This transcript has been edited for clarity.

[00:00:37] Laura: Hey guys. Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I'm Laura Wifler, and I have my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here with me.


[00:00:44] Emily: Hey.


[00:00:45] Laura: And first thing we want to let you guys know is that we're actually taking a break after this episode. This is our last episode for the spring of 2018.


[00:00:53] Emily: Yes. And we are already excitedly planning podcast for September when we return. So this is just like last summer if you guys have been around for a while you know we took a few months break from the podcast episodes only so we can enjoy your family, and just like you guys, rest and get revved back up for our wonderful content.


[00:01:14] Laura: And of course we're not going away completely though, so don't worry you get your Risen Motherhood fix. We have the blog running all summer. We also have lots of social media content lined up, and I don't know do we have anything else, Emily? That's kind of the main two.


[00:01:28] Emily: Yeah, so we're definitely still going to be out there engaging and sharing stuff.


[00:01:33] Laura: Instagram stories—go find us there. We've been trying to get Facebook Stories to work, but I've been having some struggs with it. I don't know. So, we'll see if we get that fixed, but we hope you guys will join us throughout the summer and look for us to return in September. But with that, we want to get to the show.


[00:01:48] Emily: Yeah. Laura, I just remembered something funny I was going to tell you. So last night, you remember how we had the kids record the intro for the AUA show? My husband Brad is—of course you know Brad, he's your brother—I'm talking to you like you don't know who he is. He's like the weirdest thing happened. We were driving the other day, and the boys were like, "I have a new podcast I'm starting dad." And he's like, "What?" "It's called the worst mom in the world." So the line we had them say over and over again was, "When you're the worst mom on the planet," from the intro. So what they got is that mommy and Laura do a podcast called the Worst Mom in the World, and they want to be on it.


[00:02:31] Laura: That is awesome. Oh man, I love it. I love that's probably what they're going to be telling the grocery store people.


[00:02:38] Emily: I was like, "No, that's not what the podcast is called."


[00:02:40] Laura: It might be how we feel sometimes, but it's what it's called.


[00:02:44] Emily: So, speaking of that, I think it's just been really funny to talk with people in real life about what it is that we do in terms of ministry. And because we're talking about evangelism, I told Laura this story last night actually that I was stopped at a therapy appointment and a lady overheard me talking about this book update. Somebody was asking me about it and she said, "Oh what's your book on?" And I was like, "Oh, it's on motherhood and the gospel." My voice changed, I got all weird and awkward and it was like I coughed out the words. I felt so dorky afterwards, and I just was like, "Why do we get so weird about that? Why do I get so weird about something so simple that is not threatening?" It's a perfect opportunity for me to talk clearly about Jesus and the things that I just love so much, but it can feel so awkward to share the gospel with people.


[00:03:44] Laura: Totally, I hear you. I think it's hilarious when people ask me, "Oh so what do you do?" I don't know if they're believer or not but there's somebody new, and I'm usually like, "I run a pod- ministry- Christian. I don't even know." It's all coming out in a jumbled mess, and it's just hilarious, because  Emily and I have actually talked to this a few times of how we speak so freely to Emily's closet about Jesus. And it's like we are bold and brave, we're behind these mics we have. But even like going into our safe community at Risen Motherhood on social media and things like that, like where we just feel like, "Oh generally, we know the message is going to be received." It's so easy and so free, but then you get to a point where you don't know how it's going to be received. And all I can do is have fear of man completely where I'm thinking about how do I look, and I don't want to make them uncomfortable, or I don't want to be uncomfortable.


[00:04:33] Emily: And do they even know what this is.


[00:04:36] Laura: They probably don't even know what a podcast is, and I'm worried about the word Christian.


[00:04:41] Emily: Yeah, I think, for me, what's a big struggle is this idea that I can kind of talk Bible study and prayer all day and feel like, "Oh yeah, those are disciplines that are consistent in my life." But when I think about the simple fact of sharing the gospel evangelism, do I do that as frequently as you know I probably should know? No, and why is that? I feel like it's one area of my own personal spiritual life that is really challenging and something I wish I was more passionate about in my everyday life.


[00:05:14] Laura: Right. Yes. So just to let you guys know, if you're a mom at home who's wondering why is it so hard to share the gospel, Emily and I literally sort of do it for a living now—not a living but we do it all the time. And we still find it to be incredibly hard to do it in our everyday life. And I think there's a lot of reasons for this, right? I mean, there's the element of our family has just a lot of needs that feel urgent or they kind of feel all consuming. And so, it can take a lot of us just to love those in front of us and invest well in front of us or even just being tired. I mean I think that's that's something that is a real thing but also can be kind of used as an excuse to host someone that maybe you don't know very well or feel like, "I'm already so physically and emotionally drained and now I'm going to go talk to this person who's kind of emotionally draining for me maybe." So those can be definite real hindrances.


[00:06:05] Emily: Yeah. I know for me too there's this element of not knowing where to start. I maybe see missionaries or people who are church planters and I'm like, "Oh great, that makes sense." But I don't always know what it looks like in my own context. How to meet more unbelievers without being totally awkward or just kind of constructing a situation that's not real. And so it can be a barrier just to think outside the box and see what's right in front of me.


[00:06:31] Laura: All right. Or maybe past efforts like Emily and I were just sharing like the times where we do kind of feel like we want to be brave and get out and do it maybe something it failed. Maybe we've felt really embarrassed or maybe we were rejected—definitely things like that have happened to me in my past that makes me just feel like it's not even worth it. I don't want to go through that emotional toil.


[00:06:52] Emily: Or I think just feel uncomfortable talking about God and the gospel. I mean there's an element of fluency in it that really only comes as we practice and as the things of the Lord roll off of our tongue in everyday conversation. And even if they do, it can still be challenging because the language you might use with an unbeliever to talk about the gospel is probably a little bit different than what you may use at church—just in terms of understandability. So there are definitely a lot of barriers but still very important.


[00:07:21] Laura: Yeah. Bouncing off of what you said, Em, of feeling like you need to have a robust theology or getting nervous about getting until some kind of theological argument you know where somebody maybe wants to pick a hole. That can be really daunting, but you know the reality of the gospel is what we talk about here on every single show at Risen Motherhood. You can tell it a lot of different ways with different words but as long as you have that essence in there, then what's great is that all you have to do is be able to explain how God did that for you. You can tell your story within that context. That's all you need to really know to share the gospel. If you're feeling like, "Oh I'm scared to do this because I don't have the right words or I don't know how to frame it up," we're going to get to talking a little bit deeper about what to do if you're feeling that way. But just remember that that's really what it is. That is sharing the gospel. If you know that story, if you know the story of how God saved you from your sin and death, then you know how to share the gospel.


[00:08:17] Emily: Yeah, and I think the gospel then transforms us and our lives and changes our heart. So if we are extremely grateful for that and we have truly been transformed and we know the hope that we have forever, that is going to make us want to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength which is the first and greatest commandment. And it's going to propel us towards the second commandment which is the great commission—going out and making disciples, loving others in the name of Christ. And that is really where this evangelism peace comes into play. If he's done this for us, then we want to go to the ends of the earth and tell everyone. Because the reality is everyone is going to live forever. What is the reality of their forever going to be though? Is it going to be with God, where he's going to make all things new and restore everything and there's going to be joy? Or is it going to be apart from God, where there's going to be no eternal punishment and sadness and weeping and gnashing of teeth? And so if we really believe that, then there has to be an element of us telling that. There is a verse in Romans that talks about Paul saying, "I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes." And he also goes on to say that, "faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ." So, we definitely have that commission as believers to help people hear the good news. It's great news.


[00:09:47] Laura: Yes. So if it's such great news, what you'd hope is that this would flow out of you out of your joy. But the reality is we live in the "already but not yet," which means we still have our sin nature in us. And so we end up being self-focused, afraid of rejection, afraid to be persecuted for our faith, or we're just self-focused with our own needs. You know, we're thinking about just what's right in front of us rather than the eternal. So we know that these things happen and that we have these moments, and we all have them but that doesn't mean.But that doesn't mean it has to be the pattern or the future of our life—that we can continue to grow in holiness, that as we get to know Christ more, as we grow in our Christian walk, and we fall more and more in love with him, that joy really does start to overflow. And we are never stuck in where we're at, so we can remember that the more that we dwell on God's grace, the more it changes our hearts and the more changes our actions and our words.


[00:10:45] Emily: Absolutely. And I think one thing that can kind of take the pressure off when we're thinking about this, is realizing that salvation belongs to the Lord and it is ultimately him who is sovereign over hearts and people being able to understand and receive the gospel and put their faith and their hope in Christ. I think I have to remember the Parable of the Sower, and we need to be sower and be casting out the seeds of the gospel, but we don't always know what people's hearts are like. We don't know if the cares of the world are going to choke it out. We don't know if hard times are going to cause people to fall away, we don't know, but we are still responsible for sowing the seeds. And God is who gives the growth.


[00:11:28] Laura: Amen, amen, Em. So we want to talk through a couple of common myths or pitfalls. These are things that Emily and I have fallen into at different moments in our lives, so know we're preaching to ourselves here. But the first thing that I think a lot of us, especially moms who are at home or at home generally during the day, we kind of think to ourselves, "Oh I'm pouring everything that I have to my own home mission field." And so we stop looking outwardly, we stop looking at the needs of those around us, because we feel like, "Oh we're already participate in the Great Commission. I mean we have our little children." And it's true our children are our mission field. That is a true element, and we are to raise them to know and love Jesus, and we are to share the gospel to them. But at the same time, when we make that task so important, then we leave no time for unbelievers or to evangelize with other people and really in reality, evangelizing to other people, seeing the needs of others, that's part of our witness to our own children. And so, we need to kind of have both of those things, not just saying, "Oh you know, I'm taking care of my kids and so they're becoming Christians, but it doesn't matter what everybody else is doing. Someone else will care for that."


[00:12:36] Emily: Yeah. And like Laura saying, it is such a good opportunity but that doesn't mean it's an either or. Like I have to go out and leave them. No, it's bringing them alongside—part of training our children is having them see us care for the lost.


[00:12:50] Laura: And we have a couple shows on this. Yes. We'll list them in the show notes. I don't remember the titles. This is what I feel like when I'm evangelizing—totally blanking.


[00:13:06] Emily: But the flipside to that is sometimes we can see the mission field as being primarily out there. And so, in an effort to reach people in the gospel with good intentions, we may serve and serve and serve and be away from our home and be away from the people who may need us right there. And we are reaching people with the gospel, but we're forgetting our own unreached people group in our own house who also needs to hear the gospel, whom we have tremendous influence over. And so again, it's not an either or, but I think we have to be cautious about not falling into either of those ditches—thinking it's all out there and neglecting the mission field in our own home, or it's all in here and I don't need to do anything in terms of reaching my neighbor.


[00:13:50] Laura: So another one would be that you view your life as a witness. So this makes a lot of sense, because we are supposed to be in the world but not of the world. And so often our witness can be the fact that you know maybe you don't swear, or you dress modestly, or you're not cheating out your co-workers or your company, your children are obedient and they seemed to respond to you, and there's this element that you look like a Christian to the outside. But the problem with that is the fact that the reality is if you don't give words, if you don't explain why you're different and why you do things differently, you're nothing more different, in the world's eyes, than someone who is morally upright. We have to remember that in order to reach the heart of another person, it often requires communicating the reason why you're different. Instead of kind of deep down hoping, "I hope someone will come up to me and ask me about Jesus."


[00:14:42] Emily: Yeah, and one thing Laura and I were talking about as we were prepping for this show is a really practical thing that has helped us in this is to let people know really early on in a relationship, when you meet them, that you are a follower of Christ. And then, as they see your life, as you interact with them, as they see, "Oh this person really cares about me, this person really wants to know what's going in my heart, and they are really gracious in whatever those things are," they have a context and a framework for knowing that's in light of your belief in Christ. So that can be a way to kind of get around that pitfall.


[00:15:17] Laura: And it makes it way easier later in the relationship if you want to go deeper with them or talk about stuff. At least for me I'm like, "Okay, they already know that I'm different, and they already know that I follow Christ." And so it's way more easy, I think than, "Oh I've known you for ten years and you have no clue I'm a Christian. And that's embarrassing.".


[00:15:35] Emily: "Why are you bringing this up now? Didn't you love me before?" And then another one, this is kind of modern, but I think there is this element of like social media bio evangelism, where maybe your profile is like, "Mom of three kids, loves Jesus and coffee." It's kind of like our today's you know 2018's way of putting a fish on the back of your car.


[00:15:57] Laura: I like that. I forgot about those!


[00:16:01] Emily: So the truth is it is great to acknowledge online that you are a follower of Christ. I don't think anyone would say that's a bad thing, don't do that . But I think the flip side to that is sometimes our profile shows that we actually have a different functional God, and that we we actually are worshiping and living out something completely different. And that can be very confusing to people who are seeing "Jesus saves" in our profile, but it looks like we're trusting in something else to save us as we're posting different articles or we're posting pictures. And then another element is that we use that as an excuse to not go out and meet people in real life and to share the gospel with our neighbor across the street, or to invite a co-worker over to our house for dinner because we're like, "Nope, I'm cool. I got evangelism box checked." It's not an element of, "What's the least I can do to be witnessing? " No, it's, "I really genuinely want to share the gospel with people, not just put the fish on the back of my car or the Jesus in my social media."


[00:17:04] Laura: Okay. So we've kind of started talking about all of these pitfalls. So now a little bit of encouragement about some ideas for how to share the gospel or get started. Hopefully you're thinking, "Okay I want to do this. This is something that I've been convicted to do." So the first thing to kind of start with is asking when was the last time you did share the gospel with someone—even if it was just your own children; I shouldn't say "just your children," that's important. And why is it, if it's been a long time for you?


[00:17:34] Emily: Yeah. So some ideas if you are wanting to say, "Yeah I haven't shared the gospel in a while. I want to get more regular in this," is to pray for a greater desire for that, to practice in your own home with your own children—what a wonderful opportunity to expose them and to get all your goofy words out. And then three, just to think about things in your life that are a good jumping off point to talk to new acquaintances or co-workers or anyone else that you're going to come in contact with about Jesus.


[00:18:04] Laura: Yeah, this is one of those that has been really helpful for me. I know when we were in the adoption process, people would always ask me, "Why are you adopting?" You know believers, nonbelievers, it's a very natural question. And I remember the first few times I got asked by a non-believer I left God out of the equation. I completely confess to all of you on the podcast that I just gave some of these surface answers and some statistics. While they are valid and true and definitely helped convince my husband towards that path, I was like, "No, the number one reason I'm adopting, is because of my own adoption from God." And that was really convicting for me as I walked away from that. And so I rehearsed it at home saying, "What is a natural way? How can I get comfortable with the language to talk to anyone about adoption and how that intersects with my Christian faith?" And so it was just a natural door. And these days, my daughter has special needs and so a lot of people ask, "Oh how's your daughter and what's going on? How are you processing it?" And that's another great chance where I have, in my own time, thought through this is how I can share the gospel through my daughter's story or through how God's working and my life in this situation. It's become a lot less scary because I kind of know what I'm going to say. And so maybe thinking through some of those things in your own life, as Emily was saying, what's already happening now that you can use as a springboard to naturally share the gospel or even drop in that nugget letting people know you're a Christian even if it's not this big robust, "This is the gospel!"? You can sprinkle in the fact that my life is different, I live differently, or I make decisions based on my faith.


[00:19:33] Emily: And another thing we can think intentionally about is, "Who is in our immediate sphere of influence?" This may be a parent. Of course children, I don't ever skip over that. Our own parents, in-laws, people who are very good friends, a co-worker that you see every day, maybe even extended family. Just consider sometimes we overlook those people, and we're you know we're thinking halfway on the other side of the world when we have somebody we see three times a week that doesn't know Jesus that we could really just invest more intentionally in. So, go ahead and start praying for that person. Think about ways that you can remember them or encourage them or really foster a relationship with them that makes them feel genuinely loved, that is different and redemptive in a way that no one else is reaching out to them.


[00:20:21] Laura: This takes a lot of intentionality. One show that does come to mind for me that I remember the title of is "Hospitality and the Little Years, Episode 55," so definitely check that out. That one's a pretty easy one. And "Serving Others Right Where You're At, Episode 43, "would be helpful in this, I think.


[00:20:38] Emily: And then the final one, especially for those of you who feel like, "I'm at home a lot and with my kids all the time, I don't have any of these people," I would just challenge you to think about it. Are there people though that you see pretty regularly? Do you take anybody to therapy? Do you go to certain doctors appointments over and over again? Are there teachers that you see? Is there a grocery delivery person that you see frequently? A barista? A mailman? A hairdresser? A nail tech? A house cleaner? Think about all of those people in everyday life that you see—can you be intentional as you are doing that? I know one thing we try to do every year is send out Christmas cards to a lot of these people that we may see two, three times a month and write a sweet know and just say, "We pray for you. And we're really thankful that you do this in our lives." And I don't know what difference that makes. But it's just one small thing you can do when you aren't sure how to foster deeper relationships with unbelievers in your life.


[00:21:35] Laura: Yeah, I got a friend who I know via Instagram on the Internet. But she leaves gift cards and a note for her UPS person every Christmas.


[00:21:43] Emily: That's sweet.


[00:21:44] Laura: I know. I love that. And I was like I gotta do that. So, you know, there are ways. She just takes it to the door. I'll try to link to her Instagram post about it, because it was super inspiring and really easy. So anyway, basically final words for all the moms out there: know that you are not alone in this being a little bit daunting, a little bit scary. But also know that God gives you all that you need. He promises that he will care for you. He'll be near to you and even if you feel like you tried it and it failed miserably or you didn't have the perfect words or you feel a bit embarrassed by, trust that God's word won't return void to you. And that as you make diligent efforts to try to share the gospel, God honors that. And that he opened a donkey's mouth, so if he can work with a donkey, he can work with you.


[00:22:33] Emily: Yeah. Two things that just came to mind. One is to expect that this is going to be costly. So I don't think we said that overtly, but I think sometimes we get in our little comfort zone and were like, "I want to share the gospel but not in a way that is going to cost me."


[00:22:46] Laura: "As long as I know they're going out just like totally receive Jesus in that moment, I'll share it."


[00:22:50] Emily: Yes, spreading the good news of Jesus is costly. We do a whole show about that. And two, we have a printable on our website that you can use to share Risen Motherhood with people, with moms in your life. If you're like, "Oh I don't know quite how to share with this mom about Jesus, but I'm going to have Emily and Laura do it through the podcast. Here's this thing that I've really been enjoying!" And we hear that from a lot of you guys that you're sharing Risen Motherhood with other moms. Hopefully, they don't come back and listen to this and feel really awkward.


[00:23:20] Laura: Tell them to the last show.


[00:23:22] Emily: But that this can be a way to start conversations, so we hope that you can download that little notecard.


[00:23:29] Laura: Yeah. Well there's like a five by seven sides. And there's a flyer. You can just pin it up all over your town if you wanted to—no problem. So OK we got to wrap it up. We are hitting time. We're usually a lot better about this, but we went over, I'm pretty sure today. We'll see. But if you want to find any of the stuff that we've mentioned today, please check us out at www.risenmotherhood.com. That's where our show notes are found. We talk about them on every show. We post lots of links and resources, so hopefully we'll have some stuff there that you can check out for further articles, to get more inspired, and maybe find some new tips and tricks also for sharing the gospel with those in your life. And of course find us on social media: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter @risenmotherhood. And we'll see you in September! So have a great summer break everyone!


[00:24:12] Emily: Yes, see ya!






This transcript has been edited for clarity. 

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Emily, here with my sister-in-law, Laura. Before we jump into today’s topic—because we’re going to be all about resources—we wanted to share that we have some free downloadable Bible study resources on our website, risenmotherhood.com/abide. You can find all of those free downloads there.

Laura: They are tools to help equip you to study the Bible on your own. We have a pretty robust tutorial that—even if you've never studied the Bible by yourself and you don’t have any other resources around you—you can get this for free and you can study your Bible. Hopefully it walks you through how to simply study the Bible. There are all free for you, and you can thank all of our patrons who have supported us to make those resources for you. We have a clean minimalist look that some of you probably have not seen quite yet, because we did give them a quick update. We’ve also got a floral one that's really pretty and kind of romantic-looking and matches our logo a little bit. We have both of those options for you depending on if you like clean and minimalist or if you like feminine and floral—we've got that one for you too. [laughter]

Emily:  Yes; definitely go check those out. Like I mentioned today, we are talking about resources, and how we spend our time as moms when we want to grow spiritually. We’re all really busy, and there are a lot of resources out there, so how do we determine what our time goes to? It can be kind of challenging.

Laura:  Yes, and today we’re specifically talking about spiritual growth, because we don’t want to say that you always want to be doing this Christian application stuff and not watching Netflix, or having free time with your husband, or playing with your kids, or whatever it may be. We’re just talking about as you grow in your Christian life and as you use resources and employ different things beyond the Bible, how are you discerning and choosing those? There are so many things out there that are vying for your time—everything from book clubs to Bible studies that other people are offering, different books, social media, blogs, podcasts like ours.

Emily:  There are also all kinds of conferences out there that you can go to— there are conferences online, like recently Laura and I were a part of one. There are also conferences that you can go to in your own area. It just goes on and on. Oh, and if you miss a conference, you can watch all of the things online; there are a million videos that you can catch up on. There are so many resources that it can be paralyzing to decide what to use.

Laura:  Or it can be, “Oh, this person said to use this,” or, “This is a bestseller so I am going to read that.” And while sometimes there is value in having other people help you discern what resources to use, one of our heartbeats at Risen Motherhood is to teach you how to discern and look critically at resources that are available to you. Often, Emily and I—and the whole Risen Motherhood team—are asked for our thoughts about specific Christian leaders, or specific authors or conferences that are going on. That's one of those things, which, like I said, we would prefer that you guys are really digging in deep into doing your own research, because we know that we make errors. We’re not always right, and we also don’t know all the great resources out there. A lot of times we’ll say, “We don’t know, we haven’t checked that out yet.” While we wish we could offer an answer, we just don’t know everything. We’re just five people on the team that can’t do it all. [laughter]

Emily:  We’re trying to learn this alongside you. Another thing that Laura and I are really passionate about is the local church. We want to continue to point you guys and ourselves to talk to the people who are tasked with our spiritual oversight and protection. Those people can really help us discern maybe a little better than somebody online, like Laura and I. But today, we just want to have a conversation about how we’re all super busy. We have precious time, and we want the little time that does go towards this to be used on things that are really wonderful and helpful—to grow in our understanding of what a very helpful resource is and not fill our time with things that are just okay when there’s something that could be much more beneficial for the time that we’re spending out there.

Laura:  It’s kind of like one of those where there are really good things and even probably some better things. But what is the best thing? Because your time is so valuable.

Emily:  I like this verse. Ephesians 5:15-17 says, “Look carefully then how you walk. Not as unwise, but as wise, making the best use of time because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Something that we’re charged with is to be wise with the time God has given us and to take it seriously. Therefore, what is the best kind of bang for our buck in terms of time?

Laura:  Before we get to exactly how to pose that out, we want to recognize that God’s word encourages us all to grow in a variety of ways. We grow through our local church corporately, hearing the Word of God preached, and meeting with other believers. But we’re also charged to seek growth on our own. We therefore want to seek first to grow in wisdom, and wisdom is knowledge applied. We learn about God and who he is, and then we apply that to our lives. We see that in James 1:5 which says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let them ask God who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Also in Colossians 3:16: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom.” We are, therefore, charged in God’s word to grow in wisdom.

Emily:  Additionally, we see this kind of overlapping paired with the concept of discernment. Philippians 1:9 says, “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more with knowledge and all discernment.” Then in Romans 12:2, and this is oft quoted although the whole quote is not always given. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind. That by testing, you may discern what the will of God is. What is good and acceptable and perfect.” A lot of times we hear that, “Renew your mind,” but in this context, it’s for the sake of discerning the will of God and knowing what is good and acceptable.

Laura:  First off, outside of any of these other resources, when we’re talking about how to grow spiritually, especially on our own but also corporately, are reading your Bible—being in God’s word. For both Emily and I, the question that we often ask ourselves, or we might ask each other as we’re thinking about new resources is, “Hey, am I reading my Bible first? Am I really getting in God’s word and getting a firsthand knowledge of his word and his will for my life?” That’s just one of those things why—again as we talked about at the beginning with the Abide Method—we’ve created those tools, because we want to encourage you guys to get in God’s word first. Remember that you will wither apart from being in God’s word. You can spend all of your time reading wonderful resources and going to all of the best events, and hear the best speakers. But if you’re not in scripture—and growing and applying it—then it will all be for naught.

Emily:  I love this story of George Mueller, who is a famous missionary. He was said to have read his Bible cover to cover 200 times, which is amazing. He has this quote, “The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord, but how I might get my soul into a happy state and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, I might seek to relieve the distressed, and yet not be happy in the Lord and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man, day by day.” Actually I was reading this book called The Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, by Donald Whitney, which is very applicable. He was talking about George Mueller in his book, and how George Mueller had this turning point when he didn’t just read his Bible, but he meditated on it. How that completely transformed the way he prayed, and that that was a critical aspect. These stories can remind us that God’s word is essential, and that is really what, first and foremost, causes us to grow spiritually.

Laura:  I don’t think we have to worry about any of us being at risk for spending too much time in God’s word. [Laughter] That’s something that we can always learn to know, to love, and to prioritize it more in our lives. Let’s get to the gospel and look a little bit at what we’re already talking about—all about the Bible stuff. [Laughter]

Emily:  Spiritual growth. The main thing that we just wanted to bring out in creation is that when Adam and Eve were in the garden with their creator, they had direct access to the one who was providing their nourishment and growth.

Laura:  They were not reading books about God. Let’s just put it that way. [Laughter]

Emily:  God set it up so that they could be in relationship with him directly. But we know that after the fall, that relationship was severed. Now our hearts turn towards false gods, and we can be led astray, very easily, by all kinds of other bad doctrines, untrue things, or even just flat out evil things. We worship things that are not of the Lord.

Laura:  When we’re seeking out worldly solutions for a lot of our problems, the first thing that we often turn to is not the Bible but, as Em said, we’re turning to social media. Or we’re trying to say, “I am just going to go to this new conference because it’s all over social media. It’s probably good because somebody’s touting it and saying it’s good.” Or maybe we become lazy when it comes to discernment. Like we’re talking about, we are failing to live up to what God is asking us to do while we’re supposed to apply our knowledge of him and use discernment. Or sometimes we can swing the other way and be very strict what we engage in. We pridefully snub our noses at anything that we think might just be a little bit unworthy. Or we live in a lot of fear, “Ooh, that thing might really ruin my standing with Christ if I engage in that.”

Emily:  But in redemption, we see that Jesus died for all of our sin and failure related to wisdom and lack of discernment, and our love for other gods. He took the punishment. Now he’s given us righteousness and the Holy Spirit so that we can utilize discernment when we look at how to spend our time growing spiritually. Also, we don’t have to be terrified that if I listen to a little portion of this thing by this speaker, who I don’t know if they’re associated with exactly the right people, my standing with God is going to be compromised—because our righteousness is in Christ. We don’t have to operate out of fear. We can have wisdom, and we can continue to correct our path as we read the Word of God and grow in our knowledge of what his will is. It’s just really great that Jesus has purchased that ability for us.

Laura:  It’s a huge relief. Some day in restoration, we know that we’ll be in an even better state than Eden was. We will walk with God once again, and we won’t struggle any more with discerning how to spend our time or what opportunities we should be engaging in. Instead, we will have all we need because we’ll be in the presence of our savior. Every need of ours will be met, every question that matters will be answered, and our time will be spent rejoicing in Christ and being with him. Once again, we aren’t going to need the books! [Laughter]

Emily:  It’s kind of nice to not be overwhelmed by all these decisions and all of the things that are out there. You can have that and just be at peace. Okay, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what does it look like to make decisions? You’re a busy mom, so how do you spend your time with resources? The first thing we wanted to say is don’t hear us say, “Stress out about this. Start freaking out about all the details.” Hear our heart in this that it’s less maybe about what you actually do, and more about your heart and growing in this. All the time, Laura and I still read things and get to know different resources, and then we change our path. It can be really easy to get overwhelmed in this in a bad way.

Laura:  Emily and I were talking and we were both saying five, seven years ago, I read some books that maybe I wouldn’t read today. We recognized that we have grown in our spiritual walk, but at the time we thought that it was great. That’s not to say that everything that I am reading today in five years, I am going to be like, “Oh my goodness, why did I read that?” But just recognizing that there’s growth that happens, and that you grow in discernment just like you grow in wisdom. As Emily said, we want to hit this home—it is more about your heart as you choose than it is about the choosing.

Emily:  Another question that you might have as we’re jumping into this is, “Well, is it okay for me to ever spend time reading something that isn’t overtly about growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ?” Yes, if your heart is right. There’s a great quote by Dane Ortlund that says, “With the right filter, it’s not wrong.” There are a lot of bad books out there, and there are also a lot of good books. What he’s really mentioning is that we want to spend our time reading the best books.

Laura:  And he said that at a table that I was sitting at. So it’s not a written quote anywhere.

Emily:  Oh, this is like a firsthand quote. I like it!

Laura:  I didn’t realize that I was going to say it, I’d written it down on our notes [laughs], because I’ll never forget that at the time he said that, I used to be able…

Emily:  Give us the context, Laura.

Laura:  He was talking about online things, and we were talking about what resources to engage in. I just appreciated him saying, “I want to spend my time with the best books.” This may, therefore, not be a verbatim quote, that’s all I am trying to say, because it’s kind of a vague memory from about a year ago. We were able to attend the same church together in Chicago, which was awesome, and he talked about that at our table.

Emily:  With the right filter, we can engage in all kinds of resources.

Laura:  That’s right.

Emily:  Really, one of the main issues here is stewardship of our time. All of our time is a gift for him. Laura and I recently went to the same conference where Jackie Hill Perry was speaking. She did such a beautiful job of reminding us that we are not redeemed for our own purposes, but we are redeemed to give our lives to God. To remember that we are hidden in Christ and all of our lives are his. We, therefore, want to be aware of how we use that time while keeping an open hand and experiencing the freedom of Christ.

Laura:  Here are some questions for you. As you guys know, Emily and I love putting together questions, figuring out what kind of time do you have, and how should you spend it? The first thing you want to ask yourself is, “What kind of time do you actually have?”

Emily:  Maybe you can double up on something. For instance, do you have the ability to play an audio book, a podcast, or a sermon in the background, maybe while you’re washing dishes? Maybe you’re on a commute to work, going for a walk, or doing other chores around the house? Or maybe, how many weekends do you have in the year that you could do a conference? Or that you could go off and have a solitude retreat and pray and grow in something? Maybe you have evenings during the week when you can do an online seminar. Or you can read some really great books, or especially engage in Bible study with other women at your church. We should evaluate what those pockets are, and be thoughtful and creative about them.

Laura:  Because you might have time to do a Bible study or a book club, but not both. It’s important to know, what do I have and how should I spend it? The first question is, “Have I prioritized reading my Bible and spending time with God?” And if not, that’s the first thing that should go on your schedule.

Emily:  There you go. That’s an easy one to just slot right in. [Laughs]

Laura:  And Em and I need that kind of medicine. We need to hear that all the time too, because we fall of off these things, and we’re like, “Hey, we’ve got to get back on reading our Bible.” We know how easy it can be to fall off of that.

Emily:  In addition to that, then how much time do I have to give to these other resources? We’ve kind of gone through some examples for that, and one thing we wanted to mention is this question of, “Am I involved in my local church?” And then, “Have I asked how I can serve in the local church?” Spiritual growth also comes in our serving of other believers. Or for the things that I engage in, “Have we considered what is their purpose?” Like, “Why have I chosen this resource?”

Laura:  It is important to evaluate, “Am I leaning too heavily on one resource, or one ministry or one person? Am I just trusting them blindly and saying that they’re my authority, rather than the Bible is my authority?” Again, we can’t stress enough at Risen Motherhood that Emily and I (a) just don’t have the capacity to look at every resource, and (b) we’re fallible human beings, and we never want you to blindly trust us. We also don’t want you to just trust any other human-run ministry. The reality is that we want you to be looking at the Bible and viewing things and evaluating them critically with a gospel lens. Therefore, have you really thought critically about some of your favorite resources, or maybe the book that you’re reading or the podcast that you’re listening to? We have a show that goes pretty deep into this—how to evaluate a specific resource or author. It’s episode 53 from last year and it’s called Discerning Resources. Head there for more questions. But I think what happens, or what’s really common, is that we’re kind of looking for things that are going to sooth our itchy ears or things that are just going to feel good. As humans, we’re naturally drawn to those things that don’t make us uncomfortable, or that feel really friendly and fun or whatever. That’s fine, and there’s a place for that. We don’t want to say, “You shouldn’t read anything that’s fun. It should really be hard and horrible.” What we’re trying to say is that you should challenge yourself and evaluate those things with a critical lens, and see, “Hey, is there some weird theology in here?” or, “Is the author suggesting some stuff that doesn’t sound like what I’ve read in the Bible?” And if it does, is there a better resource that you can look at than the one that you’re currently reading?

Emily:  That’s a key rate right there— the questioning. What is the better thing? Another question is, “Am I willing to stop consuming resources that are not healthy for me?” Maybe you are in a book club, or in an online Bible study, or whatever the thing is, and you enjoy it and you like it. But you are starting to notice that there are better, richer, more true resources out there. What does it look like for you to shift over the course of time—knowing that this is not a one-stop journey to grow in your discernment and make different decisions?

Laura:  We hope that you can take some of these questions and find one or two application points to take away from it. Remember that the goal isn’t that we get this perfect or get all weird, we have freedom in Christ who died for that. The point is for us to recognize, “Hey, you guys are super busy.” We’re all super busy moms, just trying to keep our heads above water. Let’s, therefore, do what we can to water the soil of our hearts as God gives us growth. Also, just swap out those mediocre resources, or maybe even some slightly harmful things that we’re consuming, with something that’s more challenging or more true that we can find that’s out there.

Emily:  Just like you’d say to your kids, “Don’t eat a cookie. Let’s get a banana for a snack,” right? Let’s make some healthier swaps here. [Laughs]

Laura:  Sometimes easier said than done. [Laughter]

Emily:  What is your go-to spiritual snack?

Laura:  Yes, that’s a good question.

Emily:  Make it a little healthier. Okay, if you want to find resources, you can head to our website, risenmotherhood.com/resources. Don’t forget to check out those ABIDE worksheets that you can download for free. You can also find more if you follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at Risen Motherhood. Thanks, guys.

EP. 100 || Ask Us Anything! Spring 2018 Edition

This transcript has been edited for clarity. 

[00:00:50] Laura: Well hi, and welcome back to this special 100th episode of Risen Motherhood, as you heard on the intro. Wasn't that adorable, Emily?

[00:00:58] Emily: It was so fun, but it wasn't as adorable recording it. [Laughter] It was actually the voices of all of our children—Laura, myself, and then our other sister-in-law, Becca. So all of our kids had a little tiny sliver of a line they said in there, and it was quite fun getting that recording bit by bit.

[00:01:19] Laura: Yeah, it was really fun, and the kids are cute because they're very excited to be "on the radio" and hear their voices over the car bluetooth. So, it was just fun. It was really fun to be able to record that with them and to celebrate our one 100th episode. Not only did we want to record a special intro, but we also have a very special new product for all of you guys.

[00:01:41] Emily: Yes. In celebration we're debuting an updated version of our kids abide card, which has always been a free downloadable tool that says, "Read, Observe, Interpret, Apply," which is kind of going through that inductive Bible study method with verbiage on the back at a kid's level. But we worked with a professional children's illustrator who did a wonderful job of designing these beautiful updated cards that we know you guys are going to love. I mean they're so adorable.

[00:02:12] Laura: I love it, and I put them out and frame them.

[00:02:14] Emily: They have little woodland animals on them.

[00:02:17] Laura: Oh she just did such a wonderful job. And then on the back, this has instructions for you to be able to talk with your kids about how to study the Bible. It makes it really really simple and again the content is really the same as our old kid's abide card, but it's just been updated so that it's more interesting for kids—like our kids are super into it. They love seeing which one is their favorite and stuff, so it's really cute. And then on top of that we have another special announcement!

[00:02:43] Emily: Yes, something that we've been asked about for a while and it is time! We are opening our blog for submissions. So the main reason behind this is just because with our theme this year unity in the Gospel, one thing we've been talking about a lot behind the scenes is wanting to get more stories from all different kinds of moms that have been through all different situations and are applying the gospel in their unique circumstances. And we know that you guys have wonderful stories to tell in light of the Gospel and we really want to hear them.

[00:03:15] Laura: Yeah. And you don't have to be published before, you don't have to be an author. We are looking for women who can tell their story and then apply a broader gospel application. So what you've seen on our blog; if you want to try your hand at that we would love love love to see a submission from you.

[00:03:31] Those open on May 23rd and it closes on May 29th. So you can start now and start working on your post, so that whenever it is open, you can submit that. There is a whole info website that you can see all the requirements and things that we're looking for, just to help make your post where it needs to be in order to go on the blog. So. Definitely check that out. That's at risenmotherhood.com/2018submissions.

[00:03:53] Emily: Yes. So we are so excited to see those come in and then start posting those on the blog throughout the next year. And the final little housekeeping bit we wanted to mention is that, just like last summer, the podcast is going to go on a break for the summer and so there'll be more details about that to come. We will be back in September. We are already planning for our fall podcast calendar. We are so excited, but everything else is still going to be running. We'll still be doing social media and the blog and the website and all other free resources and everything there, so we'll definitely still be around.

[00:04:32] Laura: And we have one more show next week, so this isn't our final episode. Or is it just one more? I think it's just one more. You'll be surprised. Check social media, you'll see. Watch your podcast app, you'll find out. But we do have a show or two left for you, then summer break. Hopefully you guys get a summer break too. So OK onto our questions.

[00:04:56] Emily: Ask us anything! If you're a new listener, both in the fall and in the spring we've kind of started this little tradition of doing "Ask us Anything!" because throughout the year our Risen Motherhood inbox fills up with lots of great questions. And this is just a wonderful time for us to be a little bit more casual as get to know you get to know us, and for us to just interact in a different way. So we are answering questions today that came in on social media and in email through the website.

[00:05:28] Laura: We always get like hundreds of questions. So it's really the most up voted ones, most frequently asked ones that we try to answers. Let's get going here without further ado. What are your favorite easy go-to meals or do you meal plan? Emily?

[00:05:45] Emily: Actually, today meal plan. [Laughter]

[00:05:47] Laura: Okay, on the regular? [Laughter]

[00:05:49] Emily: Big claps for that. No, I really come and go in spurts. I mean, I think breakfast is usually kind of our big sit down family meal of the day when we kind of have a feast, and dinner is usually pretty low key at our house. In fact, we live next door to my parents so we actually eat with family usually two to three dinners a week.

[00:06:10] Laura: Sometimes she is here. I'm living with my parents. We sound ridiculous.

[00:06:15] Emily: I know. It's been it's just been really nice in this season of life, I try to have like a lot of things on hand that I can throw together for a dinner. So, we typically go to things like baked salmon and then steamed vegetables and rolls that are in the freezer with rice in the rice cooker. I like to do a lot of one pan chicken dishes—the one pot wonders—where you just line the chicken up and then you put all the vegetables in the side and just drizzle a bunch of oil, salt, and pepper over it, and it's just a meal that's really easy. So I keep a lot of that stuff around. That way if there's no parents that are willing to take us in for dinner, I definitely have something on hand that I can make in about 30 minutes.

[00:06:57] Laura: So I'm the total opposite. I love to meal plan. I sit down on a Sunday and I meal plan. I use Google Calendar. Call it old school, but my husband and I do live with my parents temporarily. If again you're a new listener, we've moved to Iowa. We're actually currently building a house, which you might hear more about on the shows going forward, but we are living with my parents for quite some time. So I do most of the meals here while living with them. And so I do plan, everybody can kind of know what we're eating. So I just sit down and put a meal plan out. I don't make a lot of things twice. I view them as many creative projects, and I love to kind of improvise and make food, so I don't have any great go to meals for you guys. Maybe a couple that I'll put in the show notes. But in general, one of my best tips is that if my husband by chance says, "Honey can you make this again?" and he will make that request like, "I know you won't. So please try." I'll just said as a recurring event on my calendar every two to three months so then that meal pops up and I don't have to worry about digging it up or keeping a recipe book or anything like that. So it works really easy. And I do have a couple go to meals that I will make when I have to bring meals to a friend. And they're very delicious. And I will list them in the show notes.

[00:08:11] Emily: Nice. All right, next question. This is good. We've never talked about this before. Where did you go to college and what did you study?

[00:08:19] Laura: This is an easy one yes. I went to Iowa State University in central Iowa, and I studied Journalism and Mass Communication with an emphasis in Public Relations.

[00:08:29] Emily: Nice.

[00:08:30] Laura: It was as if you didn't know that answer, Emily. [Laughter].

[00:08:32] Emily: I know but it just always sounds just so cool and professional.

[00:08:37] Laura: It's so long. It's always like can we just tighten that up a little?

[00:08:41] Emily: So I graduated from Avala University, which is a small private school in Kansas City with a Bachelors of Science and Special Education. And then I also got certified Elementary Education as well.

[00:08:53] Laura: I think that sounds really cool like certifications and stuff. That sounds cool. OK. So leading into that or from that I suppose. What did you do before kids? Did you work outside the home?

[00:09:07] Emily: Yes, so right out of college, I worked as a special education teacher in an elementary school for a very short period of time. I feel like I had like 12 jobs before I had kid. I maybe did. So for awhile, I also worked as a para-educator, which I actually loved doing that because I got to be one-on-one with kids who were on IPs and just really get to know that one child. I just absolutely adored that. And then I nannied in-home for a family who had a child on the autism spectrum. And then I also worked in our family business here in central Iowa.

[00:09:43] Laura: Everyone's taken a turn with the family biz.

[00:09:45] Emily: I know, it's funny. Actually, my oldest son was just asking me the other day, "So what did you do before I was born?" And I got to explain him, "I sat at this desk!" He's been in the office many times and so he got a hootch thinking of me answering the phone and doing all that good front desk stuff. What about you, Laura?

[00:10:03] Laura: Yes, so I worked pretty much one steady job. I think I worked at a small public relations agency in Minneapolis and there's not a lot more to say. But I was an account executive there and worked with all sorts of businesses working on communication and stuff like that. That's why I really loved the strategic side of Risen Motherhood. I think it kind of plays into the things that I studied in school.

[00:10:27] Emily: Yes, Laura is really super good at business because she comes from a family of entrepreneurs.

[00:10:31] Laura: Oh, thank you Emily. [Laughter] We haven't gotten to that one question where it says, "What do you love best about Laura and Emily?" but maybe we should jump there. It was, "What does Laura love best about Emily and what does Emily love about Laura?" Let's jump to that. But maybe it's not my entrepreneurial skills.

[00:10:51] Emily: I literally thought multiple times that I should just sit down and write a speech. [Laughter]

[00:10:55] Laura: Ooh.

[00:10:55] Emily: But I didn't. [Laughter]

[00:10:59] Laura: One of my love languages is words of affirmation. So, Emily I really would have loved that. [Laughter].

[00:11:05] Emily: I think it's just hard to describe because I think what I love best about you is what I love best about our relationship. It's very unique to me and my life. And it's very special to me. And I love that you are one person in my life that does a really wonderful job of loving me and correcting me. And I think you just are able to do that super well. You are just really the opposite personality of me, but I absolutely love it. And I think it's just really good. And I just love that you balance me out and you're not afraid to love me and affirm me, and then—in a nice way—of telling me I'm wrong or missing something. But it's been so good because I've seen so much growth in my life, both personally and then also you know through Risen Motherhood, you could call it professionally in ministry, because of who you are and what you bring out of me and the way you challenge me and point me to Christ in really straight forward ways. And I just I need that, I need that little courageous push. I need somebody next to me, like linking arms with a sword in their hand because I'm kind of looking around for the cushions to sit down. [Laughter].

[00:12:31] Laura: This is where it's so funny, because you are in my brain for this. Emily I don't know what each other are going to say a lot of times on the show. We know kind of what the other person might say, but we did not discuss this one. And first of all, I can barely look her in the eyes. I mean it's always kind of an awkward conversation but good. And I think it's that's the exact same thing that I was thinking about is that were the exact opposite. Like we could not be more different. And rarely are you always attracted to that kind of difference in yourself. But I love that. And I think that that is the same for me. You correct me and challenge me in areas that I need to be softer or I need to be kinder or I need to be more thoughtful. And you're always very strategic in communication and your words and the things that you say and how things are presented. And out of a way of love for other people and out of a way of just caring for them. And I think that's something that I know that I have grown so much, and I appreciate just your, "Oh hang on let's think through that a little bit more. Let's go back to that. Let's really be thoughtful and intentional with this." And again, I think that's one of the strengths of Risen Motherhood is our two different personalities playing together, and the tug and pull of our personalities a little bit. Just like you said, it's always in love. I feel like you can say pretty much anything to me, and I know your heart and you always say it in love. It hurts sometimes, but I also know it's because you love me and you want my best for me and my family, and you're looking out for my best interest. Other people had asked us some questions that got up voted: how do you guys seem to have such a good sister in law relationship? And I think that that flows well into this is that Emily always looks out for my best. She's always saying, "Hey take a step back. What do you need?" Because I can tend to blaze trails, I have the sword and I'm whipping it. I'm in the battlefield. Find me a dragon! But Emily is so good at saying, "What does your family need? What are your priorities?" She calls me back to the cross, calls me back to the gospel, preaching it to me when I think sometimes I'm running around with a blindfold on.

[00:14:50] Emily: I love you, Laura.

[00:14:52] Laura: I love you. [Laughter].

[00:14:54] Emily: Those are all the warm fuzzies, and I feel like we could talk about that for hours.

[00:14:57] Laura: Yeah, we kind of did.

[00:15:00] Emily: We did talk about it for a short hour. But to bounce off of that and jumping ahead to that question about sister-in-law relationships. I think, what was interesting as we were processing through that question about cultivating the depth of joy with your sister-in-laws in this friendship, we were like, "There's no special sauce." You know, I think God has been really gracious to us. One practical thing I would note, we are all kind of in the same season of life, and that's helpful. I do think it removes some barriers in our ability to understand one another and communicate with each other.

[00:15:38] Laura: And we're talking about Becca here, too. We'll give you your affirmation in private later.

[00:15:46] Emily: And honestly, it just helps that we all loved Jesus. And so the deepest, most important thing to all of us is the gospel and seeing ourselves as sisters in Christ, first and foremost. And so I think when you have people in relationships working from that starting point and you all love each other, then you do normal things that Jesus followers do, like you forgive one another and you let love cover a multitude of sins and you try to put their interests before your own. And when somebody is having a crabby bad day and you know they're just a little off at a family event, you can say, "OK. That's not their heart.".

[00:16:25] Laura: Something that Em and I have gotten a lot better at, and we do this with Becca too, but it wasn't at the beginning; it wasn't this good. It was a couple weeks ago, we were actually recording the show and you stopped it and you asked, "Hey? Is everything ok like are we good?" I was having an off day because of other reasons, but it was kind of flowing in. She noticed it, stopped, and talked about it and brought it up. And that's something that I feel like with friendships and with sister in laws, that's kind of one of those things where you want them to ask you about it, but you also kind of don't want to have to bring it up yourself. I think that's something that we've gotten better at. Just like, "Hey, I'm noticing something's off. I'm going to point it out and bring it up and give her space to talk about it if she wants to."

[00:17:03] Emily: Yeah. So God's been really good in that, but I don't know that we have any special, extra tips for each other.

[00:17:12] Laura: It's not always perfect. Emily and I have hurt each other's feelings, so know that. We've had hard conversations, and it has been one of those things where I think we say, "Well we're not getting rid of each other, so we best make this work."

[00:20:17] Laura: Anyway let's move on. There's way too much Emily and Laura.

[00:20:21] Emily: All right, moving onto a little bit about the book. So somebody asked, "How has writing a book impacted your relationship and your feelings about the Risen Motherhood ministry?"

[00:20:33] Laura: This is a good one. I think this is funny because right now, we're trying to answer the questions that you guys most up voted or most frequently asked, and I feel like they're all about us and kind of how we're doing and stuff like that, which is really sweet of you guys. We really appreciate your care for us and thoughts for us. And I think that with the book, it has definitely been hard to kind of be myself through the writing. I feel like I'm going to speak for Emily; we've had a lot of conversations about this. And with our relationship with one another, we have to be even more honest than we already were as we are sharpening one another. And I think that's been just very true through the book to allow someone to look at your work. It's what you think is your best and then Emily to come in and kind of be like, "This this this this this." I know that it's good and it's coming from a good place, but it's just always hard to have critique of your work.

[00:21:25] Emily: It's a very vulnerable place to be. You know, Laura and I are the first person that sees each other's chapters, and it's our book collectively, and so it matters deeply that both of us love everything that's going on to those pages. But again, it's been a growth in a good way, because I totally trust Laura. I totally know her heart, and I know her heart is for reaching women with the gospel through this book. That's my heart. And so whenever we share those things with each other, it's where we're headed in the same direction. So, it's been good for our relationship, but I think for the ministry, it's been good too although it came also kind of get us in our heads.

[00:22:04] Laura: Yes. It's different than the podcast because it's the written word. And so you can kind of seem to mull over it more, labor over it, and it never feels finished. And so there's a lot of overwhelming or paralyzing that that goes with it. And so it's been a lot about taking this one step at a time, trust God to lead us, trust that the words and the message that are in the book is going to reach all of you. And hopefully, even more moms will be reached with this message who maybe have never heard the podcast but have access to the book or maybe learn in a different way. And so it's really exciting. But I think it's just been kind of different than the podcast because you don't hear inflection, tone, and the conversation, and that's been a really different thing for us.

[00:22:52] Emily: Yeah, and I'm actually I'm so excited for you guys to read it.

[00:22:55] Laura: Yes. Oh my goodness!

[00:22:56] Emily: I'm getting really excited because I feel like God has led us in a little different direction than what we've shared before. We may cover a topic in the book that we've covered on the podcast, but he's grown us a lot since we recorded it and we're coming at it in a different way. And so I'm really excited for you guys to read some of the personal stories that are in there. I'm looking forward to the final product.

[00:23:22] Laura: Yes. Yes. Oh I'm looking for the final product too. [Laughter]

[00:23:26] OK so what are some of the challenging aspects for doing Risen Motherhood and what's the one thing that you love the most about it?

[00:23:34] Emily: Okay, so I think, for me, one of the most challenging things—but for Laura—too is walking a line with content. That has been a conversation from day one—particularly in the content that we share and endorse and put on our website and people we have write on the blog. I mean all it goes on and on and on. Because on one hand, Laura and I are extremely passionate about sound doctrine, and we want to not lead anyone astray. We don't want to confuse anyone about what we think is most true and most helpful. But on the other hand, there are so many sisters in Christ doing amazing work. You know, we don't want to be these weird, nitpicky, not gracious people and not see areas that we can have unity with others who are spreading the gospel in an amazing way. And so it's just always a really hard balance to strike. And it's one that we literally talk a lot about, because we don't want to compromise but we also don't want to be afraid of what other people think of us if we if you know we share something. And we also know we're fallible. That's one of the hardest things about this thing.

[00:24:48] Laura: And we know how easy it is for us to make mistakes. For other people, we've seen it happen. And then for ourselves, we want to be a very charitable ministry. We want to be a very generous ministry having that abundance mentality that we never want to keep fellow women or men that are doing great work down or think that that's going to grow Risen Motherhood somehow. That's something that we're both big advocates of. That's why we have our resources page because we want to share this person said it better. Go listen to them you know or whatever. But that can just be a big struggle. What we love is that ultimately the Gospel never changes. We love the Gospel, and we love that we get to talk about it every single day in all different ways through all the different mediums and this is what we think about. We get to create content around it. We get to talk with one another about it. It's just unbelievable that God would entrust us, who really are regular everyday people who are sinners, with his message even in a very small way.

[00:26:00] Emily: It is. It is such a joy. And I just think of how much I get bored of doing other things, but I just never get bored of thinking of ways to share the gospel and I never get tired of this message. It just grows more beautiful and it grows more passion and it gets me more excited. And I think both Laura and I just absolutely adore laying down our time for the sake of God's gospel going forward to the ends of the earth in whatever little tiny way we can participate. And it's just amazing.

[00:26:36] Laura: And I love working with my sister in law. I mean I really mean that. And Autumn and Kaitlin.

[00:26:40] Emily: Yeah, we have the best team. And Becca!

[00:26:44] Laura: Yes, sister-in-laws! OK. Let's move on. So how do you foster close sibling relationships in your home? So we're moving into kind of some of the practical stuff that you guys have asked about. How do you hope to foster close sibling relationships in the future? And how do you teach patience and kindness in conflict with one another?

[00:27:02] Emily: Just a quick reminder, Laura and I's oldest child, between us, is five. So we can tell you what we've been doing, but if you run into us someday in public and our kids are punching each other in the other in the arm, we do not know the fruit of this yet.

[00:27:22] Laura: We plead the fifth on these things.

[00:27:24] Emily: In terms of answering all of these things, I would just say our kids spend a lot of time together. And so I think it provides a lot of opportunities for them to work out conflicts in a way that we hope honors God and is based in the Gospel. We expect our children to work through things and continue playing together.

[00:27:47] Laura: We expect them to fight. That's fully expected.

[00:27:49] Emily: Yes, that's fully expected. But it's also fully expected we are going to reconcile. We're going to reconcile and we're going to move on. So one of the things we started doing—my husband and I actually started doing this when we first got married—is saying, "I am sorry for blank. Will you forgive me for blank?" And then the other person has to say, "I forgive you for blank." And then there has to be a hug. And so my husband I started doing this and all of our kids know this by heart. Like I will literally hear them in the other room. If somebody is like,"Whomp!" And they're screaming, I'll hear, "Uh...I'm sorry that I hit you. Will you forgive me for being unkind?." You know, I can hear the speech. I hope it's helping.

[00:28:34] Laura: Yes. It's so good because I think labeling things, having a kind of a phrase or a pattern to work through is huge. And I think that's really really important. We have our kids do that kind of same thing as well. And also I think something that we try to do is fostering sibling relationships is talking a lot in our family about how much family matters. My parents would say to me a lot, "Your friends may come and go but your family will last forever." And that's one of those things that has been helpful for me as I process through seasons. And we moved a lot we were little, so it always felt like my friends were kind of going and a high priority was definitely fostering sibling relationships and letting us know these relationships matter. God created the family unit, he gave us to one another. He chose us to be together in this family and so we need to make it work. Kind of like I said to Emily of, "Well you're stuck with me. So let's have a good time together and let's learn to live together. Let's learn to love one another." And our children, you know, their siblings are their neighbors. And so anything that the Bible says about loving your neighbor, that applies and that's something that you can teach your children when they speak and engage with their siblings. All those things apply.

[00:29:43] Emily: Yeah and one thing we talk a lot about with our kids is the fact that the people that are in their house are going to be the hardest people to show the love of Christ to. And so we always say if you're not able to love your brother here, this is a truer representation of how you love more than even how you go treat your friend at school that you see for 30 minutes. And so a long time ago we memorize I John 4:21 or 29. "And this is my commandment. Whoever loves God must also love his brother." And we say that a lot. Whenever there's a conflict, "Remember you guys say you love God. We need to also love who?" "My brother!" Then there's a big forgiveness hug. That's usually sometimes a choking hug which turns into more need for forgiveness. But I think even bringing Bible verses into it can help remind them that this is really important to God.

[00:30:40] Laura: Yep! Another question. How do you meet the needs of your children, husband, and others while still finding time for yourself, especially your kiddos in the early years? This was up voted to the number one question, and this is something that we have answered before. We've done quite a few shows about this topic actually, which will link to in the show. So please go look there for really focused shows, but clearly you guys are wanting more. So if you're asking for how we meet the needs of everyone, the answer is we we don't. We can't be all things to all people, but a couple of practical things that we kind of both do: I get up early—now that my baby is out of a season of waking up late in the night. I get up before my kids and really try to fit in some self-care at that time or get some work done and have my quiet time and things like that. And then also we do have rest time. Emily has a rest time of sorts. Neither of us have kids that nap every day. But we try to sync a time every single day where all the kids are playing pretty individually or maybe as a small group, but they kind of know this is time that you're not asking Mommy questions, you're not coming to me with 15 requests for drinks and to figure this out and to do that. But we set them up with some type of activity, and they are told to play this for an hour and then the other babies nap in ours. Our time changes every day. It's not like a set schedule, it's whenever the baby naps. I'm like, "OK, rest time!"

[00:32:08] Emily: Yeah and I think it's a very fluid thing. It is a very week by week, season by season thing. I've learned that for me, my husband wants to give me times of rest and time away, but he doesn't always know when or how. He can't read my mind. And so I've learned to advocate for myself a little bit. And not in the way of I deserve this, but just saying something to him. And we've worked together to brainstorm how I can get away. We look at our calendar over the next couple of weeks and we say, "Here would be a good night if you want to go do something. Or can we get you off on a trip by yourself in the next six months?" You know, I know one thing my husband does every day that gives me a break is in the morning, he does the very first bottle. And every morning I lay there and think, "I'm so thankful for this." It's just a little thing. On Wednesday nights, I go to Bible study and he puts all five kids to bed. And it's not this life changing thing, but it is in a small way, a little bit of time that I get to not have to do something. So look for practical things like that. But one thing I think is always good to say is the reality that motherhood is hard. Especially in this season of little children. It is a time of pouring out and laying down and of putting others' needs before your own—not to a martyr degree but it is the truth.

[00:33:43] Laura: You know, we heard a lot from you guys like, "Hey, motherhood is really hard. Should it be this hard? Is this really how motherhood is supposed to go?" And without obviously knowing your unique situation and having a cup of coffee with you and really understanding what's going on, the general answer I think is yes. Like Emily said, this is a season where it's very physically demanding and exhausting, and so I think a lot of us are looking for time in the day where we can leisurely read a book or watch TV or just even feel caught up on the dishes or whatever and not feel like this endless cycle is going on. But that cycle is what this young season of children is. But remember that the Gospel gives you hope in every situation. And so no matter what is going on in your life the Gospel applies. The Gospel matters. The resurrection changes what is happening in your day today. And so you have not been forgotten. You have not been overlooked by God. He sees you, he sees your need. He sees the needs of all of those around you. And remember that because of Christ's death on the cross, and then his resurrection, the work is done and you can rest. And that may be, right now, a state of your heart, and you may still need to continue meeting those needs. But you can rest knowing that it is finished and that your salvation is secure, that you have an eternal perspective. Just know that you can cry out to God and he'll provide all that you need. And we do encourage you that if you're in that situation, go find someone to talk to in real life. We just did show on mommy mentors—that's not really what it's called, it has a better name—but about finding a discipler or finding a mentor. And we would really encourage you to do that. If you're feeling at the end of your rope, go into your local church and find community there and look for other women to help you in this because it is hard.

[00:35:31] Emily: Yep, a gospel life is a costly life but it's beautiful. And I think that there is joy in obedience. And whenever I cry out to God, and he provides what I need and helps me to persevere with his strength, there is joy in that. Even if you're tired.

[00:35:53] Laura: God is strong where you are weak and so motherhood puts us in that weak spot, right? OK. This one is another one that you guys ask a lot. What does Sabbath and Sabbath rhythms look like for you and your family in this season of young children?

[00:36:07] Emily: This is fun. This was asked so many times. I thought maybe we need to rethink our Sabbath.

[00:36:14] Laura: Because there are a lot of ways to do Sabbath. But thankfully we are free in Christ, right? We're not under the law with Sabbath but there are so many different ways to do it. So know that Emily and I's is just one example.

[00:36:27] Emily: Yes totally. And I think it also looks different for every family. In fact Journeywomen just had a really great podcast with Abigail Dodds—so good. So that would be a great thing to listen to if you are kind of curious about this topic. But our family doesn't have any formal rules or expectations or anything. We just view it as a church day. It's when we go to worship, we go to Sunday school, we usually have a small group every other week. It's a time to be with family. So that may be a time when we eat out with family. We take all of our kids to a restaurant or we may just eat leftovers at home. It's a day of rest in the sense of my husband has full permission to take a two-hour nap in the afternoon. So we encourage the kids to rest. I'm usually not on my phone much, so I'm usually pretty unplugged. Obviously there are exceptions to all these things, but as a general rule, I put on sweatpants at four o'clock. My husband and I like to watch a show together on Sunday nights. It's kind of our routine. And so it's a relaxing day.

[00:37:44] Laura: I would ditto Emily. I really have nothing to add. It's a little different, but generally it's the same type of thing. So the next question is, "How do you handle discipline and any creative tips or tricks over the years? Please touch on disciplining toddlers and preschoolers from a biblical perspective." That's a whole show we've done. It didn't have tons of practical, because again Emily and I feel like we don't have a lot of proof in our pudding yet, but if you want to listen to Episode 57 "How Discipline Helps Us Communicate the Gospel," we did share as much as we could in a 20-minute show. There are also good resources on the show notes! So Emily, why don't you talk through natural consequences? Em and I do a lot of the same things, so we're going to sort of bounce back and forth.

[00:38:31] Emily: We do. This would be for three to five year olds, so a little bit on the older end. One thing I really love about this season is that we're kind of out of the nitty gritty of, "Obey, respond! Obey, respond!" We've trained that, and now there are a lot of natural consequences of disobedience. Obeying mommy and daddy has more fruitfulness and more joy, and obeying God is more joy, than what happens when you sin and you do not respond in obedience.

[00:39:01] And so one example of this is recently, my husband and I went through all of our kids' clothes and we pulled everything out. We had five bags of clothes that needed to be put away in the basement in trash bags. And my oldest son ran up and said, "The twins are playing rain downstairs. Come quick." They were playing rain with the five bags of clothes by dropping them into the air. And clothes were flying everywhere! So the entire basement was covered in clothes. A natural consequence of that was they had to pick up every single shirt and shorts and put them all back in the bags. And it took a very long time and it was very strenuous for them.

[00:39:44] Laura: And probably for you to keep them on task.

[00:39:47] Emily: Yes, it is painful for me too. You know at the end of that we talked about, "Was that 30 seconds of fun really worth that hour and a half? Who were you thinking about?" I don't know how long it was. It felt like an hour and a half. It may not have been, but you know, "Was it really worth it? Who were you thinking about when you were tearing those clothes out? Were you thinking about you or were you thinking about mommy and daddy?" You know, you see their eyes, and they're really starting to calculate, "I guess I was only thinking about me. I wasn't thinking about the work that I had to do." This is one example of lots of ways to do this. In fact, my oldest son just recently said, "Mommy, remember that time when I couldn't go to that birthday party because I disobeyed?"

[00:40:31] Laura: I remember that time!

[00:40:32] Emily: That was so long ago! He doesn't remember what he did, but he remembered that he could n 't come to a party because we told him he needed to obey or he wasn't going to the party. There are definitely great opportunities for teaching about the heart lessons in natural consequences.

[00:40:50] Laura: And the words that you're hearing Emily say are the words that she really uses. We use the word, repentance we use the word reconcile, we use the word forgiveness. I mean not every time, but it's just kind of getting them used to those biblical words. I'm always an advocate of speaking to your child at a level that's a little bit higher than they are. They understand more than you think they do, and they understand more than you know. You can say the word and then kind of explain it on their level. But getting them used to those words is really good. And another thing I would add to using this natural consequence method is I think it's really helpful in building trust in you as a parent from your children and you teaching appropriate responses to different things. Recently, for example, my son was running in the living room yelling, "She's so ugly," or something like that. He must have heard it at school or in a movie. I'm not even sure where he picked up. He wasn't saying it to anyone in particular. He was just repeating a phrase that he had heard. My head, of course, snaps to attention when he starts saying the word ugly, but instead of being like, "Hey, don't say that! That's so mean!" or freaking out on him, I just walked over and said, "Hey bud, where do you hear that? Why are you saying that?" And I got down on his level and talked with him about it. "This is what the word ugly means and it can be very hurtful for someone if you say that. So we don't want to say that about a fellow image bearer, somebody else that God made because that is not something that's kind to say." And so we talked through that, and I think that's something that helps our children feel free to come to us because they're not going to get freaked out at, they're not going to get yelled at. Having a calm response to your child and being filled with grace, and even sharing that sometimes I say things that are kind and that's not a person that mommy wants to be can help teach them what's honoring to God.

[00:42:42] I think that's one of the times where my son didn't have like a natural consequence for saying that, but it did open the door for us to be able to have preventative instruction, and it takes away the fear of him doing something wrong and then feeling like he can't come to me or talk with me about or if he has questions about something that happened. I want him to always feel like he can come and his mom will talk with him and explain things. Yeah I like what we're getting to is just saying that there is a deeper reason and a deeper principle for things we want our kids to understand. One thing we talk about is running at church. And if I see my kids running I pull them aside and explain, "It's not just that you disobeyed mommy—that may be part of it—but it's also seeing these other people who we want to respect." It's getting to the root of what's going on and why that thing is unkind or wrong.

[00:43:32] Laura: Right. Exactly.

[00:43:33] Emily: But let's think about the broader picture here. And then just a quick word on toddlers and school-age children: one way that we train immediate obedience really practically is we get in a situation where no one is in trouble, there's no high stakes, here we're just hanging out at home, and we'll have our kids stand on the other side of the room and play a funny game. Daddy stands on the other side and he'll say, "So-and-so, come!" And then they have to say, "OK daddy," and run to daddy as fast as they can. And we do this like 20 times in a row. I mean just over and over and over again. As soon as you give a request, they have to say, "OK daddy! OK mommy!"

[00:44:16] And then we practice putting them in another room where they can't see us. "So and so, come!" "OK, daddy!" And then they have to come. And that's just one way to just start the process. Obviously it is way more complicated and involves years and years of doing all those things, but if you're looking for one quick thing to start, that's one. If they're walking, they can walk to you. And if they can say, "OK, Daddy. OK Mommy."

[00:44:39] Laura: My kids have to say that any time that I give an instruction. They have to respond with, "OK Mommy. OK daddy." We do teach them that around 18 months to two-year age, right when they're starting to talk, we definitely start saying it, especially when it's discipline. I give the instruction, and then they may not be able to repeat it all back to me, but they can say, "OK Mommy," and look me in the eye. That's when I kind of know that we're comprehending and we're together. They don't want to agree with you when they're being disobedient, but when they're willing to make eye contact and they're willing to say, "OK Mommy," you know that you're connected at that deeper heart level with them. Something else I would say, especially for those young kids, is that I think that a lot of young children can understand. Not necessarily consequences like they might get hurt, but they will understand that mom and dad don't like it when I do this and they seem to get upset when I do this, so I'm not going to keep doing this. And so I think young children can learn no and they can learn there are things they're not allowed to do. They can learn rules and boundaries. It looks totally different than an older child. But I think there's this element of being able to teach a young child to obey. Kind of like what Emily is saying, "OK, come when you're called. Obey when I say, 'No, you stop doing that action.'" They may not understand the full brunt—they definitely probably don't—but I think that that's something that a lot of people kind of give up on.

[00:46:23] Emily: Yeah. OK, a final word on this. One thing to we try to help our kids understand is why we want them to obey right away and why it matters. Again I think this is for a little bit of an older child. But the other day I saw one of my twins was trying to slide down a banister that was really high. And I walked in and of course, the sound of my voice is roaring, "No! Stop!" and that can sound like anger, but what that is the anger of a loving mom that wants to protect them from something very harmful. And that is like our God, right? We image him by saying he wants us to have life and not death. And so he cares fiercely about us, so he does things that say, "Come be in my will. Come do what I'm asking you to do because that's where there's life. Don't play over where there's death." And so I think helping our kids understand, "This is not my cry to you to be mean and this is my cry because there is life and good things when you listen, and you have wisdom, and you obey Mommy and Daddy. Do you hear my voice pouring out you? It's because I care about you. I care too much about you to let you do something silly." They're not just going to learn as they get old you. They don't grow out of disobedience. And we've seen that. If you do not deal with it when they're young, it doesn't go away.

[00:47:41] Laura: I think discipline and motherhood is hard. Often I would want to kitchen parent. You know, I'm squawking out orders from the kitchen like, "Hey! Hey! Stop." I'm kind of pretending I don't really hear what's happening. Often I find that if I go to my children and sit on these little kiddie chairs,  I'll hold their hands and they have to hold each other's hands, and we all sit down just talk. We look at each other in the eyes, and we pray and we ask God to forgive us, and to help us with everything. I find that most of the time, not every time, but most of the time they will play much better together after that. Much better than if I continue to just yell at them from the side or toss somebody in time out or whatever I shooting from the hip. Often there are no consequences that happen, we're just having a discussion and I'm reminding them, "Hey, we are family and God put us together. Let's work together, let's enjoy one another." Those are the kind of things that foster sibling relationships. All of this flows together and I think that so much of it comes from us being willing to sacrifice our wants and our needs and our comforts our desires and say, "This is hard. And I'm exhausted, and I've done this multiple times today, but I'm going to come over and I'm going to do it one more time." Just know that this takes is a lot. It takes consistency and effort, but it matters.

[00:49:15] Emily: And the prayer pow-wow does wonders.

[00:49:17] Laura: Ooh the prayer pow-wow. I don't call it that, but I like it.

[00:49:20] Emily: I just made that up on the spot. I just know we get together like, "We're going to have family heart to heart!"

[00:49:28] Another question we got a lot is, "How do you get intentional time with each kid during the day? What does connection with your kids look like? Do you have one on one time with each child each day? Dates with individual kids? Especially family time etc. “Lauren and I have pretty much the same answer for this so I'm just going to answer at a high level and that's no, we don't have formal plans for getting one on one time with our kids. But because we have family nearby, sometimes we have opportunities where we have one child that gets to go to the store with us randomly or the older siblings get taken and we have time with one child and we try to take advantage of that. I think both Laura and I would say we just look for those times and when they happen, we try to snag them—for 10-15 minutes, whatever it is like running the errand.

[00:50:14] Laura: And you're probably hearing a common theme from us of communication. So when we're with them, and we're trying to be intentional, it's really just like asking—especially our older kids—"Hey how was your day at school today?" Like for my children, it might be, "Are you enjoying the move? Do you miss any of your friends from back home?" And car times are really good because you might have just one or they're strapped in, so they need to listen to you talking about church and how that went. But I think that's something, as Emily said, we're just kind of taking advantage of the pockets of time that there are. I think for the babies, that does look a little bit different. Emily and I were both talking about this, our babies are with us all the time, so I don't really have to make intentional time for her. In fact, I've often felt I need to be spending more time with my older kids because I spend so much time with my youngest who has special needs and needs a lot of therapies and appointments and things. It's harder to get time with the kids as they're older.

[00:51:10] Emily: Yeah and I think Laura's quick mention about the child with special needs—you know we both have a child with special needs at different ages. And I think one thing we do is make therapy time special. Also, I still try to get one on one time with my son right before bed, because he can kind of get lost in the mix even though he's got different needs. So it's just looking for that opportunity to count. When am I going to pray with this specific child or when am I going to sing with that specific child? I'm just looking for the opportunity and taking it. That's all we do, it's not on the calendar.

[00:51:44] Laura: And they asked about if we have family games or anything like that.

[00:51:48] I think a lot of it happens on the Sabbath. We'll take a family nap together. My kids love it. I mean it takes a lot to wind down. Let's be real. But I think there's something about Mom and Dad being close and that we're all piling together. So, we'll kind of take a nap together or attempt to, or we'll play Trouble or Connect Four or read aloud. So we definitely are getting into that phase,  but in terms of anything scheduled? No. But it is being intentional in a sense of keeping your eyes out on the lookout for those times.

[00:52:21] Emily: OK, if you have hung on until this because you saw it somewhere in the promo, we're getting ready to do it. OK, the question is, "How do you still enjoy sex when you're feeling used up, tired, and very unbeautiful all the time? How do you honestly balance intimacy with your husband while being in the exhausting season of babies? How can we apply the gospel to this situation?"

[00:52:44] Laura: We actually have a blog post coming out around the time of the show that is really helpful. Emily and I both read it and it's great. So that's something to look at. But first off, I guess as we talk about it here, we just want you to know we're going to give general principles. You know it's one thing to talk with your girlfriends over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine about what's going on in your life concerning intimacy, but it's a whole another thing to talk to tens of thousands of women on a podcast about something that's so personal and intimate. For all of us.

[00:53:19] Emily: Yeah. And again, talking to such a big group of people, we know that there are just a tremendous number of complexities—everything from pornography, infidelity, being unequally yoked with your spouse, and past sexual sin before marriage. Maybe some people experience physical pain after childbirth that impacts their ability to have physical intimacy with their husband. And so we just know whenever we come up to this topic, that there are so many different lenses that are hearing this. So please take what we're going to say—which we hope is very general—probably has lots of caveats and lots of different ways for different scenarios. And if you have deeper questions, you should always go talk to someone at your church, talk to a counselor, talk to an older couple, go talk to someone who can listen to your specific situation because it may be more complicated than what we're sharing here.

[00:54:14] Laura: Yes, I echo all of that. So the first thing we want to do is distill any myth that there is a perfect number of times a week to be intimate with your husband. I think, especially in Christian circles, we can kind of want to know if we should have it three times a week, once a week, once a month, or twice a year. "What's the number?" is kind of what everybody wants to know. But ultimately, everyone is really different, and husbands and wives each have different needs and desires and drives.

[00:54:43] So I think as long as you're both happy with it, and you're communicating it, and you actually having sex, then your number is fine. So don't stress out about a certain number of times. I've known of a few different people that have said, "OK we want to have sex this many times a week, let's schedule it." And that was something that, for them, was really helpful in that season of life, and it helped them meet their desires of what they wanted versus what their schedule looked like.

[00:55:08] Emily: So it's a good thing for your relationship. And I think it's something that needs to be viewed as healthy. This is something that's pre-fall. God created it. So this is a good thing. It's a gift. So it's something we need to communicate about. Ideally, in a marriage of two believers who love God and have a generally healthy relationship, we should want to lay our lives down for that other person, we want to outdo the other person in showing love. And if that's the attitude of both spouses, and it's not a regular pattern for either person to be like, "No, no, no. Me, me, me. I need my side. I need this to be this way," but both people are saying, "I really want to come closer to loving you in the way that you want to be loved," it will work out. You will figure out the right number, and it can just be as simple as checking in with those conversations of, "Hey, how are you feeling about this?"

[00:56:08] And it can be a little awkward but do it in a time that's low pressure as a normal check-in conversation to say, "I want to love you. How can we do better at this?"

[00:56:23] Laura: Yeah. Don't be afraid to bring it up with your husband if you feel like, "Oh we're not having it enough," or, “This is maybe too much for me." Share with him that maybe there are some needs. Like maybe you like to take a shower beforehand, or maybe you just want to be able to think about it throughout the day. And again, like Emily is saying, there's an element of being able to prepare, talk about, and kind of set expectations so you guys will be on the same page, but then also being willing to set aside your expectations and feel a little bit spontaneous and be willing to say, "Yes, this isn't exactly what I wanted tonight or this isn't exactly what I was thinking would happen, but again I love you and I want to serve you and I want to pour out for you. And so I'm willing to do that." There's just kind of this mix that needs to happen. It's kind of the seesaw back and forth of communicating about it and really talking about it, but then also laying down what you want and being willing to compromise,  within healthy measures again.

[00:57:19] Emily: And I think it's important to just pray. Pray together for this. Or pray alone. I think we've heard that often, it can be helpful when maybe you do know that time is coming up, and that you know the night before you said, "Hey honey, I'm really tired. And you know it's just been a hard day. Try this again tomorrow night," that you take time to pray and ask God to help you have that desire. I think sometimes too it helps us in practical things as well. But certainly don't devalue prayer as a legitimate way to work through this issue.

[00:58:03] Laura: Yeah. So again, we highly recommend talking with your friends and getting vulnerable about it, meaning with an older, wiser woman than you and being willing to talk about this. I mean we know it's uncomfortable and hard. I feel like we sound kind of uncomfortable right now. And Emily I do talk about this. I mean, not like tons because she's married to my brother. Generally, I'm OK talking about it with her. But with that, we are able to get a lot more vulnerable with friends. And so we would encourage you to be able to do that too, especially if you're feeling really worn out and at the end of your rope and like you're just kind of a tired mom. That's very very normal. And we get it, and we just want you to know that we hear you, you're normal, but at the same time, we want you to meet with others to talk about it more and not let that just be an excuse for whatever is happening.

[00:58:55] Emily: Yeah because just like all of the other things that make a healthy marriage, this is a component of God's design for healthy marriage. And so it's important. It's not something to lay down the fight on.

[00:59:06] Laura: That's right. OK, so one of the other highly requested questions was, "How do you shift your heart and attitude when everything and everyone annoys you? How do you reset your heart?" So this is a great question and something that Emily experience too. We have done shows very specifically on this, so instead of talking about this again, we do want to just point out a couple of shows—especially the Preaching the Gospel to Yourself episode. What do we do when we need to reset our hearts? We preach the Gospel to ourselves, so we delve deep into that. Another show we really encourage you to go listen to is "A Bad Moment Doesn't Make a Bad Day" episode. That's one where for when you feel like you snapped or you flipped a switch, and you don't really know how to regroup from your day. That's pretty early in the archives but it's helpful. I think that was something that I had to realize. Just like if you're trying to eat healthy and you're like, "I just messed up so much today, I'm just going to keep blowing it the rest of the day." But really, any real dietitian would say, "No no no. You restart now." So you can always reset because of the Gospel. Because of Christ, you are a new creation and so you can reset and know that whenever your heart attitude is kind of stinky, you can sweeten it up by preaching the Gospel to yourself.

[01:00:30] Emily: And we will wrap this show up with a question that we get everytime we do Ask Us Anything.

[01:00:37] Laura: Yeah. And we definitely had it this time.

[01:00:39] Emily: "What is your daily routine like?" So Laura I can just briefly share because it's hard to talk about your daily routine in a brief way. But it really varies because of our kids' schedules. This year was like a math equation to put it on the calendar because I had so many people in so many different places on different days. My kids don't have school every day, so it always depends if it's a school morning or not. I also have a child who's in therapy multiple days a week. And so it might be a therapy day. That all varies. But our kids usually wake up between 6:45 and 7 a.m., breakfast is between 7 and 7:15. We all have breakfast together usually unless my husband had to leave early for something, but usually he's around. It's been fun because lately I've been looking down the table like, "Oh all of our kids are at the table now. Oh that is fun." Even the baby is there eating her Cheerios or whatever. And so that usually wraps up about 8:00 o'clock. Depending on what the day looks like, if it's a school morning, I may do some cleaning around the house, hang out with whatever kids are at home, I may do some work on Risen Motherhood, and I may do therapy with kids. Usually around 11:00 to noon, it's like another big transition time for us. So whoever I have at home is eating lunch and then we have to go swap kids at school. And I have some kids in school in the morning and some kids in school in the afternoon—I sound like of a billion kids.

[01:02:12] Laura: You do have a billion.

[01:02:13] Emily: OK. So it's too complicated. And then whoever comes home the afternoon, there is a nap/rest time. So I have two kids that nap and then my twins are at home and they're supposed to be playing quietly. And this is my time that I listen to podcasts, I listen to audio books, I clean the house, I prep dinner, I do laundry, I do Risen Motherhood. That all happens during that two hours. Of course, I get interrupted during that time but that's the expectation. And then usually around 3:00, that's another big transition time of everyone is home. Then from 3:00-5:30, I'm all hands on deck during that time usually.

[01:03:02] Sometimes my dad, who lives next door, will take a couple of the kids and we will tag team making sure we can go outside and play or go run errands or do whatever we need to do. And then we usually try to have dinner between 5:30-6:00, and bedtime is promptly at 7 p.m. for everyone in the house except dad nights.

[01:03:25] Laura: What do you do after bedtime?

[01:03:27] Emily: What do we do after kids go to bed? We clean up, so we usually have to clean the kitchen together. That is a nightly activity, and that's when my husband and I talk honestly and chat about our day and all the different things going on. And then we have "veg time," is what we call it. That's like him on the iPad doing whatever he's doing and I'm literally sitting to my bed staring at the wall [laughter] or I like reading a book. And then honestly, we watch a show pretty much every night on Netflix together. My husband usually falls asleep, but I have to stay up to watch the whole episode!

[01:04:03] Laura: I can't believe he falls asleep.

[01:04:03] Emily: So then every morning he's like, "Well, what happened?" Anyways it's just a fun thing but we like it.

[01:04:14] Laura: Nice. OK. So for me, I'm up as early as I can be around 5:30. My husband goes to works pretty early, sometimes between 4:30-5:30. So I try to get up with him. I go have my coffee, have a quiet time, I usually work on RM, and sometimes the baby wakes up. She's been having a lot of early weeks, but it's just kind of what it is.

[01:04:44] And then I was thinking about the rest of my day and I have all these different roles of wife and mom, of course, and then RM, writing the book, and then we're working on building and designing a house right now. Which I'm surprised by how much work goes into it even though Emily warned me. And then also I kind of view being a therapist as a role for my daughter, kind of how Emily fills the same role for her son, but just going to all of her appointments—both medical and then also therapy type care stuff, and there's a lot that just goes with that.

[01:05:16] So I do live with my parents right now. And so they are around and they've been a huge help. It's definitely a new thing for me. I used to be about five hours away from family. So this was really fun and it's really nice because they'll really help throughout the day. I have a lot of assistance, it's like I'm almost like overwhelmed.

[01:05:36] But everyone's up around 7:00 and then we do breakfast. I am total opposite of Emily, and it is like granola bars or yogurt cups. It's very simple. Then off to school for my oldest. I usually take all three kids with me for that kind of stuff three days a week. So then we usually have therapy around 10:15 and whoever is available comes.

[01:06:01] They usually all come with me and they just play with toys at therapy or they help. We talk a lot about how everyone contributes to the work of the home, and we're a family, so we all support one another. Our youngest needs extra help, and so we're going to all support her. And she comes to things for you and you go to things for her. So we talk about that a lot because sometimes they're wondering, "Why are we coming here again?" And then I have to pick up my oldest at around 11:15. And then I do have childcare seven hours a week. Generally, I can count on childcare that's mixed throughout the week, and that is usually when I try to write for the book or do larger RM projects. My parents are wonderful but this is not childcare from them. They've got a lot of other grandkids, a lot of other commitments, so it's definitely something that was a little more reliable. And then the end of the day will also be for appointments for the house or medical things for my daughter. I make dinner every night. And then my husband is usually home by 5:00 p.m., which is like a massive improvement, if you've ever heard me talk about my husband's old job. And so we usually just kind of hang as a family and the kids are in bed between 7 and 8. We have, I guess, I'm going to call it veg time.

[01:07:24] We also just kind of hang, read books, talk. Yeah, it's just a pretty chill night. So every day is very different.

[01:07:34] Emily: I feel like there are 100 things I didn't mention.

[01:07:36] Laura: But you mentioned like 100 things.

[01:07:39] Emily: Laura and I both have over five appointments a week of therapy or some kind of a doctor's appointment for our children. That is definitely a huge portion of life now. And I too have seven hours of childcare every week to write the book, outside of like grandparents.

[01:08:02] Laura: Em and I help each other, we help Becca out, like there's a lot of family unity. It's cool.

[01:08:10] Emily: So what else? I don't think I've ever shared this before, I also have help with cleaning.

[01:08:15] Laura: Yeah, Emmy has a housecleaner.

[01:08:16] Emily: I think people always ask, "How do you guys do Risen Motherhood?" I'm like, "With lots of help and I don't do everything!" And so that's a real way that we have taken legit hours out of my week of something that I don't do.

[01:08:30] I also go in and out of seasons of exercising and right now, I'm in a season of not exercising again and in a couple of weeks or a couple of months, I may be back in a season of trying to exercise. So I think when you're hearing these things, and it sounds like we're doing a lot, what we don't always share is what we're not doing.

[01:08:47] Laura: Yeah. 100%. Like our hair. [Laughter].

[01:08:49] Emily: Like our hair, like how many days a week I don't shower. I actually have like a shower schedule now. So if you see me wearing a ball cap, it's probably an off day.

[01:08:58] Laura: You have good hair tonight. So that counts for something today.

[01:09:03] Emily: So anyways, that was probably way more than you ever wanted to know about Laura and I's schedules, and it is so much more complicated than that, and the reality probably looks different every day. But anyways, thanks for joining us for another Ask Us Anything.

[01:09:16] Laura: Yeah, we had a lot of questions that we didn't answer, but we actually do have a blog post going up this week where we link to shows or blog posts that have answers to many of these. We'll probably answer a couple on social media. So be looking on social media for those. And of course, if you don't know where we're at, we're @risenmotherhood on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. And of course, our show notes are at www.risenmotherood.com, go to the podcast tab and there you'll find a pretty picture of Emily and I's family that you can click on and find all of the resources, all of the links that we mentioned, all the shows. We did a ton of stuff! It will all be in the show notes post for you to be able to access any related links. So thank you so much for joining us for the special one hundredth episode!

[01:10:06] Emily: Wow. Can you believe that we got to 100 episodes?

[01:10:08] Laura: No I never saw this coming. Like legit, never saw it coming.

[01:10:11] Emily: I remember the day we were just doing five.

[01:10:17] Laura: Yeah, some people ask, "Why did you start Risen Motherhood? Or what did you start for? Why did you do this?" Good question. Check out Episode 00—the secret episode. It's the very first one that we actually recorded about halfway through our first year. We explain where the idea came from, kind of why we're doing this, and it helps set the stage for what Risen Motherhood is all about.

[01:10:46] Emily: Happy hundredth episode, Laura.

[01:10:48] Laura: Happy 100th to you. Oh my. We need to sign off. It's late. We're tired. We're getting real cheesy. Thank you so much for joining us and we'll see you guys next week.



This transcript has been edited for clarity. 

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood! We’re excited for you guys to hear this interview with Andrew and Chrissy Wolgemuth today, talking all about foster care and the gospel. They’ve been married for 14 years and have three daughters and a son. Chrissy manages her home and homeschools their kids, and Andrew works as a literary agent for Christian authors and blogs about fatherhood at dadcraft.com. They live in Colorado where they love exploring the mountains, and they’ve been involved in foster care and adoption for the last six years.

May is National Foster Care Month, so with that on the horizon, we wanted to talk about foster care and the gospel, because we know that there are so many aspects that portray Christ’s love for us so well. Even if you are not directly involved in foster care, we hope that you still find a lot of value in this episode.

Andrew and Chrissy do a great job of speaking to how you can support people that are pursuing foster care directly in your church community or in your family. We really hope you enjoy this episode, and are encouraged by it, so let’s jump in with myself, Laura, Chrissy, and Andrew.

Laura:  Hi Andrew and Chrissy! Thanks so much for joining us on Risen Motherhood today.

Andrew:  Laura, thank you. It’s really a pleasure to be on with you.

Laura:  We are super excited to have you guys. We know we probably teed this up for you in the intro, but Andrew is actually our agent for our book, which is how we got connected with him. He has gently and slowly led us through the process of the whole book world, and been a great leader for us. Throughout the process, we actually found out that he and his wife were involved in foster care, so we invited them on the show today to talk through what that experience has been like for them.

Maybe we’ll just let you guys speak for yourselves obviously. [Laughter] How long have you guys been married? How many kids do you have? Can you just tell us a little bit about what a day looks like in the Wolgemuth family?

Chrissy:  We have been married for 14 years, and we have four kids, aged 10, 8, 5, and 3.

Andrew:  As a literary agent, I can kind of work wherever, as long as I’ve got internet and an airport, so I work from home and thoroughly enjoy that. Chrissy homeschools the older two—and the younger two to a certain extent—so we’re all in our house all day most days, which is a part of what allows us to foster care and is just a part of our family dynamic. We all enjoy each other pretty well.

Emily:  That's super fun. I know my kids love it when dad is home, although I am super curious about all your strategies for keeping everybody out of the office at some point. [Laughter]

Andrew:  We’re going to put those strategies to the test for this. I mean, a part of it is I actually grew up homeschooled so I am pretty used to being at home and having that work space and making it happen. Also, this is all the kids have known for the most part. Aside from infancy, I’ve worked from home.

Daddy’s office is where he’s working and if he doesn’t have his ear buds in, then maybe you can knock on the door. There's a window they can see in. But at the same time, I feel like I am always leaning on the edge of that BBC guy—that interview guy—and this, by the way, works out really well for the most part. [Laughter]

Laura:  Can you guys tell us a little bit about how God led you to participate in foster care? And what did that initial decision-making process look like? Where was your heart at and how did God bring you to that decision?

Chrissy:  From early in our marriage, we talked about adoption; it was kind of something we were interested in. And then it took over a year to get pregnant and doctors weren’t super hopeful during that time. I felt like that continued to soften our hearts.

Then fast forward; we did manage to get pregnant twice, and during the second pregnancy, I struggled with nausea and couldn’t get out of bed for months—and I had a toddler. I just remember looking at Andrew and saying, “I can’t do this again.” And he’s like, “You don’t have to, let’s adopt.” [Laughter]

From that point on, we decided that was going to be the next step for extending our family. About seven years ago, we were trying to decide international or domestic. Those are just big decisions, and it feels like there are so many options even within those two realms. Because we had lost some money in the housing market while trying to move here, we didn’t have this huge chunk of money for international adoption, and because when we moved here, our church had established a relationship with the state to train foster and adoptive families, we thought, “Alright, let’s try that out as our first step.”

We started going to training and it was just amazing; God really broke our hearts during that process for the kids in the system but also for their parents. The state has a policy of reunification, which means if parents are willing to work their treatment plan that the courts give them, then they can get their children back. But in the meantime, obviously those kids need a home. We, therefore, felt like really that's where God was leading us.

Emily:  We have some very good friends who are doing foster care right now, and I know Laura has some really good friends as well. It’s been interesting to see how they’ve not only embraced the children, but they’ve embraced the gospel for the parents as well. Just seeing that whole relationship as, “How can we minister to and love this whole family?”

It’s been really cool to watch how God has expanded their view to care for and love their children, but to see to the health of the whole family too—however God works in that situation, which isn’t always the way that they expect. But I like how you share that it broke your heart for that and showed how you can be a part of that. It’s really amazing to watch as somebody who's not directly involved with it but really closely involved in the lives of someone who's going through that.

Andrew:  The beauty of this church-based program and training that we went through then was that they instil that vision from the beginning. Right from the first sessions, they handed out placards and you stood up in the front of the class and it represented all the different participants in fostering and potentially adopting—but certainly any foster care situation. You’re talking about social workers, and different types of social workers – the intake and the outtake, and the ongoing—the judge, and so on.

You realize like, “Wow, this is a huge group of people,” and you have the opportunity to show them God’s love. You're talking about a broken situation; even the workers who may have full, intact households themselves are constantly, day after day, working in broken situations. They face accusations of taking kids away from parents in unjust situations. I mean just painful stuff. But all these participants need the gospel and are touched by your participation or participation in foster care.

Laura:  It’s really neat to see the chain reaction that can be set off by a family who chooses to invest intentionally, with the hope of the gospel, in the foster care system. That is a really beautiful picture, and as we’re all talking about here, maybe we can be a little bit more explicit with this next question. Can you walk us through what is God’s call for his people to care for orphans, and how does that play out in the believer’s life?

Andrew:  It’s funny because the technical definition of an orphan is, “a child whose parents have died.” And the reality is, when we think about the Bible, that's talking about widows and orphans with some frequency, we’re not actually interacting with orphans in that technical sense.

The Lord has broadened our perspective to understand God’s heart for the vulnerable— orphans and widows in particular—in biblical times as those folks, but still today. But in our situation, its kids who are stuck in the midst of families broken with addiction, or troubled with the criminal justice system. All sorts of different things that make kids essentially orphans in that they are extremely vulnerable.

Throughout the Bible, you see God’s heart for the vulnerable, saying, “Hey, Israel,” or, “Hey Church, a part of your call is to be seeking out the vulnerable and loving them.” The other thing that we've been struck by is the cyclical nature of family breakdown. And we all know that, intuitively I think, there's nothing like sitting in a courtroom and hearing a birth mom talk about her desire to have her son, and reflecting back on her own childhood in the foster care system.

You realize that she survived, that she's had few moments of peace or safety through her life. Then the reality is she can hardly do better than falling into the same habits, and as a result, her children are struggling as well. And there it is, the Lord saying, “Church, step in. Provide a place of peace for these children, for their families.”

Emily:  That's a beautiful way to say it. We were talking with our kids recently about our friends who are doing foster care and explaining the situation to them a little bit. It was amazing to see the looks on their faces when I said, “You know there are some children whose mommies and daddies love them, but they don’t know how to care for them, and they need help.” Just the reality of like, “Wow!” What an opportunity too to be thankful if we are in a situation where we are able to care for our children by the grace of God, right? And to be able to communicate even to biological children like, “Let’s say thank you to God for this!” And then to realize that all of us in relation to God are needy. We’re vulnerable, and it’s only because he stopped to repair our relationship with him and to break our cycle of sin that we are able to enjoy life.

Chrissy:  Also when we remember that everybody is created in the image of God, that has value. Then we can’t just say, “Oh these kids, or these families are struggling,” and we’re not tuned into that. We have to value that and enter in and...

Andrew:  There is something really powerful though about communicating this to our biological children, and now, we’re communicating it to children that we fostered to adopt. We have our home base, and honestly, it’s easy to be a bit condescending towards birth parents or towards situations they got themselves into. Like, “How could they? What were they thinking?” But when you have to communicate it to your children, and you're communicating it to children who have been adopted out of that system, it demands that you respect these different people. It’s the reminder that we’re there, but by the grace of God. Chrissy and I would go, “Certainly.”  And the reality that often we interact with people who have no safety net, no family or church. Our kids would never be in foster care because we have so many different networks of people supporting us. But the Lord has called us to look for folks who don’t have that network and to support them through this way.

Laura:  Andrew, you're making me think of a really practical question here, so I know I am going to put you on the spot a little bit. As Emily shared, we both have dear friends that are heavily involved in the foster care system, and I know one of their struggles has been, “How do I talk to my biological children about that? What do I say?” especially with children sort of coming in and out, sometimes moving very quickly through a home. Do you have any practical tips on how you talk with your children about what that looks at? Just for the mom at home who's kind of like, “I am not sure how to explain this.”

Chrissy:  I think it’s really age dependent. With our older girls, we’re starting to have more honest conversations. They’ve driven to visits with me to see their birth parents. And yet, because of addiction, because of a bad choice, these parents made this decision and they weren’t able to take care of their kids. We keep it pretty general, especially if there are any scary details. But, especially if you're at that point of having visits, just to say, “These parents are engaged. They're trying and they really want their kids back,” and so just being honest because kids are pretty perceptive. Even from the beginning, we’d say, “This is a temporary thing. We’re just going to love them as long as God has them in our house.” And they deal with that more honestly, probably better than we do. We’re always setting out schedules and trying to plan in the future, and they're not.

Laura:  It often seems to be the case I feel, with all things parenting, we’re the ones that are kind of winding it all up tight, and really anxious.  Just keep it simple and tell it to the kids like it is, and they're usually like, “Oh, okay,” and kind of move on while we’re making it this stressful thing.

Andrew:  We've found there's always something to celebrate. I mean, we live in a culture where abortion is so easy and available, that just the courage it takes for a mom and hopefully a birth dad, involved to a certain extent, to carry through pregnancy, to get to a hospital to deliver a baby, is worth celebrating. We’ve found even in some of the darkest situations, there's still something to respect and honor about the birth family with our conversations with our kids.

Laura:  Great point. Can you guys share a couple of common obstacles to foster care? And also a little bit just how you have seen God’s faithfulness and provision, especially when you feel weak and like you can’t do it? I am sure that happens in all of parenting and all of motherhood, but I am sure that that is also brought acutely to light through the foster care journey. If you could just touch on that, we’d love it.

Chrissy:  First of all, I think the system is really hard to navigate at times – there's lots of required paperwork and training. Especially if you don’t have a kid placed in your home it’s really hard to want to do that. That's one thing. I think there's a lot of fear involved with foster care. a lot of people wonder like, “What if a child doesn’t stay? How is that going to affect my family? Can my heart take that?”

When we got our first placement, we were really wrestling with those questions. We were directed to the book of Ruth, and the story of Boaz being the kinsman’s redeemer. It was really impressed on us that there are people who have rights over these kids more than we do. And just like Boaz took his place and made sure there wasn’t somebody ahead of him, as the kinsman’s redeemer, we put ourselves in that place—that these parents have rights to their children first, before we do. I think that was kind of a sobering and encouraging way to look at it.

Then, where these kids come from trauma and neglect—even a newborn has something called a primal wound. It’s this concept of a primal wound. Even being separated from the woman who carried the child for nine months, it’s a wound, and a trauma that they carry with them. That trauma can come out in a lot of different forms with kids.

When we say, “Oh, foster care or adoption,” everybody has their worst case scenario that they love to tell you about. Those stories just circulate and give people that fear. But what I’d say is, we've had kids come in and they've just expressed their pain. They don’t hide it, and what it makes you realize is that we’re not the savior. God is the Savior and we can’t heal those wounds, but he can.

There’s this unique dependency on the Lord for these kids, and knowing that they're not in your care for a lifetime and that it might be days or weeks or months, but that you love them when they come into your home helps you realize that God created them and that he loves them so much. That transfers to your other kids where you realize, “I am not their Savior either,” these kids that are in your home everyday. It’s like a great perspective to realize our dependency on the Lord.

Andrew:  I’d add too that we live in an American consumer culture, and the church slips into that too. That’s a serious obstacle when you're fostering, and going that route, even towards adoption, you're not the customer. The state’s main goal is to take care of these kids and reunify them with their family, and we’re just a vehicle for that. We’re a participant in that process, and that's a humbling thing because of how the system is not created to cater to foster families at all. It just sort of puts you in your place, and that, in and of itself, is a bit of an obstacle. Then too, there's a natural tendency to want to avoid pain and messiness, and to subtly or not so subtly seek out comfort in our lives. There’s a very real sense in the trauma Chrissy talked about—being present in these little people that you're inviting into your home—and you’re asking your other kids and other family members to deal with it.

That pushes against our own tendencies to protect our kids and to just be safe and comfortable. Those are some of the more subtle obstacles that I’d think of, but things which we feel pretty poignantly in the midst of the process. You kind of have to remind each other, “Hey, we’ve chosen this, and this comes with the territory that the Lord promises his presence through it.” The reality is that you're dealing with kids, social workers, and birth parents who are going to be in the messiness—why not reflect, as we can, the light of the gospel in the midst of that?

Emily:  What you're describing is actually something Laura and I were just talking about. That the costliness of the gospel and of following Christ and being that light is oftentimes like, “I’ll share if it doesn’t cost me anything. I’ll love if it doesn’t hurt.” But Christ paid this ultimate cost; he went all the way and died; he experienced shame and rejection and all kind of different pain on our behalf.

Therefore if we are taking up our cross and following him, we have to expect suffering and persecution, and it’s just really challenging. I think that's one beautiful thing that we've seen as we've watched friends walk through foster care is just the way God upholds them. The cost is being paid just to see God beautifully sustain them and shine the brightest in them when they are weak and when they are asking for prayer, and they're saying, “We need him, we need some help with the other kids.” It’s beautiful to see them lay down comforts in their own lives, and God sustain them through that process. It’s a picture of the gospel for all to see.

Chrissy:  Along with the cost is real joy. We get to see our kids love all these kids who come into our home, and we just count it as a sweet family ministry. I mean, it’s hard to get out when your kids are young and to be serving. So to invite that into your home where they can just serve in their normal life—breakfast, lunch, dinner—in the normal rhythms of life, and to see your kids just pitch in and play games and reach these children in ways that we couldn’t. It is such a joy to see that ministry in your kids.

Andrew:  Yes.

Emily:  I love that.

Laura:  I do too. Okay, so what would you guys say to someone who's not foster caring directly, but they do want to support the vulnerable or other families who are involved? Much like Emily and I? Can you guys give us a little bit of advice and tips here? How can we be most supportive to families who are not doing what you guys are doing?

Andrew:  That’s a great question because a central part of how this works for our family is the fact that we have a really wonderful local church and friends from that church. And then neighbors even who are aware of what we’re involved in and have said, “We’re a phone call. We’re a blank check. Whatever the need in the midst of this, let us know.”

There really are innumerable ways to serve fostering families, and that for us has looked like meals, it has looked like people who get a certain level of training so that they're state approved to provide support and to be a respite provider. It’s as simple as conversational partners. You're walking through stuff and you just need to share about here’s what we’re looking at and dealing with. Whether that person has legal or fostering experience, just to listen is something. And then to the extent that people have expertise in those different areas is hugely helpful.

Chrissy:  I would also say that these kids come from homes where people struggle with homelessness and mental health. If you think about broadening the foster care realm into thinking those are the issues that are causing kids to come into foster care, you might have a passion for any of those areas. You might be a better fit or have skills where you can help out. That might be more of a preventative or a support in those roles.

Andrew:  Yes, more birth parent-focused.

Laura:  There are probably endless opportunities, like you said Andrew, for us to get involved and to support. I want to ask two questions. I was thinking about our listeners and we've all sorts of women listening in. But there are probably some that are likely interested in foster care and hooked on this episode because they're like, “Hmm, I am thinking about that,” or, “We’re praying about that; feeling led towards that. Let’s just see what these guys have to say.”

Then there might just be the camp of women who are also in the midst of thoughts of foster care and probably deep down in the trenches, they’re dealing with a lot of the realities of what you guys have spoken about. We usually end with some encouragement when we do interviews for the specific people that we’re talking to. I wonder if you could speak to both the women and husbands who might be listening with, “Hey, if you're interested, here is why you should do it.”

Chrissy:  A word of encouragement.

Laura:  Yes. Then to the other group who's down and dirty in it, and they're experiencing all that comes with foster care.

Chrissy: To the first group, the people who are interested, you just need to take a step in learning more. That could be just going to a meeting through the local county, or finding a support group. A lot of churches have fostering, adoptive support groups. When you just start hearing stories and hearing what those steps might look like, that might stir your heart.

Then even voicing that. If you say to your small group, “Hey, we’re thinking about foster care or adoption,” you might be surprised how many other people have thought about it but never voiced it. That might be a place or a community that you didn’t even know was there.

But I think community is so important in this because it’s easy to believe lies and to be discouraged. Therefore the more people that you have surrounding you, especially people who are doing it, the better off you're going to be.

Andrew:  Absolutely. And the encouragement on the backend of that really is that the Lord just does something really special through the process. Whether its interacting with other fostering families, or the church coming alongside fostering families, time and again in the midst of fostering or after, we realize how real the Lord’s presence feels. In a way, we often miss it in more normal life. For the rewards; I mean, we have fostered younger kids to this point, and the reality is that probably none of them would recognize us a few months, or even a year, after they’ve been in our household. Whatever the length of time, they're just young.

So the tangible is we’re not going to show up in a thank you note after college graduation or something. But there are joys along the way of just seeing these children begin to thrive and kind of start to get a foot in life. And then again, the Lord’s presence through that process and then what it does for a family. They're often hard, challenging days, but the Lord just uses those. We love just what it has done for our family and for our walk with the Lord, and that's a huge part of our joy in the process.

Another resource if you're intrigued or considering—we've got a very special church where our lead pastor and his wife have adopted five times—is a podcast from our pastor that’s just sort of out there to listen to about fostering and adopting in faith (fosteringandadopting.com). It’s 14 episodes that walk through his journey and how the church came alongside. That’s another just more in-depth look about what it’s like, why the Lord’s call is in that direction, and what it looks like to participate.

Laura:  We love resources at Risen Motherhood, so thank you.

Emily:  We’ll include that in our show notes. Something that I’ve observed—that I love you pulled out—is when they're young like that, they may not remember you. But we've observed that friends who are doing foster care do infants a lot of times. The gift that they're giving to those children in that developmentally fragile period is a lifelong gift, potentially the difference between thriving and not being able to have relationships with people down the road. Because there was a mom and a dad who touched them, helped them, loved them, and fed them in an extremely vulnerable time. It’s just a gift to watch and see that. They may not know that, but it is an absolutely life-changing thing.

Andrew:  That's right. And to the family in the midst of it, to the husband and wife in the darker days, it’s those same promises that feel distant, but that feel absolutely true. What is it? It’s a call to a deeper faith; that somehow God is using this—that your visit in the middle of the night to a detention center where your kid has ended up or whatever is a sacrifice where you don’t know how it’s going to play out. You don’t know if the kid will ever look at you and say, “Hey, thanks, I really needed that.”

But what an offering to the Lord to say, “Here’s all we’ve got for now. Use it,” and to trust that the Lord will provide through the local church, friendships, or whatever what you need to sustain you another day, another week in the midst of it.  

Laura: I love that. I was chatting with a girlfriend who's doing foster care to two little ones right now, and she has three others. We were talking back and forth and she was like, “Well, I don’t really know how you're dealing with special needs,” with my daughter recently being diagnosed with special needs. And I was like, “I don’t know how you're doing it with foster care.” We were both like, “Praise God!” That he offers that perfect grace and meets both of us in our unique situations right where we’re at. I didn’t know what I needed going into our challenge with special needs, and she didn’t know what she would need going into foster care. But she was just like, “God’s grace has met me every step of the way.” Even when I feel like, “I don’t know what I am going to do now,” or, “I don’t know how to deal with this situation.” I think from the outside looking in, as Emily and I both are not involved in foster care straight up, it can kind of be like, “How do you deal with that heartache and that pain?” It just seems like a unique type of thing, and it is. But at the same time, we see God’s grace being sufficient for all of us in our unique situations and circumstances, and that he is so faithful in all these things that we work through. If he give us more of himself, then that's all that we need. That is a beautiful thing and it’s well worth it.

Emily:  This was really encouraging, and I assume there are probably people listening who are weeping and feeling called. And also just feeling really encouraged. Hopefully, even if you know that you're not going to be directly involved in this, if you have foster parents in mind right now, and you're like, “I am going to text them. I am going to call them after this, and ask how I can come alongside them better and pray for them.” Thank you guys so much for sharing a little bit of what you've learned along the way.

Laura:  We appreciate you guys being here.

Chrissy:  Thanks.

Andrew:  Certainly. Thanks for having us.

Laura:  If you guys want to hear more about foster care or adoption, we will put a lot of links in our show notes today. We’ll also ask Andrew and Chrissy for some of their recommendations so we can include those, and hopefully you guys find more encouragement on that. And of course to find out more, follow us on social media, @risenmotherhood.com - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. You can find all the links there as well.


Ep. 98 || Motherhood & Music: Remembering the Gospel Through Song Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Laura, and I have my sister-in-law, Emily, here with me. Today we’re talking about a very fun topic—music and moms and motherhood. Before we get to that topic, we wanted to ask you guys real quick, if you wouldn’t mind taking about five minutes out of your day to give us an iTunes review? Sometimes when I am having kind of a discouraging day I will go and read those iTunes reviews, and I have literally started crying. Emily, have you ever felt the same?

Emily:  I definitely have saved some on my phone before to remember, because I just love reading about what God is doing. Because Laura and I just sit at a table and record, and we don’t always get to know the result of what we’re doing. It is, therefore, just so amazing to see God work in and through something as simple as a podcast. It’s just awesome.

Laura:  When we hear about you guys starting Bible studies, or getting back into the word for the first time, or that you’re communicating better with your husband, or whatever, it’s not credit to Emily and I. It is one hundred percent credit to God. But we are so thankful that he can use any little thing that we offer on this podcast in order to have the Holy Spirit transform your lives. Like Emily was saying, it’s just so fun to get a little peek into what God is doing, and so we read every single one of those. If you’re looking for how to do an iTunes review, we do have a quick tutorial on our website. It’s really simple and easy. Like I said, about five minutes of your time, and it really helps new women find our podcast. It is very important for iTunes to continue ranking us. Just like you know with social media, everything has algorithms; there are tricky little things that they do. We don’t know the half of it, but we know that reviews help. [Laughter]

Emily:  Yes.

Laura:  If you don’t mind doing that, that would be great.

Emily:  That would be awesome. We are really excited to be talking about music today, and I will admit I am not a very musical person. I’ve never been the type of person who’s like thing is to pick up an instrument and learn it. I think I was last chair in flute in middle school. [Laughs]

Laura:  Although I think you have a history with the guitar, Emily? Is that correct?

Emily:  Oh yes, I tried, and I am thinking about breaking it out for my kids because I think they will accept the poorness of my guitar skills. [Laughter]

Laura:  They think anything is awesome. You can just tinker away on anything; I am playing the recorder at home, and it’s out of tune. I mean, can a recorder be in tune? I’m not really sure. [Laughter]

Emily:  I have no idea. [Laughs] But what I love is that God has implanted an enjoyment of music in all of our hearts, in different ways. Even if we don’t consider ourselves as a super musical person, it can be something that really comforts me—if I am having a really difficult day—to listen to hymns, which have rich lyrics. Sometimes it just draws my heart back to the Lord in a way that is different than just the spoken word. Then the other night I was singing a goodnight song to my five-and-a-half year old, who sometimes is too cool for that kind of stuff. He was just like, “Mommy, I just love this.” It reaches their hearts and it’s so cool.

Laura:  There’s something about music that just is a universal language for all of us. It doesn’t matter who you are, there’s at least some genre of music or some type of music that you love. It’s just part of the very nature of who we are as humans, and it’s amazing the power that music has—that fact that it can even take you back to a specific moment of your life or how your memory is triggered when you hear a certain song. The power of music is pretty amazing.

Emily:  It’s one incredible gift that God has given us to use for worship. We obviously know that worship is much bigger than just music and singing. But singing and music is one way that we can respond to God, when we look at who he is, and we think on his character, and read his word. Sometimes the only appropriate reaction to that is to burst out in song, or to make a joyful noise. [Laughter]

Laura:  Sometimes it might not be a beautiful noise, but it’s a joyful noise. Over here at least, for Emily and I. [Laughter] Before we get into the gospel, we want to just make one thing really clear. That there’s just a lot of theology involved in singing, and there have been whole books written on it. There are a lot of ways that we kind of went back and forth about how should we talk about it today. But we really just want to be clear that we’re mainly going to be talking about music and singing in the home—just for you as a mom with your kids and getting your husband involved. We’re not necessarily talking about singing in the local church or with a congregation. We’re just talking about the role music can play, as you encourage your family in the gospel, and yourself. [laughter]

Emily:  Thinking about the gospel and music, and just the way it shows up in scripture, it’s cool to see there is a solid legacy of singing in the Old Testament. In Exodus—I loved as we studied Exodus last fall as a church—when Moses and all of the people cross through the Red Sea. They’re standing on the other side having just escaped Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and Moses, and Miriam and all the people break out into song when they see what God has done. It’s just so deep and emotional, and it expresses this powerful response as they’re seeing the waves crash in that probably couldn’t have been communicated by silence. And just saying, “Wow, what God did was really cool. We couldn’t communicate it.” It had to be a beautiful song. I just love that picture.

Laura:  Yes, that’s a great picture. Then we also see, in the Old Testament, music as a way for God’s people to remember his promises, both for today and forever. We see another one of Moses’ songs in Deuteronomy 32: “He is the rock. His works are perfect. All his ways are just.” It’s just speaking about truth and about who God is. We also see them talking about God’s commands, reminding themselves of God’s commands through song. Also in Deuteronomy, Moses was told by God to write down songs and to teach it to the people.

Emily:  They’re just a vital part of God’s design. There are so many great verses in Psalms; like Psalm 5:11: “Let all who take refuge in you rejoice. Let them ever sing for joy and spread your protection over them, that those who love your name may exalt in you.” Also Psalm 51:14: “My tongue will sing out loud of your righteousness.” This is obviously a big part of our expression of worship to God. It’s just one way.

Laura:  Another way that we see songs used in the Old Testament is that they were used as a witness to other nations and to other people groups. So many of the Psalms written would be sang aloud by the entire Israelite communities. It was probably so loud that other nations and other people groups around them could hear these truths that were sang about God.

Emily:  We also see singing in the New Testament. Mark 14:26 says, “And when they had sang a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” This was right before Jesus goes to pray, and he’s arrested. He’s singing with his disciples.

Laura:  Yes, we even see it as very explicit command in the Epistles. Probably the most well known passage charging us to sing is from Colossians 3:16: “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” There are a lot of other examples in the New Testament, as well.

Emily:  The other exciting thing is this is in our future too, and we see singing in Revelation. Revelation 7:9-12 talks about there being a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, every tribe, all different peoples and languages standing before the throne of the Lamb, clothed in white robes with palm branches.

They’re falling on their faces before the throne and worshipping God. There is so much song in Revelation—we even see the Song of Moses again—the same picture of them on the other side of the Red Sea. We see the people in Revelation 15:3, singing the Song of Moses, the servant of God, the song of the Lamb. Saying, “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty.” So song is definitely in our future. [Laughs]

Laura:   So you best get used to it. [Laughter]

Emily:  It’s just cool that the gospel is implanted in song. I feel that’s kind of very cool.

Laura:  It’s pretty exciting; it’s like, what a gift from God to have something so enjoyable and to be able to worship him through it.

We want to put in a quick gospel caveat here. We see that from scripture, as we’ve just discussed, singing is a command from God. But because of Christ, we do not have to view music and singing as something that we really have to do. It’s something that we get to do as a response. It’s a response of worship for the sacrifice that Christ has done. He redeemed us from the law, and we want to remember that. That is why we sing; it’s not because we have to, but because we get to, because of Christ’s sacrifice.

Emily:  What’s interesting is that even worldview research shows how important singing is, and what an amazing role it plays in brain development and learning with children, and even adults, and with different types of therapies. It is a critical part of even the world’s understanding of what a healthy brain and heart is like.

Laura:  It’s really cool to look at how a child may not be responsive to you saying, “Clean up.” But if you sing, “Clean up, clean up. Everybody do your share.” There’s your little taste of my singing. [Laughter]

Emily:  What’s the Daniel tiger one? “Clean up, pick up, put away.” [Laughter]

Laura: That’s the one. Or how about, “If you have to go potty, stop and go right away!” My kids sing it all day long. [Laughs]

Emily:  I bet you’re just so happy you got to hear Laura and I sing. [Laughter]

Laura:  Never again. But it’s kind of amazing the way we are built. Even worldly science would say, “That helps with your memory and helps children transition or understand instructions.” It’s just really cool; it’s so apparent to everyone.

Emily:  That just affirms the good gift that God gave us. We wanted to run through a list of ways we’ve seen this in our own family—ways that you can incorporate music, and the gospel within music more intentionally in your own everyday life.

Laura:  That’s right. Maybe you’re feeling like, “I love music, but I don’t know how to play it.” Or, “I don’t know how to get it into my home or into our regular routines.” Just like with anything else, hopefully there are very natural moments in your day that you can incorporate music in. We want to talk through a list of what you can use music for, and what it can teach. Then we’ll give some examples about how we do it in our own homes, I guess? This is just kind of a more practical show now that I think about it, Em.

Emily:  First of all, music is just teaching biblical truth. You can find a lot of the things we’re getting ready to mention on our resources page, on our website @risenmotherhood.com/resources—there’s a whole section of children and music there. If we’re going too fast, just go there to find out what we’re talking about.

Laura:  Or the show notes.

Emily:  Yes. In our home, we will listen to songs that either have catechisms or that have biblical wisdom in them. It is amazing; I will hear our kids later singing the words, “God’s Word, God’s nuggets of gold.” They’re just singing it while they’re playing, and it’s like, “Ha, ha, you learned something really true there.” I hope that just sticks in their mind, whether it’s a little line, or it’s a deep, dark turn of truth.

Laura:  Think about just the simplicity of, “Jesus loves me.” I mean, every kid knows it. Even a lot of non-believing kids know that song and just think about the truth that is being put in their heart. At least at that young age, that hopefully evolves into a true belief of the words of that song.

Emily:  I had a friend who told me when she was really young, she used to go to this Bible study that would sing, “Good morning God, this is your day. I am your child, show me your way.”

Laura:  I like that song.

Emily:  When she got to be an adult, she went through a harder season, and she’s like, “But that song would come back to me every morning. This song that I learned when I was four or five years old.”

Laura:  That just gives me goose pimples I love that stuff. [Laughter] The second one which is very much along that line is hiding God’s word in our hearts. Now there are so many musicians that are creating beautiful music, that are straight up scripture, which is so awesome. We love Seeds Family Worship and Honey for the Heart. Again, as Emily said, these are mentioned on the resources page. These are great things because we already should be memorizing scripture and hiding God’s word in our hearts. As we said, music is a really great way to remember things.  I know that we’ve had CDs playing in the background of our car. Like Emily said, my kids will just whip out singing and I am like, “That’s straight scripture.” I’ll remember those things, and those useful reminders that are just sort of by listening to them, it’s almost like osmosis. You know, I am starting to understand and hide scripture in my heart.

Emily:  Another thing that music and singing can do within our families is really remind us of our relationship to God. It can help us preach the gospel to ourselves, and help us remember our station. We sing things like, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty.” We sing songs that communicate these really deep truths. I know we’ve started trying to sing some hymns with our kids, so we really can sing the gospel in these really rich theological ways. There are definitely a ton of old, beautiful hymns, but one that I like that’s a little bit more recent is “Speak, O Lord” by the Gettys. We’ve memorized the whole second verse of that, and we have little hand motions that go along with it. And even though they don’t understand it, it’s still really great. I hope that later in life when they sing like, “Teach us Lord full obedience, holy reverence, true humility,” that that will come back to mind, and help instruct them in the gospel.

Laura:  That’s right. Many of the best songs walk us through the gospel stories. We sing and we can proclaim truth, and in many of them, walk us through confession. They end in the promises of our savior, which is truly preaching the gospel to yourself. I am thinking of “Blessed Assurance” of Franny Crosby, and which is one of my favorites. I know at 5pm I am at a loss. We had a show a few weeks ago or maybe months ago about preaching the gospel to yourself and what it really means. In that, I know that at 5 o’clock at night, I sometimes cannot give the brainpower to really be able to work through that. But I can remember the lyrics of a beloved hymn. And Franny Crosby says, “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh what a foretaste of glory divine. Heir of salvation, purchase of God, born of his spirit, washed in his blood.” That is just truth washing over you to remember your identity in Christ.

Emily:  Going along with that is singing about our mission and reminding us of our witness. Of course the classic, little child song is, “This little light of mine, I am gonna let it shine.” Sometimes that’s abstract, but there are songs like, “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” and “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.” It just goes on and on, but to look at songs that really help our children catch a vision for the fact that we’re all swept up into this bigger story, and we have a job to do here on earth for God. It’s just a good reminder.

Laura:  It reminds our kids that God’s story isn’t supposed to be kept to ourselves. They should move us to share our faith with others. M kids are obsessed with “Nothing but the Blood…” That’s like their favorite song, and my son was singing it at the grocery store as loudly as he could. Mostly it’s just singing “Nothing but the blood...” [Laughter] That’s it. I wanted to hush him up, but I just kept remembering like, “No, I want to let my son sing.” He may not understand the full reverence or worship of what this is but allowing that song and those words to be proclaimed in a public grocery store, I was like, “You know what, all praise be to Jesus.”

Emily:  And a quick note about implanting truths, this is one beautiful way we can communicate gospel truths to our very young children—our infants. I have a two-and-a-half-year-old who has some significant developmental delays. One of the main ways, right now, I am trying to instruct him in the gospel is singing to him when I rock him every night. I have about six or seven hymns that we go through, and I’ll insert his name into them. I don’t know exactly what he’s retaining, but I have faith that that is one of the ways that God is going to implant truth into his heart. And that’s true for very young children. Therefore don’t discount it if your kids can’t talk yet. You can still sing with them, and have faith that God is using that.

Laura:  One of the other ways that worship and singing functions so beautifully is that it unites us together. I know it’s just really fun when we get together with friends or families. Or maybe like mine and Emily’s kids will get together, and they all know the same songs. There’s just something special. Think about when you share an experience like going to a concert with other people. There’s just something that bonds you when you share those things and you share those words. When you know some of the same music as a family. I know our family sings the doxology before bed. Seasonally, I would say, “We sing it every night right now.” We’re kind of doing it, and then we’ll get out of it and do something different.

I don’t want to say every night, but we try to sing that together because that’s just such truth, and it’s easy for my kids to remember. It’s nice and short, so we don’t feel like it’s going on for four different verses. That’s a really simple way that we can get together with extended family and they all know the doxology too. And the kids will go, “Ooh cool, you know.” [Laughter]

Emily:  Hearing others singing is even an encouraging thing that can draw your heart back to what is true and good in scripture. There are so many wonderful things about song.  Hopefully in our kind of jumbled back and forth conversation here, you got some really great ideas of new ways to use music. Maybe you feel more motivated to turn on a song today for your children. Or to teach your children some new songs that have great truth in them.

Laura:  Something that’s kind of invaluable is a hymnbook.

Emily:  Yes!

Laura:  I was just thinking we should link one of those on our resources page. I am not sure we have one up there, but it’s just really nice to have one on the bedside table because sometimes you can’t think of them, so you can look them up. Or maybe you weren’t raised with hymns and you’re not familiar with them. A hymnbook is, therefore, really handy to have. We’ll have some other music. We’ll try to put together some resources for our show notes page that are encouraging. Oh, and we have stuff on our newsletter. We send out a song in our newsletter every month that our RM team has been loving lately and has been on repeat. So that’s another place to find. It’s just a single song, but it’s probably a good place to hopefully find an encouraging song that you might not have heard before.

Emily:  Yes. Hopefully you guys got some ideas today. If you want to find any more of these resources, again, they’re all @risenmotherhood.com. You can find our show notes and our resources page there, and also follow us @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for more discussion about this this week.

Laura: Thanks, guys.


Ep. 97 || Locking Arms With Moms Ahead of Us Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of the Risen Motherhood podcast. I am Emily, here with my sister-in-law, Laura. Before we get into our topic today, we just wanted to let you guys know, in case you didn’t, that you can actually read our shows. We have transcriptions through our show notes, which we started awhile ago. We did that because we heard from moms that English was not their first language, and their browser— Google translate—could translate those transcriptions into their language. We also heard from moms with hearing impairments that this was an easier way to consume the podcast.

Laura:  Easier for even any mom to be able to read on her phone or computer. Maybe it’s easier if you’re working, you’re nursing, or whatever. There are probably a lot of reasons. We know that quite a few access those, but if you haven’t seen those, there’s a super easy button to click on on every show’s show notes page, which you can find on our website. You can access those and read the show.

Emily: Also, a huge thanks to our patrons because you guys are the ones who fund this, since this actually does cost us money to do. We are really thankful for you guys and excited that hopefully more women get to consume the show this way.

Laura:  Alright, we’re going to get into our topic today. We are talking about a fun topic for Emily and I, because we have been really blessed in this area over different times of our lives. We’re talking about women—older mothers, or older women, that have discipled or mentored us—and the effect that they’ve had on our lives. We just want to encourage all you today on how to find one of these women, or maybe what the benefit might be of some of the women who are already in your life.

Emily:  I feel like we’ve said this on the show before Laura, but everything good we know, outside of scripture of course, is from older, wiser women who’ve gone ahead of us.

Laura:  One hundred percent.

Emily:  I can think of so many times. Before I started my first season of discipline with my youngest child, I remember sitting down with a mom whose children were all out of high school, and going, “How do I do this?” She went through with me, step by step, what she did when her children were little. I didn’t do it cookie-cutter exactly that way, but it was incredibly helpful and instructive to me. I can think of so many times where I’ve had a hard decision to make, or honestly, I’ve just had a question like, “When do I help my child get rid of their pacifier?” Where a mom who’s gone ahead of me can help speak into that situation, knowing my context—my life, what’s going on, what our kids are like—and it’s super helpful.

Laura:  I totally agree. I know that I have one woman in my life who anytime I struggled with fear or worry, or anxiety would consistently say to me, “Laura, you have better theology than that.” I hear her voice ringing in my ears, and it was such a good reminder of like, “Oh yes, I don’t need to do this.” I’ve been so appreciative of some of the moms who have mourned over things that have happened in motherhood or just shared in my sorrows. But then, also offered that perspective of being further down the road and being able to say, “This too will pass,” or given me that eternal perspective—not only joining with me in the sorrow but knowing they’re further down the road, they were able to reach out a hand and give me hope in that moment.

Emily:  Although sometimes I remember when I was in that position of being a first time mom—you want to feel like, “Oh, I’ve kind of got a handle on this.” We always learn and grow with time, and as Laura was saying, it gives us perspective. If we are growing in the word with other believers, we’re also hopefully growing in godliness and in our ability to apply the gospel to a lot of different challenging experiences. When we are in a situation where we need that wisdom, it is helpful to look to a mom who’s gone ahead of us. That doesn’t necessarily mean 20 or 30 years ahead of us. That could be a year ahead of you. Or it could be a mom who’s younger than you with children that are one season ahead of you. Just remember that Laura and I are older moms to other women, and that it’s very much a shifting timeline. [Laughs]

Laura:  What we’re trying to say through this show is we might be using the terms “older mom” and “younger mom,” but there is no age. You are older than someone, and even a woman who is in high school can help disciple a younger girl who’s younger than her. For instance, I remember being in elementary and having older high schoolers that I looked up to. I would say that they made a profound impact on my spiritual life. There is never this, “Oh, I am an older woman because I am 50, or 60, or 20.” There’s no line for that, and we want to make that really clear. That everyone is able and built for discipleship, and able to invest in someone who is younger than them. Like Emily was saying, that might even be that they have older children than you, but numerically through their age, they’re younger than you. Or even more spiritually mature too.

Emily:  One of the things that comes to mind right off the bat, of why we need this, is because there are so many choices that we face everyday in motherhood that are kind of grey areas. They’re things that we need biblical wisdom to apply truth to our circumstances. Having a woman like this in your life can help you when you aren’t sure how to discipline your toddler, or when you can’t figure out what to do about a school choice, or how to handle a work or childcare situation. Or maybe you’re struggling through questions about family size or you’re in a conflict with your husband and you want to genuinely, humbly seek out wisdom. Like Laura said, maybe there’s something you just need perspective on or you don’t know how to handle something simple like chores. The list goes on and on for how a woman who’s in a further-ahead-of-you stage can really help you have wisdom for your own situation.

Laura:  It’s important to remember that if you are married, our husbands are great as our first line of defence for finding new ideas or for dealing with an issue, especially when it concerns your own children. But women who are further down the path than you can be a tremendous help as you try to look at, “What am I going to be doing?” “What does the Bible say about this?” “What is my heart attitude?” I mean, a lot of the women in my life have asked me really hard, penetrating questions that maybe sometimes my husband doesn’t ask me. That’s totally fine, but I’ve been really grateful for some of these deeper issues because they’re females too, and they understand how we work better than our husbands do in some senses. I know that’s something that’s been really helpful, and why we want women in our life like that.

Emily:  Going through the gospel—which we always get to do on Risen Motherhood—thinking about creation, there is this generational nature about creation from the beginning. When Adam and Eve were created to be fruitful and multiply, there was also this understanding—and we see this often in the New Testament—that they were going to pass on what they knew about God, his character, the work that he was doing, and the covenant promises he made to them from one generation to another.

Laura:  We see that especially as a pattern in the Old Testament. We’ve talked about this a lot when we talk about parents investing in their children. This same pattern happens through older women—like spiritual mothers in your life—being able to invest and pass down biblical instruction to you. I think too, in the Bible, we see that grey hair is often referred to as a really good thing.

Emily:  Yes! [Laughter]

Laura:  I have a couple of grey hairs and I am like, “Wisdom. It’s just wisdom. It means I am getting wiser.” But that’s something that we see in the Psalms, and with age and life experience, often, not always though, does come spiritual maturity.

Emily:  Even though that was God’s good design and good plan, the fall and sin entered. That obviously messes up every relationship we have, and in some ways, impacts on all of God’s good design. Just like Laura was saying, even though life and walking with the Lord should grow us in godliness, now, sometimes as we age, maturity doesn’t always coexist in that. There’s this verse in Psalms 119:100 that says, “I understand more than the aged for I keep your precepts.” It’s kind of that feeling of sometimes when people grow older, if they’re not walking with the Lord and not focusing on his truth, they aren’t necessarily growing in godliness.

Laura: On the flipside of that, we can also have this mentality of we know everything and we’ve experienced enough of life to be able to make all the right decisions. We’re not really numbering our days or recognizing that we need to grow in wisdom and knowledge. Another thing is, with the fall, came a lot of generational power struggles. You know, just think about your relationship with your parents in high school.

Emily:  Hello teenage years. [Laughter]

Laura:  Exactly. That’s something else that occurred when the fall came, and God’s good design was riddled with sin in some of these ways.

Emily:  We see this in the church in the context of this kind of older women, younger women. Again, remembering that those terms are relative. We see in Titus 2, older women had to be reverent in behavior and not slanderous or being slaves to too much wine. They were to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children; to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the Word of God may not be reviled. This is the main verse that we all go to whenever we’re talking about this. But we know that this isn’t always lived out in the church in the way that we would like.

Laura: Just like we were saying earlier with the sin, people aren’t always respectful with one another. Sometimes when you come to people for advice, they might say something that’s untrue or unhelpful, or that isn’t really taking into account your unique situation. Sometimes they encourage us towards worldly things and not towards things of godliness. It’s one of those difficult things about relationship now.

Emily:  Sometimes—whether you’re in the older women position at any stage in your life—we don’t always take responsibility for the discipleship that God has entrusted to us: to teach younger women these things. Sometimes when you’re in the position of the younger woman, you don’t want to hear what somebody older than you has to say. Again, that pride element can come into play, and maybe you’re running to Instagram or Google at first to figure out the answers to your problems, rather than seeking out a real relationship with somebody that can help you learn how to do some of these things that are difficult.

Laura:  I know sometimes I’ve thought this about my mom, or other women, of, “Times have changed since you were a mom.” My mom will probably listen to the show and be like, “Yes, Laura has said that to me.” I think a really common thing is that we just feel like they grew up in a different age than us. Seriously, since I had a baby five years ago, I am like, “Oh, look at all the new gizmos they have out.” I mean, can I register again, please? Because there is the coolest stuff, and I feel like raising children has changed even in five years.

Emily:  The fall impacts our ability to see universal wisdom from older women, whether or not they’ve lived through our specific generation. But there is hope because in redemption and restoration, we see that Christ died for the fact that we sin in all of those ways—our lack of reverence, our pride, and our bad attitudes about older women or women that are younger than us. He died for our lack of engagement and discipleship—the way we fail. It’s just so great that he came to reconcile us to God. That he could give us a new heart so that we can humble ourselves and have some of these relationships as the Bible instructs us to.

Laura:  With that comes the fact that you can look at the log in your own eye first. Get that out of your eye before you start looking at the speck in theirs. We can bond over other women who are older and younger than us, and over our status in Christ, whether or not we use this same baby swing.

Emily: I love that—that unity and the gospel piece—regardless of our life experiences, we are one in Christ. That is going to be our eternal reality, so we can definitely work that out now.

Laura:  What kind of moms do we really need in our lives? That’s kind of the big question, right? How do we find these moms, and what kinds of moms do we need? The first one we all think of—at least Emily and I have found very invaluable—is the one-step-ahead-of-you mom.

Emily:  This could be somebody whose kid is literally a year ahead of your child. Actually our sister-in-law, Becca, really serves as this person for Laura and I. She’s like, “This is how you get enrolled in this sport,” “This is how you register for kindergarten.” [Laughs]

Laura:  Yeah. She’s like, “Don’t do that dance class. Do this dance class,” “Here’s how we do quiet times as a family,” “This is a great book that we found,” “This is what you should buy for the next birthday present,” or, “Here’s a great book that your child’s going to love next year.” Or even just being able to say like, “Oh, in one year, they’re going to grow out of that.” [Laughter]

Emily:  That’s always encouraging. Another, who is just ahead of the one-step-ahead-of-you mom, is maybe the next-season mom. This could be somebody who’s got kiddos that are like three to seven years older than yours. They have a pretty good hindsight perspective of the stage you’re in, because they’re out of it. But they can still remember and help prepare you for the next big things that are on the horizon. I have a couple of friends whose kids are actually in mid to late elementary school. It’s super interesting to watch some of the issues that they’re dealing with and to just get a little feed in my mind of, “Okay, how can I prepare for that very next thing?”

Laura:  Then you have the young adult moms. This one might be someone who is in a season that is just becoming an empty nester. Or her kids are at least largely self-sufficient—in college or almost out of the house. These women that have been in my life have been very helpful for—this is my favorite—giving me all my catchy phrases for motherhood. They always say a lot of these things, and I’ve stolen a lot of their phrases. Any wise things you hear out of my mouth are usually from this generation. They are very helpful in pulling out further perspective and giving you biblical insight and wisdom. Kind of like an all in life—not just in the down and dirty of motherhood but for you as a full woman. You know, like what’s going to be the long term view of your life and how you’re going to raise your kids.

Emily:  Then, we love this group as well—kind of the empty nester—the grandmothers. Sometimes these women are far enough from the toddler tantrums that they can’t necessarily always identify with you and give you a fist pump in that moment and say, “I get it.”

But they can just really encourage us in the joys of children. I think many of these women have just lived through a lot of life, and they’ve got some wonderful heart lessons and wisdom that they’ve experienced through trials and suffering of life. For me, these are the women that point me to Christ and to eternity. A lot of the times these are the women that I go to when I am in the midst of a really difficult, big life decision. Not just, “Hey, I am trying to figure out the nitty-gritty of what book to read.”

Laura:  They don’t remember how to drop the pacifier. They just don’t. It’s okay, I don’t want want to remember when I am that age.

Emily:  I know, I don’t want to remember all these details. [Laughter]

Laura:  Then we have the great-grandmother. She may not be kind of boots on the ground, bringing you meals, or offering to watch your toddler. But she’s one of those people that probably just glows when she sees your child. She just reminds you what a sweet gift and a precious thing it is to be a mom and to have children. Those are the kind of women that I just love spending time around.

Emily:  Real quick; I know we just broad brushed over a lot of that. But you can experience a variety of different types of wisdom in all these different stages. We’re trying to group it together to give you a feel. Also before we move on, I want to say that you can learn a ton from women who are single or who may not have children. Please do not disregard an older woman who is not married or who does not have children. They can still teach you a ton, and you should still have women like that in your life.

Laura:  That’s what I was going to say. You really should still have those types of women in your life. How do you find these type of women? A lot of you are probably thinking, “Oh, this sounds so nice. But I’ve tried, and no one’s responding,” or, “I don’t know anyone who is these ages.” First of all, you’ve heard me say this stuff on the show before, and Emily can attest to that, I admit that I can be sort of fearless about meeting new people. But sometimes this takes intentionality. You have to approach the older woman and, likely, she feels insecure. She probably feels unqualified, like she’s not good enough and doesn’t have something to offer you. You therefore may have to take that first step to affirm her, encourage her and say, “I will take you, sins and all. I don’t care about the warts. I want to learn from you because I’ve seen you and I’ve seen your life. I’ve watched it from afar, and now I’d like an up close view.”

Emily:  Definitely ask questions and be teachable. If you put yourself in the path of this older woman, go to her instead of maybe going straight to Google. Call or text her or ask her to come over and give her your questions.

Laura:  That’s right. And know that a little goes a long way. Sometimes we imagine these relationships as we meet once a week for coffee, which is not realistic when you’re a mom. That’s where we want to remember that, at least for me, and I know I speak for Emily too, we have been immensely helped by even saying, “Hey, can I meet with you for coffee for 45 minutes today? It’s a one-time meeting.” This mom, this woman knows that we’re going there to have an intentional discussion about something we’re working through. That is probably very honoring to her, and you are probably going to come away with more clarity and peace in your situation. Know that you don’t have to have this weekly meeting. Or maybe you guys meet up and you have the kids with you. It doesn’t always have to be these deep heart-to-hearts with hot coffee. Think of it as your quiet time, right? Where you don’t get the perfect quiet time when you are a mom. You might not get that perfect looking mentorship moment when you are a mom.

Emily:  If you are in transition right now and you’re like, “I don’t have these women in my life, and it’s just not going to happen.” Maybe you’re a missionary in another country, or maybe you’re a part of a church plant and you have very few older moms to commune with—whatever your reason, it happens. But God can still be gracious in those situations. And there are still older women; I mean, you can even look online. Look at Elisabeth Elliot or Nancy Wolgemuth, or somebody like that, that you can learn from. Or Karen Ellis. All these people come to mind—on audio books or podcasts or radio. That’s not a replacement for flesh and blood, but God can still provide wisdom in those seasons.

Laura: And keep an eye out with that. You really never know when you will cross paths with the woman that is perfect for being able to invest in your life. We just want to encourage you guys today. We know that it can be hard—relationships can be very difficult. It’s not going to go perfectly, but we want to encourage you to persevere because these relationships are so worth it. Also, be intentional and willing to put yourself out there. Both in the sense of looking for someone and asking them and saying, “Hey, will you invest in my life?” But also, you know how much you’re probably craving it, there might be a mom who’s younger than you that is also craving it. That might be a situation too where you can offer assistance or help. Or just make yourself available to those moms, because we want to share the wisdom that we’ve all learned, and that God has blessed us each individually with so that we can all grow towards the kingdom.

Emily:  Alright. So be not wise in your own eyes, mom. [Laughter]

Laura:  A little Proverbs for you there.

Emily:  Thanks for joining us today. You can find everything @risenmotherhood.com, including our show notes and our training scripts. You can also follow us on social media @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Thanks, guys!


Ep. 96 || Freedom in Education Choices: An Interview with Jen Wilkin on Public Schooling, Part 4 Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Hey guys. Welcome to the final instalment of our four-part series on educating our children and the Gospel. If you missed it the past few weeks, we encourage you to go back and listen to all our episodes on education and the gospel.

We’ve done a high-level overview of what scripture speaks to about how to educate our children. Then we’ve zoomed in through three different interviews to learn more about how God leads individual families in different ways of educating their children.

The first was Melissa Krueger, with private schooling, second was Irene Sun with homeschool, and today we’re hearing from our final mom, Jen Wilkin. She’ll be speaking to how she sent her children through public education, and the freedom she found in the gospel.

Jen serves on staff at the Village Church, and is an author and Bible teacher. You probably heard us talk a lot about her book, Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds. It’s a favorite here at Risen Motherhood, for learning how to study the Bible properly. She’s also written None Like Him, which talks about ten ways God is different from us and why that’s a good thing. She also has a new book coming out, In His Image, which explores the other side of that coin – 10 attributes of God that Christians are called to reflect. This book is already available for pre-order as it comes out in May of this year. Of course you can find Jen’s work all over the web, so we’ve included links for where you can follow her on risenmotherhood.com. In addition, I just want to make sure all of you know about our learning page @risenmotherhood.com/education. This is a special spot designated on our site for all our education resources that we collected during our schooling series here at RM. We know it’s a big, important topic so we want to make it super easy to find everything. There, you’ll find links to all the interviews and show notes, discussion questions for the shows, and any extra articles or resources, and of course, the questionnaire document that we’ve developed. If you’ve not checked this out yet, let me encourage you to do so. The entire document is just made up of intentional questions that you and your husband can work through as you process through this decision. We pray that it will be a blessing to you. Okay, now let’s get to the interview with Jen, Emily, and me.

Laura: Hi Jen. Thank you so much for joining us on the Risen Motherhood podcast today.

Jen:  I am so glad to be on, thanks for having me.

Laura:  We know you’ve been on the show before, and a lot of our listeners are really familiar with your work and your writing. We just love you on Risen Motherhood obviously. But can you give a quick background for anyone who might not have heard of you yet, and talk a little bit about your family and what your day looks like, and then of course how you educate your children.

Jen:  I am Jen, and I’ve been married to Jeff for almost 25 years; it’ll be 25 years this summer. It’s so funny, he’s actually sitting over there while we’re recording, and he just gave a big cheer. [laughter] So that’s a good sign probably, that he’s excited about that number.

We have four children – they are Matt, 21; Mary Kate, 20; Claire, 19 and Calvin 17. All of the birthdays are getting ready to flip. Only one, Calvin, is left at home right now – he’s a Senior in high school and he will leave in August to join his siblings at Texas A&M University. He cannot wait.

Laura:  All of them together. Amazing.

Jen:  Yes. He does find our company delightful, but I think he is about ready to go for sure. I am on staff at the Village Church Institute, and I have responsibility for all of our adult classes at our five campuses. My thing that I love the most is to talk about Bible literacy in the church, and especially among women. We chose to send our children through public school from start to finish.

Laura:  Can you walk us through your decision for public education? You said that you’ve done that from start to finish. Taking yourself back to when you were a mom of young littles – especially at the precipice of that decision – can you walk us through a little bit of how that worked for you and your husband?

Jen: Well, I always like to say up front that I fully acknowledge that this is a very personal decision, and there are a million factors that impact it. What worked for us is not necessarily going to work for everyone. But I do like to give our perspective because sometimes, people in Christian communities will write off this option as not being one that they can consider at all. So while I don’t think that our situation is not necessarily normative, I do like to talk about it just to let people know that you can love the Lord and send your children to public schools. And that all the other pieces in that puzzle line up.

But when our kids were small – you could probably tell from their ages that I said, our children were all born within four years. There’s exactly four years between my oldest, Matt, and my youngest, Calvin. Because of that, we had to assess things a little differently than someone who maybe had their children a little more spread out, or who maybe had fewer children, or even more children. You know, that’s something that affects the way that you make this decision.

In our case, financially, private school was not going to be an option for us, especially with having so many, and at the same time. I mean, right now I’ve got three in college, and another one heading out the door to join them soon. If we had done private school for all of their earlier years, there was just no way we were going to be able to think about having money available for them when it was time for them to go off to college just because it’s so many of them in a row. We did not seriously consider private school because of financial restrictions. So I don’t want to say that we weighed private school heavily against public school and then chose according to our conscience. It wasn’t that. It just was not an option for us financially. So then you’re faced with homeschool or public school.

At the time that our kids were little, we were in a community where there were a ton of homeschoolers and they were actually doing it really well. We were in the Houston area and they were doing co-ops, they had proms. That area was maybe a little bit ahead of some of the areas that we had lived in at other times where you sort of thought of homeschooling like, “Why would anybody do that?” We never felt that way about homeschooling. But we also come from a family of public educators so we had some convictions around public school as an ideal. Also, we were living in an area where, from an academic standpoint, the public schools were excellent. Which meant the decision for us was not going to be based on whether or not they would get a good education in the one environment versus the other. When we think about our children’s schooling option, for us at least, we did not feel an impulse to shield our children from influences that they might encounter in a public school. And again, the education piece was not a factor. We weren’t living somewhere where it’s an inner city school, or where the funding is bad. I have family members who have public schools near them that I don’t know how you would ever have the courage to send your child there. Although many people do, and I think it can be admirable. But a lot of the factors that sometimes keep people from right out of the gates saying, “Yes,” to public school have never been an issue.

Emily:  I love how you bring up so many factors there. Even among our own friend groups as we’ve been having these conversations, an observation we’ve made is that when you look at the financial piece of the puzzle, we’re literally like, “What school is in your neighborhood?” And, “What is that specific school like?” All of these different questions come into play, and so it’s really hard to just make a blanket statement of any kind that says, “Oh, this is the better decision.” Kind of bridging into that question, can you just talk us through why we have freedom in Christ in this decision? Is there a better choice? I think we’ve kind of flown the plane around and answered that, but if you want to expound on that anymore, I think that would be helpful.

Jen:  You know, again, of our children, no one has a learning disability, and we had no special considerations with our children. This removed a lot of questions off the table for us, and then it became a question for us of, well, “We believe that if at all possible, we should opt-in to the public school system.” I would say that as a Christian, whatever choice you pursue with your own children, it’s important to feel a conviction that education is a right that we’re all entitled to. Even if your children are not participating in the public school system, you as an adult can find ways to participate in and improve the public school system for those families who do not have another option. For us, we were able to hold to public education as an ideal, not just by investing in it as members of our community, but by actually placing our children there with very little risk associated with that decision. So we wanted to. One of the misconceptions about education choices – and it’s probably come up in the other interviews as well – is that it’s a decision you make when your child enters into kindergarten. And then you just stay the course for ever. Though it may appear that we did that, if there had ever been a compelling reason to re-evaluate that decision, we certainly would have. We didn’t happen to run into one, and some of that is just because of the makeup of our family. A lot of the things that people fear with regard to public schools are things like bullying, or a child being isolated, not making friends or making the wrong friends. At least in the case of our family, our children were their own peer group in many regards, because they were so close in age. They shared a lot of friends and a lot of overlap in their friend groups, a lot of policing of who people were being friends with just among our kids. Then like-mindedness with their siblings, right? The peers they were spending the most time with were underneath their own roof. Some of the factors that can make public school – but honestly, any classroom environment difficult – were alleviated for us a little just because they had each other.

Laura: Jen you talked a little bit about how you would re-evaluate if you needed to. Can you speak to that mom who does feel guilt or anxiety, maybe, of sending her child to any schooling system, because there are pros and cons or strengths and weaknesses to every choice. Can you give some gospel hope to that mom? Because I know Emily and I are at the beginning of this stage, but we already feel some anxiety about it. I am not sure that is going to go away. Or at certain moments, I am sure there are always moments as a mom that you’re feeling like, “Did I make the right choice? Was that the right thing for my family, or for this individual child?”

Jen:  Yes. I think as Christians, in general we have a tendency to place a lot of emphasis on the decision point. We cease to recognize that God is way less invested in your decision than he is in what happens after the decision. He’s interested in who your child is, not where your child is educated. One or two things may relate to one another, but we tend to think like, “If I make the wrong decision, then all is lost.” That is not a true narrative. And not only that, but in trying to decide what is the “right” decision, it’s important for us to keep examining whether we are reaching our conclusion based on what our peers or other parents are saying. Parental peer pressure is a thing; we want the approval of our friends. We want to be perceived as being a good parent, not a bad parent. Depending on what little sub-culture you’re living in in your area, you can be heavily influenced just by what everybody else is doing because you don’t want to deal with the scrutiny of going against the grain. In fact in our case, I would say that by putting our kids in public school was the move that was going against the grain in some cases. When you’re in the church and you have four kids in four years, and you’re on record as being a committed believer, people automatically assume that you’re going to do homeschool or private school. I would get emails from women saying, “Can you tell me what curriculum you’re using in your homeschooling?” I would be like, “Oh gosh, I don’t know how to break this to them,” and thinking that they’d be disappointed to learn that we sent our kids to public school.

Emily:  One thing you’ve talked about a lot on other platforms that I really appreciated is influencers in our children’s lives – the influence of parents and the faith of mom and dad in living out the gospel in the home. One of my questions about public school and private school - but public school maybe even more so – is what does that look like then to be intentional in the home? How did you guys then teach your children scripture, bringing them up in the Lord when they did spend more time outside of the home? We definitely know that’s possible, but it’s good and helpful for us to hear what that looks like.

Jen:  Well, the teaching points just write themselves when your kids spend all their time in public school. That’s what you talk about when you’re together as a family, talking about spiritual things. That’s one of the things really that I have loved about the kids being in public school is there is no shilly-shallying around about who is a believer and who isn’t. Children and educators in the public schools are not trying to present themselves as one thing when in fact they’re another. They’re up front with where they’re coming from. The whole nominal Christian syndrome that can exist is just not in the public schools. If you do say that you are a Christian, it’s not going to garner you favor and friends. It’s probably going to make you seem a little bit weird and that means that when you get home, home is a place where you exhale and know this is where we have shared values and beliefs, and where we have those conversations. I think that too often, Christians who put their kids in public schools are seen as just sort of throwing their kids to the wolves. They are seen as not being sensitive to the influencers that they would come up against, not just from their peers, but also from their teachers. I just always like to remind parents that they don’t know anyone who got their world view from their third grade teacher. Children spend way more time around us on the whole than they do around these other people. We have way more capacity for modelling either good or bad for our children than any other adult in their lives. And certainly more than any kids sitting next to him at the lunch table, telling them all the things that you really don’t want them to know.

Laura: That’s a comfort. It really is because I do think that’s a genuine fear any time we’re sending our children out. Whether that’s mom sending her child to a childcare provider or a public school. We can often get way too caught up in the tiny, minutiae of a few moments that they were with that person and not pull back and look at the child’s life as a whole, and how they’re being influenced. That should hopefully be a great relief to moms in all stages of life for sure. Then coming back to people who are at the beginning stages because that’s the majority of our listeners who are just starting to navigate some of these decisions. Can you just offer some tips for how a mom and dad might thoughtfully or, preferably, work through their education options? Not just for public school, but just for all of the options in front of them because there are a lot.

Jen:  You need to start by asking what’s best for your child and your family. But that can’t be the only question you ask because if we only ever did what was best for our child and our family, we wouldn’t be very good citizens in our communities. It may be that your education isn’t as closely tied to the specific needs of a child or a specific aspect of your family’s needs. But there ought to be some way to make that decision that also takes into account the community in which you live. I do think it can be a danger of choosing non-public school options that we then don’t recognize some of the very real education needs that exist all around us, for people who are not able to choose homeschool or public school. For homeschool and public school, there are socio-economic implications for even being able to have those as an option for you to choose. We should be honest about that, and we should acknowledge that. We cannot say homeschooling is really the best way to educate our kids and everyone should be doing that. The single mom who’s working a minimum wage job does not have that as an option, and then is supposed to carry the stigma because she’s not a good enough mom. It doesn’t make any sense, right? Like, the only option is going to be public school. Whereas for my own family, I may decide educationally, I want to invest in them and do homeschooling. I am so going to look for ways to serve my community’s educational needs in addition to that. Just because I’ve settled what my own children need doesn’t mean that I get to turn my eyes away from what the other children in my community also might need.

Homeschooling could be a valid choice. If you’re thinking through the decision, at some point it’s important to first of all not make it a fear-based decision. Too often when we start thinking through these things, we’re trying to minimize fears instead of asking basic questions around why is this one particular approach better than this other approach? For the Wilkin family, we were not concerned about the spiritual component of sending our kids to public school. We felt like it actually challenged us appropriately, as parents, to take full responsibility for the spiritual nurture of our children. Which is not to say that it is wrong for your children to receive spiritual nurture in a private or homeschool setting. It’s simply that it was the right set of checks and balances for us to know that they were not going to be getting it at school. They might be getting the opposite of it at school, and that that was an opportunity, not a threat.

Emily:  I love that you just shared that, and I am not sure if I’ve heard anybody put it into words quite like that. That can actually be the very thing that spurs parents on to have really intentional conversations. To be making sure when they are at home, that that investment is happening because you know that it’s not happening from the teachers or necessarily from the general peers. Another thing, we heard on another podcast where you talked about schooling is the diversity component, as well. My husband and I have a son that’s getting ready to enter the public school system because he’s got some special needs. He’s going to need help and a commendation, and a public school is probably the only place that’s really equipped to do that. One of the things his doctors said to us recently as we were discussing the options is, “You know, I think this is going to be more than just a blessing to you guys. It’s just going to bless other people to be around him and to see differences.” That was a good reminder to me of the differences that are in the public school setting often, and how that can really benefit kids.

Jen:  Absolutely. They encounter every form of diversity. Having the children with special needs who are in regular contact with the children who are in the average classroom was a huge thing for our kids and for a lot of their friends as well. The opportunities that are there for kids to go and help out in the classrooms with the children with special needs – it’s a lot of cross-pollination. Whereas when I was growing up, children with special needs were often in another room, and we didn’t see them. You didn’t know what to do and it was awkward and strange. It just isn’t like that anymore. I love that, and that you encounter socio-economic diversity and lot of really sad stories. That sounds like a terrible thing to be thankful for I guess. But my kids would come home in tears over something that they had learned about – seeing a friend’s parents’ marriage falling apart or something that had happened to someone, and just things that don’t always get talked about at a youth group. And yet they had to confront some really hard things early on in life, and ask some questions about where God is in the middle of all of this. And how can we speak words of comfort to someone who is going through this? Those were all just things that I really treasure about having them, then, in a public school.

People from different religions – we have a huge Mormon population at the high school where my kids went and in our community. We’ve, therefore, had a lot of really good conversations about Mormonism and the differences between Mormonism and Christianity. If you raise kids according to a Christian world view, when they’re staying out of some of the typical things that other people are doing, their good friends are probably going to end up being the Mormons. This is because the Mormons are probably avoiding a lot of the same behaviors. That was an opportunity for conversation. Then when they go off to college, or whatever is next after high school, they’re not encountering these questions for the first time.

Laura:  It definitely sounds like a wonderful training ground. Whereas if you were to select a different education option, you might just have to work harder to find those things that expose your children to those things. That certainly is just a beautiful thing, for the kids to be exposed to diversity early on, and even to the brokenness of the world. Like you were saying, those are great moments to train your child in biblical thinking and understanding where hope applies and where the gospel applies to their everyday. They need that; it’s a very real and bright thing in their daily life at school. Jen, is there any last thing that you would love to say to a mom? I feel like we have to start ending the interview because time always hits. But I am always like, “Jen, just talk a little bit more.” Is there one last encouragement that you would offer to a mom who’s kind of in our stage - at the beginning of this, and feeling like this is a big decision? Could you just share some gospel hope for her?

Jen:  Absolutely. You know, we’re not given to a spirit of fear, so this is a decision that you’re capable of making as the parent. If you make one decision and it’s not working out, then as the parent, you can make a different decision. Children are very resilient. My step-mom would always say that to me. But I am like “Oh, I don’t know. Maybe not my children.” [laughter]

Emily:   I know. [laughter]

Laura:  We always say our kids are made of rubber and they just bounce right back. [laughter]

Jen:   Yes, and she tried. If we view our education choices as which path will help my child avoid the most potential adversity, that’s a wrong way to think about it. I always like to be clear; we did not send our children to public school so they could be missionaries. We sent them there so that they could learn to read and to do math. Over time, of course as they grew into maturity, there were opportunities where they wanted to share their faith. But the point of your education choice, I would urge, should be primarily related to learning because children are going to face issues of faith differently, depending on what environment they’re in. Education environments have different sets of pressures, but they all have pressures associated with them. You could end up with your child in an environment where their faith is never challenged. Or you could have them in an environment where people pretend to be really good Christians and then are doing whatever covertly. There’s always a set of difficulties associated with any educational environment kids are going into go into. I would say start by weighing the merits of how good of an education is my child going to get? Then give yourself permission to course correct if you need to, and pray a whole lot. [Laughter]

Emily:  We really appreciate you coming on and sharing this. It’s just so encouraging, and you’re actually the third in the series that we’ve gone through. I hope that the moms that have tuned in, through this process, are feeling a little bit more like this is about giving glory to God in who we are, as you said. And not the minutiae of what we decide. He’s so much bigger and so much sovereign than that. We don’t know the end, but he does, and so we can just keep obeying him one step at a time. I am just so hopeful at the end of this, and I hope everyone who is listening feels that way as well. Thank you so much for the wisdom that you added to this conversation Jen.

Jen:  Thanks for letting me chime in.

Laura:  Thanks for tuning in today to the Risen Motherhood podcast. We encourage you to check out our web page, risenmotherhood.com/education. On that page, we’ve made it easy to find all our resources on this topic, with links to interviews and an education questionnaire. Plus tons of additional articles and tools that we found helpful for our families as we navigate this topic.

And of course we’d love it if you came and found us on social media, where you can keep up with the ministry of Risen Motherhood. You’ll find us @risenmotherhood on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Thanks for joining us.


Ep. 95 || Irene Sun on Homeschool: Freedom in Education Choices, Part 3 Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Hey guys. Welcome back to another part in our series all about educating our children and the Gospel. Last week we heard from Melissa Krueger on private school, and next week, we’ll be hearing from Jen Wilkin on public school. This week we’re hearing from Irene Sun, sharing all about her family’s decision to homeschool and how God leads individual families in unique ways to raise our children in the Lord. We know that you will love this interview. Irene is a pastor’s wife, a mom, and she is the author of the upcoming book, God Counts: Numbers in the Bible, available from New Growth Press in Fall 2018. Irene studied Chinese literature and Christian liturgy at Yale, and she recently completed her Masters in Theology in Old Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. She occasionally blogs on websites like The Gospel Coalition, and keeps her own blog at waitinginthewaters.blogspot.com. You can also find her on Facebook. We will have all kinds of links in the show notes for you guys about how to get connected to Irene and her resources, which can be found at risenmotherhood.com/education. You can also find on our website, links to the previous shows in this series, and definitely don’t forget to come back next week to hear from Jen Wilkin. We are so excited to be doing this series, so we will jump in to today’s interview with myself, Laura, and Irene.

Laura:  Hi Irene, thank you so much for joining us today on Risen Motherhood.

Irene:  Hi, and thank you for having me.

Laura:  We are thrilled to have you on the show today to talk a little bit more about the choice for homeschooling. Can you start off by telling us a bit about yourself, your family make-up, and maybe just a very high level overview of what a day homeschooling your children looks like?

Irene:  I am Irene Sun, and I am a pastor’s wife. I was born and raised mostly in Malaysia, though for some years, my parents were missionaries in Tahiti and Indonesia. Therefore, I kind of grew up all over the place with a lot of moving around. My husband, Hans, and I have five children; four boys are with us. They are 9, 7, 5 and by the grace of God, we’ll have a new born in a few weeks. So it’s exciting, and I guess we’ll nurse again after five years. We lost a baby last year during pregnancy, so I try to always acknowledge the life of that baby even though we don’t know him or her, as well.

A typical day for a homeschooler; I usually look at my schedule in weekly terms. For example, our weeks would begin with our community days – we are part of a community called The Classical Conversation. I don’t know whether you guys have heard of it?

Laura:  Yes.

Emily:  Yes.

Irene:  Monday is our community day. For those who’ve not heard of Classical Conversation, we are a group of Christian families, and usually each community has about 40–50 children, though some are smaller communities. We come from different denominations and ethnicities, but despite all these differences, we are a Christ-centered community, and our desire is to know God and make him known. Tuesdays are my errands and groceries days, and all the boys go shopping with me. I kind of pile them onto those Costco carts even though they can walk now. But I remember those days when we had babies, and that was a little bit more complicated. [laughter]

Laura: But the snacks at Costco. I mean, you just can’t beat the snacks.

Irene: That’s true. Samples are always nice, but I think that’s part of their education because they know now that if ice cream is not on sale, we’re not buying ice cream. [Laughter] Wednesdays are usually our field trip days; our community sometimes will have field trips and we have membership to the botanic gardens. Thursdays and Fridays are usually our indoor days - we’re either at home or at the library. Then everyday, the boys will have to do a little bit of their handwriting and math. I spread them out throughout the week so that it’s not so overwhelming for our one or two days of the week. That’s kind of an overview of our week.

Laura: Wonderful. It definitely sounds like you guys are doing a lot of different things. You’re in and out of the house and there’s a lot of fun flexibility and activities that you guys are doing. It’s so neat to get the snapshot of what it looks like. Emily and I are both sort of on this precipice of trying to make some decisions about schooling choices for our own children down the road as our kids are nearing that age. Can you walk us through a bit why we, as Christian parents, have freedom in Christ in our educational choices? Is there maybe a better choice for a Christian family, and can you talk us through that answer?

Irene:  I think that the process of making decisions is not that different in terms of other decisions in our lives. For example, when we were deciding whether or not we were going to breastfeed. There are so many different choices that we’re making for our children, but it comforted me that my children are broken the way that I am broken, and that they need Jesus to save them from their sin and their brokenness, just as Jesus saved me from my sin and my brokenness. That should give all of us an immense freedom to think and pray, and to discern what is the most wise decision for our family because we are not their savior. We are also not their sovereign Lord who holds their future in our hands. That takes a lot of pressure off us to know that their eternal wellbeing is in God’s hands. The Lord has already purchased their freedom as well as my freedom on the cross to break the power of sin. There’s also great freedom for the Christian in knowing that we are saved by grace through faith, and that we have nothing to prove to ourselves or to the world.

That is so important, right? Even when the boys were babies, I had to constantly tell myself that, “I have nothing to prove.” Our identity is rooted in the Lord, and the Lord does not require for us to succeed but simply to obey. That’s really hard for us because we are so prone to compare ourselves to other people. Another freedom that we have in Christ is that we are free to call out to God to help us, and he has promised to help us while we put our lives in the way of grace. No matter what options we have to educate our children, or what options we will eventually choose, we know that we can cry out to God for help because we need a lot of help. That’s the first part of your question.

Emily:  Irene, just to summarize, because you covered like a ton of great stuff there. It’s reality that we are not our children’s savior. Therefore there is no formula that if we follow – if we just do this – then we can make our children right if we just teach them the right way, or whatever it is. That is something that only Christ can do for them. I love how you said also we have nothing to prove, and that is because our identity is fully rooted in Christ. He did every proving – everything that needed to be justified is justified through him. We have this whole righteousness, and there is no, “If I just school our children this certain way, I am going to be more accepted by God and by others.” That’s just not true. We’re as fully accepted as we can be in Christ. Then the last piece that you shared there is just that ability that because we’re in Christ, we now have his help. We can have access to God who has every resource available to him – he is going to help us fulfil the good works that he prepared for us beforehand. Therefore we can be confident in that. I wanted us to grasp what you said, because it’s so good.

Irene:  As the load and the hardness of parenting increases, I find myself even asking for God to help me with the dishes. [laughter] He is faithful; he helps us even with these little tasks that we think are so insignificant. But the Lord is magnified when our weaknesses are magnified because the more faithless and weak and evil we are, the more steadfast and strong and faithful he is. Therefore, cry out to God for help and he is faithful to provide it.

Laura:  That plays very well into my next question here. What advise do you have for a mom or dad to really thoughtfully and prayerfully crying out to God and asking him for wisdom? What advise would you have as they work through determining the various education options? I think that that’s a struggle that every mom and dad is kind of going through, especially at the beginning of stages of sending their kids to school. But also I know a lot of families kind of re-evaluate their decisions pretty frequently as their kids are growing. What thoughts do you have there?

Irene:  Yes. I will answer this question along with your question about whether or not there’s a better option because I think they actually work really well together. As we are thinking and praying through our children’s education, the first thing to know is that we are all called to be homeschoolers. The reason that I say that is because we all teach our children at home. It’s just that it’s in a very general way. For example, when I talk to my friends and sisters about how to teach theology to our kids, I often say that we are visible faces of our invisible God. Our children know who a mother is, and who a father is – they know the face of our heavenly Father through the faces of their earthly parent. From the moment that we hold that newborn in our arms, we are in a sense, educating our children. We are teaching them and displaying to them what love, grace, faith, and hope look like. I am not saying that every parent should formally educate their children at home. But I would say that every parent is a homeschooler in that sense. We are all teaching our children, all the time, the way that Deuteronomy 6 has commanded us to do.

Moving into how Hans and I decided to work through the various education options, I was very helped by his vision for our family. Hans is 15 years older than me, and he thought it through. Like when we were first married, he had a very clear purpose and direction for our family, and I really benefitted from his leadership. After we determine what commandments are given to us, how do we decide which method of education then should we invest in? I think that every family is given different desires and different provisions; some families have more and some families have less. And every parent has also been given different abilities. Just to summarize, the three things that are helpful to think about are what is our desire or our calling? What is the provision God has given to us? And then, what is the ability that God has given to us? If we lack in any of these areas, for example, for us it was the provision thing. We know that we will not have an income, so private Christian school is definitely not an option. For me, teaching at a Christian school to be near my children was not an option because I was a student. We really needed to cry out to God for provision. In terms of whether or not there’s a better option, it’s just to look at our circumstances and discern and pray, and ask God to give us a fear of the Lord, to really look at our heart, and to be really honest with ourselves.

Emily:  I really like that you’re saying Irene, is everything goes back to the heart. That something we talk a lot about on Risen Motherhood is that on the outside, two people can make the same choice. But on the inside, they can be doing it for different reasons; one person can be desiring to obey and honor the Lord and the other person can be trying to prove themselves, or trying to make ourselves more righteous before others. There can be lots of sinful motivations there. What I am gathering from what you’re saying is that it’s important for us to look at our hearts and acknowledge our limitations of our circumstances, to be humbled before the Lord, and to know that we’re not God. We may not have all the things, we may not be able to do our preferred method, or what we think would be the ideal. But we can do what God has asked us to do through Christ, and he’s going to equip us for that. That’s good. It’s also good to have faith that when he calls us to something that’s hard, whether because we think we don’t have the energy to do it, or it’s hard because it’s different than what we had hoped for. We have to have faith and do the hard thing that we feel like we can’t do. That gets at the root of what’s going on and who we’re worshipping.

Irene:  I love what you said about the Lord is always looking at our hearts because he knows whether or not we’re obeying. He sees that action, but he also knows what is motivating us to do what we do. So yes, thank you, that was really helpful.

Laura:  Irene, is there ever a time where you have second guessed your decision? Something that both you and Emily were hitting on is that we can feel this guilt and anxiety over decisions that we make. Even after we’ve made them, it can sort of be this waffling back and forth thing that we do. I am curious if that’s ever happened for you? And what gives you freedom from feeling those things in your decision?

Irene:  In terms of the second guessing our decision, I don’t think we ever second guessed the decision to homeschool. That was quite clear from the beginning in terms of evaluating our desires, provision, and the ability of our family. But I know I am very prone to feeling guilty and anxious about many things in everyday circumstances. You know, like, are my children doing enough math? Or doing enough handwriting? I have no idea. I have never learned Latin.

So there’s a lot of anxiety and guilt that goes on in my heart throughout the day. The way that frees me is it goes back to the freedom that we have in Christ, which is that I have nothing to prove. When I know that it was a bad day of homeschooling, the way I combat it is by asking them for forgiveness. I tell them that, “Mommy has not done a good job today. But then the Lord is giving us tomorrow, and by his grace, hopefully we can try to be more obedient tomorrow.” That definitely frees me because it not only demonstrates repentance for my children, which is something really hard for me to do, especially coming from a Chinese culture. Often in Chinese culture, parents do not apologize to their children. I am therefore learning to do that, and learning that his grace is new every morning and his mercy is abundant to all of us. That frees me from guilt and anxiety.

Emily:  What I love that you just revealed there is – I am just going to go out on a limb –sometimes I think once we get through the decision about how we’re going to school our kids, I am going to stop second guessing my whole world. [laughs] I am going to be done with anxieties about, “Are we doing the right thing? Are we not doing the right thing? Are we doing too many activities? Are we not doing enough?” Whatever those different things are, that’s kind of just a lie. Every parent, even those who seem most confident in their decision in terms of how they’re educating, everyone is still wondering. Like you said, “Did we do enough math? Am I doing exactly the right method of teaching them handwriting, or whatever those things are?” There is no, “Oh, you arrived and then you’re done evaluating and repenting and crying out to the Lord for those things.” It’s just a reminder to me and maybe other moms out there who are feeling like, “Oh, if I can just get this figured out, it’s going to be okay.” And sometimes yes, it is. But this is a heart problem that we all struggle with, and that’s something we can all run to the Lord with.

Irene:  And again, it also frees me to know that he requires obedience and not success. That is the goal – he just wants to see us obeying, and repentance is a huge part of obeying. And crying out for help is a huge part of obedience. Sometimes I feel like when I have a bad day, it’s just God teaching me to cry out to him and to depend on him and not on myself.

Laura:  Yes, and what I love too about what you’re saying here is all of these truths are universal for moms. Like no matter how you choose to educate your children, we’re all struggling. As Emily was saying too, just the guilt and anxiety; we’re all feeling these same things, and there isn’t this, “Oh if you pick this option, you’ll avoid all of those hard feelings.” But instead, we’re all, day by day, coming to the cross. As you said Irene, we’re repenting and we’re just called to obey. We don’t have to have success, or know the end – like in how our kids will turn out. But we’re trusting, day by day, in this decision that the Lord has let us in, that this is the right thing for our family and the way that God has led us to educate our children. We just need to be faithful in knowing that. I think too Irene, and in light of time, I am going to move us forward a little faster here. But one piece of the homeschool puzzle that I know a lot of moms have questions about – it’s something that we’ve talked about and that I have a question about, and I am sure Emily as well. In terms of maybe some of the potential weaknesses of homeschooling, one that I hear frequently is kind of lack of exposure to diversity. I am curious; if you can just speak to that point quickly, just for any mom who might be considering this path. How do you guys come back some of that when you’re doing this type of education?

Irene:  We come back at that very intentionally, by being part of the community, by part of being the Classical Conversations. It’s a dedicated group of parents who are loving one another’s children. We come from all different ethnicities and – I said – financial backgrounds. No matter which formal education option we choose, we have to be very deliberate – that we are loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. For parents who are not plugged into the community, we also have our church community that is so crucial in the homeschooler’s life. Between field trips and grocery stores, my children know all the librarians and all the sample people at Costco. [laughter] Their community is just because these are the faces that they see every single day, every week. That’s one of the potential weaknesses. Another potential weakness of homeschooling is that my desire is to turn my children into me. The fear that we have is that we don’t want them to just behold us and not behold God. I am prone to wonder, and I am not their savior. Amy Carmichael has a poem which is really simple, and one that I’ve memorized by heart. But the way she prays is:

“Love through me, love of God. Make me like thy clear air, that thou may pour thy colors through as though it were not there.”

Therefore I just pray;

“Lord, just love through me love of God, and make me like thy clear air so that my children they would not see me, but they would see the Lord.”

I am not the person that they’re beholding all day everyday. But that they’re learning to behold God, and they’re learning to love God and worship him. I am just clear air. I am just the instrument through which God’s glory can shine, that God’s beauty, goodness, and truth can be brought to my children.

Emily:  What you’re describing is something that we’re all tasked with, right? Which is imaging God toward our children, and teaching them to behold him the best we can, knowing that ultimately that’s the work of the Spirit. But we can be intentional in that and we can acknowledge the strengths and weaknesses of whatever educational path that we take, and then work to say, “Okay, what things might we need to do differently or fill in the gaps of because we want our children to know God and understand the way he created the world, and what the gospel has to do with that?” So yes, thanks for sharing how you guys are being intentional with those things.

Laura: I really appreciate you putting in that part about prayer earlier too, with everything you’re saying about beholding the Lord, those things only come about by the work of the Holy Spirit. That is just something that should drive all of us, as moms and parents, to our knees to be praying that God would meet us where we’re at. We know that he will; he is sufficient and he is faithful to those who call out to him. No matter where a mom listening is at on this journey of determining her education choices, I am sure and hopeful that this interview and talk will just bless her and remind her of her true purpose – that we’re all called. I love that you said we’re all homeschoolers and that we’re all called to educate our children in the home, day by day, about the things of the Lord. Irene, I just want to say thank you so much for being on our show. We really appreciate you taking time to share about your experience and where God has taken you and taught you through homeschooling.

Irene:  Thanks for having me. It’s just been such a pleasure to think through and to share my own mistakes, my own fears, and anxieties with all these people. [laughter]

Laura:  We do it every week, we know how you feel. [laughter] All right, thanks Irene.

Irene:  Thank you.

Laura:  Thanks for tuning in today to the Risen Motherhood podcast. We encourage you to check out our web page, risenmotherhood.com/education. On that page, we’ve made it easy to find all our resources on this topic, with links to interviews and education questionnaire. Plus tons of additional articles and tools that we’ve found helpful for our families as we navigate this topic. And of course we’d love it if you came and found us on social media, where you can keep up with the ministry of Risen Motherhood. You’ll find us @risenmotherhood on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Thanks for joining us.






Ep. 94 || Freedom in Education Choices: An Interview with Melissa Kruger on Private Schooling, Part Two Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Hey guys, Laura here. Welcome to part two of our 4-part series on educating our children and the gospel. If you missed it, last week Emily and I kicked it off with an overall discussion about education. Since we’re on the front end of making the choice for our own children, we chatted through all of the emotions that come with the decision, and the freedom that we can find in the gospel for individual families to come to different conclusions on this decision. Today we’ll be talking with Melissa Kruger who is using private education for her children. She’ll be sharing how God uniquely led her family to educate her children in this way.

Melissa serves on staff as Women’s Ministry Coordinator at her church in Charlotte, North Carolina, and is the author of multiple books. One is a devotional that we often recommend at Risen Motherhood, Walking with God in the Season of Motherhood. Her newest book, In All Things: A Nine-Week Devotional on Unshakeable Joy, releases later this year. She blogs for The Gospel Coalition at Wits End, and you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. All of those will be linked on the show notes for this week. In addition, I just want to make sure all of you know about our landing page at risenmotherhood.com/education. This will be a special spot designated on our site for all our education resources. We know this is a big, important topic, so we want to make it super easy to find everything. There you’ll find the links to all of the interviews as we have them available, all the extra resources and tools that we found helpful, and the questionnaire document that we’ve developed. This is a document that you can use with your family to help serve as a springboard of things to think about as you and your family consider the decision of how to educate your child. Okay, now it’s time for the interview. Here is Melissa, Emily, and me.

Laura: Hi Melissa. Thank you so much for joining us today on Risen Motherhood.

Melissa:  Thanks for having me.

Laura: We are really happy to have you here. Can you start off by telling us a bit about your family, and what your typical day looks like? Of course, on Risen Motherhood we always love learning about your kiddos too.

Melissa:  Great. I am a mom to three kids; I have a 17-year-old daughter. I can’t believe she’s that old, which sounds terrible to say. Then I have a 14-year-old son and an 11-year-old daughter, as well. So we’re in 5th, 8th, and I have a Junior in high school right now. We’re kind of in that tween and teen years, and I love these years. It’s been a lot of fun. My husband is Mike, a professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary. I spend my days working for my church – Uptown Church – and I also work for a ministry called The Gospel Coalition, editing for them. Those are the things we’re busy doing all day.

Emily:  That’s awesome. We are so excited to hear more about that season of life too; I feel like it’s a different world that we’re not in yet.

Laura:  We’re looking forward to that world. [laughter]

Melissa:  I think it’s a great stage.

Emily:  I like hearing that.

Laura:  I know!

Emily:  That’s so encouraging.

Melissa:  I love it. I remember the young years, which I loved when I was in them with my kids. But they are hard. I mean, there’s just day after day of a lot of needs. It’s therefore nice to have some different type of work now. But I’ve enjoyed the teen years. I like talking to my kids.

Laura:  I love hearing that. I know, I like talking to my kids too when they learn to talk back. [Laughter]

Emily:  I want to talk to them about things other than, “Where are your shoes? Can you please go find those?” I want to have different conversations, so that’s encouraging.

Laura:  Melissa we wanted to have you on the show today to talk a little bit about your choice to privately educate your children. We know that you’ve been doing that for a while. Can you walk us through a little bit, like how long your kids have been in the private schooling system, and why you chose to educate them in that way?

Melissa: It is surprising to me. We’ve been in the private school system from the very beginning. When my oldest was 5, we started her at a great school here in Charlotte. I’ll be honest, it was much to my surprise since I grew up public school all the way and even taught in public high school. And I loved getting to do that. We moved to Charlotte, and we had researched different choices. We went to visit the school that we ended up at and just fell in love with what they were doing in the school. It reinforced everything we were doing in the home, which was a real positive thing to us. But one other big factor for us was that it was just so much smaller. As an educator, I had always been a fan of small classroom sizes, so that was one of the benefits.

But even as we made the choice that first year, we viewed it as a, “We will take this year by year as to what we will choose.” Therefore, we were open to all the options, and it has just turned out that, year by year, we have stayed in the same place, and we’ve been very thankful to be there.

Emily:  I love what you’re sharing. We have just dipped a toe in the education world with our oldest in early kindergarten. We have been in private school, and we’ve experienced some of the same things. I’ve seen a reinforcement of what we’re doing at home and the very small class sizes, which is kind of a neat feature of some private schools. But I like how you shared that it is year by year. I am amazed that even what we set out and planned to do when our kids were born – and when they were two-years-old –just changes every year. Every plan changes every year, so that’s just really encouraging to hear that you guys are still evaluating that, and there are different factors to consider as time goes on.

Laura: Along with that, we wanted to have you on to talk a little bit about that freedom in our decision. I know, as Emily said, we’re dipping our toes – both of us are right on the precipice of really making longer-term schooling decisions for our kids. But can you talk us through the gospel, and how and why we as Christian parents do have freedom to make the choice? Because it can feel so hard; it just feels like your whole life rides on this decision, your child’s life rides on this decision, and it’s going to be so defining. So what comfort can we get from the gospel?

Melissa: What I like to tell parents is you’re the biggest influencer of your child’s education, which can actually be terrifying maybe, depending on how you feel about your parenting that day. But it is helpful to remember that whatever school option you pick – if you are in a public school, or homeschooling or in private, Christian school, or just private school. I mean, there are a lot of private schools out there that are not Christian in their emphasis – they will be influenced by whatever teacher they have during these different years in school. But what I see over and over again is that the defining factor in our children is the feel of the home that they are in everyday. The habits that we create in the home are teaching our children much more than they are actually learning in the school system is what we have seen. You can have that even in private Christian school, and there a lot of different ways people are viewing faith, even in our situation. A lot has to do with what’s going on in the home, and this is where the passage in Deuteronomy is so important. When Moses is talking to the Israelites and he’s saying, “Teach them when you’re walking along the road, when you’re sitting down, when you’re standing up.” What we’re doing in the little moments of our days with our children teaches them so much about life. How we respond, how we are prayerful or not prayerful, if we’re women of the word or not women of the word – all of those are teaching our children about life in deeper ways than we realize. Therefore, whatever school option we pick, it’s always good to remember that no matter where we put them for schooling, we’re always their primary educators. I find that pretty helpful most days. Some days, maybe not so much. But overall, it’s encouraging to know that even if our children are around other people, our habits in the home – what we’re teaching them – are the things that, over the long haul, are really going to teach our children.

Emily: Something that we keep learning over and over again, as Laura and I have been talking through these issues, is that the culture of the home has a tremendous influence on our kids. The culture of our homes is really formed by the habits of mom and dad and what they’re seeing us doing. I am curious; when your kiddos are in school all day, what does it look like to model that walk with Christ when they are at home for those few hours in the evening before they go to bed? Or in the morning? Are there a few things that you do intentionally to kind of shape them in those hours?

Melissa: One of the things that we do, we used to have family Bible reading time at night. Actually I’ll be honest, my husband would do that; that was my break time. He would go and read them a Bible story or whatever, and they’d talk about it. Now that they’re all in school, that time has actually changed to the morning. We all sit at the breakfast table, we have a devotional and some time to talk about it, and we take time as a family to pray together. We have cards for each day. It’s nice having a family of five, so each day we pray for a different person in our family. Then we have a missionary or a leader in our community that we pray for. What’s been great about that is that our kids get to know a little bit about the different missionaries we support, and they get to pray for their school, the community of our city, and our state, and our president. We’re trying to teach these habits again by actually doing it. I hope that when they go off, they’ll remember like, “Oh, you don’t just pray for your needs. You’re supposed to pray for what’s going on in your community and for missionaries who are far from us,” and things like that. Again, we’ve just found example in day-to-day life impacts more than anything else. I never really sat down with my kids and said, “You need to read the Bible everyday.” I mean, I am sure maybe I’ve said that at some point, but I’ll see all of my children choosing to read their Bibles. It’s this amazing thing – you pray for that for years, and they really do follow our example of what they see our lives being about. That’s a beautiful thing. My 11-year-old will say, “I need a devotional mom. I’ve got to get on it.” I am glad she’s holding me accountable to get hold of one. I like it.

Emily:  It’s so encouraging too because no matter what we choose for our education method, that’s still something we can all do in the home. It’s just something that can be universal, and sometimes people can feel like, “Oh, if you homeschooled, it may be a little bit easier to do that later in your day.” But you can still do that, whether you do private school or public school. I love that.

Melissa:  That’s right.

Laura:  Melissa, something that I know in any major decision that we make outside of schooling is a lot of times we just go through a lot of second-guessing or anxiety. Maybe you’ve made the decision, but down the road you’re feeling, “Oh my goodness, I’m not sure if that was right.” Did you ever struggle through guilt or anxiety over your decision? And what gospel hope did you kind of preach to yourself in that moment?

Melissa: Every time the bill comes through the mail, I am just like, “Huh, are we going to be able to do this every year?” Because I would say definitely with private, Christian education, the reality is there’s a very literal cost that you’re seeing every month. You have to say, “Could this money have gone to missionaries?” This is the guilt I feel sometimes; like better use of resources. I mean, that’s always the question you’re asking yourself when it comes to paying for private school. At that point you have to go back, you look at each other and you say, “This is probably what we want to keep doing.” You therefore pray about it a lot and then realize that there is freedom to how we do use our money. We’ve decided that this is worth it in the end, and we’re so thankful for what they’re getting to learn and to be a part of there, and how it’s reinforcing some of the things that we hope for them to love: just to see all of education through the lens of “God made the world” and “God cares about these different subjects.” I have good friends who’ve made every single choice. Some have made every single choice as one individual for public school. They’ve done all of the different private schools. The good news of the gospel is we are not saved by our parenting choice about what school they go to. There’s definitely the sense of God can work in their lives in the public school system. I mean, I became a Christian through the public school system through ministry at public school. That’s one reason why I wanted to go back into the public school. But he can also build up their faith through private, Christian education. He can also build up the family and the home through homeschooling. He is at work in all of these places.

That’s the hope for us as parents – that we can trust he is going to lead and guide us based on numerous factors about where he puts us. That he has a reason for us to be in whichever place he’s placed us. That’s what we hold onto. We have a good God who is over all things, and we can trust he’s leading our family’s lives.

Emily:  That is a big encouragement. Something you pulled out that I notice I’ve done is oftentimes we bring our own experiences of school into the equation. Which, I think, is good in a lot of ways because we should learn from experiences from the past. But also, more than that, we need to trust God with whatever circumstances he’s given us, and whatever he’s leading us to do. I know for me, I sometimes bring bad memories or experiences into it, and it’s like, “No, I can trust God that he can work differently than maybe what experience I had.” But then you’re saying, as well, even if we don’t get to do exactly what we preferred, or how he worked in our situation, it’s still, “No, he can work in our children’s lives. He’s not constrained by our schooling choice, and he’s actually sovereign over that.” Thanks for bringing that out.

Melissa:  It’s interesting. I really had a hard time deciding to do private, Christian school because I felt like my faith had grown so much because I was in a public environment. It just was always the opposite. I had to learn to be bold in sharing the gospel with people, because I was in this large public high school. I was concerned that my kids would never learn to do that. But what I’ve loved watching is how every year, all throughout elementary school, they have Missions Week at my kids’ school. Every one of my kids just has this heart for the nations. My oldest daughter right now is actually working with this soccer ministry, and she is with this whole group of young girls from Nepal. They’re here in our city, and she comes back glowing, giddy to work with them. God has worked on her heart to give her a love for sharing the gospel with people and working with these kids. It’s just wonderful to see that it’s him in our children that makes them love sharing the gospel with people. It’s not just the experiences we have, which, so often we can think, “Oh, it’s because I grew up this way.” But that is just how he worked in me, so he can work differently in them. But yes, it’s tough and you always worry about these things as you’re parenting. [Laughter]

Laura:  And with that Melissa, what would you say to a mom listening, and even her husband – I know a lot of husbands listen to Risen Motherhood actually, which is pretty cool. [Laughter] Maybe the wives are making them, I am not really sure – But what advice would you offer to two parents, or a mom that is thoughtfully and prayerfully wanting to work through the various education options? How do they really find out what the right fit is? The million dollar question, right? [laughter]

Melissa:  Yes, that’s right. The first thing, obviously, is to pray that the Lord would give you not just wisdom, but also what I like to call kind of “divine encounters.” That you talk to just the right person at just the right time, and that the Lord will guide you in that. That he would just give you really good insight on what is going on. But also I do think it matters so much for your individual child. As we all know, every child is different even if they come from the same two parents. We have three very different children, so every education choice isn’t necessarily the same, even for every child. I know friends who have children who are really gifted in certain musical talents; they’ve chosen public school for high school because the kids had more opportunity there than they could at a private school in our situation. Be open to all the options and really research them as you’re thinking through this. Be open-hearted before the Lord and willing to do what he might ask you to do. That might seem very outside of your box; I know for many of my friends, homeschooling did not feel like anything they ever thought they would do. They have found themselves homeschooling and actually loved it. I’ve watched different people make choices that were kind of outside of their box. I feel like they’ve been women who I respect so much because they’ve been open-hearted to what the Lord wanted. They haven’t just said, “No, this is what I want.” They’ve really looked at their child and said, “I need to do what’s best for my child. Not just what I think might be easiest.” Or, “I have something to prove by doing either option.” I do believe he just directs us in all these things.

Laura:   I wonder how many moms out there who are past the decision-making stage, or at least the initial decision-making stage, will actually say that they did what they thought they would do with their education choice. [Laughter]

Melissa:  I know. That’s a really good question. I was even a teacher, and I was terrified to homeschool. But I ended up homeschooling my kids one semester. We lived overseas in England, so it was just easier to homeschool them because we were there for just a little time. I asked my kids afterwards, “Would you all want to do that again?” [They were like, “No!” I laughed. I was actually a teacher; it should have been easy. They were like, “We’d really rather go back to the school mom.” I said, “That’s great, we’ll do that.” [Laughter]

Emily:  That’s great. Well, we really appreciate you being willing to come on and share from somebody who’s much further ahead of us in the process and to offer encouragement and hope. I know it’s the same for many moms who are listening and kind of wringing their hands, wondering what to do and feeling afraid of making the wrong choice– that we do have freedom in Christ and we can trust God. More than anything, we can pour into the culture of our home by just working out an authentic relationship with Christ in front of our kids and living out that day by day. Yes, and just trusting him. Here I am just preaching it to myself instead of listening. [Laughter] Thank you so much for joining us.

Melissa:  Thanks for having me. It’s been fun.

Laura:  Thanks Melissa. Thanks for tuning in today to the Risen Motherhood podcast. We encourage you to check out our web page, risenmotherhood.com/education. On that page, we’ve made it easy to find all our resources on this topic, with links to interviews and the education questionnaire. Plus tons of additional articles and tools that we’ve found helpful for our families as we navigate this topic. And of course we’d love it if you came and found us on social media, where you can keep up with the ministry of Risen Motherhood. You’ll find us @risenmotherhood on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thanks for joining us.



This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Emily, here with Laura, and we are really excited to kick off a 4-part series all about education and the gospel. This is something that has been on our minds and hearts to talk about for a really long time. We’ve been planning this for a very long time and it’s finally happening. We’re really excited.

Laura:  We’re really excited. It feels like we didn’t know how to do it justice, but we’re hopeful that through doing this 4-part series, we can really run the gamut about education. Just a quick note: if you’re looking for any of our resources, or the interviews, head to risenmotherhood.com/education. That’s where you’re going to find all of our information that we’ve referenced on today’s show, or any of the future shows. That is going to be a learning page. We’ve created a special spot, so it’s really easy for you to find anything that we mention, talk about, or do on education.

Emily:  This came out of the reality that Laura and I now have older kiddos – mine is five-and-a-half, and Laura’s is about to turn five. Over the last couple of years, we’ve really been processing education decisions. But it’s really on our doorstep now, and we, first hand, have to test all the different factors that can make this decision really challenging and scary at times. First of all, there’s a lot of options. Even if you get down to a specific category—let’s say you’re looking at homeschool—there’s co-ops, or there’s classical education. So even within a category, there’s a lot of options. That can be overwhelming.

Laura: And along with options, there are a lot of opinions. There are people that you love and respect and that you admire greatly in your life. Maybe they’re speaking into how you should educate your child, and maybe you disagree. Or maybe you agree. It doesn’t matter, but there are a lot of opinions, and they can come at you pretty fast.

Emily:  There’s also pressure, even from the culture. The culture sends a message about our children and their education, and how critical it is for their survival in the world. But even Christian culture, as well, can put a lot of pressure on feeling like, “I’ve got to protect my kids in a certain way. Or I’ve got to bring them up in this certain way that feels like it conflicts with the culture’s expectations.” There’s just lots of pressure.

Laura:  Then there are all of the different needs of your individual child or your individual family. There are learning differences and personalities needs. Some of our kids respond differently to peer pressure, extra-curricula activities, or all these things. Therefore, you’re not only taking in all of these outside things, but then you’re also trying to look at what is the best decision for my own children and for our family, while looking at their different needs.

Emily:  Laura and I have personally experienced going through—even when our first child was born—kind of what we thought we would do and now, what we’re actually doing, and we’ve made different decisions along the way. One thing for us—I mentioned on a previous show—we kind of thought, “Oh, we’re going to homeschool.” Then a lot of different things in our lives changed, including having a child with special needs, who’s probably going to need to be in a public school environment where he can have a lot of adaptations and help, like special staff set up for him. Also, we have our hands more full than we thought, and we have a great private, Christian school in our community that does a lot of things that we’re doing at home. It’s just really interesting how with more information, time, and circumstance, we’ve had to take the decision—already—one year at a time. I think we will continue to do that over the course of our lives.

Laura:  Emily, you’ve felt like you were pretty sure in your decision originally. Then slowly, every time, God has changed your heart through outside circumstances, unity with your husband, and things like that. For me, I am a little bit different, where I’ve always felt pretty loosey-goosey about school. Kind of like, “Oh, I don’t know, we’ll deal. I am open to all the options.” I mean, literally I’ve gone the gamut between homeschool to private to public, and I had a lot of stress about all the decisions. As it got nearer and nearer I felt like, “Oh, this is the deal.” Now I am really stressing out about it, and I wasn’t sure what to do. Actually, I am still not completely sure what next year looks like. We’re still not sure!

Emily:  None of us are still sure. [laughs]

Laura:  It’s just day-by-day around here. That’s just a small example from two moms who are seeking the Lord in our education decisions for our children. You can see how we’ve come at this from totally different perspectives actually.

Emily:  Yes, we have, and it’s something that you bring all these factors together. What we want to do on this show is set the tone for these upcoming interviews. To say that there really isn’t one clear, biblical, superior choice in terms of schools, or certain types of private school, or public school, or homeschool. There are a lot of different options that can work and still accomplish our mission and our calling as parents. These interviews that we have coming up are really not to talk on the pros and cons, or to try to convince you of a specific option. But they’re more for you to see how different parents in different situations came to their different choices. Hopefully, at the end you’ll feel like, “Oh, they all had really different and good reasoning for what they decided ultimately.”

Laura: One caveat that we do want to make on this show is that we want to recognize that it is a real blessing to even have so many choices in the different ways that we educate our children. And like math, science, and reading, and all of those things, it’s a real luxury how we’re able to have a lot of different choices. We also know that maybe some of you don’t have great options around you. Or maybe you don’t have the resources to execute what your preferred option would be. Maybe you’re a single mom, or maybe both parents work outside the home. Or maybe you have a child with significant needs, like Emily was talking about, where it feels a little bit like the choice is being made for you. We just want to recognize that for a moment, and then also say that we still hope that you will get some hope from these shows from knowing that there is freedom in the decision that you make. Even if you feel like there aren’t a lot of options for you at the moment.

Emily:  Even if you are a parent who’s felt like there is a “one way is the best way” we also hope that, as you’re listening through these shows, it’ll just give you a wider view of the way that people come to their decisions, as well as all of the different factors that are out there. When you’re conversing with a friend who’s made a different decision, maybe you’re a little bit more charitable in trying to understand where she’s coming from. Both of you can look together at, “How are we going to fulfil the calling that God has in our lives to raise our children in the Lord?”

Laura:  Here’s who you’re going to be hearing from. You’re going to hear from Melissa Kruger about private education, from Irene Sun about homeschool, and Jen Wilkin will be back on the show—our first returning guest—to talk about public school. We’re really thrilled for these shows; we’ve already obviously recorded them and listened to them. We think you’re going to be very encouraged by what these women have to say about freedom in the gospel for education choices. Let’s jump in to see what the gospel really says.

Emily:  First of all, I guess the Bible has a lot to say about how we educate our children in general. I am just using that as a broad sweep of all of the things that we need to teach them.

Laura:  The most common verses that people look at are Deuteronomy 6:4-9, which talks all about how you should teach your children diligently to know the Lord. That one’s really common one, and most of you have probably heard those verses. You can look it up, and we’ll obviously include all of this scripture on our show notes. Another couple are Proverbs 22:6-9, “Train the child up in a way that he should go. Even when he’s old he will not depart from it.” And Ephesians 6:4, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” But of course when we read the Bible, we read as it a whole, and we look at the whole story of the gospel. As we look at it from even an aerial view, we see that what we’re called to do is just to raise our children up in knowing God. We want to teach wisdom, things like how do you select friends, how do you do your finances, how do you make decisions, how do you resist temptation, teach what it looks like to walk in righteousness, what it looks like to walk in the path of destruction, and this is just simply discipleship. Then finally, we want to just teach the greatest commandments of loving the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and then to love your neighbor. We want to teach our children what the Bible says, who God is, and the great story and great plan that he has for our lives.

Emily:  We’ve talked about this a lot on many shows; I think we touch on it in some way on every show. That the culture of our home matters, and that’s really how we are making disciples of our children—that it is what goes on with mom and dad. Or if you’re married to an unbelieving husband, even what you can do as a mom to pass on your authentic faith to your children and teach them to obey God. The reality is we are all called in some ways to give our children a Christian education in the sense that we should be passing along things of the Lord to them. The question is when and how does that happen? What does that actually look like in your own family? That’s going to vary and differ from person to person. Additionally, we have another question sometimes, which is, where are they going to learn math, science, social studies, reading, music, art? Some of those other things. That, again, may have a different answer for each family. Just because they go somewhere to learn their subjects doesn’t mean that they are not still getting their Christian education in the home, or that they’re still not being exposed to the things of the Lord. They can still be learning all of those critical things and hear about these other subjects in a lot of different ways.

Laura:  Something that Emily and I have talked a lot about is the tension with all of this. It can feel very heavy when selecting a school, even though we see that there’s freedom in the gospel. On one level, there’s this big burden about feeling like, “Oh my goodness, school matters too. Is it enough? Is what I am doing at home enough? If they’re out there, exposed to all of these other things, or if they’re homeschooled and exposed to all of my sin and failure.” It doesn’t matter what direction, but it feels so heavy about, “How am I going to do this, and invest well in my children on the one hand?” But at the same time, we know there is a freedom from the law, and from feeling like we have to get everything perfectly, or else our kids are going to turn out terribly.

Emily:  That’s a tension that we’re learning to hold—that the gospel doesn’t diminish either one of those. It doesn’t say God’s laws and standards don’t matter. The gospel says, “Jesus came to fulfil the law.” He came to be perfect and to take the punishment on our behalf, and to give us full righteousness before God. Because that’s the way we’re operating, then out of the gratitude in our heart and a desire to love the Lord, we want to obey him. Even though it’s still really hard, and there are still challenges. These two things are real, and you may feel them as you’re listening through the rest of the shows and interviews. Just remember that the gospel has an answer to that tension.

Laura:  I think, too, it’s good to look at Romans 14; we talked about this more in-depth on Episode 56: Freedom with Food. But we see how Paul is talking to the believers in the early church all about how we shouldnt be quarrelling about differences and opinions. He’s specifically speaking about food. How you eat does matter to the body; there is an element of, “You need to be careful about what you eat.” But at the same time, food isn’t what makes us clean or unclean. It isn’t our identity. It’s something that we can apply to education; that the way we educate our children in the math and sciences and different things like that is really important. But it’s not the end all, be all. It’s not where we’re going to find our identity or righteousness.

Emily:  It’s not what we put in us from the outside that defiles us. It’s what’s inside, and we talked about that on an episode we did on influences. If you want to go down that path a little bit, then what really makes us clean is Christ. We don’t need to rely on a certain method of education, or a certain way of keeping what we think is a righteous law in our lives to make us right before God.

Laura:  When we hold that, and we understand the place of education in a Christian’s life, we don’t need to feel this sense of superiority or even a sense of inferiority, based on the schooling method that we choose. Especially when, at home, that child is receiving—as we were saying—the Christian education which is the baseline that the Lord is charging us with. We don’t have to look at a certain education style as being sinful, wrong, or unwise. It’s important to acknowledge strengths and weaknesses of course, and every option has strengths and every option has weaknesses. But that doesn’t mean that we are allowed to snob our nose because someone’s picked something different, or that there is something so inferior and beneath us.

Emily:  Going along with that, we don’t have to make decisions out of fear. I know something that I’ve wrestled with a lot in the schooling choice is of being afraid of how something is going to impact my child. We can be aware of it, and we can know that there are implications of every choice you make, but God is sovereign over that, and he can work for our good and his glory in the midst of whatever thing we choose. I love that Jen Wilkin is going to bring this up: “We’re the parent. We can change our minds if there’s something we feel is impacting our children down the road.  We deal with that and we take that to the Lord.” It’s just so important for me to remember that we need to fear God, not our schooling choice, or the people around us and what they’re going to think.

Laura: I like that point Emily, how there is freedom to change. We talked about that on just our previous episode, Changing Our Minds in Motherhood. How commonly that can happen both in little things and even in big things like this. Whenever we trust in God and in his plan for our lives, things are going to happen. We can’t foresee the future; maybe you’re going to move, maybe the charter school you have chosen has closed. Maybe you end up needing to work when you had previously wanted to homeschool. I don’t know all the ways or all the different things that might happen in your life, but you might be surprised by some of the decisions you have to make. It is therefore important to hold that very loosely.

Emily:  No matter what we decide - our theme for this year is unity in the gospel. It’s to remember even within our own church body, or friend group, that people are going to make different decisions. We want to look at it like, “What is our mission as moms? How can we encourage our sister in Christ—that general term ‘Christian education’—to be discipling her child? How can we come alongside each other in that instead of dividing and kind of judging?” Just assuming the worst of somebody’s choice when you don’t always know all the ins and outs of what went into their decision. We can do a lot more of encouraging each other to walk in grace and to obey God in whatever our circumstances are, rather than trying to pass out what’s the best way for all of us to do it.

Laura:  In light of this, we’ve actually put together a document. Emily and I have worked pretty hard on this document to bring together a bunch of questions that you can work through. Our hope is that maybe you work through this with your husband, or maybe with some other believing moms friends, or some other couple friends. This will be something that will help you at least get the conversation started and to think about, “What does scripture says about education? What do our current lives look like? What are the options that we have around us?” Maybe we should jump into a couple of the questions. But before that, I want to say you are going to find this @risenmotherhood.com/education. It’s a free pdf; we want all of you guys to be able to access this. Head over there if you’re intrigued or you’re thinking about the school option. But let’s jump through a few questions as a little teaser.

Emily:  First off, we walk through some questions like we did on the show of, “What is God’s Word say about education? What are his expectations for us as parents, and how we’re to raise our children?”

Laura:  I want to say here, don’t take our word for it.

Emily:  Go find out for yourselves. [laughs]

Laura:  Yes! You guys, don’t just listen to our podcast like, “This is what the Bible says.” If you’ve listened to Risen Motherhood long enough, you know that we want you to double check us and to be make sure that this stuff is true and really biblically aligned.

Emily:  Then, thinking about the vision for your family. Or maybe thinking about the unique culture that you have in your homes, and how you are going to help align your education method with the culture that you have in your home.

Laura:  Other types of questions that we have on there are thinking about, “What are some educational options that are even available to you?” Like we talked about, not everybody has the privilege of having 15 different types of methods that they can choose to educate their children. Looking at idols: are you holding anything too tightly or are you not considering a very valid choice? Even thinking about, “Hey, let’s think about our children—what are some strengths and weaknesses? What are their needs?” As Emily and I have talked about a lot, we have kids with special needs, and that’s something that really impacts our decisions.

Emily:  Even holding that intentionally like, “What are the whole family’s needs?” and saying, “Is it okay? Is there something creative that we can do here?” Also, have you even considered the strengths and weaknesses of what you are choosing? Maybe for whatever reason, you are a person who’s like, “Well, I don’t really have a choice right now.” You can still look at that education decision and say, “What are some areas I might need to fill in a gap as a parent because that school, or that option, isn’t going to offer that?” And, “What are some things that are really strengths that that style has that we can play to and be excited about?”

Laura: We hope that you guys will check out this entire pdf, and we really hope that it will serve as a launch pad, or a springboard, for further discussion in your own homes. Also, we hope that you will tune in to all of our subsequent interviews that we have coming up. These women are so wise, they’re down the path farther than us, and they can offer a lot more. We hope that you’ll tune in to all three, even if you feel like, “Oh no, I am naturally gravitating towards this.” As we said, it’s not about, “Hey, here’s why you should choose this schooling method.” It’s all about freedom in the gospel, and how different families come to different decisions for their own way of educating. So head over to risenmotherhood.com/education for all of this stuff. We’ll be continuing to add to it throughout the month as we have more interviews released or more blog posts. If you like stuff like this, we want to ask if you’d be willing to contribute and support us on Patreon.

Emily:  This obviously takes a lot of time, and we use a lot of different equipment. There’s a lot of coordinating and just a ton that goes into something like this; not just our regular show, but to do a special 4-part series. Again, that would be really helpful to us as we continue running Risen Motherhood, doing new things, and investing so that we can continue to reach moms with the gospel. You can find that @patreon.com/risenmotherhood.

Laura:  There are also other links from our sites; it should be very easy to find that. We’d really appreciate it as we’re entirely funded by our community at Risen Motherhood, and we’re very grateful for that. Head over to Risen Motherhood, and follow us on social media for more stuff like this, @risenmotherhood - Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, and we will see you next week with our very first interview with Melissa Kruger.

Emily:  Thanks, guys.


EP. 92 || Learning, Growing, & Changing Our Minds: How the Gospel Frees us to Do Something Different Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Laura, and I have my sister-in-law, Emily here with me.

Today we just want to highlight one quick thing for you guys. Did you all know that we have a blog?

Emily:  Yes, we do! [ laughter]

Laura:  Well, if you haven’t seen our blog yet, we would encourage you to check it out on risenmotherhood.com. We’ve added a lot of different voices, which we’re really excited about. And we try to talk about more specific topics than what we talk about here on the show.

In general, we try to reserve the show for some pretty broad topics that every mom can find some ability to relate to. For the blog though, our hope is to be able to not only do that, but also dive into some specific topics that maybe we can’t go into depth here on the show.

You can subscribe to get our blog and new shows straight to your inbox, via email, on our website. It’s on our homepage. We’ll toss a link in the show notes too so you can see where it’s at.

Emily:  Also, you can subscribe to our newsletter which comes out once a month. It’s put together by our blog editor, Autumn Kern. She does an amazing job; she pulls together a lot of resources that we share with her, as well as writes a sweet letter. It’s full of really good stuff.

In fact, I was reading it when it came out in February, and was just like, “I am going to click on this stuff. This stuff is really good!” [laughter]

Laura:  Yes, she does a great job curating a lot of things. It’s things that we don’t necessarily share on social media, so it’s new stuff and we definitely think you’re going to love it.

Hit “subscribe” for that. It’s also on our website. It’s a different email subscription though, and just because you subscribe to one, doesn’t mean you will get both. We want to make sure that it’s easy for you to get the information you want from Risen Motherhood.

Emily:  Today we’re talking about changing our mind in motherhood. Some of you can think of times you changed your mind on something small and silly. [laughter] But you still felt a little awkward and embarrassed about it.

Laura:  Yes. I remember I cloth-diapered my son for the first year of his life. It was good, like nothing really went wrong with it. But I ended up switching to disposable diapers by baby two. It was one of those things where I had touted the benefits of cloth-diapering ––Emily:  You had all these blog posts about it, you preached the word on it!

Laura:  –– I was like, “I am done spraying the poop off the diaper! I would really like to just throw it away and never deal with it again.” [laughter]

Emily:  We all have those things before we come into motherhood that you’re like, “I am never going to let my kid _____.” Then one day you realize, “Oh, that’s my kid right there doing that thing I said they were not going to do.” There are definitely little things that we change our mind about.

Laura:  But then there are the big things that we change our minds on, and these ones are a little bit harder and a little more dicey. But Emily and I are both going to share some quick examples of ways that we have changed our minds.

Emily:  One that we’ve really wrestled through a lot with schooling. Some of you guys may have heard me talk about it - on previous podcasts two years ago or something - that we were planning to homeschool.

I mean, we wrote this in our family vision statement, we built our house and put a place in our house that was for homeschooling. We were going to do this, and then as time went on and we had five kids in five years, we just found our hands very full.

Our now two-year-old has developmental delays, and I take him to doctors and therapists all the time. When I had our fifth baby, I was just like, “Wow, we are just trying to hold it together.”

We ended up putting our oldest son in early kindergarten, at a school here in town. Through a lot of discussion, we just ended up looking at the next year or two and saying, “Hey, this probably isn’t the best thing for our family right now. The best thing would be to go ahead and partner with a school that can help educate our children.”

It was something that was difficult and I felt like, “Oh, I am doing something different. Does that mean that I am being unfaithful or that I am a failure?” But that’s not what it means. It just means we didn’t have all the information, and we want to continue to grow and change as God brings new things into our lives.

Laura:  I’ve a very similar story, but on a different topic. We ended up going through the adoption process – about halfway through it. You guys have heard me talk about it – and we have a whole show about adoption – where I talked about our journey.

It’s funny because God has changed our family plan so many times. [laughter]

We started out not wanting to adopt, then he moved our hearts to wanting to adopt, then wanting a third biological baby. And that third baby also has some significant delays as well. To be really honest, it feels like I’ve never been able to pin down our family plan. But we were still moving through the adoption process.

But this past fall, we came to a new milestone where we’d be looking at needing to put some significant funds down and also possibly getting our children a little bit earlier than we expected – all of that combined with our daughter who has needs and our move to Iowa. It just felt like it wouldn’t be a wise decision at this time to bring two additional children into our family with their own needs. Like Emily said, it’s hard when you change your mind on something big and that you’ve been public about. [laughter] I feel like, “Gosh, this is all over social media. I’ve talked about my passion and love for adoption on the show, on social media, with my friends. Everybody knows we’re doing this.” I felt a lot of shame and sadness, and like, “Gosh, we’re not fulfilling what we set out to do.” I felt like a failure because I felt like, “We should be able to do this. This is something that is good, and it’s not wrong.” But as we were evaluating and praying, God led my husband and I to unity on these things, and we knew it was the right decision. But that doesn’t change a lot of those hard feelings that come with it.

Emily:  You may be thinking right now of a decision that you’re either struggling to change your mind on because you are feeling those same things. Like, “I already told everyone in my church or friend group that we were going to do this or that thing. Now what? Do I take it back? Does that make me look like a bad mom? A bad parent? Does that make me look like I’m not very godly?”

We also have to admit that we’re not in control. When we change our minds, even though we don’t say it out loud, it’s like, “Woops, I didn’t know everything at the time, and there’s new circumstances. I am human and I am limited.” [laughs]

Laura:  It’s definitely very humbling to change your mind, especially on these big things. There’s a lot of uncomfortable feelings that come with that: shame, humiliation and embarrassment. It’s just uncomfortable to talk about it.

Emily:   I will say something I’ve noticed is that the discomfort for us, at least in some of these big decisions, hasn’t been between my husband and I. We can come to a consensus and feel at peace with where God has us and our conscience can be totally clean.

But then when I go to tell a friend about it, or I go tell somebody else, that’s when I start to feel a little embarrassed. That’s not conviction from the Lord. That’s me being afraid of what other people think.

Laura:  Fear of man. And for you it may not be adoption or schooling. Maybe it’s a change in how you work, how much you work, or where you work. Maybe it’s a change in your discipline strategy, or the method of how you breastfeed or bottle-feed. Or how you sleep train your kids or structure your day. A lot of those things can feel very big. Possibly it’s a change in how you work your childcare – maybe it’s changing up babysitters, or it’s childcare to day-care. Maybe it’s switching what day-care you use. Or change in where you live. I know for me, I said that I would never move away from my family. And three years ago, we moved away from family to Chicago, with no family at all. Now we’re back, but that was something where I had to say like, “Oh, I’ve been touting this, that I’ll never move away. And then woop, we’re moving away.” [laughter]

Emily:   Yes. One thing that can help us as we’re processing this is to think about who we are in relation to God. God is unlimited; he doesn’t have to keep learning and growing because he’s unchangeable and he already knows everything. He can make the best decision in any situation because he sees every single facet of every factor. He has every bit of information, and he’s wise – he knows the best thing to do with that for his glory and for our good. We are not God though. [laughs]

Laura:  Right. That leads us to why we change our minds so frequently. One is just the fact that there is sin in our lives, and we make the wrong choices for the wrong reasons. Another is because of human limitations. But if we look at just the sin part first, that’s where our motives are tainted with wrong thinking. We are inherently selfish, we’re prideful, and we don’t just worship God. We’re constantly having to reorient our hearts. Sometimes we have to change our minds because we simply made a wrong decision out of sin. We have to learn to grow in maturity as a believer, and we’re able to repent. We’ll get to that in a minute – I’m jumping ahead. But that is one of the reasons; it’s just that sin taints our decision-making.

Emily:   Another reason that Laura alluded to is our limitations as people. I recently read this kind of funny article about how we always tend to look back at our past selves and think, “I was kind of an idiot back then.” [laughter] But we know our future selves are going to look back on our current selves and think that too. In the article this guy said, “You would never look at your two-year-old and chastise him for not being able to tie his shoelaces. He literally couldn’t have done that at that point in time. That didn’t mean he was an idiot. He just wasn’t there yet.” In our limitations, we grow and change in our lives; we don’t have all the information. Even if we’re making a decision, we can’t know every facet of the way everything is going to turn out. We just have to make the best choice we can at the time with the information that we have – because we’re human.

Laura:  In redemption, because of Jesus, we know that we can be changed at a heart level. We now have the Holy Spirit that allows us to see and understand the wisdom of the Lord. We can start to discern spiritual truths to grow as a believer. We can repent and we can turn back to God over and over again, and improve and learn from those mistakes.

We can also walk by faith, knowing and trusting in God’s plan, even when we don’t know the future. I often think of the many characters in the Bible who made a lot of decisions without knowing the future.  Like the midwives in Egypt; when they saved those babies, they didn’t know if Pharaoh was going to kill them. But they were able to make those decisions in faith, not because they knew the future but because they trusted in God’s sovereignty.

Emily:   God used that as part of his redemptive plan. That’s key; we don’t know how God is using our decisions to further his kingdom, and we probably won’t know all the ins and outs of that. And that’s okay. Just a few principles as we think about our lives and how to apply this when we are struggling through a situation where we may need to change our minds is to remember first of all, that Proverbs 16:9 says, “A man‘s heart plans his ways. But the Lord determines his steps.” Again, it’s great to be prudent, to make plans and to have hopes and expectations that we think are in line with God’s will. But ultimately, God brings circumstances into our lives that we couldn’t have predicted. Or he shows us our limitations [laughs] in a new way - like you just hit a wall. Then he changes things, and that’s okay for things to be different than we originally planned. Because they are not different from what God originally planned [laughs]

Laura:  You make the best decision that you can with the information that you have at the time. That’s what I continue to go back to as my husband and I talk. As we were talking about some things that were frustrating and we didn’t understand, “Why did we make those decisions? Why did God lead us down that path?” We just have to remind ourselves we were faithful in that moment to make those decisions. But ultimately, the Lord determines our steps; therefore we want to hold our plans with a loose hand, knowing that we want to give those to God.

Emily:   Just to give some practical examples, maybe one of you – you or your husband – lost your job. Or you ended up with a child with special needs – kind of like what happened with Laura and I. Maybe you have twins or triplets and that changes things for your family dynamics. Maybe you have a parent or a family member who becomes really sick and you need to devote more time to caring for them or being near them. Or maybe your house is damaged. There could be so many things that come up in life that should be taken into consideration, and God brings those with his sovereignty.

Laura:  Yes. Another thing that we can apply from scripture is how we can grow and change as believers. I think of Romans 12:2 – “Don’t conform to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you’ll be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good and pleasing and perfect will.”

When we keep our eyes fixed on the ultimate goal, which is Christ, and growing in righteousness and in our relationship with him, we will continue to lay down our lives, desires, and personal preferences all to do the will of the Father. It is a wonderful mark of the believer to be able to grow and change and realize like, “Whoa, I am starting to think like God thinks.” You know, thinking thoughts like him. Not that you are all powerful and omnipotent, but you know him so well that you love the same things that he loves and hate the same things that he hates. That is something that we grow in as believers. It is a wonderful gift that our faith would mature and then we start changing – maybe – how you spend your time, or you change in what you do with your kids. This could be something as simple as, “Hey, I am going to change the way we do screen time because I feel like I am growing in my faith.” This starts to infiltrate every area of a believer’s life. You may see areas that you didn’t two years ago, but that now you start to say, “Hmm, in order to really live out my calling and be faithful to what God has for me, we’re going to tweak a few of these things.” It might be small and it might be really big.

Emily:  That’s the goal – that we are conforming our will to God’s will, which can be little things. Laura and I talk about this in our personal relationship all the time – things that we are noticing or doing or changing. Laura mentioned screen time; that was a change we made in our family recently because we realized we’re getting too wrapped up in it and making it too important. I think it’s a mark of a true believer to see things like that, and notice what’s going on in our heart and repent. It should be encouraging to us that the Holy Spirit is bringing to mind things that we need to change and repent of. You may be listening and things are coming to your mind that you feel like, “I kind of sense that God’s been asking me to re-evaluate this,” or, “I think we do need to change our mind on something and I am afraid to tell people about it.” It’s good to be able to process what that means.

Laura:  It could be something really small like, “Ooh, this day is going way off track. I’m off track and on a total warpath with my kids.” You know what, you can change. We have a whole show about that called “A Bad Moment Doesn’t Make a Bad Day,” and it is such a relief to me. I need to actually probably re-listen to that show, because I love remembering that I do not have to stay the same and I can change even in this moment. I can choose my attitude and align my heart to God’s. Another thing, is there a grey matter, or a personal preference that you’re holding tightly to? As Emily was talking about, you might be feeling some conviction from the Holy Spirit. I want to encourage you that if you’re feeling a nudge from the Holy Spirit to change, listen to your nudge. When we ignore that, it impacts our ability to continue discerning God’s will and to grow and change. So listen to that, and don’t ignore it, mom.

Emily:  Just because you want to change your mind, repent, and conform to God’s will, there may be a biblical ideal or standard you’re holding to that’s starting to feel really hard. Maybe you’re feeling tempted to change your mind and go in the other direction because you want to do something easier. A last, little encouragement – if we are tempted, God can offer a way of escape. He can sustain us and help us to persevere. This definitely doesn’t mean change your mind because things are too hard. But continue growing into the likeness of Christ and re-evaluating your decisions as God brings new circumstances into your life.

Laura:  One quick note I want to point out. Emily and I both talked about some really big changes that we made in our lives. If you are struggling to make a change because of fear of man, or fear of what other people will think, I want to encourage you to trust God with those responses of other people. Know that your standing is before the Lord. You do not have to worry about what other people think or say about you behind your back, or whatever their opinions may be because you’re ultimate worth is found in the Lord. That has been so key for me to remember: My worth isn’t found in someone else’s disappointment. Thank goodness. [laughter]

Emily:  Praise the Lord. If you want more information on this, go to our show notes, Risenmotherhood, and we’ll be talking more about some of these things @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for joining us.

If you’re thinking about the school thing, and this came up in your mind, definitely tune back in next week. We have a 4-part series all about school and evaluating that very difficult decision.

Laura:  Thanks, guys.



This transcript was edited for clarity.  

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. We’re excited to kick off today’s show with a special announcement you may have heard if you’re following us over on social media @RisenMotherhood. That’s where we tend to make new, big announcements because we record these in advance. But we are writing a book!  “Risen Motherhood,” the book!

Laura:  It’s always weird to make announcements to Emily’s closet; [laughter] basically that’s what we’re doing right now.

Emily:  Yes, my husband’s work jeans just got really excited [laughter] about that. It’s coming out Fall 2019. We don’t have a ton of details yet because we’re in the manuscript writing phase, so pray for us.

Laura:  Brutal phase, but it’s fun.

Emily:  It’s this cool combination of really enjoyable and gratifying work, but also difficult in some ways. But we are excited to share the journey with you guys, so follow us - like I said – on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @risenmotherhood. But mostly Instagram is where we’ll share this.

Laura:  We do a lot of behind-the-scenes on Stories, so if you don’t watch our Stories, it’s totally fine. [laughter] But that’s where we’ll hop on and share behind-the-scenes looks.So on our show today we’re talking about what can sometimes feel like a little bit of a sensitive topic. We all have little crutches that we like to lean on, and we don’t want anybody to mess with our crutches.

We’re going to start off though by talking a little bit about ... just how motherhood drains you. [Laughs]

Emily:  Yes it does, and there are certainly seasons where it’s more draining than others. But one I always vividly remember is not long after my twins were born, I was actually pumping and bottle-feeding them, and at the time, our older child was like 16-months-old.

Laura:  We were all tired for you. [laughter]

Emily:  One of the first days that I was home all by myself all day long, I remember pumping with a bra. I was literally walking and pumping with my backpack on, trying to feed and take care of twins. My toddler baby is pushing a chair into the kitchen and climbing on stuff. Once I got everyone safe, I remember going to my room and literally hitting my knees and being like, “God, why did you do this to me? You have to help me.” Just being completely desperate and completely at the end of my rope and just feeling like, “I don’t know how I am going to survive this.” [laughter]

Laura:  I know. It’s funny now, but it’s never funny at the time, right?

Emily:  It’s not funny.

Laura:  We all have those moments we think of immediately. Every time someone asks me, “When were you at the most weak in motherhood?” I go back to my daughter’s colic. But I have talked about that so much on the show I am going to talk about a different time. [laughter] I think you guys are all like, “We know your daughter had colic, Laura.”

But the most recent was just this past summer – we were transitioning into having our third baby who was actually diagnosed with special needs. This was the same week that my husband broke his leg, ended up having surgery and was on crutches for three months. He was in a wheelchair for a few weeks, and it was just a really hard season with young, little kids. I had a husband that really could not help, and actually needed a lot of my help, and then dealing with a lot of grief on top of all of that. That was a season that I cried, not everyday, but I cried a lot of days. And when I cried, I cried really hard. [laughter] I just found it was a time where I was like, “I literally can’t do it. I’ve hit the wall.” You think you hit the wall a lot in motherhood. But then you slam into it one day, [laughter] and you’re like, “Oh, that’s the wall. [Laughter] Okay, I really did find the wall this time.”

Emily:  Maybe it’s something you can’t relate to, something that intense yet. But it’s something like you’ve just had three or four days in a row without much sleep. You just feel like, “I don’t know how I can carry on today.” Or maybe you have been trying to balance work and motherhood for whatever reason. You just feel like, “Hey, I am not doing a good enough job in either area and I am tired; I am worn out.” Maybe you just have a lot of work in the home that you’re having a hard time keeping up with. We all have laundry, and dishes and things that we have to coordinate on calendars. It can just be a lot and really overwhelming.

Laura:  It doesn’t have to be huge things; it can be a lot of these little things. Maybe even feeling lonely or isolated. Maybe it’s not something you’re doing everyday; it’s the fact that you don’t have friendships. Or maybe you don’t have fellow believers around you because you’re a single mom and feel really alone in your role. Or maybe you’re a missionary and you feel like there isn’t that local church support that you wish you had.

Emily:  But whatever it is, we all have these seasons, big and small, where we feel like we’re at the end of our rope. One thing we can do – Laura and I can relate to this – is rely on crutches or survival tools, aside from Jesus, which we’ll get to. I know one for me is – I have a lot – but I’ll share just one example.[laughter]

Laura:  We’re going to get vulnerable with you guys and tell you about our crutches.

Emily:  Yes. I think sweets is one of my crutches. Honestly if I don’t have them in my house, I am not too bad. But if I know I’ve got a bag of cookies sitting around, if it’s been a really stressful day, it’s usually about two in the afternoon, I just have one and I am like, “Hmm, that tasted good, and I deserve more of these.” Then – here’s the way my reasoning goes – “I am just going to eat the whole bag so they’re not a temptation anymore.” [Laughter]

Laura:  Incredibly logical.

Emily:  Then they’re not there anymore and I don’t have to walk by them. That’s one of many for me that can be after the fact that I know that was a gross overindulgence and completely unnecessary, but it made me think it was going to help me get through the day.

Laura:  Yes. For me, it’s similar because it’s a sweet treat, but it’s coffee. I love the froufrou coffee drinks. I don’t normally drink it; I usually have black. But I know that whenever I am having a hard day, or a hard season, I definitely go through the drive-through lane thinking, “I deserve this.” It’s very different than having a couple cups of coffee. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but definitely my heart attitude towards getting a froufrou, $5 drink is like, “Argh, I’ve had such a hard day. I totally need this.” I mean, I will go out of my way to get that coffee, and I feel like I can’t feel good until I have it. Then I get upset if I am not able to have it.

For me in certain seasons, I [laughs] definitely notice the coffee.

And for both of us – Emily and I were talking - our phones can be something we want to check out on. Or maybe it’s just a hard moment and we’re like, “Okay, let’s just go see what’s happening on pretty Instagram.”

Emily:  I’ll get to where I am sitting on the couch – again, this is usually at the end of the day, and I am yell-parenting from the couch. [laughter] I am just done and I am like, let me just sit here and look at my phone ... “Hey, what are you guys doing down there? Stop that!” [laughter]

We all have these things, and maybe you can’t relate to any of those. But maybe for you it’s wine - that’s something in mom culture we see a lot, and that’s fine. Laura and I have the occasional glass of wine. But maybe you’re drinking it to the point of drunkenness, you’re hiding it from people, or you’re doing it alone to cope. Maybe it’s the gym or exercising. Again, nothing wrong with being healthy, getting those endorphins and getting out your stress. But it can become a way that we’re just trying to cope with something.

Laura:  Or maybe it’s the fact that you are leaning on your friends; you need them to survive throughout the day. You’re constantly texting them, wanting to be with them and you feel like you can’t be home or you can’t be alone with yourself. Or maybe it’s inspirational quotes or sayings that are secular or of the world, telling you that you are doing enough, and you’re going to be okay, just try harder. Online shopping – it feels good. You get a thrill when you purchase new jeans on the internet. Or work – wanting to detach from your current home life and invest into work because you can see the productivity. You feel a little more successful, and there’s not a bunch of tiny barriers in your way for getting things done.

Emily:  Again, what we want to say, these, in and of themselves are not necessarily bad things. But when we’re using them as a crutch, that’s when it kind of goes into this area where our hearts are wrong. Laura shared a little bit about her husband breaking his leg, but what was that season like? He would have been hobbling around, but explain what happened. [laughter]

Laura:  The biggest thing that I always remember is that he was unable to use his hands during that season because they were full with the crutches. They were leaning on crutches, so he couldn’t really help me do anything.  He was incapable of really getting any work done, [laughter] or getting through anything. It was really hard as a wife. I was like, “Get a little fanny pack, honey. Just tuck your things there.” [laughter] Crutches – well let’s not take this analogy too far – but something with that is we’re looking for that quick fix. But ultimately, it’s sort of paralyzes you, and you’re not able to be effective.

Long term being on crutches doesn’t heal what is broken, it only helps you limp along. What helped my husband heal was having the surgery on his leg, and taking the time that it needed to heal. Not the crutches themselves; it just limped him along for a while. [Laughter] That’s kind of what we do with crutches. But really what we need is the healing of our savior. Instead, we’re just putting this band aid on through online shopping, or wine, or coffee or whatever it maybe.

Emily:  Yes. The gospel gives us a better way. We thought for this show, instead of going into creation, fall, redemption and restoration – we love that – we just wanted to bring out a couple stories about people who hit the end of their rope, or were completely paralyzed, or just needy people, and Jesus was so compassionate and merciful to them. This isn’t from the perspective of two Bible teachers; we know there’s a lot of different ways that you can apply stories and unpack them and things. But just things that have impacted us as we look at the scriptures and say, “Wow! Jesus is really the best. He is the only one who’s able to offer this.”

Laura:  Yes. First off, we can look at Mark 2, the paralytic - this is a man who cannot walk. He is totally paralyzed, and his friends lower him through the roof to be in front of Jesus. At that moment, Jesus sees their faith and he forgives the man’s sins, which is his eternal need, but he also heals his body, and from there, the man gets up and walks. He’s no longer laying on the mat. God gets the glory, and people are just amazed.

We think that that parallels well to motherhood – how we feel so paralyzed sometimes. But it is okay to come to Jesus, completely incapable. That man could not do anything to save himself, or to help him to walk. That’s how we approach the throne, and when we approach with faith, Jesus can forgive our sins and bring us into true fellowship with God, healing us in a way that really counts. Then we have the Holy Spirit who helps us to keep going in his strength, and give God glory. That also is a great picture for other people to see God’s strength and our weaknesses.

Emily:  I loved that the end of that parable talks about people were amazed, and God got glory. That is what is so cool when we turn to Jesus instead of some of our crutches. It’s God getting glory as well, and other people going like, “Wow, how is she sustained?” It’s through the grace of God.

Another story that comes to mind is from Mark 5 - this is the woman who has been bleeding for 12 years. In their culture, she would have been considered unclean. She probably would have been out of fellowship with people that she wanted to be around. She’d tried everything, been to every doctor. If you want to use this language, she tried every crutch, [laughter] every means of getting by with temporary healing. We find out from the parable that all of this actually just makes her worse. That her problem has gotten worse from all of those things. She hears about Jesus, and she comes to just touch his robe. She thinks, “Okay, if I just do this, I will be healed.”

That is what happens. She is fully, completely healed from her affliction. When Jesus realizes what happens, he turns around to address her, and she just falls down, prostrate before him. He tells her that it’s her faith that has made her well, and now she can get up and go in peace. She has now been made clean. There’s all these things in her life that are going to start, little by little, to be restored because of the healing that she received.

In motherhood, we are often trying every means to take care of ourselves; [laughs] like we’re going to see every doctor possible. And really it’s just making us worse when we don’t approach Jesus. But we can come to him in faith, with our deepest hurts and issues, and he’s not afraid of that. We’re not going to make him unclean.

Laura:  One thing we want to point out is that sometimes this process can take awhile – that sanctification takes time. One thing that always comes to mind for me is my husband worked a lot. We’ve done a show about it before, When Husbands Work Long Hours, that you can check out the link in the show notes. But in that season, my husband worked for a long time – about seven years – and I had a very bad attitude for many of those years. I didn’t understand why God wouldn’t take away that thorn, or help us to fix that issue, and have him not work quite so much.

But the transformation that I needed in order to understand where Christ was at in my life and how he sustained me took a lot of time. Sometimes God sees it good for us to be in the wait, and to travel through a very long season of surrender. We want to point out that this isn’t always a quick fix. That just because you say, “Okay, I am going to get rid of my crutch,” doesn’t mean you’re going to turn around and always have this great attitude and perspective.

But it’s constantly going back to the cross, and continually repenting and saying, “Lord, I want you more than I want this quick fix.” We learn a lot in that longer season. Emily you have a really good quote. I want you to read it.

Emily:  I just ran across this from Zack Eswine. He’s talking in response to some of these stories where we see Jesus do these miraculous healings. He says, “The presence of inconsolable things reminds us that healing is not the same as heaven. Miracles are real and powerful, but they do not remove the inconsolable things.” He goes on to talk about how these people that received healing; let’s say the lame man who walks, he could still trip and break his leg later in life. There were still situations that came up that were hurtful, so it’s still a long process. Whatever it is, whatever situation you’re in, God may actually be working for his glory as you turn to him day in and day out, over and over again. As you feel like you’re taking one step forward and two steps back. That is really normal.

Laura:  Bringing this down, what does all this mean for us moms who are struggling? Which, I think, is every woman listening to this podcast. [laughter] It is a good place when we are weak. Being weak shows how Jesus is strong. When we are poor in spirit, and meek and humble, when we’re at the end of our rope, we can be a lot like that paralytic. We can realize that we can’t do this on our own, but that’s where Christ shows up, and he fills us up, and we rely on him. We can turn to him in prayer and confession, crying out to him. He wants that and he knows how you feel already, so don’t be afraid to show your weakness in front of the Lord.

Emily:  Yes. This next one, it’s hard to believe at times. But it’s true, and it’s that Jesus is better than anything that you are using as a crutch. He is more wonderful and more enjoyable. We may be running to more Netflix shows, or social media, and they do satisfy a little bit. One thing I say to my kids a lot is like, “This might make you a little bit happy for a little while, but only God is going to make you the most happy for the longest period of time.” We have to say that truth to ourselves.

There is a hymn that I love that speaks to this.

“Come you sinners, poor and needy,

weak and wounded, sick and sore.

Jesus ready stands to save you,

full of pity, love and power.”

Then it goes on to say this;

“When we arise, I will arise and go to Jesus.

He will embrace me in his arms.

 In the arms of my dear savior, oh there are ten thousand charms.”

I love that because it’s not just a picture of us coming weak and wounded, which we are. But it’s a picture of us finding ten thousand charms - endless things to enjoy in Jesus. That is a hard thing to believe, but we can embrace him more and more.

Laura:  Finally, we know that God has everything he needs to sustain us. He is the source of our power, patience, and long suffering. Jesus is all of that for us. Often we can come to him thinking that he’s withholding from us, or that he might withhold something from us. Or that he doesn’t really care about something. But we have to remember that he owns everything. He controls everything. He is sovereign over all, and so this should give us a lot of confidence that when we go to him, we will get the help that we need. He can provide all of that for us, and he will, because he loves you, mom.

Emily:  We know that this show doesn’t solve everything. You may still have situations in your life that you’re like, “I don’t even see the light at the end of the tunnel, and this feels like it’s never ending. What I am going to do if I give up my crutches? How I am going to survive?” But we’re just trusting that God is working in your heart as he’s working in ours to begin to see ways that we can turn to God, turn to Christ in those hard situations. Begin to put some of those things that are good in their rightful place in our lives, which may still be enjoying a cup of coffee, or going to the gym, but not relying on that for sustenance.

Anyway, if you want to find out more about this, you can go to our website, risenmotherhood.com. We’ll have show notes there with lots of links to different, helpful things and quotes in the show. You can also find us on @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Laura:  Thanks for joining us guys.




This transcript has been edited for clarity. 

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Emily, here with my sister-in-law, Laura, and its Valentine’s Day when this show is coming out. We felt like with Valentine’s Day, we wanted to do a show that has to do with marriage and husbands because that's usually what's on our mind on Valentine’s Day. [laughter]

Laura:  That's right; we get asked a lot of questions about marriage. I mean, marriage in the little years is hard, so these shows are fun to do. But know we’re in the midst of all of this with you guys, trying to figure it out.

I was reading a book on parenting the other day, and there were so many wonderful ideas inside. They were very practical ideas and some heart issue ideas as well. But by the time I got to chapter three or four I just started feeling really anxious about how much I wasn’t doing. Quite honestly, I started thinking about how much my husband wasn’t doing, and immediately I felt like, “We need to talk and to get on the same page. We need to get unified on this stuff, and we don’t have any time left to shape our children’s character. The time is going by way too fast.” 

It was just funny because that wasn’t the author’s intention at all. But it goes to show just how intentional parenting can quickly start to feel very overwhelming. There can just be lots of issues that come up between those things. But the great thing is that God has called us, as two parents together, to share the load, and do all of this together. 

Emily:  Yes. One thing that my husband and I – I don’t want to say struggle with, but - just live with the reality of is that we have really different strengths and personalities. Of the two of us, I am kind of the more teacher type [laughs] for lack of a better way to say it. I am the one who's more likely to come up with a reading plan, or to help our kids study and learn catechisms and talk to them about church history, or explain the word “doctrine.” So I am more naturally bent towards that, and I think that's the cool, right way to do it. 

But my husband is really a lot more practical, and he is really good about teaching them obedience to God’s Word in everyday situations. He talks to them about practical, spiritual things in the midst of what they're doing and how they're serving. 

Again, sometimes I can feel like we’re not unified because it looks so different. When in reality, I am very thankful that there isn’t two of me because our children would be little Pharisees spouting off doctrinal statements, but maybe not living it as well and/or the other way. It’s just a beautiful picture of unity – how we both bring our strengths to the table, and hopefully, help our children learn what it means to follow Christ in different ways.

Laura:  Some of you, when saw the title of the show might not have wanted to listen because you're frustrated in this area, or maybe your husband doesn’t seem to be as interested in intentional parenting as you. Or maybe you're not married, or you have a husband who is not a believer. Maybe you do have a husband who you feel is doing a really good job at this point to do his best to lead your family.

Primarily today, we want to make a quick caveat that we are addressing those of you who have a believing husband who does want to be involved in being an intentional parent. But we do hope that there will be application for every mom who listens on this show. Even as you think about the way that you are unified within the body of Christ, and whoever your community is, that it takes a whole village to help raise your children in the Lord, whether you're married or not. 

Emily:  That’s a beautiful truth that you just pointed out Laura; that we have unity in the body of Christ too, in terms of our mission to bring up children in the Lord. Whether that is thinking about it in that context, or thinking about it in the context of marriage - which is what we’re going to be talking through - the gospel definitely applies.

As we look at creation, we see that God designed husband and wife: Adam and Eve, to be in unity in terms of their mission. That the first time that a union is mentioned is in Genesis 2: 24, when he talks about a man leaving his mother and father and being united to his wife, becoming one flesh. That is a thing that we see right off the bat in creation that is good - for Adam and Eve to be together, on mission for the same purpose.

Laura:  Right. As moms and dads, our calling is the same as any other believer’s. Our calling is to know God, follow his will for our lives, live to glorify him, and help others - aka our children - to do the same. 

We know as parents, we are charged to intentionally teach our children about God. Like in Deuteronomy 6, where it talks about how everyone should, “Love the Lord your God with all your hearts, soul, and all your mind.” You should teach these words diligently to your children - talk about them when you sit down, walk by the way, lie down, or when you rise – all the time, essentially. There’s not a moment that we are not teaching and investing in our children to teach them in the way of the Lord.

Emily:  Although we were created to do that, and that sounds wonderful and amazing, we know that sin wrecks everything, including unity, even in marriage. It’s okay that we have differences between one another; God created us beautiful, with differences. But disunity is really a result of the fall. 

Now, when we’re striving to raise godly children alongside each other, all of a sudden there's tension, miscommunication, misunderstanding, wrong assumptions, selfish motives, and it can look really messy. It sometimes looks like two people who are not working together towards the same goal. But two people who are really out of step with each other and are struggling to be on the same page about the end goal of the family. 

Laura:  Right. But that's where the hope of the gospel comes in. We know that – as Emily said – our marriages (our unity within them), the way that we parent our children is not going to be perfect. But we can be thankful for Christ because he did live a perfect life. 

He had perfect character, decision-making skills, communication, actions, goals, and all of those things. He died in place of us so that we could receive this perfect record that he had. He fills every gap of ours, he’s sufficient for every failure that we have, and he sustains every effort we take.

We can place our identity in him, rather than how unified we’re feeling at the moment with our husband, or in the way that we feel like our husband is lacking in intentionality. Or if we feel like we’re judging them for the things that they're doing. We can remember and trust that because of Christ’s death and resurrection, that the pressure is off. We can rest secure in both our efforts and our husband’s because Jesus lived a perfect life in our stead.

Emily:  It’s so good that we don’t have to put our hope in our husbands. That is one of the biggest truths I have to remember over and over again - that when our identity is found in Christ, we don’t have to tie ourselves to the rollercoaster of how someone else is doing. Or what they're not doing. We can just love them freely because Christ has loved us. 

Then we can be hopeful as we look ahead to a time we are going to be unified with the whole body of Christ, with him forever. We can trust that God is going to be sovereign over how everything plays out until then. We are just called to be faithful, and when we’re imperfect, we’re called to repent and to model the gospel to our children. Then trust God that he is going to do what is in our best interest, do what is for our good for his glory.

That's kind of a little bit of gospel there, in terms of unity with our husband. But there are also practical things that we can do to be unified.

Laura:  That's right. We’re going to tick through another list here of some high level, practical pieces. The first one - as is usual with our lists I am starting to realize, and [laughter] which is good - is to pray. 

Something that I always appreciated with Jerrad Lopes from Dad Tired - when he was on our show almost a year ago now – he shared a story about his wife who got up at 2 a.m. for a long period of time to pray for him, instead of telling him all of the grievances that she had.

She spent time praying for him in the wee hours of the morning. That is so convicting for me, and was good advice. Especially if your husband is a little bit more checked out, or not interested in these things of growing spiritually in this way. Pray for your husband, and even with your husband - if he is open to that, pray with him for unity, for growth and direction as intentional parents.

Pray for God to guide your family as a whole, and for you to lay down your lives through one another. A good thing to go back to is holding your tongue before we come out with all of our grievances. To first say, “I am going to stop and pray, and not just one time. But I am going to spend a good season in prayer, and coming before the Lord about this issue before I lay it all out in front of my husband. Before I slay him!” [laughter]

Emily:  Again, we talk about this a lot on Risen Motherhood, about communication with our husbands, and talking with them about what we’re learning. I know that oftentimes, on long car trips or on extended date nights, we will have conversations that just kind of pop up about our children and how things are going. We can talk through the details of how we are trying to parent intentionally so that our children know what's most important in life.

Then other times, communication can just look like a short check in. Today in the afternoon, I sent my husband a text and said, “Hey, when you get home we need to talk to one of our children about lying because there have been four or five untruths that have been said today and we need to talk about this.” 

When he got home, he knew he needed to pull that child aside. Guess what? The conversation he had with that child was different than what I would have said. But the point is we were unified in knowing that, “We want you to represent the truth, son. Dad is going to talk to you about that and we’re going to have a conversation.” So unity can really come through communication.

Laura:  That's a huge piece. Even things like, for my husband, he doesn’t have a lot of time to read stuff, so often I will earmark pages in a book and just be like, “Just read page 54.” [laughter] Or, I’ll send him a quick link and I think it’s good because I am out there – my natural personality is I am reading, I am doing a lot of the out-there-looking-at-things. Therefore I can be a kind of a curator of content for my husband, giving him the cliff notes of these pieces so that we are, as we keep saying, unified and on the same page.

Emily:  As we’re seeking to communicate, it’s super important to believe the best in each other, and not always assume that our husband has a bad idea. I really do think my husband has good ideas.  But it’s just that every time I am like, “Why didn’t I think to ask you this before?” And “I should have believed that you had a great idea about how to handle this.” He does, so it’s just great. 

To build upon that, sometimes because our husbands – and I’m making a broad-brush statement here – they’re sometimes a little bit more objective and not as deep in the mommy wars. They're not on Instagram, seeing what everyone else is doing with their children. Sometimes they can help us get out of the muck and mire, and make decisions that are appropriate for our own families. Decisions that aren’t worth worrying so much about what other people think or what other people are doing, and just be really faithful to the gospel. That’s something I am very thankful about my husband helps me do.

Laura:  Me too. Another one that has been really helpful for me over the years is when we’re feeling really lost as parents – oftentimes my husband and I will read a book, or we’ll be talking after a parenting conference or whatever – we’ll just be real overwhelmed [laughter] because there's all these really wonderful things that we can implement but we’re not really sure what or how.

Focus on the gospel; this is really the only thing that has true power to change or grow your children into the likeness of Christ. This is one of those pieces that I just fall back on the gospel - if I teach them nothing else, let it be the gospel.

Emily:  So good.

Laura:  It’s a good safety net, and one of those things that can wash away all of the overwhelming and anxious feelings. Even for my husband, who is not a naturally anxious person at all; he’s the most even-keeled person, but he can feel overwhelmed by all the heavy responsibilities of raising children. So this is a great thing to just go back to each time. 

Emily:  Another conversation that Laura and I have had in the past that's kind of related to this topic is creating a family vision statement. We have episode 46 on Intentional Motherhood: Communicating Your Family’s Mission.

God gave Adam Eve and unified them together, and then said, “Here’s what I want you to do.” He did that for us as parents, so it’s good for us to come together with our husband and rehearse that. Then understand what that looks like, more specifically for our family as much as we can. That could be another helpful thing if you're feeling like, “Hey, we both want to come together on the same page, but we don’t know how.” That's one potential piece of the puzzle.

Laura:  Yes. What's nice about that is that hopefully you're doing that when you're both feeling real collaborative, [laughter] you're on the same page and just really excited. So that in those more tense moments where you're making decisions and maybe things are a little bit heated and a little more stressful in your life, that family mission statement can be very helpful to fall back on. To understand, “This is why we’re saying ‘No,’ and this is why we’re saying, ‘Yes.’”

 Emily:  To summarize the gospel application here, we are unified in Christ. I always have to remember to put on the hat that’s like, “Yes, my husband is my husband, but he’s also my brother in Christ. We are unified on multiple fronts in our mission in this life, in what we’re both looking and hoping towards.”

But when we remember that we are sinners, we've fallen short and we need a Savior that humbles us and allows us to see that God’s grace has covered our husband’s sin as well. Now we can both go forward, knowing that, of course it’s going to take a lot of correcting – I need a course correct every day – so I shouldn’t be surprised when my husband needs to do that too, and when we need to come together in that.

We have never arrived, but we can be unified. In the process, we can trust that God is in control, and pray desperately that he helps our children love and know him because that's who does it all.

Laura:  Ultimately it’s all God. [laughter] On that note, head to our show notes for more resources on this topic. Of course you can also check out our social media platforms where we’ll be talking about topics like this throughout the week. We are at risenmotherhood.com,  and @risenmotherhood on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

Emily:  Happy Valentine’s Day.

Laura:  Happy Valentine’s Day. Hope you're doing something fun this week, next week … within the month. Let’s just go for within the month. [laughter] Hopefully you get some special time with your husband. I know for my husband and I, we very rarely actually celebrate on the day of Valentine.

Emily:  Maybe watch a whole Netflix show together without falling asleep.

Laura:  Or a baby interrupting. 

Emily:  Happy Valentine’s Day.

Ep. 89 || Trillia Newbell: Helping Our Kids Celebrate God’s Beautifully Diverse Design Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity. 

Laura:  Hi friends. Today I am excited to introduce you to Trillia Newbell. On today’s show, Emily and I are chatting with her all about diversity, and how and why to talk to your children about it. Diversity is a bit of a hot topic in our culture today, but it’s so important to have conversations around it. Because while we all have differences – from the color of our skin, to where we live, how we talk, to how we spend time – we were all made in God’s image. Someday we will all gather - every tribe, tongue and nation together - to worship God and today in an imperfect way, we can image that. 

Trillia is a woman I admire and respect so much for how outspoken she has been about the importance of loving those around us. The wisdom she shares on today’s show will both challenge and encourage you to invest in celebrating diversity in your family. She gives a lot of practical tips, including how to address the somewhat dreaded, “What’s that?” question that kiddos ask when they someone with a difference from them. 

Trillia is the author of many books, some of our favorites being Enjoy, which is all about learning to love God’s good gifts. Also, God’s Very Good Idea, a book you all have likely seen us shared before. It’s one that we would encourage all of you to have on your bookshelves as a fun and simple way to chat with your kids about the beauty of God’s diverse creation. It’s a favorite book of our children’s, and we think it will be for your kiddos too. Trillia is not only an author, she’s also a speaker, and she’s currently a host on two podcasts that Emily and I both regularly listen to: United We Pray and the ERLC Podcast. We’ll link to all of these things in our show notes so you can easily find Trillia and check out all the different things she’s involved in, which you won’t want to miss. 

Okay, time for the show. 

Laura: Hi Trillia, thanks so much for joining us on Risen Motherhood today.

Trillia:  Thanks for having me. I am glad to be here.

Laura:  Can you just start us off and tell us a little bit about yourself, your family makeup and what makes up your day to day – for any of our listeners who haven’t heard of you by some crazy chance? Just let them know a little bit more about yourself.

Trillia:  Sure. I don’t even know where to start with my day to day, [laughter] so I’ll start with my family because my day to day looks different every single day. 

Laura:  Oh yes, amen!

Trillia:  But my family, I am actually in a sweet interracial marriage – my husband’s white - and I am black. I have two bi-racial babies who are no longer babies; [laughter] they are 12 and 8. We live in the Nashville area, and that’s about it. That’s about it … [laughter]

Laura:  You have a podcast called “United? We Pray,” that everyone should listen to. 

Trillia:  Why don’t you tell them? [laughter] I do a lot of writing – I have several books - and we’re going to talk about one today. I speak, and I work for the ERLC as well, under Dr. Russell Moore. I also do a podcast called, “United? We Pray,” with Isaac Adams, and it’s been an absolute joy to think through topics and pray, which is something that you need in the podcast world. Am I right podcasters?

Emily:  Definitely.

Laura:  Yes.

Trillia:  [laughs] Most of my day to day looks like: I get up really early. I am a really early riser; I love early mornings. That’s probably the only thing that’s consistent. [laughter] I wake up early and get in the Word; that’s about all that’s consistent. Each day looks so different – it’s anywhere from writing, to meetings, to doing something like this for a morning podcast. Or talking to people, interviews, whatever. That’s me.

Laura:  Wonderful. As you mentioned, there is a book of yours that we have really enjoyed, and talked about a lot on social media, on Risen Motherhood. It’s your book, God’s Very Good Idea. In that book you talk about the beautiful plan that God has for diversity. Can you just give us a high level of what is the gospel concerning diversity? What is God’s plan in creation, and how did he make us so beautifully unique as individuals?

Trillia: It really starts in Genesis 1. God created male and female; he creates us equally but different. But then he creates the world, and you see all these nations, tribes and people, all created in the image of God. But all created differently. We see that throughout all of scripture, God has a rescuing plan for the nations. We messed it up in Genesis 3, when sin comes into the world, and there is hostility among people. But then we read Jesus gives the disciples a charge to go and make other disciples of all nations. He dies, and when he died, he didn’t discriminate who he would die for. He died for everyone who would believe – everyone made in the image of God from every tribe, tongue and nation. Then in Ephesians 2 we see, not only that by grace we’ve been saved through faith, but that the veil of hostility has been broken down in the body of Christ. He’s created one new man – the Christian; we’re united, and the veil of hostility has been broken down so that we can love and be united with one another. 

Then in Revelation, we see that every tongue, tribe and nation will be worshiping together – all of us. We aren’t living out that reality now, but one day, for eternity, we will be worshiping together. The gospel is what makes all this possible. The fact that Jesus died on the cross, bearing the wrath that we deserve - every single person - any who walk on this earth, everyone. That he rose, and he’s in that seat right now. He defeated death, and it is for all of us. What makes it beautiful is just that it’s possible. What makes it hard is that we’re not living in it.

Emily: That was such an amazing explanation, but it can be hard to communicate that to our children sometimes. I would encourage you to pick up Trillia’s book because she really goes through that well. 

I love that you did that at a child’s level, and gave these great examples of what different looks like kind of through a child’s eyes. Kids typically are looking at hair, glasses, what people like, or what their hobbies are. You really go through that in the book, and we really appreciated that. That’s what we try to go through on Risen Motherhood, is that creation, fall, redemption, restoration piece, because it is amazing and that can be so helpful when it comes to understanding it in its full picture.

Trillia:  First of all, thanks about the book. It was such a joy to write, but it was also agonizing to think through. Okay, how can a child understand this? We should be able to read the scriptures, that’s what he says. To have that child-like faith, and to be able to read it like a child. It was a joy, but yes, it was a task. [laughter]

Laura:  That’s an interesting point Trillia because one thing all of us moms who are listening want to instill in our children is helping them – just like you did in the book – to understand God’s plan for diversity.  Can you talk a little bit – especially as a mom yourself – what are our children are inclined to believe about diversity? But then, what should we be teaching them, and why is this such an important message for our kids?

Trillia:  That’s an interesting question. What are kids inclined to believe about diversity? I don’t know that kids come out and they’re thinking like, “Okay, this is what I am going to believe about...” I think instead, they’re going to ask a lot of questions. “Mommy, why is that person ...” Something totally embarrassing. [laughter]

Emily:  They do it at the time that it’s most embarrassing for you. [laughter]

Trillia:  Absolutely. More than likely, a kid is going to ask questions. What we need to know is that these are good and okay questions. It’s good to ask questions, and it’s okay for them to explore. I remember when my son, Weston was two, he would identify me as “brown” and his dad as “peach.” He would call me “brown,” his dad “peach” and then himself “peach.” At one point he changed it and called me “chocolate,” which was adorable. [laughter] Kids are going to look and see differences. What we need to be equipped and ready to do is teach them about differences. That it was God’s idea to create mommy brown and daddy peach.

What we just need to remember is that kids ask these questions, and they think, “Wait a minute, it’s God’s idea. These are God’s ideas to create someone with curly hair and someone else with straight hair. It’s God’s idea to create someone with really deep, dark skin, and someone with freckles and light skin. What we need to do as parents is to instill in them that these differences are good, and that they’re okay. Then, that it’s okay for us to think about differences; and not only think about it but celebrate these differences.  

In our culture, we so often fear differences. That’s how we approach the conversation about race, or about anything. We fear our differences, rather than celebrate and embrace them. I think that that will help when kids ask questions about differences. If we’re thinking, “Wait a minute, it’s okay and it’s good,” we can talk to them about this, and we can even celebrate our differences.

Emily:  I love how you’re taking it a step further – acknowledging to affirming that it’s good, and it’s God’s good plan. Because I think that without some of these good educations in gospel-thinking, even for adults our natural inclination might be to brush it aside or just affirm it and move on as quickly as we can. But I love that God goes a step further; he is sovereign, and he has a good plan for everyone in everything that he does. We can know the way that we’re created was by his hand and for our good in his glory, and to share that with our children. Celebrating it is really going to speak a better word than, “Oh yes, that child is this, but okay, let’s move on quickly.” 

Trillia:  Oh good. Yes, God speaks a better word to this whole topic. Any topic when we’re thinking about diversity or race is beautiful in the scriptures. It’s also hard in the scriptures, but it’s beautiful. If we can turn our gaze and eyes to the Word of God and to God’s plan, it will always direct us better, and in the right way. I am really thankful for The Good Book Company giving me this opportunity to write this book, and I do pray that it serves parents in this way.

Laura:  I would imagine that a key piece of everything that we’re talking about is just having your children exposed to diversity. I mean, to even begin to understand that there are people who live at different levels than maybe your family or your children do, or they have a different skin tone, or glasses, or assistive devices, or all sorts of things contribute to diversity. 

Trillia, what are some practical ways that a parent could expose their child to diversity? I know a lot of America is just made up of these very homogenous pockets. We are so separated among a lot of different levels, not just race. Are there some practical tips that you could give a mom for how to expose their children well to diversity?

Trillia:  There’s different ways that we are divided, and it takes effort. If you want your kids to celebrate diversities, the nations and people, you have to do it yourself. That could look something like having people in your home, inviting people, opening your door, looking out and meeting people in other neighborhoods. It could literally be just one block away because in some neighborhoods, that’s how strangely divided they are. It’s one block; it’s not just a whole community, it’s just a block.

I would say invite people too in your home, and when possible, go do things like grocery shop in a different neighborhood. Get really creative – take your kids to cultural events where they’re displaying different art and food. They do these cultural events in different cities all the time and in different towns. If that is not possible; if for some reason there is no neighborhood looks different than you, which of course there is, even if it’s socio-economic, and not necessarily your skin tone. If it really is difficult to bring diversity in the form of a person, to your home, then there’s still loads of books. You can still expose your children through history and talking about culture and current events. Bringing that to your table, and making sure that they’re exposed, they will learn in way or another. 

Wouldn’t it be great if we’re on top of it as parents? If we’re the first people to teach them about culture? Exposing our kids as much as we can to different cultures, even if that means not the person, is really essential, if we’re wanting to build a heart of a love for the nations and a love of diversity of people. Let me just tell you one thing that I did last summer. We have a heart and desire for the nations, but we don’t have all of the nations around us; we have some. So I got the kids together and I said, “Okay, this summer we are going to cook through the nations.” We went through and listed up all these different countries, from Australia, to England, to Ethiopia, all these different places. Week by week, one day a week, I would cook something, and then we would listen to the music and watch something. It was so much fun. 

I remember one particular week, cooking Doro Wat, which is an Ethiopian dish (which was delicious). They loved it. Then listening to the music, and reading about the culture. We did not have an Ethiopian in our home, but in so many ways, we did. There’s nothing that can replace a person, right? But it was so sweet for my family to be not only exposed to food, but culture, history and music. We were reading and learning, and we just spent that one night doing that. That’s just one way that you can expose your kids, family and yourself to different cultures, and people if you can’t have someone physically in your home. But getting to know people physically in your home or church is the first step. Proximity really changes everything.

Emily:  What you’re sharing is so encouraging, and it’s such a good, practical idea. What came to mind as you were talking is like, “Wow!” We keep hearing this on interviews, and talking about this in Risen Motherhood over and over again. That it’s really hard for us to pour into our children, what we are not already doing, or have a heart for. Even as you were sharing, I was just convicted, and was like, “Wow, I need to continue to pray for a heart for the nations, and for God to grow me in stepping out to reach out to our neighbors.” We have a very diverse community we’re living in in the middle of Iowa because we’re living in a college town, with lots of international people. But just, “Do we authentically make that a part of our lives?” And if we do, we have an opportunity to shape the culture of our whole family. I love that these are great ideas, but you are explaining that they’re built on a foundation of something that’s already going on in our heart and in our relationship with God.

Laura:  What else is really cool is how you’re essentially saying, “Let’s make diversity normal.” As we were talking about at the beginning of the interview, when you’re not having these conversations with your kids, or having positive conversations around them, or using encouraging, good words around these things … If it’s hidden, secret or hard, it definitely shapes them to feel like, “Oh, that’s like this untouchable thing.” Like, “We don’t talk about diversity.” But when you just make it the base line of saying, “Oh my goodness, isn’t it amazing how God made us all so unique?” 

I mean, even the fact that my kids like different colors, they can be individual in that. I remember my daughter had a crying fit because her brother’s favorite color wasn’t the same as hers. I was like, “Isn’t it awesome that God made you guys so different? That’s something that we can celebrate and enjoy.” It was just a good conversation of talking about how God makes us with different talents, giftings and skills. That’s at a two-year-old level, and so I love what you’re talking about - it’s not jus engaging in all these huge things but it’s also just the climate of conversation that you have in your home. To make it a baseline that diversity is awesome.

 Trillia:  It is! Okay, you just hit on a few things that [laughter] I got very excited because one of the things that I hope that we can do is one, that we would rescue it from the culture. The topic of diversity in race has been so politicized, that’s why people are afraid of it. That’s the thing. We just immediately think “division,” “politics,” “hate,” and for good reason in the United States. We have been divided since the creation of the United States but we speak a better word which we said over and over again, because we know Jesus and we have the Bible. We know we have a better word for this. 

It’s a beautiful thing if we approach it appropriately, and with the gospel in mind. So one, yes, we can rescue it a bit, from this cultural conversation that often is heavy and negative, and celebrate it. We need to have those conversations as well; I am not saying let’s not have those conversations. I am just saying if we could start framing this conversation in such a way that it’s celebration. If that’s the reason why we want to have those cultural conversations, then I think it would change everything. 

Another thing that you said that got me excited was this conversation is so much more beyond just a race topic. The beauty of diversity is that God – and I am thinking of Corinthians – has created the body, the church unique, with all these different parts and giftings. We are so unique and different, yet we need one another. When we’re thinking about our children, if we want to guard against comparison or unrealistic expectations of them, we will get to know them as image bearers. That they are uniquely designed by the Lord, and their personalities and giftings are going to be different. 

If we can begin to celebrate that in others, how much more will we celebrate that in our own children? We won’t hold them to these expectations, compare them and try to make them in our own image. Rather, we want them to reflect the image of the Lord. There’s so much that God can really help in changing and grow us in, as we are learning to delight in his design. Rather than what we have created. I just think there’s so much that we can really learn and grow when we’re thinking about diversity in biblical terms, rather than in our culture, the way that we do.

Emily:  Yes, definitely.

Laura:  I agree. When you think about your kiddos and the fact that they haven’t been tainted by politics, culture and all of those things yet, you appreciate that. We have a wonderful, amazing opportunity to really show them God’s design from the start. Yes, as they get older they’ll be exposed to different opinions and things. But we can lay the foundation so in the future, they can be a light in the world, in politics and all of those different things. They can say, “Hey, this isn’t the right design, and it doesn’t have to be this way.” I just love that as moms, we can set the stage from the beginning for what our children perceive about this conversation. As you’re saying Trillia, it goes so far beyond race - all of the different ways that God made us uniquely. 

In addition, I am sure a lot of moms are wondering about this, and every mom will bring a story to mind as I share this, But how do you handle it when your child does point out another person’s differences in a very – as we shared out earlier – very loud or visible way? I have two children in therapy right now. When we go into therapy, we often see children that are very different than our family makeup is right now. A lot of them have assistive devices, walkers or wheelchairs. I have definitely had multiple moments where one or both children say, “Hey, why does she have that?” Or, “Why is he using that?” Or, “What’s going on with that?” Very loudly, and everyone in the room can hear. 

I am curious Trillia, what on earth should I say? [laughter] And how can I use it as a teaching moment?

Trillia:  Okay, so there is a difference between, “Hey mommy, why does she have that device?” And, “Why is she so fat?” Right? [laughter] One of them is just a curious thing, the other is rude and unkind. That is where we can divide it. I have heard kids walking in grocery stores and they say something about someone’s size; something that is clearly unkind. That’s when you correct; you pull them aside and you say something corrective. When a kid is asking like, “Well mommy, what is that device?” And they’re just kind of curious about something, I just think, “Oh, answer the question.” [laughter] 

I am going to tell you a funny story, [laughter] when I did this terribly wrong. My kids were pointing with their middle finger, okay? [laughter] Instead of me just not making it a big deal, I made it huge. I said, “Oh my goodness kids, point your finger down.” [laughter] I made this huge deal. They didn’t know what that meant. For the rest of the week, they would giggle and point with their finger. [laughter] The rest of the week was me trying to undo the damage. [laughs] I made it this big deal, and now it’s almost like they ate the fruit in the garden, and they’re all of a sudden, they could see the sin. They didn’t fully understand because they were young. But I guess my point is that we can make things bigger deals than they need to be. 

If the kid asks about a walker or something, you could just say, “Oh, she needs assistance with that walker,” and move on. Maybe we could talk about inside voices, later, and not make it a big deal. Like, “Hey, let’s use a voice an inside voice when we’re out in public.” But what we often do is we make it like, “Oh, oh, oh!” and then they’re thinking, “Oh, that’s bad that she’s in a walker.” And, “I should think of her as something uniquely different.” When I say uniquely different, not just someone made in the image of God, but someone who is: “I can’t relate to their difference,” in so far as we can relate to them. I would be really cautious about our response. Not so much what our kids do, but ask ourselves, “What is the proper response?” And the proper response is probably not to go big. Don’t make it a big deal, and then maybe later, have a conversation. Just really thinking, “How do I love my neighbor at that time? How do I love my neighbor as myself, and make her feel completely comfortable?”

Emily:  First of all, every mom’s shaking her head and thinking about that time that they made way too much out of something. [laughter]

Trillia: Then it became a thing.

Emily:  I love that distinction between something that is rude and unloving, and something that is curiosity. Sometimes from an adult’s perspective, when I’ve had that happen, I am still doing it through culture, politics and different things. I worry about that other person’s heart, even though I know our child is asking in complete curiosity.

Even just trying to, like you said, celebrate the diversity in that moment. The few times I’ve had that happen as well it’s reminded me like, “Wow, I want to have these conversations with our kids before we get in that situation, as much as we can.” Knowing that we can’t do that all the time, but that’s where something like your book comes in. That’s a good conversation starter, so that it’s not a shock, and that we’ve already covered a lot of things that are different. Or even just starting the conversation like you said, in the car later. Maybe they didn’t ask when they were right there, but in the car, like, “Hey did you notice that there were these different things? What did you think about that?” I am just learning more that I want to have that conversation first if I can beat them to it. [laughs]

Trillia:  There is a time for sorrow and for weeping. If your child noticed that there is someone who is suffering, then you can explain to them like, “Okay yes, this person needs this because of that. Let’s pray for them.” Because there are some cases where it’s actually a suffering, and so we want to be really aware that our kids are going to notice that. I know my kids will notice things, and they are so sensitive and will pry. We therefore want to be aware that, “Okay yes, you noticed someone who has the joy, but looks like they’re clearly suffering.” At that point, you can explain what hardships and suffering looks like, and then pray. Ask them if we could pray together for the kid. That’s just such a sweet opportunity to teach so much about God’s sovereignty and goodness, about Jesus – that he entered our pain, suffering and sorrows. It’s an opportunity to pray for our neighbors. You had mentioned you’re thinking about their heart, but we may not be able to go up to them and say anything, but we can instill in our kids our love for our neighbors through prayer. 

Laura:  That’s so important to teach our children compassion for others. Emily and I both have children with extra needs. We don’t know what the future holds, but that makes both of us extra tender to children with differences, children that look or act differently. I know that that’s something that I believe and trust that God is using in my own children’s life and in people who know us. That their children will learn compassion towards those that maybe don’t look or act the same, or have the same opportunities. 

Again, this is just a wonderful chance to be having these conversations in our home. That this is a regular, normal thing that we are really talking about – diversity and God’s great plan. It’s also a very small shadow and picture of what someday it will look like when we are all rejoicing at the throne. That is just a day to look forward to as we see just small glimpses of it here, and get to live that out here on the earth. I am just grateful that we have that to look forward to, when there will be no more tears, crying, or dissension between all of these differences. That will just be a great day when we are all united.

Trillia:  It will, and I look towards that day. It motivates my today, and it motivates me to talk about this because I know one day we’ll be together anyways. What a joy that will be when we’re united, there’s no more sin, confusion, and no more division. 

We will still be every tribe, tongue and nation. It’s unique, and we need to remember that God doesn’t get rid of the tribes, tongues and nations with each new creation. We’ll still have them, so why not start celebrating them today?

Emily:  Love it. [laughter]

Laura:  That is a great word to end on Trillia. We are so grateful that you joined us on the Risen Motherhood podcast today. We would encourage all you listeners, if you have not checked out Trillia’s book, God’s Very Good Idea, it is a wonderful book, and a great way to get these discussions started in your home. We just hope that all of you will have some little nugget that you can take home today to start celebrating diversity in your own homes.

Trillia:  Thank you.


This transcript is edited for clarity. 

Laura:  Hello, and welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Laura and I have my sister-in-law, Emily, here with me today. We’re excited because we’re talking about a pretty big, hot, mom topic – sleep and our lack of it – or our need for it. Or maybe you are one of the lucky few that feels like your sleep tank is full right now! 

But before we get to that, we wanted to just mention to you guys, maybe you know or maybe you don’t, that you can subscribe (via email) to our shows, and our blog post, and all of the content that Risen Motherhood puts out, through an email subscription we have on our website. We’ll post a link for it in the show notes, or you can head to our home page. Scroll to the very bottom - there's a little form you will fill out, and then you will never miss a show or a blog post. We also have a very fun new newsletter; it’s kind of a new endeavor for Risen Motherhood that we’re taking on this year. You can also get access to it if you subscribe there.

Emily:  We are really excited about that. 

Talking about sleep, Laura, I am tired as we’re recording this [laughter].

Laura:  Me too. Emily and I always pray before the show, and during the prayer, I was rubbing my eyes super deep. [laughter] You know how good that feels? [laughter] 

Emily:  It just starts like a downward spiral though; [laughter] it’s like being more tired. But I think for most of us, by the time you have a child in your arms, you’ve already had a taste of what it feels like to sacrifice some of your comforts and desires for the sake of someone else - whether that’s through a journey of adoption, or because you carried a pregnancy. But it kind of goes to a whole new level whenever you have a baby in your arms. 

You’re completely, physically exhausted, and the baby is up in the night crying.  Or you are up responding to a toddler who is sick, or the number of things that cause a child to wake up in the night. Over time, it can be something that starts out as this joke, but it’s not funny. It’s really bad. [laughter]

Laura:  I am laughing now, but you’re right. It’s so not funny. [laughter]

Emily:  When you're on your seventh cup of coffee, and you're like, “I am not waking up any more,” it’s not funny. I actually had fun doing a tiny bit of research for this show, because it just confirmed everything I thought about what I felt when I am really tired. Sleep deprivation makes you stressed out, hungry, moody.  One article said if you go without sleep for a certain period of time, it’s actually like you're drunk, and we can’t respond to things correctly and think straight – the little bit that I read says that sleep is actually when your brain solidifies memories and processes things. It’s no wonder we get so crazy feeling, and can’t even remember our keys on the counter when we go to the car [laughter] because we’re just exhausted. It has a very real impact on our ability to not only survive, but thrive.

Laura:  Mom Brain. Don’t they say, that mom brain is right after you have a baby?I am like, “No, Mom Brain is your entire life!” [laughter] Now we know it is probably due to lack of sleep.

Emily:  Laura, what do you feel like? How would you describe you on little bit of sleep or not much sleep?

Laura:  Mmm... I don’t even know if I want to admit it, [laughter] but irritable, cranky. I always play that game with my kids where I am like, “Oh, let’s take a nap together and see who can be the quietest. Mommy’s just going to close her eyes right here,” and I see how long I get these itty bitty naps. But definitely yes, going without sleep; my daughter had colic (I’ve shared a little bit before in the show) and that was a true season for me of just absolute desperation. I was so lost, so alone and crying pretty much all day. It was just like I dreaded the nights; I think every mom can - that newborn stage you go through; that period of really dreading going into your room. I don’t know, Emily, did you ever feel like this, “I don’t want to go into the room because that just means a crying baby all night?” You know, like certain seasons of motherhood I feel like that's been really hard. It feels like it’s an endless cycle you're never going to get out of. But you do.

Emily:  Yes. That's one of the reasons why we can feel things like sleep training, or just talking about sleep amongst other mom friends can be kind of a hot topic. This is because we feel legitimate envy when somebody else’s child is sleeping really well through the night, and ours isn’t. Or maybe if, like you said, you've gone through a season of sleeplessness, and then your child is sleeping really well, and you just employed this amazing sleep training method. You can actually feel pride whenever you hear your friend complaining, and you're like, “Oh, I was so there a few months ago.”

Laura:  “All you need to do is these 15 steps and then you'll be like me.” 

Emily: There's a legitimate kind of panic and frustration over this real, physical need that we have.  It’s hard because there's not a simple solution; if you look at different cultures across all of time, there's different standards for even what it means to have a child that is sleeping well. Again, there's no passage in the Bible about sleep training your children. [laughs]

Laura:  Oh, come on Proverbs, come on. [laughter]

Emily:  But God does speak to that, and the gospel does apply. So, let’s go there. It’s Risen Motherhood. [laughter]

Laura:  Let’s go. It’s interesting to note that there isn’t necessarily explicit proof as to whether or not Adam and Eve were created to sleep, at least in the same way that we know sleep as today. But we do they were created to rest, just like God did on the seventh day. We talked about this a little bit on the self-care episode which was just our previous episode that you can check out.

The first time that sleep is really mentioned in the creation story is when God puts Adam into a deep sleep, removes the rib and creates Eve, as we know. But, it’s not exactly the same type of sleep as we know today. But we do know that in creation, Adam and Eve had human limitations; they weren’t like God and they were definitely like us. We can look to God, and know one really amazing thing about him, is he doesn’t need any sleep. He never slumbers, never sleeps; Psalm 121:4 talks about that. We know that rest is a way to image God as he did, but he doesn’t actually need the sleep, which is a great relief to serve a God who doesn’t need sleep. 

Emily:  Yes, can you imagine? [Laughter] He’s getting so much done while we’re sleeping.

Laura:  God’s on break. Wouldn’t that be crazy? [Laughter]

Emily:  After the fall, after Adam and Even sinned and disobeyed God and sin just stained everything, we know that we do need sleep, now. We are needy and dependent in everything we do. It’s really interesting that for around a third of the day, every day, we have to do nothing but lay in bed. [laughter] God keeps everything going, and it’s a reminder of our limitations and our temptation towards pride. Sleep is a gift; in Psalm 127:1 – 2, it actually says, “He gives to his beloved, sleep.” He talks about it as a gift, and it’s a time of restoration. That's really interesting – this idea that our bodies are experiencing some level of restoration when they sleep. That's one of our gospel words. But in the fall, now we can actually – sometimes - idolize sleep, we can worship it and want it in a selfish way, just so that we can check out of our responsibilities, or so that we don’t have to run to God. But we can also be really prideful in our avoidance of it, and thinking that we can always just go. There's definitely lots of ways we can sin in relation to sleep.

Laura:  That's right. But it’s so wonderful that we can take great hope in redemption because Christ came to save us from that pride that we experience through the worship of sleep and to save us from the curse of sin and our slavery to it. Jesus came and he lived a perfect life. But he also lived as a man who needed sleep. Just like we do, he slept and he rested. He didn’t do everything that he could have done while he was here on earth, but he did do all that the Father commanded him to do. When we are living as free in Christ, we can rest, both in deed, when we’re resting from our striving and having to do it all. Or when we actually take time to rest, and we literally lay down our head at night, on the pillow, we know that we don’t have to be anxious because God is in control. That is just something that for me, I really struggle with at night when I get a chance to sleep. Oftentimes, it is plagued by anxiousness. For me, this is a really a huge hope that I remember that God isn’t taking a break, he isn’t resting, and he is continuing to move all things towards his eternal plan.

Emily:  Just a little note on restoration; some day, we’re not going to be exhausted any more. Praise the Lord! [laughs] That is something that we can look ahead to while we are living this life, and sacrificing for the sake of others, in order to love them and show them mercy. We can know this isn’t our forever reality, and that someday, Jesus is going to come back. He's going to set everything right, make everything new again, and we’re going to be rejoicing in heaven. Not tired, not stumbling over our words because we can’t remember anything, [laughter] but just fully awake in him. 

Just to bring us down to earth a little bit, what does this mean for us today? When Laura and I were thinking of this show, we started a conversation about sleep training. But as we started thinking about it more, the real underlying issue is just what do moms do with sleeplessness, and the stressors around that? The gospel speaks to how our heart should be oriented as we go without sleep – whether it’s a few hours here and there, or a really long season because children have health problems sometimes, disabilities, or they even have colic. That is really where the gospel applies.

Laura:  We’re going to tick through a few points here of taking that gospel down to practical. The first piece is we can now trust God, and accept that sleep is a good gift from him, and a real physical need, instead of trying to act like we’re superhuman. Or that we are like God, and just recognizing our limits. We do need sleep; that is a reality. We love others better when we are rested. It is okay to desire sleep and to take practical steps to be able to sleep in a healthy way. Naps [laughter] are okay; I feel like especially for me, that's something where I do struggle with taking naps! Not to feel selfish, or feel like I am not being productive. For some personalities and some people, that can be really hard. It’s important to remember within certain boundaries, those things are okay. Go to bed at 8 p.m. and don’t feel guilty about it [laughter] when you have a newborn, or other seasons. You don’t have to be a martyr.

Emily:  And that you’re not more holy for foregoing more sleep because you're going to push it out and grind it out. [laughs]

Laura:  That's right because you're only made holy in Christ! [laughter] You know that this isn’t going to make you become a better mom somehow because you've gutted it out on no sleep. 

Emily:  The second thing is we need to trust God when we can’t sleep, and we need to give it up sometimes for the sake of loving others. This is really hard; we talked about how Jesus did sleep because we need it. But he also laid down his rights in order to show mercy to others. Sometimes he might have wanted to sleep or rest, but he wanted do the will of the Father. I have to remind myself of this. That it is merciful to get up and change a diaper in the middle of the night for a child who cannot take care of themselves, to feed a helpless, hungry baby, or to be in bed with a sick child and be up stroking their head. These are all sacrifices that image God’s love for us, and show mercy to others. 

Laura:  That's right. The third point is we believe that God will, and can sustain us, no matter what happens or what season we are in. We can depend on him in all things; even in those really difficult situations. There are times where you will not be getting the sleep that you need, and there will be times where you will get that. But in those seasons when you're not getting it - maybe due to medical or dietary needs, pregnancy insomnia or postpartum insomnia, or colic, we could go on and on for probably some of these reasons or seasons. But in these situations, remember that God will sustain you. There are scripture after scripture that talks about this; of just casting all your anxieties on God for he cares for you, and casting your burdens on the Lord, he sustains you.

We can list a few of these in the show notes since we don’t have time to go through them today. But the verses go on forever, and remember that God delights in helping the weak and needy, and those who know their need for him.

Emily:  We can definitely list some of those references because they're very encouraging. 

Then we just wanted to make a quick note about gospel application to sleep training. No, the point of the show is not to give a bunch of practical examples. [laughter] 

Laura:  And we’re not telling you how we sleep train our children [laughter], or what position we have on sleep training because there is freedom in Christ within boundaries, right Em?

Emily:  Yes!

Laura:  On the surface, here are some general (the classic Risen Motherhood style that we do) guidelines to think about when considering methods to help your child sleep.

Emily:  Yes. First of all, Laura already said it, we have freedom in Christ. Again, there is no scripture reference on sleep training. God does not have a formula for it; it’s going to vary by time and culture, family situation, child needs and the millions things. I would just say -  Laura and I would both admit that every single one of our kids has been different.

Laura:  That's right. We have eight kids between us, and we’ve done different methods for all of our kids. Even on one child, we've tried different things. Remember no matter what kind of method that you choose to use, that it all goes back to the heart. It can be very easy if you find success, or if you find failure to think and feel a lot of different things. Thinking that you're superior to others maybe, or judging a mom who is doing a different method than you. Even giving off a certain attitude about your method, your language and advice, or your talking with others. 

Just be careful to not generalize, or make another mom feel shame or badly because her child is sleeping in a different way than yours, or she's employing a different method than you. 

Also, just to speak to the mom who's struggling with making a decision right now, or who's struggling in the midst of a child who is having difficulties sleeping. Remember to give yourself grace, and give the method grace in the process. Just remember where your identity is found. It’s not found in the way you sleep train, or in the way your child ends up actually sleeping. Your child is not a robot; they're not going to live by the handbooks. We just want to encourage that mom who is really struggling right now; that this is a hard season, but Christ has not left you alone. Keep rehearsing the gospel to yourself and remember that God is using even this to prune and sharpen your heart towards him.

Emily:  Yes. So persevere. It is okay to want to teach and train our children towards healthy habits. Sleep, just like healthy food, is one of their basic needs, so go forth mom. But again, like Laura said, don’t put your identity there. We want to be willing to lay down what we need sometimes for the sake of loving others. 

Just to end on another note, pray for sleep. That's okay to pray for – cry out to the Lord when you're exhausted. Get advice from others that you trust. Maybe even look for moments where you are wrongly putting your hope in sleep, instead of putting it in Christ. Trust that God can sustain you, even in your tiredness because true rest is found in Christ alone. We hope that gives you at least something to think about while you're rubbing your tired eyes. [laughter] 

Hopefully you did not fall asleep while listening to this – wake up! [laughter] You can find more resources, verses and all kinds of good stuff in our show notes on risenmotherhood.com. You can also check us out on social media @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter



This transcript has been edited for clarity. 

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. First off, we just wanted to ask you guys, if you haven’t yet to consider jumping on iTunes and leaving us a review. It really helps other moms find the podcast, and it’s a huge blessing to us. There is a short tutorial for that on our website that we’ll link to on our show notes if you need to know how. Or there’s some troubleshooting there. But it should just take a few minutes of your time.

Then, today we’re going to talk about something that is a little bit of a “Christianese” - Christian language that gets thrown around a lot. It’s one of those you’re like, “Can I say that; I don’t really know what that means!” It’s “preaching the gospel to yourself.”

Laura:  Exactly. It’s totally one of those things that there’s a hashtag on Instagram for, or people say a lot and it sounds really nice. But you’re like, “That sounds kind of theoretically ambiguous. What does that really look like on a practical level?” That’s something that Emily and I are going to talk through today - what does it look like for a mom – or really, any human – but what does it look like for us as believers to preach the gospel to ourselves?

Emily you were telling me about a funny picture that you always have when you hear it?

Emily:  Yes! Whenever I’ve heard “preach the gospel to yourself …” Okay I am just kind of a literal person. I just imagine that you go shut yourself in your room, and you’re like, “Okay, Lord, I need to remember that my identity is in Christ.” [laughter] And we’re saying it out loud. I just cannot get a preacher out of my head! [laughter]

Laura:  You go get your podium, you get your congregation in front of you and you just preach it! [laughter]

Emily:  I know. I am like, if that is literally what that means, my kids would destroy my house by the time that sermon was over. [laughter]

Laura:  What exactly is it to preach the gospel to yourself? It’s really simple in actuality, but it does sound a little bit hard in theory. 

It is a very vital part of the Christian walk. We all know that you’re always telling yourself something and you’re always kind of preaching to yourself. The question is, are you preaching the gospel to yourself, or are you preaching your own desires and wants, or maybe the messages of the world? That’s something we’re going to talk through – how to change the conversation in your mind. What’s that quote Emily? There is a quote that’s like, “Most of your problems are because you’re listening to yourself, not speaking to yourself …?” I feel like there’s a quote out there that’s very deep and wise, and it’s all about basically “talk to yourself; don’t just listen to yourself.”

Emily:   We can’t really talk to ourselves about the gospel, and again, I am not necessarily saying talking out loud – that’s what always comes to my mind – but just thinking thoughts in your head about the gospel, if we don’t know and understand it. There is no way to understand the gospel without spending time in the Word of God. Also having some sort of mnemonic device like we use on the show – creation, fall, redemption, restoration – to help us anchor some of our thoughts to these different pieces, and really become fluent in it. That is something we’ve got to understand and have solid in our brain , in order to even put right thoughts into our mind. We have to be transformed with the truth of God’s Word.

Laura:  Even for today’s show, something that I’ve been realizing is the words, “the gospel” can mean a lot of different things to a lot of different people, especially in different cultures. If you’ve been a listener of the show, I think you’ll know exactly what we mean with creation, fall, redemption, restoration. But for today’s purposes, basically, it’s what we talk about every week. We’re created by God for his purposes, and for his glory. We sinned and that separated us from God. But God, in his mercy, sent his son Jesus Christ to be the ultimate sacrifice for our behalf, rescuing us from his rightful judgement so that we can enjoy fellowship with him again. Now, we’re able to look forward to the day when Christ will return and restore creation, for us to be with him forever. 

That is the gospel; that is the good news of Jesus Christ. It’s bad news and then it’s good news followed right up from the bad news. We wouldn’t know that it’s good news if it didn’t have the bad news and understanding of what that is. Now that we’ve defined what the gospel is, and that we want to start preaching that truth to ourselves, what does it mean for a mom in 2018? 

Emily:  Yes. We’re going to work through some examples of things that probably happened to Laura and I [laughter] ...

Laura:  We won’t say they're real examples, but then we won’t say they’re not real examples.

Emily:  But maybe they’ve happened to you before. But even if they haven’t, hopefully this gives you an example of what we’re talking about. Let’s just say [laughter] that your kids are getting all up in your biz, and they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing. Your reaction is to yell at them. You realize as soon as you’ve done that – you know, somebody starts crying – and you're like, “Oh man, they're crying, not because they feel godly sorrow, but because I rebuked them in a way I should not have.” Then the horrible mom feeling (the cloud of “I am a horrible mom”) comes down on you.

Laura:  Yes, guilt, condemnation. Basically you're feeling all this guilt and all of this condemnation. You feel bad for what you did, and you're starting to feel the nudge of the Holy Spirit prompting you in your heart.  A lot of times for me I am fighting it. I don’t want to repent; my pride is in there and I am just fighting it so much. Especially when it concerns my children because “I am superior, I am the adult, and I can do what I want.” I tell myself I don’t owe them anything. 

Emily:  Step one is self-justification.

Laura:  Yes! [laughs] That’s where the Holy Spirit comes in and nudges, and I feel like, “Mm, that is not truth. That is my sinful self talking to me.” As we're talking about, that’s listening  to yourself and listening to your natural inclinations. This is where you start to preach the gospel to yourself. 

Basically preaching the gospel boils down to looking at yourself through a gospel lens. So the first piece is recognizing and repenting of your sin. What that might look like here is admitting that you should not have yelled at your children, admitting that that was sinful the way that you reacted out in pride, and you reacted out of selfishness. It could be different for different people for different reasons. Admit that sin, stop and repent that, and then remind yourself of truth. Reminding yourself of God’s goodness, of his beauty, and placing your identity back in him. 

What that part will look like is you remind yourself that you're not defined by how you just yelled at your children. You are defined by Christ’s righteousness. Emily has used this example on the show a few times before, but you receive Christ’s perfect record of an A, when yours is actually a terrible, awful, big, fat F. Not only do you receive his perfect record, but you also have access to all that Christ has, which means that you can now be patient with your children, and you can speak kindly to them. You can actually go over and apologize; humble yourself, and apologize to your children. Also forgive them for whatever grievance that they have caused you, even if they don’t recognize it, or apologize for it themselves. But because Christ is in you and your identity is found in him, he is working in your heart, and you are able to access the wealth of resources that he has provided for you.  

Emily:   That is kind of a compilation of some thoughts that might go through your mind as you are processing through this situation. Either right when it happened or after it happened, later in the day or whenever that is. This is where scripture memory is also really important, and knowing what God’s Word says because his Word is living and active. These truths come with a punch. Romans 8:1 is a good example. “There is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Also remembering something like Psalms 103:12 – “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” When we think about, how I am really, totally free from the penalty of this sin that I deserve, it produces a worshipful heart. It can actually usher us into joy as we look and turn our eyes onto Christ. Instead of remembering and reviewing this situation we were just in with our kids over and over again, and rehearsing, we can move on from it, which is just amazing. That is just one example.

Laura:  Really practically, I feel like some of you guys are probably sitting there thinking, “Okay, that sounds really good but I don’t have that kind of vocabulary.” Or, “That doesn’t come super easily to me.” Or, “My thoughts don’t go that way.” I know we’re going to talk a little bit more about the practical later on in the show on how you grow in this skill. But that is what I want to encourage you with here, right in the middle of the show, that don’t be discouraged if you don’t feel like you know how to talk to yourself like this.  This is a skillset that you will grow in. Know that Emily and I aren’t perfect at this; we’re growing in this skill, and we’re doing a show on it! In the show, we’re really speaking out of a place that says, “Hey, we’re learning and growing and getting better at this skillset, and we want to get better at it along with you guys.” 

Emily, do you think it would be helpful to walk through a couple more examples? 

Emily:  Because there are other examples. Some of you can’t relate to yelling, [laughs] or outbursts of anger. 

Laura:  Cannot relate to yelling? Who are you? I want to meet you! [laughter]

Emily:  But maybe another thing that happens to some of us is, maybe you're just having a hard day. You’re stressed out, and there's lots of pressure. Maybe during that time, or whenever it is, you kind of sneak off into the pantry and break open a bag of M&Ms, or cookies or chips. I don’t know what it is for you, and you just lose self control and eat way too much. It is just a direct coping mechanism, so you can just comfort yourself while you're stressing out.

Laura:  Stress eating, yes. Okay, how do you preach the gospel to yourself in this situation? A lot of times we’re probably eating this yummy, sweet treat, and we’re thinking, “I deserve this.” Or, “I worked so hard today.” Or, “This tastes so good.” Or whatever we’re thinking. Reality is, we have to stop up and repent, and recognize our sin. Right? That is the first step. We shouldn’t have responded to whatever that stressor is that caused our binge by losing our self control, and finding our comfort in other things than God. That is the sin issue; that is just recognizing it and then we repent and just remind ourselves, “I should have gone to Christ and I should have leaned on him. But I have already eaten this food, I have already stress-ate hardcore, and so now it’s time to remember.” A great example is in Christ; that he never responded wrongly to stress, and he actually paid for our sin by dying on the cross for our sins. Now we don’t have to be defined by that big, old food binge that we just went through. 

Emily:  We can be thankful for what he did, and that can help us remember like, “Hey, because of Christ, because of the Holy Spirit in us, we can have self control. Or at least pray for self control going forward, and have hope. Know that at least, at the very least, someday we’re going to be delivered from our inability to control ourselves in certain situations when we want to run to, and depend on God. 

I love this line in the New Testament; Jesus says, “Go and sin no more.” Again that is another thing we have in Christ is this “go and sin no more” mentality. It doesn’t mean we’re going to be perfect, but we can continue to turn our eyes upon God, and remember what it is we’re living for. What it is that is the most important thing. 

Another example really quick is gossip. Maybe you went to a play date, and you sat down and started talking with someone and sharing about another mom in a way that made her look bad. Maybe you were being judgmental about her choices, or about her heart motivations. As Laura said, the first place to start is to recognize that you’ve already started to doubt your identity in Christ when you're gossiping about someone. You're basically, in so many words, trying to compare yourself to others and make yourself feel better. There is this feeling of, “Well, if she looks bad, and I share this truth, well then does that make what I am doing a little bit more right? Do I feel a little bit more justified?” That in itself is a denial of the gospel.

Laura:  In that instance, you haven’t loved your sister-in-Christ well, and you haven’t loved her as a fellow image bearer. That, again, as Emily was talking about, you recognize that sin and then you repent and recognize, “That was wrong, and I don’t want to do that anymore, or be that way. I don’t have to be that way any longer because Christ paid the penalty that I deserve for the sin that I just committed against God. Therefore I am not defined by those words that I just spoke. I am defined by Christ.” 

So putting our identity back in him, and while we know that we do deserve judgement for the wrong things that we said, how amazing is it that we receive grace? This is the part of preaching the gospel to our self. Where, as Emily said, it can induce and incite worship and joy because we recognize, “Oh man, I just screwed up really terribly, and I am so thankful that because of Christ, I am going to receive grace right now, and have an inheritance of an eternity with my King because of his sacrifice and death on the cross.” Now we’re able to cross correct - we can speak words of life, we can focus on speaking words that come from the fruit of the Spirit, and tame our tongue with self control. We can walk in freedom. We may need to go back and also apologize to whomever we were with on that play date as well. Make sure that we ask forgiveness for those grievances against the Lord and against others.  

Emily:  Another thing we can do in addition to preaching the gospel to ourselves that can help us grow in this is sharing this truth with your friends and with those who we are trying to grow in gospel-centered motherhood with. That would be when they are sharing a struggle or a problem. Affirming the reality of the curse and of sin, and how hard that is, and coming alongside them in that, and saying, “Yes, this is hard sister.” But then also reminding her as you’re reminding yourself that we’re no longer defined in that. That’s something we can do with other moms who are trusting in Christ. In that, we can learn to preach the gospel to ourselves as we are telling it to each other because sometimes it’s easier to say to another person than it is to speak it into your own life.

Laura:  That is a great way to train those thoughts. Something that I’ve been challenged by this year with my Bible study at my church, is when a mom or any woman shares something that’s going on in her life and is difficult, they have challenged us to ask the question, “Hey, what has God been teaching you in that?” Or, “Have you read anything lately in the Bible that has really challenged you in applying what you're learning towards that situation?” 

That’s just some key phrases that have helped me to talk to other moms, and to take a conversation deeper than the whole like, “Oh, I don’t know whether or not to use Pampers or Huggies. What do I do?” That’s a great way to take a conversation deeper when you see a mom having anxiety about diaper brands, which I have seen happen. Preach the gospel to her in that, and remind her where her true peace and identity is found. Obviously a lot of the situations will be a lot bigger, and deeper and more important than diaper choices. But just as an example of just speaking the truth to her in love, and remembering too that, if you don’t speak in love, you're just a clanging gong. So part of the gospel is the love of Christ. 

Emily:  Definitely pray. This is a major area where I’ve learned to preach the gospel to myself is praying God’s Word, and praying these different pieces over some of the stressors in my day. You can also, again, just study the Bible, and know the big story of the Bible and how it fits together. We have lots of resources on our website for that. 

Then there's lots of great books out there that can train you in doing this. Things like a Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent, or Show Them Jesus, by Jack Klumpenhower. Or CrossTalk by Michael Emlet. There's all these different ones – Gospel Fluency - Laura and I have not read that, but we’ve heard it goes through all of these things. We’ll have all of these things on our show notes, but just practice, read about it, think about it and meditate on it. It’s just amazing to see how that can transform our lives. 

Laura:  Em, did you want to share a little bit of the practical about where this happens – preaching the gospel to yourself?

Emily:  Yes. It doesn’t have to happen in a bedroom by yourself with the door closed, speaking out loud. For me, it just happens in the quiet of my mind. When sometimes I can be in the car driving - a lot of stuff happened before we got in the car and I am feeling kind of down about that. That’s when that can happen. Other times it can happen almost when I am laying in bed at night before I go to sleep, or in the early mornings. Sometimes I just need to sequester myself a little bit and take a moment after we’ve had a stressful time. It can happen all throughout the day, and it’s just something I am processing in my mind. Is that true for you Laura?

Laura:  It’s not usually audible for me. So for Emily’s literal mind [laughter] over there – trying to appease it – but it’s definitely in my mind, and sometimes it’s in the moment of something happening. Like I will be overreacting to something, or whatever, and I am reminding myself of that truth. There's a tension and it’s hard. Thankfully the gospel will always win. But there is an element too – as Emily was saying – it might happen a few hours later, or a day later. I think that God brings things to mind at different points. 

But a lot of this is just really being in tune and in step with the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit, and trusting him to work in your life, and respond to that prompting. It is a gift – when you are prompted to repent, that is a true mark of a believer. We just want to encourage you; those nudges that you feel in your heart, do not ignore them. Really pay attention to those pieces - that is where you can preach the gospel to yourself and transform your outlook on your day, and on who you are. Placing that identity right back to where it should be – on Christ. 

Emily:  Yes. Amen. If you want to find out more about this, you can check out our show notes @risenmotherhood.com. We’ll be talking about it this week on our social media platforms at Risen Motherhood on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for joining us guys.


This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Laura, with my sister-in-law, Emily, and today we want to invite all of you guys to check out our resources page. We talked about this a little bit on the last show, but essentially, on the resources page we have is a bunch of books, music, Bible study tools – I can’t think of anything else – [laughter] but there’s a lot of really cool stuff over there that Emily and I and the rest of the Risen Motherhood team has curated, all to help equip you in gospel-centered motherhood. Something that Emily and I say on the show a lot is we do not know everything, but we have learned a lot from wise people, authors, wise women in our lives, and people who’ve  developed amazing products. We’ve learned a lot from them and we want to share those resources with you, to help equip you. 

Because today’s show is all about self-care, maybe a piece of that puzzle for you will be reading a new book, or finding a way to set up some new tools in your quiet time. We thought that might be a nice piece to point you towards at risenmotherhood.com\resources. Or you can find that link all over our social media pages and very easily from the homebase of risenmotherhood.com. We encourage you to go over there and check that out.

Emily:  As Laura said, we are talking about self-care. This is actually kind of a 2.0 episode for us because if you dig way deep into our archives, this was the second show we ever released. I literally don’t even know what we said. I am not encouraging you to listen to it, I am just saying that it’s there. [laughter] We’ve grown a lot since that time, but we wanted to just talk about this again because it is something that comes up over and over for us in motherhood. Us personally, and for all moms because we’re exhausted. [laughter]  No matter how many children you have, you’re tired, and you’re like, “I don’t know how to function.” “I don’t know how to balance my need for basic things like sleep and mental processing time with all the things that my children and family need.”

Laura:  I tend to be on the side of go, go, go. Never stopping, very little self-care, and living like I don’t have any limits. I know that that’s something that this year God has really been teaching me. I feel like he has just piled on many things where I’ve been forced to stop and say, “I need help. I can’t do this.” I am really thankful for that lesson, and I am excited to talk about it more today.

Emily:  It’s been really interesting. Laura added a child this year, and I added our fifth child. I keep thinking that I am going to understand this balance a little bit better, but it’s still so hard. Every time I think there’s nothing left to give, there is more to give [laughter] and lay down for the sake of caring for others. But this time around too, I’ve also just been faced with my own limitations – like Laura said – in all of the fact that I cannot just go and do everything forever. I need to also rest in Christ. Sometimes I need practical things to help me serve and love others better. We’re going to try to talk about that a little bit today, and we totally get that it feels selfish to take time for yourself.

Laura:  That’s one of the hardest pieces! I just feel so selfish whenever I do take time away because I see the to-do list, I see the needs of the family, my own needs that are outside of that self-care piece. 

So, let’s walk through the gospel. We can find a nice balance in this because a lot of people can sway into two different ditches. With creation, we can see that God created Adam and Eve, and he provided everything that they needed. They had very purposeful work to do, they were to rule over creation, subdue the earth, bring order to the chaos, be fruitful and multiply. They had purpose and they had work that they were supposed to do. They also trusted God to care for them. They trusted him to provide everything that they needed. They didn’t need extra self-care and they didn’t need to carve away time for self-care. 

God was there caring for them. He walked and talked with them. I like that you can look at creation and see how God has self-care in a way, where he took a day of rest. He took a break, and he doesn’t even need to. That’s just a really neat piece that we can see, rest is a gift from God. It reminds us that we are human, and that we serve a gracious and generous God that provides for all of our needs. 

Emily:  When we look at the fall, of course we see that Adam and Eve unfortunately were not fully satisfied in everything God created. They disobeyed him by trying to seek fulfillment outside of what he had provided, and when they did that, sin entered the world. Now, in a post-sin world, we know that our bodies get physically sick and worn down. Our bodies die; they lose energy and strength. Our minds cannot handle everything – we have mental health issues. There are things like anxiety, depression and chronic stress that impact all different types of people. We get overwhelmed easily, we are limited– just in general. 

There are now a couple of camps that we can kind of fall into, or ditches, if you want to use that term. One is that we’re too tempted to think that we’re unlimited as God is unlimited. Like, “I am never going to take a break.” “I can always just forego more sleep.” “I don’t need reasonable refreshment or physical nourishment or healthy habits, community or spiritual disciplines. I can just do it all if I just try harder.” That is one area that we fall into.

Laura:  The other side of the ditch, or camp that Emily was saying, we start to abuse the gift of rest and self-care. We can escape through it. We say like, “Oh, there’s just too much to do, I am so overwhelmed that God has asked me to take care of all these things.” Instead of going to Christ and relying on his strength, we basically just shut down. We start thinking, “I just need a little bit more sleep, TV, exercise, hobbies or time with my friends. I just want to be really comfortable in my life then I’ll be happier. If I can just find this extra piece, I am going to be happier instead of relying on Christ to be my strength.” We start running to all the wrong places.

Emily:  But we know in redemption that Jesus has struck this balance perfectly, and in a way we should emulate. Instead of staying comfy in heaven with God, where he had all these things, he loved us so much that he came to earth. He lay down the pleasures of heaven for the sake of loving us and dwelling with us. He experienced all of these types of human stressors and discomforts that we experience. 

But we also know that he took appropriate time to rest, to care for the needs that he had in a physical body – he ate food, slept, even when it seemed crazy to others. He took time away to be alone with God. He stopped and lingered over the teaching of scripture. He did skilled work (that we assume he enjoyed doing), and he lived in a community of people. Again, Jesus lived as a human, and he did take appropriate self-care.
But we also know there were times when he went without food. There were times when he stayed awake later than he probably felt like. He was probably tired because he needed to minister to others. There were times when he prayed when other people were sleeping. He allowed himself to be swarmed with these needy people when he probably just wanted to be alone. We also know that he lays down his will in every circumstance in order to do the Father’s will. That is an example for us.

Laura:  Exactly. We know that because of Christ’s death and resurrection, we are now able to serve Christ and his purposes. That our lives are no longer our own, but we belong to God. We no longer need to look out for our own comforts, or act like we’re totally limitless and can do anything that we want. But instead, that we’re able to emulate the life and work of Jesus Christ – spreading the gospel, and having an opportunity to love others through it. 

In this restoration piece, we can be reminded that we live in this tension, “the already, but not yet.” We want to be able to do these things and emulate the life of Christ. But at the same time, we’re living in these broken bodies that we were talking about in the fall. We have limits. We have true and real needs. In this tension, we can recognize that these needs are what makes us human, but they also remind us that we can take on this good gift from God for rest. 

When we rest in Christ it’s really a state of our hearts. That’s the big piece at this point is that we can rest in the future hope of knowing that one day we will live with Christ. We also can know that we have the Holy Spirit. We have the promise of him today, and the ability to serve other people through power that is not our own. Something that has been really challenging to me in 1st Peter 3 – the whole idea of a gentle and quiet spirit. For me, as an extrovert, I used to feel like that meant I need to be really quiet, and to not laugh so loudly or things like that. But really, it’s speaking to the state of your heart. It’s about: Are you finding your peace, your rest, and your hope in God to sustain you and all that you need? Not in your God-given personality and changing it. But really it’s all about resting in the peace that God provides, and knowing that he’s your ultimate sustainer. He will get you through each day with the things that you need to get done. That he’s going to provide the rest that you do need.

Emily:  Of course this applies differently, in many different situations. We all come from different backgrounds, and have different challenges and temptations. Like Laura was alluding to, sometimes our personality can cause us to bend one way or the other. Or maybe be again, too reliant on like, “I can’t give up this comfort” or, “I am going to go, go and I am never going to enjoy the good gift of physical rest that God gave.” We just wanted to share some principles we can remember and think about as we’re processing what we should do with self-care. 

The first thing that we already mentioned, but we’re saying again, is weaknesses and limitations are part of our humanness. Rest is a good gift from God. I’ll just have to remember this – God does not rely on me to keep the entire world or my entire family running. [laughter] He is in control, and he owns everything and is able to supply any need. To think that it all relies upon me is a really wrong, warped view. [laughs]

Laura:  Yes. Something that the Lord has really taught me this year, as I was sharing a little bit, of being pushed down to my knees and basically saying that I cannot do all of this, is when we recognize our limits and our humanness, that ultimately provides an opportunity for other people to help and to serve us. That is a gift. For the first time in my life I really saw like, “Oh, this is amazing to receive help.” 

In the past I’d always felt so equipped for whatever the day-to-day brought. When I finally reached my limit and people were like, “Let me bring you meals,” or, “Let me just take your kids for a couple of hours,” I was finally like, “Yes! This is a huge gift. [laughter] Thank you so much.” It’s a gift to those people too who are serving. It’s a blessing for them to be able to help you. I know you guys are probably heard that before, but it is true.

Emily:  Yes. Even for your husband, or your family members, your friends from church to come alongside you, it is a very difficult thing to receive help sometimes but it is a good gift from God. That’s why we live in community. 

The second principle I just wanted to bring to the table is that we have to submit ourselves to Christ and know that a life following him is going to require sacrifice and make us uncomfortable. [laughs] It’s right there in scripture - I can’t remember the verse right off the top of my head. But it’s something about if you desire to follow Christ you will suffer [laughter].

Laura:  It’s true. Even as moms, when kids wake up in the middle of the night, they’re puking in the car. That recently happened to me - a huge sickness hit the car. [laughter] We feel like we’re constantly running late because there are all these little needs that we’re having to take care of. I know that it can just feel like there’s constantly not only little things that are coming our way, there are also big trials that make our lives uncomfortable or difficult. But we also know, as Emily said, that as a believer, it’s a costly life. If you’re a mom, loving your children, passing along the gospel to them, doing ministry for others, it’s very costly. That might mean giving up temporal things for eternal gain. We don’t know what that exact balance is. Emily and I keep talking about this big pendulum swing that’s happening. We don’t know what that exact balance is for you, but that is why we want to know scripture and walk in the light of Christ.

Emily:  The third thing we would just wanted to bring to the table again is that true rest and self-care is found in Christ alone. While there are physical and practical things we can do for ourselves which we absolutely should do, if we can. There was a time, again, after this transition with our fifth child, I was like, “Why do I feel so ragged?” A short examination of my life was like, “Well, these are really basic things you need to re-insert into hour life.” So do those things. But the reality is, no self-care time you’ve carved away, no Friday night out with your friends, no special date night, to special 24 hours to yourself, or a full night of sleep can really quench that part of you that needs rest, that is emotionally exhausted and stressed out. I feel like I am still learning this. It’s hard because you think like, “If I just get this thing, I am going to be rested.” But the only thing that fills that is Christ.

Laura:  That’s exactly right. I know there are so many times where for naptime I am so looking forward to like, “Okay, I can just sit down.” Especially when I was pregnant, I was like, “Okay, the first half hour will be a nap. The second half hour will be TV and snack time. The third half hour I’ll maybe get some work done.”

I am living for the nap; I am so excited for the nap. I have it all mapped out, and then what happens? My four-year-old’s coming downstairs like ten times and my two-year-old decides to not nap that day or whatever that may be. That is where it’s like, “Okay  Lord, all I have is you. I can only trust for you to be my sufficiency, not my naptime.” I know there’s a Gloria Furman quote that we put on Instagram a few times, I am kind of doing it from memory here, but she talks about, “Naps are well and good, but if I put my hope in that, it will fail me.” [laughter] That is essentially what’s happening here. Any time that we start to idolize that self-care, or that moment where we feel like, “I just have to get to bedtime.” “I just have to get to that play date and everything will be fine and I’ll feel so much better.” That is putting our hope on shifting sands, and we cannot count on anything other than Christ.

Emily:  Again, consider your heart; everything goes back to that. We cannot look in from the outside and say, “Oh, you must be getting too much self-care. Looks like you’re going out with your friends a lot more than this other person is. You must be wrongly valuing that.” No, we cannot tell from the outside. It’s all a matter of the heart, and where you’re putting your hope and your trust. 

A few questions to leave you guys with today is: What areas of life might you be failing to acknowledge your own limitations? Are you thinking that you can literally do everything without taking a break, saying no, or having a rest, and you’re just going to be able to keep going? Or are you willing to do less in some areas, and trust God that he has other ways of providing for those things?

Laura:  On the flipside of that, a good question to ask yourself is: What areas are you using self-care time as a crutch, or really living for self-care? Are you avoiding responsibilities that God has given you as a mom? Are you trying to find some extra ways to squeeze it in where it doesn’t really fit? That’s where you can just pray. Ask God to strength you, and remember where your identity and your eternal reward is found in heaven.

Emily:  Definitely get time in the Word of God. That’s going to be the most refreshing thing we can do is to just be connected to the truth of his Word. Remember always that God is unchanging. 

We hope that we were able to give you guys a few things to chew on as you are processing through what self-care looks like. If you are sometimes exhausted and ran ragged [laughter] like Laura and I are, [laughs] and you’re wondering how do I experience true and lasting rest? There’s definitely some things to consider.

Laura:  If you want to check out those resources that we talked about, maybe a great new book might be something that you can do for self-care. Head over to risenmotherhood.com. you’ll also find all the show notes there where we’ll post links and other things about this topic of self-care that we just discussed today on the show. Of course we’ll have more on social media. As always find us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook @risenmotherhood.com. That’s it, thanks guys.


Ep. 85 || Same Grace, Unique Circumstances: Every Mom is your Neighbor TRANSCRIPT

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. We are so excited to be back for 2018 and a whole new year, a whole new theme. I am Emily Jensen, here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. 

Fun fact, we’re actually recording this pre-2018 because when this episode airs, Laura is going to be moving into my neighborhood. 

Laura:  [laughs] At least a couple of cornfields away, right Emily? [laughter] Right now the news isn’t public when we’re recording here in December. But by the time the show airs, I will likely be up to my ears in moving boxes. We are moving to Central Iowa, where Emily and Becca, both of my sisters-in-law, are living. We are really excited that my husband was able to get a position there – something that affords much better work-life balance. I think that most of you guys know this is something we have been pursuing for a few years now.

Of course I am really going to miss our community here in Chicago. We have been blessed with an amazing church family that you guys have heard me talk about a lot on the show. But at the same time, really looking forward to being so close to Emily and Becca and their families. We get to record shows in person in the future, which is going to be awesome! [laughter]

Emily:  Although for those of you guys who’ve listened to this show for a while know when we record in person we get a little bit sillier [laughter] and we laugh a little bit more. We’re just excited to grow in that, and have Laura around in person. It’s so cool. Another change coming in 2018 is the launch of Patreon. We are really excited about this and we’ll explain more. But in short, it is a way for you guys to join our community and support what we’re doing as a ministry.

Laura:  So long story short, and to not take up a ton of the show, as you guys can imagine as the ministry grows, so do the expenses associated with running it. Over the past few years, Emily and I have consistently paid for Risen Motherhood out of pocket. Just know that it has not been a burden; it has been a joy to us. We have loved this ministry – we love the eternal work that we’re able to participate in and we feel very humbled to have a platform like this. Over the past two years, that has just been a gift to us to support this ministry. 

In this past six months, we have been blessed by being able to supplement with affiliate sales and with generous spot donations from women, that we didn’t solicit for, that God has just truly provided in his wonderful way. But at this point, it’s getting too expensive for us to consistently pay for that out-of-pocket and to even be covered by some of these other pieces that women and affiliate sales are providing. 

So we are launching Patreon. It’s a platform where fans of ministries or brands can support those brands to continue through their dollars. We have different levels for you to be able to give at - it’s  $2, $5, $10 and $30 each month. There are different perks that you unlock, which is an exciting feature.

Emily:  There’s things like prints, so you can get them for the background of your phone, and downloadables. There’s also some great handbooks; you can start a Podcast Club, which is something you may not have ever heard of before, but you can find out about it on Patreon. There’s also handbooks for starting Bible study and there’s an opportunity to have a video call with Laura and I. Potentially, depending on what level you’re at, you can also get a Risen Motherhood t-shirt. I am actually jealous of that because I don’t have one, and I want one Laura.

Laura:  You’re going to donate at that level Emily. Sorry! [laughter]

Emily:  There are a ton of things that come with it if you are able to contribute. We would just love it if you guys would come alongside us in what we are getting to do, to share the gospel with moms all over the world. We get amazing emails every week, and messages from moms everywhere, that are in various circumstances and different countries. Some that are missionaries, and some that just want to learn and grow and know how does the gospel impact this really mundane thing that I am dealing with in my everyday life? Laura and I are learning about that; that’s what we’re sharing about. But we are excited to continue providing resources. Though we also need – again, like Laura said – financial help to keep doing that.

Laura:  Yes. If you’re looking for a detailed tick list on where that money is going, head over to patreon.com/risenmotherhood, and you can see exactly how we’re going to use all of the funding. We’re sure that some of you are wondering why we’re not doing ads. This is a really good question, and something that Emily and I thought through for a really long time. We know that these are a great option for a lot of podcasts out there. But for us right now, part of it is that we don’t want to give up 1 – 3 minutes of the show in order to do an ad. Since we have such short shows that are 20 minutes, and we hear from a lot of you that you love the timeframe of the show, we don’t want to feel like we’re eating up precious minutes, or extending the show beyond that time. 

Another piece is because right now, Emily and I are able to endorse all of our products very authentically. If you’ve been a follower of Risen Motherhood for any amount of time, you know that we have a very robust resources page that is heavily accessed by many of you. We also share a lot of resources on Instagram and Facebook, IG Stories, and all of those things. We want to be able to continue feeling like, “Oh, we don’t have to hawk this product because we’re getting sponsored for it.” Right now you guys can know that every single product that we do show you through the show or social media is all very authentic. It’s not muddied with dollars and feeling like, “Hey, this is something that we’re getting paid for versus something that we’re not.”

Emily:  Another way that you can support Risen Motherhood, just to throw this in there, is, if you buy something off of our resources page where an Amazon affiliate program, and that doesn’t change what we put on that page since Laura and I authentically curate those resources. It takes like a tiny, small percentage that helps support what we do at Risen Motherhood. That is even helpful if you utilize our resources page to buy various things that you want to use to help you learn in gospel-centered motherhood. 

Again, Patreon is very simple. This isn’t something we want to talk about every single show; this is something we hope we only have to mention maybe a couple of times a year. It was just a way for us to partner with you guys in the spread of the gospel to moms all over the world. We would just be so honored if you would just consider giving. The last thing really quick to say is everything is going to remain free that’s already free.

Laura:  Right. Nothing is changing. We want all moms to have access to the resources that are already out there, and to be able to grow together in gospel-centered motherhood. If you did choose to support us, your funding would go towards continuing to create great resources like that. While, yes, there are some perks for the insiders that are within the Patreon community, everything that you see now will continue to remain free. Even if you’re able to give $1 a month, know that that makes a really big difference for the continued running of this ministry. If every listener gave a dollar a month, we would never talk about Patreon again!

Emily:  Exactly!

Laura:  We know that God will provide all that we need. That we won’t get a penny more or less than we need. It’s exactly what he has ordained for us, and so we trust that. But we would just be so humbled if you’d head over and at the very least, check out the page and see what the perks are. Maybe you’ll be enticed to want to join the community. Again, patreon.com/risenmotherhood. Thanks for listening to our spiel.

Okay, let’s get to some real, good meat of the show Emily.

Emily:  [laughs] Yes. For those of you who missed it, we’d like to let you know we had a theme for the year, and it was “Biblical Literacy.” If you caught the last episode of 2018 you heard us introduce our 2017 – 

Laura:  Aah, 2017! 

Emily:  Ah! I love it. I am already wanting to get into the new year – 2017 you heard us introduce our theme for 2018, which is “Unity In The Gospel.” We just wanted to take a few minutes to talk about what we mean by that, where that came from, and how it applies to us as moms.

Laura:  A lot of this came out of the same study that Emily and I did of Ephesians by Keri Fulmar. It was just really neat because as God would ordain it, Emily did it at her church, Spring of 2017, and then I did it at my church the Fall of 2017. And no, our churches did not talk. [laughter] It wasn’t anything like that; it was totally a God thing. If you have studied Ephesians before, or maybe you’ve even done this study that we’re talking about, you know that Paul wrote this letter to a church that was pretty newly formed. The Jews and Gentiles were getting mashed together for the very first time and they were super different from one another. 

But they were also learning at this time how to live life together. The Jews had all these laws that they were used to following – they only ate certain things and did certain practices. The Gentiles were like, “No rules ever!” [laughter] They were just so excited about Jesus. It was interesting to see how Paul just wrote to them, exhorting them to find unity in Christ. Even when there were times when it was very difficult for them to find commonalities. Especially when initially meeting and learning to live life with one another.

They had a lot of external differences that they were dealing with - different behaviors, ethnicities, cultural practice, giftings, social economic levels. Sounds a little bit like us moms today. [laughter]

Emily:  They just had tons of differences. I think it’s really interesting that Paul wasn’t just like, “Okay, there’s no guidelines. Everybody do whatever you want.” He actually spends the last part of Ephesians laying down like, “Here’s the things that matter that all of you do.” He gave structure to the church and to families. He gave a lot of clear instructions, but he was also saying beyond this, the heart of what we need to remember is that in Christ, we are fellow heirs. We all have the same status before God - we are all sinners, we have all fallen short of his glory, and are all desperately in need of the grace of Christ. When he died on the cross, when we put our faith in him, we all become fellow heirs and we all receive his righteousness and the same Holy Spirit inside of our hearts. Then he is building all of us his whole body together, which we need to be a light for Christ in the world. We are unified in that. God sees differences and they’re beautiful, but we’re equal before him. He loves us equally; we’re equally righteous. That’s an important thing that the church in Ephesus needed to remember.

Laura:  If you take that, you can very easily apply it to our world today. Which is what Emily and I are hoping to do, is talking about how as moms, we get into these mom camps. Right? We have, “Oh, I am a home school mom,” “I am a public school mom,” “I am a private school mom.” Maybe it’s food choices – breastfeeding, bottle feeding, how you dress, how your kids are dressed, how you throw a birthday party, what your family dinners look like. We can go on and on about all of these different mom camps. The really big ones that start the mommy wars, and all of the other little ones that we all notice. 

We see that as moms today, we are not so different from the Ephesians. We need the same charge that Paul gave to those moms. We need that in our lives today. Our hope with the theme of “Unity In The Gospel” is that all the things that Emily was saying of being fellow heirs in Christ and image bearers of God, created with the same purpose - to bring God glory. All of those things are applicable to all moms today, no matter what you look like, or what your day is filled with. No matter if you spend it at work, or if you’re at home, or if your kids go to different schools, or they have different types of activities that they participate in. All of us moms, yes, we are very different. But at the heart of it, as believing moms, we all are striving for the same purpose. 

Emily:  I was just listening to a podcast I’ll include on the show notes, where K.A. Ellis was sharing this story of these two Muslim men that were from differing backgrounds – different tribes within the Muslim world – that are just absolutely opposed to each other. These groups hate each other, and these two men became believers and they were in prison together. People could just not believe that they would talk to each other, and they were like brothers in Christ because in the world’s eyes, these two groups were not reconcilable. But in Christ they were reconciled. In Christ, they were in the same family. 

That does apply to us as moms, and we even see we have the same call, like Laura was saying. We’ve tried to lay the foundation for it in Risen Motherhood, but what we want to keep saying is that God has called all of us moms to do the same thing. We want to make disciples of everyone that we come in contact with. We want to love our neighbors as ourselves, to love God, and to honor our husbands. This is going to play out really differently. It’s not that there are no rules, no expectations, [laughs] “live however you want, do whatever makes you feel good, live by your own lot.” No, God does give clear boundaries and expectations. He has standards that he lays out in scripture. But there’s a bunch of grey areas, [laughter] and things that are not spelt out. What we need to do is lay our lives down just as Christ has, and obey God in whatever circumstances he has given us. 

Laura:  Yes. What this looks like practically, first off, we just need to be praying for unity. So in your own life, in interactions with your local church and even for the whole global church. I love that picture that Emily shared about these two brothers-in-Christ really coming together, despite what the world would tell them that they needed to do. Or the way they needed to behave. But they united in the gospel. That’s something that we can be praying for in our own lives. 

Another one is just extending grace to people in your own lives. Modeling unity in the gospel, and encouraging others to do the same. Doing that with our children, talking about what our purpose is here on earth as believers. What are we supposed to be about? So modeling that for your kids. 

Then of course drawing on last year’s theme, growing in biblical literacy – what goes in must come out in. As you get to know God and his word more, your heart will begin to follow. Just remember that we can pray for these things, we can model these things. But we also really need to be asking God to continue to transform our heart. We do that through reading his word and knowing who he is more. Only God is going to enable you to model the love for others that Christ has shown you. To really begin to be unified with moms across cultures, boundaries, different looks and day to days – God is going to do that and transform your life. 

Just like last year, remember that this theme is not going to be explicit in every show. Don’t worry if you’re not super pumped about the theme. [laughter] But hopefully you are pumped, and that we will hopefully weave it in throughout the year. That it will just become this over-arching piece of the puzzle as we do our shows throughout 2018.

Emily:  Thanks also for listening to our Patreon spiel. We hope that you guys go and contribute. It’s patreon.com/risenmotherhood. We’ll be doing a lot more on launch week. On social media, you can find us @risenmotherhood.com on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. There’s lots that you can unlock there; just remember to head over and see what it’s all about. But we are so thankful that you guys have joined us for this crazy journey. Yes, hope you guys have a great 2018.



This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Hello and welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Laura, and I have my sister-in-law, Emily here with me. We’re excited because this is our last show of 2017!

Emily: Indeed. It’s been a whirlwind year. When we think about planning for 2017, last year and writing down some of our very little goals [laughter] that we just thought would be amazing, it’s just incredible for Laura and I to look back and see what the Lord has done to spread his Word, his gospel, and his kingdom through this ministry. It’s completely blown any little ideas we had out of the water without us [laughs] really feeling like we did anything. God is just so good.

Laura: And all glory to Him for sure. Emily was alluding to this, and I won’t name what our goals were, but they were very small. [laughter]

Emily: But we thought they were huge!

Laura: [laughter] We thought they were huge at the time, good point. It’s been exciting because this year we hit one million downloads, which was a huge milestone. We also have over 1,000 ratings on iTunes and all thanks to you guys. Literally, as we said, this is totally God working and moving to spread the gospel through this podcast. But also you guys have done the hard work of sharing this podcast with your friends; that is the highest honor. We are so humbled to even think that you would share this with your girlfriends because that is the greatest endorsement you could ever give us. Then to leave a review on iTunes because as you guys know iTunes does these weird algorithms that are a combination of downloads, reviews, ratings, and all sorts of other wizardry. [laughter] I’m not really sure. But we are thankful that women are finding us because of the reviews that you’re leaving, because of the iTunes rankings. Thank you for doing that and we just wanted to say just a big thank you on this show.

Emily:  Thank you too for sharing with us how God is using it. We think the numbers are cool, and they’re definitely interesting, and they’re evidence of the way that God’s using it. But even more than that, is when we get emails or messages from you guys, sharing the specific way that God has impacted your motherhood as you’ve meditated on what you have in Christ. We get messages from women all over the world. We’ve gotten notes from women who are missionaries in other countries, where they have don’t have a lot of fellowship with other believers and they’re saying, “I am getting to hear the way that the gospel applies to my motherhood in this area, where I don’t have a lot of other people to connect with.”

We’ve heard from women in Australia, India, Canada, Mexico, Switzerland, the U.K. I mean, just all over the world. That is a joy to us to be reaching the nations with the gospel from our living room, or wherever we record. [laughter]

Laura:  We continue to feel like we need to tell you, and you know this, but we are a couple of sinful women. We are unqualified - we do not have seminary degrees, or broadcasting degrees. We’ve never learned anything about podcasting or professionalism in this area, and we are so thankful for God intervening in our imperfections. Him being strong where we are weak. We want to thank you guys for sticking with us; some of you guys have probably been around for two years now, some of you guys have only just recently joined us. But we are thankful for each and every one of you.

We want to do a quick recap of our theme from this year - if you guys will remember way back to January 2017, we talked about our theme being “Biblical Literacy.”

Emily: And literacy is just a big word for being competent in an area of knowledge. Specifically, our goal and desire was to talk all about how we become competent in the scriptures, and God’s Word, knowing that if we are connecting with God, we’re reading what He has to say to us, the word is living and active, and we know that that has to power to help us know what to do in these daily situations - to enjoy God more. We know when we’re enjoying Him, and when we’re in authentic relationship with God, that is going to overflow to our families, to all the people we interact with.  That was something Laura and I were like, “If we can get excited about biblical literacy and we can get you guys excited about it, God is going to do the work through his word.” We tried to weave that into every show in a little way, throughout the whole year.

Laura:  We covered things like why the Old Testament should matter to moms, how to develop discernment when engaging with various resources, how to encourage your husband in spiritual growth, and his own biblical literacy. Things like what does it look like to accept our limitations? What’s it look like to have our identity in Christ? What is the importance of sharing the Bible with our children? We talked about that in like every different way, [laughter] it feels like. We definitely covered it in a whole range of shows. If you haven’t tuned into all of those shows, definitely go back into our archives; they’re pretty easy to search on our website. There is just so much great wisdom and truth, especially from our interviewees – that’s what I mean when I say [laughter] wisdom and truth from our interviewees. They just brought it. We definitely encourage you to go back and listen to those.

Emily:  Laura and I thought we would go over some of our favorite things that we took away when we think about, over the year, what we learned about biblical literacy. The first thing was a reoccurring theme over and over again, was just learning that quiet times don’t have to be quiet. In fact, we should probably just stop thinking about it like that. Cut the word “quiet time” –  not the concept of it [laughter], just the idea that, of course, we want to get alone with God, we want to have a secret, quiet relationship with Him in certain times and ways. But if we are always waiting for the hot coffee, and the sunrise, and the blanket then we won’t ever read our Bibles, and meet with God. Because if you have young children at home – most of our listeners do – you know that if they hear you wake up, they wake up. [laughter] That it’s just really hard to sneak away. But also, just read your Bible when ever you can, as much as you can.

Laura:  That’s right. I always appreciate Jen Wilkin talking about reading a book of the Bible over and over again. Read it for comprehension. It’s just such a basic thing where you don’t have to think a lot, you don’t have to have note books or pens. Just have your Bible on your phone, or a physical Bible; it’s easy.

Along with that, something that we talked a lot about this year, and that was also challenging for Emily and I (especially after we had our baby girls), is trusting God with our to-do list, and not saying, “Okay, I am going to get these things done because I’ve a few minutes of quiet, then later today, I’ll read my Bible then.”  

No, we want to be giving God the best of our day. We want to give Him the first fruits of our time and of our efforts. Trusting him that if we do the work of getting in God’s Word, of re-orienting our day around him - first of all, it’s going to bless us. We are going to be changed, and we’re going to have a better focus on what our identity is, in Christ. Our family is going to be blessed for it. Oftentimes, I’ll skip reading the Bible, and then I’ll be grumpier, [laughter] crabbier, angrier, all throughout the day. If I get in God’s Word, and re-orient my heart towards Him first thing in the morning, my whole family benefits that entire day. You can trust that God will either help you to get things done that you need to get done. Or, He’s going to basically show you, “No, not that. That didn’t need to get done.”

Emily:  Yes, it is true. It’s important that if we really say that God, and our relationship with Him is the most important thing, then at some level, our time and our resources have to show that. And I am literally saying that back to myself.


Laura:  Preaching to ourselves here ladies.

Emily:  Yes. Am I giving Him the first fruits of my time? Especially if you feel that little prick in the morning when you get on your phone and you’re laying in bed. You’re like, “In the time I looked at Instagram, I could have spent 10 minutes in the Word of God.” Another thing that we drew out this year was needing women to come alongside us, so that we can all study the Bible together. Learning about God’s Word is not something we do in isolation. We certainly read it on our own, but then we should also get together with groups of women so that they can refine us and help us think about things more clearly. Bring up points that we didn’t think of, and correct our ideas when we’re just thinking something really wonky about scripture – and we do this with all different generations and cultural backgrounds.

Laura:  That’s right. Another one we talked about was creating a gospel culture in our home - recognizing that our children are watching what we’re doing. When they see an authentic love for God’s Word displayed in front of them, that is a perfect opportunity for everyday discipleship. Which is also another argument for not feeling like, “I have to squeeze my quiet time into these two seconds that I have of quiet.”

Instead, welcome your child to come alongside you, letting them know that, “Hey, momma’s reading God’s Word right now. Do you want to sit down with your Bible and your pens, and you to have a quiet time too?” Of course it’s very different than what you’re doing, but you are teaching them what a rhythm of someone who loves God looks like in their daily life. This is where we want to bring our kids alongside us in our faith, and not separate the two lives – not separate the “sacred from the secular.” I’ve been using that quote a lot lately! [laughter]

Emily:  But it’s good. It’s evident of something. Even just in the She Reads Truth interview, I was really reminded, “Yes, it is good to just bring it into our family. I want them to think reading the Bible throughout the day and listening to it, hearing mom pray through it is normal.”

Laura:  Yes. We want to make it normal.

Emily:  That it’s not normal to go a whole day without opening your Bible, or a whole week. I mean, days happen without it. [ laughter]. But hopefully, you’re not going days at a time.

Laura:  Another piece that we talked about is that it takes practice to grow in biblical literacy. Oftentimes, it can feel sort of like that “duty into delight” piece. We need to take time to learn how to study God’s Word. We have an entire tutorial up on our website. We actually changed the name (this is a good moment to tell you all) [laughter] to “The Abide Method,” though it’s the same tutorial. We named it that because we want to abide in Christ and be in Him, as we get in God’s Word. It’s basically the inductive study method, however, we’ve added our own “Risen Motherhood take” on it, and some of the things that Emily and I personally add to our study.

If you’re looking to grow deeper and learn how to study God’s Word for yourself, that would be a great place to start. Or to gather a group of women to use The Abide Method to study God’s Word. We have to learn how to study His Word to really be able to engage in it, and understand who God, is and how that changes who we are.

Emily:  We have a ton of resources on our website for that. Check those out.

Finally, we talked a lot this year about not walking in guilt and shame over the fact that maybe we haven’t been in the Word of God. I know this is something that Laura and I have both experienced, but I feel like I am working through, in this post-partum season, feeling bad that I am not in it as much as I want to be. The temptation is to just stay there, and to let that distance feel like it’s growing. I feel like I am getting colder and colder, versus running back to the Lord. Knowing  that my salvation is through faith alone, by grace alone, just gives me confidence to know it’s not about how many minutes I’ve racked up reading scripture. That is not why God has loved and accepted me. It’s through Christ’s righteousness. We have complete freedom to keep going back over and over again. I feel like there was a quote in one of our episodes about family devotions. Like we want to just keep restarting them, to be just so stubborn in our starting over and over again. Don’t give up going back to reading your Bible. Even if it’s been like six months. Pick it back up.

Laura:  Yes, do it today.

Now, let’s talk a little bit about our favorite episode, or one piece that really stuck out because it’s impossible to pick a favorite. Emily, do you want to kick us off with just your one little nugget?

Emily:  One nugget. I really liked Ruth’s interview that she did with us. That was in September, I believe when that came out. I remember being really impacted by what she said about setting expectations for kids. One thing we’ve struggled with throughout the years - we’ve added another baby to the family, I have a kiddo in school now, who wasn’t in school before, I am doing more Risen Motherhood stuff than ever. It’s just this feeling like I don’t know how to manage expectations. If I am going to sit down and write on the computer for a little while, I am going to do something else. I really liked how she said, “Making different times of the day, being clear with children about what it is we expect for them then being really present, when we are present. Engaging them and being intentional about that.” That’s something I am still stewing on, but I really liked that.

Laura:  It’s interesting because I didn’t realize that ours favorite things are actually really close. Mine was from Sally Clarkson, which was an our October interview. But she said this one little nugget; she just zinged it at the end.

Emily:  It’s always those little one-liners, and you’re like...

Laura:  “That just changed my whole world.”

Emily:  Exactly!

Laura:  It wasn’t even the point of the interview, but she said, “Cultivate a sustainable life.” Like Emily, I’ve had a lot of changes this year in my life. I remember just being hit to the core by that and thinking, “My life is not sustainable.” I feel like I just keep telling myself, “I’ll just get to the next week, the next month, whatever it may be. Pass that milestone and then it’ll be sustainable.”  And as Emily was sort of saying, I want to be intentional with my life. I want to be able to say, “This is my time with my children.” Or, “This is my time to do work.” If you could just imagine me as Stretch Armstrong; [laughter] my everything going everywhere – that is a challenge for me, that I am still trying to make tweaks and changes to my schedule – of how can I have a sustainable life long term, so that I can invest well in my family and keep the right priority in order of things in my heart?

Emily: One more titbit; I was just thinking about Ruth’s comment about doing nothing. I am like, “You know I’ve just got to slow down.” Ruth would have said, “No, you have to do nothing. You’ve got to plan for nothing.” I think both Laura and I are trying to figure out how you just plan for nothing and enjoy that feeding with the baby or whatever it is, [laughter] and stop trying to do ten things at one time?

Laura: Yes!

Okay, because the theme of “Biblical Literacy” went so well last year, we decided to do another theme, for 2018. It’s just amazing because Emily and I had the same thoughts individually. Then we kicked it by our team, (the other three women on the Risen Motherhood team) and they all felt like this would be a great piece for next year as well. The theme is “Unity In The Gospel,” and we all had unity, on the unity theme. [laughter] But we want to tell you all a little about the back story, how we got there, and why we’ve chosen this.

Emily: When we first started Risen Motherhood, all Laura and I were really thinking about is, literally, how do we physically get it recorded? [laughter] What do we say? What kind of issues are we walking through in our own personal lives? How are we applying the gospel to that? That’s how Risen Motherhood was born, and that’s taken us almost two years to just process through that. It’s grown into all these things. But we had this moment last summer, when we were on break, and we were sharing this picture of all these interviewees. Somebody pointed out to us how homogeneous that group of women - one man - [laughter] were. For Laura and I the blinders were lifted off and we were like, [gasps] “Oh, you are right. It is!”

Now that we’ve kind of stabilized a little bit, we want to represent more prerspectives and to think through things beyond just what Laura and I are dealing with. Which never came from a bad intention, but we also want to look out and see that there is a lot of different types of moms out there.

Laura: We recognize that not all of you are work-from-home mothers, or working moms, or stay-at-home moms. Not all of you live in middle-class suburbia. Some of you live in other countries, some of you live in small apartments in the city, some of you live on rural farms. You guys are incredibly diverse and different and you’re all dealing with individual issues, and your daily life looks really different. Emily and I can only speak from our experiences. One commitment we’ve always made is to say, “We don’t want to speak into topics we haven’t experienced.” We’re still not an interview show. Interviews are still only about 20%. But one piece of bringing on the blog is to have more voices along with the interviews that we will engage in. Our whole goal is to just be more intentional about what God’s kingdom looks like, what it will be like for eternity and what that picture of the true church is. We want Risen Motherhood to represent that well.

Emily: Living in that already but not yet - like Laura was saying – someday, because we are all in Christ. If you do believe in the gospel and confess Christ as your Lord, we will be in heaven together, worshipping the same God and there’s going to be moms in that group that speak different languages. There’s going to be moms who did public school, moms that did home school, moms that fed their children organic food, moms that didn’t. There’s going to be moms from every race, tongue, tribe, nation and every choice. We want to live in that right now as much as we can, knowing that we are in a broken world. We know that the gospel can give hope to every single mom, no matter what her situation is. God meets us where we are and through His Word, He transforms us and helps us to live more in His likeness, and more in accordance with His will. We want to do that more as we can this coming year, and have that become a picture for Risen Motherhood.

Laura: One quick caveat to make sure that we do say, is that by “unity”, we don’t mean “believe whatever you want.” We’re talking about Orthodox Christianity. There are true things; things that we never deviate from. But with this unity, we want to be united around those truths, knowing that those truths will stand long after us. Anyway, [laughter] I feel like that’s just an important little note to add in there.

I think that’s it for today’s show. Right Em?

Emily: Right. We will be back on January 10th and we will go more into this great unity concept. We have an amazing line-up of shows for you guys, all through the Spring, about school.

Laura: Yes, a whole month on school, a whole month! [laughter].

Emily: Education. Sleep training is on our list. We’ve got moms from all different areas on our list – like urban, suburban. We’re just going to dive into all kinds of different things next year.

Laura: Yes, it’s going to be great. If you want some more info that we talked about on today’s show, head to our show notes at risenmotherhood.com. Of course come find us on social media; we will still be active there through this Christmas break. We are @risenmotherhood on all the platforms - Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Have a great Christmas everyone.





This transcript has been edited for clarity. 

Laura:  Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. Today we have a very special episode, especially for all of you working moms out there. I am excited to introduce to you, Nikki Daniels. She is a wife and mom to three elementary age school kids, and the Assistant Headmaster for Advancement, at Monte Vista Christian School in California. Nikki and I actually know each other. We attended the same church in the Chicagoland area, until her recent move up to California for this position. She’s incredibly wise – she wrote an article on this topic a few years ago, that was posted on The Gospel Coalition, which we’ll link to in the show notes and we knew she’d be a great fit for this topic. No matter where you are on the spectrum of working mom, part-time mom, or even as a stay-at-home mom, I promise there are wonderful nuggets of truth in here for all moms. With that, I’ll let you get to the interview with Nikki, Emily and me. 

Laura: Hi Nikki, thank you so much for being on Risen Motherhood today.

Nikki:  Thank you for having me on. I am super excited to be here.

Laura:  Yes, we are thrilled to have you on the show. Can you kick us off by telling us a little bit about yourself, your family makeup, and of course, tell us a little bit about your job.

Nikki:  Absolutely. I am the proud mother of three little ones – I have Lenaiah, age 9; Thomas, age 7; and Naomi, age 5. My husband and I, and our whole family just recently relocated to the Watsonville, California area (Central Coast of California). I am working currently as the Assistant Headmaster at Monte Vista Christian School. It is 1,000 students, 6 through 12, here in the beautiful Santa Cruz Mountains. We are enjoying all of three months of our California adventure so far, and everybody tells us we’re going to love the winter. [laughter]

Laura:  Nikki, just to give our listeners some background as well, you were talking with us while pre-recording, that you live on campus. Can you explain exactly how all that works? [laughter]

Nikki:  Yes. It’s a very unique situation. Monte Vista is a residential campus for about 100 of our high schoolers, most of whom come from China, Taiwan and Korea. Also, part of our 100 acre campus is housing that we provide for many of our faculty and staff. Many people are familiar with the cost of living in and around the Bay area, and this is something that we do in order to recruit the best faculty and staff. When we moved here, my family and I moved into on-campus housing. That has been a unique and fun, really great experience. My role as Assistant Headmaster - my focus is advancement, fundraising, and alumni relations. 

But I have a number of other roles as well that involve the operations and the business side of the school. I was sharing that there’s all kinds of unique situations I find myself in where living on campus and being in this role creates all kinds of unique opportunities to administrate and lead while wearing one’s pajamas. It’s just a fun adventure, and I am looking forward to figuring it out more and more as the months go by.

Laura:  Wonderful. Okay, we’re going to dive in pretty deep, pretty fast. Our first question and to kick it off is speaking to comparison. We know that it is a real struggle for all moms. Not just working moms, or stay-at-home moms. We’re curious if you could just speak to what does comparison look like as a working mom? And how do you stay focused on obedience to Christ in each moment, when you’re tempted to look at others around you?

Nikki:  Yes, absolutely. I agree wholeheartedly, comparison is a human problem; it’s definitely a female problem. We are so relational by nature, and sometimes there’s just the good and the bad that comes with that. Part of that is that tendency towards comparison. One of the things that I work really hard on in this area is to be disciplined with understanding my own personal triggers. I am sure it looks different for every woman and every mom depending on their situation. But I know for myself personally, I have to be really careful with my use of social media. Not so much in my own posting - as in how much I allow myself time-wise. Also, my thought patterns and viewing other people’s best sides of their lives and things like that. 

I have to be really careful about the kinds of parenting books or blogs that I read. Again, just making sure that my filter is strong for gospel-centered things. Not letting myself get distracted by other things that can lead down that comparison road. One of the things for me early on in being a mom, was just accepting that my experience is unique. That each of our experiences are unique. One thing that helped me was the fact that each of my three children individually, were intensely colicky babies. As I learned how to parent each one of them in their infant years, it was all about getting them to stop screaming. [laughter] I remember bouncing on an exercise ball in a dark room with my middle child, and just thinking about all those books that I had read, and this wasn’t in any of the books. How could it possibly be the right thing to be doing? It wasn’t what everybody else was doing, or what I had thought, or I had always been told to do. Learning that my uniquely colicky baby happened to like extended periods of time in a dark room, bouncing on an actual ball – [laughter] that was the way I could be the best mom I could be - just accepting that uniqueness, and then really focusing on obedience to Christ. I mean, this is what he’s called me to be – mom to this colicky baby - and therefore I am bouncing on this ball. [laughter]

Emily:  Yes. I just love that we all struggle with comparison. Sometimes like you said, even we see things on social media and on blogs, and they could be good be good things to do. You can start to imagine all the ways; like, “Oh, should I be doing that good thing, instead of the bouncing on an exercise ball thing,” or whatever it is? [laugher] I agree with you, there’s that layer of protection that’s needed. Not because these needs are really bad things, but just because it gets us distracted from Christ Himself, and from the things that He has given us instruction, and to do in His Word. Then also looking into that moment, and going like, “Okay God. What would you have me do for this child now? How am I best going to serve my family?” You’re thinking of that person you saw that was doing this cool homeschool thing at the table. You’re like, “Oh, that was so awesome!” It might have been great, but potentially distracting from what it is you have right in front of you.

Nikki:  Absolutely. 

Laura:  Yes. Another common struggle that moms or women all face beyond comparison, is putting our identity in our motherhood. Or, Nikki for you, maybe putting your identity in the work that you do each day. I am curious as to how you try to keep your identity rooted in Christ, rather than your success in your career?

Nikki:  This is one area that’s the bifurcation of my life - the flipsides of this coin has actually been a real help. This is because in any given day, I am interacting with two sets of people. All of the two sides in me, that set of people only care about one. When I am with my kids, they could care less what I accomplished at work that day, if I accomplished anything, or if I messed something up royally at work. It doesn’t faze them the least. On the flipside, here in my professional environment with my colleagues, they have no clue about my parenting. Well, except for the funny stories I tell them. [laughter] But  for the most part, what kind of parent I am, or was the night before is completely separate - in that sense I often use the analogy of being a two sport athlete. So, I suppose you could say, “Oh, then you’re in better shape, and dah, dah.” That’s true, definitely, but it also means that at any given moment, I am focusing on one, and not the other. The reality is, you have to be focused, that’s what it’s going to take to being able to do both [working and motherhood] at the same time. I am a firm disbeliever in the concept of multi-tasking. [laughs] At least for me personally, it doesn’t work – my mind has to be on one or the other. 

Then I would also say, just thinking about where we put our identity – really, just that constant, daily reminder that Christ is really the only thing that applies across the board in any of our lives. He equally values me as a mom, and me as a professional. He’s the only one. The good news of the gospel is that He’s called me to do these things, that He’s the only one that cares about those things. But actually, He doesn’t really care about those things. He cares about me. Again, going back to my kids don’t care if I screw up at work, Christ-- my success or failure in either of those areas, it’s really not an issue because I am His daughter, and I am free from that.

Emily:  Yes, that’s so good. We all need that reminder that in Christ we are free from the law. [laughs] We’re free from having to define ourselves in any sphere of life, by our perceived successes or failures. Then riding that rollercoaster of, “Oh, I did well, so I feel good.” Or, “I wasn’t doing that well, so now I am going to be really down in the dumps.” You know what, Christ has bought us for a price, and He’s redeemed us. Like you said, it’s true for any role we inhabit. We’re still in Christ. 

Nikki:  It’s freeing, that’s the word that comes to mind so often.

Laura:  When you live with your identity rooted in motherhood, or your performance at work, or what that person thinks of you, that is a very heavy calling. Emily and I have had a lot of offline conversations lately about being really grateful that our standing before the throne does not depend on us performing like puppets to some standard that we’ve set for ourselves, but that we can just come freely to the throne and say, “Hey, I’ve messed up. I didn’t do this perfectly, but there is grace that meets me there.” That is just something that I can be brought to tears by, of being grateful for the future – and that the present doesn’t rely on my success or abilities as a mom because I will always fail. [laughter]

Nikki:  Absolutely.

Laura:  Speaking of all the things we need to do, as a working mom, your time is probably really divided. It sounds like again, for you, your lines are blurred between even your two lines. How do you make wise choices with how your time is spent? Another way to phrase is maybe how does the gospel guide your to-do list?

Nikki:  Yes. One of the big pieces of that process for me is the acceptance of so many good things that I cannot do. Whether that’s ministry opportunities, relational opportunities, or even recreational opportunities. I don’t say that in a martyr way, but just really coming to terms with prioritization, and what I am called to do, which is care for my family. I put my work in that category as well because my work is what provides materially for my family. That ultimate calling is what my priority is. Beyond that, nearly everything else has to be on the chopping block. 

In the early years of motherhood in particular, I learned the hard way that just because a task or specific role is something that is “good” - or could be a morally good thing - doesn’t mean that it is good for me to take it on, or to add it to my plate. I am sure it will change as my children age, but for right now, this stage that we’re in, the most crucial thing they need from me is time. That’s a precious resource that I have to guard jealously for my family. That impacts the decisions I make for my schedule certainly. But it also impacts the decisions we make for them. We’re not a family that does a lot of after-school activities. We’re not running around from practice, to lessons, to whatever. Those are all really good things, and in my weaker moments, I am having anxiety because my children aren’t going to know how to play the flute, or whatever it could be. [laughter] But, again, for right now, where we’re at, that time together is so much more important. Just trying to weigh those and keep the priorities that, even ones that... there are times when, how could it possibly not be the right thing for me to be a room mother? Or things like that. Just accepting that in my case and in my situation, oftentimes it’s not.

Emily:  But I love what I hear you saying, is like, “Okay, I understand my calling.” Our family is going to evaluate our circumstances and say, “How can we live that out and that is going to require us, as it does every family, to make a counter-cultural decision in order to have that time to invest well in our children?” I feel like every mom understands that there are sacrifices we make that the world would say, “You need to have this for your kids.” We are like, “We either don’t have time for that.” Or, “We can’t do that because of this or that reason.” I just love that you guys have looked at that, and are saying, “We’re going to protect our time this way.” It is going to be costly, but that’s okay because this is about what God is asking us to do, and not about what the world says is normative or important.

Nikki:  It goes back to that idea of the uniqueness of each of our calling. I firmly believe that God is calling the family next door to go to soccer three times a week. But I also understand, and can reconcile that that’s not what He’s calling our family to do. I am letting those two co-exist, and I am accepting that is a key piece of all this, I believe.

Laura:  The stewardship of time is a real difficult thing for any mom or parent when there are so many things calling at us. It’s how do we steward our time well, through not just doing good things or better things – but how do we do the best thing? That’s what my husband and I always talk about is, “What is the best thing that our family can engage in?” Speaking of some of those things that you can engage in, Nikki, how do you make time for ministry with such a busy life and a lot of things calling for your attention? What is the importance of being involved in your local church, and how do you carve out time for that?

Nikki:  This is probably the piece that is the most complex because you can say, “Well, I am going to forego those recreational opportunities.” Or, “I am going to forego those relational opportunities.” But ministry, in my mind, is not a choice of whether or not. That is a universal calling for all of us. So then in my situation, it becomes what does that look like for me? 

A reality for me over these last nine years since I became a mom is that I hadn’t learned that what I do ministry-wise is not always necessarily the thing that I am most drawn to. Or the thing that I really want to do actually. My call becomes a thing that fits and works well within the context of my other calling. In the end, of course, it’s always works because of God’s providence. Because that is where He called me, though He called me through a different way. Then it does become the best scenario, and He works in and through it. 

An example might be women’s ministry. I love women’s ministry, and when I was younger, before, and had more time, was just so impacted by various women’s Bible studies and things in different churches that I’d been in. That would probably be a natural inclination for me, to be a part of that. But the reality is, for the way that that works, logistically, it doesn’t work for me. What I’ve ended up looking at has been more things like teaching, and things that happen on a Sunday. Again, because I can maybe teach my own childrens’ class. Or at the very least, they’re in a class while I am doing my ministry. Not taking away time when the five of us would have been together, and things like that. 

Some of the things that I’ve done over the years – we had a capital campaign exploration committee which, honestly, even though that’s what I do for a living so you’d think, “Oh, of course she wants to do that.” But I think, “Oh, I’d rather do something different.” But at the end of the day, that was a group that met at 6 am, at Panera every other week, and that worked for me. That was a way that I could plug in, and a way that I could minister within my church. It ended up being an incredibly rewarding experience for me, and I developed relationships that I never anticipated. So on and so forth. 

All those different ways that ministry for me as a mom has just needed to be reframed into what is possible within the context of these other things. Then God blesses it and it flourishes from there. Even f I can’t see it when I first sign up for it. [laughs]

Emily:  God is so good in the way that He brings about ministry opportunities [laughs] and then puts things on their heads that we don’t see necessarily in that way he does. He makes it all work when we trust in Him, and I love how you brought that piece of providence in. It’s so true, He does it again and again, just to provide the way that all of these things fit together. 

Laura:  We’d love to hear from your position, what do you think is one of the most difficult things that a working mom faces? How would you respond to that with the gospel in mind?

Nikki:  The thing that comes to my mind when I think about a challenge of working motherhood is really my own fear, and particularly a fear of judgement. Within our Christian community, the high value that we place on parenting and motherhood, that’s something that unites us. That is a shared part of our faith community. That’s a beautiful thing, but on the flip-side of it, there’s a difficulty that comes with that. This is because it looks different for different people. I have found that there is a sense of … mutual insecurity … maybe would be how I would define it. In relating with each other as Christian moms, when we’re doing it so differently, we all have to fight against this fear that, “Well, if she’s doing it that way, and I am doing it a different way, she must think her way is the right way. Therefore she must think my way is the wrong way.” Does that make sense?

That’s a very oversimplified way of thinking about it, and I don’t know that anyone really thinks about it that specifically. But I have found over the years, and again it’s either me perceiving it, or me inventing it in my head, which I firmly believe happens quite a bit. But it’s just that idea of how we get to a place - as stay-at-home moms and working moms, and just moms in general. That we can go back to the idea of the gospel freeing us. That your mothering, my mothering doesn’t impact our status as daughters of Christ. We can still come together; we can mother differently, and still support and encourage one another. I have been blessed with many relationships where that does take place – just really some formative friendships and one in particular during my mothering years that has just really helped me to understand that, to rise above that fear and to fight against it. But ultimately, what really counteracts it, I believe is again, going back to the gospel and our understanding of who we are, and how we’re viewed by Christ.

Emily:  I love how you articulate it – that “mutual insecurity.” [laughter]

Laura:  Brilliant. [laughter]

Emily:  You explained it exactly like you said – even if it’s at a subconscious level, it is what we do when we meet a mom who mothers differently than we do. We don’t have to be afraid of missing out because of what Christ has done with us, and for us. We don’t have to be afraid of man’s judgement because of what Christ has done for us. But we have to stop, and intentionally remember that in those moments, we can, like you said, be different, but also be in Christ. 

Another thing I always have to remember too is in our culture, we very much have this dialogue of like, “Working mom, stay-at-home mom,” whatever. Around the world, throughout history, in different cultures and socio-economic areas, these types of insecurities aren’t necessarily even happening, because it’s like, “Feed your family! Do your work and take care of those around you.” It’s maybe a little bit more urgent than that, but I always have to get that perspective too, that God’s truth is universal in Christ, yet the gospel applies to us universally for those who trust in Him. There isn’t some specific thing for our culture that is different than it is for moms through all of time.

Nikki:  Absolutely. There are distinctions that we have generated culturally, over time that I do think we have to strive against.

Laura:  At the beginning, when you were speaking about the high calling that Christianity or Christian circles have put on motherhood, one of those things that we do all have a biblical calling to do, is to pass on the gospel to our children. Whether one is a working mom, stay-at-home mom, part-time mom or any of those “types” that we’re talking about - all these different “camps,” – we all have one united goal.  How do you balance this? How does that come in? What’s it look like for you? Especially for the mom who’s working and wondering like, “How on earth do I juggle both of these roles, and really invest intentionality in my kids?” What are some choices you’ve had to make, and how does that play out in your life?

Nikki:  My biggest encouragement to a mom scratching her head and wondering about that is if God has blessed her with a spouse who’s also committed to the gospel, lean on him. [laughs] When I think about gospel-centered parenting, and how I do or do not do that on any given day, the level to which I rely on my husband cannot be overstated. It’s more than logistical. I had mentioned that for years, I have worked days and he has worked nights and weekends in the mental health counseling practice. Obviously we had the integration going there. We used to joke like we were a tag team - I’d come home, we slap hands [laughter] and he would walk out the door, and my shift was on. That had it’s own challenges to be sure but that idea of the two of us really sharing everything about our parenting role. There was never anything that I did as a parent that he didn’t do, or vice versa. We were completely interwoven in that way. 

I have found that so critical when it comes to how we are portraying the gospel to our children because so much of that just happens in life and in the daily tasks of doing life. When you’re a working mom, and you are absent from things more than you would want to be, to have a spouse who is striving for the same things that you’re striving for, as far as how the gospel interrelates with what we’re doing in our home and how our families are interrelating that gives you a multiplying factor, and just peace of mind. It’s almost like you’ve got this teammate who is going for the same thing you’re going for. Even if you can’t be there scoring points for the team, he is. Just knowing that, and having each other’s back in that way has been huge for me because it is such a challenge in and of itself - to be away, and still be figuring out how to weave it into his life. It’s hard.

Emily:  Yes, so true. We talk a lot to moms, but assuredly, God says a lot to parents in general, and especially fathers in terms of passing along wisdom and instruction to their children certainly being a team in that is critical, no matter what your work situation looks like. [laughs]

And it’s amazing with both parents being all hands on deck because everybody drops the ball and everybody has off days. I was telling that to my husband the other day. I was like, “One of the things I love about you is that when I am having a hard day and I am just done being patient, I am done saying the right, godly thing. A lot of times I’ll see you swoop in with a smile on your face and grab a book.” It’s like, “Wow, I am so glad there’s a partner in this” 

Nikki:  Yes. I’ve really seen it; it’s evolved over the years because a lot of the toddler years was just like, “Oh my goodness, help me keep control of myself!” [laughter] That’s still happens too, don’t get me wrong, but now that we’re starting to get into the more complexities of emotional things. I am with my nine-year-old daughter, and there are times where we’re in discipline situations, and I honestly don’t know what to do. I almost have to call a timeout, like, “Just freeze because your father and I have to go talk because I don’t know what to say to you right now.” [laughter] It’s kind of funny because I can see how she starts to sense that rhythm. I think she can tell when I am in unchartered waters and I need Dad, and that kind of thing. But I don’t really mind that because I also want her to see that modeled in the way that we are interconnected and need each other because yeah, I get stumped on a regular basis to figure out how I should respond to [laughter]

Laura:  I think we all do. [Laughs] Well Nikki, as we wrap up here, what is one thing that you have really learned about who God is, and what His plan is for you in motherhood? As you’ve grown in your role, how has your understanding of the gospel changed?

Nikki:  Motherhood (and probably most all of us moms would agree with this to some degree or other), has been the most transformative piece of my life thus far. Apart from becoming a believer in God, and being His daughter. The process of becoming a mother has broadened my vision and my understanding of life. I have a sense of the complexities of life. Since becoming a mother, there’s not much left in life that I see as black and white and simple. Just the understanding of life’s complexities is one thing that my children have really taught me. 

Then, the other thing I would say, they have really taught me, they stripped away any semblance of hope that I am in any way, shape or form in control of my life. [laughter] I say “they” like it’s my three little children, but obviously it’s not. It’s what Christ is doing in me, through the experience of being their mother. But I am a personality as far as type A, go-getter, where I could be tempted to lean on the crutch of different ways. But I am holding it together. They keep the crutches out from underneath me, [laughter] and I am holding on by a string most days. But I consider that such a blessing because it’s left room for the gospel. Daily, it has allowed me to keep coming back to the understanding of who I am and who Christ is, and how my smallness is a pointer to His greatness. Yes, in a lot of ways, yes, I would say that motherhood has shrunk me [laughs]. But it has expanded and deepened me in all the better ways.

Laura:  That’s beautiful.

Emily:  So good.

Laura:  It reminds me of this quote that I’ve had on my wall for a little bit that said, “Oh my precious friend, it is a mercy to be made and kept poor enough for Jesus to be all.” That has rung very true in motherhood; that our weaknesses keep us poor – I like how you use the word “shrunk.” Those drive us to the cross; the more that we see that we’re insufficient, that we cannot do it all, we can’t keep up with all the people around us – they’re not keeping up either – but the more that we recognize that, the closer that we can come to Christ, and recognize that He fills all those empty places. That when we are low, that is when He is our all. That is certainly a truth that rings universal in motherhood. 

Nikki:  Absolutely. Yes.

Laura:  Thank you so much today for being on the show Nikki. We’ve really appreciated your time.

Emily:  Yes.

Nikki:  Thank you for having me. It’s been a joy.