. It’s for his glory. There’s a book I keep going back to every episode - Freedom of Self-forgetfulness – and the author points out that our whole lives are to worship God. We don’t have to obsess over how things are going for us, we can just trust Him. I don’t want to make light of it, but there’s also power in knowing, “How can I use this to bring glory to God?” “How can I choose to be content with what he gave me even though to the world’s eyes, this may not have been a great experience?” How different is that than the way a lot of people handle things? Is that a witness even?

I’ve realized too that a lot of the doctors and the nurses that I worked with are not believers, and even in those moments, I’ve thought, “How can I give glory to God by how I react to them, when they tell me this news that I am going to get this thing that I didn’t want? Or, this going on longer. It’s being aware of, “Wow, they hear my worship music,” and we can’t always have control over how we respond. We need to be aware of that in general and ask ourselves, “How am I going to give glory to God in this?”

Laura:  Even the way we retell our birth stories matters. We could do a whole show on birth stories [laughter] but it’s important that we relate to other moms, like when you’ve got a newborn and all the moms come over with the food and they want to hear every detail. I think there’s an article that we’ll link to, and it talks about how Jesus is the hero of your birth story, not you. How can we show in our weakness that He is strong? We need to look for areas that show, “This was frustrating but Christ redeems.” This was an area that I was upset, or I was hurt, but I can offer forgiveness because I was first forgiven. We can look to those areas of how can we glorify God in our birth stories, even in – and especially in – the really difficult moments that maybe we’re walking away feeling upset about.

Emily: Laura, I just wanted to close here, saying that if you yourself are processing through a disappointing birth story, to whatever degree, even if it’s small and you feel like, “This is silly. I shouldn’t be worried about this.” Or maybe you have a friend who’s been processing through something, just know that it makes sense to share with a friend.

I was just thinking this morning, as we were prepping for the show, and I was telling Laura, “I don’t even think I’ve talked about this a lot. I don’t think I’ve let these feelings even a lot of credibility, you know they aren’t there.” I just think it can be helpful and maybe your husband will listen, or a good friend, or even a counselor, or just an older, wiser woman who can help bring some perspective to the situation. 

Laura: Someone who’s more removed from birth always seems to have a better perspective. Shame, fear, guilt, and anger, those things love darkness, and God wants us to bring everything into the light. Like Emily said, it’s important to talk through these things and to admit them. When I was going through the traumatic birth, it took me literally 14 months to ever admit even once that, “Hey, this was a lot harder than I am even letting on." I felt such freedom when I was able to finally let go and let people in, and the healing that comes with talking to people.

On that note too, as we talked about at the beginning of the episode, if this is something that you’re like, “I’ve tried those things but it’s not working,” or “I feel like I’ve dealt with it and I am still really struggling,” that might be a sign that you need more professional help. I have a passion point on this because I’ve been there and I know what it’s like.

Emily:  We’re glad you guys stuck with us through this 2-part series. This is the first time that we’ve done Part 1 and Part 2 so we’re hoping that it was helpful. We felt like it was too hard to talk about one half of this topic, without addressing the other half, so definitely go back and listen, if you haven’t caught that first episode.

Thank you guys for listening and don’t forget to share this with somebody who you think this could be helpful to as well.


Ep. 22 || Using Naptime Well - Transcript

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. This is another show where Emily and I are together. Today, we’re talking about how you can use naptime well as a mom. Emily, what are some of the things that you’ve done during naptime and how has that changed for you over time as a mom?

Emily: I have four kids and my oldest son doesn’t nap anymore. He does have a rest time where he plays quietly but it’s not the same. I truly don’t have any more of a period of the day when my kids are awake where I am away from my children, and nobody’s talking to me for 10 or 15 minutes or longer. That’s really changed.

Luckily, my twin toddlers, still take anywhere from one to two hours worth of naps in the afternoon. And then we have our infant that isn’t napping right now, but does take pretty good naps - yet sometimes those stink. Right now for me, I would say I don’t count on naptime anymore as my Holy Grail.       

Laura:  How do you recoup and reenergize for the rest of the day?

Emily:  I had to figure out how to build some of that self-care rest time throughout my day. I still have an hour where my oldest son is playing and needs my attention but my other kids are sleeping. It’s become a time for me to do some house-related things and more work-type stuff. I’ve had to get to where I utilize that practically more so than for my rest. I don’t know if that makes sense.      

Laura:  What was it like for you when you did have naptime?

Emily:  Back when I did have naptime-

Laura:  It wasn’t that long ago. She talks like it was eons ago. [laughter]

Emily:  I know, and it does feel like eons ago. I remember, I had these visions of when I used to do sewing projects. I used to bake for people and make meals. [laughter] I used to have quiet times during that time.

Laura:  How many hours a day did you have when you had one kid?

Emily:  Three to four hours probably.  

Laura:  That was a lot of time. I feel like when you have one kid, even if they are not super scheduled, you can predict when you are going to get that time. When you’re a first time mom and you have one kid, you can count on three hours a day, sometimes up to six if you have a huge sleeper. 

Emily:  It varies. I know for a while, I got into a good groove during naptime where I would spend the first 15 to 20 minutes cleaning up the house, because then I felt like I could rest. Then I would spend the rest of the period of time doing things that I enjoyed doing, whether it was writing or researching something or maybe I was responding to emails. It was more sitting down, because a lot of time as a mom you’re like, “I have been walking all day long.” I still try to do some restful things but I don’t count on that anymore.     

Laura:  I remember one mom who had four kids said to me once - her kids were all in elementary. I had started writing more on my blog. It’s not when I started my blog when I had my son, but I started writing a lot more frequently and having more time for it. I remember she said, “You are in a sweet spot to start a new hobby as a first time mom. She was like, “Wait until you have more children. It will be a lot more difficult.” I’m on baby number two but I already know she’s right. It gets more difficult the more children that you add.      

Emily:  It changes.

Laura:  It definitely changes as your children get older. It’s always ever evolving as they say.

Emily:  There’s pros and cons to every season.

Laura:  True. I loved it when my kids dropped their morning naps.

Emily:  Yes, because you can do more.

Laura:  I felt like I could finally go to a playdate and not stress out about where I’m going to set up a Pack ‘n Play or if it’s going to be quiet enough, getting all that figured out. Especially on baby two, I kicked that first nap to the curb as fast as possible to try to get my daughter to have one nap in the afternoon.   

Emily:  You have a different situation than I do. Explain how much time you feel you get on an average day and what stuff you’re able to get done during that time.

Laura:  I have two kids. One is three years old and the other just turned one. They both take afternoon naps. Now, I would say I can count on at least two hours for sure and sometimes up to three. Sometimes. I don’t want to make everyone mad at me - I know they can take long naps; I’m not even going to get in there.  

Emily:  The Lord has blessed Laura with children that nap, but we all have challenges and things that are easier and things that are harder. We don’t want to get into comparing mode.

Laura:  Let’s not get mad at me. [laughter] Don’t throw your phone at my picture or anything like that. My kids take very good naps and there are days here and there where they certainly will skip it altogether. It’s not like that’s unheard of. My daughter had colic and didn’t sleep for five months, so bring it on if we’re going to go there. [laughter] I paid for it in spades and I was up all the time.

Naps can look different. Emily and I were chatting and we realized, especially when you’re a first time mom, there’s an adjustment period of, “What do I do with myself?” Once you finally get your kids on a routine and you’re like, “Generally, I know that I have these hours here and there,” and have figure out how to not run to the TV. What are you going to do during that time to be intentional but also to rest and to recuperate? Because as moms, we need space away from our children, whether that’s quiet playtime or a true naptime.        

Emily:  As you’re adjusting to being a first time mom and the first time naps, maybe you are trying to figure out how to build part-time work into your day or you’re trying to figure out how to exercise. I don’t even know all the things but maybe you’re only home with your child a couple days a week or whatever your situation looks like. It can be hard because that feels really valuable and it’s like gold. Those minutes tick by so fast and all the other minutes? It’s like the clock is frozen.  

Laura:  It’s like you literally woke up and it’s 6 a.m. or 7 a.m. and you’re like, “When’s naptime?” I know we all look forward to that time and often can hold onto it with a clenched fist. I definitely think there is a lot of, like we said, a learning curve in how to use naptime. Sometimes - even me today - I find that often it can be really difficult for me to know how to use that time if I’m not being intentional or planning ahead, or really striving to be purposeful during naptime. You think three hours is a long time but I can burn though that real fast just watching TV. Then I’m like, “What? I only got five seconds of naptime!”

Emily:  I think the main thing we wanted to talk about, in terms of naptime or anything with our time is that it all goes back to our hearts. Moms can do a lot of different things with this time. Like Laura said, we can sleep and that can be a totally legitimate thing.

Laura:  It could be the most holy thing you can do.

Emily:  Or it can be a bad choice. It’s difficult for us to come in and say, “This is the best way to spend your naptime.” We cannot explain that to you and we can’t define that for you, but we can say, all of us need to look at the time that we are given, look at the things that the Lord has asked us to do and look at our heart and say, “Are we living for God’s glory? Are we desiring to love our family well?” and that may look a lot of different ways.

Laura:  Sometimes you need to take that time to rest so that you can have more energy and pour out. Don’t hear us say that you must be so industrious and baking homemade bread during naptime and that is a gold star for a naptime. Naptime can look like rest and it can look like getting things done for your family. It can also be doing paperwork. We’re not here to tell you what it is but we want to talk today about heart attitudes, as Emily said, “How can I use the time that I have in the best way to love others?”

Emily:  What we’re talking about is that sometimes, and I joked eariler, “This is the Holy Grail,” we’re talking about naptime as gold. We can talk about our time to ourselves as moms and can put it on such a high pedestal we idolize it. We’re like, “This is what I need. If I don’t get it, I am going to throw an adult temper tantrum and I am going to be whiny and pouty and I’m going to punish my kids in a variety of different ways because they didn’t fit into my plan for the day, and give me my time.”

Another thing we can do is sacrifice too much on the idol of trying to get things a certain way. Maybe our child is sick or maybe they are going through a funk or they’re going through a transition. We don’t have enough grace for them because we want them to go to sleep and leave us alone, when maybe you need to lay down with them for a while, for a few weeks as they’re going through a transition. Or maybe you have a child that’s a little bit needy of your attention that you need to give up some of that time. When we make our alone time an ultimate thing, is that a good thing? That cannot be our main source of hope for the day because we’re going to be disappointed.     

Laura: You’re misplacing where your hope should be found. Where that hope should be found is in your identity in Christ. If you look at what Jesus did, He gave His entire life to doing God’s will even when He didn’t want to do it. He said, “If it’s possible, take this cup of suffering from me,” and God said, “No, you are still going through this,” and Jesus did that willingly.      

Emily:  He was obedient to the point of death.

Laura: When we're like, “It’s so hard because I only got an hour today,” and we’re letting that time take over the way that we love our children; the way that our attitudes go. We need to be looking at Christ’s example in that - because He first gave us grace and because He laid it all down, we can do that for our children. How much more has God done for you than whenever you sacrificed your time and your priorities for your children and their needs? We want to reflect Jesus to our children and be Christ to them.

The biggest thing as a first time mom that I had to learn was that naptime is not a right. I really used to look at it like, “No, this is my time and I need that time.” If I didn’t get that, when my husband came home, you better believe I was on terror mode. [laughter] I was like, “I need a break! I’m going to get out of here.” It’s so funny to me, to look back at that time now because often, that will happen where I won’t get a naptime because the kids won’t overlap and whatever may happen and how your perspective does shift.

Also, I’ve learned and have grown in an understanding of how my day goes cannot be based on how my attitude goes. As moms, our day is always going to go differently than we planned. We’re never going to measure up to what we view as the right thing to do or the right way it should look. We cannot allow our attitudes or our actions with our children, to depend on if we got naptime or not.  

Emily:  One of the issues with making naptime too important is - here’s a big myth - that you think it’s going to be enough for you. It’s never going to be enough. Here’s the funny thing. Even when my kids’ naps all sync and even when my oldest child plays really quietly and even when I get a really long period of time, it’s still not enough. I still don’t ever feel like, “I got all the things I needed to get done and all is perfect,” It’s like this little bait saying, “If you just get this, if you get this time to yourself then you’re going to be okay.” I will tell you that nothing is going to fulfill you except for Jesus. The only thing that is going to quench that thirst for you, is being in God’s presence and being connected to Jesus and relying on Him and having your hope in Him. No amount of time to yourself and rest is ever going to fulfill you.

Laura:  Maybe you’re a mom who has a lot of time right now or maybe you’re a mom like Emily where you have zero time, [laughter] there are two ways to look at naptime that we will go through quickly here. If you have a lot of time here, maybe you’re in my boat, where you have to be purposeful with that time or you can quickly lose it, the thing to look at here is that it’s such a gift to have this season of having true built-in blocks of time of self-care. If you’re looking for self-care, check out that episode.

We also want to encourage you once again to remember to prioritize your quiet time; your time with the Lord. If you’re not able to get that in the morning or whenever that may be, that naptime is a great time to do that. There’s a couple of more episodes too but the quiet time episode was great. Listen in if you’re looking for tips on that.     

Emily:  What is your time worth? Remember that?

Laura:  That’s a good one too.

Emily:  That’s an episode of looking at your time and figuring out if you’re trying to fit too much in.  

Laura:  A hobby, a ministry, different things like that.

Emily:  If you have that time to be really intentional and say, “How can I best use the time that I have to glorify God and conserve, and love my family well and to let that look differently?” Maybe that’s going to determine how you use naptime. On the other side of that spectrum would be if you don’t have a ton of naptime.  

Laura:  Which I’ll let Emily speak to you since that’s where she is. [laughter]

Emily:  I think again, it’s that letting go. I will tell you, that was a really hard process for me. I feel like I’m finally on the other side of that but finding other ways and letting rest and self-care be a lot broader than naptime. And giving yourself built-in times each day, or each season and honestly being more dependent on God. That is one reason why I think I wake up earlier now because I have to. [laughs] If I want to have that time with the Lord and I want to do some of that self-care, I can’t always do that during a naptime anymore.

It’s being thoughtful and practical or maybe having your oldest child going off into another room or play by you, whatever you want to do and say to them, “You need to play with toys and you need to learn how to entertain yourself because mommy needs to read her Bible,” or, “Mommy needs to unload the dishwasher without you crawling in it. You need to sit here," and whatever it is. There’s other things you can do even if you have a child that you feel is not a good napper. It doesn’t mean that you don’t have any self-care or you don’t have any rest.           

Laura:  Yes, I think not having that, “Woe is me,” mentality. Look at it the way Emily is, of building it in other ways and remembering that this is going to change and morph as quickly as your children do and not getting too upset because again, that is going back to our heart attitudes. Whatever you are spending that time on, if you have it, if you don’t, and however you are spending it is important.

Again, we are not saying if you are watching TV during that time, “That’s the wrong thing to do,” because that can be a genuine form of self-care. We are encouraging you today to look at your heart attitude during that time, how little or how much you get, and to be honest and evaluate with what you are placing value and hope on. Is it in your naptime, in yourself and in what you want and how you want to spend that time? Or is it in Jesus Christ and what He did for you? In the way He has been so faithful to you over time and He continues to be faithful to you throughout the day, no matter what happens.       

Emily:  Who do you think is in control of your life, ourselves or Jesus?

With that, we will leave you guys. You may have been listening to this during naptime, we don’t know. [laughter]

Laura:  That’s a really good way to use it, let’s just say. [laughter]

Emily:  Yes, I know Laura and I both love listening to podcasts during naptimes. You can find our whole archive, I know we mentioned several episodes, on our website risenmotherhood.com. We’ll also have show notes with the links to some of those things that we mentioned along with some other articles that may be pertinent to this topic. Find us and leave us a review or rating on iTunes if you have a chance. That helps other moms find us and definitely share this if you have a friend you may be talking with about this topic, share this episode. Thanks for listening guys.     

Ep. 21 || Idols of a Mom’s Heart - Transcript


The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I, of course, have my lovely sister-in-law here, Emily Jensen. Em, do you change up coffee routine at all in the summertime?

Emily:  No, I am a black coffee girl every day the whole year.

Laura:  I love making ice coffee and I make it in these huge batches. If you guys are all looking for a new coffee recipe, Pioneer Woman’s ice coffee is awesome.

Laura:  Today, we are talking about idols. Idols of a mom’s heart specifically and things that we can get caught up in, like me, coffee in the morning. If I don’t get my coffee, that can sometimes be a big deal. That’s a silly one but it could be seen as an idol. [laughter] In all seriousness, when we hear the term idol, which is a dated term in a sense, we think of little tiny gold figurines, little Buddhas or little animals. Em, what do you think of with a traditional idol?   

Emily:  You go back to an old Bible story and you imagine a big statue that every body’s bowing down to.

Laura:  As moms, when you hear that word, sometimes it can be like, “An idol? I don’t have any of those in my house,” [laughter] but yes, you do. Biblically, what an idol is, is anything that we worship besides God.  

Emily:  We were created to worship and our hearts love to worship. Our whole lives are lived in worship and so the question is, what are we worshipping? It’s something that Laura and I have talked about on a variety of different episodes. John Calvin has a good quote about how our hearts are idol-making factories, and we literally can replace God with all kinds of different things that we love, more than Him, and that we spend more of our time and our energy and even more of our delight goes to things other than God. Any time we do that, it becomes an idol. It’s a thing that we worship.

Laura:  These things are usually not inherently bad in it of themselves, which why it’s so difficult to identify them. When you see them, it’s like, it can be used for God’s glory or it can be used for you to sin in your heart against God. That’s why today, Em and I want to talk through what those look like, specifically for moms, because moms have a lot of similar ones. We can struggle with a lot of the same things.

I will go out on a limb here and get vulnerable with you guys. My natural love language is affirmation and I, especially as a stay-at-home mom, really struggle with getting that because it’s not in the job description. It’s not naturally built in. There’s no review, there’s no boss that’s telling me, “Hey, you did a good job, you did a bad job, you exceeded expectations,” or whatever. Often, I desire to get that.

When I don’t, I throw myself a pity party or I have a bad attitude. I expect that from my husband and when I don’t get that, I sometimes feel a bit sour towards him. I have many idols, I will be very honest, but I think that’s something that as a stay- at-home mom, has been brought to light for me as something that I struggle with and understanding of how to get that through Jesus. We’ll get to the part of how we can replace our idols, but I have had to learn and grow in that area, so that I don’t choose my attitude based on what I’m worshipping.  

Emily:  Idols can manifest themselves in the same way. Laura can have a bad attitude about something and I can have a bad attitude about something but my reason is totally different. If you want to drill down for me what that is, and it really goes down to a few big core issues for me. I really worship and value comfort and ease and a fun happy life. [laughter]

Laura:  That sounds pretty good to me too.

Emily:  At any given point, you’d be like, “What do I really want?” I’m like, “I want my day to be fun and I want to do the easy things. I want quiet and peace, and for us to go do that cool activity and not have anybody melt down.” Whenever that doesn’t happen, I can get angry, become frustrated, and be impatient with my children or those around me. I can feel despairing. I can do a lot of things.

I feel like another big weakness of mine, as a parent, is I will do something that gives that instant gratification in the moment, so that I feel like things are easy or fun, even though in the long run, that would be a damaging choice. That’s one of the many ways that, instead of obeying God and doing something that I know is right, I want what’s going to give me that satisfaction right then and there because that’s what I’m worshipping, and that’s what I’m valuing. It’s really hard. I’ve seen it all across my parenting every day. [laughter]

Laura:  Those are two examples that are common across a lot of moms. What are some of the ones that you want to share, Emily, that have struck a chord with you? Performance of your kids. Your kids may be performing well or if they behave well, seeing that as a reflection on your character and your ability.

Emily:  Then being able to control. That is a really big one. Being able to control your environment, your kids’ behavior, what they eat, what they are watching, and who they are around. Being aware of their lives and your lives and feeling like everything has to work out the way I want it to, or I’m not going to be happy.

Laura: Health too. Again, these are not bad things but sometimes they can become idols, like our body image, how we recover after postpartum, how you feed your family or you feed yourself, how you view your body, or fitness and working out, and if you’ve got that that day. Even how put together you are too, along those lines of how you look and how you dress, and whether you are wearing designer clothes. Maybe you can be really proud of that $2 thrift store shirt; it can go both ways too, of finding pride in those things.  

Emily: Feeling like you want to have it all in motherhood and in life. You want to have a really successful career and a really successful ministry life, and a successful motherhood. You want to be seen as somebody who is living the American dream or whatever that is, and wanting to be perceived that way and have it all. Money is a huge one too, and it can manifest itself in parenting, as well as the way you are relating to your husband, or the way you are managing your money, and the way you are putting your time towards that management.

Laura:  Your home is another one. Your decorations and how you host, and how people feel when they come into your home, and your hospitality, and whether or not everything is perfect and put together, or the meal that you put on the table for them, or your backyard, is it kid friendly? Your basement too. Do you have all the toys that are perfect for kids? 

Emily: Again, we want to keep stressing, these are good things to want. It is okay to want to have some financial security. It’s okay to want to have a nice house. It’s okay to hope that your children behave well. The problem is when we value that thing more than we value God. When we love and treasure this idea more than we love and treasure Jesus. That is when it becomes really dangerous and turns a good thing into a not good thing. [laughter]

Laura: Going into explicitly how that Gospel fits, is that, when we were originally created, we were created to glorify God, to worship Him, and to walk life with Him. Adam and Eve enjoyed that for a time but then the fall happened and what came with it, and we became prone to be worshiping anything but God. That’s why as human beings, not just as moms but as humans, we are "idol-making factories." If it’s not one thing, it’s another. On one day, it could be comfort, and another day it could be affirmation, another moment it could be how you feel about your home or how you feel about your body.

We are really good at creating those idols because of our sin nature. But God, because in His grace, because of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for us, He mended that gap between our desires and the sin, and allowed us to be able to come into communion with Christ again, and to enjoy God as our single focus, as our only thing of worship. Because of that sacrifice, we can have power over our natural inclination to worship all these mini gods, these little idols in our life and instead worship the true God.

Emily:  And knowing that that is the only thing that is ultimately going to give us joy. That’s the only thing that’s really going to satisfy. It’s such a tremendous blessing and something that I find myself having to say, “Thank you God,” when I see a situation in my heart or in my mothering, because motherhood reveals all of these things, where I see a disproportionate response to something that happened and I go, “What happened there? Why am I so angry about this? Why am I so upset about this?” and I realize, “It’s because of what I worshipped.”

I am so thankful that God shows me that because that allows me and allows us as moms to turn back to the one who we need, to be living for and loving with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. I barely started to touch on there, but how can we know what our idols are? That is a big one for moms to figure out. It starts with asking some questions.   

Laura:  Maybe earlier some of the things that we talked about, maybe those struck a chord with you or maybe none of them did, but there are others out there. Sometimes, I know this has happened to me a lot, the idol is wrapped so deeply in our heart and we’re so comfortable and easy with it, that it’s hard for us to notice. That’s when we have to ask God to reveal that to you and praying that your eyes would be opened.

It reminds me of C. S. Lewis and Eustace, the story of when he became a dragon and he had to remove his skin and he kept trying to do it. It was easy and he was removing a couple of layers here and there but eventually, to fully rid himself of his skin, Aslan had to come in and take a deep painful cut and remove it for him. Only then was Eustace able to have freedom from his sin and to enjoy the sweetness of his presence with Aslan and to rid himself of that sin.

A lot of times thats what happens with these idols in our hearts, is that we have this thick scaly dragon skin and we don’t know it. We are comfortable in it. We slough it off but we don’t replace those idols with Jesus. That is where we need Christ to come in. In that analogy, that’s what Aslan was doing, removing the sin with a deep cut that often hurts but replaces it with something good. 

Emily:  That’s not enough to just say, “I’m going to stop doing this. I’m going to stop loving that. I’m going to stop worshiping that.” It’s not enough for Laura to say, “I’m just going to not care about affirmation anymore.” It’s not enough for me to say, “I’m just not going to care about a fun life.” Laura has to turn and look and find her affirmation in God and realize that affirmation from Him, and in Him is going to be more satisfying and more wonderful and she can value that over anything else.

I have to realize this fun life that I think I want, this comfort and this ease - guess what? True peace and rest is found in Jesus. He is more wonderful and more restful and going to bring me more joy that I could ever have in anything else. That is the only way to combat an idol. Anyone who’s ever tried to stop doing something by gritting their teeth and, “I’m not going to do this anymore,” that doesn’t last for very long. You have to give yourself something better, something that you enjoy more.     

Laura:  We are starting to get into this but if you are looking for what those idols might be in your life, it’s those things that you think about the most, the things that make you most upset when they go wrong or not your way. You can look at how you spend your time. What do you do when you have some extra time? How is that spent?   

Emily:  What do you make excuses for?

Laura: You mentioned this one early on, but it’s a really good one where, is your response disproportionate to the thing that happened? Are you super devastated by something that most people would think your attitude or your response was extreme? Those are some questions you can ask yourself if nothing’s coming to mind.

Hopefully, something does, as you work through those things and ask God to reveal them to you. We want to encourage you guys today to look really critically at your hearts and what you’re worshipping. To not only say, “I’m not going to do that anymore,” but to say, “I want to turn to Jesus and I want to fill that void in my heart with Jesus instead of leaving it empty,” because let’s be honest, you’re going to fill it with something. That’s just human nature.         

Emily:  Turn and treasure Jesus more than anyone and anything else. That is what we are all about here at Risen Motherhood. This episode gets to the heart about pretty much everything else that we talk about.

If you want to find more on this topic, we will have some stuff in our show notes. You can also go back and hear more about heart issue things on our show archives, that’s risenmotherhood.com. As always, feel free to leave us a rating or a review, we would love that. Hope we will catch you back here next time.


Ep. 20 || When Potty Training Is a Struggle - Transcript

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I have my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen here. Today, we are excited to announce a new project Em, that we have started. We are introducing free printables. We’ve been working with a neat Etsy shop called, Give It Pretty. She is a dear friend of ours, the owner of the shop, and she has been gracious enough to offer to design free printables for all of you guys.

Emily and I have worked with her to figure out some of the things we want to offer. Our first card is a simple little four by six. The quote is, “Live in light of redemption.” Our idea was that you could stick it in your Bible or put it in a small frame on your wall, or put it in a journal, as a reminder of who you are and what has been done for you. That it would be the short sentence that could help you to redeem your day. It’s what we’re all about here at Risen Motherhood, which is why we chose it as our first printable saying. Some of the others will be quotes or things people say that are inspirational; people that are smarter than us. We thought this card could be a great jumping off point for all of you moms.

Put it over your kitchen sink - that’s where mine is - of a reminder when I’m doing those dishes, of how God is making all things new. We talked a while back Em, “Clean dish, dirty dish, scrub the dishes clean,” a nice picture of redemption and what Christ has done for you. That might be a good spot, over your kitchen sink. You can head over to the website, find it on today’s show notes, print it out on your home computer. It should print really well. We put mine on a little piece of card stock.        

Emily:  Definitely check her out on giveitpretty.com and if you’re feeling really wild, you might go on Instagram and hashtag #RisenMotherhood so that we can see all the cute places you are displaying your print.  

Laura:  That’s a good idea. We hadn’t even pre-discussed that but Em, way to go.

Emily:  I want to see what people do with it so I’m excited.

Laura:  Head on over to the show notes and check it out and look forward to more in the future as well. We’ve got some pretty cool ones in the works that I’m excited about. On to our show today, we are talking about a topic that makes me want to curl up into a ball. We are talking about potty training.

Emily:  Laura and I have been wanting to record an episode about this for a long time because in our friendship, as we have talked about our children and the things that we’ve had to train them in, this topic has had a lot of airtime. We have both shared mutual frustration because it’s taken longer than we thought. Our expectations have had to change in the process and we have both grown through this exciting - but frustrating time. [laughs]    

Laura:  If you do a quick search on Pinterest, you will find the potty training boot camps and there are entire books written about this topic; it’s crazy. Em and I chatted and we came with the expectation that if we do these three-day boot camps: we do the juice boxes, the fruit snacks, the straight to undies, all that stuff, our children would magically always go in the potty. That apparently does happen for some people.

If you are that person, we are, A) extremely jealous [laughter] and B)very happy for you. While this episode doesn’t technically apply to you in the realm of potty training, there are some really good truths, as well, explained later on that will apply to all of parenting. We hope you’ll stay tuned even if you do have one of those wonder children that somehow magically started to pee on the potty, with no accidents ever.     

Emily:  You probably had a frustrating experience like Laura and I, where we had to change our viewpoint. I remember the day that Laura told me, “Potty trained is when you ask them to go potty and they go, and they don’t have accidents between,” and I was like, “What? I thought potty training was when they were basically an independent adult and they took themselves potty.” [laugher]

It’s so funny the expectations that we have and having to change them. I know with my oldest, it’s taken the whole process over a year, with intermittent boot camps, and having it not work, and then doing a boot camp again and then it not working. He finally initiated going on the potty. Actually, in the last week or two, he has finally started taking himself to the potty with a little bit of motivation like a Gummy Worm or something. Yes, it was not this one-and-done process for us. It was much, much longer than that.          

Laura:  I think that’s the same with my son. We tried two times and the second time was the charm. I went for three, four weeks the first time and it was painful because there wasn’t any progress. It’s one of those things that it seemed like it was going great and you’re like, “He'll be going on his own completely, no help from mom for everything really soon,” but we couldn’t get out of that funk of me having to initiate every half hour or so. That’s not sustainable as a mom, especially when you have other children, so we threw in the towel after the first time we tried it.

The second time, he would initiate it a little more but four months later, I still have to keep hawk eyes on that kid. I have to suggest when he goes into nursery, “Hey, can you check with him and make sure he doesn’t need to go potty.” I carry extra underwear and shorts around in my diaper bag still for random accidents. While I would call him potty trained, but it should actually be "loosely potty trained." [laughter] He’s not technically potty trained. We still have some work to do but generally, he’s in his little boxer briefs running around and makes it to the potty so we’re rolling with it.

Emily:  In different ways, Laura and I can be achievement-oriented and this is one of those things where you feel like, “This is a mark on me. This is a reflection on my capabilities. If my child wasn’t potty trained in the first boot camp or the second boot camp or the third boot camp, [laughs] what does that say about me? Does that mean I’m a bad parent? Does it mean that I’m incapable? Does it mean that I’m inconsistent?”

I remember feeling embarrassed, several times as I shared with my friends, “Yes, we’re potty training.” Then a week later, they’d be like, “How’d that go?” and I’d be like, “Let’s talk about something else,” [laughs] I don’t want to admit again it didn’t work.    

Laura:  Like you said, it’s physically obvious whether or not your child is doing it or not. You feel like those moms that are able to do it three days, somehow have some magic portion that you don’t and you feel like a failure when your child doesn’t snap to it right away. The biggest thing that I realized, for both of us and, it’s the point of the show today, is how it reveals so many sin issues in your heart. Some of my responses were high overreactions. It revealed my need for control, my inability for consistency, to have patience, sometimes I wanted to shame him. My natural inclination was to shame him. I feel like those sin issues that potty training reveals are there, but they’re hidden until you are faced with something like potty training. Over and over and over you’re forced to deal with some of those things that are deeply rooted in your heart.  

Emily:  This is one good example of that. Motherhood is something that we keep learning over and over again. God is not in the business of making us and our kids look nice and shiny on the outside, and be well behaved or be well trained or look like we have it all together. He cares about our hearts and He cares about us becoming more like Christ. He is using these everyday moments that we face. Whether it’s our child having another accident and another accident, or it’s something else, He keeps using these things to reveal our sin so we can turn to Him and trust Him. It’s hard [laughs] but it’s good. I don’t want to over-spiritualize things but also, it’s nice to give something like potty training and the frustrations of it more purpose, and more meaning and significance, when I realize this is one more way that God is training me to become more like Christ.    

Laura:  It’s so important to remember that God is sovereign even over the challenges of potty training and He is using them in your life.  He knows that this is going on. As mothers, we know that we cannot respond rightly in every moment. That is not possible. Jesus knows that and that is why He came to suffer and die on the cross. He freed us from both sin’s power and gave us freedom to choose to serve God, to respond rightly, to choose righteousness so we can change our response because of what He’s done to a child that ‘just can’t get it’. We can change our response from frustration and impatience and even shaming, to one that has enduring love and grace for our child, that is long-suffering.

Like Emily said, we don’t want to totally over-spiritualize this, but it is a process of sanctification and refinement when you’re going through anything like this, when you’re losing control, you’re at the end of your rope, and you’re done and frustrated. That is a chance for you to choose righteousness and see Christ working in your life.   

Emily:  It’s so loving of God, even though it hurts. That’s the thing about the refinement process. It’s gold being refined. They use fire to refine gold and it brings all of the impurities to the surface so that they can be removed. What is it that refines us and ultimately makes us more like Christ? It’s the hard things, the things that hurt, that slough off, the things that frustrate us over and over again. It brings out what was already in there.

That’s what’s hard, and a misconception is we tend to be like, “It’s my child’s behavior that’s causing me to act like this,” or it’s [laughs], “This external circumstance made me blow up.” It’s like, “No, you already were valuing the wrong thing or already had that sin issue in your heart.” This circumstance put enough pressure on you, put enough heat on you to make that impurity come to the surface. Then you have a choice to repent and ask God to help you change that, or you can try to stuff it deep down and then He could come back and bring it back again. [laughter]   

Laura:  That’s key to remember in potty training or any struggle you have with your child where consistently, they are not getting something. I know friends whose kids won’t stay in bed or go to bed, or they won’t eat their dinner, they throw their food off the table, things like that. Where you feel no matter what you do, they don’t respond and their heart doesn’t change and they’re not softened. I think it can be easy to be like, “If only they weren’t like that. If they would get it or if they didn’t do that, I wouldn’t do this or I wouldn’t lose my temper.” That is wrong thinking. That is placing blame where it should not be. That’s what we need to remember when going through these things is that the onus is on you, mom. You’re responsible for your attitude and your response and choosing holiness in these situations. Potty training is a great chance where kids can teach us lessons and put us through trials over and over a million times a day [laughter] but that also give us a million chances to improve, and to choose the right things as we experience them.         

Emily:  And to experience a little tiny picture of what God does for us. Because as many times as our children offend us during the day, and disobey us, and they have accidents or things that they’re not getting, we do that to God but 10,000 more. It’s always very eye opening to me when I get frustrated and I don’t feel how long-suffering He is with me.

Remembering too, the way this is an opportunity to image Jesus, to remember what He did for us. Even with potty training, the gross bodily function things, Jesus dealt with those things. He touched people with weird bodily function stuff going on. He washed feet and He got down in the dirty and loved people and served, so I have to remember. That’s my example. That is the God that I follow so I should expect that part of imaging him is going to mean cleaning up accidents. It’s going to mean bodily fluids and all of that is love.  

Laura:  Yes, I think it is recognizing that grace and mercy that has been extended to you. Passing that on to your children, that’s so much of motherhood. Knowing that whatever our children are doing, we have done that 10 times over to Christ. [laughter] I know Em has used this example before but how often do we pee our proverbial pants? It’s so true! I think there are so many times that we do that. We can rest and dwell in that mercy and grace from God. We want to extend that to our children while we’re going through something that feels like it will never end, and we’re going to freak out if we have to strip off another wet pair of underwear. [laughter] God is using this as a refinement process and something to teach you. It can give something that feels very mundane and annoying; it gives it some spiritual purpose. We hope that you can see that from this and a bigger reason than just teaching your child a social norm.    

Emily:  We want to encourage you today. Whether it is potty training or another thing that you are trying to help your child learn, for good character or for their life, that you can be patient because Jesus was patient. You can extend mercy to them because God extended mercy to you. Think critically about how you can respond to them like Christ, and be patient, and be thankful that God is refining you in every frustrating moment.   

Laura:  With that, I think we’ll wrap up. Of course, you can find the show notes with our free printable, as well as other potty training resources as a parent dealing with hard things, and enduring that, seeing them as opportunities to see your sin and repent.

Head over to the show notes, risenmotherhood.com. From there, of course you can find our Twitter and Facebook links. We’ll be sharing more on Facebook Live this week, so if you haven’t gone over and liked our page, please do. You can get notifications for when we’re live and talking maybe more about this potty training issue. All right moms. Have a great day.


Ep. 19 || A Bad Moment Doesn’t Have To Make a Bad Day: Redeem Your Day

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen with my sister-in-law Laura Wifler. We wanted to talk today though about turning our day around and not in the “pull yourself up by your bootstraps, I’m going to try harder” type of way. It is a really subtle difference because as we were discussing this topic, we were like, “Well, the culture sends this message a lot.” If you were to go look at self-help books or something, “You can determine your future. You can make your day what you want it to be. If you try hard and you’re driven enough, you can live how you want to live.” But that’s not what the Gospel says.       

Laura:  I think there are a lot of days, for us as moms, where it could be 10 minutes into your day and already it’s going terribly. Maybe it doesn’t happen until the afternoon, but those days when you’re short on patience, or your kids are being a little more testy or maybe the day has not gone well; a string of bad things, unfortunate things that have happened. I remember one day my son threw up literally all over my body, into my chest and I had to go straight to the shower, my clothes and all, straight into the shower. My daughter had a blow out and they were within 20 minutes of each other. I just got cleaned up and she had the world’s worst blow out that of course, got all over everything because I didn’t realize it was happening.

A bad day where it’s a string of things that no one can control happens and you lose it. You’re on that edge of, “Fine, everybody can watch TV today. Everybody can eat whatever they want. I’m going to eat the world.” [laughter]

Emily:  “I’m going to eat whatever I want.” [laughter]

Laura:  Where you start letting your day spiral out of control.

Emily:  I am a very idealistic person and I have a picture in my mind of what kind of mom I want to be. Sometimes, even my day will start out great and I’m like, “Okay, I woke up early this morning,” I check that box. “I took a shower this morning,” check that box, “I had my quiet time.” Because I did all those things, I think, “Today is going to go great,” Then my kids wake up crying, walking down the hall out of their room and you’re like, “Seriously, that’s how today is going to go?” Then they dump half a box of Cheerios on the floor before anybody’s even had any food. Maybe I have lost my temper right off the bat and it’s like, “This is not going to go well.” We want you guys to know we feel that.     

Laura:  Yes, we have those days. Or a naptime - when you don’t get naptime and you’ve been counting on it.   

Emily:  You’ve been counting on it and then the kid wakes up and you’re like, “Aaaargh.” [laughs]

Laura:  That might be one of the worst things if you don’t get naptime and some moms don’t ever get naptime. Emily, doesn’t get naptime.

Emily:  I’ve had to adjust to that.

Laura:  When you’re expecting at least semi-semblance of peace-

Emily:  To take a break and take a deep breath and you don’t get that.

Laura:  That’s a really hard moment, let’s be honest.

Emily:  We want to talk about what to do when you get in those situations and you feel that prompting from the voice, which is really subtle usually, like, “I know this is a moment where I need to stop and change my perspective, and change the way some things are going.” You know you could do that and you sometimes choose not to. How can we get through those moments and pursue our identity in Christ?

Laura:  Take a second for a moment and think about yourself as a mom and the standard that you hold yourself to. I am willing to bet that most of us hold ourselves to a very high standard of motherhood, of what we hope we’ll be. Whether that comes from the world or social media, or our own self-imposed expectations on how we should respond to our children, respond to our husbands, the inner monologue running through our heads, etcetera. If you start thinking about, “How did I respond in gentleness and patience, in self- control and peacemaking? How was I loving today? Was I joyful in all that I did today?” Probably the answer is that you didn’t measure up and that you didn’t do quite as well as you hoped you would.      

Emily:  Probably not. You probably fell on your face in that. I think what’s neat is that even though we totally fail to measure up to not only our own standards but God’s perfect standards for holiness, but Jesus, He did all that perfectly. He was always responding in gentleness, He was always kind, He was always full of joy even though He had difficult circumstances at times. He always obeyed God perfectly. Because He laid down His life for us and He died and received the punishment that we deserved, we now get to live in light of that. For us, it’s like we did all of those things right.      

Laura:  God sees us the same way that Jesus responded. He sees us as perfect as Jesus was and lived.

Emily:  It’s this identity stuff we keep coming back to and talking about. We need to tie our identity to that truth. We need to live like that is true about us. When we sin and when we fall short, not go back and identify with a bad mom, you’re a mom who yells at her kids or, “I’m a mom who’s lazy,” or whatever those things are. That is not who we are in God’s eyes. As soon as we identify and tether ourselves to that, we walk in it. When we tether ourselves to Christ and we say, “No. God already sees me as having an A++.”    

Laura:  When you are really an F student. [laughs]

Emily:  It’s like, “I don’t need to add anything to that.” There’s nothing I can add to it but I can be grateful and I can live like that now. I have the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s a message that we need to preach to ourselves.

Laura:  When you really believe that, like Emily keeps saying, it transforms everything that you do. It transforms the way you respond, it transforms your thinking in the moment, when you are feeling those thoughts that are coming through saying, “I’m a bad mom,” or “I let my kids watch way too much TV, and I fed them too many fruit snacks, and my house is not clean enough.” [laughter] Whatever it may be, that is where you can bring in truth and speak that to yourself. What does this practically look like? It says, “Okay, I had my inner monologue of negativity running through my brain. This day has been an utter failure.”      

Emily:  Or you saw your sin, you saw that you weren’t patient; you acknowledged that, you’re feeling that true conviction, then what?

Laura:  Then you speak truth to yourself. That can be through scripture or through correcting your mind, through Godly and Biblical truths, and then from there, you walk forward and you change your action. We want the message of today to be to redeem your day. We want you to know that no day is too far-gone. You are never too far-gone. As a mom, you are never too far lost. You are never too bad to be redeemed and to change the way your day is going to look going forward.    

Emily:  We can do that because of what Jesus did for us. Yes, we want to commission you guys there and practically talk through a couple of moments that Laura and I have had with the experience thought. Maybe a time when we responded right. [laughter]

Laura:  That might be hard to find. My Mother’s Day is a good example of a day that went south, real fast. It was 4:30 in the morning and my husband got called into a work emergency. It was the moment that I knew, “Bummer, this won’t really be Mother’s Day at all today [laughter] because no one’s going to be able to tell my three-year old to say 'Happy Mother’s Day.'” It was really hard and it was one of those days that started bad.

It was a Sunday so I went to church and was really convicted that, “Hey, I’m spending Mother’s Day doing the one thing that I’m supposed to be doing , and doing my job and caring for my children.” There was part of me that wanted to say, “Let’s turn on the TV, go out to lunch, and go out to dinner. Kids, you go do your thing and I’m going to go do my thing because this is my day.”

But I really felt like, “I want to enjoy my children this day, and be intentional with them, and be joyful that I get to spend today with them.” I was convicted of having a pouty mournful attitude about my "rotten life." [laughter] Praise the Lord that I was able to turn that day around. Actually, it ended up being a fun day with my kids. We went to the park and it was good. Know that too, it didn’t go perfectly. I was able to turn my thoughts around, but we want you guys to hear too that just because you take control of your thoughts, and you get your heart set on the right things and focus, that doesn’t mean that that day is going to be perfect.     

Emily:  It means that we’re going to be more aware of the fact that God is with us, and that we can be grateful and have right perspective eternally on our situation.

Laura:  It certainly makes your attitude better. The days that I’ve done it, I have felt so much happier. I’m like, “I’m glad I chose this because otherwise I’d be pouting around and complaining in my heart and probably to my kids.” It truly does transform you. When your perspective is shifted to the right things, to godly things, your day really does ... I want to say "go better" but I feel like that’s dangerous territory.     

Emily:  Our heart attitudes are better and yes, of course, even if you have hard circumstances, if you’re looking at it through the lens of what God has done for you and how grateful you are, you’re going to enjoy your day more. I’m trying to think if I have great specific examples.

Something my three and a half, almost four-year old keeps saying to me lately. He’s like, “Mom, what are you so mad about?” [laughter] He’s really into facial expressions. If I’m not smiling, he’s like, “Mommy, what are you so mad about?” it’s been interesting for me to pause and a lot of times I realize I am grumping around the house. I’m like, “You need to go there, and you need to do this, and you need to stop doing that. Yes. No, no, no,” and it’s always a really convicting moment for me of, what am I modeling?

I would say sometimes I’m like, “Mommy’s mad because you’re not obeying and you need to stop.” [laughter] Other times, I do pause and I think, “This is not the example I want to set. I need to remember God is not mad at me for what I have done.” He has poured his wrath out on Jesus so I can go forward and have a joyful attitude. I can have a gracious attitude towards my children. I can show them more mercy. I can show them more patience because God has been very patient with me. I’m glad that at least I’m getting used to doing that more. It gets a little easier.       

Laura:  Practice makes it easier, you would say.

Emily:  Yes, and that inner monologue. Why are we doing Risen Motherhood? Because we want to help moms, as we are trying to help ourselves put those thoughts on Jesus and be thinking in terms of, “How does my faith in Christ impact this mundane everyday moment that I am dealing with right now?” Because it’s not too spiritual for that everyday moment; it’s needed.   

Laura:  The Gospel affects everything.

Emily:  I don’t know if we have a challenge for ourselves.

Laura:  I think the challenge is to walk forward throughout your day, and even today, no matter what time you are listening to this podcast, and know that it can be redeemed. It can be changed. You can take back your day because of the power and the sacrifice of what Jesus did, not by your own bootstraps but because of what Christ did for you, you can walk forward in freedom and not in guilt.      

Emily:  You may even have something on your mind right now that you’re like, “I know that thing that I have already said today is not so great. We want to encourage you, as well, to face that and stare it in the face and be like, “Yes, that wasn’t right.” We want to make that right with whoever you need to make it right with. Don’t hide that. Give it to the Lord and know that there is grace for that. Jesus paid for whatever that thing is too.

Whether you already had an argument with your husband today over a parenting thing, or you already snapped at your kids or you were inconsistent with discipline. Whatever it is, God already knows that about you, [laughs] and He is not shocked, and He wants your relationship with you, and He is not mad at you because of what happened in Christ. He poured all of that out.    

Laura:  It’s Him who’s bringing it to mind now, that’s why you’re thinking of it.

With that, we need to wrap up. You guys can find all of our show notes, more articles and information, and helpful tools at risenmotherhood.com. Of course, you can find us on Facebook and Twitter with Risen Motherhood stuff and then like we mentioned, Instagram for our personal profiles if you’d like to follow us there.

Please, if you think of it, we would love it if you would share the show. It is the best way to get the word out. We want as many moms to hear about the Gospel and how it can transform their mothering. Take a second and share it if you think about. All right, thanks for listening so much today guys.      

Ep. 18 || Freedom To Be The Mother God Created You To Be: Why Comparison Doesn't Work - Transcript

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’ve got my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen here. Today, we’re talking about freedom and motherhood. As Em and I were chatting through the show, it felt like it was a beast to nail down. There’s a lot of ways that we can take this but one thing that we feel really strongly about, here in Risen Motherhood is that we don’t talk a ton about practical stuff. We’re not going to tell you, “This is how to get your baby to sleep, or how to eat correctly, or how to choose the public school, or home schooling, or these are our top 10 tricks for, I don’t know, all the things moms are supposed to do.” Because, the truth is, we don’t know what we’re doing. Especially me, I will say I’m looking to the next mom to know, “Okay, that’s how that works.”   

Emily:  We’ve realized that practical things for moms, when we feel insecure about something that’s going on in our home or with our kids, that is one of the first thing that we want to run to. We go online and we Google, “How do I fix this problem?” or we look at our friends and immediately copy what somebody else is doing. A lot of times, that practical can actually be a barrier to us running to the Lord and depending on God, and walking a life that’s lived in faith and praying. We also want to be a voice to point you guys to Christ. We think the practical is super important but we think we need the reminder, as well, that the practical comes after we’ve been depending on God.  

Laura:  That is why our show is structured like it is. Of course, as you guys have seen, we do a little bit of practical on our videos. If you see us on social media right now, we’re on Periscope and Facebook, sharing some videos because we do recognize the value in that. But again, we’re regurgitating some of the things that wiser people than us have taught us.

The Gospel gives us this amazing freedom as moms, that as long as we keep the main things the main things, then we don’t have to look like the mom down the street or that mom on social media, or the Pinterest mom, or the mom at your church. When we say freedom in Christ, we don’t mean that like, “Okay, you can do whatever you want.” Because if you’re a believer and if you’re trusting in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, there is an innate desire in you already, to want to honor Him and obey Him, and live according to His Word. As we personally seek to follow the Bible and live according to that, there is freedom beyond that, to be able to do the things that you are gifted in; that you’re interested in. Whether that’s baking, or DIY, or craft projects, or being the PTA lead, or the major volunteer over here, there is amazing freedom that God has gifted us to not have to look like our friends.

Emily:  We’ve said this before, that scripture does not directly address all of the things that are going on in our lives right now in 2016 or exactly how to handle each situation. We have to take the principles that are there and the commands about our heart attitude and living in faith and having self-control; all of those things. It’s about having a right heart in what we’re doing and less about the details of what type of food we’re going to choose to feed our kids, or like we were talking about in the episode about the Gospel and breast-feeding vs. bottle-feeding.

The Bible doesn’t spell that out all the choices that we make as moms. Laura and I also wanted to share some examples as we have experienced with these feelings. I know that I feel this way a lot about when I’m cooking or during dinnertime with family, though I think we are pretty simple eaters. In this season of life, that isn’t something that we emphasize. As I look around, other moms or Pinterest recipes and stuff, I always struggle with feeling guilty that I’m not doing a good enough job at dinnertime. Do you have anything like that Laura?             

Laura:  Millions of things, but my biggest one is probably the crafts and projects, and activities for the kids. I love a good DIY project, don’t get me wrong, but I like the adult kind, so I am not as gifted in dreaming up activities. I know with Pinterest; I don’t have to dream anymore, but execution on that is something that I don’t enjoy. I have tried and have felt guilty over that often, and I’ve felt like I need to stimulate my kids more or their childhood is going to be so boring because I didn’t cut up construction paper. I value that in other women and I respect and admire it, but oftentimes I can feel guilty or lacking in that area and feel, “Oh, that must be the mark of a good mom, is to do those crafts.”   

Emily:  Or to see different capacity levels. That is something that I think I have a hard time with too. God has gifted each woman with different energy levels and different time and different ability to multitask. Sometimes I can see a mom has a lot on her plate but she’s able to do it well. I’m not always able to have as much on my plate and still thrive - so even accepting my own limitations that God has given me. I’m like, “Yes, when I work hard, this is still as much as I can get done joyfully and that can look different than my friend.”  

Laura: I hinted at it earlier but keeping the main thing, the main thing, as a mom and then letting everything else fall under that umbrella is key. Asking, "What is our purpose?" and going back to that age-old catechism, the one that whether you were raised on them or not, you probably have heard of: "What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."

Our job as moms, and you can go back and listen to some of our episodes - one and five - about the Gospel for moms. But specifically in motherhood, our end goal is to impart our faith to our children and to teach them about who God is, and glorifying God through our actions, and our words, and letting the overflow of our enjoyment, using that catechism, letting that overflow into our children’s lives and teaching them about who He is. Emily, do you want to go through the gospel?    

Emily:  Yes. We have shared about this many times but God made us to enjoy Him and to glorify Him. But in the Garden, Adam and Eve did not obey God. They sinned and so we are walking in that same sin today and we need Jesus to reconcile us to God. When we trust in Christ and we are freed from the penalty of sin, we get to walk in freedom and that is a really exciting thing that we get to enjoy as believers.   

Laura:  How does that apply to us today? There are expressed commands in scripture that we need to follow, but then the Bible doesn’t address specifically some of these other - maybe outliers? They’re not outliers in our lives because we deal with them everyday, but outside of the expressed Biblical commands, we have complete freedom.

Stuff like, “How far apart should I have my kids?” and, “Should I let them watch this TV show?” and, “Do I feed them vegetarian, gluten, sugar?” “Do I home school or public school?” We have freedom in Christ to make choices and we develop personal convictions on those things.     

Emily:  What motivates our personal convictions is - going back to our quiet time episode - our understanding of scripture and reading the Bible, having a knowledge of what God desires for us, what His will for us is and really walking in those things with heart. It all goes back to our heart attitude. With a heart that is saying, “How can I make God and Jesus look like the greatest treasure in this decision? How can I be trusting and depending on God in this decision?

God says, “Be holy like I am holy.” How can I be pursuing holiness in this decision?” I think that if that is the posture of our hearts, when it comes to these matters of freedom, we will be making faith-based choices and not looking at other moms and being like, “What’s the newest trend in this?” or not being motivated by fear either.         

Laura:  I think the biggest thing we want you moms to come away with is understanding the difference between appreciating and learning from another mom or the millions of helpful articles that are online and comparison. There's a big difference between comparison and appreciating another mom’s skills or learning from her and picking a few items that you can apply to your own life - because we always want to be improving. The problem enters when we start comparing and we start feeling that guilt and like we’re not measuring up. What are you doing in that instant? You’re comparing yourself to another mom and not to the person that you are supposed to be comparing yourself to and that’s Jesus.

Emily: I also wanted to affirm what you’re saying because Laura, we were saying, “There is so much pressure out there,” and online especially, that’s the space that we are all in a lot but to be hopping from one style of motherhood to the next, to the next, to the next. We want to encourage you guys to look at the gifts and the resources and interests that God has given you. To look at what your husband’s interests and preferences are for your family. To work those things out together and figure out, what does it look like for you guys and for you as a mom, to pass on the gospel to your children, and then be confident that it can look a little different than other people and that that’s okay. Again, as long as you’re seeking to honor God.

Laura:  The heart behind this is that you ladies would walk out of here in freedom and be able to say, “My quiet time can be five minutes with my kids while my neighbor’s is forty five minutes, and somehow her kids sit on a blanket and mine don’t. That is okay because I am trying and I am striving to teach my children to honor God.” That is the heart that we want to encourage you to have here. To be able to say, “Stop comparing and saying I don’t measure up,” because the only standard you need to be comparing yourself to is Jesus, and not the mom down the street or the mom on social media. Because like Emily said, that’s generally where we like to get our supermom examples.        

Emily:  As all topics, there are a lot of different angles but we hope that you guys leave encouraged today. If there’s another mom that you are friends with that’s coming to mind, that you think would benefit from hearing this, we would love it if you could share this. Again, if you want to leave a rating or a review, that would be an awesome way to help other moms find us on iTunes. It’s so encouraging to us when we get to go back and read those so thank you guys for leaving reviews. You can find us on risenmotherhood.com to hear more. Thanks for joining us today guys.    


Ep. 17 || Taking Back the Last Hours of the Day - Transcript

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. Today, before we get started on our awesome topic, we wanted to respond. We had some great feedback from you guys, which we love, but one of the things we’ve heard is you wish our show was longer, which we are humbled that you’d want to listen to us.  

Laura:  Quite flattering.

Emily:  We wanted to share with you guys why we have chosen the format that we have. That is primarily because it’s accessible for moms and it’s something that they can listen to in a short period of time, while you’re doing a quick errand or you are doing a quick chore. It also is a great way for Laura and I to practice being succinct, and trying get the truths across that we think are important. We know that the more we talk, the more room there is for error and so we also want to be wise in our words.

We totally hear you guys that we don’t cover everything that we could in each episode so if you want to hear more, we do have some options for you. We are trying to offer some videos on periscope, I think we are @RisenMotherhood, and on Facebook; we also have some videos on there. Generally, we try to talk about out topic for the week and then we also push out a lot of articles on our social media. If you’re following us on Twitter, or on Facebook, you can find a lot of resources that talk probably about everything we do, about what is going on or other articles we’ve written that are way more in-depth, so definitely check those out.

Also, if you have a question about something that we didn’t cover in an episode, and you have this burning desire to find out more about it, we would love it if you guys would email that to us, or contact us on social media and let us know what your question is. If it makes sense for us, we may record a whole episode on it.        

Laura:  Yes, please give us ideas. Emily and I are bursting at the seams with ideas but we would love to hear, specifically, what you guys want to hear about. We know we’re constantly like, “Oh, we ran out of time.” We’re going to work on that, but as Emily has just said, it’s protection for us and we hope that it makes it more accessible to more moms.

Now, what are we talking about today? We are talking about that terrifying time of night that all moms have. It is like an epidemic with children from about 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., bedtime. It’s commonly referred to as “the witching hour”.    

Emily:  We know that you guys can picture the witching hour, in your mind right now.

Laura:  Are you shuddering? I’m sorry if you are. Hopefully you’re listening to this during the witching hour and it’s not so bad. We want to talk about how to do witching hour well and how to take back those last few hours of the day. Em, do you want to share what your evening is like? We thought we’d swap stories.  

Emily:  My kids wake up from naps pretty early. Usually by 1:30 or 2:00, I’m already looking at the clock, a little bit like, “We’ve got a little bit of time.”  

Laura:  That is so stinking early. I would die.

Emily:  I know! They want to go down for naps about 12:30 and in order to sync it with the baby, that’s what I’ve had to do so it’s fine. By about 3 o'clock, I have run out of every trick up my sleeve.

I have done the crafts, I have done the outside play, practically everything. Generally, I would say I have about two and a half hours to fill. During that time, I try to tap grandparents like, “Can you come over and make my children smile?” and try to do even more outside time. That’s great when it’s nice outside. I don’t know, what else we do? I should get more things up my sleeve, because usually I’ve got two to three out of my four kids literally clinging onto my legs. That full body wrap and you’re like, “I can’t walk. You need to go do something else.”

Laura:  Especially if you’ve got three of them on your legs. Oh, my word! I think it’s so funny because when I worked, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., or 4 to 7 p.m. used to be "happy hour." Now it is anything but. We have renamed it to witching hour. 

My kids take really long naps to accommodate my husband’s work schedule. They sleep from about two to four. I don’t let my older one sleep past four. My daughter might sleep until five and I have been blessed with good nappers. I have the evening but my evenings go longer, so typically my kids don’t go down until eight to give them a little more time with dad. I have the same amount of time in the end but it’s a lot at the end of the day. My daughter used to have colic and she has always been a fuss monster. Evenings have always been really difficult with her crying a ton. I usually reserve TV for that time and we don’t have any other tv time during the day - then it’s this magical box that keeps them a little bit quiet for a while.

But I feel like everyone’s drained at the end of the day. I feel like my kids are super-bored with me, I’m bored with them, and like you said, we’ve exhausted all the activities. I’ve started going on errands sometimes in the evening. It helps getting the distraction because in the morning they’re much more content on their own.        

Emily:  What Laura and I want you guys to hear is that this is normal. We know that you guys have your own stories as you’re listening to this. You’re like, “I can relate to that,” or, “My kid is way worse than that,” or whatever. It’s just at that time of day, generally, kids are hungry for dinner. Like Laura said, they are bored, they have done everything, and you have done everything as well.

They might be over stimulated by this point in the day, depending on how many activities you’ve done, or whether you’ve really gone about at their routine. Maybe they’re transitioning home from a caregiver or maybe you’re busy, and you’re cooking, and you’re trying to pick up the house.  You’re maybe more distracted than any other time of the day and all of a sudden, the kids sense that.    

Laura:  They do. They’re like, “Mom’s busy, I’m going to make sure she focuses on me.” That’s their whole goal in life.

Emily:  It’s very normal.

Laura:  I was even Googling around for a study and while I couldn’t find anything that scientifically said that we’re wired to be crankier at the end of the day, there were lots of general psychologists talking about how  blood sugar is low, and we’re all getting more tired; fatigued. It’s a very distracting time. We’re trying to multitask with dinner and all of those things and this is real; it’s a real thing that happens.

Knowing all of this and being able to relate to each other on this, where does Gospel fit into that? We want to reemphasize that making Jesus our greatest treasure transforms everything we do as moms. At the end of a day, often we are tired, as we’ve talked about and so we’re looking for the easy way out. We’re sick of disciplining and we’re not quite as on point with patience or being as committed to dealing with bad behavior. We’re pushing our kids off and we don’t want to deal with everything.

I think remembering that Jesus Christ died on the cross; he suffered all of our sins so that we could have this amazing wealth of righteousness to bring to our families. That comes at the end of the day too and He is our power source for that time. We want to put our relationship with Him above our other priorities, and that should transform the way we respond during this so-called “witching hour.”     

Emily:  Totally and I personally struggle with that a lot especially towards the end of the day. If someone were to peer into my life, they might think, “Emily values her peace and quiet more than she values her relationship with her children,” because I am doing everything I can to get everything to be a certain way in our house, even if that means I have to speak harshly to my children or I have to push them to the side, or whatever those things are.

I always have to remind myself that my children are not the interruption. My relationship with them is important and I want to disciple them. That’s my main responsibility; passing on my faith. I do that by imaging Christ and by setting an example. It’s a mind shift and that heart shift of saying, “No, this is my relationship with my children. It is important. I need to stop and address this.” My to-do list is important too. It’s not unimportant, but there’s an order there that we want to keep in mind.       

Laura:  When we remember how patient and long-suffering God is with us, we can reflect that back to our children. We want to let His mercy and His grace to motivate us to have sweetness with our children at that time of the day, to have grace and patience with them when they are going up the wall.

The flip side of that that we wanted to talk about too, is something I do sometimes and that’s losing my temper with my kids. I actually tend to more be the silent treatment type of mom. I know this is so immature. I rarely yell at my children but I often will not speak to them because I’m so mad. I know that if I speak, I will lose my temper, but I’ve already lost it in my heart and I’m choosing to give them the silent treatment. You better believe it works on my kids; they get real nervous whenever mom’s quiet. [laughter]

Sometimes I can often be like, “I’m tired. I’m sick of this. I’ve worked so hard all day. I’ve done everything I can for these children and they are not grateful.” The common term we like to tell ourselves is, “grace upon grace,” which soothes the soul. I don’t want to say that that “grace upon grace”  is untrue, but if you’re getting to the end of the day and saying, “It’s okay. God will forgive me if I lose my temper here, because 'grace upon grace,'” well, that is an area of cheapening grace.     

Emily:  Once we understand what grace costs, we don’t want to presume upon it and use it as an excuse to sin in our heart and in our actions.

Let’s jump into the practical as well because we understand running out of patience. Laura and I certainly don’t have all the right answers, but we’ve tried a few things here and there and wanted to pass some of that along.  

Laura:  The biggest thing to remember is that towards the end of the day, it’s going to require a lot of hard challenges. There are a lot of practical things like reserving special toys for after five, or sending them outside or feeding them earlier; things like that. But I think the biggest thing to get across too choosing your attitude during that time. If you get to the end of the day and you’re doing that day on your own effort, you will run out of patience and you will lose your temper.

There’s a quote that says, “Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” I’ve always loved that. My mom would say that to me all the time and I would roll my eyes as a high schooler but today, I think she is so right, that it is 90% how you react to it. When your children are pestering you , and nagging on you , and begging for food and acting like you have literally never fed them [laughter] before in their lives, remember to "choose your attitude." Know that you have power over a bad attitude because of what Christ did for you.   

Emily:  Be intentional.  A lot of days I’m shocked that this happens and I say to myself, “What did you guys turn into at three o'clock?” but this happens every day. We can be intentional and at the beginning of the day, focus on some of those self-care things that Laura and I have talked about like, "What do we need to do to be pacing our self throughout the day?" so that we are not giving all of what we have, so that by one o'clock in the afternoon, we have nothing left to give.

Or whenever it is that you see your children, maybe it’s four o'clock and you’re like, “I’ve already given all I have today.” Try to pace yourself.

Continuing to depend on God throughout the day, either through quiet time or through prayer, or through whatever you need to do to keep your focus on the main thing is important. Then looking intentionally at your day and saying, “How can I front load some of my responsibility?” because it does seems like a lot of things converge at that five-six o'clock hour. How can you intentionally say, “I’m going to prep dinner earlier,” or, “I’m going to not let my kids get out as many toys after nap time so that I don’t have as much to clean up.”

There’s a lot of those things that takes a little bit of thought but when you do that, it is amazing. Whenever I decrease the amount of activities I’m trying to get done I can just focus on my children - they’re a lot happier and I’m a lot happier, and I do see more of that pacing myself - but it takes planning moms. We want to encourage you guys to put in that effort and that it’s worth it.         

Laura:  Should we take a moment here and thank God for the Crock-Pot? [laughter] We don’t get too deep into tips here because you will find those a dime a dozen online, but we will link to some that have been phenomenal and helpful to us. Definitely go into our show notes. If you’re looking to take back those last hours of your days; take back the witching hour, I think there will be lots of great tips for you. We want to encourage you today, wherever you’re at, that those evening hours are coming. Today, make a change in how you deal with them and start with your heart, ladies.

You can find us on risenmotherhood.com for all of our social profiles, on Facebook and Twitter and Periscope. Certainly tune into Facebook this week. I’m sure we’ll have some videos up there. We hope you ladies have a wonderful day today and thanks for tuning in.