Ep. 144 || Boxes & Moving Trucks: Enduring Transitions with Grace Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily: Let’s jump into today’s show! We’re talking about moving, which under a broader category is discussing a big season of transition. Transitions are something really challenging with little ones. Whether it’s adding another child in the family, changing jobs, or going back to school—there are a ton of different life transitions. Because it is such a big topic for moms, we’ve recorded several different episodes related to this, and we included a whole chapter in our book about transitions. 

Laura: That’s right! We know these are really hard times. Moving is a really difficult one. If you’re going through a different transition than moving, head over to our show notes to find more topics we’ve recorded. 

Okay, back to moving! This is one transition both Emily and I have experienced in our lives. I counted it up for the show, and I’ve moved four times with little children. Emily? 

Emily: Wow, that’s crazy. I’ve moved one time with little ones—from one part of town to another part of town. It’s amazing how something that may only technically take 12 hours or two days—depending on how great your moving crew is—actually feels like it consumes a year or two of your life. From thinking about moving to making that decision and starting plans, all the way to feeling like you’re settled, you know people, your routines are established; it can feel like a big season.

Laura: I lived in temporary housing two times. One for two months, and one for a full year. That shows you the breadth of how much they change from one to another. I had all cross-state moves, so Emily and I had different experiences that I think will play well for this show. There are so many reasons you might be moving or differences in how you might be feeling. I know there were times when I was really excited to move and times when I wasn’t excited. Maybe for you, it’s something you’ve been building towards like being a new missionary, church planter; or your husband’s finally gotten that new job or you’re moving near family. Maybe it’s the other way around; you’re not as excited. It’s a great job opportunity for your husband, but you’re leaving friends and family. Maybe you’re scared about where you’re headed. You’re on the same page with your husband, but this isn’t necessarily what you wanted or what you had in mind.

Emily: In addition to the reasons for moving making it hard or challenging, the ages and stages of your kids matter. I was pregnant when we were moving, so that affects how you can lift boxes and how hard it is to pack or unpack. If you have toddlers running around, they’re pulling out your kitchen utensils as fast as you’re putting them in. Maybe you feel tired, and you’re trying to figure out how to get to the DMV in between naps with the baby to do all the paperwork. If your kids are young, they might not understand, but they’re still very impacted. Their attitudes may not be good, or they’re cranky, or their schedules are off. I think ages and stages of kids can make a big impact.

Laura: The culture of where you’re moving to matters. I moved from Minneapolis to Chicago, and I’d never heard of any of the grocery stores. I didn’t know where to get groceries! I wondered which one was best. I could obviously figure it out, but when it’s your hometown and house, you know where to find groceries. It was a hard thing for me to feel like I didn’t know where to buy food. For many of you, it’s on a way larger scale; the grocery store is small potatoes, but you’re in a new culture. No matter what, there’s an element of getting used to a new town and that can change how you feel. When I moved back home to Iowa, I knew my way around. So that part wasn’t as big of a deal for me; I was familiar with the town.

Emily: All that to say, there are a ton of factors in this. We want to process what the gospel means for us as mom when we’re in a season of moving. Whether you’re on the front end where you and your husband are beginning to talk about a move, or you moved six months ago and you’re still feeling the after effects—how can we still experience joy, and see God’s goodness and plan in the midst of this season?

Laura: It’s fascinating to look at the creation account and see immediately after God created a home for his people and the fall happened, Adam and Eve had to move. If that doesn’t show you that moving is part of the fall… [Laughter]...having to leave, be transient, be unable to plant roots or stay where God originally created them to be. Right after they sinned and disobeyed God’s rule, they had to move east of Eden. That’s super interesting to look at. But God didn’t leave them without hope in that move, which we’ll talk about.

Emily: I think what we see is God had a plan. He knew the final home of his people. Even though Adam and Eve couldn’t see the outcome, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a purpose for them. We have a lot of scriptures that tell us the Word was with God in the beginning; God already had a plan for the salvation of his people. He already had a plan to conquer the enemy and, ultimately, bring his people home. With that hope, we see his mercy. God loved them, cared about them, and had compassion on them. He didn’t send them out unequipped or without hope and help. I think that’s true for us as well.

Laura: For some application points: it’s okay for moving to be really hard. I’m sure it was really hard for Adam and Eve to walk out of Eden. What does it say in Genesis 3, Emily? God thrust them out of Eden. It sounds like God almost banished them; he had to get them out of Eden and they didn’t want to go. That can happen for many of us, even if it’s a move we’re really excited to take. The actual act of moving is really hard, so we shouldn’t be surprised that moving, and all it entails, is difficult. 

So, you can talk to your kids: affirm that their feelings are valid, especially if they’re struggling with the move. Maybe they don’t have words yet, but you can affirm what they’re feeling inside or help them articulate what they’re feeling inside. 

You can set the tone that this is hard. You can acknowledge that fact and then pray, asking God for provision, patience, or even to tell him thank-you for the moving boxes, packing tape, and all those things God gives.

Emily: Another thing that helped me in our move is this next point: the reality that God is in control. He’s not caught off guard by where we are or where we’re going. He’s able to provide for us and prepare a place for us wherever we’re moving to. That will ultimately grow and prepare us for our ultimate home: heaven. I know as we were lining up the walls with moving boxes and our kids were sometimes melting down in tears because they didn’t understand why we were driving back and forth to this new home, I needed to say to myself that this was not unplanned chaos in our lives or throw-away time. God was in control of that and had a plan for us. Part of his plan for us was to be in transition. Even though it didn’t feel good, we could trust that he could provide grace for us and grow us. 

Laura: It’s interesting to look throughout the Bible and see God didn’t stop with one move. It wasn’t only Adam and Eve moving. In fact, it’s a huge theme throughout the whole Bible. Everyone is on the move. [Laughter] You see that Israel lived in tents while they waited on the Promised Land. Look at the maps in your Bible! You’ll see everybody is moving all around. Even Jesus says, “I have nowhere to lay my head.” For a few years of his life, he spent time moving around in ministry. He was constantly on the move. We see this is a common thing for God’s people. 

Emily: I think an application for us is to be cautious that we’re not idolizing our forever home or thinking there’s this place we’re going to arrive to and never have to get up community, or change, or be uncomfortable again. We always ought to be open to God’s leading, and be content and joyful right where we’re at in whatever type of home or season he has us in today. So, how can you thank God for the home he’s given you today instead of hoping for the next season or being so content that you’re hands are clutched close against the idea of him moving your family elsewhere? I know that’s something my husband and I have to remind ourselves of. We found this, not perfect but great, place to live and we built our home there and felt like we have a vision of our kids growing up there and our grandkids coming there. So we have to be cautious to know our hearts are not wrapped up in this earthly home but in a heavenly home. All of our possessions or whatever life we’re in is given to us for a moment; it’s not guaranteed. Our house could burn down tomorrow, and we’d have to trust the Lord in that. It’s good to have those heart checks every now and then.

Laura: Yeah, I never thought I’d move originally. I remember when we first discussed moving out of state—I thought we’d move out of that home—I felt so discouraged by it. So those are really good words, Emily.

Another thing to take note of is God uses the moves of his people to shape and grow them. He did so much work as they wandered and journeyed from place to place. He revealed sin—whining, grumbling, moaning, complaining—in the things they did that we also do. God uses those hard circumstances to show where we grip too tightly to comforts or things we love about where we live. I think that’s something to see. It’s very promising. When I moved to Chicago, the Lord stripped all of my worldly comforts. I felt like I had no friendships, no church home, and my husband worked so much, I felt isolated. I had a two-month old baby, and we lived in a two bedroom apartment for a couple of months while renovating a house. It was a very hard season for me. But looking back, I see God did immense heart work at that time. In the moment, I couldn’t see it. When I stepped back from it—maybe six, eight, or 12 months later—I saw God really refined me; particularly with the sin of anger or my deep desire to be seen in relationship. I’m grateful he put me through that. Did it stink? Yes. But, on the other side, I’m so glad the Lord used it in my life. 

Emily: So on this side of redemption, what’s encouraging is we belong to this new people group. Like we keep saying, our home isn’t really here on earth. It’s neat that Jesus says he’s going to prepare a place for us in his Father’s house. There’s a house we’re moving to! This is where we look forward to living: the new heavens and the new earth where we’ll dwell with God. This was his plan all along. In order to do that, he has to cover us through the shedding of blood—just like he did for Adam and Eve. He makes that provision for us in Christ. We trust in that in order to be with him.

What that means for us—as moms—is that wherever we live, it’s important we’re investing ourselves in things that are eternal: the Church, the Word, people and relationships, connecting with other believers. Our true citizenship and family are in the people of God. It’s not in the community we live in today. Having that greater citizenship allows us to move around from place to place with joy while we’re here on earth. 

Laura: Amen. Get involved in your local church. We can’t say that enough. 

Another takeaway is the idea that when you’re moving, you’re often engrossed on temporal things. During our moves, I felt super materialistic or superficial, but they were important things. What couch will we put in the living room? What backsplash should we have? Those are real questions and real things to deal with. But there’s also this part of remembering our eternal home that reminds us that our physical, earthly home is not our final resting place or final home. While we’re getting settled, we want to remember we can use whatever place God has given us for today to serve him. We don’t have to grumble about not knowing where everything is or making all these apologies to somebody for not having the right furniture. We don’t need to say people can’t come over until we have the house perfectly furnished—because you know that takes at least 8-12 months. [Laughter] We want to encourage you if you’re in that transition process or if you know you’re moving and think it doesn’t matter what you do, it does matter. Where God currently has you, live well. We want to flourish and love others well, using whatever God has placed in front of us in that moment to show his glory to other people. We want to encourage you from all of this that this is a great time—even if you’re moving—to ask God how you can use all he’s given you today to serve and glorify him. That looks different in different seasons, but the question is still valid. 

Emily: Just to build on that idea of mundane things: knowing we have a forever home and being focused on people, relationships, and service to God, frees us to make a decision about the backsplash and move on. Or to focus on cleaning up the house for a greater purpose. It’s neat God allows us to live with joy in the temporary, no matter what’s going on with our move. 

If you want to find out move, head to our show notes at risenmotherhood.com. We’re going to have resources there! You can also find out more about our upcoming shop or find more on social media @risenmotherhood on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Thanks for joining us! We hope no matter where you are in the moving process that you have a great day! [Laughter] 

Laura: Yes! Today! Focus on today. Bye, guys!

Ep. 143 || Nurturing Your Child’s Gifts: An Interview on Faithful Motherhood with Karen Hodge Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: On today’s episode of Risen Motherhood, Karen Hodge is joining us to talk about Faithful Motherhood and how to recognize and cultivate your children’s gifts. You probably recognize Karen’s name, as she’s had a huge influence on many of us at Risen Motherhood—and she currently serves as our Board Chair. 

In addition, she's the Coordinator for PCA Women’s Ministry, is a pastor’s wife of a new church plant in Charlotte, and is a mom to two adult children, Anna Grace and Haddon. Karen is also the co-author of two books, Transformed: Life-taker to Life-giver and Life-giving Leadership. As I mentioned, Karen has been truly influential with the ministry of Risen Motherhood, and in particular, my own life. She one of the wisest women I know, and I can’t wait for you to hear her share today. Not only do we talk about recognizing and stewarding our children’s gifts, we also get into weaknesses, and how we should view them in God’s economy. And of course, the conversation bleeds into talking about stewarding our own gifts as mothers, and the words Karen shares are powerful, convicting and encouraging. So sit back and listen in as we get to the interview with Karen, Emily and me.

Oh! And one more thing! If you want to check out all our Faithfulness in Motherhood series where we interview women who are further down the path, we’ve put together a new page on our site, risenmotherhood.com/faithfulmotherhood. Head there to listen to all the interviews we’ve done in this series, as well as any related articles and resources we have. Okay, to the interview!

Laura: Well thanks Karen for being on the Risen Motherhood podcast today!

Karen: I’m thrilled to be here!

Laura: We’re so excited. For those who don’t know, Karen is a dear friend of mine and of Emily. She’s actually our R|M Board Chair! I know we mentioned a lot of this stuff in the show intro, but I can’t help but share how meaningful it is to finally have you on our show. We’re excited to be able to talk to you today about faithfulness in motherhood. First, why don’t we have you share a little bit about yourself, your family, what you guys are currently doing, your children—things like that?

Karen: Oh, sure. As we’re talking today, I’m in the midst of a move, which is pretty characteristic of my life. I’ve been a pastor’s wife for 29 years this past Sunday. We were in a congregation with Laura in Naperville, IL. I’m married to Chris. We have decided to leave the big church and go plant a church from scratch. We did that once before, so we know what we’re getting ourselves into. It’s going to be called King’s Cross, and it’s just outside Charlotte, NC. We have two adult children: Anna Grace, who’s married to Kevin and lives in Denver where they have their own animation and graphics company; and Haddon, who lives in Washington D.C. as an economic analyst for the federal government—basically a geek who writes papers and loves his job. [Laughter] Anyway, I love my family and anytime we can get together, it’s a good, good thing. I also serve as the Coordinator for Women’s Ministries in the PCA, which means I connect people to people, and people to resources, and churches to churches. Often I tell people I’m a hinge; I stand in the gap and connect people. And I love to connect people to Risen Motherhood any chance I get. 

Emily: Well, you have been a blessing to us in that. Our listeners won’t know this, but Karen has been a real spiritual mother to us as well. She’s come in from a ministry role and prayed for us and shepherded us through decisions and things we’re evaluating. The things we’re going to talk about in today’s interview are things we’ve experienced first-hand with Karen. She’s someone who is further along in her faith and ministry, and able to see our strengths and weaknesses and help us process those in light of the gospel. We’re really grateful to talk to you about that today!

Karen: Glad to be here. 

Laura: So, as we shared, we’re talking about nurturing your children’s gifts. Karen, why don’t you start us off by helping us understand how do you identify your children’s gifts? And once you do that, how would you biblically foster them? I feel like this is a question I’m already starting to think about with my six year-old. I’m not sure where to even begin. 

Karen: Let me preface everything by saying I’m not a perfect parent. I have adult children, so everything you hear today is going to be from 0-100% effective. [Laughter] There have been lots of things I’ve had to repent of over the years. 

I think when we think about giftings for our kids, you can think in terms of natural giftings—the ways God made them with aptitudes that make them good at certain things—and spiritual giftings, which we’re looking towards. Of course, that doesn’t come until after conversion. So the question you asked is how do you identify those things? Well, I think it’s done best within the context of community. The family is a community, right? But there’s also the context of a church community, which is where they can see older people in their life modeling those things—whether they’re the natural gifts or spiritual gifts. So you’re looking, you’re listening, you’re present to your kids, you’re debriefing with your kids a lot in that church community. It’s not something segmented in parenting; it’s integrated into everyday conversations. In other words, you might say to your kid, “I really noticed you lit up when you served in that way.” Or, “It really seemed like you connected to this group of people because they care about this.” That type of thing. I know from my own children’s life the people in their lives who affirmed their gifts besides their parents. You kind of hear the echo around the room. I may have said, “Haddon, I really think God has made you this way,” but when that other person said it, it went to a whole other level of affirmation. To say, “This is something I think God has uniquely designed you to do,” is great, but it’s even better if that older person says, “Hey, will you come and do this with me?” 

So how do we cultivate those things and foster those things? It’s really about discipleship, which sounds like an educational word. It seems very classroom-like, doesn’t it? When I think about parenting, I think about it in terms of discipleship. Discipleship is “follow me as I follow Christ.” So, what did Jesus give his life to? He gave his life to serve and not be served. And that takes gifts, all kinds of gifts. So discipleship, at its heart, is showing people—your kids—who Christ is and showing them how to use their gifts in a meaningful way in the body of Christ.

Emily: It’s so interesting. Even though God designed us in a certain way and we can see that in our children—their aptitudes, strengths, giftings—we can also see how that can make them puffed up or desirous of achieving for their own gain. Everything we do—because we’re on this side of the fall—is impacted by our sin, brokenness of the world, inability to achieve what we want, lack of opportunities to try. To flow into that next question, how do we take those strengths, point those out to our kids, and filter those through the lens of the gospel, which puts a different spin on those?

Karen: Anybody who knows me knows I talk about this world a lot. Again, it’s one of those words that you think is a Sunday school word: stewardship. 

Laura: Oh yeah, that’s your favorite word. [Laughter] 

Karen: Well, you said it Emily: the gifts don’t belong to you. Rule number one is teaching your kids that the way God made them is for his glory, and the gifts don’t belong to you to use for your own glory.  But we’re hard-wired for performance. We live in a performance culture. Even on the backs of our minivans are the showcases of our performance culture. What are you uniquely gifted to do? Just go to a stoplight and you can figure out what a family values. Your time and talents don’t belong to you. Anything God has given you in your hands to do, you do it for the glory of God. That means when you’re making choices about how you use your gifts, you can ask yourself this question. Let’s lay it out:

“Hey mom, can I sign up for ____?” How do you make that decision? You ask, “Can I glorify God? Will this be a good stewardship of our gifts? Will this be a good stewardship for our family?” And that narrows it down to what’s at the heart of discipleship: investing in eternal things with our kids. So that means the Word of God and people. We use our gifts to further the Word of God and be in relationship with other people. That’s what they’re for. They’re not to get a trophy, even though you might have some.

Laura: I think that’s one of the most formative things that you’ve taught me as you’ve counseled me over the years with my own gifts. I can only imagine how you did that with your own children, and what a gift that’d be to them! That’s something I’ve so appreciated: my gifts are not my own. In many ways, it’s encouraged me to do really scary things, like Risen Motherhood. I came to Karen and said, “I can’t do this! I don’t know what to do. I don’t know if this is the right move for me.” It was wonderful to hear her talk to me about stewardship, my giftings, where God has put me, what he has in front of me—that was really impactful for me to start R|M and continue it. You’ve really shepherded both Emily and me in knowing our gifts are for the Kingdom, for the glory of God. In many ways I feel like R|M wouldn’t exist if you weren’t whispering in my ear; I’m not even kidding. This is turning into a moment here. [Laura sniffles and laughs.]

Karen: Aw. well I’ll tell you this: listen to the first thing you said, “I can’t do this.” That’s where you begin. When we think about gifts and show our kids how God has made them, the first thing they have to acknowledge is, “I can’t do this.” “But God can do this through me. He made me, and he made these gifts. He will give me the strength to employ these gifts in whatever the stewardship looks like.” So there’s a humility that has to be cultivated in our kids, and they have to see it modeled by their parents, who actively say, “I can’t do it.”

Laura: I think that really helps when looking at our children’s weakness or areas they need to grow in. They’re saying legitimately, “I can’t do this,” but there’s the call to say, “We do hard things for God’s glory.” Sometimes we are out of our comfort zones. I see areas in my children that I think I’d like to foster a biblical character quality that I think they need to grow in. Are there any tips to help foster some areas of weakness we might see in our children?

Karen: Here’s the first question: are you okay with being weak as a parent, and are you okay with your kid being weak? Now that’s not popular. We share what our kids are great at, but we don’t ask for prayer in something they’re struggling with. That doesn’t come up very often in women’s Bible studies. When I think about my own life, there are far greater pitfalls with our strengths than our weaknesses. Paul is right. When we are weak, he is strong. His grace is sufficient in our weakness. And that’s what we boast in! We boast in our weakness! But that’s so counter-cultural. God gives us these things, so we would be dependent on him. 

What parent doesn’t wake up every day and pray for their kid to be spiritually mature? That’s what you guys are doing at Risen Motherhood! What is spiritual maturity? Dependence. It’s not strength, it’s weakness. So actually, when our kids come to us and say they can’t do something or they’re so frustrated, that’s a classroom right there. You stop and say, “You know what, bud? You’re right. You can’t do it, but God can.” And then you lift their eyes upwards. They’re going to grow up like Haddon and Anna Grace, and they’ll be working and hit a brick wall—whether it’s personally, relationally, professionally. They’re going to say, “I can’t do this.” You’re training your kids to lift their eyes in dependence to God now. So, weakness is a wonderful classroom. Parents have to be okay with being transparent about their own weaknesses. That may not be the answer you wanted to hear—

Laura: No, that was great.

Emily: You’re laying out the good news of Jesus Christ—how it meets us as a mom and how we deliver that to our children. It’s the very thing we feel when we come up against those hard spots in motherhood where think we can’t do it anymore or we don’t feel sufficient for the task of raising these children, but then turn to Jesus. That’s the exact same answer we give to our kids. 

I’ve been encouraged when I’ve communicated that to my kids in a moment of their discouragement, and then watched as God has given them mercy. Maybe they’ve woken up the next morning and we say, “It’s a fresh new day and a fresh new chance, so let’s praise God today for the way he’s sustained us!” It’s really encouraging. 

I also appreciate how you mentioned earlier about slowing down and going to God in prayer, being willing to be open-handed and asking how to best steward this. That doesn’t necessarily mean taking the easiest route or most comfortable path for us as parents or for our kids. But we can rejoice over how God is going to meet them even when we didn’t pick the most comfortable or glamorous activity. We’re not training them in the skills that all their friends may applaud them on, but we’re training them in something eternal. Lord willing, we’ll see how God develops their Christlikeness and character in that. It’s good, but it requires us to do exactly what you’re saying: stop, pray, think, and wait. It’s not, “Well, everyone else is doing it! Sign up our family!”

Karen: I love what you just said too, Emily. You have to stop every day. And as a family, we used to also do it on Sunday night. We’d say, “We’re Team Hodge. Team Hodge is going to be deployed this week. What are we going to do? Haddon’s going to be doing this. Anna Grace is going to be doing this. Dad’s doing this. Mom’s doing this. How do we work together with our gifts—as a community—to advance the kingdom?” It’s rarely comfortable or convenient. Just acknowledging that’s part of our calling in this broken world is understanding what it means to serve in a broken world: it’s not going to be easy. But it’s going to be good and sweet. 

Laura: Mm. Well Karen, you hinted at this earlier about the local church coming alongside your kids, helping to reinforce some of the same things you were saying at home. Can you expand on that? How did they play a part? Why is the church important in investing into your kids? How is it an extension of the family? Did you do anything specific to make this happen?

Karen: Well, it was organic, and it should be organic. I think we think programmatically in churches, like we shove people with their own age and they miss out on the intergenerational glory of the church. When my kids were little, we were in a church plant, so they were constantly with older people. So much so, when we moved to Naperville and a church that had all the bells and whistles and programs, the number one thing Haddon said was, “How am I going to be with any older people?” He could see the lack as a sixth grader; he knew that was huge for him. We intentionally said, “You’re going to have to work hard at this.” As God brought people into their lives, we had them over for dinner. Many of them said, “Forget your parents. Let’s go eat out by ourselves.” Again, that is discipleship. Transformation—really understanding how God has gifted us—happens in the context of community. It cannot happen in isolation or taking some diagnostic survey. We think we can figure out who we are, because that’s what’s at the crux of it: who are you? Every kid who goes to college has to put that on an essay; you’re preparing them now. We’ve had a lot of ministry with kids and when they get to that essay, they don’t know what to put down. The question is about how kids are being rooted in their identity in Christ, not their abilities; so they don’t go to college saying, “I’m a _____,” instead of, “I’m a daughter/son of the King.” We want to them to think eternally. Here’s a quick story that puts all these pieces together:

When Anna Grace got married, we said, “This is your one shot. You’re a pastor’s kid, so if you want to do your own thing and not invite everyone, you can get married here in California where you’re at school. But if you want to get married at our church in Naperville, well you know, it’s a covenant community celebration. That’s the way it’s going to be.” She wanted little kids to come; we had tables with crayons. It was total glory and chaos. But here’s the picture I want you to see. When Anna Grace got married, she said, “I don’t only want people from NPC. I want people from every congregation who have shaped me.” We had served in Charlotte, Birmingham, south Florida, and Chicago. Those people came and sat with our family at the wedding. When we came around the corner—people told me not to do the ugly cry, but I did—I saw the bride of Christ who had prepared the bride, Anna Grace, for Kevin. God used every single one of those people. I turned the corner and saw all of it together, which was a little foretaste of glory. That’s what we get to do in the church. We’re preparing the bride to meet the bridegroom. As a parent, you’re preparing your child for eternity, to meet the bridegroom. As an older adult in the church, that’s what you’re doing with the younger people. That’s a sacred calling; it’s a really sweet thing. Every day, we’re pointing them towards the destination, and the destination is home. Everything we do to serve, to relate in community has to have that eternal perspective.

Emily: Wow. I absolutely love that story. I hope everyone who’s listening today—because we can get really focused on what’s going on in our homes and what our kids’ needs are—remembers not to lose sight of what we’re preparing our kids for. Sometimes I can only see that I’m preparing them for bedtime, and maybe beyond that, adulthood. But that reminder that I’m preparing them for home, for eternity, to meet Christ…

I thank you, as a younger woman, for reorienting our perspective today and for encouraging us to not lose sight of that beautiful, sacred calling. I really appreciate that. 

Karen: Well, we’re going to get home before we know it, friends.

Emily and Laura: I know. 

Laura: Well Karen, thank you so much for joining us on the Risen Motherhood podcast today. For all of you guys who want to find out more about Karen, you can will be able to find links to her books, social media, and the link on our show notes at risenmotherhood.com. Of course, head over to social media to follow us @risenmotherhood on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. We’ll have links for Karen there as well! Thanks again for joining us Karen. We really appreciate it. 

Karen: It’s been my delight. 

Ep. 142 || Ask Us Anything!: Fall 2019 Edition Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: We’re excited to do another Ask Us Anything show! I think we’ve done five of these.

Emily: Yeah, we should go back and count! We do them once in the spring and once in the fall. 

Laura: They are our most listened to show, which is funny because it’s different than anything we normally do.

Emily: And it’s our longest show.

Laura: It’s so long. So sit back, relax, get comfy, go on a drive, and get ready for almost a full hour of content.

Emily: It’s neat because we put out a post on social media to gather questions from our community on just about anything! Of course we have some boundaries, but we do try to find questions either we haven’t answered on previous shows, Ask Us Anythings, or blogs. We also answer ones that were asked more frequently; we cover a lot of ground. If you don’t hear your question answered on today’s show, keep an eye out because we’re going to have a blog post later in the week on risenmotherhood.com. We’ve round up any content we have related to questions that we’ve already answered in the past so that you can see how we’ve already responded to that topic. Also keep an eye out on social media, because we’re going to answer some more fun, light-hearted questions on there as well. 

Laura: That article is really robust. We’ve been building it over the course of three or four years. We joke sometimes that you don’t actually want your question answered on AUA, because if we do a whole show on it, we’ll go in more depth. So if we send you to the article for your question, it probably means there’s a full show where we dive into all the caveats. We don’t have time to do every topic justice. But we’re going to sure try. 

[2:55] So the first question that we had is “Is the Risen Motherhood book appropriate for single mothers?” And our answer is a resounding yes. There’s a chapter on marriage, so if it’s a sensitive topic, you’re welcome to skip that. But the rest of the book isn’t built for you have to be married or anything like that. 

Emily: Yeah, we go through the gospel, and one thing we like to talk about a lot is that the gospel meets us right where were at. God can help us right where we’re at with his Word and his redemptive story to help us to follow him and to live faithfully in whatever circumstances we are in, while we pursue Christ and let that spill out in our practical actions. Another thing we’d draw out from the book is that we use a lot of our personal stories to illustrate things, but that's not the only way to apply the gospel. We’d hope any mom would come to it and read the way that we've applied it to our postpartum body image or our self care or whatever the topic is and then she can think about that for herself, coming to the Lord, read the Word, and letting that play itself out wherever she's at.

Laura: Yeah we've heard that question from older women too. They ask if they have older kids or grandkids if the book applies to them. My answer is always that the truths are timeless. The examples may feel more geared towards moms of young children, but the truths are true no matter where you’re at in motherhood. We've heard feedback from grandmas and other moms in different stages and they've said that rings true.  

[4:40] The next question is, “When will the audiobook be out for the Risen Motherhood book?”

Emily: As far as we know, it will be out in mid October, and you can keep an eye out on social media for an announcement. We’ll proclaim it from the rooftops whenever it is available! Some of you remember seeing us making a trip a few hours north of where we live to go record it in a big city.

[5:21] Laura: Okay, next question! Is Risen Motherhood planning on being at any conferences or speaking engagements this year?

Emily: Good question! So the next thing that Laura and I have on the docket is to be at The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference 2020. It’s June 11-13th in Indianapolis, Indiana. Registration is now open! We’ll be there with the Risen Motherhood team. We have some fun things we’re planning so we can connect with our community! Laura and I are going to do a live podcast during one of the breakout sessions and then we’ll individually be on different panels. You can find all of those things on their website. It's good to register early, because I've heard that breakout sessions can fill up. 

Laura: So do hotels.

Emily: Yes, so if you want to go definitely go check it out.

Laura: Get a group of your girls together! People fly in from all over the country, all over the world. It’s so good! This will be my third time going, and it's always like drinking from a fire hose. You're going to need to decompress afterwards; have people to chat with. But it's really fun and if you end up going, we’d absolutely love to meet you. There will hopefully be some organized times when everybody can connect! So go to their website to find out more, and the information will be linked in our show notes.

[7:07] Emily: Laura, I’m going to ask you a question now. What about the shop and merchandise? When will merchandise be available again?

Laura: Oh yeah! Every time we wear our shirts on social media, there are a lot of questions about getting a shirt—which is awesome. We love that you’re excited to sport your R|M branding! We do a pop-up shop once a year, and it’s planned for November 4-11th. Keep an eye on social media! So that we can serve you guys best, we've actually designed it so that once you place your order, then the shirts will go into production and be shipped to you. We won’t run out of things! But shipping will take longer.

Emily: It just takes a little bit longer. It’s not two-day shipping. 

Laura: Yeah, it’s not Amazon two day shipping. So in the world of Amazon, it feels like forever. But the point is that in the past we ran out of product and it has been just devastating. [Laughter]

Emily: Yeah, it’s a bummer. We want you to get the sizes that you need! Get it for your friends, for your Christmas shopping, or whatever. This way, you can get whatever R|M thing you wanted and whatever size you needed; we're not going to run out

Laura: We will have plus sizes this year! That's a cool thing. And some new things, like a tote and a tumbler. We have new coffee mugs! We hope you guys will enjoy the shop, and we’d love to see all of your merch out in the wild.

Emily: Yeah, I wear mine every day all over Iowa...out in the wild. [Laughter]

[8:27] Laura: Okay we're going to move on to deeper, more serious topics here. And the first question is when you have spiritual slumps how does that affect your time on the podcast?

Emily: Laura, do you want to start?

Laura: Sure, I can start. [Laughter]  It’s crazy to say it's been almost 30 years that I've been a believer.

Emily: Awesome, praise the Lord. 

Laura: I know, I feel like that’s neat. In that, I’ve come to expect that dryer seasons are a bit more par for the course. I expect them. I just know that they're a little bit part of the rhythm of Christian life. I don't know why at times God chooses to withdraw or to allow us to experience those hard seasons. But I know that regardless of how I feel, the most important thing I have to remind myself is that God is always near, always present, always working for my good. I think of Deuteronomy 32:10. There's this beautiful part where it says, In a desert land he found him in a barren and howling waste he shielded him and cared for him he guarded him as the apple of his eye.

If I'm the apple of his eye, if God is protecting me and caring for me, that promise is so encouraging. Even in the dry seasons, even when I don't feel special to God, I know I am. The apple of someone's eye means you’re so special! I think that's been really helpful. I also remember that God holds faster to me than I could ever hold to him. Hebrews 10:23 says, Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering for he who promised is faithful

I think remembering scripture and preaching the gospel to myself has really helped. I think also knowing and striving to have a deep well to draw from in these seasons.  My faith needs to be something that is authentic and real behind the scenes of ministry. We have a podcast, which is work. Sometimes it's easier to put out a show, and sometimes it's a little bit more of a grind. I think that’s okay; that’s what work is like after the fall. But there’s an element recognizing that if I have a slump, it doesn't mean I'm a bad Christian. It just means this is part of the normal rhythm. But I do want to make sure in those deep seasons of abundance, I can really dig my well a little bit deeper, so that in those other seasons of drought, I can draw from the work that I've done in other seasons—if that makes.

Emily: Yeah, I can really connect with what you're saying. I think the reality is that anything in life—whether it's work or ministry or just doing things around your house with your kids—some days it's really resonates with you and other days doesn't. You feel really passionate about this and really excited, and then there are other days, you're just kind of doing it. You know you realize the purpose of it and the importance of it, but maybe you're just having an off day, or feel a little worn down, or a little distant, and you're not quite as passionate about it. That's true for us when we record the podcast sometimes. There are days I can’t spit out a complete sentence.

Laura: Oh my word! We totally have those days when we look at each other with big eyes, like what is our problem?

Emily: I think that happens in every area of life and ministry, but we try not to get too discouraged by it. I want to share a few things I counsel my heart with out of 2 Corinthians 4. I'm going to rattle off and scrunch a bunch of scriptures together:

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart for what we proclaim is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord with ourselves as your servants for Jesus's sake we look not for the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. 

First off, our ministry is by the mercy of God. It's by the mercy of God on days where we feel awesome and we're ready to podcast and we're spit out okay stuff. It's by the mercy of God on days where we don't feel that way. It’s by his grace that we get to do this. 

The second thing is that we’re here to proclaim Jesus and to serve you, the listener. When I think of a servant, they're not someone who just comes to work when they feel like it. Servanthood is a posture of life. We get the privilege of sharing Jesus with you! It really is a mystery and a gift—even on days when we're tired and our brains are foggy. 

Additionally, we look to the things that are unseen. Sometimes we see our fumbled words or we can't complete a sentence; we’re tired or maybe something else is going on in our personal lives, making it a little bit more of a struggle. But that’s not what we look to. We’re look to Christ. We know he’s able to work through us—even tired, empty, afflicted vessels—to spread his good news. That’s what we place our faith in; not that we’re going to show up and have something amazing to say every single week. 

But also, the reality is that we do keep tabs on if it’s an off day or week, or maybe an off couple of weeks, or a whole season where we repeatedly struggle and feel dry. If that ever happens, we definitely do discuss that with each other and find out how we can have rest, making sure that we’re nourishing our personal relationships with God. So it's not like we’d plow through forever. I don't want you to hear us say that.

[14:14] Laura: Or we change the role or the output—the creative piece.

But yes, you can't get freaked out by not loving it today. It’s kind of like working out you're supposed to do it even if you don't feel like it, I don't know, but there are days of euphoria. The next question is for practical advice on how to build rest into season of ministry.

Emily: I think we wanted to get a little bit practical on this question, because we did shows this season on life and ministry, and what it looks like to work hard and to avoid seasons of burnout. But some things that have helped me are having really consistent time in the Word of God that's not about preparing for a show, talk, or something I need to do at Risen Motherhood. It’s really about me growing in my knowledge and love of the God of the universe, and having that private personal relationship with him that's restful for me. Another thing I try to do is try to keep consistent ministry or work boundaries. Yes, there are exceptions. Sometimes we need to flex outside of that. But it really helps me to know when I’m pouring out into this specific type of ministry and when I’m supposed to be focusing, resting, and doing other types of things. Another thing is to take longer breaks from time to time. I think that's something that we really appreciate about Risen Motherhood, because it can kind of ebb and flow. Sometimes we are in a really heavy season of recording and pouring out, and then sometimes we’ll get three to six weeks where we’re still working and doing projects, but it's a different type of work that allows us to rest and recharge. Another good thing is to do things far in advance. I think that in our modern digital age, there’s a content machine mentality. There's always pressure about what you’re going to post tomorrow or what you’re going to produce, or when it’s going to come out. It can feel like you're always trying to keep up, but whenever we've done things far in advance, it doesn't feel like that. We get to work more when we're feeling more inspired to write that microblog or whatever; it's less about produce, produce, produce. Instead we ask how can we faithfully give you the best content that we possibly can that most reflects the gospel. And a really random thing I’m trying this year is trying to read books that I want to read, that I'm interested in, and not just books that I feel that I have to read because that's what everyone else is reading. So I have several books that I have stumbled upon that I’m going to read because I want to.  

Laura: That's one of mine too! Reading books that aren't Christian non-fiction, going outside of that has been helpful. For me

Emily: So practical ways of rest in ministry for you, Laura.

Laura: Well, that was one of them. [Laughter] Yeah, I echo all of the things that you said. I definitely think daily quiet times being a priority is so important. At the beginning of the year, I had this realization that I was constantly studying God's word thinking how to spit it back out again. Where is this going to fit? Is this a microblog? Is this a podcast? Is this a conversation with a friend? Is this a way that I can talk with my son about discipline? I was taking in so that I could spit it right back out. And that was really convicting for me, because it was take, take, take, and I wasn't doing anything to give back to the Lord—even though on the surface, anyone who saw it would’ve said I was. But I think my heart motivations weren’t in the right place, and I wasn't loving God for who he was. I was loving him for what he could do for me. So that’s been something that I’ve said, “Lord, I'm here to worship you, to learn about you, and if this stays secret forever, that’s okay.” That has been a big big part of rest for me.

I try not to work after 3 p.m. each day. I also take a true Sabbath, so I really don't work at all on Sundays. That’s been really helpful for my mental health, because for a long time, that wasn't what I did. 

I finally found the motivation to workout—not to lose weight, because that just never happened [laughter]—but I found motivation to work out, because I felt like there was such a stress release. I started doing that more consistently about a year ago, and it was something that helped me feel what I was feeling inside. I felt so weak. We had to write the book, we were putting out a lot of shows for the podcast, we were getting more speaking opportunities, and things were just really changing with the ministry. I felt really weak and like I couldn't do it, I wasn't prepared. I was tired, but working out for me actually became helpful when I realized I have a physical example of how I feel on the inside. Somehow that was almost healing for me. It got really deep there. [Laughter] Not that working out is for everyone and all seasons, not at all. But for me that was helpful. I’d say the last one is listening to worship music. I found throughout my days, I’m constantly listening to words, words, words—whether that's email, social media, or Voxer. I have to process and think really hard about whatever the words are—whether it's a small task or a big project. So I slow down and play music I can soak in. You don't have to think as much with music, and I can give glory back to God without really engaging the mental heaviness in my brain, if that makes sense. I found that to be really helpful to slow down and take a midday break to reorient my heart on the Lord. Hopefully, those are some helpful tips. 

[19:54] Laura: Alright, the next question is how do you handle the messes in your home?

Emily: This is a good one. Last night, I was getting ready to prepare this answer and out of my mouth came “How do they make such a mess?” when I walked in We had tacos last night, and somehow the rice exploded off of their plates.

Laura: Rice is the worst to pick up. Let it dry. Cheese is awful too.

Emily: I love letting rice dry. My husband doesn't like it, because we like the clean house in the morning. But it literally cleans up instantaneously once it's dried. So we get it, we totally get the mess thing. 

I have a lot of thoughts about mess that seem in opposition to one another, but when I think about them all at the same time, it starts to make sense for me. So the first thing I wanted to say is that messes are not good or ideal a lot of the time.[Laughter] They are sometimes the result of people using things and being careless. At least that's a lot of what it is in our house. Maybe kids are playing with one costume and instead of getting out their one costume and putting it on, they string out 20 without a thought about how's that going to impact mom or how's that going to impact siblings. They're not thinking about those things, so a lot of times, it can be a reflection of poor stewardship of material things or maybe being entitled and self-centered. I think it's even something like a child or a grown-up who's like, I want to take a shower but I don't want to have to pick up my towel, so I’ll throw it on the ground and leave a mess. There’s this reality that messes can be a reflection of the fall and the sinful things in our hearts. But messes can also be a catalyst for gratitude. On the other hand, the fact that we have messes—the fact that I have rice all over our table—means that God has provided for us. He's provided food for us, praise the Lord! We have toys everywhere, praise the Lord! We have children in our home; what a gift and provision from God. On the one hand, it's like, “Argh!” On the other hand, there's so much to be grateful for here. Finally, I have to remember that messes are a reality of life after the fall, but in redemption they are also a chance to serve. They're not always good; they do sometimes reflect carelessness or the reality of the broken world we live in. But my job as a redeemed woman and follower of Christ is to love, to serve, and to give even when things are not neat and tidy. I was thinking about how Christ entered our mess and he took the full weight of making us clean upon himself. That doesn't mean I'm always going to take it upon myself to clean the kids’ messes. That's not the application I'm making. But I want my heart attitude to be willing to enter into the mess with my family—whether that's a mess on the table or a mess in their heart. Okay, now practical things to prevent the mass: Train them what to do and don’t have too much stuff. Make it easy; the harder it is to clean up, the harder it is for everyone to do it together. Do it frequently, like multiple times a day. Get everybody together and say, “This is the whole family’s responsibility! We’re all going to do it together!” That's how I handle mess!

Laura: I think I would just add that messes are work. It's this extra work that I shouldn't have to do, but then I remember that God created us to work. That was part of his original mandate for us before the fall and work isn't because of sin. We can find that in the creation account, so I know that I can reflect God's image as I serve the people in my home. In effect, sort of restoring creation to its original state. I think I have to remind myself that whenever I'm cleaning with a joyful spirit and hard working hands, I am actually making an impact on eternity. That has been a good motivator for me. Someday my kids will look back and remember Mom faithfully serving them in the quiet unseen things. Or a husband feels loved because a mom is silently serving and he's freed up to do other things. This might be because a friend sees your different perspective or your different attitude on cleaning up the mess in the home and realizes that you're not grumbling all the time, and wonder why you are so different and not complaining about these things. There's this beauty of being able to image God and reflect Christ as we do this with a cheerful heart. And like Emily said, it's not Woe is me I'm going to take every mess and no one's going to help me. That's not the attitude. But sometimes I just don't want to do more work than I'm already doing. However, choosing to engage in that mess with a joyful spirit, choosing to bring my children alongside me and be okay with their attempts at cleaning things up—it's a chance to do what Paul says in 1st Corinthians, “be imitators of me as I am of Christ”. So we show our children what it looks like to be a life poured out as a drink offering when we work and we serve with our families with joy, even in the mess. So that's the only thing that I would add that for me personally has been a helpful motivator.

Oh, and Courtney Reissig has a great book on this, so go read Glory in the Ordinary. We’ll link it in the show notes. It's a very very helpful book on this particular topic—the work of the home.

[25:42] Emily: We are going to move on now to a pretty commonly asked question. Some of the questions we got are grouped into this, but basically it’s, “How do I deal with mom guilt? what do I do?”

Laura: Well, we do have a whole show on this, and even though we haven't talked about it in a while, we will link to it in our show notes. We’ve also covered it in a lot of our interviews that Emily and I have done recently. But the first thing that we want to tell every mom is that you do not have to live with guilt. That does not have to be your constant companion. So don't ignore guilt if you feel it! We would encourage you to figure out what is under the surface. Remember there's no condemnation for those that are in Christ Jesus. As you explore this topic or you think about what's going on, you can ask yourself some questions. Is there an area where I'm struggling with sin where I need to repent and change? Or is this an area where I'm not doing anything wrong and I need to recalibrate my heart and conscience to the word of God? So there's two options once you say okay, I'm feeling mom guilt

Emily: This can be really tricky to sift through in your own mind and heart. We've heard of the term “confirmation bias”—whatever you already think or you already believe. So sometimes, when we come to the word of God or come to God in prayer, and we're trying to ask him for wisdom, Is this sin or is this not? Help me know what to do? We're kind of looking for something that confirms what we already believe. So this is where it's really important to have godly friends, have older people, have a husband have somebody or multiple people that can come alongside you. You can ask, Hey I'm feeling guilty about X, Y, and Z. Can you help me understand what God's word says about this? Can you help me point me to some resources and talk through this with me ask those hard questions of the heart? We'll link some x-ray questions that David Powlison, too. Study topically, and I think we would also just encourage you to pray earnestly seeking wisdom. Whenever we ask God, God examine my heart see if there's any sin in me. That’s a godly question that honors him! And he is faithful to show us where we need to repent. And if there isn't a clear sin, he is also faithful to give us wisdom to point us to the truth of his word. 

Laura: Yeah, if you have more questions on this definitely head over and find our show notes on mom guilt. 

Emily: Because the final answer is freedom on either side. Whether you realize that you had to repent— there's freedom there. Or whether you realize you were just taking on some expectations of the culture or thinking that you had to do something a certain way that you really didn't have to do.—there's freedom there. So it's just great that in both answers, there's freedom.

[29:18] Laura: How do you decide on what church is the right fit for your family? Emily, do you want to start with the high level and then the personal?

Emily: Sure. I think what's interesting, is that so much of this is just the Lord's timing and what kind of things are going on in your life and you move to an area. So we're going to give some principles, but also know that depending on where you're at geographically, and what things are going on in your life, it may be more difficult to see some of these things become reality. We just want to recognize it's still a challenging topic. I would first say, find a church that is unashamed of the gospel. That preaches it clearly, week in and week out from the Bible. Similarly, find a church that has a commitment to really understanding the word of God and submitting to it fully. Not just the things that feel good or that make a really good topical study or sermon or spun to fit our modern culture. I do think that's out there. If you just go through the Bible and pull out what seems to fit what we want or what’s going to sound good in the ears of the people, that may not reflect the full counsel of God. So I think that's like the number one thing that I would look for. A question that my husband and I also ask is not just where can our family be served? but where can we serve? A church is a body and a family, with Christ as the head. Look for a church where the culture isn't just “show up, consume, get what you need, and leave” but really “do life together.” Do these people pray for one another and serve and love the community and go on mission together? And then my final thing to share is this—make a decision in faith. I think that whenever my husband I have wrestled through different things at different points in marriage related to church, what we're kind of wanting is to have this vision into the future. We want to figure out how things are going to turn out. If our kids go through this children's ministry verses that children's ministry, or if we serve at this church with this mission bent or at that church, we kind of want to know, what’s life going to be like in 15 years? How's everything going to turn out? But we can't know that! So the best thing we can do is just find a church where we can serve, that is being faithful to the truth of God's word, and then trust God to use that church in our lives and to not look back. Yep, things might have gone differently at a different church, but God directs our paths. That's a few high-level things.

Laura: I would concur with all of those things. Preaching the gospel, stepping out in faith, I just fully agree with the, “how can we fully serve the church?” question, so I'm going to echo those things. The only thing I'm going to add is about “church dating” (as my old pastor used to say). Some people refer to it as “Church shopping” but he says there is more commitment to it than that. We've been church dating quite a few times as I've been a mom as we move to new cities, and I think one of the biggest things is just to remember, it's okay to not be totally in love with whatever church you're making a commitment to. I think we want to feel like, I just love everything about this church. It meets all of my needs. It's totally the style and the vibe that I want. All of the third order doctrines just completely line up with mine. You know, when you feel like you’re looking for the perfect church, but the reality is there is no perfect church. In fact, more than likely, whatever community you're in may not offer a church that does everything exactly the way that you would. I would just encourage you to take a step of faith. You're going to see things that you don’t love. Either right off the bat like or as you get deeper and deeper into church. Things that you don't love and you wish you could change. Or, you might even think of a better way to do things! But your job isn't to step into a church and manipulate and strong-arm it. So don't join thinking, well these are the seven things that I'd like to see changed within a year! You're joining a body—a family! They are as they are. Hopefully, God will use your gifts and you will be able to invest and make some changes for the better because we're all called to be swept up into that mission. But, if you join with this idea that I don't love it but I want to see things change or I'm only going to join a church that I absolutely adore, you're probably not going to find a church. And it's really important to be connected to a local body of believers.

Emily: Yeah, I think to rewind a little bit, Laura mentioned the third order doctrines. I think we talked about this in a previous Ask Us Anything. We’ll make sure to link that on the show notes if you're like, wait what are they talking about? Because we’re talking about the levels and triage of biblical orthodoxy. First, we want to go to a church that absolutely believes the true Bible and the true gospel. Secondly, we want to go to a church where we align on things where it’s pretty difficult to go to that church if you don't align with what they believe on things like women's roles or gender issues or baptism, etc. Those are definitely important “gimmies” right off the bat. It’s good to find a church that checks those boxes. But then there's a lot of other things like style of worship...

[34:36] Laura: ...how your children's program works, what your women's ministry does...all sorts of things! Okay, another question, how do you know that your saved?

Emily: We really appreciated getting this question because some of you may listen, week in and week out, and you’re really interested motherhood and the gospel. Maybe you've never heard the gospel presented this way before and you haven't thought about it deeply for your life. Or maybe you think you’ve been a Christian for a long time, and as you process through these things you're find yourself wondering, wow do I really know Jesus Christ, do I really have a relationship with God the father? So we're glad you're asking those questions and we want to address this because it really is important, and I think there can be assurance. So first off, we have to have true belief. Acts 16:31 says believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved. 1st John 5 says that we have to believe that Jesus is the Son of God because whoever has the son has life whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. There's another verse in Romans 10:9-10 that says, because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. So there's some really clear statements there. I do just want to note, that we also see in the New Testament that even the demons see and believe in Jesus, but they don't have faith in him. That's why we didn't just say “belief in Jesus” but true belief. I've heard this question phrase before well. It's not do you believe in God? or do you believe God? Believing in God is like, I believe God is real. And I believe Jesus is real and I believe that these things are real. But that's different than saying, I believe you God, I believe who you are, I trust you, even when I can't see. I put my faith and my hope in your promises! and going back to those verses, we might say, I confess with my mouth that your Son is Lord and that I am going to follow him! That's the type of true belief were talking about.

Laura: Yes, and that true belief will produce good fruit. This is that second marker you can look for. Ask yourself, Am I striving to obey God? Do I love my neighbor? Do I want to tell other people about Jesus? Do you feel a pull in your soul to do what’s right in God’s eyes? Do you love the things of God? Those things are good indicators. James 2:18 says, “ But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” We know that doing the things of the Lord—loving kindness, long-suffering, sharing the gospel with an unbeliever, being part of a church body—those are often marks of a believer. So if your soul is inclined towards those things, then in can be an indicator that the Spirit is at work in your life. Also, I think there's often this feeling of tension that we wrestle with, because the work of Salvation and faith is so much bigger than us. That's why it's called faith! It takes a leap in order for us to get there. I think it has been a comfort to me to know that God is okay with my doubt and that he's not surprised by my weaknesses. He's not fretting about whether or not I’m saved. He knows, and we can trust him. He's playing the long game. My faith is secure, not because of the power of my faith and belief, but because Christ died for me. He won my salvation and it is secure. It's never going to change.

Emily: Just that question just to wrap up that question, at the end of the day, our salvation isn't based on how we feel. Or how much we sense God's presence at this very moment. It's based on the person and work of Christ and our belief that his sacrifice covers us. It covers us on the days that we are feeling God’s presence and we've got all the mountaintop experiences...and our faith is in Christ alone on the days that we feel far away from him or things seem dark and distant or we’re having confused thoughts and those doubts. I just love that final thing to go back on. No no matter what, that's what we put our hope in.

[38:50] Laura: Okay next question we're kind of moving into the topic of marriage here. Someone asked I'm struggling with being attracted to my husband, how can I fix it?

Emily: This is really interesting. We wanted to do this question because we felt like it encapsulates a lot of other questions that we get asked—but it's a different take. Some of the questions we get are, I'm struggling with the desire for sexual intimacy with my husband or I'm struggling because I don't see my husband growing in his relationship with God or it seems like he has a lot of different interests than me or he's not engaged as a parent. What those things can bubble into is this reality that in a broad sense, women are struggling to be attracted to their husbands because of all of these things they feel like he's not meeting the mark on. So it's more than just physical—it could be emotional, it could be spiritual, there could be a lot of things that make attraction hard. And of course, Laura and I want to say that we’re not marriage counselors. You may need to talk to someone else. There are many, many complex situations in marriage. We live in a broken world after the fall. Sin needs to be dealt with—sometimes on both sides. So don't hear us say, oh this is just simple just package it and deal with it this way and move on. It might not be. One thing that has helped me at times it to remember back to the early days of love and attraction. I imagine Emily “back then”—when I was engaged. What would I think of Emily today? How I'm treasuring my husband? I also like to remember those early things that really attracted me to him. The things that I thought were just incredible qualities. These were the reasons why I wanted to marry him! I still see many of those things in his life, and I just need to remember them and thank God for them. Or maybe write them down or revisit those ideas. I think another thing that can really help is just to pray daily for my husband. As I pray for him, my affection grows for him. Even my spiritual affection towards him! I grow in my appreciation of the things that he does for our family and the ways that God is growing him. Prayer is a reorientation of our hearts around God. That can really overflow into our relationship with our husbands as well. I think another thing is finding ways you can have fun with your spouse. Sometimes there has been a lack of connection for us. We really need to do something fun as a family or maybe after the kids go to bed. Or we need to talk or play a game together or find something to reminisce and laugh about. Those are really practical ways to stir up love and affection.

Laura: Yeah, every once in a while, my husband and I will have to intentionally say, okay tonight we're not going to watch a show. Let's just sit on the couch and talk. Sometimes we have to schedule talk time, because naturally, we’ll go into veg time. You can also think about his godly qualities. No matter what, there are probably great things that your husband does. So often, we fixate on those negative things we see. But if take a moment to notice the things that he is doing well. Maybe write them down maybe or add that to your prayers. We've talked about it in the Risen Motherhood book in the marriage chapter that I wrote on too. Exploiting the good character qualities and helping him continue lean into his giftings is great.  Lastly, remember that it's probably not going to get fixed right away. That’s what marriage is. We’re going to love and show devotion in sickness and in health and the good times and the bad when were richer when were poorer. This question is just so helpful is to remind yourself, how would I want my husband to treat me if he's not attracted to me in this season? So often, we’re only focused on, well I'm not attracted to my husband and it’s his fault. But our husbands probably struggle at times to be attracted to us! I guess I know my husband is always just so “steady Eddie” and I can't really tell a difference in how he's treating me, which is so good, because I think there are harder seasons where he's loving me anyway. And that's what I want to show him as well—not being hot or cold according to my emotions, but loving him well, treating him as I would my neighbor. As we’re commanded to do—with love. I want to invest in that relationship because it is so important.

[44:00] Emily: Amen! Okay, now we're going to shift gears again into grief and anxiety. So one question we got was, do you have tips or verses for giving yourself grace as you work through personal grief, anxiety, etc.?

Laura: Yeah, this is such a good question. It's something that I think I've really grown in over the years, but of course, have a long way to go. I think the first thing to remember is with this phrase “giving yourself grace.” My old pastor said that he wishes everyone would rephrase that to “lean into the grace that is already there for you.” That's something I've always loved and has really changed my mindset. We can't really “give ourselves grace,” because God is the only one that gives it. Far too often we give ourselves too much grace. We're kind of saying, oh now I can be lazy, impatient, unkind. I've heard it referred to as “cheapening grace.” The grace that Christ bought for Christians is so very costly. It has everything we need. It’s completely sufficient for us. So that's the first thing to remember you process grief or anxiety. And remember that God's grace isn't designed to make us more comfortable in our sorrow or our sin or with the brokenness of the earth. His grace is designed to save us from the penalty of sin, to a life of hope for eternity. Second (this is been a newer thing in my relationship with the Lord) is learning to truly lament. Lamenting is crying out to God and telling him your sorrows. I think it's so good to remember that we can approach God and say things like God why? How long? Why can't I see or hear? Have you left me? These are things that we often feel in grief and anxiety. David said these things in the Psalms. It’s voicing your sorrow, while simultaneously speaking and affirming the promises of God. You can trust him in the midst of your pain. You can move from asking these questions and move towards rejoicing—reminding ourselves of who God is what he promises. It's really just “preaching the gospel to yourself”—something that Emily I talk about all the time—but I think the key in the grief is knowing that you can come to God when things are really dark and you can say exactly how you feel. God can handle it. Mark Vroegop’s book, Dark Clouds Deep Mercy, was really helpful. I recommend checking out that book if you want to learn more about the topic.

Emily: Yeah, I also think that grief can sneak up on us. It can be a very fickle thing—one moment we're doing okay and the next minute we're overcome with grief and we need to turn to God. I think that's something I've learned—that I need to learn to be okay with not being okay. I think there was a point in my life where I felt like I'm only being faithful if I'm joyful and if I'm having a great day and I'm seeing fruit everywhere and I'm praising God and I'm in a good mood. But there is a way to have a grief-filled day or a “down” day, in faith. Maybe faith looks like lamenting to God or my faith looks like believing his promises when I can't see a shred of evidence that day. This happened to me lately when I took our kids to special needs night at our local Orchard (agro-tourism)...it’s basically a night for families who have kids or adults with special needs. As we pulled into the parking lot, all of the sudden I was caught off guard. I just started crying and I didn't even know where it came from. I was overwhelmed with this feeling of We're here, why are we here? I felt so sad for our son, I felt so sad for just the brokenness of the world and the way that it impacts people and the fact that we even have to have things like this. Typically in the past, my response to myself would have been, stop it. Pull it together, Emily. This night is a great thing to be thankful for. I would want to go immediately to the reasons why this is a good thing and just move on. But I had this new thought—no, it is okay to be sad about this, cry for a moment, lament this, cry out to God and then thank him. I gave myself a minute in that driver's seat to sit there and to feel sad. For some of us even that can be really hard. To just sit and feel sad.

Laura: I think that's a really helpful story, it’s funny because I was at the same night as Emily and I had the same thing happen to me when we were watching the pig races. [Laughter]

Emily: This is so hard to describe to people, let me explain the pig races. 

Laura: I’m feeling a little embarrassed right now. 

Emily: We are just contrasting deep heavy stuff with really funny stuff! So there are stands and you sit and you go, hey piggy piggy piggy piggy! Then little pigs come running through this gate because they get a treat at the other side. They call it “pig races” and you go watch the pig races with your kids. So we’re sitting at the pig races...continue!

Laura: Yes, so I had this exact same feeling! It's not funny that I felt that way but just the pig races that we just told everyone about are making me laugh. Welcome to Iowa. Come visit us anytime! But it's so true—it hits you out of nowhere. Sometimes it's in a public place where you just want to stuff it down—and there are obviously appropriate times to not go through that—but I just want to say, I identify with you. You're so right that letting yourself grieve and feel the feels and to say, God I don't like it, I wish it were different, is okay because it's not going to be this way forever. Everything sad will come untrue (isn't that what Tokein says?). We can feel all of the heartache and all of the pain and know that we grieve with hope. It’s okay to do that because it’s a very real thing—you're not doing something false. You're not conjuring something, you're not making it up. It stinks and God can hear that. He wants you to mourn and grieve, and to come to him with it and not stuff it down or turn to something else to ease that pain. He is the source of true hope. So anyway, I just wanted to reinforce that.

[51:55] Laura: Okay how can I redirect a friendship with an unbeliever where I neglected to prioritize sharing my faith? This is a good one because it gets real awkward! 

Emily: I think the awkwardness and being in this situation in the past is why I'm trying to be more and more upfront about my faith. Because the longer you wait, the harder it is. So that's just an encouragement. Whenever you meet someone for the first time or the second time or whatever to talk about your faith as soon as it's natural. But a couple of practical tips if you've already gone further in a relationship, is just to share authentically out of the overflow. If someone asks what have you been learning? what have you been reading? what are you listening to? what are you enjoying your life right now? to be able to say oh I've been listening to this podcast it's about motherhood and the gospel! You can use us as an example. Or, maybe you've been reading a non-fiction book and you've been learning about God through that and you can share it with them. Maybe there's something you learned at a Bible study. I think that having that habit—talking about Christ like it's normal—is something that we have to develop in our lives. Not just with unbelievers but with our christian friends too. If we have a hard time talking about Christ in our relationships with our Christians, it is going to be a hundred times harder to do that with an unbeliever. Just a quick practical question—I've learned to ask people something like, You know, I'm not sure I've ever asked—do you go to church anywhere? And sometimes this opens the door to all kinds of interesting conversations. It also offers me a chance to share where I go to church or maybe they've visited churches in the area. I think that's a common response I'll hear from people no we don't really go, but we've tried out this church and that church and then I get to say, Oh I have some friends over there—have you ever met them? It's just a way to open up without going, what do you believe about your soul and your eternal future? So that's one segue question you can try.

Laura: You could also say something like, hey I know I've not talked about this before but I'm a Christian I believe in the power of prayer. Do you mind if I pray for you? I've had anyone tell me, no don't pray for me. Even if they say, yeah if you can pray to your God I'd take that! People often welcome prayer. It is a comfort to know somebody else is praying. For me that's been helpful as I've gotten deeper into relationships. I want to reiterate that Emily has said of it's so helpful to just do it right from the beginning. Recently, we had a big picnic with about 75 people in our neighborhood. My other brother (so not Emily’s husband) prayed before the meal. I was really grateful that he did that. Just setting the precedent—setting the stage. We met all of our new neighbors and we wanted them to know from the start that we’re Christians. I think that that's been helpful and will be helpful as we progress in relationships with them. Yes, it will feel funny. It will feel nerve-racking and you will feel like you didn't say it right...or maybe the person didn't receive it well. But you can trust that God is going to supply what you need to be able to share the gospel with them or just tell them you're a believer. He can do the work in their heart.

Emily: We also get this question a lot from moms who say, I want to go deep with my friends, I want to talk about the gospel, but nobody around me seems to want to talk about it. Some of these same principles can apply. Get women together and say, I know this is awkward I know that this is uncomfortable, but I would love to have deeper conversations with you, I would love to talk about Jesus. Would you like to get together and discuss this book or resource or do a Bible study? Just be the one to say it. Get through the awkward. I think you would be amazed at how many other women in your church and community want to go deeper. But everybody's terrified! Somebody just needs to say it.

Laura: I was literally thumbs-upping Emily as she said that. So often, we get together and we commiserate on the surface level stuff, where we’re willing to admit our sin. But who is willing to take that next step? If there's one person that says, okay...well what truth do you preach to yourself in that moment? How are you finding hope in the gospel? What can we do to get out of this pattern? While it's kind of hard and awkward—that's the next step. I think people are very receptive if there's one person who is sort of willing to go out on a limb. That's something that I love about Risen Motherhood and what were able to do here. We see ourselves as conversation starters—we start to apply the gospel, but there are so many facets and so many directions you could take it. Many of you leave with more questions saying, well what about this? What about that? What about this angle they didn't flesh out? Some of that is intentional on our part, because we want you to keep talking about these things. These conversations are best done in community where you can have conversations and also to not be afraid of disagreement—not be afraid of pushback so that you can have a conversation with one another and kind of leave and say, okay that's an interesting perspective and I want to think more on. As Christians, sometimes we’re afraid of disagreement or afraid of pushing a little bit. That's something that's a real passion point for us—being willing to nudge the conversation just a titch further without everyone having to get offended.

Emily: Yes! Those are some of the best conversations we've had—even with other friends just pushing us and just saying, hey have you thought about this? And even if we don't come to a resolution right away, usually like two months later Laura and I will be like talking and we’ll say, I've been thinking about that and I think my heart is really changing. 

Laura: So true. 

Emily: You just don’t know how God’s working! Okay, so this was a great Ask Us Anything. We always love interacting with our community in this way and getting to hear from you guys.

Laura: Just like riffing on every little random topic, I love it. 

Emily: Definitely go to our website risenmotherhood.com where we have our show notes. We always have lots of information there for you! Remember, there's going to be a blog post that comes out, so if you didn’t hear your question, keep an eye out for that. We're also going to answer some things on Instagram, Facebook Stories this week. There's more to come!

Laura: Lastly don't forget about our shop. It’s open November 4th-11th. It will be a short window of time, so mark your calendars for that. We can't wait to see all of your guys' merch, see what you guys get there are some fun goodies. Okay, I think that's it, right?

Emily: Yup, I’m excited, I’ve got my calendar marked, I want my merch! And that's a wrap folks.

Ep. 141 || Body After Baby: Moms Share How The Gospel Changes Their Perspective Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood! I’m Emily, and I’m excited to share a little bit about today’s special show. Laura and I have personally experienced the many changes that motherhood brings for our bodies, and we’ve had to grapple with them in light of all that God’s word says about our identity and purpose. Since many of you have heard us talk about this on the show before or you’ve read the chapter I wrote on postpartum body image in the Risen Motherhood book, we thought it was time to invite some other friends to share what they’ve learned about this topic. Stay tuned as Andrea Burke, Jill Atogwe, Maggie Combs, Ruth Simons, and Betzy Gomez share vulnerable stories of God’s work in their hearts in the area of body image. If you enjoy this episode or any of the many others we’ve produced, please consider leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Laura and I read and appreciate them all. We love hearing stories about how God has used this podcast and the whole Risen Motherhood ministry to help you understand and apply the gospel.

Before we jump in, We’d love quickly introduce these ladies to you. We know this is going to go fast, so if you want to find anything we mention here, we’ll list additional information on our show notes in the order each person shared. 

Andrea Burke is the Director of Women's Ministry at Grace Road Church in Rochester, NY. She writes and teaches regularly for women and also lends a voice to cultural issues by co-hosting The Good Enough Podcast. 

Jill Atogwe, is the gal behind the popular lifestyle blog, Gold & Graphite. Jill is also an artist and budding writer.

Maggie Combs is a book lover, writing mentor, and author of Unsupermommy. 

Ruth Simons is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, speaker, artist, and the owner of Gracelaced. She’s also a Risen Motherhood board member.

Betsy Gómez is a writer and a speaker who hosts a podcast for Spanish Speaking women and is the creative director for Revive Our Hearts Spanish Outreach. 

Okay, let’s jump into today’s show and hear these encouraging words from our friends.

Andrea Burke: I remember I was around 7 months pregnant with my second child, and I had gained a lot of weight. I knew it was going to take me forever to lose. I’d had a c-section with my first child, and I wasn’t able to lose all the weight until she was in kindergarten. I always joke that my body is like a peasant woman in Ireland in the 1700s; it assumes famine is about to occur, so we better just save everything. Pregnancy is no exception to this. 

So, I was already very pregnant with my second child and anticipating a long road ahead. I was feeling very defeated. I was honestly really jealous of my friends who seemed able to just drop the weight after having babies. I was a mess about it. I cried to my husband, and I remember crying and looking in the mirror, asking, “How could you ever be attracted to me? How could I ever possibly be beautiful to you?” I waited for his typical, “No, babe! You’re fine. I love you!” But this time he just sighed and said very gentle, “Babe? When we can stop having this conversation?” It kind of floored me. He was like, “Our bodies are going to fail us. They’re going to grow old and sag, and not measure up to the world’s standards of beauty anymore. At some point, we have to build this marriage on something more than just attraction and beauty.” It was, woah, so humbling for me.

It made me think of Psalm 103:13-17: As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame, he remembers we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass. He flourishes like a flower of the field. For like the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and it’s place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting for those who fear him. And his righteousness to children’s children.” Man, that just takes my breath away. And it’s been something I’ve returned to for the last three years since my second child was born. With every extra pound and every pants size that feels so discouraging, I remember that conversation with my husband and Psalm 103. We are dust. These bodies will fail us. They will hold onto extra pounds. They will sag. They will get weary. And the Lord knows this; he remembers our frame. His promise isn’t that our bodies will be everything we hope for. His promise is that his steadfast love will endure. His faithfulness stays to us and our children and our children’s children. So my kids won’t remember the size of my pants. And eventually, my body is going to continue to wear out and be weary. I’ll be done with ability to bear children. I’m dust headed back to dust. My body has failed a lot of my earthly expectations and dreams, and yet, the steadfast love of the Lord endures. 

Jill Atogwe: My body before my first pregnancy was strong. It was chiseled and toned from years of playing sports, college volleyball, and training with my husband for fun. 

 My first pregnancy made me softer, but I still looked like an athlete. On my son’s first birthday, I found out I was 5 weeks pregnant with our daughter. My body didn’t have much time to recover and that second pregnancy did a number on me. I was so ill. I hardly exercised at all. I got awful varicose veins that left me in bed elevating my leg for a good chunk of each day. By the time we moved to Texas during my 34th week of pregnancy, I had to wear full-on compression tights every day. Let me just add that it was July. 

My daughter was born in early Fall and, determined to make up for lost time, I started a strict diet 2 weeks postpartum. The following week, I committed myself to a workout plan. 

One day, as I helped my 22 month old on the potty while nursing my 2 month old, I caught a glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror. It was the first time I really looked at myself with both of them. One hand helping him; the other holding her. Sure, my face wasn’t swollen anymore, but I didn’t look like myself. I looked sad. Sad and so, so tired. The weight was coming off, but at what cost?

It was through that exhaustion and depletion I realized I had an idol on my hands. 

Through the process of growing, nursing and caring for these babies I finally surrendered this body I’ve been given and shifted my mindset. It wasn’t made as a symbol to represent how many hours I spend in the gym. It’s purpose isn’t to have people look at me and say “Wow, congratulations on your gene pool!” 

This body was created to glorify God. 

The abdominal separation that won’t come back together and left a nice little pooch behind is a reminder that there were babies in there. It was a home for 38 weeks, 39 weeks, and 12 weeks until that baby went to be with Jesus. Praise God for what that excess skin represents. (And also for high waisted pants.)

My right leg looks like a wind-y road filled with swollen, twisting veins. Purple and green fireworks start at my ankle and carry all the way up. But those legs allowed me to bounce my baby for countless hours through that first year. Glory be to God. 

How sacred are those moments when our babies are first laid in our arms? After all of the laboring, all of the pushing, my thought is never on what a great job I did. There is an immediate sense of overwhelm and awe of God’s glory and goodness. That, right there, is a picture of our bodies as mothers. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Do you not know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own.”

 We are not our own. 

 Lord willing, I’m not done having babies yet. I pray the next time around I rest in the grace of self-forgetfulness. We live in a fallen world. I notice more stretch marks and veins every day. And while one day we’ll all be free of these postpartum bodies, in the meantime I’ve made it my mission to view this body as a vessel to serve. 

Maggie Combs: As a person who is naturally petite, I spent my whole life taking for granted that things would fit and be flattering. And then I had my first baby. It wasn’t just my saggy tummy that surprised me. I found my shoulders, hips, and feet all got wider and I needed new jackets and shoes and even underwear. It felt so defeating. With each subsequent pregnancy, I found that I liked my body less. And the culture tells us to own it, because we own our bodies. And if we own these bodies, there are two choices: despise them or embrace them. But we keep falling back into despising them. Embracing them just isn’t enough. 

The problem is the entire premise is wrong. We don’t own these bodies, they were bought with a price by the work of Jesus. And there’s God the Father, who lovingly knit these bodies together inside the bodies of our mothers. And the Holy Spirit, who takes up residency and lives inside these imperfect frames to minister the truth of God to us. Our God, three in one, the Holy Trinity, involved every person of himself in the creation and care of these bodies. So are they our own? No, they belong to God. Instead of despising a work of God, we should steward them. Instead of ignoring their weaknesses, we should allow God to show his glory through these jars of clay. We should care for and respect our bodies as our earthly tool for working in God’s kingdom. First Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 

Mommies, may we steward these imperfect vessels to demonstrate our perfect God's glory to the world around us.

Ruth Simons: I’m a mom of six boys. My oldest is 17, and my youngest is six. And yes, I really did birth them one at a time. It’s even funny for me to think about it. Yes, I was pregnant six separate times with boys! So for about a decade of life, I was either pregnant or nursing, changing diapers or falling asleep while reading bedtime stories. That was a crazy, long decade. I’m well acquainted with how our bodies are affected and changed through pregnancy and motherhood. The first few times postpartum, I saw the weight come off a bit easier with nursing and long walks with friends, chatting and pushing our strollers. But as you know, life has a way of pushing leisure and times like that out. As the years went on, I was doing well with little to simply get dinner on the table and make it through the day of disciplining and discipling and training up multiple children. I wasn’t hitting the gym everyday—or at all. I gained about forty or fifty pounds with each pregnancy, and now in my 40s, I’ve certainly held on to about 10-15 of those pounds. There’s excess skin and fat around my midsection. I hide it well; I try. There are stretchmarks all over my waist and thighs. And breastfeeding for over a decade will certainly change your shape as well. I can feel self-conscious in a swimsuit if I focus on the way my body is no longer fit, or tight, or balanced, if I’m honest. I can even get caught up in pants size and bemoan not being the woman I once was before all the pregnancies. But I’ve really come to recognize that the root of those feelings is my own pride; and the antidote is truly gratitude and having an eternal perspective. 

So when I apply the truth of the gospel to an ordinary part of my life, like the way I feel about my body and how I see myself, I begin to see how much I need to practice rehearsing the truth of my identity in Christ rather than the truth of the temporal realities of my earthly circumstances. Because of the good news of the gospel, my hope isn’t in this body or this moment of time. I’m living for a new heaven and a new earth, a fully redeemed body, where there will be no more pain, brokenness, or sadness. Will there be scars or stretch marks? I don’t think it’ll really matter. We know in I John 3:2: “Beloved, we are God’s children now. What we will be has not yet appeared, but we know that when he appears, we shall be like him. Because we shall see him as he is.” Or what about 1 Corinthians 15:52: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet, for the trumpet will sound and the dead will be raised imperishable. And we shall be changed.” Our bodies are for our stewardship, friends. The mercy and blessing of having a cost to surrender and sacrifice is it reminds me and drives me to worship the Savior who paid the ultimate price with the sinless body and life. 

My physical discomforts and the discomforts to my pride when I don’t look or feel the way I want to serves to keep me tethered to the hope of Christ, not leaning on my own strength or sense of identity—but on him and what he says is true about who I am in Christ. We need to do that everyday. Motherhood is sanctifying, because it’s a daily reminder that everything that doesn’t come easily, that stretches our patience, that feels too much to bear in motherhood—Do you feel those things?—serve to lovingly shape us. God uses them to shape us into the likeness of Christ.

My postpartum body and all the changes that come with age, they do the same. They remind me that there’s no clinging or hoping in what my flesh can offer. My hope today—all the hope I want for today—must be in Christ and in the life to come.  

Betsy Gómez: I am pregnant for the sixth time. I had two boys, three miscarriages, and now a girl on her third trimester. Another C-section is on the horizon, as is a slow recovery and a body that will try to catch up with the massive changes of delivering a baby.

I anticipate that soon I’ll be dealing with the reality of having a postpartum body. As a way to remind myself of the truth that I can easily forget, I listed some truths about how the gospel changes my view of my post-baby body. 

As women, we’re exposed to so much pressure about our body image. When it gets to the topic of postpartum, the comparison is crazy. We’re saturated with lies about ourselves and motherhood! These lies are not only in social media or tv, they’re in our hearts. Lies like, “Claim your body back!” or, “Don’t let this baby ruin your life.” 

It’s so easy for us as women to see ourselves in the mirror and to compare what we see with what the world states is beautiful. 

So, first of all, the gospel frees me from the tiring task of using the way I look to get people’s attention. It breaks the idolatry to my figure: the tendency of placing my identity in the way I look. The gospel reminds me that my body is not my own. I was bought by the one who laid his body on the cross, so I can serve him with my body.

Second, the gospel frees me from the slavery that comes from using my body to serve myself. The gospel invites me to use my body to serve others. My scars and the pounds that are hard to lose is a reminder that I am a life-giver by dying to myself. Every time I’m tempted to feel ashamed of what I see in the mirror, I need to turn my face and look to another mirror: the Word of God that shows me the One who was not ashamed of bearing my sin and giving me life, even in the moment when no one found him attractive. 

Third, the gospel frees me from being controlled with the changing emotions of my postpartum body. The gospel reminds me that I’m not defined by what I feel, but by the complete work of Christ on my behalf. My hormones might make me feel like I’m in a rollercoaster, but the Word of God is a sure foundation to hold fast in the midst of my confusion. The gospel gives me a solid foundation for my identity to be placed. My feelings are not God; they can be submitted to the truth.  

Fourth, the gospel beautifies the scars that the world wants me to hide. I love my babies but if I am honest, sometimes I would do anything to erase all the toil and the visible evidence of the life-giving privilege I have as a woman. I would love to get rid of my C-section scar or my stretch marks. But when I’m reminded that Jesus, even in his glorified body, didn’t get rid of his scars, then my scars take another meaning. Those scars are beautiful, because they are reminders of God’s grace upon me. God fearfully and wonderfully formed one of his image-bearers inside me, and it is beautiful to be reminded of that.

Fifth, the gospel promises me a new body. Every time I see myself in the mirror and notice how my pregnancy and childbearing has changed me, I need to remember about my Savior’s body. He was crushed until the point of death to give me life. Eternal life. Every scar, every mark is a reminder of those scars that gave me a living hope: one day I will be transformed and given a glorified body. That’s all the hope I need.

Ep. 140 || “I’m Just So Worried About It!”: How to Change Our Worry to Worship Transcript

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Emily: Well, let’s jump into today’s show about worry and the things we process through in motherhood. There’s something about growing older and gaining responsibilities—having a child or more—that doesn’t feel as simple and carefree as life used to be. When we go into adulthood—what’s that called? Adulting?

Laura: Adulting, that’s right!

Emily: You realize you’re not as in control of things as you thought. I can look around me and see that life doesn’t always go as planned. I think that can give way to worry.

 Laura: The common thing that happens in motherhood is we focus in on a problem and turn it over and over in our minds. Sometimes we lose sleep or have a bad attitude, because of this one thing we’re worried about. It tends to affect all these other things; it might even damage a relationship. We feel a lot of stress from these things that we’re concerned about. Often the feelings of worry start the day we become pregnant.

Emily: So to tee up a little bit of what we’re going to share, we have a quote from Kathy Keller. God doesn’t give hypothetical grace for your hypothetical situation. Many times when we’re turning these things over in our head, it’s all hypothetical. It might be a realistic hypothetical or not, but it hasn’t happened yet.

Whenever we talk about something like this, it’s good to have a definition and parameters of what we’re really talking about. Webster defines worry as allowing one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles. That’s what we’ll be discussing today: turning something in your mind over and over again—that dwelling—imagining all the facets that could happen or playing out a scenario and thinking about what you might do in it.

 Laura: When we talk about worry, it pertains to our minds. So we want to make a distinction between anxiety and how that tends to affect the body, causing more emotional stress. Sometimes we need a counselor, medication, or extra care to heal from anxiety. But going back to Webster, the key word we want to focus on is the word “dwell.”

 Emily: So let’s jump in to what the gospel would say about worry. It’s interesting to think about Adam and Eve in the garden. They would’ve had responsibilities and purposeful work. They were cultivating the ground, ruling and reigning in God’s earth. In a sense, they didn’t have a care. By that, we mean God was with them and he was providing all the things they needed. He was their strength and source of wisdom and help. There wasn’t a need to be concerned in the way we are today, wondering, “What’s going to happen tomorrow or the next day or the next month?” God was there, fulfilling that at all times. They were fully dependent on him, and they were in constant relationship with him. That sense of worry, the fear of the future, wasn’t there.

 Laura: We’re going to bet Adam and Eve felt some type of worry after they ate the fruit. Think about them hiding in the bushes, uncertain of how God would react. They wondered how to solve the problem—because they didn’t know how God would react—and the best solution they could come up with was—

 Emily: We’re going to wear leaves. [Laughter]

Laura: We’re going to wear foliage. [Laughter]

 But you know, that’s how we are. We just pick stuff and shoot from the hip, trying to figure out the solution to a problem. We see the fall set in motion a new set of things for people to worry about. There’s transition, broken relationships, unpredictability in human behavior, jobs, weather, stock market, expenses, and car accidents. We even worry about what happens if our kids fall off the playground swing or what can I do to prevent them from falling in the first place? Life is full of all sorts of unpredictable things we can’t prepare for. There’s an old adage, “The only thing you can plan on is that life doesn’t go to plan.” That rings true. All of us can say we didn’t plan for our lives to turn out like this.

 Emily: Pre-fall, there was a security and peace. Post-fall, there’s fragility. Adam and Eve had to come up with their own solution, and that’s terrifying because they didn’t have anything but hack-jobs. They didn’t have a good anchor to hold onto. What we see in redemptive history is God sent his Son, Jesus, to be that anchor and peace amidst any tumultuous thing that happens. He’s the one who brings comfort and peace.

In the gospels we read Jesus says not to be anxious about your life: what you’re going to wear, what you’re going to put on. He talks about how God cares for the lilies and sparrows. These are delicate things in nature; he makes sure they’re beautiful and have what they need. We don’t need to fear.

Another thing he says is, “Fear not little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” It’s interesting to see Jesus come to give that proclamation that things can, in a sense, be restored to what they were like in Eden. There can be a connection of relationship where there is peace, stability, and someone providing for you. But it’s only going to come through our trust in Jesus on the cross as we come weak and in need. We come knowing that all we can do is cover ourselves with some foliage, and that’s not really a solution. It’s his shed blood that can be our solution. He can be a comfort for us in whatever it is we’re facing.

Laura: I think that’s huge. Jesus is a comfort. The “do not be anxious” or “do not worry” feels like a big, heavy command. But really, this is offered as a comfort for us to run to Jesus. I love thinking of Jesus’ life and all the people he comforted while he walked the earth who were worried. There was the woman caught in adultery. The disciples when they found out someone would betray Jesus. There was the woman with the bleeding issue. All of them must’ve been, to some extent, worried about their unknown futures. But over and over again, Jesus speaks words of comfort to them.

Emily: Yeah, even think about Martha! He redirects her worry. She’s worried about getting stuff done, and he takes that and directs her to where her focus should be, which is him. It’s neat to see that picture of what he does for a worried heart.

Laura: Yes! And even in his death, he comforted those who were worried. Think about his mother, Mary. In John 19, Jesus looked at John and told him to care for his mother. What words of comfort. Even in his death, he thought about other people who might be worried. Mary was probably wondering, “Who’s going to take care of me? What am I going to do without my son?” Jesus comforts her. I get chills thinking about that.

Emily: It’s interesting to think between death and resurrection too. They were thinking about Jesus and what was to come. He comes and shows himself to them; again, he redirects their worry, concern, and instability to him and his body. He’s showing his wounds, explaining how this was prophesied, and giving them something to look ahead to that’s sure to happen. No matter what happens in this life, we know we can look ahead to Jesus returning. We might now know all the details and it may be different than what we think, but we can be 100% sure that for those who trust in Christ, there is an amazing eternal future coming—even if we have to deal with some hard, scary things in this life.

Laura: Until then, Jesus still offers comfort because he sent his helper, the Holy Spirit. I think, when we’re worried, we’re often thinking, “Help!” We think, “I need to get this done. Who’s going to help me? What’s the right answer?” We’re grasping for help in those things. Jesus didn’t leave us alone until his return. He gave us the Holy Spirit, and we receive power through him. Worry in our unpredictable lives on our broken earth is very normal. It’s a pretty universal response. Even my husband—who is very laid-back and low-key—experiences those emotions. We have to remember God doesn’t call us as believers to dwell on problems we’re worried about. He calls us to dwell on him and the story he’s swept us up in.

Emily: Right. He gives us an answer to that normal response that we all have to the fallen world we live in by saying, “Cast all your cares on him, because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5) That doesn’t mean we’re not going to experience the cares and the worry, but it does give us something to turn to. It gives us an answer. It’s not, “Oh, I just need to stop it. Stop worrying.” We need to take these questions and concerns to a person who is reigning, sitting at the right hand of God, interceding for us! Jesus is bringing all those things to the Father. There’s hope because there’s an answer to our worry.

Laura: I think the key here is as we turn to Jesus, we turn our worry to worship. We want to talk through a few things we see in the Bible when people are worried.

Over and over again, we see God calls his people to remember what he’s done. He tells the Israelites to write songs about it, put it on their door frames, write them on their walls, tell their children. In the early church, the apostles consistently recount all the magnificent things God has done. So, remind yourself when you’re worried about the past goodness of God. You can probably think through your life and remember the ways he’s blessed and provided for you and your family. But you can also think about the grand plan of God—everything from creation all the way until he returns. He’s planned for it with a good plan. He’s sovereignly writing history. He’s not forgotten you. He’s not surprised. He knows and he cares. Remember God has been faithful in the past and will continue to be faithful in the future.

Emily: Faithfulness in the future, yes. Just as we look back at what he’s done, we can know that no matter what happens, he provides ways out from temptation through his word, and he promises to care for us, protect us, and give us peace. This isn’t protection so a bad thing never happens to us, but he’s protecting our hearts and keeping us sealed by the Holy Spirit. Because we’re in Christ, we don’t have to fear or be dismayed or give up, because God can give us strength and give us spiritual help, and he provides for us in really unique ways. That’s another reason we can worship him.

 I know something I try to do, as a practical note, is let myself play out that worst-case scenario in my mind. I let myself imagine it and then I imagine God with me, helping me, caring for me, being my steadfast hope, taking me all the way to eternity with him. It sounds weird, but there’s some comfort in that. It releases that hold on me, because I know God is with me. I know that no matter what, God will be there.

Laura: Amen. That’s good. So lastly, seeking God in the worry. One practical thing you can do is take your worry and turn it into prayer or song. This is where we turn it into worship. Think of Paul and Silas in prison in Acts. They turned to prayer and singing psalms to God. It not only comforted their souls, but it’s cool to see that it comforted other prisoners. In situations when people ask if you’re worried, you can show them how you take that situation—even though you’re worried—to the throne. Take time to pray and sing.

Emily: I think that’s such a good point about worry. There are two levels. The first is if I think about it, yes, I’m concerned. But the second is I really trust the Lord that he’ll provide for me. 

Another thing is to ask others to pray and speak truth to us. This can be to our husbands. My husband is really good at this! I’ll be worried because our son has 20 mosquito bites, and when I say it to him, he’ll be really gracious about it and remind me of truth.

I think it’s important to know this takes practice and training our brains. I heard a while back there’s a neurological pattern in your mind, and your brain takes the fastest route it’s most familiar with, especially if you’re in stress. We have to reorient our minds to take a worry to the Lord and turn it to worship.

Laura: And lastly, changing your what to who is necessary. You should think about the questions, “What’s going to happen? What should I do?” But ask that underling question: Who will sustain me? Who has loved me already? Who has rescued me from the grave? Asking those questions and being able to answer them, because you know biblical truth, is such a comfort. God loves answering the deeper question. Sometimes he doesn’t answer our “What am I going to do” very clearly, but he has answered the who questions.

Emily: As we wrap up, to add a level of nuance to the conversation—

Laura: You know we love nuance.

Emily: There’s an element of worry triggering us to be better stewards of our own lives and the lives of our children. It can trigger us to go to the word, live with more biblical wisdom, or cry out to God. Much like fear, if none of us had fear, we’d do some crazy stuff. I’d be hanging out in the highway! But being concerned about what kind of video my child might see at a grandparent’s house. That will trigger me to go to the Lord and think about how I want to raise him, ask for wisdom, and put some boundaries up to say there are some things we don’t do when we’re away from mom and day because we care about you. We wanted to add that practical layer that just because you’re taking your worry to worship doesn’t mean your actions don’t change. We may need to set up boundaries and wise actions to help practically prevent whatever it is we’re concerned about.

Laura: That’s good stuff! In closing, our job isn’t to eradicate worry from our lives. It’s the reality of living on a broken earth. But the key is what you do with those feelings of worry. Do you take them to the cross? Are you giving them to God? Are you trusting he is sovereign over all? It’s totally okay to say, “I’m afraid God. And I don’t know what to do.” It’s totally okay to say, “ I need your help, Lord. Please show me the way.” This was the cry of the psalmists over and over again. It’s okay to bring your cares to God. He wants you to do that. But after you bring them, do you trust him? Do you believe him? Do you rest on Jesus and his power to sustain you or are you resting on your own efforts?

As we close, those are some questions you think about and consider the next time you’re worried or a friend expresses worry.

Head over to risenmotherhood.com to give to R|M. We hope you’ll pray about how the Lord might be leading you to contribute to the ministry we do here at R|M and continue to produce shows just like these, so women all over the world can hear them. Lastly, check us out over on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Thanks for joining us!

Ep. 139 || Mothering as Service: Stewardship & Sacrifice Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Well, hey guys! Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Laura, here with my sister-in-law, Emily.

Emily: Hey!

Laura: Today we’re doing part two of our interview series on being living sacrifices. We had an interview last week where Emily interviewed me, and now I’m turning the tables and interviewing her. Ha!

Emily: Yeah, we were inspired by a couple of chapters we have in Risen Motherhood. One on self-care and another on service. As we dove into those, we felt there were so many angles we could talk about. If you missed it, Laura talked about going through a season of burnout, not recognizing limits and needing to establish patterns of Sabbath rest, taking care of herself, and resting in Christ. This week, we’re turning the tables on me to talk about service and how to cultivate a life of service—even if that doesn’t feel super natural or comfortable all the time.

Laura: That’s right! So if you haven’t had the chance to pick up our book yet, we encourage you to do so. Emily and I share a lot of stories we haven’t shared on the show. We’re not specifically talking book stuff today, but it has a lot more information on these topics and more. You can grab it anywhere books are sold. So, let’s get into our interview. [Laughter] Emily’s in the hot seat; I always love it when I don’t have to provide the content. [Laughter]

Emily: I feel like you also like to see me frazzled. [Laughter]

Laura: I do really love to see Emily squirm. [Laughter] Okay. So Emily, I’ve loved watching you over the last six or seven years that you’ve been a mom. I feel like this is a bit cheesy, but I’ve watched you blossom and grow. I know you’ve watched me change and grow in a lot of things, and one of those things is service. We’ve talked about it a lot, since we’re really different. Can you start by sharing with us how God has worked in your heart with service? What were you like when you were first married, and how have you changed?

Emily: Laura and I have talked about our personalities on the show in the past, but I’m wired to enjoy the fun, easy things of life. I don’t really like the same things over and over again. I always like change. I grew up going on nice vacations and eating good food. I loved when I could be served and wasn’t always looking for ways I could serve. When I got married, as a Christian person, I knew I should serve and I wanted to serve my husband. I wanted to love Jesus and show my love for Jesus in that way. But honestly, it didn’t come naturally to me. I think there are some personality types—even though we’re all in our sin and self-centeredness—that are more wired to be helpful.

Laura: Mine. [Laughter]

Emily: You know, like, “Oh I see that! Can I take care of that for you?” And I can be kind of oblivious to that unless I stop to think about that and be intentional. I used to be the kind of person to get up from the table and not think to clear my plate and drink away. I’m not thinking about that, and other people are more prone to think that way or to see how they could wipe the counter, sweep the floor, or help with that. So that was something I really had to grow in. Some of it was being engrossed in my own world, my own thought life. It’s harder to see things other people might need.

So at some point, I had to turn a corner. Having so many children so close together put this pressure on me, and my whole life became active service. There wasn’t time for breaks, and fun, and doing things I wanted to do with my time. I had to face this thing in my heart and fight it with the truth of the word. I’ve shared this on a past show, but I’ll share it again. The verse God used to change my heart was Proverbs 13:4: The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. Somewhere in there as I studied that verse, it clicked for me. I realized that working hard and serving others like Christ wasn’t an obstacle to joy, fun, or freedom; it was the means to the most joyful, fun, and free life I could have. As somebody who likes to feel good, I realized it feels good to obey God. The soul is richly satisfied when we trust God and depend on him, and he shows up and helps us serve. That really started to click for me, and once it did, I think a life of service became easier for me—although I still struggle with it.

Laura: Well to go back to what you were saying towards the beginning, I think we like a life that’s easy and comfortable and about me. None of us are off the hook no matter how prone to service we are. Obviously, there are a lot of self-centered motivations for serving. There are a lot of ways service can feel good—for good or bad reasons. I love that you said it feels good to obey God. I think so often we think obeying God is hard and it’ll be the thing we don’t want to do. But it’s true that there is joy found in being a living sacrifice, dying to ourselves, and putting others first. I think it’s one of those things that, at first, is really hard and painful; but as you grow in it and grow in understanding of obedience, God is gracious to transfer our hearts and make it easier. So what are some of those key things that God revealed to you, Emily, to help you see service as a real valuable piece as something he designed for your life?

Emily: I think the first thing I recognized was my life belonged to God. The Heidelberg Catechism says, “What is your only comfort in life and death?” And it’s, “That I am not my own, but belong body and soul, and in life and death, to my Savior Jesus Christ.” I say that to myself a lot. In Romans 14, it talks about how whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s. If my life is mine, then I get to determine how I can best use my time or resources, whether I feel like serving right now or not. I can choose to pursue recreation and pleasure at my own disposal, even if that only lasts the day. I can groan if people impose on me, because that’s my time and they’re taking it from me; I had a right to this but now they’re taking it against my will. And maybe there are times when I want to give it away, but that’s only if it benefits me. So if that’s our mindset, we’re going to be very self-centered. But if our mindset is our lives belong to God, we don’t get to determine how to spend my time, energy, resources, possessions. And people aren’t actually imposing on me; God is my master, and I’m his servant. So if he says I actually need to love my husband and my kids, care for my home he’s given me, and serve in the church and community; that’s what I need to do. I can do that joyfully, because no one is taking something from me that was mine; it was actually God’s to begin with. 

I think another thing is looking at the way Jesus served. One of my favorite verses in Philippians 2 talks about how Jesus emptied himself and took the form of the servant. He humbled himself, and he was obedient to God even to the point of death—giving himself over to the will of the Father for me. If Jesus was a servant even to his death, and he’s who I follow, the frontrunner I’m going after; what choice do I have but to serve? 

Another one is seeing that reward: noticing when I serve and God uses me in that way, I get to see others flourish and grow, and I get to see the kingdom expand! I think that was one thing I had to process in my work with Risen Motherhood. There’s a lot of time that goes into producing podcasts and other work. At times, that’s been hard for me to open my hands and let go of that. But then it’s been a huge joy to see how God uses that to expand his kingdom and to see the service of other Christians. I love to see others serving well; sometimes I’ll see that and think it’s so beautiful and awesome that it spurs me on.

And as a final thing, I’ll say I’ve had to realize I really can trust God with how I serve him and spend my time. For me, one of the barriers to service is that I feel like I’m going to be stretched a little too thin. I don’t want to break any promises or commitments; I don’t want to go too long without a break. So I think I better guard, hoard, and protect my time so I don’t get into that position. But I’ve learned more and more that I really can trust and submit things to God. I might feel stretched beyond what I want, but he’s going to give me grace in that moment.

Laura: That’s good stuff. I think I’m coming at this from a different perspective, as someone who says yes to most opportunities that come my way, but I’m also resonating with the stuff you’re saying: you can trust God with your service. Busyness is a barrier, and we can get very off track  by turning our wheels. I’m resonating with seeing the beautiful service of other Christians and the gift of service. So again, no matter what side of the fence you might land on, I think there are a lot of shared commonalities in this. In the book, in the service chapter, I talk about how moms can lean one way or another. Some are more in the home, like they’re going to stay confined to the four walls of their home. Sometimes a mom can run from their at-home work to see how many mini accomplishments they can get in the world that makes them feel a little bit better. They’re both serving, but potentially for the wrong reasons, in ways that aren’t healthy, or not in the way God’s called us. So how do you process how you spend your time and what kind of things to be involved in?

Emily: As I think about this, I’m hesitant to put a hierarchy on it. I think at one time I did. I thought, “Here are my realms. And there’s a little target in the middle and then they go out from there. Once I’ve served enough in my home, then I’ll go to realm two, then to realm three.” I think when we begin to think that way, what happens is I’ve never served enough in my home. There’s always that back corner of my basement with an unorganized shelf that probably ought to be organized. There’s always a junk drawer and one more snack cabinet I could refill. I’ve stopped thinking about the order I’m serving in, and instead, looking holistically at my life and the Bible. I believe God has called me to serve and nourish well in my home, and be a life-giver and serve my husband; but I also believe he’s called me to love my church body and community, and asked me to use my gifts in these ways. Instead of trying to think about it in a box or systematic way, my husband and I try to reevaluate every three to six months for areas of life that are providing diminishing returns. What are the things for us that are essential for us to do in our home life and family life? The thing in the back basement can probably wait. I can say, “Yes,” to serving in women’s ministry instead of organizing that thing. 

Some practical principles my husband and I use to evaluate are:

We don’t say yes to stuff right away. It probably annoys people at times, but we’ve trained ourselves to think about it, talk to each other, and then get back to the person. 

My husband and I try to count the real cost and make sure both of us are on board with what it’ll take. We want to be able to do it all the way to the end with excellence and joy. Of course, God is going to supply that. But if I go serve somewhere else, it’s going to require my husband to help more around the house, so we try to talk through those things. 

I mentioned joy. God loves a cheerful giver in a lot of different ways. So yes, sometimes we say, “Yes,” as a duty. But it’s good to think if this opportunity is something I can do by offering myself joyfully.

We like to have an “out date,” where we can change our minds if it isn’t a good thing for us. A lot of times, that’s a year. We don’t commit to most things for the rest of our lives, but in this season, we’ll say, “Yes.”

Finally, we see it as loving to say, “No,” if we don’t think we can do it. We trust God that he will provide another way or another person for it. We don’t have to personally feel guilty or like it was our responsibility. 

A lot of those different things help us evaluate the different opportunities to serve and be proactive about how we want to serve as a family in the ways we want to serve, and how to make time and space for those things God is really calling us to so we can do it with joy. 

Laura: Those are really good tips. I think it’s clear, no matter where you land, to take time to schedule, plan for, and think critically about how you’re spending your time. We can’t go through life willy nilly or reactionary. To live a life that’s sustainable, it’s more about being proactive. You have to consider how saying yes to this means you can’t do that, or building margin to make quick “yeses” as well. I think that’s the hardest part for me: slowing down, writing it down on paper to think through how I’m spending my time and if this is the best way for the season of life I’m in. So Emily, you’ve talked a little bit about loving fun and comfort. As moms, we’re all faced with boring, mundane work—that’s not special or unique to any mom. What do you do when you feel like you can’t get out of it? You’re feeling bitter or trapped or even resentful when the work is monotonous and you want a break?

Emily: Yeah, acknowledging what’s going on in my heart and not trying to run from it or stuff that down is the first thing. Sometimes I can get into a dutiful mindset where I’m doing it—you can see me washing the dishes—but on the inside, I’m not doing it with a heart that longs to serve God; I’m grumbling inside. So it’s been really important for me to have times of Sabbath rest. Just like what Laura said on the last show: we have a time on Sunday that is a lighter day of work for the whole family, even though, yes, I still have to wash some dishes. I can sit and read a book if I want to. I know there are other patterns or times of the day that we have intentionally built so I can read the word, go on a walk, exercise. So in the moment, I don’t have to react to that feeling of being stressed out from serving too much or feel like I need to get out of here. [Laughter] I can know that in wisdom, with my husband, we have set up these things so I don’t have to react to this. That’s the practical side.

I’d say the spiritual side is to trust God for today. A lot of times when I’m feeling that way, I’m thinking about the next thousand days that are ahead of me—when I’ll be doing the dishes again and again and again. That can feel very overwhelming. I think looking at what he’s given me to do right now and asking for grace, help, and strength to accomplish what’s in front of me is the most helpful—and practical—thing I do. I told Laura sometimes I see a shoe on the floor and think, “Okay Lord, I need to pick up that shoe and put it on the shelf. Okay, next thing. I see a stuffed animal on the floor. Pick up that stuffed animal. I can serve and put that over there. Okay.” And it sounds ridiculous! But sometimes, when I’m overwhelmed with service, it’s that I need to press through. For me, sometimes the answer to not wanting to serve isn’t sitting on the couch, it’s actually depending on God more in service and see him show up with grace and strength in my weakness. Then I get to look back on that time later in the day and think of how I was feeling worn out and couldn’t do one more thing, but God helped me do that. It’s a soul-satisfying thing.

Laura: That’s awesome. I know my mom used to say to me, “I just move left to right. Just left to right.” She’d start on the left side of the kitchen and clean it as she moved to the right. That’s something like your shoe thing. I see this need. I see this need. I see this need. I’ve shared this quote before, but my mom also used to say, “See needs and meet them.” It just means having an eye for what needs need met and going ahead and meeting them. I’ll tell you what; I get so overwhelmed sometimes, that’s all I can do. Left to right. See needs and meet them. I’ll just do one thing at a time. It’s a good way to coach yourself through moments when it’s hard to serve. Emily, what’s a final encouragement you’d give to a mom who’s worn out with serving right now and feels discouraged, stuck, or trapped, but she wants to be better at serving? She knows it’s a call from the Lord, and she wants to be a living sacrifice to her family?

Emily: I feel that. I’ve been in that spot. I’ve even felt that way a little bit today, so I think it’s a normal feeling. What I’ve learned is thankfulness is rewarding. I don’t think I’m going to look back down the road five years from now or two decades from now, and feel I over-served or over-loved them. But I think I might look back and regret if I gave up before God led me to. One of the verses that really helps me stay the course is Galatians 6:9: Let us not grow weary in doing good for in due season, we will reap if we do not give up. I sometimes want to give up, and I get tired of doing good stuff. I’d rather do something that I determine is good. A friend reminded recently that it’s God who determines what’s good. He determines us good in Christ, and then he gives us good works for us to do. So we can trust him in that, that he’ll produce fruit. Also, remember God is strengthening your muscles for obedience. I’ve been exercising lately, which means I’m sore and hurting. I was on the treadmill this morning thinking, “Why am I here? This doesn’t feel good. I’m tired.” But after I was three-quarters of the way through the exercise, I was thinking, “I’m so glad I did this. This is so great. I’m so glad I’m here.” I think that’s true about our muscles of obedience. It’s not always easy. It’s not always fun. But you can’t run a marathon by skipping your workouts and staying in bed every time you don’t feel like doing it. We learn from the Bible that Jesus learned obedience through suffering. So, he learned obedience to the Father too, and he did it perfectly. We have to follow in his footsteps and experience some pain and discomfort as we learn obedience to the Father in serving others. I want to encourage you that God can give strength for that. I think our soul—just like it says in Proverbs 13—is going to be rewarded and satisfied on the other end when we see how God helped us persevere in service. 

Laura: That’s a good word to end on. Thanks, Emily, for sharing your story and encouragement to so many moms. If you want to check out the show notes, the links, or the scripture Emily mentioned today, we’ll have all of that on our show notes at risenmotherhood.com. Of course you can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @risenmotherhood to stay up-to-date on what’s going on at Risen Motherhood. As we mentioned, this isn’t exactly what we talk about in the book, but we do talk about things like this in our book. We’d encourage you to pick up a copy or order it anywhere books are sold. Go to risenmotherhood.com/book to find the links for purchase or where you’ll find it in stores. Thanks so much for joining us today, guys!

Ep. 138 || Mothering Through Burnout: Stewardship & Sacrifice Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily, here with Laura. 

Laura: Hey guys!

Emily: We’re excited to be back and kicking off a two-part series today. 

Laura: We’re going to talk about service—giving your life as a living sacrifice. As you know, Emily and I talk about how different we are as moms and how we do things differently, even though we have the same values system and believe the gospel undergirds what we do. We set out to write two different shows and realized we wrote the same show from two different perspectives. 

Emily: We’re going to interview each other—for lack of a better way to put it—for two conversations, and we hope you’ll listen to both of them. Even though you may relate to one of us more or less, it’s helpful to learn from one another and see different ways we can be tempted.

But before we jump into that, we want to tell you about something you can get for free at Risen Motherhood. On the first friday of every month, we have a newsletter that comes straight to your inbox! It’s packed with so many fun things.

Laura: It comes out in a week and a half so you have 10 days—if you’re listening on release day—to sign up before the newsletter goes out. One of our favorite things in it is the “mom tip.” We cover things like screen time, Easter, Advent, church history, and all sorts of things. Each month is a little different with a different focus. I think you’ll find it really enjoyable to read through and hopefully really helpful in your life. We’ve had great feedback on it. 

Emily: And if you sign up now, you also get this beautiful floral print. It illustrates the four parts of the gospel that we talk about on the show. It’s not in your face, big words on the wall; it’s something that can remind you as you glance over at it in the bathroom...over the toilet—

Laura: Oh!

Emily: Well, like potty training and you’re frustrated so you look up—

Laura: [Laughter]

Emily: Oh no, this is going to go somewhere bad.

Laura: I was just like, “Okay! The toilet is a great spot.” But how about your couch? Your fireplace?

Emily: Oh yeah, there too. Anywhere you need a reminder. 

Laura: That’s right. You need it when you’re on the toilet. [Laughter]

Emily: This is the weirdest show intro we’ve ever done.

Okay, well, let’s jump into today’s show. First off, we want to acknowledge that all of us feel busy—whether you work outside the home, from home, primarily doing work with your kids in the home, or whatever your work, church, life balance looks like, we all feel busy.

Laura: Yeah, there was this Facebook post I saw and sent to the team that made me think, “This is who we want to speak to at Risen Motherhood.” This woman talked about all the pressures she feels day-in and day-out. She happened to be a mom who worked outside the home, but she talked about feeding your kids, grocery shopping, meal-planning, going on vacation, taking your kids to all their appointments, being well-read, staying up on pop culture, getting in shape, sleeping, styling your hair, getting off your phone—

I could go on and on with so many things that culture and the world tell you to do. It’s exhausting for me to read it to you and it’s exhausting to live; and that’s what we’re all living. The post had—last time we checked—almost 80,000 likes,  20,000 comments, and 72,000 shares. People resonated with this.

Emily: And if you’re a mom who believes in God and wants to follow Christ, we have this whole other thing; it’s not just the pressures of culture. We also want to live for God, serve well, love our family, love our church, love our neighbors. There’s a whole other thing that feels like pressure even though it’s a joy and our life-calling. God wants us to order our time, energy, and resources around his priorities for the kingdom. 

So these two shows we’re about to do are not about doing more or doing less or finding the perfect balance, but instead: what does it mean to be a living sacrifice and what does it mean to live for Christ? Whether we live or die, we’re the Lord’s, and our lives should be oriented around him. We’re trying to unpack and examine what that looks like for different moms in different scenarios with different personalities. 

Laura: Yeah, I think our upbringings, our personalities, our experiences, and our preferences make us prone to crawling off the altar in different ways. There are two big temptations for moms:

  1. Serving to the point of burnout, which is what we’ll talk about today.

  2. Resisting a generous life of serving.

These play out in different ways and everybody does a little bit of them at different times, so it’s not exclusive to each type. Today, we’re going to talk a bit about burnout and being overly busy, being burdened and overwhelmed, always trying to keep up with the rat race of life. 

Emily: Before we jump in, we definitely want to say we’re not counselors or doctors, so anything we share in this show or the next one is from our personal experience and Bible study, and our desire to communicate the good news and the Word of God. If there’s something pulling at your heart strings or you feel you need to talk to someone, please reach out to a licensed counselor, someone you trust, or even a doctor.

All right, so Laura, how about you start and tell us a little bit about your journey of how you got to the point in motherhood and in life where you realized you were serving to the point of burnout?

Laura: A lot of it started back in the summer of 2017. I had my third baby, and two months later, we found out she had special needs, which set in motion a slew of medical and therapy appointments. It was a whole new world for me. That same week, my husband severely broke his leg and needed a major surgery, a wheelchair, and crutches; he couldn’t even carry our new baby girl. At the time, he was working really heavily, which you’ve heard on the last show Emily interviewed me on, which was on husbands who work long hours. He worked double the average amount of hours for his peers. We lived in Chicago without a lot of family support; we did have an incredible church community, but we didn’t have a lot of family. 

So time marches on, and we ended up moving back to Iowa. We lived temporarily with my parents for that year while we built a house. We secured a book deal somewhere in the midst of that. We’ve turned Risen Motherhood into a nonprofit. I was working 20-30 hours a week while continuing to care for my youngest daughter who had about 3-5 appointments a week and managing the family. 

It didn’t happen overnight, but over the course of time, I felt very stressed out, and I was very overwhelmed. I started getting sick more frequently. I started having stress-induced vertigo; I had headaches, a rash, insomnia. I’d wake at 3am for no reason; I just couldn’t sleep. I was tired but I couldn’t sleep, so I got up to work. I stopped caring as much about things I was doing. I still worked and did things, but the passion and zeal wasn’t there. I felt apathetic about results or how things would happen. I couldn’t focus. I’d forget silly things I normally wouldn’t. 

One big thing was I started having doubts about my faith, which I hadn’t before. I started to question things that had always been rock solid for me. I think what happened was, over time, Emily and my parents started to notice a change and shift in me. They told me to slow down, but even then, I felt defensive. I’d think, “This is just my life. I can’t stop. Eventually I’ll stop, but I can’t right now. I don’t know how to stop.” I really needed their help to process things and to heal. I went through major grief with my daughter. I went through a ton of life transitions. I think they say to only go through one a year, and I went through three or more major life transitions. So, it was the perfect storm in my life. 

Emily: Thanks for sharing all that. Of course, I lived it beside you firsthand and watched you walk through that. I like how you noted it didn’t happen overnight; it was a process. A lot of those things weren’t in your control necessarily. So there’s that reality that occasionally our life circumstances, in God’s sovereignty, stack up and help reveal to us what’s going on in our hearts. Can you explain a little more: what is burnout and how did you know it’s different than being a little overwhelmed or tired? 

Laura: I think I used to think it was a term people used to rest. [Laughter] This is an overachiever talking over here. Emily’s laughing. 

What I learned is burnout is a real thing. It’s been studied by psychologists. Typically, you don’t think you need a break, so you keep running at an unsustainable pace. It’s not thinking you’re tired and in need of a break; it’s actually very difficult for you to stop. You can Google to learn more about the psychology but it’s also something I see in the Bible. 

The word “burnout” isn’t in the Bible, but we see a nod towards it. Perhaps the most telling is Moses in Exodus 18. Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, comes to him because Moses is exhausted. The people are coming to him all day long with all their fights and disagreements. He’s trying to help them know what to do. And Jethro tells him what he’s doing is not good, and he’s going to wear himself out. The burden is too heavy for him; he can’t do it alone. Jethro tells him to get wise people around himself and divide that work. He says they’re going to bear the burden with him, and if Moses does this, God will direct him and he’ll be able to endure. I thought that was really helpful. Moses couldn’t do it alone; everyone wanted him to do it and it seemed like he was the right person to do it, but ultimately, that’s not the way God designed it. It’s important to note it’s a time when you’re in chronic stress but you can’t function very well or effectively, which is what Jethro was trying to tell Moses. In many ways, you’re unhelpful to the things you need to get done.

Emily: I love that you’re sharing those examples, because whenever we look to the Bible we see humans have been dealing with these same emotions, heart issues, and challenges throughout all of history. And God, throughout all of history, has provided answers in people being able to recognize their limitations, depend on God, see the community that he’s placed around them so they can all more effectively serve and obey the Lord. I think you noted this was a slow thing for you; it wasn’t one decision or one thing that happened. So why do you think we’re prone to being overwhelmed and busy, and therefore burnout?

Laura: I think we all have this deep desire to feel successful and valued. There’s the idea of, “I’m so busy!” sounds super cool. There’s value in our work, but the work doesn’t give us value. A lot of times this comes down to pride: we don’t need friends, rest, or support. In essence, we’re saying we don’t need the gospel. With burnout—or even being really busy or enjoying being overwhelmed—there are underlying lies we believe. One is wanting to feel or believing we’re indispensable or irreplaceable. We see this with moms. “No one else can take care of my children as well as I can.” I know that’s something I did. I had far less childcare than I probably needed, because I felt like I could make the best decisions for my family so I needed to do it. Another one is believing we don’t have limits. As moms, we’re spread super thin already with the daily tasks in front of us. But in our pride, we think we can do a little more, do it a little faster, go to bed a little later, read our Bibles on a different day. There are a lot of lies we feed to ourselves about our limitations God’s placed on us for our good. Last, I’d say we can love our success or achievements more than we love God. It’s the sin of idolatry. I know, for me, I can get a little bored with the daily grind of motherhood, that mundane work, and I might look for something that gives a more instant gratification. Success with a child is 18 years aways, so what can I do right now?

Emily: If it comes.

Laura: If it comes! I think busyness can satiate our need for success and accomplishment. 

Emily: I think a lot of moms can resonate with that need to see immediate results or to feel like their lives are full or busy and they’re needed or essential. And we do play a really essential role in our family, but I think you’re highlighting whenever we’re serving to the point of burnout—not recognizing our limitations or trusting in the Lord—we’re doing the opposite of what we want to do. We’re not able to make the best decisions; we’re not able to love them well. So, what can a mom do to prevent burnout? To keep herself from getting to a point of being too busy?

Laura: I think there are some practical things you can set in place, but there are also some spiritual values that need to be understood. For me, I had some false beliefs—or ultimately, bad theology—in place that didn’t allow me to rest. I didn’t have a spiritual framework for rest; I didn’t find it valuable. I had to understand that rest is far more than a weekend trip away or a night out with the girls. It’s the state of our hearts. I had heard that before; it wasn’t new to me. But I needed to understand it’s a deep soul rest that depends on Christ in every moment, knowing he is the ultimate and only source of accomplishment or success. It’s abiding in Christ continually. Honestly, I could say all of those things correctly, but I didn’t really know what it meant for my own life. I think much of that is done in discovery. If you’re in this place, I’d encourage you to study rest and what it means to abide in Christ. I think many of us parrot the right words and say the right things, but to truly know our work and obediences flows from a love of Jesus, his death, and resurrection, probably comes more from deep study and time spent in God’s word and prayer, asking the Spirit to work in your heart.

I think I had to remind myself that Jesus identified with me in this. He knows exactly what it feels like to be so busy, overwhelmed, and so stretched by the daily needs of life. The demands on him were astronomical, but he didn’t lean out or have a meltdown. But we do see him going off to pray or spend time with his closest friends or sleep. He didn’t do it all. There were people left unhealed, and there were people who didn’t hear a sermon or touch his clothes, but he still did all the Father wanted him to do. I think that’s a comfort for me that I don’t have to be all things to all people, because that’s not my job. I can follow Jesus’ path and know there are things that are going to be left undone, opportunities I won’t do, and that’s okay. These things don’t earn my status before God. They’re just done as overflow of love for my Savior. So what can I do to glorify God? How can I join the body of Christ to support other people instead of trying to live outside of that within my own abilities?

Emily: As we’ve been talking, what I hear you saying is, for you, being a living sacrifice and living with that heart and mindset, means there are going to be opportunities before you to serve and to achieve or feel successful that you’re going to trust God in your rest and maybe say no to. Your flesh and what you feel like you should do is to say yes to everything and keep the whole world spinning. For some of us, that is what it means to be a living sacrifice: to choose to rest in Christ in a way that actively says no to things that seem like good things to do. It’s interesting. So what’s next for a mom who’s overwhelmed or feels like she’s in this position?

Laura: I wish we had more time, because I feel like I have 75,000 things to continue sharing with a mom. I think the best thing—if you’re feeling busy or overwhelmed or unsure of what the next steps are—is to see if there’s any sin you need to repent of. We talked about this earlier in the interview, and there are probably other sin issues that I didn’t mention like fear. Talk to others. That was a pretty big deal for me, especially to admit some spiritual doubts I was having. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I worried they wouldn’t like it, or might get scared, or think I was a fraud. I think that was the biggest thing I fell into: not wanting to be truly honest with my friends and family about what was going on out of fear. Letting someone in—whether that’s your husband or a wiser woman or friend—is so important. I was grateful. Those few people I told weren’t upset at all. I’d advise you to talk to someone. They can help you understand if it’s anxiety or depression or something different than burnout. Finally, find what you can change. I started instituting a pretty strict Sabbath; I’d never done that before. I studied rest and how important it was to shift my mind during burnout. We had new, strict rules, which I had never had, for my good. We’re getting to a place now where we can be a bit more flexible, but that was huge. See what you can change and set aside that time you can rest with accountability. If you’re prone towards this, like I am, that can be immensely helpful in preventing burnout or helping you heal.

Emily: As Laura said, we want to acknowledge there can be overlap in some of these symptoms: depression, anxiety. If this is something you’re concerned about, don’t self-diagnose. Talk to somebody or a professional. Laura, before we go, where are you at today? Are you still in burnout? How are things today?

Laura: I’m doing a lot better, but I’ve been surprised by how long it’s taken to heal. I’m not good with ambiguity; I like to know it’s done and behind me. I’m a task-oriented person. I think it’s a long-healing process, but I’m doing much better. When I started admitting it about a year ago, that really helped to set me on the right path and to get people around me to hold me accountable. For me, I had to understand in order to be a living sacrifice, in order to serve my family well, I had to less than I expected.

Emily: I was talking to Laura earlier today about yesterday being Sunday. She said there was a lot to do for the week after being out of town and things were really busy, but it was fun to hear her share she spent time with her husband, and relaxed, and did some family things. And you mentioned you were cleaning your house, which I know when we’re really busy with a lot of other things, cleaning can be a simple way to slow down and prepare our home for the next day. I’m encouraged by the way I’ve seen you obey God’s command for the Sabbath. Yes, it happens in our hearts, but also you’ve implemented in your life and there’s been good fruit from it. It’s been really fun.

Laura: Thank you. That’s really nice to hear. I think it takes work to cultivate that sustainable life. I’d encourage—no matter where you are on the spectrum—you to put the effort in. God has called us to an abundant life, not a harried, busy life. That life has sleep, purpose, rest, and joy. I want to encourage you, if you’re feeling this way, you take time to stop and find the rest that’s offered to you today. You don’t have to wait until things are different to find it. I think that’s a huge relief that you can rest even in a busy season.

Emily: So mothering in rest—we definitely want to be living and thinking that way. Thanks for tuning into today’s interview. Again, this is the first part of a two-part series looking at what it means to be a mom who is a living sacrifice, learning to serve in abundant ways. Join us next week, I’m going to share about how we can resist this and want to hold a generous life of serving at arms length in order to be comfortable. 

If you want to find more about this, head to risenmotherhood.com. We have show notes and more information there. You can also find us @risenmotherhood on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Thanks so much for joining us! Don’t forget to go sign up for the newsletter!

Ep. 137 || Walking & Learning Together: How Moms in the Local Church Help One Another Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood! I’m Laura, and I’m excited to share a little bit about this special show. Today, it’s all about the church. You all have heard Emily and I talk about the importance of the church many times over the course of the Risen Motherhood podcast. We believe it plays a vital role in the Christian’s life, and while it’s not perfect, God uses the faithful gathering of believers as one of the main vehicles for his people grow in wisdom and maturity in their faith,and to sustain them until the end. 

Emily wrote about the beauty in the diversity of the local church in the Risen Motherhood book, and to show that, we thought we’d have some of our own Risen Motherhood team share their experiences with their local church. But before we get to that, we just want to highlight that that if you’re looking for resources for you or the women in your local church, you’re always welcome to check out our free Bible study printables (We actually have them for both for adults and children.) as well as our resources page on our website, where we’ve compiled our favorite books, music, Bible studies, and more on various topics that we believe could be helpful to the Christian walk. 

Okay. On today’s show, you’re going to hear Emily and me both share, as well as our Editor, Winfree Brisley, and our board member, Quina Aragon. If you haven’t met Winfree yet, you’re going to love her. She’s a wife and mom to three young boys who enjoys sharing her love of scripture through writing and teaching other women. She’s written for The Gospel Coalition, edited several books, and taught Engilsh in the past. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where they are members of Uptown Church. 

Quina is a wife, mother, and artist who enjoys writing, copyediting, and creating spoken word videos that have been featured all over the web. She is the author of  the children’s book, Love Made, which is a poetic retelling of the creation story. She and her family live in Tampa, FL where they are members of Living Faith Bible Fellowship

As you’ll hear, today’s show is a bit different than Emily and I’s usual conversation about a topic, but we’re hopeful hearing our reflections on the local church will help you to take time to meditate on God’s gracious provision of the local church, and deepen your love and gratefulness for it as small taste here on earth of what we’ll experience someday when Jesus returns for his people. In light of that, we’re not going to do our typical outro at the end of the show, so remember, if you want to read more about this topic, or are looking for the links to the resources pages I mentioned earlier, head to today’s show notes on risenmotherhood.com, or come visit us on social media, @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

Okay, let’s jump into today’s show.


Emily: Still bleary-eyed after having twins, I remember walking through the dining room of my house. The sun poured in through the window as an older woman from church wiped counters, sorted laundry, and mopped floors. The details are foggy but the next thing I remember was peering over the couch at my toddler son who played around with an app on my phone. My stomach dropped and I laughed uncomfortably, trying to think of something to say to save face—to not look like a bad mom in front of a woman on the other side of faithfully laboring to raise her own family. I can’t remember what I said, but I remember what she said with a warm, genuine smile, “It’s just a season. It’s not the pattern of his whole life.” 

She didn’t know it at the time, but she was teaching me about motherhood. About viewing things with measure and wisdom. She was showing me what grace looked like as she gently gave me a nugget of truth. I never felt condemned, but I had something to aspire to—not letting temporal pleasures and easy-outs become the pattern of my motherhood. I still think about that often when leaning on screen time starts to feel like a well-worn rut. 

That wasn’t the only time women from the church came alongside me. Friends have watched children during a quick date night, organized my closets while I was on bedrest, cleaned out my refrigerator in a season of complete overwhelm, brought me meals, and even hosted me a bonus baby shower after learning I would become a mom to three kids under two. There have been the especially touching moments: the pastor who leans down to smile at and greet my son who, being non-verbal, can’t give him a reply. Who reached out and asked how the church could best love our family and accommodate his physical limitations. The single woman in our small group who helps feed our toddler, tend to a boo-boo, or sit with a child on her lap. The peer moms who stop to have a quick conversation about how they are handling superheroes, questions about gender, and read alouds. My church family has helped through the many questions of motherhood, from adding extra work and ministry, to dropping the pacifier and examining the idols of my child’s heart.

Most importantly, of all the memories I have—bleary-eyed, crystal clear, or otherwise—my church family has shown me the way of Christ. Watching other women serve their family with unique gifts stirs me up to love and good works, as the writer of Hebrews says.

It’s this topic that also stirs an older woman sitting beside me at last week’s church book discussion as she shared that she prays Ephesians 5:10 each day, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”

Without knowing it at the time, another saint teaches me another important thing that helps me persevere. This, she says, might look different from my agenda, but God-ordained days make up a well-stewarded life. I make a mental note.

For moms in a church body, wondering where and when you’ll learn all of the practical and deep truths about motherhood, make those memories and mental notes. Be listening, because there are chances to learn when someone doesn’t mean to teach. Look around at the small acts of service: the nursery worker volunteering and loving your child, the woman who gives you five quick minutes of encouragement in the church lobby, the grace to soak up like a sponge at the Bible study meeting.

It’s this soaking, noting, remembering, and stirring that helps us persevere when doing good to our families just feels too hard.

Quina Aragon: I’ve been incredibly blessed over the years to be a part of church families that have really modeled Christian fellowship and support for me in amazing ways. At the same time, there are definitely seasons where I’ve felt discouraged or hurt by some in my community. My temptation in those moments is to want to isolate, to not talk about it. But that only breeds bitterness in my heart, along with all types of things we know are not good. 

What’s been helpful instead has been to identify one friend or sister-in-Christ that I know loves the Lord, cares for me, and wants the best for me in Christ. I let myself really be heard; I process through the circumstance or what I’m feeling through it no matter how messy my words are in that moment or how skewed my view is. Those types of friends that actively listen have been a massive blessing for me. I think, in many ways, those friends have modeled God. We see in scripture God is an incredible listener. We often view him as an incredible speaker—and of course, he is—but in Psalm 116:1 we see: I love the LORD for he has heard my voice and my please for mercy. In Psalm 1140:2 we see: I pour out my complaint before him, I tell my trouble before him. So if we only imagine God as someone who only speaks to us, only expresses and doesn’t listen to us intently or respond to us after listening, then we’ll likely to be quick to tell other moms, “Ah, well, you just need to…” or “If you just think of it like this…” instead of actually allowing them to be heard in a safe and gracious place. 

It’s those times that I’ve felt heard that have allowed me to move forward with greater intimacy with the Lord, with that friend, or others who have listened. And of course, modeling prayer; those who have listened and gone to the Lord in prayer, which has modeled for me that God wants us to pour out our hearts to him. We don’t have the answers to everything or most things, but we have access to the one who wants to walk with us through it. So modeling listening, modeling prayer, and then of course, sharing any practical encouragements like sharing tasks with your partner, setting up a transportation plan, or pointing that person to church services—that’s important too. But making that space to first listen has been so helpful for me, and I think it’s because God does that with us. 

Winfree Brisley: In the months after my oldest son was born, I was overwhelmed by a lot of things as I was confronted with the daunting responsibility that is motherhood and the way my sin and weaknesses were being exposed. In the midst of that, I was convicted about my need to start seriously memorizing scripture. I knew I needed truth on my mind and hidden in my heart. 

And there was a woman in our church who had memorized hundreds of Bible verses. So I really felt like she was the person who could help me. But to be honest, approaching her was kind of intimidating. She had recently left a high profile political career and was extremely accomplished and involved in our community and our church. But I also knew she was a godly woman who loved to help others.  So I sent her an email asking her to help me, and she wrote back and said, “What time does your son nap? I’ll come to you.” And she came and she taught me, and I still use that system for scripture memory. 

When I think about that story, the passage in Titus 2 comes to mind where Paul talks about older women teaching and training young women. That’s been such an appealing idea to me as a mom because motherhood has made me aware of my need for wisdom and guidance more than probably any other experience in my life. So having older women in our local church who can teach me and train me about being a wife and a mom and a godly woman has been such a huge blessing.

And I think a lot of us love that idea of having older women come alongside us, but we struggle to know how that practically happens or we struggle with feeling like older women are too busy to help us or we think we’ll be a burden to them. But as I’ve approached older women in my church, I’ve found them to be incredibly willing to engage with me. 

There have been women who I’ve asked to meet me for coffee to talk about school options or about being a mom to all boys. There are a couple of ladies who I’ll just stop when I see them in the hallway at church and say, “Hey, I’m running into this issue with discipline. Do you have any ideas?” 

What I’ve finally realized is that going to these women for help is actually a way to honor and encourage them. Because when we go to them we’re saying, “I think you’re a godly mom, I think you have wisdom to share, I see the Lord working in you,” and they appreciate that. 

But I’ve also realized that for the Titus 2 model to work, I can’t just be a receiver of teaching and training. It’s interesting that Paul refers to “older women” not “old women.” So even though in my mid-30s I wouldn’t call myself old yet, I am an older woman. There are younger moms coming behind me who can benefit from what little bit of experience and wisdom I have from my journey in motherhood so far. And it’s a blessing to me when younger moms ask me questions and come to me for help. So, I love this beautiful cycle that can take place in the local church where women are being poured into and pouring out to others all at the same time. 

Laura: I’ve always believed blood is thicker than water. I grew up in a tight-knit family and we always had each other's backs. No matter how much we argued or how differently we saw a situation, I knew that at the end of the day, we'd always be there for one another. While still in the hospital from having my second baby, my husband got a job offer that would move us from Minneapolis to Chicago. We knew it was probably coming, so we quickly agreed, and two months later our family moved to a city 500 miles away from everything I knew, and from all of my family. In fact, I didn't know a soul in my new city. I didn't even know where to get groceries. 

We took this job for my husband, knowing it would likely be temporary. A three-year commitment for him to climb the corporate ladder. We'd be back to our friends and family before our oldest was in school, so I just had to survive, right? But with two under two at home, and a husband that usually worked as long as the sun was up, I felt like I couldn't "just survive." 

And the move found me mourning the loss of my family the most.

But God was teaching me to look further than bloodlines for my family. By his grace, three months after moving to Chicago, we found a church that we immediately found a home in. The people there didn’t care what our last name was–they loved us and cared for us, just like we’d grown up together. It didn’t matter our history or that they only just met us, they saw us as their brothers and sisters, their family–the water of the Spirit, thicker than the blood of biology.

They taught me where the best parks were, helped me find a babysitter, recommended an OBGYN when I got pregnant with my third child, and yes, even taught me where to shop for groceries. They called me out when I worried too much, asked me how my quiet times have been, and encouraged me to consider different perspectives. Like family, they challenged me, supported me, and sometimes even stuck their noses in places I didn't want them to be because I wanted to hide in my sin—but that's what family's for, right? 

When my biological family couldn't be there because of the distance, my church family showed up. To celebrations and milestones, and also to nights, and weeks, and months of grief. When my daughter was born three weeks early and only a tiny, 4 lbs 10 oz, a family from our small group bought every girl premie item in a local Carter's store and gifted it to us. When two months later we found out our baby girl had a genetic abnormality—or in other words—special needs—our church flooded us with support. They lended their unquestionable support to us, showing up with home-cooked meals, babysitting offers, cleaning services, visits at the hospital, pick ups from preschool, restaurant gift cards, and my personal favorite – a bouquet of roses made with bacon. Some of the people I didn't even really know! They just heard there was a family in need, and they showed up to support us. 

While my biological family did their best to visit and help walk with me through my grief, my church family took every tiny, shuffled step with me. In that season, God taught me there is something thicker than blood—the body of Christ. It’s like how in a letter to the church in Thessalonica, Paul writes of how he cares for his fellow believers, because they shared in the gospel and also in “their own very selves, because they had become very dear to one another.” I keep thinking back to how I didn't even know those people only a year or two before all this happened—but because we shared the bond of Christ, we treated each other like family. 

I know because of sin and brokenness the church isn't like this for everyone, and trust me, there were bumpy days even in this church, but I'll forever treasure the small shadows of the someday glory of the eternal Church. I also know for many people their family isn’t something to be desired. But that's why Christ came and died—to give us something better than what we know today. A holy family so much larger, and more diverse than any nuclear family, one of “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages. By his death and resurrection, he made us a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession." 

He made us a family. 

The church, this side of glory, is far from perfect. I've since moved a state away from that church, and I count it as a mercy of God that I was able to experience something like that first-hand. And I hope, for your sake, wherever you are, you too can experience the beauty of God’s family—however imperfect—here on earth. I love thinking about how there are fellow believers—who are my brothers and sisters—all over the world pursuing Jesus and his glory. It makes the anticipation of heaven and all its gifts even sweeter as I think of what a wonderful family I've been welcomed into and I get to spend eternity with. The church is, quite literally, my family forever. 

Ep. 136 || Give Me All the Gurus: Where To Find True Answers to Our Motherhood Questions Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Well, welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood! I have my sister-in-law, Emily, here.

Emily: Hey. 

Laura: We want to start off by saying thank you so much for your support of the Risen Motherhood book! As you know, it was released last week. 

Emily: On Laura’s birthday!

Laura: On my birthday. It was quite the dual celebration. 

Emily: Yeah, we’re really grateful. It was so amazing to see all your pictures on social media as the actual hard copy arrived to your door. It’s been fun, too, to read the reviews and hear feedback about how God is using this book and his gospel to encourage you and help you look to Christ wherever you’re at. Again, we’re so thankful. If you haven’t left a review or rating on Amazon, that would really help. If you love the book and want to get it in the hands of other moms so they can read these hope-filled words, definitely leave a review. That’s super helpful. 

Laura: And speaking of the book, our tagline for the book is gospel hope for everyday moments. Of course, that came from our podcast—what we’re talking on right now. It’s the intro we came up with it three years ago. We didn’t have the ministry tagline at the time or the book tagline; it was just in our show about applying the gospel to everyday moments. But it’s been an interesting thing that’s come up as Emily and I’ve been chatting. One day, she said she’s intrigued by this trend of everyone talking about the gospel and everyday moments.

Emily: Yeah, and I think we hear it in different ways, like how does your faith apply to ordinary life? I think there are also different pockets, like how does our faith apply to our work in its everyday moments? How does our faith apply to...anything. 

Laura: We want to know the specific thing too. It’s not just general. We want to take a very specific topic and know how our faith applies to that little thing.

Emily: Right! Which is what we do here on our show, as Laura said. Certainly we understand the need and desire to apply something we care about deeply–which is the good news—to these everyday things, but it’s curious and interesting to us that this is such a trend and such a need among our generation of moms. 

Laura: It feels very millennial-generation. Our generation wants to find our “guru” or “expert” for decorating our houses, working out, how we should eat, how we should clean our houses. If you look at your Instagram feed—if it’s anything like mine—you have your “expert” for every facet of your life. They tell you, “This is what I like. This is what I do. So, this is what you should do in your life.”

Emily: So we want to think through why do we want an expert? What in us finds satisfaction in that?

First and foremost, we love things to be fast and easy. It’s nice to have something packaged and delivered to you—right to your earbuds—instead of the slow art of learning by reading, or having face-to-face conversations over coffee, or observing and living life with other families. Even in motherhood, we have a sense of googling a blog post quickly to get the three steps for a sleep training method or check out a couple of books from the library to flip through for a few nuggets that’ll help us be this fantastic mom. We think if we follow this online guru, they’ll tell us the dietary snack tricks for our kids and then we don’t have to think about it. It’s just faster and easier.

Laura: Yeah, and from there, it strokes our pride. Suddenly, we’re the experts. We’ve learned from these other experts, so we can now go and share that with other people. Everyone likes to feel smart and valued, like they have something to contribute.

Emily: Awhile back, I shared this gif with Laura of a duck waddling off and it says, “Me. Waddling off to tell everyone something I learned five minutes ago.” [Laughter] And I thought it was a picture of our generation: I just saw this on somebody’s Instagram story and now I’m posting it on my stories as if I’m the expert! And we get it; we’re totally there too. 

But we live pretty isolated lives; we’re connected by technology and it’s a pick-and-choose society. You can turn on the voices and experts you want to hear, and you don’t listen to the things you don’t want to hear. It’s kind of like a Netflix-queue: here’s your next up; here’s what’s recommended for you. So we don’t necessarily always have these other voices speaking in who may say things we’re not comfortable with, but we need to understand them. We also need to live life with other moms and learn from how they apply the gospel.

Laura: One thing we want to point out is we do think there is a healthy amount of motherhood experts or helpers or “gurus.” There’s help in that. In fact, Emily and I looked at each as we thought about this show because we kind of fall into this category. We hope by listening to our show you’ve been helped and have found it truthful and edifying and able to apply it to your everyday life. So we’re definitely not advocating to throw everyone out and clean out your Instagram feed, get rid of them all. Today, we want to talk about why we’re always looking for an expert and why do we want to have someone teach us? And how do we actually grow in truth and knowledge as a believer? Is that through other people? Should we rely on that? What are we supposed to go to as Christian moms trying to live out our faith in our everyday lives? Where do we go for answers?

Emily: Of course, we want to go back to creation to see how God designed us. We see humans were created with the capacity to learn. In the garden, they were supposed to learn and receive information and knowledge from God. He was the expert about his creation. He was the one with the authority on their mission and what it is they were supposed to do. He taught them what to do and what not to do. He gave them the mandate to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth, to subdue and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and the birds of the heavens, and every living thing that moves on the earth. And then he gave them what they shouldn’t do: you may surely eat of every tree in the garden but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat. They had the formula and the answer right there—and God was right there to teach, help, and guide them. It’s interesting that’s how humanity started.

Laura: Yeah. I love the idea of God being our teacher and being the expert for Adam and Eve. He was right there, walking with them day-in and day-out. But eventually, Adam and Eve decided that wasn’t enough, because they wanted to be the experts. They went against their teacher in the garden, who was literally the source of all knowledge and understanding, who created everything and knew every answer they could ever wonder, but they wanted more. That’s what they got; their eyes were opened to the sin in this world. It ended up not being what they thought it would be; it wasn’t as great as they thought it’d be. I think it’s interesting to think about how Adam and Eve had one rule to follow. God laid out a really simple model for them. They couldn’t follow that—

Emily: You had one job, Adam and Eve.

Laura: One job! [Laughter] Come on. 

We’re all looking for that, right? Just give me the rule book! Just give me the manual! Just give me the one thing–or even the 55 things—I should do! Then I would be good. I’d get it done. I’d excel or succeed! We see the example Adam and Eve set for us, and we’re no different from them. Even if there was only one rule for us, we wouldn’t be able to follow it. 

Emily: What’s interesting is in our sin nature, we’re now looking to things apart from God for answers. It can be other humans, false religions, false gods, or even inside of ourselves. We think maybe we have the answers, and we want to be like God—but we’re not. That can manifest in a couple of different ways:

We doubt God is sufficient as our expert. Again, as moms, we may wonder if God really sees our situations or if he’ll really give us the answers we need when we ask. We feel overwhelmed and want clear-cut, easy things, and we doubt God will give us that. So we look anywhere and everywhere else besides God and his word. 

Laura: On the other side, we swing into pride. We get to be the experts ourselves, and with the internet, this feels pretty possible. We all want to feel godlike, like we can do it all. If we feel like we can get that one golden ticket, we’ll be happy, successful, awesome moms. Going back to that duck gif Emily talked about, we want to take our information and spew it out the other direction so we look good and feel good and confident in what we’re doing instead of humbling ourselves to learn. 

Emily: But there is good news for us expert wannabes or for the guru followers among us. God sent his Son, Jesus, who lived according to God’s will expertly and perfectly. He was a teacher who showed us what it looks like to follow God and live a godly life. But not only was he a teacher, he was a Savior. Just like Laura was saying, if we had one rule—just like Adam and Eve—we wouldn’t be able to follow God’s one command. We can’t follow any of God’s commands well, so the good news is there’s an invitation for us to stop trying to be the expert or live according to human experts around us—which we’ve never able to do perfectly. It sometimes feels like a hamster wheel we can’t get off of, but we can follow the only one who lived God’s plan perfectly. We can turn from our sin and follow Christ, which is what we do in redemption: we repent, turn to God, follow Christ, and walk in the way he walked. 

Laura: When Christ ascended into heaven, he left us with his Spirit. He left us with the promise that the Spirit would help us. And now we have the inspired, living, and active Word of God that we can live by and look to. So while the perfect teacher, Jesus, isn’t walking among us anymore, we still have his word. We have a record of his life that is truthful, and real, and God-breathed, and inspired. That’s something we can look to as we’re trying to live out these things. The Expert is still teaching and guiding us, because we have the Holy Spirit inside of us. Now we don’t have to doubt, because we know Christ is our true expert. He’s the final word on things. We can trust he will do what he says he will. He’ll show up for us. If we ask for things according to his will, he’ll do those things. We can think about Psalm 18:2-3: The Lord is my rock and fortress and my deliverer, my rock in whom I take refuge. I call upon the Lord, he is worthy to be praised, and I’m safe from my enemies. 

Emily: I think as moms, when we’re in Christ, we can trust he wants to give us wisdom to answer our questions. And for the pride angle we can go to in our sin: when we’re in Christ, we have humility. We realize our confidence isn’t in ourselves or in our ability to accumulate information and act on it. Our confidence is in our Savior and Redeemer. Psalm 105 says: for the Lord is good and his loving kindness is everlasting and his faithfulness is to all generations. That’s who our confidence is in. It’s not in an expert or in five tips and tricks. It’s in Christ himself.

Laura: So we want to reiterate, we fully admit it’s a natural and normal human need to learn, to grow in knowledge. We’re not born knowing everything. We need to be taught. Just look at your own children; there needs to be investment and training in education so these children know how to live out their lives! We’re the same: we never stop learning or growing. For all of us, there is a point at which motherhood is a first. There’s your first child, and everything you go through is a “first time.” None of us are experts, because we’re all experiencing something new—even if you’re an empty nester. 

Emily: And there’s a true need to learn and understand. If you have a two-year old at your knees and they’re throwing a big tantrum, it’s normal and practical to think, “I need to figure out how to deal with a two-year old and a tantrum.” Or if you’re dealing with how to lay your child down for a nap, it’s perfectly normal and natural to find some information to figure out what’s a good routine for laying a child down for a nap so they can get rest. Those are good, normal things.

Laura: God, in his graciousness, teaches us in a variety of ways! Some of that may be asking a fellow mom for advice. But the best way we can process through these decisions is to first go to the Word of God and compare that mom’s advice to God’s word. I think it’s always the unsatisfactory answer at times: typically, the way we find out how out answers to life and how our faith is applied to our lives is through the hard work of studying God’s word for ourselves. We want the quick fix, but God asks us for hard work.

Emily: Thinking about our generation and all the information at our fingertips, we want God or the Bible to be like Google. We want to be able to put in our needs and get out exactly the answer we want in the form we want. We know God doesn’t work that way. He doesn’t bend to our will or submit to what we want and how we want it delivered on a plate. We’re swept up into his story. So often, we can look at the way people responded to Jesus in the New Testament. He was doing a lot of miracles and providing healing for their ailments. Some people came to him for what he could give them. Just give me my miracle. Just give me my healing. Just give me my answer to my question. But he wants followers and disciples. So as moms, when we’re really thinking about our posture to God, it’s not just, “Give me the answer so I can go on with my life or help me with this thing and I’ll leave you be.” It’s a relationship with him and loving him. It’s about beholding him and enjoying life with him. Know that some of these things will be a hard process of learning. It’s not going to be an instant, quick-fix, but that’s not what Christianity is.

Laura: The point we’re trying to drive towards is while experts and motherhood tips and articles that help us out are really wonderful, we want to encourage you—as the R|M community—to compare everything against the Word of God. He promises he’ll teach us by his Spirit and his word. He’s also given us the local church to cross-check things. We may hear things around us that say this is how to do this or this is how to be a good mom, but ultimately, our identity rests in Christ. Our joy is found in him, not in a perfect way or method of doing something. It’s found in our resting securely in the work Christ has done on our behalf. Then we can live out some of those things, those tips, the practical nitty-gritty of our motherhood in freedom. Because of the gospel, we can change or try a new idea from an expert—and it won’t be a big deal because that’s not where our identity is found. We don’t follow an expert or guru; we follow Jesus. 

Emily: Yeah, so just to get down to the nitty gritty: we’re moms, we want answers, and we want to follow different experts for how to live our lives. Just remember if you’re following Jesus, part of a local church, and reading the word, you’re going to get wisdom over time. You don’t have to live in fear. Don’t feel like you need to run to Instagram and follow every person, or Google everything. You can stop and pray. You can call a friend who’s also seeking after the Lord to ask opinions. But trust the Lord. 

And remember you don’t have to be known or posture yourself as an expert on motherhood either. It’s okay if you don’t feel like a guru yourself or a perfect display of motherhood in every area. Your identity is found in Christ, and God is asking you to follow him and live like Jesus. He’s not asking you to be a motherhood guru so all your friends can ask you for your practical tips and advice. 

Laura: I think that’s a good word to end on. For more info, head to risenmotherhood.com. There’s a big, ol’ podcast button you can push and find today’s show notes. In addition, we’ll be talking about this topic on social media this week, so head over to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook @risenmotherhood. We hope you’ll join our community over there; it’s a lovely bunch of people! And if you haven’t yet, we hope you’ll check out our book, Risen Motherhood. It talks so much about this topic about how to apply your faith to everyday moments, but you don’t have to do it like Emily or Laura. We’re hoping by reading that book, you’ll feel equipped to go forth and do motherhood in your own unique way, and honor God in the things you’ll do, and trust Jesus to guide and lead you as your expert. All right, have a great day! 

Ep. 135 || The Husbands Weigh In: How Does the Gospel Shape Marriage in the Little Years? Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood! First, we want to thank you for all your support and the excitement surrounding the Risen Motherhood book. We dedicated the book to all of you: the moms in our community who are in the trenches alongside us, looking to Jesus in the midst of all motherhood brings. In the book, we talk about many common topics moms face and apply the gospel to postpartum body image, school choices, feeding your family, service, marriage, and so many more things. We hope this is a timeless resource that not only encourages you in your current season, but shows you how to apply the gospel to your own unique circumstances and follow Christ right where you’re at. If you haven’t already, you can snag a copy anywhere books are sold. Okay so to celebrate this big week, we wanted to do something really different. We invited our husbands, Brad and Mike, to talk about marriage in the little years. Keep in mind, they’ve never been interviewed on a podcast before, but we were so encouraged to hear their thoughts, experiences, and insights in this season of life. They do a good job of introducing themselves, so let’s jump into the conversation with my husband, Brad, and Laura’s husband, Mike.

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

Laura: Hey guys!

Emily: And then we have two of our most special guests ever here. 

Laura: For sure.

Emily: It’s our husbands! My husband, Brad. 

Brad: Hello!

Emily: And Laura’s husband, Mike. 

Mike: Hey everybody.

Emily: We want our audience to get to know you a little bit. Why don’t we start off by having Brad share how long we’ve been married, your occupation, hobbies if you have them. Tell them a little about you.

Brad: Absolutely. Well one thing, I’ve been married to Emily for 10 years, but I’ve known Laura for over three decades. [Laughter]

Laura: Brad is my brother. Did we say that yet? 

Emily: I don’t know if we’ve made that clear. That’s a good clarification. 

Laura: It’s so funny to know how long people might go without knowing we’re sisters-in-law—even though we try to say it most times. So that’s the relationship dynamic in this room.

Brad: I’m the connecting link. 

Laura: Well, I like to think I am. [Laughter]

Brad: So, I’ve been married to Emily for ten years. If anyone’s curious, we did meet through mutual friends, and the rest is history. I enjoy cooking breakfast for our family. I’ve got zero musical talents. Some special interest would be trying to influence, as much as I can, our kids to do a couple different things. One, for them to walk fast.

Laura: Ah, yes. That was a big one for Dad; that we all walk quickly.

Brad: We don’t want them being slow walkers. Two, have good handwriting; legibility is key there.

Laura: Brad writes in a centimeter script.

Brad: It’s very readable. 

Laura: It’s perfect and precise. But very small.

Brad: And the last thing is for our five kids to learn how to say no to things. There are lots of opportunities and invitations to say yes, and I think a good life skill to learn how to say no. 

Laura: That’s a good one. I need that. 

Emily: What about you, Mike? Introduce yourself. 

Mike: I’ve been married to Laura for just over nine years now. Brad talked about meeting Emily through mutual friends, so a fun fact is that Brad and I were actually buddies in college before I knew Laura. Another link. 

I worked in engineering/production management type roles in the petrochemical industry for about ten years. Recently, I’ve transitions to more bio-based/food production industry. For special interests or hobbies, I’m not really a big hobby guy. I love being outside and doing that with our family as much as possible. 

Laura: You’re into birding right now. Mike has binoculars, and we bought a few bird books. He’s out on the front porch looking for birds all the time now. I think that’s a real hobby for you.

Mike: I love wildlife. Tent camping; I try to do that once in awhile with the kids. 

Brad: Mike’s an outdoorsman. I’m more of an indoorsman. [Laughter]

Emily: Well, while everyone is googling the petrochemical industry, Brad you should say what you do for a living.

Brad: I live and work in central Iowa in real estate. I’m starting another business soon that coincides with the book launch; we’re doubling up around here. I stay pretty busy between work and family. 

Emily: Brad is very entrepreneurial. 

Mike: Very entrepreneurial. 

Laura: And organized.

Brad: And good handwriting. 

Laura: Great handwriting. [Laughter] Real quick for our listeners: what's one thing they may not know about us? 

Brad: Emily is not a morning person, and she can talk very loudly. I have to ask her to down her volume. That’s interesting though, because we recently discovered that Emily does have mild to moderate hearing loss. That was some news to us—

Emily: I’m talking loudly for a reason! [Laughter]

Brad: She’s talking loudly for a reason. I would also say that Emily is very future-oriented, which gives her a good perspective on life and decisions—big or small. She can place those in context. One thing we learned early on is she doesn’t understand why people drink milk at dinner. She thinks it’s a rule or an agricultural—

Laura: Like an Iowa thing?! [Laughter]

Brad: Yes, like an Iowa thing. 

Laura: What? Mike doesn’t understand why people drink it either! 

Mike: I think there’s some truth to that.

Laura: Brad and I grew up drinking a big glass of milk at dinner. Didn’t we?

Brad: Sure. It’s what you do.

Laura: It’s what you do. And Mike always thought that was disgusting. So, we drink water now. 

Emily: Air high-five, Mike. 

Laura: I had no idea that more people than Mike thought it was weird. 

Mike: It’s a heart-land thing.

Emily: Yeah, you come to Iowa and you drink milk. 

Mike: Or go to the barn and get hydrated. 

Emily: We’re all learning new things. 

Brad: Mike, what do you have?

Mike: So, Laura is kind of adventurous, or she can be. That’s what sealed the deal for me early on in our relationship. We were dating—I can’t remember for how long—and she took me sky-diving. 

Laura: Yeah, that was true love. 

Mike: We jumped out of a plane. That’s pretty wild. 

Laura: It took our relationship to new heights. [Laughter]

Mike: It was a big deal. I talked about being outdoorsy before. She’ll go camping with me; she’s gone a couple of times while pregnant. 

Laura: That’s also true love.

Mike: How far along were you?

Laura: 12 weeks and 34 weeks. I mean, that is commitment.

Emily: Thanks, Brad, for never taking me camping. [Laughter]

Mike: But you enjoy it, right?

Laura: The 34 week one was hard. I was pretty big. I enjoy the daytime, just not the sleeping. 

Mike: They’re pretty intense camping trips.

Laura: Like we have to bring our own water, people! We put gallons of water in packs and carry it with us. There’s no fresh water. 

Mike: Pretty remote areas of northern Minnesota. We’ve backpacked across Europe. There’s definitely some adventure there. So, Laura has an adventurous side. 

Emily: Thanks, guys. So today’s show is about marriage and the little years. We get a lot of questions from listeners asking what it looks like to grow in marriage when you have lots of little kids at home, and how do we overcome challenges. So, let’s talk. What’s the hardest thing about marriage?

Brad: I think one of the challenges about marriage in the little years for us was making time for one another. I remember we used to go on exciting dates that were involved—jet-skiing or going to shows—but now, we’re pretty happy if we can sneak away after the kids are down. Maybe a grandparent can pop over for an hour and a half so we can get away and have time with each other. It’s morphed, but I think having time for that relationship in the little years is an important piece; it’s hard, but you can do it. 

Emily: I totally agree with that. I think it’s harder to have fun, to cultivate hobbies, because that takes time. We may be able to check off the box that we were able to go out and have dinner, but there’s the transition time of easing into the conversation and then jumping back into home life. I think that’s something you go without in the little years. What do you think, Mike?

Mike: Parenting is such a joy, such a blast, and there are so many amazing things about it; but at the same time, it’s draining. It takes so much energy—whether it’s physical, emotional, or intellectual. There are so many things to discuss and so many decisions to make all the time. How are we disciplining in this area? And each kid is different and unique. That investment takes away from your marriage. So it’s kind of similar to the time thing, but it’s a lot harder with that focus on parenting to love each other well and stay connected. 

Laura: That emotional toll of pouring so much out into your kids. It’s that idea of giving your husband the leftovers. I concur. So then, on the flipside, how has God actually grown you or used marriage to grow you in this season?

Mike: I think I have grown some—Laura can tell us how much—in respect to serving in our marriage. We talked about the different kinds of energy investments into parenting, I think all that lends itself to have more opportunities to serve more. You can see chances to help your spouse. I think I’ve started to learn how to do that without being asked, and learning how to do it with the right place in my heart. A lot of times, if Laura was really busy—even with the ministry—I’d step up in a certain way here or there, and I’d hope she’d notice it and say something. That’s doing things for the wrong reason. I’ve started to come to grips with everything Laura does. She’s running a ministry, she wrote a book; there are a lot of ways I can help out more and not come home and prioritize what I want, whether that’s relaxing or doing stuff outside. In the end, those things aren’t going to fulfill me in the end anyways. 

Laura: You have grown a lot in that. I think you’ve always been a huge servant to our family, but over the last few years, it’s been neat to see that with the circumstances the Lord has put in our life, we’ve been forced to lean on one another. I think there are certain things in life where you can decide to be more dependent or work more as a team and give more of yourself, or it could push you the other direction. I think God has been gracious to push us towards serving one another really well. I remember our pastor asked, “Who is the biggest servant you know?” And he said, “Your answer should be your spouse.” And I was so grateful, because I did think of you! It was really sweet, because he said, “You have a front-row seat to their life. You see them more than anyone else. So hopefully, the person who is the biggest person in your life is your spouse, because you spend the most time with them.” That was challenging to me; am I serving my husband well? Will he think of me? It was a good question to ask myself. 

Brad: I would definitely say Emily and I have a solid, happy, fulfilling marriage. We have moments and time of disagreement, for sure, but I think God has used marriage to show a spotlight on my own sinfulness and selfishness. When you’re in the context of front-row seat or life-on-life living, the other person can’t help but see the best and the worst. I think before marriage, I thought I was doing okay. But when you’re with somebody, you’re confronted by all the ugliness—and you’re experiencing it with somebody you love. Yes, I’m a new creation in Christ, but the marks of the fall are still clear. I think God has used these little years to refine and shape my life; and to reveal the need to hear and preach the gospel to myself, to have it preached to me, and then to preach it to others. I need that encouragement, Emily needs that encouragement; we all need that encouragement. 

Emily: It’s interesting thinking about how in marriage, we come in with a lot of expectations. Early on, that’s one of the first thing revealed. I expected we’d eat dinner at this time, and you expected to eat at this time. There’s an opportunity for conflict! I think that’s one way we’ve both grown, Brad: putting our expectations on Christ and coming to one another with different expectations or seeing ourselves as co-laborers, unified in this mission God’s given us to raise our family and to show everyone around us—as business owners, parents, or working in the church nursery. It’s amazing, ten years later, I think there are things we still have expectations we have for one another that we have to take to the Lord and ask, “Where are my needs being met?” You’re my partner, not my primary need-meeter. 

Laura: Not only with expectations, but also assumptions. I think I’d often find myself thinking—if the baby was crying at night—that he was just sleeping or pretending he couldn’t hear them, because he didn’t want to get up with the baby. Or on a night he might work late, I’d assume he wanted to be at work and not home with our family. I needed to change my assumption; I needed to believe that what he told me was true. No, he does want to be at home; there’s a lot of pressure at work. He does want to get up with the baby, he’s just really sleeping through it. All moms out there: just remember they really do sleep through the crying. It’s amazing! But believing the best in him, his motives, and his assumptions has been a big mindshift in extending generosity towards what’s happening in his life. I don’t assume the worst or assume I know all his motives and heart. I have to remember that I’m not his Holy Spirit. I can say things all day long, but ultimately, I cannot change my husband’s heart. That can only be done by a work of God and the Holy Spirit. 

It was really helpful for me to remember my place and role in your life, trusting that God will change you as he sees fit on his timeline. He’s sanctifying you, and in that, he’s working on me the most. The first place I need to look is in my own heart for the sin I have, not trying to look into you and what you can fix. I think the Lord has worked on me the most by saying, “No, look at you first. Look at your own heart, not the other person’s. I’ll deal with them as I deal with them. You’re responsible for you.”

Emily: Yeah. Building on that, one of the questions we get the most from moms is, “How can I encourage my husband to grow spiritually or lead the family?” Or, “I do see these areas of life that I see he needs to grow or change, but how do I approach it?” That can be really tough to figure out what that posture should be. There’s tension between praying and trusting the Lord, and figuring out what our actions should look like practically. Brad and Mike, we’ll put you in the hot seat. How do you feel most encouraged to grow spiritually in our relationships? 

Mike: I think one of the best things wives can do is find ways for dad to partner with them. At least in our marriage, Laura is way more nurturing. She’s worked on it, but I also think she just knows better how to disciple our kids. When she can give me insight into what she’s doing with the kids, how she’s working through heart issues and disciplining well, and how she’s having really good conversations with them, it gives me chances to join with her in that. It gives me insight into what happened that day and tees me up to step in alongside her. That’s huge. It’s encouraging to me when she trusts me I can help with those things. And it helps me grow spiritually when I step into those conversations and help our kids work on sin issues or matters of the heart—that works on my heart. When you have those conversations with your kids, you have to address things in your own heart. I’d encourage moms to find ways to do that with their husbands. 

Brad: I think this is a great question. It’s some ways it an easy one for me, because Emily does encourage me to grow spiritually and lead our family simply by her example. When I say that, I’m saying how she lives in the 24-hour period in the day—she’s faithful, she prays, she reads and teaches truth to our family. Many of the children’s resources seen on social media come to our home, and she’ll sit and walk through them with the kids at the breakfast table as we’re getting ready. So she makes time and is intentional. Another example I have is that this year, I took my oldest to school. Emily gave us some flashcard questions that have a Bible verse on one side and two questions on the backside as conversation starters. I’d talk with my son about those things on this 12-minute drive to school, and I think if mom didn’t do that, we’d be doing mental math or thinking about landmarks along the way, making sure they could pronounce road correctly. 

[Everyone laughs.]

Instead, we used that time—because of what mom did—well. I keep them in the center console so I can pull them out and read them, pass them back so he can read them, and we talk about what it means to be strong in the Lord or putting on the armor of God. I don’t even know where to find that stuff; they come in a little plastic baggie, and we keep ‘em. 

Laura: They just magically appear! [Laughter]

Brad: Yeah, it works. She’s a tremendous example. She makes it easy for us, like Mike said, but her example is inspiring. 

Laura: I think being an example is such a good point. I know Mike invests well in me by my seeing his example of desiring to follow the Lord, wanting to have conversations, wanting to grow. So often in parenting, we feel like we need to be perfect or already have arrived. We need to know the right answer or the resources. But really, it’s been neat that every time I’ve seen Mike want to invest well in our kids, to grow spiritually, to read a Christian book, or to read the Bible, I’m caught up in that too. I think that works that way with both of us; we’re people moving forward together. That’s a beautiful picture of marriage and something I love about my relationship with Mike: when he’s inspired, I’m inspired, and vice versa. I think that’s what’s marriage designed to be. We’re all striving for “our future glory selves” (Tim Keller). I can see what Mike could be, and Mike can see what I could be, so we’re encouraging each other today towards the ways God could sanctify us in the future. I love that idea of examples: running the race and caring for ourselves first, recognizing that’ll sweep up the other person in the story you’re playing out in your life. 

Emily: I remember sitting at a wedding years ago, hearing the officiant talk about how this couple’s joys would now be linked. This one person’s success was this other person’s success; one person’s struggle and lack of flourishing would affect the other person. That can be discouraging or incredibly encouraging as a married couple. Our spiritual progress and joys are linked, and can often encourage one another. 

Hopefully something in there was encouraging to you guys today as you listened. We’re grateful Brad and Mike were willing to sit in the hot seat and come on the show!

Laura: Nice job, guys. 

Brad: Absolutely! Thank you for having us. 

Mike: Yeah, thanks guys. This was fun.

Emily: You can find out more about the topic of marriage and motherhood, especially in the little years on our website, risenmotherhood.com. We’ll also have show notes with additional resources. You may also see some behind-the-scenes footage if you head to our social media, @risenmotherhood, on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Thanks, guys!

Ep. 134 || Moms in Process Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Hey guys, Laura here! We’re excited to be back with new podcast episodes after a summer break. There are so many fun things going on, so we’re going to share a few of them with you before we dive into today’s extra special show. First, you might’ve heard something unfamiliar when the show started. That’s because this season of shows are sponsored. We’re so grateful for the brands, organizations, and ministries that are willing to support the work we do to bring the gospel to moms all over the world. Their support—and the support of our donors—helps bring these episodes and all our content to you each week. Secondly, many of you have already share about this, but the Risen Motherhood book—co-written by Emily and I—releases next week on September 3rd. We’re so grateful for all of your excitement. And if you haven’t pre-ordered yet, I want to make sure you know about a great additional offer we have right now—to anyone who pre-orders the Risen Motherhood book, you’ll receive two free bonus chapters that Emily and I wrote. These won’t be available after the book comes out and we really want all of you to have them, but you only get them if you pre-order. There’s only one week left to get these, then they disappear. If you want in, head to any major online retailer, like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ChristianBook.com, and place your order today. Now to those of you who have already pre-ordered if you haven’t redeemed your bonus chapters (thank you!)q, head to our website at risenmotherhood.com/bonuschapters to enter your confirmation code and get your chapters sent straight to your email! They come right away, so you don’t even need to wait until the book ships!

Finally, we want to give you a heads up that to celebrate the release of the book, we have a really fun fall ahead. While you’ll still hear a lot of episodes with Emily and I talking about motherhood and the gospel in our regular format, we’ve also recorded interviews with our husbands, parents, and friends. We even have some fun roundtable discussions planned. We can’t wait for you to join us! To kick off the season, we’ve invited our Communications Manager, Autumn Kern, to host an interview about what it looks like to trust God and walk in faith when you’re still in process. Autumn’s married to Josh, and is mom to two adorable children, Wren and Cohen. In addition to her work at Risen Motherhood, she’s a budding writer and an acclaimed wedding photographer. And, of course, we consider her a close friend. On today’s episode, we’re going to give an inside look at the book writing process, but also talk about what it looks like to be faithful in any area of life—including motherhood—when you feel you just haven’t arrived yet. Okay, let’s get to the show with Autumn, Emily, and myself.

Autumn: Hey guys, welcome to this episode of Risen Motherhood! I’m Autumn, the Communications Manager for the R|M team, and I’m here with Laura and Emily who are joining me to talk about their book today along with the idea of being women who are in process. 

So, hey guys. How are you doing?

Emily: We’re really good! We’re so excited to be chatting with you.

Laura: I’m impressed. Autumn, that was super good. That was legit. 

Autumn: Does this feel weird?

Laura: A little bit. I love getting to talk to you, because it’s sort of like Voxer. I can pretend by closing my eyes and not seeing you on the video. [Laughter]

Autumn: Well, I’m really excited to be talking to you. Thanks for having me on to talk about the book and to share with our audience a bit of the behind-the-scenes for what it was like to write a book. And I think a lot of it connects to what many women experience in wanting to share the gospel in their own lives. So, to kick us off, I would love for you to tell us how you got a book deal. Was it something you were looking for? Something that landed in the realm of possibilities? And how did you feel when you found out you’d be writing one?

Emily: Well, we started out, of course, as a podcast. We came up with a five-episode pilot to see where it would go. That was all we had on the horizon to begin with. Over time, we kept planning more and more content a few weeks out or a couple months out. Our focus when we began Risen Motherhood was to be faithful to the message God had laid on our hearts and to proclaim the good news to moms in a way that could reach them right where they were at, as we processed those things too. I think about a year into the podcast, Laura and I were power-recording over a weekend, and an email popped up inviting us to connect with an agent about potentially writing a book! That was one of the first times we considered it in a serious way.

Laura: Yeah, there had been some inquiries prior to that from publishers or agents, but nothing that really sounded super promising. But this one was actually from a Risen Motherhood community member, which was really cool. She was someone who’d listened to the show for a long time, and her brother is an agent from a reputable firm, so we wanted to take a second look at it. She was willing, as we emailed back and forth, to connect us with them. The ball got rolling from there!

I remember Emily and I were both pregnant at the time. I was with my third, and she was with her fifth. Much of us was feeling like, “Eh, I don’t really know. We’ll talk but maybe we won’t write a book for a few more years.” It was kind of neat how it happened. It was a little sneaky. [Laughter] They passed us each little piece of the proposal—which is typically 25 pages or longer—really slowly. We had no idea how to write a proposal or what it contained. Our agent just led us forward little by little; these two pregnant ladies who were very overwhelmed. Before we knew it, we got an email from him that said, “Congratulations! You’ve written a book proposal.” [Laughter] 

Emily: It was really cool to see that come together. It was scary to release that out to different publishing houses and see what the response would be. We were overwhelmed with this good response from a lot of different people. Others were excited about the message we were sharing and it seemed to resonate with people. It probably took a few months from proposal to securing a final deal, but it was exciting.

Laura: From there, we had about a year to write the book. I moved during that transition, so that was a big thing we’ll probably talk about later. It was plenty of time to write the book, and then you move into this marketing season, which is what we’re in now. It feels odd and a little strange, but it’s a fun season. That’s kind of the journey in a nutshell.

Autumn: I think that’s great. I love, as someone on the team, watching you be co-laborers for the gospel. I think it’s really wonderful and unique. I’d love to know through this process what you learned about each other and individually? What did you learn about the gospel and motherhood? This was a long season, and the Lord did a lot through your relationship and through your time writing.

Emily: Well, I learned I don’t know very much. [Laughter]

Laura: Me too. I’m just going to ditto that. [Laughter]

Emily: Again, before we started, we’d been podcasting on subjects relating to motherhood and the gospel for about a year and a half. There was this baseline that I kind of had a sense for how we wanted to communicate things because it was already laid out. I had written for many years before and I read a lot! But the deeper I got into it, the more I realized I have a lot to learn about these topics still. I think another thing I learned about myself, which was probably the biggest revelation or lesson for me, is that I have a lot of critics living in my little brain that I’m always trying to please. This was a huge battle for me. Every time I sat down at my computer, it felt like I was sitting down at a table and I could picture the personalities and people around me, and the things they were saying about my writing. “Ooh, that’s not very smart!” “Ah, that’s not very funny! I’m done reading this book. I’m going to put this down; she’s not very relatable.” Or all those different things that made it difficult to stay focused on the essence of what we were trying to communicate while not being self-focused but focused on the Lord. 

I think at the end of it, I felt freedom from that. I had to come up against it so much, there was a point at which there was no way this book was going to be written unless I battled them with truth and was willing to say, “You might be right, but God has still called me to do this, and I can communicate the gospel with his help.” 

And then, in terms of learning about Laura, I was impressed over and over again with what a fabulous writer she is. She’s so good at taking a theme and sticking to it like glue and carrying it or weaving through all of her chapters. That was something I learned from her along the way. I also think she was a really good editor for me. Again, I already knew those things, but it was fun to watch in-action her ability to pull out different things I needed to shift and tweak, and help me hone in on how I could connect with people better. I really value her as an editor.

Laura: Aw, thanks, Em!

I would have to ditto Emily. It definitely brings you to your knees with all the things you didn’t know you didn’t know. That was a great reality check. I think we talk a lot about how humbling it is to write a book.

And similar to Emily and the critics, it’s a twist for me. I have a deep desire for people to like what I wrote; for them to think I’m clever, funny, or what I wrote is witty and winsome. To Emily’s credit, she’s very good at reminding me it’s never worth sacrificing truth for cleverness. They always say, “Writers love their own words the most. Nobody will love them as much as you.” That rang in my ears so often, because I’d want to cling to a rhythm or poetic moment, and I wanted that more than I wanted truth. That’s a really hard thing to get around as a writer. I had to be willing and remember truth and clarity are of most importance, whether or not I’m the best writer. I had to ask myself, “Is this something that might be helpful? Is it going to blow her away and most amazing thing she’s ever read?” Most of the time, I felt like, “No, probably not.” But hopefully God is going to work through that and move her—not because of the words I use and my sentence structure or my powerful argument—because the Holy Spirit is working through her life. I can trust God to do the work and my words don’t have to. That was a huge thing for me to overcome and feel freedom in as I write. 

In terms of Emily, I’d say a lot of similar things. She’s a wonderful writer. She’d draft a lot; she’d have a chapter and we’d say, “Let’s move forward with it,” and the next thing I know, she rewrote it. So there’d be a new chapter in my inbox, and then oh!, she rewrote it again! [Laughter] She builds on her ideas really well, and you want to hone them in. I loved seeing that. You worked so hard on the chapters and have all these amazing ideas. I still stand behind the idea that a lot of those ideas could’ve worked because they all were wonderful. But ultimately, I value Emily’s value of truth and clarity. I think we balance each other out really well with our different strengths. You were really helpful in encouraging me and helping me process through an argument, making sure it was really logical and helpful for the mom on the other side. It needed to be true to scripture and not bounce around, which I can tend to do. I’m so thankful to have had her by my side the entire time.

Emily: Aw, well it was really fun to work together.

And I think we learned a lot about the gospel and motherhood along the way. We touched on it a little bit, but one thing I learned is on one hand it’s hard to apply the gospel to motherhood. You have to stop and think. Sometimes I’d have a chapter I was trying to apply the gospel framework in, and I’d have to do a mindmap on a piece of paper. 

Pencil paper, draw lines, and connect things. 

Laura: Ha! Ha! I’ve never done one of those. [Laughter]

Emily: It was complicated! [Laughter] I still have those somewhere. It was hard. But then, the funny thing is it’s also quite simple. We’re often the ones wanting to overcomplicate it. And that’s true of the good news and the Bible. A child can sit and listen to it and comprehend the most essential and wonderful things, like, “God loves me, “ and “I trust Jesus.” But then an adult scholar with a PhD can sit and read the text and feel a little confounded by it. I think I learned that tension as we wrote the book. 

Autumn: That’s great. Thanks for sharing all that. I think you’re pulling out this tension point of wanting to share the gospel really well but also realizing your still in process, therefore it’s not going to be perfect. I think that’s something a lot of moms feel as they think about sharing the gospel—whether that’s written down or verbally amongst friends—is you can look back at what you’ve said or written and you sort of cringe. You wish you hadn’t said it a particular way, or that you understood nuance better, or even that you better understood what you were talking about. That desire and inability to carry out the gospel perfectly is the reality of being women who are moving towards holiness but aren’t holy yet. And that’s all of us. Whether you’re in a ministry position like Risen Motherhood or if you’re doing ministry in your everyday life with the people around you in your community. It can be really nerve-wracking, but I imagine putting those words in a book that’ll sit on bookshelves indefinitely seems a little higher stake. So do you have encouragement for the moms who feel that tension how they, as women in-process, can share the gospel even if we can’t be perfect in our theology, application, or rhetoric?

Laura: I think that’s a really great question and something I struggle with beyond just my work here at Risen Motherhood. I’m consistently reminded when you love someone, you share about that person. I’ve been thinking about Luke 8, when Jesus heals a demon-possessed man. Jesus says, “Go home and tell everyone how much I have done for you.” Or Jesus with the woman at the well. The woman ends up saying, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did.” Jesus did great things for these people, and they couldn’t help but talk about him and share him. When your life has been changed the way Christ has changed mine, I can’t help but share. I know I’ve touched on this, but I struggled with the idea that there’s nothing new under the sun. I can’t produce something new; someone’s going to do this better than me or say it in a more fabulous way. I had to remind myself that the message itself doesn’t rely on me and God is going to carry it; and if I adore Christ as much as I say I do, I’d be compelled to share for all of the amazing things the Lord has done for me. That’s something I want to remember: I want to glorify God with my words, actions, and speech no matter where I am on the journey, because of the good, amazing, and wonderful gift he’s given me. The way I speak about him, or share about him. or the time I invest in this book or other things is because I love God so much. I long to honor him with my life, and this is what’s in front of me and the way I’m able to do that. 

Emily: Amen. I piggyback on all of that. The reality is as Christians, if we love him and hope in him, we’re compelled to share about him. For me, it was also going back to the perfection of theology. That can paralyze me. I want to wait to say something until I can get it exactly right. Or if I felt like there was a knob I could turn to make it even better, it was extremely difficult for me to say, “This is as good as I can reasonably do with the time God has given me and with the mental capabilities and resources I have right now.” I think one thing that’s encouraged me was Paul. He shares that compared to the speakers of the age, he wasn’t eloquent or well spoken. He didn’t have fancy, elaborate arguments.  But he preached the gospel; he preached Christ crucified. The great thing is it’s really God who is powerful in our weakness, and it’s the gospel that’s the power for salvation. People come to faith as they hear God’s word and God’s good news shared. When I’d remember that, it’d take the weight off of me and put the weight on God, who can most certainly carry it, and be powerful and transform lives. I think we need to remember God isn’t thwarted or caught off guard by human failure or sin or mistakes. In fact, we have lots of evidence in scripture of how he used sin, failure, and mistakes to further his plan, make his gospel more beautiful and go further, and show his glory brighter. I take comfort in that. There may be things I didn’t say right, but even in that, God can still be glorified as we learn and grow in humility. 

Autumn: I think that truth transforms it from being a burden of trying to make it perfect and instead makes it a delight to go and share. The gospel has clearly advanced—in its entire timeline—through sinful people. There’s never been a perfect person, other than Christ, to share the Word of God. I love to think that God is faithful to his church and the Holy Spirit is shaping our hearts towards what the word teaches. So we can take in great content and trust, if we’re studying the word, God will continue to teach us the way that he does. We can be faithful and then we can rest, which has been the theme we’ve been talking about: being faithful in the next step and trusting God with what you’re offering. 

So, I think that tension causes some fear because of the vulnerability required. Being in process requires vulnerability. When you’re being taught, stretched, and changed, you come up against your own sin, weaknesses, and all the ways you misplace your affections. I think women feel desperate for anything that answers those issues they see, especially the quick fix offers. A lot of what the world offers seems really easy; it’s usually “10 steps to this” or “The one trick you need to keep your child in bed at naptime!” Instead what we ought to be doing is the slow plod of scripture study and prayer. That can require waiting and some heavy mind-lifting. I’m curious what you think are some of the most tempting false hope surrounding moms today? And how is the gospel the true hope we really need?

Emily: I think for me it’s pretty straightforward. I think I can mother well enough to buy my kids a good future. If I’m careful enough, keep them safe in the right ways, and I’m super nice and friendly, and I offer them all the right life experiences, they’ll be happy, healthy, and thriving adults. It’s a formula in my mind, and it’s hard not to think that if I do all these things right, God owes me good kids. Or on the reverse side, I live in fear that as I make mistakes, God will punish me by allowing my kids to be bad if I can’t be everything we need. I think we dive into this a lot in our episode, “Is My Child’s Faith My Responsibility?” For me, I find that most tempting to put my hope in. Frankly, it’s myself.

Laura: Yeah, I’m the same way I think. So often I’m a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps kind of gal. I think I’m the answer; if I do a little more research, ask better questions, study a bit harder, stay up later, Google the right thing, I’ll create a great life for us. And some day, my kids will look back and call me, “Blessed.” [Laughter] Right? That’s the measure of a good mom. But I think some days I do want to hear that. I forget the true measure of success. We did a whole show on that, “What is Your Measure of Success?” For me, I think someday I want my kids to tell me I did a really good job. My hope is in them liking me and them thinking I helped create the success they are. So often, it’s a wordly version of what success is instead of a godly one. I think that theme is common with moms in general. We all have our different ways, methods, things we can subscribe to create successful children. Even Christian circles have their own way of saying this or that is a great lifestyle or parenting choice that will create a successful child today or make you a successful mom. The reality is there isn’t a formula for being a successful mom outside of God’s plan. God’s plan is that we’ve all failed—none of us have been great moms—but in Jesus, we have redemption and reconciliation with God. Jesus gives us that “good mom” status, so we can be confident in knowing we have his word, the Holy Spirit, and his church to grow us and sustain us. God will provide everything we need every single day, as we live faithfully according to his plan, to be good moms for our children. Ultimately, every act of good we do is a grace and mercy of God, giving that to us. That’s the heartbeat of our book. That’s what we really care about here at Risen Motherhood; a mom learning reliance on God, not herself. I think there’s a lot of freedom when that’s fully understood in your heart.

Emily: Yeah, to build off that, another thing we see is when we’re in seasons of feeling really overwhelmed or like we’re not doing a good enough job, we can try to self-medicate. So another direction people can steer from the formula is I’m going to self-actualize and become the best version of me I can be. It’ll be through self-care, or a life balance I’ll strike on my own, or becoming a victim to our own circumstances. Moms can really wrestle with that.

I think the good news has an answer for moms there as well. We are limited, and we do need to care for ourselves. We’re women who matter to God. We’re created in his image. Our feelings matter to God. But we gain our lives by losing them in Christ. I think that can be really hard to hear and comprehend, but it’s for our joy. We’re not a victim to motherhood, we’re actually a servant of God. That’s another way we can find hope in the midst of our struggle and hopelessness. 

Autumn: It’s so beautiful that the gospel meets us where we are in process, because we’re all at different points. I love knowing the hope of the gospel is true no matter what stage of motherhood you’re in, or what’s happening in your house on a Tuesday, or how bad your week’s been; God’s grace meets you there and enables you to enjoy his gift of joy to you. 

So I’d love to know if you could stand by the shelves in a bookstore as women are looking at your book, what would you say to them? Knowing this is the heartbeat of the book, what would you want to say as she touches the cover?

Emily: I want to know if I can have childcare so I can go to a bookstore and stand around the shelves. [Laughter]

Laura: Seriously.

Emily: That sounds fun. 

Laura: Oh man. Well, I hope it makes them think. I hope they’re convicted by it and encouraged by it. I think we’d both say we hope women who read it are willing to wrestle with it and do some heart work. It’s not just a quick read, but some thought that goes into it about how their thought patterns might change and what heart tendencies might be revealed. Our hope and prayer is that God will use it in the lives of moms to point them to himself. I don’t care if you remember my name, but remember I love Jesus. As women read this book, I don’t care if they’re impressed by my writing or Emily’s writing but that they’re impressed by God and desire to know him more. Not Emily. Not Laura. Not Risen Motherhood. It’s about God. I hope they go and get involved in their local church, and pull their Bible off the bookshelf even if it’s been a really long time. I hope they invest in their relationship with him after reading, and that God would be their source of life that they cling to forever. The reason I went through the pain to write the book is because I believe in the message so much. I believe in the power of God to change hearts. So we’re hopeful it is a blessing to anyone who picks it up, and that it starts great discussions. 

Autumn: Well, Emily and Laura, thanks so much for joining me on this episode of Risen Motherhood. If you’d like to check out our show notes, you can find them at the link on our website at www.risenmotherhood.com. You can also follow us on social media @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. And these guys will see you next week!

Emily: Great job, Autumn.

Laura: Thanks everybody for listening!

Ep. 133 || Summer Expectations: Setting Our Sights on Grace Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood! I’m Emily, here with Laura.

Laura: Hello, hello!

Emily: Before we jump into today’s show, we want to tell you about something you’ve been asking about for a long time: our launch team for the book! It’s going to be paired with something really exciting: some great additional bonus content in the form of an e-course.

Laura: We want to do things a little non-traditionally for a launch team. We’re going to have an e-course you can participate in. Each week, Emily or I—or probably both of us—will pop in and talk you through the framework we use every week to take a topic and work it through the gospel. You can take your own unique circumstances—whatever you’re facing in the moment—and apply the gospel yourself. There actually is a real system I feel we’ve developed.

Emily: Yeah, there are questions we process through every time. There are some dangers Laura and I have run into as well, so we want to share some things to avoid in the way you apply the gospel. We think this is really helpful stuff in addition to the book; we don’t really dive into this super deep in the book. We’d love for you to join us! So, how do you get into the launch team, Laura?

Laura: The first thing you have to do is preorder the book. Once you’ve done that, you can submit your receipt; there’s some technical stuff that we’ll have on the website. But then we’re hosting the group on Facebook. You can join by August 2nd, so think ahead right now to the summer. The actual group will run from August 5th to September 13th; it’s a six-week e-course training ground.

Emily: You’re going to get a PDF of the book, and we’re going to give you a bookplate, which makes your book a signed copy. There will be weekly giveaways. Since it’s a launch team, we’d love for you to come alongside us by reviewing the book and sharing it on social media. We’ll be giving you all the help to do that and cheering you along as you help us launch this book out into the world!

Laura: We hope you come and join us! We’d love to meet all of you in the Facebook group. It’s a great way for us to have a little more contact with you, which we think is really exciting.

Emily: Oh! There’s another thing we can’t wait for!

Laura: What?

Emily: Summer!

Laura: Oh! Ha! [Laughter] I wasn’t sure where you were going with that. But it’s true! Very good transition, Emily. I ruined it. I apologize.

Emily: That’s what we’re chatting about today: our summer expectations, hopes, and dreams. The weather is finally nice! We live in central Iowa, as most of you know, so our winter goes on and on and on…

Laura: It’s like six months. Maybe seven.

Emily: And when you think it’s over, you can wake up to snow scattered on the ground even though our plants are trying to come up. We’re always really excited when summer gets here.

Laura: Yeah, that’s exactly right. I love summer, because I love all the extra time. I think I’m going to be so productive. I’m going to read with my kids and do all these crafts. I’m going to turn into Pinterest mom, and we’re going to do all these dinners outside, and all this stuff. Some of that gets accomplished, which is really fun. But some of it doesn’t. That’s what we’re going to talk about today.

Emily: I’ve seen more and more these summer bucket lists people have.

Laura: Those are cool.

Emily: And you think you’re going to go to all these parks, every splash pad, and the zoo—

Laura: And read 100 books. We’re going to earn the personal pan pizza. For sure. [Laughter] It’s so important.

Emily: Maybe it’s something like all the playdates. I know that’s something Laura and I have been talking about: how we’re going to get our kids together more often. Another thing we love about summer is there’s usually less illness.

Laura: Oh it’s so good!

Emily:  There’s not a cold every single week or a stomach bug. Like Laura said, the availability to eat outside and hopefully less sweeping. When my kids were really little, I remember making them eat lunch on a picnic blanket in the backyard. When they stood up, I’d just shake that thing.

Laura: Love it!

Emily: Shake those little sandwich pieces all over the yard. [Laughter] The birds would come eat them or whatever. In general, a lot of us look forward to travel, vacation, or memories. We think this is kind of the golden time for our kids when they look back and remember these super fun summers. There’s definitely a lot of pressure put on summer.

Laura: A lot of expectations. That’s for sure. One thing I think is hard too is for those who work, because a lot of times, work doesn’t slow down. It doesn’t for us at Risen Motherhood.

Emily: Work doesn’t know it’s summer! [Laughter]

Laura: Exactly. Our kids are home with a different schedule, but we don’t have a different one. That can be a tough part of summer. You might be piecing together childcare or different day camps. Some of you are teachers, so maybe you have a shortened schedule which means you might have more expectations placed on how you’ll spend the summer. But no matter what, in general for most people, the summer brings a pretty significant change in the schedule. For all of us, there’s something about the summer, where things just get a little...wild. [Laughter]

Emily: They do! It’s later bedtimes, longer days, and there’s an exhaustion that occurs over the summer. We think it’s going to be fun, but now we’re tired because we’ve been doing more than we usually do. What’s interesting is for some parts of the country or parts of the world, this is the time of the year they’re stuck inside.

Laura: Which is so strange! I can’t imagine spending your summer inside. But I’d take your winters; that sounds awesome. [Laughter]

Emily: Everything is a trade-off. But regardless of what this looks like for you or what you see as pros and cons, we want to give everybody—including ourselves—a little pep talk. We’re staring down the summer months; it’s May now and we’re making our plans. We know a lot of the things we’re about to talk about, but we still need a reminder of God’s grace and how that changes us.

Laura: We know some of you might be listening to this later in the summer. Welcome if you joined us over the summer for the first time! Know that we’re dividing this up by months, but any of these can be applied at any time throughout the summer or your year.

Emily: Yeah. So June. We need perspective. What we wanted to bring out in this June month is the perspective that we’re living for something eternal. We’re not storing up our treasures here on earth. Our lives aren’t meant to be lived for our own pleasure, or our own fun, or getting our bucket list done. We’re part of a bigger story. Jesus knew it’d be easy for us to take care of ourselves and help ourselves, but he calls us to something that’s greater in his kingdom.

Laura: He calls us to love others more than ourselves. In fact, we’ve talked in a previous show about how God sets the standard. He said, “I know you’ll love yourself so easily and so well, that I want you to love others the way you love yourself.” Christ calls us to love others and prioritize them. That includes our children and our husbands, of course; but also the poor, and the needy, and the hard-to-love, and those less fortunate. We want to think as we go into the summer: what does that look like for each family to make sure they are carrying out the Great Commission and greatest commandments? As a personal example, something I’ve realized is that I have to work pretty hard to find ways to involve my children in service or else it doesn’t really happy. We may make a meal or two when it crops up. But this year, we’re working with a nonprofit that works with transitional housing for those who can’t afford traditional housing. So we come and clean the apartment before the new person comes. When I first heard about this opportunity, we specifically signed up for it because we thought it was a good way to involve our kids. It has accountability and has been great for my kids to see not everyone lives the way we do. It’s also offered some great conversations.

Emily: To build off that, one of the questions we wanted to leave you with in this month is considering how you can live out the greatest commandments? How can you structure your summer in a way that shows not only how you love God but also how you love others? Our default is going to be to design these months to take care of number one and is about the betterment of our own lives and enjoyment. Can you think of someone you know you can serve? Is there a neighbor you want to get to know better? A mom with a new baby this summer that you can bring a meal or watch her other kids? Maybe there’s something at church you’ve been meaning to get involved in and now’s a good time to sign-up? Think about those things as you look ahead to your summer.

Laura: So, July. This month we need grace.

Emily: We need grace for all the plans we made in June. [Laughter] And all the good intentions we had that didn’t happen.

Laura: That’s exactly right. By June, it’s pretty obvious our summer bucket list isn’t going to be totally accomplished. The schedule has gone awry, right? Kids have gotten weirdly sick even though there’s less illness in summer. Maybe they were stung by a wasp or a bee. My daughter is deathly afraid of bees. If there’s a bee around, we can’t do anything. Maybe it rained on the day you planned to go to the amusement park or zoo. There are a lot of failures. Not just in our plans going awry, but in our hearts. The kids are fighting, bickering, and complaining; they’re impolite and ungrateful. For us as moms, we’re caught off-guard by our kids’ ungrateful attitudes. We’re kind of annoyed ourselves. We’re frustrated. We want a nap. [Laughter]

Emily: Exactly, which is why we need to remember grace. We talked about perspective in the previous month, and this perspective reminds us that we live a life in Christ in God’s favor. This means we get to experience his joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, love, and kindness even though we’re sinners who’ve fallen short of his standard. Whenever we realize that and think about how short we fall, and yet in Christ he gives us all of these pleasures—a lot like the pleasures we get to experience in summertime—our attitude is different. We also get to point our children back to him as well as we see these things that pop up during the summer that aren’t what we wanted. We get to tell them about the grace God gives us in Christ and all the gifts he gives us that we don’t deserve.

Laura: I think of the Greek word—I’ll probably mispronounce it—charis. Somebody out there is a scholar, and they’re correcting me. [Laughter] We’re not trained students in this stuff. It’s a way to talk about God’s favor. We don’t earn his favor. I think the summer season is a great time to remember that. And it’d be a fun word study if you’re looking for one.

Emily: For me, I can tend to be very future-oriented and idealistic. I always have these really fun ideas in my mind. But the reality is by the time we get to July, I have tension in my house that creates a lot of conflict. My older kids feel like they deserve to go to the pool everyday or do super fun things outside. I feel pulled because I can’t supervise them at that moment; I need to do housework, or stuff for our family, or get the little ones down for a nap. There can be tension that starts to boil up in our house, creating sibling conflict, tears, complaining. Things aren’t turning out the way we expected. But it’s good for us to sit down and remember. I’m prepping myself already for the days that will come in July when there are tears because someone didn’t get to do what they wanted to do. We can reorient our perspective: we feel this tension because we live in this world that’s fallen. But we can look to Christ and hope in him, not our circumstances. We can remember God’s grace.

Laura: Our July question and challenge for you is what verse can you post or memorize who you are in Christ even when things get hard? So Emily, get working on your verse.

Emily: I know! I probably do need to get one out.

Laura: Another nice challenge might be to find time to read a book or discuss with your kids the gospel theme. Working through all the stuff God has given us that we don’t deserve? That’s the gospel. Talk through what we deserve, what we’ve been given in grace and mercy. It’d be a great chance to remind yourself of some gospel hope. If you don’t know what book to read, we have a million on our website under the kids resources page. Or just go read a portion of the New Testament.

Emily: Yes! Last summer, we studied 1 John with my oldest son, and it provided so many opportunities because there are so many good verses in there. “Whoever loves God must love his brother.” “We must walk in the way Jesus walked.” It gave us a lot of natural opportunities as a day went south to recall that study with my son.

Laura: Your son was six at the time, right?

Emily: Yeah, almost six.

Laura: So, our Abide study cards are a great method to walk through if you’re thinking you don’t know how to study 1 John with your kids. Well don’t worry, we have provided all you need, moms. Excuses gone. [Laughter]

Emily: A free printable! Okay, so let’s get to August, when we’re in need of perseverance.

Laura: Gotta get to the end.

Emily: We’re nearing the summer finish line, but we’re not there yet. This is the point in the season when some of us are getting anxious about another schedule change coming in the fall. Things are on the calendar. Our kids are getting bored by all the things that sounded fun at the beginning of the summer. Things have been done or played through. It just feels like there’s dissatisfaction, even though we’re not quite at the end of the summer.

Laura: It’s when we want to give into our selfish desires, but now is not the time to grow weary of doing good or stirring one another up in love and good works. Just remember during this season—all the time but especially in August—because of Christ, we have the Holy Spirit. So now we have the power to live like Jesus, no matter how hard it is, how tired we are, how much we want to give up. Just remember you can change. Actually Christ is always changing you; he’s making all things new. He never leaves you how he found you. When God shows us his love, it does shape and affect our hearts. We want to encourage you during this season that you can turn to God in prayer, and you can read the word and ask him to make it real in your life in this season. Ask him to help you to keep loving others, even though it probably feels tiring and challenging. Maybe you’re starting to look forward to school. I know, for me, the hard thing about August is I’m ready for September.

Emily: It’s easy to think once our circumstances change, I’m going to pull myself together again. So once September is here and we’re back in the swing of school, then things will be easier or better. But that’s never the reality. We always need to stay the course right where we’re at. So the August question is considering what is one area you feel weak? What are God’s promises that sustain you in that area? Or how is he sustaining you in that area? Sometimes he is and we just need to stop and acknowledge it.

Laura: He always is.

Emily: Yes, that’s true. [Laughter] In Christ, he’s always sustaining us. But the unique ways…

Laura: Yes, yes, Amen, amen. [Laughter]

Emily: And let’s say, “Thank you God” for how he’s carrying us through something even though we’re not doing a great job.

Laura: So for the August challenge: put on some music and dance a little. Have a little hope in those lyrics, and help the whole family persevere to the end. I know music changes our heart attitudes. We have a whole episode on music if you want to learn about how it does. Take a look at your June goals, and remember it’s never too late to restart. Even if you only have a few weeks of summer left, it may be good to look back and think how you can love others and how you can serve people. Pull out the summer bucket list, because maybe you can finish a few things on there. It’s not about doing things; it’s about resting in God’s grace. I think it’s a reminder that it’s never too late to restart.

Emily: So we wanted to leave you with this little word picture.

Laura: This is all Emily. 1,000% Emily.

Emily: This is way too deep, but bear with me. We live among a bunch of cornfields in central Iowa, and more and more, I’ve gotten to the point where I think of things in terms of agriculture and farming. During the spring season, the farmers are sowing seeds. Even the hobby gardener knows you get out there and plant your seeds. But it’s really in these summer months that there’s a hard, daily grind of going out, tending to the crops. Or going out to your garden and weeding every day. This is when you’re getting your hands dirty and all your tools are out. Maybe you’re having to work from what feels like sunrise to sunset; it’s not the time to sit back and eat all the tomatoes and sweet corn. It’s not time to enjoy the harvest. It’s the really important hard time. I think this can be true of motherhood as well—especially in the little years. There’s this new life; we’re sowing seeds. But now is the summer season. Now’s the time we’re getting our hands dirty. We’re putting in the long hours and tending to their hearts, even though we haven’t seen the fruit of our work yet. We haven’t gotten to the harvest part yet. We want to leave you with that, because sometimes we want to be in the next season. We want to be in the part when we’re enjoying the fruit of what’s been done. But let’s stay the course. It’s summer, moms. It’s summer outside, and it’s summer in your home. It’s the time to cultivate the gospel growth and not giving up.

Laura: I love it. So with that, I think we’ll end. We’re signing off for the summer ourselves! So we wish you the very best for the next three months! We’ll return on Wednesday, August 28th with our fall season. We could not be more excited to get into that as we work through the book release, which is September 3rd. Don’t forget about that launch team we talked about at the beginning of the show. We’d definitely love to see you guys there. I think that’s about if for summer stuff! Head to risenmotherhood.com. We’ll be on social media—Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram—and releasing articles all summer long. Only the podcast goes on break; the rest of the Risen Motherhood ministry is going, going, going. Emily and I are doing lots behind the scenes. We look forward to being in your earbuds in a couple of months.

Emily: Thanks, guys!

Ep. 132 || Habits of Faithfulness in Every Season: An Interview with Nancy Wolgemuth Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Hey, friends! Today I’m excited to share with you a very special episode with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth. Nancy Wolgemuth is someone who’s influenced Emily and me from afar for many years. I remember growing up listening to Nancy through the Revive Our Hearts ministry and doing her studies through the True Woman movement. She’s had a deep impact on both Emily and me, and it’s an honor to have her on today’s show. It’s not just us that Nancy’s impacted. She’s touched the lives of millions of women, calling women all over the world to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and his word is infectious and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and her two daily nationally syndicated radio programs, Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him—all of which you can find links to in our show notes. Nancy has a new book coming out that she co-wrote with her husband, Robert, which actually comes out the same day as Emily and I’s new book, Risen Motherhood, on September 3, 2019. The book is titled You Can Trust God to Write Your Story: Embracing the Mystery of Providence, and it’s all about how no matter what happens, you can trust God to write you a good story. He redeems all situations, no matter how unlikely. We’ll talk a bit more about this book and Nancy’s story on today’s show, so let’s get to it! Here’s the interview with Nancy, Emily, and myself.

Laura: Hi, Nancy! Thanks for joining us on Risen Motherhood today!

Nancy: I’m so excited to meet both of you and to learn more about your ministry. I’m excited about the calling God’s given you and the way you’re encouraging moms. I don’t know what more important thing you could do, so thanks so much for the chance to connect.

Emily: It’s a joy to chat with you. We were talking before we jumped on this recording about how much of an impact Nancy has made in our lives personally, so we’re grateful for your faithfulness to the Word of God and to pass on the things he’s teaching you in Christ to the next generation. We can’t wait for our listeners to hear this interview and glena some of that wisdom if they haven’t listened to Revive Our Hearts. Thanks for being here.

Nancy: You’re so welcome. It’s really an honor.

Laura: I’d love it if you’d give our listeners a quick peek into what your daily life looks like and what kind of ministry you’re up to. I know you have a book coming out in September. I think it’s the same date as our book! Two book birthdays happening at the same time! So tell us about all the fun things you’re up to these days.

Nancy: I love that. Well, what a day looks like in my life? There are no two days alike. That’s like mothering, right? [Laughter] There’s a lot of tedium, a lot of tasks like writing and preparing messages to speak. I have a conference ministry and write books, so most of what I do is behind the scenes preparing for public outreach. The Lord has given me the opportunity for almost 20 years to be involved in a ministry I started, Revive Our Hearts. Our byline is “calling women to freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.” That’s something that applies to every season of life.

When the ministry started, I was single. In fact, I was single until I was 57 years old. I really felt God would have me single for all of my life. I loved serving him, I loved ministry, and I loved being single. I was a champion of marriage, motherhood, and family–a big champion of it—and I loved coming alongside families and encouraging them, but I didn’t think God had that plan for my life. Long story short, when I was 56, a man came into my life. I had actually already known him; he was my agent years ago. I knew him, I knew his wife; they were married for almost 45 years. Bobbie, his wife, had two years of ovarian cancer that ultimately took her home to heaven. Many of us were praying for Robert Wolgemuth and his family as they walked through this. Not long after the Lord took her to heaven, Robert came back into my life and said, “Would you be interested in pursuing a friendship?” I was so taken aback; it was like God sent earth-moving equipment into my heart. [Laughter] I said to him in that first conversation, “If I were ever to be married, God would have to awaken love in my heart in a way that has never happened before.” And it did! [Laughter] So, at 57, I was married for the first time; he had been married for a long time. This is a huge new season of my life. We celebrate month anniversaries, because that’s the only way we’ll ever catch up to our friends. So, we had our 41st anniversary—months, that is—and I’m in a sweet, new season.

It’s been a good reminder that whether you’re a young mom, leading a ministry, having a career in the workplace, or whatever, that our lives as women do function as seasons. One of the lies the world tells us is you can do everything now, and you can’t. I’ve had to make some changes and adjustments in my life—the same way you were married and didn’t have children looked different than now having five children. In every season of life—here’s the sweet thing—God is faithful, his word is true, his grace is sufficient.

So now, Robert and I have written our first book together, which is the one you referenced. It’s coming out in September, and I don’t say that to promote the book, but I want to promote the concept. The book is called You Can Trust God to Write Your Story: Embracing the Mystery of Providence. In this book we tell a little bit about our story, but our story isn’t anything spectacular. We talk about people whose stories have taken them through hard places—infertility, a sick child, loss of a loved one, financial challenges, difficult marriage. Every woman who’s listening to this conversation right now, may or may not be in a hard place right now, but she will be in a hard place at different times in her life. We all will. We can’t predict those, we can’t control them, we can’t determine what they are. There are some hard placed we get into because we did stupid or sinful things. But there are a lot of hard places we get into from no fault of our own, no choosing of our own; it may be something in our past or present.

As we interviewed people for this book and listened to their stories, we realized when you look back, you realize you really can trust God to write your story. I want to say that as a word of encouragement to moms. We hear stories all the time at Revive Our Hearts: women who have a really sick child, lose a child; or fear about how their child will make it in today’s world, which there are a lot of things to be fearful about. There are times as a mom when your own marriage isn’t doing well, or you’re a single mom doing this by yourself, or you have a lot of little ones at the same time, which means you’ll have a lot of teenagers at the same time. [Laughter]

Laura: Oh dear.

Emily: I hadn’t thought that far ahead yet.

Nancy: I’ve never had children of my own, but my parents had six children in their first five years of marriage, which means they had six teenagers at one time. My mom was widowed at the age of 40 with seven children, ages 8-21. I don’t say that to make anyone afraid, but my dad was 53 and died of a heart attack. So my mom, who’s now 80, has spent the last 40 years of her life as a widow. There have been some really hard things, some hard places. I had a brother who was killed in a car accident, so she lost a child after losing a husband. You don’t know what that’s going to look like. I married an older man—Robert is 10 years older than I am—and I don’t know what his health is going to look like. I don’t know what my health is going to look like! Whatever season of life you’re in, the encouragement I try to give women and myself all of the time is: you can trust God to write your story.

I’m not sure how I got on all that, but that’s the book we’ve been working on this year. I really believe that applies as much to young mom as women in any season of their lives.

Emily: Thanks for sharing all that. I hope all our listeners got to have this treasured one-on-one coffee date with a woman who is farther along and able to look back and say, “This is what a lifetime of following and trusting God produces.” We have a lot of moms of young kids listening who are craving the voice of an older woman with the wisdom of years. It’s a joy for us to be able to hear that today and ponder what that means as we walk forward.

Nancy: If I can insert this thought: you women are in your early 30s, and you have a lot of young moms listening. I turned 60 this past fall, and I have to tell you that the distance from 20 or 30 to 60 is faster than you can imagine. [Laughter] I’m totally gray-haired. I don’t have nearly the energy I did at 30. I’ve never been a woman who’s afraid to get older; I’ve always looked forward to it. But I was at the gym this morning, and I told my trainer, “Sixty is so different. I’m physically having a lot of changes, and it happened so fast.” I look back at 20, 30, and 40, and I say, “How did I get to 60?!” [Laughter] It happens faster than you can imagine.

The habits, the choices, the faithfulness that younger women are making today—to love God and his word, to say “yes” to his promises, to cling to him when you can’t understand what he’s doing, to praise him when your eyes are filled with tears—are hard choices. Seeking God, putting him first, getting in his word when you feel like you don’t have a spare minute in your day, prioritizing your spiritual life and development—not just your to-list for the day—will reap the beautiful fruit and benefits and blessings when you’re 30, 40, 50, or 60. Now, you can blow it too. Whether you’re 30, 40, 50, or 60, or older, there are days we totally blow it. We fail and we don’t trust God at times, we lean on our own understanding; we get self-conscious, we get caught up in activity and busyness, we forget the Lord. That’s why the gospel is such good news—no matter what age you are. We can go back, humbling ourselves, and say Lord, “I tried to live this day without you. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t intend to, but that’s just what I did. I lost my cool. I got sharp-edged, or angry, or critical with one of my kids or my husband or somebody in the workplace.” The gospel is for sinners. It’s for people who blow it. The goal isn’t, at any age, to be perfect and then beat ourselves up when we fail. That’s a form of pride in itself, because did we think we could be perfect on our own? Living out the gospel in that season when you’re younger and have younger children will stand with you and will prepare a solid foundation on the rock, so that when worse storms come—as Jesus says in Matthew 7—and beat up on your house, you’ve built it on the rock, Christ Jesus, and the truth of his word. You’re going to find your house will stand even when those storms do beat up against it. I’m trying not to lecture—

Laura: No, go ahead. [Laughter]

Nancy: Now I’m looking back and saying, “Thank you, Lord, for putting some older women in my life who encouraged me to stay the course and press into you and your word.” And conversely, I have friends who spent their younger years and some now who are younger who chase things that won’t stand. I look on social media—and I know them personally—and see the things they seem to be giving their lives to right now won’t stand when they’re a wife, mom, older woman, grandmom, or empty nester. If you’re living for pleasure, for stuff, or for beauty, there’s no sin in those things. But if those are the priorities of your life, if your time is being spent on things that are temporal, if that’s where you’re focusing your heart, then when those storms come up in your life, you’ll find your house has been built on sand instead of the rock. As Jesus said, that house is going to fall. You’re going to ask how your faith didn’t stand strong. It’ll seem like your life blew away. The choices you make now—that we all make now—are the things that will determine in large measure the fruitfulness, the success, the joy of our lives down the road. So, what you’re doing today really does matter. The kind word to that child when you feel like there was no textbook ever written for this child. Stay in there, hang in there, stay the course, and God is going to honor and bless the godly and wise choices you make today.

Laura: I love that, Nancy. That was so encouraging. It was a good reminder, because as moms, we can get really bogged down in the day-to-day. We don’t step back and really remember what the goal is in this life, or where we’re headed, or where we’ll end up if we’re focused on social media, building a beautiful home, or creating amazing meals. What’s that going to lead me to in 30 years from now? Am I investing my time in God’s word today? Where’s that going to get me in 30 years? I think we all can say that we want to put our stock, weight, and time into reading God’s word. That’s going to be a more fruitful ending. Can you help us with a few tips or a step a mom could take today to dig more into God’s word? Something I love about your ministry and what you stand for is encouraging women to be in the Word of God, but sometimes for moms that can feel a bit elusive. Can you encourage that mom who’s struggling to know what that might look like?

Nancy: I think it’s not as complicated as we make it sometimes. We all heard it said, “You are what you eat.” And we hear that usually about our diet, right? My dietary habits were terrible in my 20s. Terrible. I lived in fast-food drive-thrus. When I hit 30, I realized I wasn’t feeling well and paying the price for all those Wendy’s burgers in my 20s. Because you are what you eat. You don’t see the good or bad result of what you eat that day, but over the course of weeks, or months, or years, you see it. You put on the weight, you feel sluggish, you don’t feel as strong. Spiritually, you are what you eat. You’re whatever you’re taking in. So what I’m taking in on social media, in the books I read or music I listen to, the conversations I have impact me. I spend a lot of time on social media reading and keeping up on trends, and some of that is really helpful, but some of it isn’t nourishing my soul. That’s not to say those things are wrong; I’m not talking about sinful stuff. If I don’t have a steady diet of the word in my system, I’m not going to have the spiritual strength, stamina, wisdom, insight, or discernment to do what God’s called me to do. What God has called you women to do right now is to love your husbands, love your children, keep your home—and by that I don’t just mean house cleaning, I mean building a home for the glory of God. You may have other aspects of your calling too: you may have a job outside of your home, a podcast, some writing. But whatever those things are that God has called you to do, you won’t be able to do them or the grace to do it if you haven’t been taking in a steady diet of God’s words.

There are tools about how to study God’s word and lots of resources online and out there, but I come back to reading and meditating on scripture—however you have to do it. If you want to get an appetite for God’s word, just read Psalm 119 out loud. You can do it in 13-15 minutes, depending on how fast you read. Just read it out loud and highlight where it talks about delighting in God’s word, loving God’s word. Make a note about what it says God’s word will do for you, what it will do in you, what it will give you. Just make a list of the benefits and the blessings that come from having God’s word in your system. You are what you eat. As you read that psalm, ask, “What can I do to get more of God’s word in my system?” I started reading God’s word as soon as I could read, like first grade. Now they’re reading at three, but whatever. [Laughter] I have a shelf full of Bibles that I’ve read through many times over the years. My life is very full, very busy. I work long days, hard days, and now that I’m married, I have a husband whom I love and I want to spend time with him too. So I don’t have extra margin in my life; I thought as I got older, maybe I would, but it doesn’t happen. We’re all busy. We all have full lives. But take time, find things that are not essential in this season of life and get rid of them. Now, don’t get rid of your kids, because they are essential. [Laughter] But if there are some things you’re doing that you don’t have to do right now—they may be okay or good things—don’t do them. You can’t do everything. David says in Psalm 27, “One thing have I desired, that will I seek after, that I may behold the beauty of the Lord and dwell in his temple inquire in his presence every day of my life.” I just paraphrased it, but that’s the gist of it: one thing. I’ve come to in my life numerous times when I came into that spiritual fast-food drive-thru—grabbing a psalm or a proverb and running into my day. I come back and say, “Lord, if there’s only one thing I can do in this day, it can’t be all the deadlines, demands, and things other people are begging for or screaming at me that they need.” My husband calls those things on the to-do list, “screaming babies.” And you guys have real screaming babies. [Laughter]

Laura: That’s very fitting.

Nancy: Even with your kids. There’s so much pressure today to compare what other people are doing today with their kids—sports, music, art, drama. Look at this recent college acception scandal; what kind of pressure was a mom feeling to think it was worth 500,000 illegal expense to get my kid into this or that school? I’m not slamming those moms, I’m slamming the tendency of our hearts to perform, to say we have to look like this or that, rather than saying, “All we have to have is Jesus.” If we don’t have him, we don’t have anything really worth having. If we’re not looking to him to guide our day and our steps, to raise our kids, to love our husbands, or do whatever is in our day at the workplace or church, then we’re going to be a frazzled, frenzied, frenetic Martha in Luke 10. She’s running around, barking out orders, and losing it. We can have these nice podcasts where we’re on our best behaviors, but the real test is when I’m pushed and stretched in my home with the people who know me best. I don’t have to be nice to them; am I breathing grace in, breathing grace out? I blow it so often. I’m not going to blow it on this podcast, but if it’s just Robert and me, or the people in our office, where am I going to get the grace to breath out when a staff member or a family member steps on my last nerve? What about when one of your kids does that? Or one of Robert’s family members? I inherited five teenage grandkids when we married. I’m supposed to love them well, to be gentle, compassionate, and kind. That grace is going to be in God’s word. Because you are what you eat. Do what you have to do. As a mom of little ones, you may not have an uninterrupted hour ever in your day, so take the minutes you do have!

I mentioned the gym earlier, and today I was in pain. I’ve been sick, and traveling, and whatever. When I left, my trainer said I needed to eat something little every four hours. It didn’t need to be a feast, just some almonds or cheese or whatever. That’s sometimes what it’s like for moms of little ones or anyone with a busy life. Sometimes it’s snacks. Get a verse and go back to it every hour on the hour through the day. Snacks don’t take the place of having really good meals on some sort of basis also. So when you can, set aside time to take a deeper soak in the word. There are a lot of different ways of reading through the scriptures. Put a microscope on it and spend a month on Psalm 23. Use a telescope on a journaling Bible for two and a half years. Get those meals, but get the snacks—when you’re nursing, feeding your kids, during naptime, when you think you’re so tired. Just get a verse you can cling to.

Emily: Wow, there was so much wonderful wisdom you gave there, along with practical things. I know that’s been Laura’s and my experience. When we’re going through seasons when we can spend those hours throughout the week to soak in the word, study deeply, prepare for Bible study, it’s those investments that allow us to snack on the other days where things are going crazy. Because of some longer investments, we’re able to jump right in to meditate on something or listen through a hymn and really understand what those words mean. I like what you described: those deposits do not return void. They build up over time; they’re living and active, and God uses those to transform us. He’s faithful to do that, even when we’re incredibly weak and very aware we didn’t check all the boxes. He still gives us grace in those moments through his word.

Nancy: I think part of the battle is having the desire or appetite. Here’s the thing: physically, the more you eat, the more full you are and the less you want. When you get stuffed, you can’t eat another bite. But spiritually, I’ve found the more you eat of God’s word, the more you crave it.

Emily: So true.

Nancy: If you don’t have a desire, tell God that and start reading. You’ll find you really start to long for God’s word. Again, there are tools that can help you in a meaningful way, especially if it’s new to you. But I think, a lot of times, the reason we’re not hungry for God’s word is because we’re filling up on other things. You know how you tell your kids not to fill up on sugar before dinner? You don’t want them to lose their appetite for the good stuff. Well, spiritually, if we’re filling our mental, emotional, and spiritual appetites with junk food on social media, it fills our appetite.

Social media can be a great way to connect meaningfully with people, but it can also strip us of an appetite for things that matter most: human touch, human relationship, and human connection with God. I’m not saying swear off it unless it’s hurting you and you need to get off. Just make sure it’s not the thing stealing or killing your appetite for God. If it is, then replace some of that with meditating on God’s word. I heard third and fourth graders quote most of Isaiah 53; that’s a long, hard passage. Those kids spent a lot of time memorizing that passage! If you think you can’t memorize all that, memorize one verse. Keep saying that one. The more you’re listening to God’s word, the more you’ll hunger for it.

Emily: I love that analogy! It’s like sugar before dinner. Within reason, there’s nothing wrong with eating something sweet or enjoying a dessert, but you can spoil your appetite for the true nourishment if you’re doing it out of moderation and at the wrong time. What you really need is bread, not Skittles.

Nancy: And that’s what we do when we’re really tired; we go to the junk food, right?

Laura: Yeah, what’s easy.

Nancy: When we’re tired spiritually, it’s so much easier to start scrolling through Instagram than it is to pick up my Bible. I get that. I do. I’m kind of a news junkie. My husband goes to sleep earlier than I do, so I’m laying in bed and it’s much easier to get into the news. But if I do too much of that for too long of a period of time, my soul will be starved. I’m not really helping my tiredness or refreshing my soul. I think I’m doing this to relax, but it doesn’t really do what I’m hoping it will. The Word of God will do that for me.

Laura: What goes in is what comes out. So you’re going to end up seeing the effects of whatever you’re feeding yourself.

Nancy: You are what you eat!

Laura: Yes, exactly. Well, Nancy, unfortunately, we already have to wrap up. We’re so grateful for the time you spent with us and our audience. I’m sure they’re feeling so excited about God’s word and so grateful for your words of encouragement and exhortation. We really appreciate the time you spent with us today. I feel like your love of the Lord is so contagious! We’re grateful for you sharing that with us today.

Nancy: Thank you! Can I just pray a brief prayer for the moms who are listening?

Laura: Of course! Please do.

Nancy: Lord, I want to lift up every mom. You know where she is and what she’s going through and facing in her day. I pray she’d be able to breathe grace in and breathe grace out; that you’d encourage her and strengthen her, giving her life according to your word. May she look up instead of just in or out, and find there that you’re pleased with her and favoring her, and that you will give her all the grace she needs for all you’ve called her to do this day. So give her courage, faith, and stamina, and may the investment she’s making this day produce much fruit for your glory. I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Emily: Thank you.

Laura: Amen, amen. Thank you so much, again, Nancy. We appreciate your time. If you guys want to learn more about Nancy, what she’s up to over at Revive Our Hearts, and more about the new book that she and her husband have written, please visit risenmotherhood.com and find our show notes for today’s show. We’ll have links for all sorts of things that Nancy’s involved with. You can also find us on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @risenmotherhood. We’ll have some stuff from this interview and other things Nancy does online this week that you can check out. Thanks guys for joining us!

Ep. 131 || How Do I Know if I’m a Good Mom? Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

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

Laura: Hey guys!

Emily: And this is fun, because if you’re listening to this in your car or while you’re doing dishes or on a walk, you should know we’re in front of a live audience right now.

Laura: Yeah! We’re not in Emily’s closet!

[Crowd cheers!]

Emily: It’s fun, because we’re recording live at my home church, Grand Avenue Baptist. It’s the church Laura grew up in. We have deep roots here: pastors, older women, peers who have shaped us over the years.

Laura: This church is a gift. I see some mugs here, let’s pull these up. So you can buy these if you’re here in person. But for our listeners: we’ve had a lot of questions about a Risen Motherhood shop online. A lot of our stuff sells out really fast when we do our once-a-year sale. Next fall, be looking for the shop! Watch social media; that’s where we’ll post updates on that.

Emily: I want my free shirt.

Laura: Emily’s obsessed with swag. She’ll vox me, “Where’s my stuff? Where’s my stuff?” She always wants to know when it’s coming.

Emily: I always want to know when I’m getting my Risen Motherhood t-shirt.

Laura: It will come. [Laughter]

Emily: I have bigger questions tonight, Laura.

Laura: We have a way bigger question.

Emily: This is a huge question. This is a question every mom asks. It’s one that keeps us up at night. It can make us toss and turn. It can put that pit in our stomachs.

How do I know if I’m a good mom?

Laura: This is the mother of all motherhood questions.

Emily: And I think some of us ask this in different ways. One way is, “How do I know if I’m enough?” We wonder if we’re meeting our children’s needs and if we can say we’ve done a good enough job as a mom.

Laura: Or maybe you’ll see that other sweet, cool mom and you ask, “Am I as good as her?” We wonder if we’re doing as good as another mom because she’s good. We ask, “How do I know if I’m like her?”

Emily: As I ask myself this question, I think about it as a spectrum of needs. At the beginning of the day, I’ll tally that I’ve fed them, got them where they’re supposed to go like school. They’re clothed, they’re hugged, and hopefully I’ve been loving to them. You get to the end of the day and you think you’ve done pretty well meeting all their needs. But then I realize there’s this whole laundry list of things I didn’t get done but feel pressure to do. The thing that always reminds of that is the calendar that comes home from school. You’re supposed to color every night—

Laura: You’re supposed to read for 20 minutes! [Laughter] Our kids go to the same school so I know this chart she’s talking about!

Emily: No matter how good of a day, the chart is still empty.

[Crowd laughter]

Laura: Fail. Yep.

Emily: And they also didn’t play outside long enough. There’s always a list of things I didn’t get done; the list is kind of infinite. No matter how many needs I meet, I didn’t meet enough needs.

Laura: Yes! I know you’ll relate to this part. Even if on my very best days I actually get it all done—I read for 20 minutes and color whatever it is—

Emily: Wait, it’s for one slice of pizza.

[Crowd laughter]

Laura: My son is very motivated for that slice of pizza! Those personal pans at Pizza Hut—

Emily: Wait, is it a whole pi...never mind.

Laura: We’ll talk about this after! [Laughter]

But no matter if I can do all those physical, tangible things for my kids, there’s still that Christian moral standard. Was I kind? Was I patient? Tender? Merciful towards my children? Much more than once that day, I can look back and find a time I definitely wasn’t. I may meet the outside physical measure of being a good mom—very rarely, but it can happen—but I can’t meet the inside standard. I’ll always fail.

Emily: One thing we want to get at as we discuss some of the things we struggle with is the reality that the definition of a “good mom” is elusive. If we’re going to answer the question, we have to be able to answer What is a good mom? That’s going to change for everyone. We want to walk through some things our culture says or thing we believe makes a good mom.

Laura: Well, I did a little bit of research, because I love research. In a 2017 Time Magazine article, “The Goddess Myth,” it talked about how every mom—especially when she first becomes a mom—builds a goddess mom who is perfect and good. She builds it through her doctor’s advice, influencers, her mother, or somebody she really respects. Culture recognizes that moms feel guilt and failure because they can’t meet whatever the standard is. Even though the standard is arbitrary and different for every mom, culture recognizes no one can meet this standard; it’s a myth.

Emily: It’s interesting how we put this together in our minds. It’s totally natural and normal that we’d look around at our own mom, mother-in-law, favorite aunt, or friend we think does it really well and piece together the image of what a good mom must do because this is what all the moms we respect around us do.

Laura: Or even if you don’t make it from a woman you know. Maybe you want to provide your kids with a better life than you had—that’s the standard. If it can be better than what you had, that’s a good mom. Maybe it’s about intentions; that’s a common one. If your intentions were good, that means you’re a good mom because you’re trying.

Emily: To go along with that, I think one we hear a lot in Christian culture is to try really hard to be really good and when you fail, just give yourself grace. Just try and then give yourself—

Laura: Super grace!

Emily: Yeah, like feel good, warm fuzzies when you fall short. The reality is, for a lot of us, these images change daily. We’re so fickle. One day, it’s this specific thing.

Oh! We forgot one: the methodology one.

Laura: Fill-in-the-blank.

Emily: So this would be “if.” I’m a good mom if...and you can fill that in with—

Laura: Co-sleeper. Babywise. Organic food. Junk food.

[Crowd laughter]

Emily: Junk food? Oh is that a method? [Laughter]

Laura: I don’t know. Probably. [Laughter]

Emily: I’m a good mom! I’m a good mom! [Laughter] Okay, let’s get back on track.

Laura: Go listen to our food episode!

Emily: What we wanted to get down to is clearly this impacts all of us. This reality that we’re not measuring up to whichever standard it is leads to all kinds of hard feelings, emotions, guilt, and shame in our lives.

Laura: A little more research for you. Mental illness affects one in nine mothers. Depression in young, expecting mothers is 51% more common today than it was 25 years ago. In that Time article, they did a survey to beef up the article. Seventy percent of the participants said they felt pressure to mother in specific ways, and over 50% felt guilt and shame when things didn’t go according to plan.

Emily: We want to ask this question tonight, or whenever you’re listening, because we think there’s an answer, a better question, and hope. Let’s jump in a layer deeper and ask why we’re so concerned with knowing whether or not we’re a “good mom.”

Laura: We want to walk through a very ancient story that has so many truths for us today. In the very first pages of the Bible, God created the heavens and the earth, man and woman. The woman was able to bear life, sustain life; she was made to be a woman and in Genesis 1:31 it says, “God saw everything he made and he declared it ‘very good.’” That means man, woman, the possibility for Eve to be a mother was declared very good. The question of, “Am I good mom?” was settled. In that moment, God declared that to be true.

Emily: The hard thing is it didn’t stay that way. We know Adam and Eve had one thing God told them not to do in the garden: eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam and Eve were tempted by this. They thought maybe there was something more that God hadn’t given to them. They wondered if there was additional good to be had. So they broke that commandment and ate from that tree, and sin and brokenness entered the world. It severed that reality of God’s very good creation that he had pronounced over them. It’s interesting because their response was to go and hide from God in shame and try to cover themselves. They tried to be away from him, which is really similar to the kind of response we have today when we realize we don’t want to stand in God’s presence because we don’t feel very good.

Laura: Because of sin, we actually can’t be the kind of mom God designed us to be. We can’t be the kind of woman God designed us to be. That’s because of a variety of things. There are things outside of our control: broken relationships with your husband, children, in-laws; death, disability. Things that feel like they’re constantly working against us. Then there are also things within our control in our hearts—the way we respond to our circumstances. They’re riddled with sin too: we’re not patient with our family, not longsuffering with our children, don’t show mercy, don’t offer grace; we’re unorganized, ficke, hot-cold, in-out, non-committal about things. All of this tends to push against us, against the design God originally had for all of us.

Emily: We were talking about this question, “Am I a good mom?” by thinking of a mirror and a fun house. I don’t know if you’ve stood in front of one of those—

Laura: Or maybe it’s like standing in front of a cheapo mirror we all have in our closets from Target for $10. If you put it this way, you look really skinny. So I like that mirror.

[Crowd laughter]

Emily: Those are great mirrors. [Laughter] No matter what way you shape shift, in the fun-house mirror something is always knocked out of shape and looks distorted and ugly. You can see this image of your reflection; it’s not that you can’t see yourself as a woman, but you’re trying to make something look good that’s not. It’s always going to be ugly and distorted no matter how you try to shape your body.

Laura: That’s a really good picture for how we can’t measure up to God’s good standard for who we should be. I think, at some level, all of us feel this. Whether or not we acknowledge the fact that there’s a true purpose and design for us, we can feel dissension. There’s a place deep in our bones and souls that we know something is bigger. Romans 1:20 says, “For his invisible attributes, names his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world in the things that have been made.” God’s presence has been made known to all since the creation of the world.

Emily: So we want to take this reality and question and longing to know we’re good—not that we’re just a good mom, but that we’re good. What’s the hope for that? Hope is a person, hope is Jesus. This is God’s Son who came to earth as a man. He actually lived a perfect life; he did everything right all the time. He was without sin. He wasn’t just a good man; he was a perfect man. He did all of that on our behalf.

Laura: Jesus knew we weren’t perfect, but he came anyway to save us. He took his perfect record and gave it to us. He went all the way to the cross, he died and rose again in three days. If we believe it in our hearts and confess it with our mouths, in God’s eyes, we actually get Jesus’ perfect record. We can’t meet the standard; we’ve never been able to and we’ll never be able to. Jesus did that on our behalf. He went into the courtroom of God and said, “I give them my record so they can meet the standard.”

Emily: What’s really encouraging for us is if we believe that, we actually get help and begin to change in motherhood. We don’t have to focus so much on if we’re measuring up or not. We can say, in Christ, we have measured up, and we have the helper, the Holy Spirit, living inside of us to help us walk through this life.

Laura: We still live with the effects of sin, even if you’re in Christ. You still feel this tension, you still mess up, and you realize this world is not perfect. That’s where we have the help of the Holy Spirit. When we fail, we can know our status as a daughter of the King isn’t in question. God isn’t going to ask us to jump through a hoop or do something really special to earn our status back. Our status is secure and it lasts, so we can strive to grow and change—not to become a better mom but to become more like Christ.

Emily: The question we want to fixate on is not, “How do I know if I’m a good mom?” but it’s, “Do I know and love the One who makes me good?” That’s really who we need to have a relationship with and know. Like Laura said, it’s really not about motherhood, it’s about us as whole women being before the throne of God, seen as holy and fully good in Christ.

Laura: So we can go back to that fun-house mirror, or my IKEA mirror. When you think about that, what has actually happened is Christ took away that distorted mirror we’re trying to look into to figure out what good motherhood is. He’s replaced it with this perfect image of who he is. Now, when we look into that mirror, we see our righteousness and eternity is secure in him, so now we can strive and follow after Christ, not this distorted image of motherhood. Ultimately, our goal is to be transformed day-by-day into Christlikeness.

Emily: When we fixate on Christ and we look into the mirror and see him, and he becomes our focus, it actually frees us up to do good to others. I like to imagine how much mental space frees up in your heart and in your day when you’re not constantly trying to judge if you meet whatever image you’ve decided on for that day as a “good mom.” It frees us up to pay attention to our children, to grow, to love others, to have joy and peace in circumstances when things don’t go exactly our way. There are all these incredible fruits and joys that come out of having that question settled.

Laura: I love that. There’s so much fruit that can happen. If my identity is secure in Christ, and I know I’m saved in him, then when I see some sweet mom doing some sweet stuff, I know it’s okay and I’m content with who Christ made me. I don’t have to feel jealousy or frustration or that not-enough-ness. I can be a better steward of the gifts God has given me, because I’m not pouring them out in an effort to be this rockstar mom. I’m pouring them out to make good for the Kingdom.

Emily: If we’re looking into this—well, no analogy is perfect.

Laura: She loves analogies.

[Crowd laughter]

Emily: But I have to give that caveat.

Laura: She’s like, “They always break down. Every single one.” [Laughter]

Emily: Okay but when we’re looking at the mirror, we’re looking at Christ. We’re focused on and fixated on him. So our lives can also get wrapped up in him. It’s self-forgetfulness when we’re not always staring at our own reflection. Something I’ve been thinking about lately is the more I stare at my own motherhood and try to fix it, I just can’t. You only get more and more entangled. But fixing our eyes on Christ and this redeemed, new person we are flows out into every role and relationship that we have. That’s really neat. The other day, while processing through these things, I said to Laura, “Redemption is not this isolated incident. It impacts everything else in our lives.”

Laura: Amen. So, if you’re struggling with this question, we know this is a hard concept. It might feel like, “I get the concept, so what’s next?” The first thing to ask yourself is, “Is Jesus my King?” For many of you in here, you might be able to say that you remember a time you asked Jesus in your heart and all that. But this is a great question to constantly reask yourself if Jesus is your King today? Right now? Who is on the throne? I know for me, a lot of times, it’s just me up there. So reasking yourself that question is always a really good place to start.

Emily: And because these are such big concepts and we’ll continue to struggle with this throughout our lives—

Laura: And this is a 20-minute show. [Laughter]

Emily: And this is a 20-minute show. I’m going to wake up tomorrow and do something that isn’t consistent with how Jesus would respond to others, so it’s going to be this lifelong battle and an area we continually need to grow and change. We have to have other people around us. We weren’t meant to do this alone. It’s important to get plugged in with a community of believers who can help keep your eyes on Christ.

Laura: Of course, studying your Bible and understanding this for yourself with a first-hand knowledge of God will always grow your love and understanding of how this plays out. And prayer. Even just a simple prayer of, “Help me, Lord,” or “I want to understand.” God promises he will answer us, be near to us; he hears us when we pray.

Emily: If you’ve listened to the show for awhile, you’ll recognize this term: preach the gospel to yourself, which is effectively what we did this evening. It’s remembering all those truths. Laura and I have repeated this so many times; I don’t know how many episodes we’ve recorded now. Guess what? I still need to repeat through it every week, and sometimes every single day. If you’re struggling, always go back to that remembering—what is the truth?

Laura: It’s remembering the story we told you tonight. Lastly, see the long-game. We keep saying, “You’re not going to change over night!” I think we have to remember God works on a timeline that’s much different than ours. If we were to snap overnight, I’d learn nothing. I’d be like, “Rockstar!” [Laughter] Thankfully, God works through hard things and slowly over time. Trust that long-game of the Lord; he’s growing you day-by-day more into Christlikeness.

Emily: Sometimes we think we’ve got this, now we’re ready for our circumstances to be really different. But we may wake up and nothing has changed. That’s the very place God wants to use us and transform us into Christlikeness—even in the midst of hard things.

Laura: We hope you can take a nugget from this and remember the next time you’re asking, “Am I good mom? Good enough for my kids?” you can remember instead to ask yourself, “Do I know and love the One who makes me good?” Even that sentence is preaching the gospel to yourself.

Emily:  It’s re-fixing your eyes on the only One who can make you good.

Laura: Exactly.

Emily: Well, thank you guys for listening. You can find our show notes and other information at risenmotherhood.com. You can follow us on social media @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Thanks to our live audience and to our listeners!

Laura: Thanks, guys!

Ep. 130 || Gospel Hope When You’re Annoyed as a Mom Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

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

Emily: Hey, guys!

Laura: I think the first thing we want to talk about is we released the cover of our book!

Emily: Woohoo! [Laughter]

Laura: Yeah, it was so crazy and fun to share the cover with you. The response was unbelievably overwhelming, humbling...so generous.

Emily: It was really fun, because it’s been a project we’ve spent almost two years working on in some form or fashion.

Laura: Like privately or in secret.

Emily: Yes! So it was a joy to reveal the look and feel of the book. Hopefully there will be more sneak peeks to come. If you haven’t seen it, definitely go to our website risenmotherhood.com/book to see the cover, find out how to pre-order, and find another really exciting thing we created recently.

Laura: Oh, you’re talking about our little printables! Yes! People asked us if it’d be ready for Mother’s Day, and unfortunately, our book doesn’t release until September 3rd of this year. But! We created a little card, so if you want to get this—maybe your husband wants to for you or you want to for a friend or baby shower gift—you can give the card to say, “Hey, I got this Risen Motherhood book and it’s on its way to you! It’ll be in your mailbox after it releases!” It’s super fun. You can print them for free and stick them in a card. If you want to pre-order now, you can still tell someone the book is coming their way.

Emily: It’s super beautiful and a great placeholder.

We want this to get the book in front of moms who are weary and tired and stressed out and maybe annoyed—like we’re talking about today! [Laughter] They need the hope of the gospel. It’s a joy to be on a shelf where a mom shops, because she might see it and grab it. Or maybe she’s on Amazon and it’s in that recommended section, so she clicks on it and puts it in her cart. We want it to get to moms right where they’re at. Pre-orders help us do that.

Laura: That’s what book distributors look at to decide whether they’ll carry the book or how many they’ll carry or who they’ll show it to. Like Em said, our hope is a mom whose never heard of Risen Motherhood sees the cover of the book, reads the back, and thinks she might check it out; inside is the hope of the gospel. We pray God uses that in her heart, because it’s not us. It’s not our words. It will be the Lord using it. We’re grateful for your support and you; we wouldn’t be here—or even have a book deal—without you. So, thank you so, so much. We’re really grateful to you guys.

Emily: Yes. All right, speaking of Risen Motherhood—

Laura: Let’s go!

Emily: We’re going to jump into today’s show. As we launch off, we want to start by acknowledging motherhood is a gift. Sometimes we don’t acknowledge that enough.

Laura: Yes, especially in a show like today. [Laughter]

Emily: As we share the good news with you, we spend a lot of time talking about the “bad news” or hard things because we’re in the trenches and dealing with the struggles. But motherhood is a joy and a blessing. It’s something many of us—Laura and I included—spend years of our lives hoping for and looking toward this season when we have children.

Laura: This show isn’t meant to minimize that motherhood isn’t good or wonderful. Motherhood is designed by God for us to be life-givers to adopted children or biological children. But still, you know, because of the fall and sin, there are hard days when this overwhelming feeling of annoyance seems to sneak up on us.

Emily: I think being annoyed as a mom is similar to anger. That was the topic we kept going back to as we talked about this show. It’s similar to anger, but a lot of times, it’s not there yet. It doesn’t seem that bad. But to say, “Oh, I’m feeling really angry right now,” seems powerful and intense. It seems easier for us to say, “You know, I’m kind of feeling annoyed.”

Laura: You can say it and not get in trouble with anybody, right? [Laughter] You can be annoyed and people say, “Mhmmm! That’s fine! You deserve to be annoyed.”

Emily: It’s the sense of feeling kind of impatient or irritated. The stress meter is rising, but we’re not at the point of saying we’re flat-out angry. We can just feel a little bothered.

Laura: ...which is kind of okay, you know? [Laughter]

So, we looked up what it means to annoy on Webster. There were some interesting definitions. The first one was “to disturb or irritate, especially repeated acts.” Oh my word.

Emily: That doesn’t sound like children at all. [Laughter]

Laura: I have one kiddo who loves to talk about what we’re eating and to know what we’re eating. And we eat—at minimum—three times a day! It drives me bonkers; all of the discussion around food, what we’re going to have, if we’re going to have the same thing every single day. If there’s one thing that annoys me, it’s having to repeat myself due to my child’s repeated acts.

Emily: Which is interesting, because children are hardwired to love repetition. And to love the routine, consistency. As a mom, it seems like we’ve said it one time, that’s enough.

Laura: Remember forever, child.

Emily: Yeah! They love it. “I want to hear it again!” [Laughter]

Laura: “What are we doing today?” “Why?” “Why?” “Why?” [Laughter]

Emily: Another part of the definition is “to harass especially by brief attacks.” [Laughter] Which sounds funny, but who among us gets attacked by our children? I know lately we have a “How to Train a Dragon” thing going on in our house. So our three oldest boys are regularly behaving like dragons. They’re acting like kids, which is fine—breathing fire at each other, sticking arms out funnily like dragon wings. But it really bothers me when somebody barrels into me while I’m trying to carry laundry to the other room and nearly knocks me over while they’re pretending to be a dragon. Those things do get annoying.

Laura: Exactly. So I think all of you can think of times when you’ve experienced these things. In general, I think it’s fair to say being annoyed as a mom is a normal thing. Sometimes it feels like you’re in a constant state of being annoyed, and sometimes it just pops up every once in awhile. But it happens to all moms; that’s the point. It might depend on a lot of things: what season you’re in, what ages your kids are, what stage they’re in, where your kids spend most of their time. Maybe they’re in daycare and you have less time with them. Maybe you’re home with them all day. Winter versus summer season, for me. Winter is just a little bit more annoying. [Laughter]

Emily: Definitely the noise level in the house depending on the time of year. I think some of what we’re consuming as a family matters. Whether it’s certain types of media, screen time, or books versus consuming scriptural things, talking about things that are truthful. It’s the “what goes in, what comes out.” So if you’re putting “How to Train a Dragon” in, “How to Train a Dragon” might come out. [Laughter]

Laura: We have solved your annoying problems! [Laughter]

Emily: There you go! [Laughter] That’s why they’re running around and acting like that.

Laura: But what’s some gospel hope for this situation? We’re going to kick it old school, and go through creation, fall, redemption, consummation for your guys. We haven’t done it in the past couple of episodes. We’ve done the gospel of course, but not in our traditional way. We want to do that today for you.

Emily: When we look back at God’s design for the world and mankind, we see everything functioned as it should. Things made sense. Cause and effect. Sowing seeds yielded good fruit. This work and labor Adam and Eve put their hands and minds to would’ve been profitable. Even though they were going to subdue the world, the world wasn’t pushing against them as it is now.

Laura: I think many of the daily annoyances we experience weren’t in Eden. Like Emily said, you’d plant a seed and there’s fruit. Rather than something dying or getting gnats—like my fiddle leaf tree recently. Their bodies never struggled with back aches, bruises, or blisters. They never stubbed their toe on the Ikea high chair with those really wide legs. [Laughter]

Emily: Essentially, their hearts would’ve been in this state of worship, focusing on the purpose God had for them, knowing God is God and they were there to carry out the creation mandate God gave them. But we know that not everything stayed that way.

Laura: They rebelled. So now because of the fall, life is full of true annoyances. Things are broken, so there are some things we’re annoyed by that are truly outside of our control. It’s annoying when our produce rots too quickly, and we have to go to the store. Our backs hurt when we’re pregnant. When we get mosquito bites when we were planning for a lovely hike on a Sunday afternoon with the family. It’s annoying when you spend hours on the phone fighting insurance to pay for our child’s medical needs. It’s annoying to be in traffic. We could go on and on! [Laughter]

Emily: It feels like no matter where you go or what you do, frustrating things happen you have to deal with.

Laura: But how we respond to those annoying things is within our control. Because of the fall, our natural inclinations are to respond in a way that may be self-justified. I know I can often think that being asked a question one million times a day is actually annoying. So anyone in their right mind would be annoyed by this.

Emily: Another thing we do is self-protect. It’s the feeling that if our children didn’t do this, we wouldn’t be so impatient or unkind. Maybe we even withdraw from a situation because something is annoying and we don’t want to be around that feeling.

Laura: Yeah, we can self-soothe in those moments, thinking we deserve to be treated better because we do so much to serve our families, so why can they see that and appreciate it? It’s functionally a nice pity party we throw for ourselves.

Emily: Proverbs 12:16 says, “Fools show their annoyance at once, but the prudent overlook an insult.” When we think about this concept of annoyance and overlooking an insult, the reality is we’re all going to be annoyed at some point. Our kids will act like kids. And sometimes it’s just part of the fallen world we live in. We’re going to sigh and wish things weren’t as they are. But the prudent is able to experience that annoyed feeling and turn to the Lord. The fool is going to immediately—or soon after—express their annoyance. It’s going to give birth to sin in the way we treat other people, make demands, or try to self-preserve. We thought that verse showed the difference between handling an annoyance and turning to Christ versus handling it in a way that probably hurts others.

Laura: Exactly. It can often lead towards sin, but that’s why Christ came to die. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We all struggle with this. One area I take a lot of hope in is when I think of annoyance, I think the opposite is patience or long-suffering. We can look to the Lord and see places in the Bible where God has revealed absolute perfect patience. The first example is the Old Testament with the Israelites. Who hasn’t read those stories and thought of how annoying the Israelites must’ve been? But how patient God was with them! How often he repeated himself over and over again, telling them about his love and his good deeds, his mercy and his kindness! They constantly forgot and complained, but God was willing to come back and repeat himself. He showed up for them over and over again, caring for a very annoying people. Exodus 4:6 says, “He is a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.”

Emily: Mhmm. Very different from the way we often respond. Even in the New Testament, we think of Christ coming to save his people and fulfill the things the prophets had said about him and things that pointed to him. People don’t even notice as they chase him around, asking him for miracles or trying to find a question he can’t answer. Or they misunderstood his intentions and tried to corner him—

Laura: Just generally being really annoying. [Laughter]

Emily: I read this morning in Hebrews how Jesus was tempted in all the ways we were tempted, and yet, he resisted temptation even to the point of death on the cross. That is an example for us. He did it on our behalf so we can be in those situations and see his perfect record for us.

Laura: And all of this flows into today; this isn’t just for Bible times. Think of all the opportunities Christ has to be annoyed with us as we’re in, we’re out, saying yes, saying no, we’re hot, we’re cold, we do our quiet time, we don’t, we had the right motives, we didn’t have the right motives—all of these things! But Christ is continually so patient with us as our hearts are way worse than some of our toddlers’ outward behavior we’re struggling with.

Emily: Yeah, that’s always a really sobering thought, isn’t it? When you think of your child and some of their behaviors, but then you realize you treat the Lord that way all the time. I think one thing to look ahead to is 2 Peter 3:9, which says, “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient to you, not wishing any should perish but all should reach repentance.” As we’re dealing with these annoyances in our lives, God is patiently hoping these draw us to him, that we turn to him in this fallen world as we come up against things that are a struggle for us or frustrating for us—that we’d repent and turn to Christ.

Laura: It’s a great chance to see it as sanctification. As mothers, it’s really challenging to see the patience of God with a very, very annoying people. Like Emily said, we may be annoyed by childish behavior in motherhood, but because we have Christ in us, we can model him and have godly responses toward different things that aren’t as fun in our lives—particularly those annoying things. We want to talk through a few practical things if you’re in a season of feeling annoyed more often than not or not sure what to do with those feelings.

Emily: One thing we want to consider is are we caring for our souls? Not necessarily like a good bath after the kids go to bed or reading your favorite blogs or getting a girls night out. Now, we definitely think those things are nice and good and can be helpful at times. But we really ought to regularly be finding our soul’s rest in the Lord. That’s going to help us in these situations when our kids are acting childish or different things annoy us. This is sometimes proactive; it’s making our time with God a priority. We need to stay in the word. We need to keep our Bibles open on the counter so we can look at it throughout the day or listening to an audio version of the Bible. Maybe it’s listening to good music or having a Bible verse in the car. Whatever those things are that can constantly remind us that God is God and we’re not God. We live in his world, and we’re here to advance his Kingdom. I know I always need that reorienting perspective.

Laura: Another one is to take a hard look at your schedule. I know whenever I have too full of a schedule or am not dealing with stress the right way, I’m often 1,000 more times likely to act on annoying behaviors or act out in that moment. Is your schedule too full? Are you able to slow down and deal with those unexpected kiddo needs? Is it too jammed pack that any inconvenience or deviation really frustrates you? It can be a good thing to identify pinch points. Are there days when your attitude is worse than others? I know “witching hour” after school is often a hard time for a lot of families. You’re not alone if that’s true for you. So, what can you do now to be proactive to change that? Maybe talk to your husband and see what he thinks. Maybe talk to a friend and find some new strategies. Those are really practical things, but they can make a pretty big difference.

Emily: Which goes back to our hearts leading to our attitudes. Something I ask myself when I constantly feel annoyed is, “What rights do I functionally believe I have right now? Do I think I have a right to a quiet house? Finish my task list without interference?” How can I speak truth into those situations to remind myself of my role in the bigger Kingdom and the things I actually deserve, because Christ has given me what I don’t deserve: favor. That can quickly—but sometimes not so quickly [Laughter]—reorient our perspective rightly.

Laura: Make it a practice to stop and pray any time you struggle with annoyance. This can be as simple as a short prayer for help. I’ve pulled my kids aside and asked for prayer right in front of them. Sometimes they’re so shocked, the behavior stops immediately. [Laughter] If anything, it’s a great chance for a reset and to share vulnerably with the kids about my own sin and areas where I need God’s help.

Emily: Yeah, we hope wherever you’re at with this feeling of annoyance today—maybe you’ve been annoyed while listening to this show because of a kid in the background… [Laughter]

Laura: Hopefully not by us though! [Laughter]

Emily: So, whether you’re feeling annoyed right now, yesterday, or you’ll face it later in the week, we hope you’ll turn to Christ. Laura and I are preaching the same things to ourselves.

Also, a reminder that if you want to take a look at the Risen Motherhood book, you can at risenmotherhood.com/book. You can also find our show notes at our website. Find us on social media this week @risenmotherhood on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Thanks, guys!

Laura: Thank you!

Emily: Thank you! [Laughter] I was being annoying right there.

Laura: Ha! I just gave Emily the weirdest look right there. [Laughter] Like, “What was that?!”

Emily and Laura: Bye, guys! [Laughter]

Ep. 129 || How Ordinary Women Spread the Gospel Story: An Interview with Dr. Michael Kruger Transcription

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. Today we’re chatting with Dr. Michael Kruger about a topic we love: church history. Even though that might feel a million miles away from your everyday life and motherhood, we think you’ll be pleasantly surprised and encouraged by God’s work in that time period and its impact on us today. We discuss how women can have important work and influence for the Kingdom in seemingly ordinary ways, how the gospel brings us together in the midst of external differences, and how knowing the scriptures helps us discern and live counter-culturally in the world around us. We think you’re going to love this interview with Dr. Kruger. He’s the president and professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. His recent book, Christianity at the Crossroads, expands on this topic. He currently serves as an associate pastor at his home church, Uptown PCA. Some of you guys might recognize his name, because he’s married to Melissa Kruger. She’s a Board member here at Risen Motherhood. Okay, let’s jump into today’s interview with myself, Emily, and Michael.


Laura: Hi, Michael! Thanks for joining us on Risen Motherhood today.

Michael: Great to be with you both!

Laura: We’re thrilled you’re here. We gave a little bit of an intro a couple of minutes ago, but we’d love for you, in your own words, introduce yourself, your family, and what your daily life looks like right now.

Michael: Thank you! My name is Mike Kruger. I’m currently the president and New Testament professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, NC. I teach the Bible—mainly New Testament courses—and help run this particular campus. I’m married to my wife, Melissa, who many of your listeners may know. She’s the Director of Women’s Content for The Gospel Coalition and has written a number of books. I’m blessed to be married to her. We have three children—Emma (18), John (15), and Kate (12).

Emily: That’s great. We’ve loved getting to know your wife; she’s been a huge blessing to us and our ministry. We really appreciate a lot of the wisdom you two have shared on parenting. For the listeners’ sake, Laura and I really wanted to invite Michael on, because we sat through a really excellent break out session at TGCW on the topic we’re diving into today. It was one of our favorite things we came away with from TGCW. So, we’re really excited to hear more.

Michael: Very good. I’m glad you guys were there. That was a fun time.

Laura: Why don’t we start at a base level here? We love talking about church history on Risen Motherhood, and we love encouraging all our listeners to study it. Can you help us understand why this might be important? Especially for a mom—how might it be useful in her daily life?

Michael: That’s a great question. For the average woman whose wondering, Why should I listen to this podcast?, I’ll mention two reasons out of many. I think women—like any believer—are always wondering, How do I fit into the Church? What’s my place? What can I do to contribute? How can I be involved? And maybe even more than that, Does anything I do matter? We typically answer that by looking around us in the present and asking, What are other people doing? What’s my church like? and so forth. When we look at church history, we get a bigger and broader perspective. And what I hope people take-away is this realization that women have played a critical role in Christianity long before the modern day. In fact, they played a role in the founding of the Church, one of the most critical roles in the founding of the Church. In that sense, I think this will hopefully be encouraging to women listening that there’s a great, long heritage in history of women being a part of the ministry of Christ and they can be a part of it too. That’s one reason. I think the second is also important. There’s a myth out there that Christianity as a religion is somehow hostile to women, or maybe not a place that welcomes women, or women can’t find a home in, or what have you. Those are comments we get from the world that sound like somehow there’s this conflict between women’s interests and the Christian faith. I think when you look at church history that wasn’t what the early Christians thought. Women flocked to Christianity in droves in early centuries, and I think that’s a great lesson for people too.

Emily: I think you got right to the heart of what many moms feel and face: does this stuff I do everyday matter? Where do I fit in this Kingdom work? That’s so helpful to know it’s not just dishes, but we’re swept up into this greater story throughout history with a broader purpose. That’s really helpful.

Michael: I think the average person out there—male or female—doesn’t know what happened in early Christianity. In the talk you were apart of, I highlighted many different dynamic ministries women were involved in. It should be exciting for people, and hopefully, motivating.

Laura: Your work has been mainly focused on the second century church, and we’d love for you to give us more of a background. We know you wrote an entire book on it that’s really helpful, so can you help us understand why these years are so important to the life of the Church as a whole and Christian faith as we know it today?

Michael: Yeah, that’s a great question. A couple things to note about the second century. One, it’s an overlooked century. Most scholars—and even lay folks—just don’t think much about it. Usually when we think about church history, we think about fourth, fifth century church councils and big events; the second century kind of gets neglected. It’s even been called by some, “The Cinderella Century of the Church.” There’s a sense it’s bypassed and not noticed. But the other thing to note is how critical it was to the life of the Church. It’s the first century where Christians had to make their way in a hostile Roman world without the help of a living apostle. The apostles had all died by the time the second century came around. The Church was on its own, trying to figure out how to make it in the world—kind of like a newborn animal on the Serengeti plains looking around thinking, “I was born in a very scary world, and I’m not very strong, and I can’t run very fast. What’s going to happen to me?” I think people forget how frightening that must’ve been for the earliest Christians; how tenuous things were.

Emily: I think that’s really helpful. As moms, we can feel like some of the issues we’re struggling with in coming together in community with other women with different views or backgrounds are hard; we have a lot of fear and anxiety about the world we’re raising children in; we want to raise them up in the Lord with Christian values, but we can feel like there’s a terrifying culture and we don’t know what to do. But we’re not the first people to face this. We can go back and look at what the second century was facing, which can give us some comfort about what God did in that challenging time for them: growing and expanding the Church. I like that you drew that out.

Michael: Yeah, well a lot of people who are watching our current cultural moment—and it’s a scary cultural moment when you look around and see all the trends—think it looks like everything is spiraling out of control. We’re envisioning for the first time being in a world that’s a post-Christian world. When you look at the second century, you realize this isn’t a new scenario for Christians; we’ve been here before. In fact, what’s the unusual scenario is how good we’ve had it for the last two centuries in the United States; that’s actually the anomaly. I think we’re kind of back to status quo now, or at least getting there.

Laura: That’s really insightful and really interesting to think about. Okay, so in your book, you highlight the value of women; can you walk us through some of that core evidence that you bring up? You highlighted it in the talk we listened to and in the book. How did women play a major role in the growth of Christianity? And what were some of their significant contributions?

Michael: I think I’d begin that Christians in the early centuries were very much misfits; they didn’t fit in very well for a lot of reasons. They were an unusual bunch. The Greco-Roman world looked at the Christian community and found them to be odd. There’s a lot of things that made them odd, but one of the things that made them particularly unusual was how many women were around the Christian communities. The reason that was unusual was because in the Greco-Roman world, women made up about one-third of the population, meaning in the average scenario it was two-thirds men, one-third women. There are a lot of historical reasons for that but I won’t get into that here. Women were definitely in the minority numerically. But then if you were to go to a Christian gathering—from what we can tell statistically—it seemed to be the inverse that most of the Christians were women; about two-thirds of them. So it seemed to be an almost complete flip-flop from the Roman world. Scholars noted this as fascinating. Apparently Christian women were around in great numbers and represented a large number of the earliest Christians we have on record. There are so many things that show the prominence of Christians within the early centuries; I can walk through some of that evidence if we want to. I’ll just give one example and we can dive deeper if you guys want to. One example I think is particularly intriguing is hostility of one of the Roman governors, Pliny. Pliny the Younger had Christians in his province that were driving him crazy, and he was looking for relief. He wrote a letter to the emperor—at this time was Trajan—and complained about all the Christians. He said he found some to torture for information. And when he said that, he says he found two female Christians to torture. So it looks like, from Pliny’s perspective, when he wants to find a Christian to talk to about what Christians really believe, the first two examples he found were women. I think that’s indicative of the larger scene. So I think step one in this conversation is to recognize—numerically speaking—Christianity was very popular among women. Now in terms of what they did, we can get to that in a second. But I hope this is an encouraging point in its own right apart from what women were doing in particular. The fact that they found it to be such a comfortable and inviting place is certainly noteworthy historically.

Emily: Jesus is good for women. [Laughter]

Michael: Well apparently the early Christians thought so! I always envision a scenario where someone might walk up to a Roman woman whose become a Christian and say, “Don’t you think Christianty oppresses women?” And they would probably look at them like, “Are you kidding me? Christianity is the solution to the oppression of women in the early centuries—not the problem.”

Emily: What an important countercultural word for us today. Some of the popular messages that moms run across on Instagram from influencers tell them the answer to their problems is to pursue their own dreams, and to break free from their own mold, and to follow everything the world has to offer. In contract, it makes it look like Christianity and obeying God is what’s oppressive. But really, as we know, the Kingdom flips everything upside down. So that’s a breath of fresh air to hear that in the early church, this was a very free and life-giving thing for women to know Jesus and be apart of his Church.

Michael: I think in the early centuries, they found Christianity very refreshing. It seemed to be a place of safety, comfort, and relief from many of the problems they faced in the Greco-Roman world. It’s curious to note some of Christianity’s harshest critics often mocked them for having so many women around. What’s funny is our modern world says Christianity should be mocked for being anti-women, but what I want to point out is that in the ancient world, they were mocked for being pro-women. I think that’s something people need to hear. That’s not the way it was then. Christianity had so many women around they were seen as the place for women.

Laura: You mentioned a little more evidence for some of the reasons women were flocking to Christianity. Can you give a little bit more? We have some time here, and I think that’d be so interesting to dive a bit deeper.

Michael: Yes! We have all the evidence for the prevalence for women, and the evidence I gave of Pliny is one. But even in the New Testament we have numerous examples as well. I mentioned in my talk Paul’s letter to the Romans. At the end—chapter 16—he mentions all the people he’s thanking for their involvement in ministry. A large chunk of that list—nearly half—are the names of women. When he goes through that list, he thanks them for the many ministries they’re involved in. We see they’re doing all kinds of things in Christianity: they’re involved in mercy ministry, helping orphans and widows; financial support, a lot of wealthy women are patrons; some of them are hosting churches in their houses; some are missionaries traveling and evangelizing. There are so many things women were doing. You can see even in that letter, there’s sense that Paul’s already hinting at a number of those activities. We have other sources later that confirm the same thing later: women were involved in a multiplicity of ministries that were all central to the health and life of the early Christian movement.

Laura: I love that. All those women were doing different things and fulfilling their gifts in the roles and places that God had them. That’s so encouraging as a mom, because we all look really different in our day-to-day, but we can still do Kingdom work right where God has placed us and make huge impacts in furthering the gospel mission. That’s really helpful. And I love that it’s not just in the second century church but we see it in the Bible.

I’d like to switch our focus for a moment. Our theme this year at Risen Motherhood is unity in the gospel. We’re talking about all these people coming together, a mash-up of different backgrounds, genders, and ethnicities; even different socio-economic statuses. Can you draw out what the second century church can show us about how the gospel makes us one in Christ? Where do we find that unity?

Michael: There are so many different examples, wow. You’ve touched on a few. One of the things that was peculiar about Christianity was the way it brought despair-groups together. In the ancient world, there was a very strong stratification of society—usually along socioeconomic lines but also in other ways. You just didn’t mix classes in the way we think of today. When the Christian church came around, suddenly you’ve thrown in the “same pot” all these people from different backgrounds—cultural, economic. There was a bringing together of people in an unprecedented fashion in the early Christian movement. This was perplexing to the Greco-Roman world that you would reach out to people who were in a social status different than yours—in particular, lower ones than yours. Early Christians were known for the way they’d care for the poor in their midst: widows and orphans in need. That wasn’t what you did in the Greco-Roman world; you didn’t care for those in need, you just looked out for yourself. The idea that disposition was what set Christians apart. It’s what made it clear they loved each other and were unified and drawn together. The Bible is very clear on this, “They know us by the way we love one another.” Jesus himself taught that in the garden discourse. You could see it play out very plainly in the second century.

Laura: I think that’s such a good picture for today, because we all want to be in our own tribes of like-minded people. As moms, we can create little camps that no one ever knew existed by things we identify with. But what a picture we can be when we lift our eyes from women who do things the same as us, look the same as us, or are in the same class as us. I think that’s a great word to all of us to recognize we don’t need to have this tribalism among mom camps or that “mommy wars” don’t need to exist if we were all imaging Christ to all the women around us. If we really reached out, we could be a light like the early Christians were. We could be a bridge to women in other stages of life and other life situations.

Emily: Yeah, and I was thinking about, “They’re known by the way they love one another.” How countercultural and what message it would send to the world if moms in other spheres outside of Christianity really battle over these issues of choices and the way you parent, but in the Christian church, all these different moms are gathering and getting along and loving one another, even though they parent differently. They’d ask, “How is that? What’s the answer to that?” Maybe we could give an answer for the hope we have in Christ.

Michael: Absolutely. And I think from a historical perspective, people forget tribalism is a luxury during a time period when you’re not struggling with persecution. In the ancient world, they didn’t have time for tribalism. They were in survival mode. There’s nothing that binds a community together more quickly than suffering together. Honestly in America, in the last two centuries and more, we’ve had a situation where there hasn’t been any serious persecution at all. So we can all fight and bicker about all kinds of things. In the ancient church—not that they never disagree—it was more core and serious issues of survival that knit them together. I think this new phase we’re in culturally may end up blessing the church in a paradoxical way by knitting us together in ways we never have before.

Laura: So in your book you talk a little about how different version of Christianity were competing for the right to be the authentic version of the faith. As we’re talking about different things we can be divided over, one main thing is true orthodoxy. There can seem to be a lot of division around what it is and who’s saying what. Are there some lessons we can see from the early church as they navigated how to hold onto that truth orthodoxy that we might be able to apply to ourselves today?

Michael: Yeah, absolutely. Wow, you guys have read the book! I’m impressed. [Laughter] You’re pulling in some of those other chapters, and that’s great. There are a number of lessons we can draw from that. One lesson I’d start with is people need to realize false teaching is not a new problem in the Church. In the early church, they faced it too. There were people who were leading the Church astray and teaching things that were not faithful to scripture. The Church took that very seriously back then and worked hard to make sure people stayed on course. We can translate that into the modern day: we shouldn’t be naive about the seriousness about maintaining truth and keeping an eye out for people who would lead us astray. I think there’s a sense in the world—even in the Christian world—that theology doesn’t matter that much or let’s forget about our doctrinal positions and all just get along. Certainly we want unity, but we have to realize those theological truths really do matter; there will be people who want to pull us away from them. I think that’s step one: realizing we have great lessons to learn from the early centuries about fighting for good theology. That needs to still happen today.

There are other lessons too. One of the things the second century church did repeatedly when it faced these theological challenges is they continued to point people back to scripture and the core truths of what we believe. The Bible has to be central to everything we do as Christians, and that was true of the earliest Christians. They disagreed over extraneous things, but there were core things in scripture they had to be united on: the core elements of the gospel message. They always pointed people back to the Word of God. It wasn’t simply opinions winning the day; it was ultimately about what scripture taught. The only way to survive in the modern day is to keep ahold of God’s word like that.

Emily: I know your wife, Melissa, gave a great talk on discernment at TGC, which is also something we talk about at Risen Motherhood. To build on what you’re saying, in order to be able to separate good theology from wrong theology—or even self-correct over the years because we’re all growing and changing—we have to know scripture better. We have to have those discussions within a gospel-community of believers who also love scripture. That helps us so much over time to be able to hear the truth in something and also spot the lies more easily, because it doesn’t necessary come from evaluating bad sources; it comes from knowing the true source really, really well.

Michael: I think in our modern day, people—if they’re honest with themselves—make their decisions about what they believe based entirely on what they feel at the time. It’s easy to do that; we all struggle to do that. The early centuries remind us you can’t let that be the determining factor; you have to anchor into scriptural truth even if it’s hard, even if it’s not what you would pick. I tell people all the time, “If you read the Bible and find yourself in immediate agreement with everything in it, you need to ask yourself if you’re really reading it.” God is going to challenge you. You can assume all your views are what the Bible says. What if the Bible has a view you don’t have? You have to be willing to submit to it. That is the heartbeat of the Christian life: following God’s word even if doesn’t always make sense to us.

Emily: Praise the Lord he is sovereign. We can look back at the struggles happening in the second century church up to now and know he preserves his word. Over time, over the course of history, as people ebb and flow, push and pull, and form their theological thoughts, God’s word stays true. He really does preserve his church. I’m encouraged by that.

Michael: I think anyone who studies scripture or church history has that as a main take-away: God’s perpetual faithfulness to his people over the years. It’s particularly acute in the second century. On the human level, it looked like at a couple of points, the whole thing was going to end. It looked like it’d be snuffed out, like they wouldn’t make it. But God was true, and he didn’t let the Church fail. He’s going to keep it strong. Even when it looks down and out, it’s going to make it. That reminds you we’re not the first to do this thing called Christianity. We stand in a long line of people who’ve gone before us. That’s a humbling and encouraging thing for us.

Laura: Amen, that’s good. The last thing we typically do with anyone who comes on our show is we allow them to say a word to a whole lot of moms—most of them with young children in the throes of early motherhood. We want to give you some space to share. We know you’re a dad and you’ve been through raising children, so we’re curious if you have anything you’d like to say to our listeners?

Michael: Wow, that’s a generous opening there. [Laughter]

Laura: Yeah, maybe a little dangerous. I don’t know. [Laughter]

Michael: You may want to pull that invitation back depending on which route I go. Wow, there’s so much to say. Yeah, we’ve all been there. Melissa and I have been there, and we still have kids at home, even though they’re older now. But we can remember the younger years in particular. I can remember days and weeks—if not months and years—where you feel like you’re just barely coming up for air. Life becomes a blur. But I want to return to a point we made a minute ago: in the midst of that crazy life, always be looking for ways to anchor yourself in scripture again and again. I know for women listening in, the show does that; other mediums do that in helping people get back to the world. And I think sometimes in the world of parenting, you can think you’ll just put that off for awhile because you don’t have time for that or you don’t need to dive deep into the Bible and theology until your kids are grown. I’d encourage people to rethink that. Being in the word and taking theology seriously is like eating. You don’t say you’re not going to eat for a few years and see how you do. You need spiritual food. It’s as important as any meal. It’s as important as anything else. And here’s the big payoff: when you do that, you’re going to be a better parent. I think people think it’s going to steal time away, but never is time with the Lord at odds with time with your kids. It’s going to reshape you and help you be what God calls you to be with your children. And if nothing else, it shows the example to your children that God is number one, not them. Your children are not number one, God is number one. Your children need to see that, because if they begin to think they’re number one, that’ll put an unhealthy burden on them to live up to that. They don’t actually want to be number one, despite what we think. They want to know God is number one in our lives as parents. That is actually relieving for children in ways we probably don’t understand. So stick with that commitment to scripture. That’s my biggest advice.

Laura: That’s really encouraging. When I first entered motherhood, I was gobbling up the motherhood books—every single one I could find. As I have progressed through motherhood, I’ve realized more and more how God’s word holds everything that I need. All those extra books and resources are wonderful and can be so helpful, but ultimately, scripture is the only thing I can rely on and the only thing I can love and adore. As I grow in understanding his word, I think it pays off in so many ways. I see God provides all I need for conversations and raising my kids and training them and discipling them. I see it filter well. It doesn’t always feel like a direct application to parenting as I study God’s word, but I can see it is changing me, growing me, and molding me as a mom. Again, I don’t want to say resources aren’t helpful. But just like you said, God’s word is sufficient and we shouldn’t be distracted by all the flashy things that seem a little more direct or applicable to our exact situation. God will use his word faithfully in our lives.

Michael: Amen.

Emily: Well thank you so much, Michael, for your time and coming on our show today to share about this topic. We hope many of our listeners are now very interested and curious to know more about this. And thank you for sharing a little bit of your heart for parenting, the Word of God, and God’s sovereignty throughout history. It’s been a blessing to us. We really appreciate it.

Michael:  Thanks so much. I enjoyed talking to both of you.

Emily: You guys can find out more at risenmotherhood.com or on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter @risenmotherhood. Thanks for joining us!

Ep. 128 || “I Just Can’t Make it to Bible Study!”: How Busy Moms Get Involved Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily, here with Laura.

Laura: Hey guys!

Emily: Today we’re talking about getting involved in ministry in the local church. This is a topic near and dear to our hearts. We did a workshop on this at a conference in early 2019, and we felt like this would be applicable to all Risen Motherhood listeners. And I need to hear it too—over and over again. So we’re excited to dive into this a little bit today. It’s a slightly different format of show than we usually do.

Laura: Yes. If you’ve listened to our show for any amount of time, you know this is a major passion area for each of us. We’re hopeful we’re not your primary source of nourishment or encouragement. We love having you guys here; you’re seriously the best and it’s been so fun to meet some of you and hear your stories firsthand this year as we’ve done some conferences. But really, truly, we hope you put your best and first efforts into your local church and women’s ministry. We’re going to talk through the practical things: What are the hindrances a mom faces? How can she overcome those in the years with little kids?

Emily: I feel like it’s a decisive time. When you go from not having children to having a baby for the first time, or maybe you adopted and you’ve got a toddler or two—however that worked out. It kind of feels like all the balls in your life go back up in the air, and you don’t know how everything will fall. Maybe you’re experiencing new vulnerabilities you haven’t in the past and you feel the need for a different type of community—more support spiritually and emotionally. I think we’ve seen it can be an easy time to pull out of the church, and it can also be a great time—we think one of the best times—to really press in where you can. We wanted to start by talking through some things we’ve experienced in the little years and some of the myths we’re tempted to believe when things get hard.

Laura: I think when I became a first time mom, I remember the idea around me: “moms are victims who are constantly overwhelmed, because there’s so much around them that they don’t have any time for themselves; they’re just surviving.” I felt that. It wasn’t just that I heard those things reinforced, I also did feel them. I think it’s a very real feeling. If you’re feeling that way right now—that you’re not able to manage a lot and you’re just surviving—I don’t think you’re weird. [Laughter]

Emily: You’re not alone! [Laughter]

Laura: But mom culture at-large really reinforces that message: “Moms are hot messes!” You know?

Emily: Yeah, and I think that translates into the church. Laura and I have both been in settings where someone has made a comment at a Bible study about us being moms with little ones who are too busy to do our study, be on time, be consistent—because we need to care for our kids. It can feed into the feeling that we can’t do it or be there. It can be a difficult thing to process through.

Laura: It’s hard, because we really appreciate that grace people give us when they say it’s okay if we can’t get our Bible study done to still show up. That is so needed, and we’re so grateful for that. At the same time, I remember being told, “Honey, you don’t have to do your Bible study. You’re a mom; you have better things to do.” That was a message that settled in my heart in the wrong way. I knew right away being in the word was the most important thing, but those comments feed what we’re talking about. We want to get to that truth right now about how motherhood and being involved in ministry in the little years really is achievable. It may look different in this season of life than it has in the past and will in the future. I think motherhood is busy, but you’re busy with really different things. For me, it was a season where suddenly I went from working full-time to being at home full-time. There were nap schedules and feeding schedules, so it was really busy, but I also had a weird amount of free time as well. I became a stay-at-home mom, which I know isn’t the same for everyone, but I think there are a lot of you listening who may be in that boat.

Emily: I think another reason why it’s such a great time is because it can really establish habits. We know in Bible study—we talked about this in Jen Wilkin’s Women of the Word—you make little deposits over a long period of time; it adds up to a lot. So if we want to fill our hearts with the truth of the word so we can apply it in our lives, we need to continue planting those seeds and starting those habits when our kids are young. I think it makes it easier to keep doing it. Something I’ve believed is that along the way, it’ll get easier and I’ll jump back in later. I can tell you my oldest will be seven this summer, and there still hasn’t been an easy season. Every season brings different pressures on your schedule and challenges. It is a great time where you can. I think it builds really good patterns.

Laura: So we’re going to go through a handful of things to try to help you get involved in women’s ministry. We know this feels a bit different than our typical shows, but we do see this as equipping you with the gospel, because you’re going to get that from your local church. Part of our mission at R|M is to help you be equipped to apply the gospel to your everyday lives.

Emily: Let’s do some practical touchpoints here. First, consider the various opportunities available at your church. Some women’s ministries offer more program choices, some offer a lot less. But there’s probably a variety whether that’s an on-going Bible study, some type of devotional book group, or moms of little ones or toddlers get together to encourage one another. Sometimes there’s formal discipleship connections you can make with an older woman. There are lots of things; some are high-time commitments, some are low. Some might even be a one-time event where you can meet people to connect with in the future. I think it’s good to see that even if you can’t sign up for the 10-week Bible study today, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do or no way to get involved.

Laura: I had a friend who did the Bible study but didn’t attend the Bible study meetings. In that season, she had a nursing babe, and while it wasn’t ideal, she felt like she could have conversations at church and over Voxer. So she planned to get fully involved in the next season. Be creative, and don’t feel limited by those things.

Okay, so this one is the hard one to hear, but we’re going to say it: be prepared to get some skin in the game. It’s going to feel costly. It’s going to feel like a big event: you prepped your kids 1.5 hours before the Bible study started, you were there for one hour, there’s the transition time once you’re home again. I think expecting what you’re going to get out of this is so worthwhile, valuable, and important helps when you don’t see immediate fruit. That cost will come with benefits. It’s worth it.

Emily: Another thing is to remember to ask for help. Sometimes we want people to read our minds or see our needs and respond without us ever having to say anything, but occasionally, we need to speak up and ask for help—childcare so you can go to an event, reimbursement program, suggestions. Also, ask your women’s ministry leader for suggestions on books, Bible study, resources. I’ve talked to so many women’s ministry leaders who want to help but don’t know who needs it until someone asks. Another thing is when somebody reaches out, say, “Thank you. That really helped me.” I know when I was bringing my littles to Bible study many years ago—when I had three kids, three and under—there were ladies who’d hold doors open for me and help me get the kids in from the snow. I remember telling them, “This met a really tangible need for me and was really helpful.” And they continued to do it. Honestly, it made getting in the door that much less treacherous and scary. So I think planning ahead and being willing to advocate for yourself...in a nice, kind way. [Laughter]

Laura: Gently. [Laughter] I feel like I’m getting all the hard ones here, but the next one is: make sure you’re prepared when you come. You put so much effort to get there, so it’s good to come and be ready to participate in the discussion because you’re read the book or done whatever homework was assigned to you. And of course, there’s grace for not getting it done. Any women’s ministry leader would say to still come, which is great. But since you put so much energy to get there, you’re going to get that much more out if you prepare and spend time reading. Of course, know that there are a lot of weeks I’ve shown up to some event or Bible study after only getting through two pages. [Laughter] And that’s okay! That’s real life! Things do happen, but at the same time, we want to encourage you to put in that effort. Mom culture at-large often says it’s okay not to worry about it or do it. But we want to say to push a little harder and dig a little deeper, because those are deposits you make in your spiritual life that flow out into other parts of your life. It’ll be so beneficial to you.

Emily: And it serves others. We often feel like what we contributed to the conversation isn’t very smart or no one really wants to hear what we have to say, but—

Laura: They do!

Emily: Yeah, that’s the reason for being in that environment: we learn from one another whenever we discuss what we’ve read in the Bible and the way we’re interpreting it and applying it to life. It actually detracts from the group when we don’t show up prepared and ready to contribute. That’s something I have to remind myself, because I can think it’s okay if I’m not prepared because no one wanted to hear what I had to say. Another one is to stay connected and look for the information! [Laughter]

Laura: This seems so obvious, but I went through a whole season of not being signed up for email alerts. I had no idea what was happening. People would ask if I was going to something, and I hadn’t heard of any of it. I needed to simply get on the email list to hear about it.

Emily: Yes! Follow on social media, check the website. One thing our church does is releases a schedule at the beginning of the year. I’m on the women’s ministry team, and I still need to sit down and input all those dates on my calendar right off the bat. Sometimes I forget something’s happening, but it reminds me that I need to get prepared. Do whatever you need to do to be aware of what’s going on.

Laura: Another one is see how you can serve and get involved. I know from serving in leadership and regular roles, women’s ministries are hungry and open and excited about women getting involved at a service or leadership level. If you’re interested in something like that, don’t be afraid to raise your hand or share what you’re interested in. Maybe you love making meals, serving in the nursery, facilitating a small group discussion, or hosting a book club in your home. There are so many different things you could do. Emily and I have served at both levels in women’s ministry, and when a woman says, “I want to start this or I want to do that”—

Emily: Great, I’ll find a job for you! I’m so excited!

Laura: 100%. We love our ideas, but we love it even more when someone says they can do it. If you see ways you can serve, please speak up and talk to your women’s ministry leader to see how it can happen. You may be really surprised by the opportunities that present themselves. Go! Go do that!

Emily: Another thing we wanted to mention is that some of you may be thinking, “I’ve tried that. I’ve tried to get involved in my local church. I’ve tried to raise my hand and serve.” And you feel like you’ve been burnt. We want to acknowledge the Church—both globally and locally—is full of sinners, full of people who don’t have it together on this side of heaven. We’re redeemed and saved, being transformed more and more into the likeness of Christ, but that’s happening progressively for everyone. We know you’ve been in situations where you haven’t been heard or seen: maybe you’re unable to serve in the way you want. But we want to encourage you to bear with the saints in your local church. If you’re in a church where they’re not preaching the gospel or it isn’t a healthy place, maybe you need to talk with your husband or whoever about what to do with that. But if you’re in a church that loves Jesus and is preaching the gospel, we have to extend forgiveness and persevere by God’s strength. This is a group of people who is your family, if you’re in the local church. And we all know, family can be hard to get along with sometimes. [Laughter]

Laura: Oh Emily, you are so hard to get along with. [Laughter]

Emily: But they’re still family, and you should still work to get along with those sisters and brothers. We want to encourage you in that.

Laura: Good word. The last one is to receive grace. We’ve sprinkled this in here, but just know, there’s grace for this season. If you’re hearing this and feeling like you can’t get there, know there’s grace for all seasons. Emily and I like to joke that a mom’s season changes every three months. [Laughter] Maybe quicker.

Emily: As soon as you get that schedule figured out.

Laura: It’s for sure changing! Just know, especially if you’re on the front end of motherhood, hang in there. Things will change, and it will look brighter tomorrow. There are seasons of high and low involvement, but don’t give up. Remind yourself of the gospel day-in and day-out; of the grace God gives us. We’re not earning our salvation. Attendance in Bible study isn’t what gets you to heaven—praise the Lord. But those are things God does use in your life to grow you and draw you closer to him. So it’s still really important to be faithful, to be involved, and to make those efforts. But I’m so thankful that external involvement doesn’t necessarily reveal the faithfulness of your heart. Be encouraged with that too.

Emily: Our final word is to remember Jesus is the bridegroom and the Church is the bride. We hear that in God’s word. This means he loves the Church; he loved her so much he died for her. He’s coming back for the Church. There are some verses in the New Testament that are so intense like, “The gates of hell will not prevail against his church.” He’s going to rescue, love, and live with his bride—the Church—forever. Some of that may seem kind of heady, but what we’re trying to communicate is Jesus loves the Church. God puts a huge emphasis on this. If we’re following Jesus and walking the way he walked, we should experience that love too. We should show it in our actions and involvement and desire to meet together with people—even though it’s not perfect.

Laura: Amen, Emily. We hope you’re feeling encouraged to be involved in the local church; maybe you already are and that’s awesome. Just share this with another mom! If you want more, we’ll link lots of resources in our show notes this week at risenmotherhood.com. Of course, we’d love it if you’d join us on social media @risenmotherhood on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We’d appreciate if you stayed connected, because that’s how you find out about new shows, what’s going on at R|M, the book updates, and all sorts of things like that. Come join us! It’s a good time over there. We hope you have a great day!

Ep. 127 || Wisdom for the Everyday: Scripture Memory & Motherhood Transcript

This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Karen Hodge: Hi friends, my name is Karen Hodge. I have the privilege of serving as the Chair of the Risen Motherhood Board of Directors alongside some extraordinarily gifted board members. I’m also blessed to be surrounded by a lot of new life. I go to a lot of baby showers. I sit in the circle, and I see things, and I wonder, “Where was that clever fill-in-the-blank project when I had my children twenty plus years ago?” And even though the baby product industry has come a long way, what I really wish what I had back then was a resource like Risen Motherhood. Don’t get me wrong; I was blessed to have good gospel mom friends who reminded me about the hope of the gospel when the days were very long. Risen Motherhood is a good gospel friend. They help us think biblically about how the gospel applies to the majestic and the mundane moments of motherhood. And Risen Motherhood is also a good gift I love to give to the young moms in my life. So, would you join me in giving a gift that would make an eternal impact? The Risen Motherhood ministry currently runs through donations. As the Lord leads, I want to encourage you to give a one-time gift or—even better—monthly at risenmotherhood.com/give. They have a new initiative I’d like to take a moment to highlight: you can give in honor or memory of someone you love. Now with $100 or more one-time gift, Risen Motherhood will send a handwritten card to someone you care about. It’s a wonderful way to recognize those special milestones in life. By making a contribution to Risen Motherhood for birthdays, baby showers, Mother’s Day (which is just right around the corner), or even just to celebrate all the kids sleeping through the night, you can bring the hope of the gospel to moms all around the world by showing someone you love and care. You can give in memory of a parent, a grandparent, a friend, or even a miscarriage. It’s a special way to honor and recognize the deceased while furthering the gospel mission. Head to risenmotherhood.com/dedicategift to learn more about how you can do this. So thanks for partnering with us, friend, because your gifts are going to help a mom who’s listening today to better understand her calling by equipping her with God’s word. You also serve as a good gospel friend reminding her the gospel really does make a difference in every aspect of motherhood. Most importantly, your gift will not only impact this woman, but prayerfully, it will multiply by impacting the next generation.

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

Emily: Hey!

Laura: We want to give a big thanks to Karen for being willing to do the intro for pledge week! It was super kind of her. As she mentioned, you can head to risenmotherhood.com/give to learn more if you’d like to join us in our ministry. On to today’s show! We’re talking about a really fun, but also sometimes hard, topic: scripture memory.

Emily: I think it feels particularly hard in motherhood, because so many of the things we’re met with each day are urgent. I need my shoe tied now! I need a snack right now! Or I see the mountain of dishes growing out of my sink, and I’m starting to set things down on the counter, so that needs to be done right now. Something like scripture memory feels like it can always go to the back of the list.

Laura: Oh, definitely! It’s something that requires you to slow down. I think that’s very difficult in motherhood. And it requires a lot of thinking...and my brain hurts.

Emily: Yes, it does! And our mental capacity has real limits when we’re not getting as much sleep as normal, or we’re really busy with a lot of things that are important—like caring for people. Our brain power can go to those things, and it can feel like we have none left.

Laura: The other hard thing for me in scripture memory is: there are other things that have more rewards for me to learn or things I see more immediate results in. Things like cooking a meal, decorating, or planning a kid’s party. I think there’s this element of scripture memory that’s so difficult because it takes a lot of time, brain power, and slowing down, but also there’s a lot of review involved in it. It’s something that feels different than other things, like I can one-and-done this meal tonight! I never have to think about it again!

Emily: Yes, but it’s really similar to other areas of life where we learn a topic. I think back to college when I was trained to be a special education teacher. There was a point when I couldn’t remember all the different diagnoses and all the ways they would impact my teaching strategies. In a real life situation, I’d have to go back to my textbooks or Internet, and search for it. I couldn’t do my job until I went back and looked at my notes word-for-word. It can make real-life responses cumbersome, and that’s the reality of scripture memory we don’t often think of today. It’s like learning anything else. Until it’s in our minds and hearts, we’re almost unable to use it in a nimble way, because we’re going back to look to see what God’s word says. Which we do want to go back; I’m not saying abandon your text! [Laughter] I think you guys get what I’m saying: it’s really helpful to have it wherever you are in your mind.

Laura: I like to think of scripture memory a little bit like exercising. I remind myself—although I’m not great at exercising all the time—it pays off dividends in so many other ways. It’s not just so I can do another push-up or not pass out during a workout program online; it’s so I can run and play with my kids, and feel strong enough to carry my daughter on a hike. I put in the work—for exercise or scripture memory—not for the moment but for all other areas of my life where I’ll reap a lot of benefit.

Emily: Yes, there are definitely a lot of benefits. We’re going to dive into some of them for today’s show. But before we jump in, we want to define scripture a little bit, because we realized sometimes we use a lot of different words and phrases: God’s word, the Bible, the law, the canon, the Word of Christ—

Laura: Do you say “the Word of Christ” very often?

Emily: Uh, yeah, like “the word of Christ dwell richly in you…”

Laura: Oh! Look at her quoting scripture! [Laughter]

Emily: Boom. Boom. So, basically, if you’re new to this, it can feel like these might be different or separate things, like the Bible is different than scripture. What we want to lay out today is a definition for what we’re talking about.

Laura: When we talk about memorizing scripture, we’re talking about memorizing the canon or the body of writing God has given to rule the church. That’s from John Frame’s Systematic Theology. Essentially, it’s the 66 books in the Bible that are bound together on a bookshelf somewhere in your home. That’s what we’re talking about when we talk about memorizing scripture or God’s word or all those other words.

Emily: So let’s jump in with some reasons for why we should memorize scripture with all of the busy things we have going on. We’ve talked a bit about textbooks and exercising, but what does God’s word tell us? There are so many scriptures that tell us: You should do this!

Laura: We started looking them up for the show, and it was an endless well of, “Memorize God’s law!” We’ll just list a couple here for you, but know this is just the tip of the iceberg.

The first one is from Psalm 119. We were going to share a snippet but decided to read a longer section, because it’s so compelling. I’m going to read it quickly (v. 9-16):

How can a young man keep his way pure?

   By guarding it according to your word.

With my whole heart I seek you;

   let me not wander from your commandments!

I have stored up your word in my heart,

   that I might not sin against you.

Blessed are you, O Lord;

   teach me your statutes!

With my lips I declare

   all the rules[c] of your mouth.

In the way of your testimonies I delight

   as much as in all riches.

I will meditate on your precepts

   and fix my eyes on your ways.

I will delight in your statutes;

   I will not forget your word.

Emily: It’s such a compelling picture of the goodness of God’s word and the way it transforms us when it’s on our minds and in our hearts—when we can think about it all the time. That transitions us to the New Testament verse we wanted to share, which is Colossians 3:16:

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing you in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

This is a model given in the early church for how this truth transformed them from the inside out and impacted their whole community in really important ways.

Laura: Another reason we want to memorize scripture is because we’re called to image Christ in this life. We see Jesus knew scripture and used it. In Matthew 4, when Jesus was being tempted by Satan in the wilderness, he spoke scripture to Satan from memory. He did it every time; it was his response to the temptation. We see in Matthew 4:

Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.

You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.

You shall worship the Lord your God and in him only shall you serve.

So we see Jesus fighting temptation and all he used was God’s word. Another interesting fact is in the New Testament, he quoted the Old Testament 180 times, which I could never do if I tried. [Laughter]

Emily: It’s awesome! When you read through, you see him using the Old Testament scripture to answer questions and correct wrong thinking. He uses it to explain the circumstances and things happening in the past, present, and future. He uses it to respond to criticism, to resist temptation, to help him obey God, and to teach other people about God’s will and plan. It’s this incredibly robust and important part of who Jesus was, his ministry, and the words he used. We definitely want to model it.

Laura: So let’s talk through some benefits of memorizing scripture. We feel these are compelling reasons to want to store God’s word in our hearts. Sometimes we need to remember all of the wonderful benefits of the work of memorizing scripture and how it’ll pay off. The first thing is it gives you words to remember the gospel. Sometimes when we get stuck in anger, self-pity, sadness, or different things like that, we don’t know how to reset our hearts or pull out of a bad moment. Relying on scripture is a great way to preach the gospel to ourselves, because sometimes we forget truth or we get it a little twisted. Sometimes we’re not exactly sure what that truth is, especially when our emotions aren’t in line with God’s word. It’s a great chance for us to pull out the words we have stored in our hearts from God’s word. He promises to provide all we need, so the Holy Spirit is often working through that scripture we’re reciting in our heads.

Emily: I think another way it helps us is helping us resist temptation and obey God. That’s something Jackie Hill Perry brought up in her interview about identity with us a long time ago. God always provides a way of escape when we’re in temptation. Sometimes we’re looking for our circumstances to change, but sometimes the way of escape he provides is remember his word. His word helps us turn and repent, and escape the situation. We read in Hebrews 4:12:

The Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edge sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

That’s something we talk a lot about at Risen Motherhood: check your heart, discern your heart. Well, what helps us do that? God’s very word.

Laura: Another reason to memorize scripture is it gives you words in ministry. I know having a toolkit for scripture in my arsenal has been so helpful as I’ve worked to evangelize. I haven’t done that as much as I wish, but in those moments, it’s been great to go back to something like the “Romans Road.” There are different programs like that one that help you memorize a selection of verses to help communicate the four parts of the gospel. As we’re evangelizing, making disciples, or training others in God’s word, having scripture is helpful to feel confident and to be bold as we interact with others. I know the words I’m speaking aren’t my own, their God’s word, so they’re truthful, powerful, and the Holy Spirit works through them.

Emily: To build on that: the friendship and relationship component. Maybe you have a family member or friend experiencing grief or sorrow; there are some common things in motherhood we face like miscarriage, struggles with infertility, slow-moving adoption, difficult diagnosis, or discouragment in marriage. Even when we can’t relate specifically, sometimes we can go back to scripture and find words of comfort, love, and support. These are not words to put a bandaid on their problem or a quick, “Everything’s going to be okay!” but to truly meet them with encouragement so they have hope.

Laura: Another one relates to our children. How do we teach our children what we don’t know? We can’t. A lot of times we’re met with situations where we don’t have the Bible handy, or even if we did, we may not know exactly where to look. But hiding God’s word in our hearts will help us as we equip, train, and raise our children. We can use it in discipline and counsel. And also I think this models a great practice for our kids; seeing that we value it shows them, as they grow older, what they should be valuing as well.

Emily: Another one that comes up a lot in motherhood is the need for wisdom in decision-making. Again, a lot of these things feel like gray areas; as we know the Word of God, it can help us remember what we should hold fast to and if it’s a clear command from the Lord. Then we can more easily discern the gray areas where we might need to consider what’s going on in our hearts.

Laura: God’s word says it’ll bring us blessing. This isn’t necessarily health or wealth. Joshua 1:8 says:

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth...for then you will make your way prosperous and you will have good success.

This doesn’t mean monetarily necessarily. This means the blessing is greater love, care, and delight in God, which is really the greatest gift of all.

Emily: Another thing is it strengthens all of our spiritual disciplines the more we have God’s word stored in our heart. It helps us pray. We know what to pray, because we want to focus our prayers on what God has already revealed in his word and ask him things based on that. Bible study helps us make connections and draw conclusions, because you’re reading the Old Testament passage and realize it sounds familiar! Even if you need to use handy ol’ Google, you can find that scripture. It helps you with personal meditation on God and his attributes. Overall, it helps you love God more. When you can sit on your couch, maybe with a sick kid on your lap, and you’re able to draw to mind truth from his word and really chew on it for a little while, it really does help encourage you and increase your love for God.

Laura: Yes! Now, very quickly, we want to jump into a couple of practical pieces. We don’t have a ton of time for this, but we’ll put a lot of stuff in our show notes for this. There are a ton of people talking about this and a lot of books—easy to read books—you can check out on this. But we’re going to talk a little bit about the way we do this.

The first thing is: study and understand the passage. If you’re going to do the work to memorize something, make sure you understand the context, that you’ve studied the context, and make sure you have a handle on it. When it comes down to actually memorizing it, the meaning will help you remember.

Emily: I think that’s my tip right there. I’ve pretty much memorized scripture by reading it over and over and over again—or listening to it. A lot of times that happens as I’m studying a book of the Bible, because I have to read it so much to get to that point of interpretation and application. I look back in hindsight and see I knew it because I spent so much time in it.

Laura: Emily’s always whipping out little phrases of scripture—

Emily: I can’t tell you where it’s at. [Laughter]

Laura: But she’s like, “Goooogle! Here we go.” [Laughter] But that’s helpful to have those phrases captured. I think another quick tip is to involve your kids. As moms, we’re around our kids all day and often, they’re better at memorizing scripture than we are. At least mine are better than I am. I think it’s helpful, because they get really excited. I think I’ve shared this before, but when I’m in the rhythm of scripture memory, my kids will get vitamins after we’ve practiced for the day.

Emily: Gummy vitamins. Fun vitamins.

Laura: Yes! They’re super motivated. They’ll ask, “Mom, mom! Are we going to memorize scripture?” It’s really helpful for me, because if my kids want to, I’m held accountable. That’s a super practical tip for you!

Emily: Yeah, so definitely head over to our show notes for many more ideas. We wanted to give this word at the end, because I know after hearing after this–even recording a show like this—my first instinct is to feel really guilty and burdened that this is another thing I’m not doing well enough or another thing I’m failing at or disappointing God in. So we wanted to stop and say: moms, we are justified by grace through faith. This means God declares who he is and takes initiative on our behalf while we were still dead in our sins, and after we’re free, he gives us the expectations, commands, and commissions. Whenever we hear things like, “Go memorize scripture!” it can sound like, “If you store up God’s word in your heart, he’s going to like you or accept you or help you.” But it’s really the other way around. He loves you and accepts you and helps you in Christ first. With that mindset, we can excitedly go and memorize scripture.

Laura: Amen. Well, we hope you’re motivated to get started today! Head over to our show notes for tons of resources on this. You probably have lots of practical questions; well, we have answered them on our show notes. On risenmotherhood.com you’ll find the link to our show notes, and of course, check us out on social media @risenmotherhood across all the platforms—Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Have a great day, guys!

Ep. 126 || Ask Us Anything! Spring 2019 Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I'm Emily, here with my sister-in-law, Laura and we’re so excited to bring you the Spring 2019 Ask Us Anything show. We do these two times a year: once in the spring and once in the fall. We reach out to our community on social media and ask what you want to know. So, we have an extra, extra long show.  [Laughter]

Laura:  Oh, it's so long. [Laughter]

Emily:  Extra, extra, extra long. We go through the most frequently asked questions and try to focus on ones we haven't answered in the past. So if you don't hear your question on here, definitely look through past AUA shows or other content—we may have answered it.

Laura:  We also do a blog post where we round up. I don't know if all of your questions will be in there, but a version of your question will probably be in there if we’ve answered it before. We'll point you to an article or a past show that we've done that you can go listen to.

Emily: Alright. Well, let's jump in Laura. You ready?

Laura:  I'm ready.

Emily:  The first question asked was, What other podcasts do you recommend?

Laura:  Yeah, this was asked a ton. People want to know what podcasters are listening to, which I get.

Emily:  We love that! First off, you can check out our FAQ page on our Risen Motherhood website.

Laura:  We have a nice robust list linked to the podcasts we more frequently listen to.

Emily:  Check that out for what we recommend, but I thought it'd be fun for us to share the last three podcast episodes that Laura and I listened to. No filter; you have to tell us what’s actually on your phone. What have you listened to most recently, Laura?

Laura:  Mine are all Nonprofit Ally. [Laughter] I don't have some cool theological podcast I'm listening to and learning from. I’m learning how to run a nonprofit, and how to be an executive director. I have no idea what I'm doing; I'm going to admit that to everyone. I’m learning as rapidly as I can and have found that show to be really helpful. If you run a nonprofit, or if you’re thinking about starting one or turning your business into one, it's really been helpful. He asks, I don't want to say dumb questions, but the questions that you're too scared to ask. He asks them and answers them.

Emily:  We're all benefiting from what Laura is learning from bingeing on Nonprofit Ally. [Laughter]

Laura:  I’m totally bingeing it. [laughter]

Emily:  That's awesome. I had to search through my phone, but over the weekend I listened to Help Me Teach the Bible with Nancy Guthrie. She had Ligon Duncan on to talk about covenant theology versus dispensationalism.

Laura:  I need to listen.

Emily:  Listen with a notebook.

Laura:  Oh yeah, for sure.

Emily:  I literally found a scrap piece of paper to map out all the different things he's said. Then that led me to then reading another theology book I had on my shelf, because I was so interested in what he said and also very confused by it. I think I'm starting to get my arms around it. [Laughter] That one was really enjoyable. Then I sometimes listen to Masterpiece Studio.

Laura:  Oh yes, I know you do. [Laughter]

Emily:  My husband and I like to watch PBS Masterpiece on Sunday night.

Laura:  What are you watching right now?

Emily:  It’s Victoria.

Laura:  Oh, Victoria's on? See, I'm so behind. I need to catch up.

Emily: I like it, because they have short podcasts where they talk to the actors and give behind-the-scenes. They're usually historical pieces, so they'll do “Fact or Fiction.”

Laura:  This is so Emily. [Laughter]

Emily:  I look so forward to this on Monday! And I listen to an enCourage Podcast episode with Karen Hodge.

Laura:  I love enCourage! Karen is our board chair; love her.

Emily:  It was on body image.

Laura:  Oh that sounds good.

Emily:  It was really good.

Laura:  Okay, next question. This one was asked a few times: tips on potty training boys, specifically boys. What are our tips? Emily, what are your tips? You have four of them.

Emily:  I have four of them. I've only potty trained three of them. [Laughter]

Laura:  That's still a lot.

Emily:   I think potty training is really challenging. I would say: wait until they're ready.

Laura:  Oh, for sure.

Emily:  Wait until they are interested and motivated.

Laura:  Don't try to force it early, because you'll just be frustrated.

Emily:  I would also say: do it during a time of the year when pants are easy to pull on and off, and it's easy to change clothes and do the laundry.

Laura:  Just wear undies outside all day.

Emily:  Do it in shorts season if you can. It’s much harder when they pee over their jeans and you're trying to pry them off their body.

Laura:  Oh, that’s nasty.

Emily:  Yeah. Those are probably my two main things. Keep it positive and –

Laura:  Keep it positive.

Emily:  Have hope you’ll get to the other side of it. Try not to get discouraged; I think I felt really discouraged because I remember we potty trained our twins not long before our daughter was born—actually, now I'm getting confused about what child it was that was born. Someone was born and they had all these accidents again. It was a ton of accidents.

Laura:  Very normal.

Emily:  It was very normal and very frustrating. Now in hindsight I think that that can be part of the process.

Laura:  The accidents are a little recurring.

Emily:  Right.

Laura:  Totally.

Emily:  Don't get discouraged.

Laura:  I would say: be really patient. I think it can take boys a really long time. We accidentally forgot to put a diaper on my three-year-old daughter, and she woke up dry. She's a total rock star. I hear that’s very common with girls, not always, but it's common. I only have one boy, but I hear from friends they just take longer. That's really normal; so don't get frustrated. (And you'll get frustrated.) Potty training was how Risen Motherhood got started.

Emily:  Go listen to our potty training episode.

Laura:  Yeah, we have a whole episode on it. I forgot about that. We recorded it when we were in the thick of it. Okay, move on. Next question.

Emily:  The next question is do you guys hang out a lot outside of podcast/book stuff?

Laura:  I wish we did more.

Emily:  I feel like we hang out a lot because we talk all the time.

Laura:  All the time.

Emily:  Laura will sometimes Facetime me in the middle of the day, which I'm always like, “Uh-oh. What did we get an email about?”

Laura: You just get worried. Then I'm like, “Hey, just saying hey.”

Emily: It's a nice way to interact if we need to have a fun conversation or a business conversation face-to-face. We can't be face to face because we're running our kids back and forth to school.

Laura: We're not in person very often to be honest. We see each other; I'll wave at Emily from the school pickup line or from therapy. Generally, we actually don't see each other all that much. I think that's the way it is a lot of times with motherhood friendships. In this stage, you wish you were with your friends a little more, but unless you have a natural connection, say church or some type of weekly thing, it's more of cultivating that friendship with the little pieces you can get. Emily and I talk all throughout the day consistently. Emily’s the only main person I do that with for sure—just not as much in person. [Laughter]

Emily:  Yeah. It's fun because we're talking about the summer and asking, “How can we be intentional to get our kids together?”

Laura:  We're going to start a book club with our boys.

Emily:  I'm so excited.

Laura:  They are five, six, and seven. Our other sister-in-law, Becca, is included, and we're going to get the oldest cousins together for a book club. We're starting them young.

Emily:  Yeah. Gabe and Cal already asked to be invited–

Laura:  Yeah, Colette wants in too. Whoever wants to come, eat ice cream, talk about a book…sort of—

Emily: There'll be snacks there and other stuff. [Laughter]

Laura: It’s for the moms. What are we saying?

Emily:  Yeah, we're going to try to hang out a little bit more, but good question.

Laura:  The next question is how did you guys find time to write your book with kids and a podcast to manage? Do you still consider yourself a stay-at-home mom? We chose this question because it was asked a ton of times in a ton of different ways. We've had a lot of you ask us if we do consider ourselves stay-at-home moms still. I’m not sure why that's the specific question, but that was something Emily and I wanted to address. Emily, are you a stay-at-home mom?

Emily:  Well, I think it depends how you define that. I've thought more about some of these boxes, and the labels that we have, and the stereotypes that come with them. Everyone I know has a lot of different things they do on any given day, and their lives don't fit into this neat definition. I do stay-at-home almost all day, every day. In fact, there are some weeks when I barely leave home other than to take kids to and from school. I am “at home” full-time.

I’d also say I prioritize most of my time around caring for the needs of our family, home management things, and doing some things for my husband. That’s kind of a major focus of my time. I also have time when I'm “working from home,” when my kids are napping or I may have some childcare hours. I guess, yes. I think so.

Laura:  When people ask me that, I always think of it as I’m the primary caretaker of my kids, but I wouldn't call myself a stay-at-home mom, according to culture’s version of that word. Which I think most people think of stay-at-home mom as not doing any outside income-producing work. That might not be correct.

Emily:  I get so confused about what the definitions are.

Laura:  See, so it doesn't really matter. I think ultimately—I bet I can speak on behalf of you as well—we both work. We could both be put in a category. We just recently recorded a show about how you decide on work decisions when you have options. We both have a foot in the working mom category, and we have a foot in the stay-at-home mom category. I think that's going to be more and more common. Online jobs are available, and there's a lot of push in the workplace and culture for flexible jobs. I think it's going to be really common.

Like Emily said, there are boxes we like to put people in, and I don't know if it really matters ultimately. We don't want to speak in to what it's like to be a working mom if you've not been a mom that was working outside the home or for income. At the same time, I think there's a lot of blur to that and there are concepts, which is what we try to show on Risen Motherhood, that are universal across motherhood regardless of what your days look like.

Emily:  Right.

Laura:  How do we do what we do, Em? How do you do what you do?

Emily:  How do I do what I do? I thought about this answer in parts, because like most things in life, it's complicated. Sometimes I think we want to be able to give an easy answer like, “Oh, I just structure things this way.” For the book, it was written in spurts for me.

It was less about finding this time every single week—although I did schedule time for it—and more about using planned times on evenings and weekends that my husband and I preplanned, because I needed a lot of focus. I also went on a writing retreat to Florida one time. That was a couple of days. I would set aside whole afternoons here or there.

For me, the most draining thing and the hardest thing about writing the book was it took so much of my heart and so much of my mind. If I had five hours to go sit at a coffee shop and write, the next day I could be really tired. That was kind of hard. What about you with the book, Laura?

Laura:  That's the exact same way I wrote. I think a lot of authors have said this: you don't write a book in 45 minutes spurts here and there. You have to ramp up. You have to write a significant amount. Then you kind of, like you said, wind down. We found writing in a more long form to be more beneficial.

I remember going to Minnesota and staying with my mother-in-law and her husband. She’d watch my kids, and I’d sneak away to a coffee shop for eight hours. That’s where I'd write an entire chapter. The book feels like a special project rather than, “Hey, this is this regular routine.”

Then for how we do regular ongoing work with Risen Motherhood? I have about four hours of childcare a week. I work something around twenty hours a week for Risen Motherhood. My mom helps when she's in town and available for longer spurts, especially in the winter. It's not very consistent, but she’s someone who’s a big help in my life; I will definitely say that. Then I tend to be a type of person that gets up really early, like 4:00 or 5:00 AM. My husband also leaves early, so it makes life a little bit easier to do that. We also go to bed really early, but I still get a lot of sleep I guess.

I'm still navigating this; it’s something I'm still asking: how this will work? Over the summer of 2018, I experienced a lot of burnout. Some of you guys heard me talk about it a little bit: I was writing the book, building a house; I had a lot of therapy and medical for my youngest who has special needs; and I was living temporarily with my parents. Then, of course, I had all the normal Risen Motherhood work, while turning it in to a nonprofit. It was a lot. It was too much actually.

At some point, I think Emily and I want to talk more about burnout in life and in motherhood. It might sound cool to some people like, “Oh, she does so much.” Ultimately, I think it was a time where I was too prideful, and self-sufficient, and reliant on my own efforts. I think going forward, I'm still figuring out this exact balance, but I'm committed to getting more childcare, and trying to say no to more things, and having accountability in my life. I'm naturally a “yes” person and naturally love doing a lot of things. I have to be really careful to draw boundaries. Otherwise, I'll really do nothing very well at all. Em, now it's your turn, because we're pretty different people.

Emily:  I think my husband has been really helpful in this, in encouraging me and working with me to compartmentalize certain things. We put boundaries on things and use our “yes”es in the places where we really want to. It does change regularly. I want to affirm what Laura said and say it's something we're constantly figuring out and working out. Ever six months or so, we restructure and the balls go back up in the air, and we see how they're going to land and what kind of help we need, etcetera.

I also want affirm a lot of what R|M does these days is because of Laura. It looks like there are all these things going on, but I actually have pretty clear boundaries around my job and my responsibilities. We have a whole team working on the things that come out of Risen Motherhood—it's not just Laura and I. We have a lot of awesome team members working with us that put in a lot of time, and heart, and special skills.

For me, I have three and a half hours of childcare one afternoon a week, and that’s when Laura and I do stuff like this. We know we can record a podcast. We can have video call meetings. We can strategize on certain things. Otherwise, like Laura, I just do my work while the kids are at school or they're napping. That’s probably where we're at right now, because our five kids are still six and under; one of them is a busy toddler and one has special needs. Realistically, outside of those hour,s I don't do much work for Risen Motherhood. That means I don't typically do things early morning. I don't usually work on nights and weekends. One thing that's helped me with that is realizing Risen Motherhood, and these types of things, will always take as much as I want to give it.

Laura:  For sure.

Emily:  My to-do list is so long, and I could do so much more. It's a discipline to say, “No, this is the time that my husband and I have thoughtfully allotted for me to do this work.” On paper it should be enough time; I have to just trust the Lord in that. If I ever get in over my head, I can communicate with Laura and communicate with our team.

Then like Laura said, I think another thing that people don't see us post about on social media is I live next door to my parents and Laura’s parents are in town. My dad helps out a lot with rides and impromptu childcare. My husband works really flexible and reasonable hours. Neither of us are super over-committed to stuff, so we can cover for each other a lot. He really helps out at home a ton. I think sometimes it's hard to really get a sense, when you see all this content coming out, of what our lives looks like, and how much help we actually have, and how much of a team effort it really is.

Laura:  We have really good organizational structures at R|M. I don't want to say I'm proud of them, but I'm proud of them. That's due to an amazing team, as Emily said. It’s not just Emily and I anymore; there are a lot of women working. Then there’s an army of people—call them lay people in a sense—that are not on staff at R|M who are so supportive of us. Our husbands, our kids, our in-laws; all of them contribute to the work of Risen Motherhood.

Next question. What advice would you give to those wanting to grow in their writing?

Emily:  I love this question. I can do this all day. [Laughter] First and foremost, Laura and I would both say: write.

Laura:  All the time.

Emily:  Write, write, write. Strive to do this well with the things you're already writing. Whether that's sending emails, text messages, a thank you note. Whatever it is you're currently doing, work hard to make that clear, to serve the person who's reading, and to really practice getting your message across.

I would say, personally, the thing that's helped me the most, in addition to writing a lot of words, is writing for special projects or special assignments. Because it really forces you to hone in, keep your word count a specific length, to be really ruthless in a good way about what you're saying, and every single word has to count. That has helped me be more precise with my writing.

Laura:  That's a good point. I think that that falls in line with having an editor or someone who's willing to read your work. They have to be ruthless themselves. Join a writing group, find a friend who's a great writer, or maybe if you’re on assignment, they’ll give you an editor. Listen to them. Truly believe them when they say, “This needs to go. This didn't make sense. This needs clarification.” They're coming in with fresh eyes just like the reader would. They care about you, and they care about the reader. So trust what they offer is true and real. I know it's really hard to take criticism or feedback, but Emily and I always talk about how we’re in love with our own words the most. I just love every word I write. I think it’s so good.

Emily:  I needed every word.

Laura: No, it's not. You can probably cut 20%.  Do it. [Laughter]

Emily:  I think so much of it is really viewing it as a craft, viewing it as a skill. Just like any skill, it requires training, and practice, and discipline, and all those good things. Other things you can do: read, read nonfiction and fiction, read about writing, read for fun; read things that interest you, and pique your curiosity, and give you good ideas. Another thing I would say is read writers whose style you might want to emulate, and then take mental note of what they do. Read it, not just for the content but for the style.

Laura:  To really analyze it in a way of, “Oh look, I see what they did there. That's neat.” Then lastly, I would say think about writing. Emily and I always talked about how so much of the book was actually written on walks, at the grocery store, driving to school, things like that. We were constantly thinking about the book: how we were going to frame an argument or what analogy we were going to have or whatever that may be. Those were written in our heads first. Then we sat down to write the actual chapter when we had already spent a lot of hours writing in our heads. Then your first chapter is probably not going to be all that good. [Laughter]

Emily:  Then you get it on paper and you're like, “Uh-oh.” [Laughter]

I would say something that has been frustrating and enlightening for me is realizing that when I'm having a hard time writing clearly and well about something, it's because I don't really know what I'm trying to say.

Laura:  Trying to say. Yes, 100%.

Emily:  That goes back to thinking. That goes back to really understanding a concept well. You're not going to be able to write well about it until you really get it and you can explain it to a child.

Laura:  And that you've picked an angle. Because I think a lot of times what we'll do is that we'll say, “Okay, I have to write about self care.” Then you think, “Here are 55 things I can say about self-care, and I'm going to put them all in there.” No, pick one. Do it well. That is part of that thinking process, “I'm going to latch onto this. I'm going to ride that to the end of the chapter and hang on for dear life.” Pick a good focus, because having a lot of points will really make things muddy.

Emily:  Have a thesis. We can talk about this forever. This is a cool topic.

Laura:  Yes, maybe we should do a special writing episode.

Emily: Hopefully we gave you some good tips there. I'll make sure we include some good resources in the show notes.

Laura:  Yeah, lots of people have written about this.

Emily:  Alright, so the next question is, do you ever struggle with comparing yourselves to each other? How do you fight this? Well, Laura?

Laura:  Oh man, I have to go first. [Laughter] Not usually. I can say that with all honesty. I think it may have been a little bit harder at the beginning, but now I’ve fallen so much more in love with Emily's specific skill sets and giftings, it isn't as hard anymore. I think that she’s so incredibly different from me.

She's smiling and batting her eyes at me right now. [Laughter] I'm trying to be nice, and now I'm getting weird.

She's so incredibly different from me that I think I know I can't be like her. We're just opposites. There's not necessarily a desire for me to feel like I need to be like her. Sometimes, of course, I wish I was maybe more thoughtful or analytical about the things we're dealing with. She's a naturally gifted writer. So, especially during the book writing process, I felt insecure because we'd swap chapters and I'd read one of hers and just feel like mine was terrible compared to this.

Emily:  For the record, I felt the exact same thing about Laura's chapters. I didn't know that, so it goes both ways. [Laughter]

Laura:  That makes me feel a little better. That's one of those things where there have been times where I've definitely wished I was as good at creating analogies, or sharing, or being so theologically accurate no one could ever debate with me. [Laughter] She's good at that stuff, and it's helpful.

In general, I would say how I fight it is I take joy in her gifts, and I'm so thankful that God has put her in my life. I feel immensely grateful I get to learn from her; and have her input, and different thinking, and different skill sets in my life to make my stuff better. If anything, I get afraid if I don't have her, what would happen?

Emily:  Nothing bad would happen.

Laura:  Oh, probably a ton.

Emily:  We need each other. Yeah, I would affirm what Laura's saying—not the things about me. [Laughter]

Laura:  I’m amazing. [Laughter]

Emily:  No, I don't mean that part. [Laughter]

Laura:  Emily only compares herself to herself. She's like, “I just want to be me.” [Laughter]

Emily:  No, I mean the part about I don't struggle that much comparing myself to Laura. For the same reason: we’re really differently gifted. I’d say we also have different future goals, and dreams, and desires. I see our gifts as complementary to each other and some of our desires as complementary.

Whenever I see Laura taking on a new thing, or blazing a new trail, or getting something done 100 times faster than I could ever do it on my best day, I don't feel jealous of that because I couldn't do that. Even if I could for a day, I’d fizzle out.  It's okay to know we're different in that way. I desperately need a Laura in my life, because I wouldn’t be productive with my gifts and I wouldn’t use them well. It's really a value.

I think occasionally, in my sin, I can get competitive with writing or theology, because there’s a part of me that wants to find my value in how smart I'm perceived to be or how well I laid something out. Then when I work crazy hard on a project or an article, and I give it my very best—like it was all I could give—I see Laura’s and I think, “Oh my goodness, that's amazing. And it just came out super easy for her. I must be terrible.”

Laura:  No.

Emily:  Then I have to immediately speak truth and say, “No.” In reality, we both have good days, we both have off days. Sometimes it's easy for us, sometimes it's hard for us. We both have that equally. Those insecurities are not about Laura; they’re about things in my own heart that needed to be dealt with before Jesus. Where am I finding my value and my worth? These thoughts only get a few seconds, because I immediately tell myself to stop.

Laura:  Or I think each of us would tell each other to knock it off if we talked about it. We really haven't ever talked about this actually; this was the first time. I think it's pretty natural to feel a little bit of a competitive thing. Then I remember, we're on mission for the gospel; we can find unity in that. There's no need for that competitive spirit because the gospel goes forth; that's what matters. If God chooses to do that more publicly through Emily or through her success or whatever, that's awesome. I want the gospel to go forward in whatever way God decides. I hope and pray that forever we’ll be each other's cheerleaders and biggest fans.  

Like Emily said, we have really different dreams, and I think that's been good. I’ve probably struggled with wondering if my dreams need to be like Emily's, because of the world and ministry God has me in right now. This is more deep than I probably need to get. It's definitely been a big process for me to work through. Is it okay that my dreams might be different than what hers are? Yeah, it’s okay, but it's taken me a little bit to get there.

Emily:  I think another thing that helped me—not just with Laura because I haven't had this a ton with her—with others, in general, is when I look at somebody who maybe does have similar giftings to me and I see them being what I would consider as more successful is to be content with where God has me. To be really thankful for any ministry he gives me and seeing that as a gift. Also, recognize sometimes you don't see the whole picture of someone else's story.

Laura:  100%.

Emily:  One thing Laura and I have learned very quickly is sometimes the world's idea of success also comes with new hardships, and new burdens, and things that aren't necessarily as enjoyable, or everything you thought they were cracked up to be. I try to remind myself that I don't know— when I'm comparing myself to someone else—what new and unique burdens they're carrying that they need more grace for.

Laura:  They’re paying a price. Everybody's paying a price in a way.

Emily:  I don’t want to think, “Oh, if I just had X, Y, and Z, I would’ve arrived and everything will be better.” I might’ve achieved something, but I also might be dealing with new sorrows. I don’t want to be too quick to want that.

Laura:  So, a place where some of this comparison happens: social media is the topic of the next question. Do you have limits or personal policies that you use to limit or guard yourself from too much social media intake?

Emily: Not long ago, I started setting a one-hour limit across all social media on my iPhone each day. It’s something in the iPhone settings. Basically what happens is once I've used up my hour across all my social media apps, it puts a little lock on them.

Laura:  That’s so brilliant.

Emily:  It looks like a little time thing. I can ignore it or tell it to go away. Overall, I try to honor it if I can; there are exceptions. It just helps me get a sense of time, because I don't always have a great sense for how long I'm spending on something.

Laura:  Yeah, that’s true.

Emily:  I have to be very careful, because I can zone out on social media and I can really get sucked in, because I feel overwhelmed. It can be a way for me to numb the feeling of being overwhelmed, not knowing what to do next, my house is really loud, or I don't know how to engage with my kids right now. For me, it's been really important to have those limits. Then I usually take Sunday off of social media informally. Then I like to take month off a year, which I'm planning. I’ll tell you about that, Laura. [Laughter]

Laura:  I want to hear.

Emily:  I’m planning to get off social media pretty soon for about a month.

Laura:  Yay, exciting.

Emily:  What about you Laura?

Laura:  Yeah, I think that I'm more of a phone user. I don't know, social media doesn't suck me in as much as maybe the next person. I'm not sure. I'm not trying to say I'm so great. I'm being Emily right now, “I’m so awesome.” [Laughter] That's not what I mean. I get a lot of emails every day, so I can get sucked into the email hole. I can get sucked into listening to podcasts, editing pictures on my phone, taking pictures. I don't know. I don't even know what I do on my phone, but I'm wasting time just like anybody else.

I put my phone in a drawer, and then I go hang out with my kids. I can be a little bit hard at first, and I’ll feel kind of itchy and want to grab it. But it has been so helpful for when I really want to engage my kids and enjoy them that I'm not doing the mindless checking we're talking about here.

I do that twice a day: typically mid morning if I'm home in the morning with my girls and then when my kids get home from school in the afternoon. I'll put it away. Again, there are some days where I have to do this one thing. But it’s been really helpful.

Emily:  Really good stuff to think about. Another question is how are you a different mom now than in the first year or two of mothering?

Laura:  So many ways.

Emily:  This was a fun question to think about.

Laura:  Totally, and we have talked about it before. Emily and I have joked we’re so glad we're not first time moms. We love you first time moms. We love you so much. But man, those are some hard days.

Emily:  They are hard years.

Laura:  They’re hard years. [Laughter] I feel like the Lord has chilled me out so much. I think, overall, I was pretty high strung as a mom. I don’t think I’m a really high strung person. In general, I was very careful with my first-born and had a lot of worry about doing things right. I did a lot of Google searching. I read lot of manuals and books. I wanted to do things right. I really did feel like I was loving my son the best way that I knew how when I did that.

As I progressed and had more children and more time, and especially having a child with special needs, I realized how different moms can do different things in different ways and still be awesome moms who are glorifying God. I think that’s really been a wakeup call for me to relax with how much energy I spent on my child's schedule, or what they ate, or their doctor's visits, or different things like that.

The Lord taught me to trust in him and to be faithful moment by moment. I don't have to worry and project out, looking far forward into the future or even into tomorrow when I feel like my kid's not going to sleep because he missed a nap time today. I can trust God's going to bring me each thing that I need to do. And I can walk in faith through each day and know he’s growing me towards holiness. That's ultimately what matters. I realized how much energy I wasted, I think, on some of the wrong things when I was younger. Now I feel like the Lord is teaching me to be able to use that energy towards things for his kingdom.

Emily:  Definitely. I’d piggyback off that and say that's something Laura and I have both been blessed by through Risen Motherhood.

Laura:  Yeah, it’s taught us so much.

Emily:  It's as we’ve processed through the gospel a million times on a lot of different subjects. I'm really grateful the Lord has shown us he cares so much about our character. He does give us what we need to know in his word. We can cling to that and spend a lot of energy on the things he tells us to spend energy on, so we can care about the ways that that manifests itself practically.

As we've said about in so many episodes, it's not, “Oh, it doesn't matter at all what you feed your kids.” It does matter, but we can keep that in the right perspective. I think for me there's been a freedom of not having to do it like other moms in the sense that I've realized I’m accountable before the Lord for the choices I make. I will reap what I sow, and there's so much grace in that. Also I need to be in unity with my husband and be doing things we’re both excited about and believe are the way we're carrying out God's mission in our own home and in our own community. When those two things are happening—

Laura:  Symbiotic.

Emily:  Yes, symbiotic. I can say like, “Yeah, I thought about this before the Lord, and I'm in unity with my husband.” There is so much freedom. I don't feel worried anymore about not doing it like my friend. That's the gospel at work. I know I've talked about this on a show in the past, but God has grown my capacity to be a hard worker under him and to use my time well. I remember praying for years that God would help me to become a hard worker. I don't know when that happened exactly. [Laughter]

Laura:  About two years ago. I feel like I know the transition.

Emily:  I don’t know what happened.

Laura:  I watched it happen, a metamorphosis into a butterfly. [Laughter]

Emily:  I have not arrived, and I have a ton of help. There are still days where I can feel my mind slip into this paralysis of, “I can't do anything.” Overall, I'm amazed that God has helped me figure out how to manage a home for seven people every day.

Laura:  She's way different, guys. I can attest to that.

Emily:  It's not a struggle to do those basic things anymore.

Laura:  Emily is awesome; the theme of today’s show. [Laughter]

Emily:  Oh my goodness, stop it. No, that’s not what I’m trying to say. I'm trying to say –

Laura:  God is good. Emily is awesome. I’m messing! [Laughter]

Emily:  God is good. God changed me. What else? Now, I can't think of anything. [Laughter]

Laura:  I love getting her flustered, because she's always so poised. That's what Ask Us Anything is for.

Emily:  I’m trying to give a polished speech. [Laughter]

Laura:  Nope, not today. Not today. All right, next question. How do you practically handle being real about your emotions with your kids: anger, sadness, or crying while still giving them the stability they need from their mom?

Emily:  This is a really interesting question.

Laura:  I know, I thought it was good.

Emily:  I want to start throw something out at a high level.

Laura:  Do it.

Emily:  First, as I was thinking about this, I realized the Lord shows a wide range of emotions. We see his delight. We see his wrath. We see his jealousy. We see all of these different emotions he displays. Even with Jesus, we see him cry. We see him rebuke. We see all of these emotions come out. I think right off the bat, it's safe to say emotions and showing emotions is a way we image God. They’re not bad or wrong in and of themselves. As I was thinking about this, what came out to me is even though the Lord displays different emotions at different times, his character is very stable and consistent.

As a mom, that was something that I wanted to think about more. What does it mean for our character to be like Christ? Regardless of how our emotions are, they're an overflow of the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. So, our kids can count on us to love them. Our kids can count on us to be self-controlled. Our kids can feel confident we're doing what's best for them and we're feeling emotional about the things that God loves. We're loving those things, and we’re hating things God hates. That was what was swirling around in my mind.

Laura:  I like it.

Emily: How does that play out, Laura?

Laura:  I think those are really good thoughts. I also thought about being an image bearer of God in our emotions. I think the first caveat we want to make is if you’re crying all the time or really struggling with major bouts of unrighteous anger or dealing with it in unrighteous ways, those are things to probably get help with. Because you're probably not stable, and you’re not giving your kids stability. We want to caveat; you know us, always good for a caveat. There’s that.

I’d call myself an emotional person. I said that the other day to a group of people and my husband looked at me and he was like, “You're not emotional.” I was  shocked. He didn't think I was. But I would call myself kind of—Emily's nodding. You think I'm emotional?

Emily:  I would say you express emotions a lot.

Laura:  I express emotions in a—

Emily:  Frequently.

Laura:  Frequently.

Emily:  I mean, you can see what you're feeling.

Laura:  Oh yeah. You know, you can read me like a book. Being that type of person, I’ve cried in front of my kids many times. I’ve cried from being so happy, because I heard some amazing story on a podcast and the kids were like, “Momma, what's going on?” “Momma's just so glad that people are so generous or whatever. God's working in their lives.” [Laughter]

Or I’ve cried because I've been genuinely broken over things and really sad about things that are going on in the world. Honestly, I'm always really honest with my kids about why I'm crying. As they've gotten older, I've seen a little bit of a shift in them of their ability to understand or to even cope. First, they’d sit there and stare at me confused or maybe bring me their favorite stuffed animal.

It's also sparked some good conversations about what joy is, or what sorrow is, or about the brokenness in the world. I think I want to show my kids it's okay to have emotions and it's okay to express them. They’re real things we feel, but they don't dictate our actions. Feelings are things we have, but they don't necessarily mean we need to act on those things. I show my kids what we do with our emotions. We bring them to God. I remember once in Chicago, I had all three kids, and I was nursing my youngest daughter. I was losing it, you guys. My husband was working a lot and really late. We were in the midst of my daughter’s diagnosis and I was totally broken and sobbing uncontrollably. I've never lost it like that. The kids were kind of worried while looking at me. [Laughter] Eventually I calmed down, and I shared with them that Mommy was sad because she missed Daddy. Then we prayed. We spent a lot of time praying together and it was a really sweet moment in the end. I'm going to cry now thinking about it. These emotions get me.

I think it's a good way to show your children, especially your boys, that emotions are okay to have, but we need to know what to do with them and where to bring them. God cares about a broken heart and he cares about being so happy over something you can't hide your excitement. We want to bring those things to God. I think revealing that to your kids can be a healthy thing.

Emily:  Like normal, Laura and I are a little opposite.

Laura:  Yeah, Emily’s just a stone cold mom. Just kidding. [Laughter]

Emily:  I’m stoic. I would say I'm not outwardly emotional. I tried to think if I’ve ever cried in front of my kids and I don't know if I can think of a time.

Laura:  Oh man. I can’t not think of a time. [Laughter]

Emily:  I only cry like a few times a year.

Laura:  Yeah. I don't know if I've ever seen you cry. Wait, I've seen you cry. Yes, I'll have that in my memory forever. [Laughter]

Emily:  Yes, you’ve gotten one of my few times.

Laura:  Yes.

Emily:  At first I want to say, “Well, I don't really have this, I must be so…” because my emotions don't necessarily go up and down in front of my kids. What it is for me is that some days I’m super productive and proactive, and I've got a plan and I've got fun activities. and I'm a great disciplinarian. Then the next day I can be a very unmotivated mom and a very passive mom and letting everyone do whatever they want because I'm on my phone. I may seem really distant and I'm just surviving mentally.

That pattern is absolutely tied to how I'm feeling and what’s going on in my heart and my mind. While I may not show it in tears, or throwing a party or whatever, I am showing it. It's just more in my actions and the way I'm handling my day. I've realized for me, that stability comes in taking my heart issues and what's going on in my mind to the Lord, so that my kids don't feel like they don’t know what kind of mom they’re getting today. Not is she going to be happy or sad, but is she going to be giving me structure and consistency?

Laura:  Engaged or not.

Emily:  And engaged or is she going to be distant like, “Oh whatever guys, just do your own thing today.” That for me has been really important. I want to offer my kids that predictability of character and be willing to express what's going on. “Mommy needs to come to Jesus with some of these things and this is why it's hard for me.”

Laura:  Yeah, those are good. I think being honest with your kids is just always a pretty good— mostly a good—policy.

What are some of your go-to questions to ask your husband to help you connect? I don't know exactly, but essentially there are four or five questions I've heard that have been helpful. My husband and I use them and call it a Sunday check in. We actually haven't done it in a while, but these questions reminded me I want to do that again. I'm just going to tick them off here and we can go to the next question:

How do I love you better this week?

How can I love you better in intimacy this week?

What’s coming in the week ahead?

What’s one way that I can serve you in the week ahead?

Those are just helpful questions to be thoughtful. You could even ask them about the past week. What's one way that I did serve you last week? Or what's one way that you felt loved by something I did last week? That’s great affirmation, especially if you're someone who does well with that—to think and affirm one another. You can alter those questions for your specific situation too.

Emily:  Another question we had are what are some of your most common prayers throughout any given day? Help me. I would say the first one is, “Help me, God. Help me, Lord.” [Laughter]

Laura: “Jesus, please come. Come back please, Lord Jesus.” [Laughter]

Emily:  Okay. Laura and I just wrote some phrases down here that I think we both pray a lot:

God give me the words to say in this situation.

Help me know what to say yes to, what to say no to, how to spend my time.

Help me know how to love them better.

Forgive me.

Laura:  I'm sorry.

Emily:  I say that one a lot.

Help me understand what's in your word.

Thank you, God.

God, you are good.

I think one that I know Laura and I have both pray a lot is, “Give me wisdom,” for a specific parenting challenge. I’m amazed that whenever I've prayed this, God either gives me some perseverance that I didn't have, or some graciousness, or softens my heart. Or he gives me a great idea I didn’t have before.

Laura:  Those are our short, quick prayers. Another question we've actually received a lot is are there rules for prayer? This particular question was phrased, “Do I have to kneel or fold my hands? This all feels so awkward to me. Am I being disrespectful?” We wanted to talk for a couple of minutes about what prayer looks like, what it is, why we do it, and things like that.

I think the biggest piece of the puzzle is the folding hands, the open eyes or closed eyes, the posture of our bodies is not necessarily what God's looking at. He's looking at the posture of your heart. You can fold your hands and close your eyes, and still be praying to God in a way that’s disrespectful. Or you can be on a walk with your eyes wide open, and moving around, and be praying in a way that’s respectful of a holy God who is big and deserves our utmost respect, and attention, and care.

Technically, are there rules? No. You can pray however you want. That's what I talked to my kids about: prayer is talking to God. Just like Emily and I are chatting with each other here, I want to talk to God in that way. But at the same time, with prayer, there's this element of he is the God of the universe and demands holiness.

Because of Jesus, we can approach him and we can talk to him. We can be casual; we can laugh, we can joke, we can cry, we can do all those things. We also want to have a lot of care in what a big deal this really is and approach him in fear and reverence, knowing our proper place before the Lord.

Emily:  We're holding in tension two things that feel opposite, but we need both of them in order to know how to rightly pray. I would also say—like most things in life—at different times of the day or depending what the prayer is, there may be times where we approach with a more physical and emotional posture of reverence.

This morning I prayed about God being a jealous God. That type of prayer felt much heavier to me. I recited back to the Lord the ways he is deserving of my loyalty and all of those different things. Then there are other times where we pray, “Thank you God for the food that you've given our family. Amen.”

Laura:  Or, “Help me.” That's prayer, just saying two words.

Emily:  It's more simple. It's just hard because it's both. There are whole books written about this.

Laura:  One that you should check out is for kids, but I would recommend it for any mom who has questions. Nancy Guthrie wrote a book, What Every Child Should Know About Prayer. I've actually been going through it with my kiddos, and it's been great. We do four or five pages a day. It's just the basics of what prayer is. If you feel like you don't know how to pray or what it should look like. While it's for kids, I'd recommend it for anyone who wants a really simple read about prayer.

Emily:  Next question. Do you have any friends who you disagree with theologically and how do you navigate this?

Laura:  We do. Yeah, I think it's good to have friends who disagree with you at different levels of theological points. Emily and I will readily admit, you guys have heard us admit it before, we know that we don't have it all right. As much as we want to study, and know, and be true to God's word, we're human and we'll mess up. There's just a posture of humility that comes with respecting other people who have different theological opinions than you do, of recognizing, “I'm not the know-all master. I’m not God.” So I’m not going to pretend like I have the ownership over perfect theology.

Emily:  Most definitely. When we were doing our conscience show, there was something in that book that was helpful. There’s a triangle graph that talked about how, with every person, there are some things that we're getting right that that person might not be getting right. And there may be things that they're getting right that we’re misunderstanding about God.

In all of this, we want to sharpen one another and not be afraid. I heard a quote recently by Milton Vincent that said something to the effect of, “You already know the worst thing about me because I nailed Christ to the cross.” We'll try to put that correct quote in the show notes because I’m paraphrasing.  [Laughter]

In essence, when the worst thing about us that we’re guilty of the cross and that’s already known, we don't have to be afraid our wrong theology is going to be exposed in some area. We can be open with these conversations even when they're hard. I think we wanted to run through really quick like what the different levels of doctrine are, so that that can help us put some of these discussions into different categories.

Laura:  So if you're new to this conversation, a lot of Christians divide it into first, second, and third order doctrine. First-order doctrine would be the gospel, right? Understanding that you're a sinner, you need a savior, and that savior is Jesus.

Emily:  This is orthodoxy.

Laura:  Straight up orthodoxy. If you believe this, you’re a Christian. If you don't, you're not a Christian.

Emily:  You’re missing a major aspect of what it means to be a true believer.

Laura:  It's really not a question of theology. It's a question of do you have authentic faith?

Then second-order doctrine: these are more like big convictions in the Christian faith. These are places where the Bible may not be absolutely clear on things, although some would say the Bible is absolutely clear on these things. [Laughter] This is what would form a denomination or a different church. These are things like what baptism looks like in church or the role of women in a church. These things are pretty significant. They really do matter. Typically, how you pick your church is based off of these second-order doctrines.

Emily:  Then the third-order doctrine are the things where you can be in a local church with someone and disagree on the way that maybe a doctrine is applied practically. You can still fellowship with a believer. These are more nuanced things. Things like, “Well, how is Christ going to return? When is he going to return? What might judgment look like?”

Or even further than that is, “Well, what kind of schooling do you think is okay for your child?” These are some of the choices we make in motherhood that we would say our personal conscience falls or they’re gray areas we might have a developed theology of them. It's okay for us to worship with someone on Sunday and have a different idea of the way that this plays out.

Laura:  Assuming we're talking about second and third-order doctrine again, we're probably not talking about whether or not they're a Christian. Start with the third-order doctrine. The people you agree with on the big things, but might have some gray areas that are different.

I know my brother-in-law and I love to debate these things. We love talking about it. We'll get in pretty heated but fun arguments. I think that’s the point: it's fun and we both can have a great conversation and really learn from one another. At the end of the day, we can either agree to disagree or we can even know like, “Hey, we don't know. Nobody knows the answer to this.” Or, “Hey, the Bible isn't clear, and we're okay with that.”

I think the key point is it’s okay and healthy to have debates and discussion around these things. I definitely have big conversations about these kinds of things, but I’d say normally we actually usually agree on these things.

Emily:  It’s scary how much we agree on stuff.

Laura:  It's really actually quite strange. It's God's gift in our lives. I think these are really healthy. But again, the key to this is you both can say, “We’re friends, and we love one another at the end, and we want to learn from one another.”

Emily: Yeah. I think another posture of this conversation is trusting the Holy Spirit is who really does the work of illuminating truths, and removes biases or things that maybe cloud our view of what God's word actually is and how it applies. We can't do that. It's not on us to convert someone to my interpretation of this way.

Let's have a healthy conversation about what I know and what you know. Let's have a healthy conversation about how our culture, and how our upbringing, and how our feelings might be impacting this as well. Then trust that God is going to work. It doesn't have to be like, “At the end of this, you must convert otherwise we can't be friends anymore.”

Laura:  Yeah, that really should never be your posture.  If it is, you're coming at it totally wrong, and not in a spirit of humility. I think earlier I focused on that third-order doctrine, but there’s also that second-order stuff where there are bigger things. That’s where people can get pretty heated and passionate. Major divisions can occur over those things. I know, at times on certain issues, I've thought, “Are they really Christians? Are they as godly as I am?”

I think over time as God has matured and grown me in my faith, I know I only answer to the Lord. I have to be faithful to what he has revealed to me in scripture, and I have to trust that my sister over there—who is quite a different Christian than I am in the way that her faith and her doctrine lines up—is answering to the Lord too and that she’s being as faithful as she can.

We keep saying it's not our job to be competitive with them. It's not our job to convince them. But we should learn and grow from one another, and love each other as sisters and to agree to disagree and meet at the cross. Just know Jesus is our savior and you love him and I love him.

I think what matters is that the gospel goes forth. There can be healthy disagreement and great discussion, and I think people can change. But I feel like if you carry that responsibility into your relationship to be the person that is the change, then that is going to be destined for failure. It's just not going to go well.

Emily:  It's interesting. The other day I was having a conversation with my husband. I was discouraged about something and in the midst of the conversation, the words spilled out of the overflow of my heart, “My theology is all I have.”  [Laughter] I wanted to stuff those back in. Don’t you just wish you could just eat them right back up sometimes?

My husband’s eyes got really big, and we both knew I'd said something really wrong. I was like, “Oh, that just shows what's going on in my heart.” Basically it was a good reminder. We had this great talk afterwards that Jesus is all I have. My hope is resting in him. It's not in the perfection of my theology.

Certainly there’s a level of which I must have an orthodox understanding of salvation and righteousness and all of those things if salvation is to be genuine. But assuming I have that saving faith in Christ, which I do, I don't put my hope in having it perfect. That doesn't define my worth and my value. I have that reality that it's by God's grace that I make any progress. It's by grace that I understand anything from his word. It’s by grace my eyes can see and my ears can hear. I can be grateful for that and know that my theology isn’t all I have; Christ is all I have.

Laura:  I'm so glad you admitted that on the show.

Emily:  Oops. [laughter]

Laura: That's all the questions that we had time for today. We hope that you guys enjoyed this casual episode of Ask Us Anything. It's always a fun show to record. Head over to our show notes if you want the extra links that we will include. Also look for that blog post where we list out all these questions. Everything can be found at www.risenmotherhood.com. Of course we’ll also be on Instagram, and Facebook, and Twitter this week; @risenmotherhood on all of the platforms. We'll see you guys next week.

Emily:  Thanks for joining us.

The Ministry of Risen Motherhood is funded by our generous donors. If you like this podcast, please consider joining them www.risenmotherhood.com/give.

Ep. 125 || How Do We Talk About Death with Our Kids?: An Interview with Tim Challies Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily: Hey guys, Emily here. On today’s episode of Risen Motherhood, we’ll be talking to Tim Challies about the topic of death. This is a really weighty topic, but it’s one we want to be able to address in a biblical way. In this show, Tim gives a theology of death. He provides tips and talking points for talking about death with our children. He even walks us through how to address the death of pets with young kids. As a Christian, husband, and father of three teenage children, Tim has some really rich and simple wisdom for parents. Laura and I were really encouraged, and we know you will be too. Tim Challies worships and serves as pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, where he primarily gives attention to mentoring and discipleship. He’s a book reviewer for World Magazine, the co-founder of Cruciform Press, and he’s written several books including one we think will be of particular interest to our listeners: Devoted: Great Men and Their Godly Moms. He has a podcast called The Art of Godliness, and he writes daily at Challies.com. Now let’s get to the interview with myself, Laura, and Tim.

Laura: Hi, Tim! Thanks for being on Risen Motherhood today!

Tim: It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me!

Laura: Can you start off by telling us a little bit about yourself? We’ve talked about you in the intro, including your main sites and a great book you have, but we want to hear you talk about those things for yourself. So let us know about your family and what you’re up to during a normal day.

Tim: Sure, you just want me to talk about myself, eh? [Laughter] I’m a writer who lives right outside of Toronto, Canada. I’ve been writing for 16-17 years as a part-time and then a full-time gig. I’m married to Aileen, and we’ve been married for almost 21 years. We have three kids; one who’s 19, one who’s 16, and one who’s just about 13.

Emily: Awesome. I think you’re a little bit further ahead than we are.

Laura: That’s good. That’s why we want you on the show. [Laughter]

Tim: It goes by really quick. [Laughter]

Emily: One thing we do at Risen Motherhood is try to go through frequently asked questions we get, especially where we see there’s a gap in gospel-centered resources available. One of those questions and topics we’ve been asked about is the concept of death. Death is something that happens to all of us, but it can still feel like this difficult concept to grasp. Would you start us off with a basic theology of death? What is it really? Why do we need to know about it?

Tim: As you said, it’s an universal experience. None of us are going to cheat it, and all of us will encounter it at some point in our lives, so it’s wise we think about it. And as parents, it’s wise we prepare ourselves so we have some answers for our kids when they inevitably encounter it. To understand death, we first need to understand creation: knowing God created us in his image, and he created us in his image spiritually. He gave us a soul. God created us from nothing, giving us life that was physical and spiritual. This kind of life was meant to last forever. Unfortunately, humanity sinned, and the consequences of sin would be that death would now enter the world. Instead of life everlasting, life would be fragile and temporary. What we see is death is really a reversal of creation. God, in creation, gathered man from the dust and breathed life into him. Now in death, we return to the dust. But our souls, of course, live on and will one day be judged on the basis of if we’re in Christ or out of Christ. That’s a lot, but really death is the separating of our physical form from our spiritual form, if only temporary.

Emily: That’s good and really helpful. I like that you brought in the concept of the soul and the physical reality. I think that’s something we don’t usually talk about immediately when we consider the concept of death. So thanks for breaking that down.

Laura: So Tim, you know most of our listeners have children under the age of eight. We’re getting a lot of questions from kiddos about death when they experience it or hear about it, but they can’t fully understand what you just shared with us. Can you help us understand how we might go about explaining the concept of death to young children? How does it change from what you just shared, and what can we expect in that conversation?

Tim: Sure. The first thing is when we do podcasts or write books, we like to ask questions in neat little categories. We can sort of put boundaries on it and make it an abstract thing. In reality, when the question of death comes up with your kids, there’s probably going to be context to it. Maybe there’s been an Easter service and they’ve heard about Jesus dying. Maybe somebody they love has died or a pseudo-stranger at church has died. Maybe they’ve seen the news or a headline. Usually there’s some context, so that’s going to change things; you’re going to speak out of that context to your kids. I think it’s important to establish that death is different for Christians and non-Christians. As we explain death to our kids, we want them to know it’s a different reality for believers. We want to explain the basics. The Bible compares it to sleep for Christians. We can tell our kids the person went to be with Jesus or something like that. But I think it’s important to always—at some point—to turn it back to our kids: are you ready? You don’t want to scare them or terrify them beyond their age, but the important part of death for our children is to consider their own mortality, in an age-appropriate way. Are they trusting Christ? We want to somehow advance the conversation to that point. It’s not death in the abstract; death is a human reality that is much more joyful for the believer than the unbeliever.

Emily: Very helpful reminder to tie it to the real context. That is so true that these conversations are happening as a reaction to something that’s happened in family life or at church. Turning it back on them and asking those hard questions is really good.

Tim: It’s the same as most of our conversations in parenting. I’ve found it to be true in other things, like the birds and the bees conversation. Rarely is that going to happen in this purely abstract, neat, and tidy thing. You’re going to have some awkward context or something is going to come up, and now you have to talk about it. It seems to me, from most of these difficult conversations, it comes up before you think your kids are ready for them. Normally just by asking the question, they’re proving they’re more ready than you thought they were. That death question can come up a lot earlier than you think is appropriate or when you’re ready to talk about it. A bunch of parenting is figuring out what’s appropriate for our kids at a certain age or what they can handle. You have to be very, very truthful with them in a way that hopefully serves them at their age.

Laura: I appreciated that you mentioned it might be a little awkward. I think that’s something I have to get more comfortable with when I’m talking to my children about this. I also like what you said about being truthful by telling them what you know and what the BIble says. It won’t be wrong if you’re telling them what the BIble says. I think, as a mom of young children, I’m still getting my feet under me for explaining these more difficult theological topics. It’s a good reminder for me that if I stay with truth and with God’s word, I’m not going to lead them astray. I think that’s what we’re all kind of fearing deep down: giving them bad advice or offering untruthful encouragement.

Tim: Ultimately, as Christian, all we have is the Bible to explain life, and death, and the hereafter. So, we don’t have any authority outside of that. It’s always turning to the authority of scripture and rooting our kids in that. All these conversations are an opportunity to point our kids to the ultimate truth and ultimate source of answers. If we’re missing the Bible or missing the opportunity to point them to scripture, to open it with them, or to explain thing biblically, I think we’re missing the best opportunity of all.

Emily: Speaking of giving our children the truth even when it’s particularly hard, one challenge we’ve experienced in talking to our children about death is talking about those who aren’t believers and what happens to someone who doesn’t trust in Christ. Do you have any suggestions or verbiage for navigating these conversations with young children? Especially if the answer is not hopeful, or is sad and discouraging?

Tim: The Bible deals pretty frankly with those who don’t know Christ, so we have a lot of information to go on. I don’t think we need to pretend the experience for unbelievers is the same for believers. On the other hand, I’m not sure it’s appropriate with very young children to necessarily explain the full reality of eternal conscious torment. Again, I wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to address them. The ultimate answer is we don’t know if somebody makes a deathbed conversion or turn to Christ in that last moment. I think we’ll be surprised at the end by those who are in heaven and those who aren’t. I think we can turn to that big question: are you trusting Christ? If that person trusted Christ, then he’s with Jesus. I don’t think that’s evading the question—it might seem that way—but we turn to truth and challenge our kids to address the state of their own souls and hope.

Laura: That’s a great point. With offering the gospel hope, how can we encourage our children when they do experience death for the first time? A lot of times, it can feel pretty devastating for a child. They’re not able to process it and understand it the same way. How can we support them? Not just the one conversation but as they process their grief?

Tim: I think we’re always pointing them beyond themselves. Our kids are not self-sufficient; they don’t have the knowledge, wisdom, or understanding they need. We’re always pointing them to Christ. If they do have hope, it’s not hope in themselves or hope in their faith; it’s hope in Jesus Christ. As we look at somebody who’s died, whether that person is a believer or not, our ultimate hope is not in that person or what they professed. Our ultimate hope is in the goodness, kindness, and mercy of God, of Christ. I think, again, push them towards that. Don’t take comfort in a profession of faith or in that other person’s profession of faith. Take comfort in the goodness of our God. Point them to Jesus Christ, not the person that died.

Emily: How comforting it is for us to know he experienced grief and understands our humanness in that way. I like that they can see a friend in Jesus, someone who understands what they’re experiencing.

Laura: Okay, so this is kind of a hotly debated topic, but we want you to answer it. [Laughter] It’s one of those things people have a lot of opinions on. We want to talk about pets. For many children, sometimes their very first experience with a more sorrowful death is with their pet. We’re curious if you’re willing to share your stance, and will you offer advice on how we can help our children process through this type of loss?

Tim: I think you’re right. It’s a very serious question for children. It can be a little bit flippant or silly for us to think about it, but for kids, it’s very present and pressing. So, it’s worth talking about. For all that, generally, where the Bible is silent, I’m not sure there’s a lot of value in speculating. You can’t go to the BIble and say for sure whether or not pets will be in heaven. What we’re pointing to is what the Bible makes clear, which is human beings have souls. And it’s because human beings have souls that they themselves have to be concerned about heaven or hell. We believe pets don’t have souls, at least no in the same way human beings do. Whether that means they go to heaven or not—I’m not sure anyone advocated they go to hell either. If you really believe animals can go to heaven, surely you have to believe evil animals go to hell—I don’t know. I think one of the reasons kids want to think about that is they want to be assured heaven will be a happy place for them. They can’t imagine being happy in eternity without their pet. Perhaps address that—heaven will be a place of no sorrows with no lack—by pointing to the goodness and mercy of God. My view is, honestly, I don’t know. I’m not willing to take a stance on whether pets are there or not. I suspect probably not if I had to lean one way. Animals will be there, but I don’t know if specific animals will be. Either way, I don’t know if it’s that pressing of an issue, because we will be lacking nothing and fully content. We won’t look back with regret that that pet isn’t there. Another thing to point out is this is a 21st century, Western question. As you travel around the world or through history, you’ll find people had very different relationships with animals on the whole. So we concern ourselves with things that probably aren’t relevant or that pressing over the course of church history and around the expanse of the world.

Laura: That’s a great point.

Emily: What you mentioned is transitioning to that deeper question for kids: they want to be assured it’s going to be happy in heaven and the things they love and tangibly enjoy will be there with Jesus forever. In the tiny bit we’ve dabbled in this, I think helping our children see Mommy and Daddy will be there, and different people we know in our lives will be there, helps them make a connection they understand. And it helps them to learn the most important person who will be there is Jesus. The fact that he’ll be there is enough, and the fact he says all the tears will be gone and the sorrow will be made right is enough. I think that’s helped give our kids a relationship they know and love very well—that Mommy will be there with Jesus and she hopes you will be too. That’s a great way to transition that conversation; thanks for sharing.

Tim: A couple of other things come to mind. One is I think with our kids, we don’t want them to become Bible speculators instead of standing on what it says. We have to allow that we don’t know certain things. Where the BIble is silent and doesn’t give us firm answers, it’s probably best for us not to give firm answers. As we refuse to take a firm stance, hopefully we’re helping our kids live in that appropriate tension; the Bible doesn’t address absolutely everything, even those things that are important to us. I think it’s okay to leave that tension there. The other thing is I want to be careful not to narrow the distance between human beings and animals, which is happening in our culture. When you live an evolutionary mindest, we’re all the same species in a sense; we’re all the same origin. The Bible says humanity is very, very different than from animals or any other form of life—even angelic beings, for whom there isn’t salvation in the way it’s available to us. I want to be careful that we’re not saying animals are a lot like us; they’re very, very different from us. That doesn’t mean they can’t be in heaven, because the Bible doesn’t leave that out. But I want our kids to understand animals are not people or almost-people. They’re entirely different from people.

Laura: That’s good. So we touched on this a little bit, but one big piece is a child wants to know God is still good when they’re going through something hard or dealing with loss. How can we support our child that God is still worthy of our trust even in the midst of hard things?

Tim: I guess the answer for kids is basically the same answer for adults: point them to the cross where we see the most evil thing humanity has ever been able to do or experience brought the greatest good that humanity has ever experienced. If the cross can be deemed something good—and it is something good for us as the path for redemption—then God can make good of anything that happens in this world. We see the goodness of God displayed even through grief, pain, wrath on the cross. Therefore, we can say anything that happens in this life can bring good to us and can display the goodness of God. We’re trying to point back to the character of God. And we can also point out that death is our fault, not God’s. We die, because we’re the ones who sinned, but we can live again in eternal life if we trust in Jesus Christ. I think these little conversations we have with little children bear long-term fruit. It’s unlikely you’ll sit down with your child and have a long conversation on a theology of death. Most of the time, you’ll be offering statements here and there as you encounter situations in life. We trust we’re going to have the opportunity over many years to address this, not just one time that requires you laying out a complete systematic theology of life and death.

Emily: I think that’s good comfort to any mom who’s listening. Sometimes, we can feel like if our child asks that question, we need to be ready and armed with the truth for a short sermon of all the things we’ve stored up to tell them. It feels like everything hangs on that one moment. But parenting is a long-game, and there are many conversations. That’s good encouragement that we trust the Lord in being able to deliver information a little bit at a time, and that he’ll use that in their hearts to shape them to know him and to know truth over the course of their lives.

Tim: Absolutely. We have a long time with our kids; I know it seems really short, but so often, it’s just building little things over time—here and there—until it all adds up to something. One other thing that strikes me is—assuming someone listening is in a similar culture or background—we don’t experience death the way people used to. When infant mortality was 50%, as was the case in many places for many times, people had to deal with this, and kids became more accustomed to death. It’s because of our medical care and low infant mortality—all these great blessings we enjoy—that this conversation seems so abstract. For so many of our brothers and sisters who’ve gone on before, this was just a conversation all the time as little brothers and sisters died in infancy. It’s an almost luxury we have because of the amazing world we live in right now.

Laura: As we wrap up here, we typically like to end by seeing if our guests have anything they want to share with an audience of moms with young children. We’d love to open the floor to you for any encouragements, exhortations, or anything you’d like to tell a bunch of moms.

Tim: Maybe just this: parenting isn’t as hard as we make it out to be sometimes. I think God really equips up to do well with it. If we’re in God’s word and doing the basics of the Christian life—being in the word, praying, fellowshipping—I think we have most of what we need to do really, really well in life and parenting. We’re in what I’d say is the era of the expert, where we believe we need an expert for everything or a book about gospel-centered everything. We’ve sort of lost confidence that we can do all right in life by living a simple life close to the Lord. I want to encourage you that you don’t need an expert for every area of life—just be prayerful and thoughtful. Tell your kids you don’t know but you’re going to think about it and get back to them. Be willing to have a long period with your kids where you’re teaching them and sharing with them. The Lord’s going to work through you. So avoid that thought that you need to read three or four books before you can speak to your kids about death or that sort of thing. Just be a parent to them; the Lord’s giving you what you need. You can be an effective mom, and the Lord will bless that.

Emily: Thank you so much for ending us on that word! I think in our generation, there are so many resources available—many of which are good and helpful. But we all need that reminder God has given us his word to equip us for good work, and godliness, and for living a life as a disciple of Christ who disciples children. Thank you for that reminder of the importance of those disciplines God gave us. Thanks also for being on our show!

Tim: I know you’re trying to wrap up here, but I want to throw out one more thing. I want to append something to what I just said: when you do have a question, instead of going on Google, how about asking one of the ladies in your church, especially one of the older ladies? That’s a practice that was once so important, especially in smaller communities in an era before social media or Google. There were natural opportunities for older and younger women to interact, and that’s where you’d have these conversations and learn from people. I think there are a lot of older women who are dying to be asked those questions and have really good things to say, but they’re just not being asked because we go on websites. God has given you the local church as an incredible resource to work these things out. Aileen and I have found a lot of value in couples who are raising kids in a way we think, “We want our kids to be like that.” I’ll go up to them and say, “I want my kids to be like your kids. What can I do?” I think that’s a perfectly legitimate question, and you’ll learn a lot from them that you may not learn from the websites and experts. Take advantage of what God’s given you in your church.

Laura: That’s a great word and something we really encourage here at Risen Motherhood. I hope any listener of our show has heard that one million times. [Laughter] I’m glad you reinforced it. We appreciate you coming on our show, Tim. This has been a joy to interview you and have you speak to our women. We want to point everyone to a lot of your resources, so everyone, please head to risenmotherhood.com for our show notes. There you’re going to find more information on this topic and Tim. Of course, @risenmotherhood on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You can follow us there this week for more info too! Thanks again, Tim! We really appreciate it.

Tim: My pleasure.