Ep. 105 || When Motherhood Feels Too Hard + Patreon Pledge Drive Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily, here with Laura. Today we are talking about how to deal when motherhood just feels too hard, when your responsibilities feel completely overwhelming, when you have no idea how to move forward, or when you just feel like you can’t do it. Hopefully that includes all of us. [laughter]

Laura:  I hope so. If you do not identify with that statement, I want to meet you, please. [laughter]

Emily:  But first, we’re really excited because this week we are doing a pledge drive to financially support the ministry of Risen Motherhood. We’re really excited to talk to you guys about it and excited to invite you to get involved.

Laura:  Earlier this year some of you may have been along for the ride with us when we became entirely community supported. So we launched a platform called Patreon at that time and also received a lot of one-time donations through many of you. We are hoping to continue that now. We also formalized our mission statement earlier this year, and it is “to encourage, equip and challenge moms to apply the gospel to their everyday lives.” If you're new to our ministry or if you just need a quick refresher, this is what we’re all about. Our hope is to encourage, equip and challenge moms with the gospel. We do that through the podcast, which you're hopefully listening to right now, through articles on our site that are written by moms from all over the world and all different backgrounds; also the newsletter, social media content, and recommended resources. If you didn’t know, we pooled together tools that we enjoy using with our kids, that we use ourselves, that are beautiful and theologically sound so that you have them in one spot to equip you in order to invest in your family well. We also have our equipping resources —these are things like the Abide Method, which teaches you how to study the Bible, and our Kid’s Abide Cards, which teach you how to walk through a biblical passage with your children. It’s pretty cool to see what God has done through all of these arms and through all these platforms that we have at RM. And it’s been so fun because we have heard from so many women all over the world how God has worked in their lives through the ministry.

Emily:  It’s really encouraging. There are nearly 1,000 written reviews on iTunes, which just blows my mind. You guys should go read them if you want to hear some awesome stories about how God is working in and through Risen Motherhood. One thing in particular that we felt like captured the heart of what we love seeing was the review from Mommy. In her review, she said, “I used to search for the best or right method, advice, books etc. But now I feel freed up from the pressure of doing things perfectly, thanks to the truth from RM that Jesus is our only hope, and he is our children’s only hope as well.” That is just one example of the many messages we've received about women who were maybe looking for hope and help and a lot of the resources that the world offers. Instead, they had their perspective shifted back onto God and back on the good news of the gospel and what he's done for them in Christ.

Laura:  We’ve heard from missionary moms who are using it when they lack resources in their own communities, and some of them are actually so cool. Their friends that they’ve met want to learn English, and so they're giving them the podcast to help them learn English, and at the same time, they're giving them the gospel. I just loved that; I get the chills when I hear that. We’ve heard from so many women who are starting podcast clubs to discuss the show or Bible studies for the very first time in their neighborhoods with unbelievers in them. We also hear about moms who are sharing it with an unbelieving friend when they are struggling over snack time or screen time or a lack of sleep, and all the things that we sort of zero in at here at Risen Motherhood. They're sharing that with an unbelieving friend who has never heard the gospel. There are husbands who are listening in, and they also need to have deeper conversations with their wives because of the content from the show. Or women who are just picking up their Bibles for the first time in a really long time. Story after story we've been hearing and we want to point though that we recognize that this isn’t RM that is doing this work. This is not Risen Motherhood. This is God doing the work in the hearts of these people.

Emily:  And we are so grateful to those of you who have already participated in that by sharing the show or telling your friends or putting it on social media. Because even though sometimes we like to kind of peg social media as the bad guy [laughter] or something that brings out a lot of sin in our lives, it’s also this amazing avenue that you're able to reach and influence others for Christ and reach all the nations right from your living room, or the checkout line, or wherever you are. So those of you who have already participated in that, it does make a difference. And it reaches all kinds of women. But we really need your help to keep going, and to keep producing this content, and to keep making it free.

Laura:  Yes, that's one thing; our hope here at RM is that every mom would be able to access these resources, and that we wouldn’t have to embargo things or say these are only for certain people. But that we’ll be able to keep our show, our website, and everything that we offer for free. Each month we have fees that we pay for the podcast, website domain hosting, for email subscription services, programming, photography, and transcriptions. And we also pay our team members to develop the content for all of the different platforms that we have, and even doing things like manage the finances or manage the website. Therefore there are a lot of behind-the-scenes things going on that we are paying for, and that's where we just want to ask you for your help. I think, Em, we have some numbers here.

Emily:  That’s actually so cool because we sat down one day and we tried to figure out what does it cost for us to produce one podcast, or one blog post, or one equipping resource? We had our sister-in-law, Becca, who does a lot of finances, come together with us. But to produce one episode of the podcast costs around $500. It’s helpful to know that includes everything: starting from content and editorial planning, through the actual show recording, and the post-production of that. Also, editing the show, putting it all together and making sure the sound quality is excellent for you guys. We also have original photography that goes along with each show, we have members on the team who write the discussion questions, program the website, and put everything out on social media, and compile those show notes for you guys. All of those things together means the show is touched by a lot of hands on our team. The transcripts! I can’t even get into all that, so there is a lot of work that goes into that one podcast episode that kind of makes that number. Also, every time we produce an article for the website, it costs up to $200, and that includes a lot of the same things, like editorial content planning, actual editing of each article, original photography, pushing that out on social media. There are a lot of the pieces of the puzzle there, and same with our equipping—that costs anywhere from $500 to $1,000 every time we create. And equipping and the resources; and it doesn’t even include things like, we work with an original artist, or we work with a translator like we did for our Kid’s Abide Cards. There's definitely a lot that goes into each of these pieces. We wanted to understand these numbers; maybe you guys may feel led to say, “With a one-time donation, I am going to cover one whole podcast episode for Risen Motherhood this year.” Or, “I am going to cover one or two blog articles.” Or, “I am going to cover an entire equipping device.” That's just an exciting way you can think about supporting us. Even if it’s a smaller amount, you know this buys half of a show, and that was one of the reasons why we wanted to kind of quantify this for you guys.

Laura:  And if you go in to make a one-time donation for us, the levels will be there too. You can see and it’s really easy; we have a ton of information on this at risenmotherhood.com/give. Or you can read all about this, learn more and all this stuff, but we know that talking about money is hard, and we know that asking for money is very hard as well. But we’re doing it, and this is what it takes to keep Risen Motherhood going. We want to be able to continue creating content that you know and love from us, but we can’t do it without your help. Right now we have a pretty ambitious goal; we have a platform called Patreon that we’re part of where you can sign up to give monthly to Risen Motherhood. Right now we have about 300 community members and we’re hoping to reach a goal of 450 members, and also to increase our one-time donations. Therefore you're welcome to do either; we need people kind of doing both for this to work.

Just a quick tip with this too is that we've heard from a lot of women that they’ve actually been encouraging their moms, or grandma or grandpa, to give to Risen Motherhood. We've had a lot of really generous donations through grandparents who’ve just felt like, “Hey, this is so cool.” Or, “I see the change that’s happening in my daughter or happening in my grandchildren and I want to invest in the future.” Let’s just say if they're looking for a place to give, maybe give them a nudge, and we hope, of course, that you will join us well. But either way, we’re grateful that you guys are here.

Emily:  Yes. Just something to keep in mind, we are in the process of pursuing non-profit status. That is going to take some time and we don’t have a deadline on that, so definitely go ahead and partner with us today; we need to keep running in the meantime. But that's one of the reasons why we wanted to continue having donations is because we’re headed that direction.

Laura:  We’re in process. We are knee deep in paperwork [laughter]. Know that it’s actually a reality, but it takes a decent amount of time for this to happen.

Emily:  You can go to risenmotherhood.com/give to find out all the details. If you're listening on Labor Day, it is September 19th, head over to Instagram at risenmotherhood because we’re going to have a Q&A on this tonight. Submit your question and we will try to answer anything you want to know about the pledge drive or being donor funded and all of that.

Laura:  Thank you guys so much, we appreciate you sitting through that. Now let’s get to the show, “When motherhood feels too hard.” This happens to me all the time. Emily, does motherhood feel hard for you often?

Emily:  Oh yes [laughter]. Pretty much every day I have a moment where I think like, “Motherhood is just too hard.” I don’t know what to do Laura, and I feel like I cannot put one more foot in front of the other, I cannot parent graciously for one more moment. And I think this also happens in connection with big seasons of motherhood. For instance, I think most of us can probably remember, maybe you brought your baby home from the hospital for the first time and you were driving home thinking, “I can’t believe they just left me with that baby.” Like, “I don’t know what I am doing. God, this feels just so overwhelming and so hard.” And even if you brought in a child through adoption or foster care, there was probably that immediate moment where that child was in your care and you just thought like, “I am not equipped to do this. I cannot do this. This is too hard.”

Laura:  That's a good point. It often feels a little more acute when we’re going through those big transitions, even things like moving or changing our work schedule, or maybe getting a new childcare provider, starting school. I feel like that's going to be a big one for me—we’re recording this show a little bit —our kids are going to school very soon, so transitioning through that. Or into summer schedules; things like that. Or just even the daily grind of motherhood. I feel like often it will just be a moment of loudness in my home, and I am like, “I just want to be done. This is just hard.”

Emily:  The thing that's interesting is the hard feeling can really permeate, like you were saying, in the small moments. And then there are also these very big, real hard things we face, and it can be really exhausting. I know that sometimes I am just exhausted by the feeling of how much there is. Of, “Okay, maybe I am getting kind of…”, or, “I am feeding really healthy foods to our kids and I am feeling really good about that. But I haven’t been reading out loud to them and now I am feeling like I am doing terrible in this other area.” And at any given time there’s 25 of those things, or maybe hundreds of things we’re responsible for, and the hardness is just like, “I cannot keep up with everything I am supposed to be doing at any given time. I am majorly failing in multiple areas.” [laughter]

Laura:  Oh, sad.

Emily:  But it’s true; it’s not just reality.

Laura: I know, I feel that way too, but when I hear someone else say it, I have, of course, more clarity.

Emily:  Which is why we need help.

Laura:  Yes. We have kind of these three things as we’re talking through the show; kind of common temptations when, as a mom, you're faced with these feelings of, “It’s just a little bit too hard for me right now.” The first one is we just want to give up. Often I think we can just stop wanting to be intentional about things, want to stop trying, stop being thoughtful, like Emily was talking about, with the food. And we’re kind of like, “Well, I am just going to give up on everything. If I can’t do it, I am not going to do it at all.” That's like the first thing that we often do.

Emily:  Another temptation is just to give in—just that succumbing to temptation to sin in a lot of different areas. It’s that feeling of, “Okay fine, I am done fighting. I am just going to give in and do what feels most natural to me”, which is often to sin. And we’ll talk more about what that might look like.

Laura: And then the last one would be to give over. This is sort of the idea that you might give yourself over to something else; something with maybe more instant gratification, something with a little more results, or something that just feels more natural maybe to you or easier. Sometimes this can be a hobby, time with friends, or work. Just anything that's outside of motherhood where you're saying, “I am going to go do that purely for the reason that I want to check out because it’s just too hard.” Not because those are bad things.

Emily:  Although we know there’s a lot of overlap in these things, and we can probably be doing all three of them at the same time, we just wanted to give you guys some quick gospel hope for each of these responses when motherhood feels too hard.

First, a caveat, that sometimes motherhood feels too hard because you're battling something deeper, like postpartum depression or an anxiety disorder. Or there are some changes in your hormones that are making it really difficult to cope through these things. This is something that's hard beyond the normal pressures of motherhood, and these aren’t attitudes or moods that you can just pray your way out of or give yourself a negative truth and redirect. This is something you may need doctors or counselors to help you work through. Definitely if you feel like “I’m trying these things but I’m unable to make progress,” reach out to someone because we definitely know that there are factors that go into this.

Laura:  Definitely. We want to give you guys some gospel hope for these three things—the give up, give in or give yourself over. And as Emily mentioned, there's a lot of overlap, so you can apply these in different ways. But thinking specifically about giving up, we can look to Christ for that example. He was the ultimate show of commitment through the end. He didn’t give up when God called him to the cross. He asked God to take the cup of suffering from him, but ultimately he did God’s will, and he walked to Calvary, all the way, for us, never giving up. It was hard, and it included suffering, but he still went the way that was set before him.

Emily:  Yes, and as disciples of Christ, it’s going to be hard for us. But through the Holy Spirit, we can have his power and strength in our weakness. Another thing, when we just want to give in, is to remember Jesus when he was tempted in the desert. Satan came to him when he was at a really weak point physically, and he was hungry and probably tired, and he showed him all these things he could give in to. Like, “Oh, you can have power and control and you can stop your suffering right now.” But Jesus used God’s word to stand firm and to resist the devil. He did this perfectly and he understands what it feels like to be tempted, to just give in to whatever sin it is that we want to do. But we can, again, find his strength in our weakness. And even if we do sin, we can repent and turn back to him every time.

Laura:  And for the last one, giving yourself over, we see this happening in the New Testament in the early church. People were often abandoning sound doctrine and the gospel in light of other things that were “gospel plus something else.” They were following the teachings of the world, and just like them, we can be like that, where we are thinking we need something more than just the gospel. We need something more than where God has put us and where he has placed us. It can be very easy and tempting to want to take shortcuts or, as we were sharing, just having that instant gratification for things, or just feeling like, “Oh, I can see some tangible results of my efforts.” But there's no shortcut to God or to faithfulness and to living a life just sold out for the gospel. That is all that you need, it’s sufficient, and it’s everything; to add to that isn’t necessary. God provides you with everything you need to be a good mother. When you have that good perspective of what you have in Christ, and what you have aside through eternity, and what he’s called you to today, you can stay focused on those things and not be looking for other ways to find fulfillment outside of where God’s placed you.

Emily:  We just wanted to run through these and give some examples of how we've seen this play out in our own lives. Obviously these are just our personal experiences [laughs] so take them with a grain of salt, and know that we all have different experiences. But one time I wanted to give up—I think I shared this on the show before—when we had three kids under 18 months, there was this really snowy day and I was pumping for my twins and my older son was running around. I was so overwhelmed, I literally just went into my bedroom and hit my knees and was just crying out to God, like, “God, I cannot do this, this is too hard. I give up.” And he really just showed up with kindness and strength for that day, and I remember specifically, everybody napped at the same time that day, for the first time since they were born. And I had two hours to clean the house and sit down quietly by myself. God does not always show up in that way.

Laura:  He was merciful to you.

Emily:  I just remembering like, “God sees me and loves me, and he's going to help me persevere.” 

Laura:  On the flipside of that, as Emily said, it doesn’t always happen that way, I had a long season. I shared before about my daughter having colic, and I don’t know if I've ever actually admitted this part on the show. But we were living temporarily in an apartment for about two months after we’d just moved to the Chicago area, and I was pretty sad. I was two months postpartum, living in a home that I didn’t know and in a town with no friends, no church home, and no family. I locked myself in the bathroom almost every day for probably the full two months and I would cry in the bathtub. I was sort of the stereotype [laughs] that I think sometimes we can get. But it was true; it was the only place where I could find relief. It was a very hard season. It was a season that I felt like God wasn’t taking that suffering away; he wasn’t taking the difficulties of raising two kids and what felt somewhat like isolation. It was a long season, but I look back at it and I know that God was faithful in it. I know that he provided small mercies at the time. I may not even have felt that grateful for them, to be honest, in my sadness. But I look back and he grew me during that season so much. And I am really grateful for it, for many reasons. And I've shared it on different shows so I don’t need to go into here. For those of you who are going through a longer season, just know that the big and the small things, like Emily and I were saying, sometimes there's a really big, tangible act of grace and mercy that you see. And other times it is a time for sanctification and growth and just the daily grind of going through that.

Emily:  Some examples of whenever we want to give in. For me this is one of the things I feel on a daily basis, and just having to go before God every day, moment by moment. It’s really frustrating to me actually. [laughter] It feels like the thorn inside of, “Why can’t I just get over this feeling of having to ask myself, ‘Why am I parenting this way? Do I just want to just give in to my kids? Do I just want to check out? Have I called on the Lord for perseverance, and for help and for truth in the situation, or am I just relying on myself and my own strength?’” That’s more of a preaching the gospel to myself thing when the everyday moments feels hard.

Laura:  I would have to say ditto on that. I tend to be a pendulum of giving in to my kids’ whims and desires, which is wrong too. Just like saying, “You can have anything you want and it doesn’t matter.” And then also then snapping and being angry because they're having terrible behavior, and really I created that. I fostered that kind of environment and I have to step back and ask, just like Emily, preaching the gospel myself, “Hey, what's really in my heart right now? Is it my emotions or my feelings, or my period? I don’t know. Or is it Christ?” Feelings are real, but you have to think of them as gauges, and not necessarily your guide for exactly what to do. I've had someone very wise tell me that saying, “Your feelings can tell you where your hope is currently being found, but not where it should be found.” Which I think is a pretty key difference.

Emily:  Yes, it’s kind of like that root and fruit example. I was reading that in Gospel Fluency recently, and just asking, “When I see the fruit of my behavior is giving into sin, each time saying, ‘Where is that coming from? What are the roots of that behavior and that fruit in my life?’” Oh that’s good; guys should read that book. [laughter] Alright, so gospel hope when you want to give over. I think—wow, I just sound like a broken record, like really, my answer just sounds like my last answer. [laughter]  For me, I just continually struggle with wanting to go over to the path of least resistance—what's going to make everybody else in the house feel good? And I am all about feeling good [laughter], I guess. Therefore, watch the show, eat the food, hanker down, and let’s just keep to ourselves in our homes so we don’t have to deal with the hardness of relationships or the hardness of routine changes. Or we don’t have to sacrifice; we don’t have to let anyone in. I am just tempted to give over to this desire for a life of ease and comfort, and not of sacrifice and dying to myself and asking God, “What have you called me to do in this moment, and how are you calling me to live for you in this, even if it is hard?” And I have to choose that the difficult way.

Laura:  This is where you see how different Emily and I are, because I am like, "Difficulty, let me bulldoze through it.” [laughter] This is why we’re very good for each other, but I am definitely the type of person that likes immediate fruit for things. And I tend to turn to options that offer very quick satisfaction, or I just can feel really good at. That might mean I am doing a lot of things, and that I am not doing it because I want to honor God in it or because I want to serve him, but because I want to feel valuable. That is where the sin trouble comes in; I may say, “I am going to have a party. I am going to make a fancy meal that’s totally homemade. I am going to maybe even buy a new shirt and just feel pretty.” These are the things that I have to continually remind myself that like, “I am invested here as a mom for the long game, and that’s the kind of game that God plays. He is not shortsighted like me, but he's working even in the things that I don’t see.”  It’s probably where he’s working the most, like when my daughter had colic, and I was sitting in the bathroom tub. When we want to give over to things we just have to remember that, like we were talking about, there is no shortcut to this. There's nothing else that is worthy of our worship, outside of God, and where he’s placed us.

Emily:  Practically, what does this look like? We've touched on it a little bit, but stopping and praying when we’re in those moments when we want to just give up, give in, or give over, and just asking God, crying out to him, praying his word back to him. And then just being in his word consistently; obviously that’s where our minds are renewed and transformed. That’s where we can be guided by the truth and not by our feelings or by our sense of being overwhelmed, living in community with other believers, and having others be able to talk you through those things. This is something you never move beyond; I still have to go to older women or peers and be like, “I am sorry I have to ask this dumb question, but I cannot work through this. Can you speak the gospel to me? Can you help me figure out what's going on in my heart?” And then it’s usually so helpful.

Laura:  Or sometimes you don’t really realize you need the gospel. And then your really good friends come out and they give you the gospel, and you're like, “Oh yes! [laughter] I needed that because I was in lala land.”

Emily:  Preach the gospel to yourself and your friends. Not being afraid to give your friend Jesus—that’s what we need. Yes, we need that, “I am here with you too” commiseration to some level just so we can be empathetic. But then also pointing them to Christ and saying, “This is where your sufficiency and your hope and your fulfillment, and everything you need for a life in godliness is found.”

Laura:  Let’s talk about dead weight friends. You just think about that like, “I don’t want to keep you where you're at as a friend.” Or, “I don’t want my friends to leave me just where I’m at. I want them to push me forward. I want them to push me towards the cross.” That’s a good thing though Emily, because often, like whenever motherhood is hard, I am not reaching out for help or assistance.

Emily:  That is true!

Laura:  I am just kind of in-grown into my own stuff.

Emily:  I think we've stumbled upon something really important here. [laughter]

Laura:  I like it!

Emily:  Because that's something I don’t communicate very often. Because whenever I am in those moments I am really in my head and I want to give in or give up or whatever, I have not been living in good community with people who are speaking the gospel to me and pointing me to Christ. And I've not been living authentically. Not that I am hiding anything, but I just haven’t been in that good community, and I think that’s a good thing to keep in mind.

Laura:  Having those friends that have an x-ray on you is so key. Anyway, we've got another show idea happening I think. But anyway, be a good friend; that’s the end of that little story. We’ll have more on this on our show notes. You can check those out, and head over to risenmotherhood.com for all the info, risenmotherhood.com/give is where you’ll find the pledge drive. If you'd like to contribute, we would greatly appreciate that, and of course find us on social media; Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, @risenmotherhood. Thank you guys so much for joining us today.

This episode of Risen Motherhood is funded by our generous donors. If you like this podcast, please consider joining them  at risenmotherhood.com/give.

Ep. 104 || Jackie Hill Perry What Does It Mean To Find Your Identity In Christ? Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Today we’re excited to welcome Jackie Hill Perry to the Risen Motherhood podcast. Jackie is a wife to Preston and a mom to two young girls, Eden and Autumn. She has an amazing story of how she came to Christ, which we’ll touch on today during the show, as we’re discussing what it means to find your identity in Christ.

Her new book, Gay Girl, Good God gives a deeper look into her story, which includes gender confusion and same sex attraction, and how God broke in and turned her heart towards him, transforming her life to follow and obey him in light of the gospel.

Today, we’ll be talking specifically about common ways we misplace our identity as moms, and how we can remember the gospel to root our identity back in Christ. Jackie is a writer, poet, artist, speaker, and teacher. Let’s get to the show with Jackie, Laura, and myself.


Laura:  Hi, Jackie. Thanks so much for joining us on Risen Motherhood today.

Jackie:  Thank you. I’m glad to be here.

Laura:  We are thrilled to have you on the show. Emily and I have both really enjoyed your content, especially in the last couple of years as we've interacted with your ministry more and the things that you do. We are really excited to have you on the show and to introduce the work that you do and your wisdom to the listeners of Risen Motherhood today.

Jackie:  Yay. I hope I can add some value. I am still an amateur mother.

Laura:  [laughs] Well, we’re excited because we’re talking about identity in Christ, which is one of those big, common phrases that feel like everyone’s tossing it around and we say it to ourselves, and we tell it to our friends.

But it’s kind of one of those hard words to understand, and so we want to get more into your story and to hear more about who you are. But we’re wondering if you could start off with just defining a little bit of what does this phrase mean? Why is it essential as a Christian to understand? And then we’ll move into knowing a little bit more about your story and how that plays in.

Jackie:  I think the most basic or simple way to understand identity is, “Who am I?” And understanding who I am points to, “What is my purpose? Why was I created?” Our primary identity has always been and should be that we’re image bearers. Genesis 1:27—we were made in the image of God, and being made in the image of God means that we belong to him. We bear his image. We were made for him. Colossians 1:16 says so. So coming from that point, if it’s like, “Oh, so I am a woman, made in the image of God, therefore I was made for him. Then what does it mean to be made for him?” So does that mean that my life is his? My relationships are his? My job is his? My children are his? My body is his? My view of myself, even that is his?

It starts to clarify a lot of the ways in which we should behave and think of the world, our relationships, with also ourselves. It can be weird and complicated, but when you simplify it in that way, it’s like, “Oh, I was made for him so I've just got to live to him.”

Emily:  It’s really encouraging to consider that our identification with God and being his image bearer, like you said, supersedes even what our feelings are or what our heart says. I've been studying 1 John over the summer and one thing I feel encouraged by was where he says, “By this we shall know we’re of the truth and reassure our hearts before him. For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart.” That’s been really helpful to me too and thinking about identity. That God is greater than whatever it is in my heart that I think like, “Oh, this is gripping me,” or something that I feel like I have to identify with. Therefore that’s a great point of that image bearer status never changes, and his ownership over us remains secure.

Jackie:  Yes.

Laura:  Jackie, I know we didn’t do this at the beginning of the show. We wanted to tee up that identity in Christ and have that platform there. And so now that we have that base, can you just tell us a little bit about your story? We know you have a book coming out in September, right around the time of this interview, called Gay Girl, Good God, and this book is awesome.

Emily and I have both read through it and it talks a lot about you finding your identity in Christ and how that changed and transformed you. We’d love to hear a little bit about your story and how you came to the point to where you found your identity in Christ alone.

Jackie:  Yes. I was raised in a single parent household, which is already transformative; not transformative in a good way, I’d say defining in how I started to think of myself. Not having a dad does a lot to how you see yourself as a young girl, your beauty, your worth, and stuff like that.

Growing up, I felt I just sort of gathered a lot of my identity from people and just trying to find value from them. I didn’t know that I was introverted. I don’t know if that was a thing in the early 90s, but I didn’t know that that was just my personality—not to be all the life of the party, talking with everybody. So for that reason then, I was never really in the in-crowd, never really esteemed, never really affirmed.

I noticed that I had same sex attractions when I was maybe five or six; I don’t really remember. I kind of hid that and kept that inside of me just because when I would go to church, it didn’t seem as if that is something you tell people [laughs]. It didn’t seem like that was something that the church would receive too well if you just let that out of the bag. So I just kept it to myself.

Until high school came and I was like, “You know what, this is who I like, this is who I think I like. I am just going to try it. I am just going to do me; it is what it is.” That’s what I did, and when I stepped out and just begun to live life as a gay girl, it felt more natural to me than heterosexuality did. It felt as if, “Oh, this must have been who I've been this whole entire time and I just didn’t know. I was denying myself this type of experience.”

Up until I was 19, God didn’t take long to snatch me up out of his kindness. He saved me when I was 19 and just showed me all of my sin. Not just my sexuality, but that I was a liar, I was a thief, I liked getting high all the time, drunkenness, I was disobedient to my mother. And all of this I knew because I had read the Bible before. I didn’t read the Bible a lot, but what I did read was enough to convict me of sin.

I saw, “Hey, all of this stuff I like to do seems to not be good.” It was like everything that I loved and enjoyed, I saw that it would not profit me in eternity. I just saw the worthlessness of it all, but up and against Christ, it was like, “Oh, if this stuff is what it is to live, then you must be worthy.” I am not even trying to say that to have something like a Christian cliché. But that really was what it was, was that, “You must be the only one who was worthy of my heart and soul if you were snatching me away from everything that I thought was worthy in the first place.”

I just believed him. I didn’t know that I was believing him, I didn’t know that I was repenting of sin. I just knew that I saw my sin in its rightful place, which is death. But I also saw, and remembered that one thing that my aunt told me all the time and that we learned in Sunday school is that Jesus died for sinners so that they would have life. I believed that to be true, and he saved me.

So after becoming a Christian then was the work of, “How do I now start to define myself when I've defined myself by so many other things?” The scriptures helped me to really recognize that, “No, what God says about me is the truth. And because God isn’t a liar, it’s literally the truth.” [laughs] I have to believe him over and above even how I feel about myself, or what people might say that I should prove about myself.

Emily:  That’s really helpful because everyone can identify with being a sinner, and I love what you said about, “Hey, this is what feels natural to me.” Well, what feels natural to me is speaking a harsh word to my children whenever they don’t do what is right. What feels natural to me is sitting on the couch and trying to parent with a side eye or a yell down the stairs, instead of actually engaging my children.

We can’t just live based off of what feels natural to us because our flesh and our sin nature is not honoring to God. I really think that is a critical piece there. I love what you’ve really discussed in your book and fleshed out what it looks like to trust what God and his word that’s about us, and let that be what transforms and guides our actions.

Jackie:   Yes. Amen.

Laura:  As a mom, since there's pretty much mostly all moms listening [laughter] right now—and some non-moms—but can you zero this in for you as a mom, Jackie, of what are some places that you do still find yourself misplacing your identity, and then move back to the cross? Can you walk us through a little bit of some identities that you personally struggle with as a mom, specifically? And then, how you point yourself back?

Jackie:  That’s good. One of my temptations is that because—I notice this when I got pregnant this last time around—I had to cancel a lot of stuff and be at home because you shouldn’t be out traveling and preaching and teaching when you're eight months pregnant [laughter]. I was telling a woman from my church, and I was like, “Something about that makes me feel like I am not doing anything with my life.” And she was like, “Jackie, you need to be okay with seeing that God is just as pleased and that you are just as worthy washing the dishes as you are when you're teaching on a stage.”

One of the identities that I try to resist is that thinking that my work as a mother is not a big deal. You're teaching and all this type of stuff is like, “Yes, this is the real work.” But God is like, “No, changing diapers is a big deal. Sitting and watching Daniel Tiger is also a big deal [laughter]. Teaching your daughter how to cook is a big deal.” I've therefore had to try to reorient how I've seen motherhood, and not seeing it as a lesser thing than the other things that I do. That’s a big one for me.

Laura:   That for me is as well—the instant gratification of accomplishing something. We've produced a podcast and put it out there, or we've written some social media. Whatever may be in our current work and all the likes—and that’s just social media culture, a consumer culture—it’s definitely kind of messed with my mind as a mom. You're so right that it is significant work, investing in the souls of our children, and it is just as important as investing in other people outside our homes.

That motherhood job can feel so thankless at times. But at the same time, who else is going to do that work in my kids’ life if I check out and want to go other places? I just know it’s so important to be present and checked in and not just assume or just look for the instant gratification from the world.

Jackie:  That’s exactly what it is; the instant gratification [laughter]. I've never thought about it. It’s just like, “She doesn’t tell me thank you!” “So what? Like love her! It’s okay.” It’s like, “God sees you,” and that’s important.

Emily:  And like mercy, it is merciful to change a child’s dirty diaper that cannot deal with their own issue of being soiled; to be able to clean that up and help that child eat and all of those things because our identity is founded in Christ. Those acts of mercy are just as important as acts of mercy that we show to other people, and you're right, that’s critical to remember.

We've kind of talked about it in this conversation, but how specifically, when you catch yourself wanting to find your identity or your worth or your validation in something outside of Christ, what are some things that you do to help remember your identity in Christ is still along?

Jackie:  Really my first step is getting to the why behind why I feel that way. Even if we were to use what we were just discussing as an example, it’s like, “What is it about teaching on a stage or whatever that you find valuable or more valuable than being at home and sleeping?” And I think a lot of it is pride. It’s the pride of being seen and being affirmed in the “service” of the work that I've done and am doing. And truth be told, I am getting paid for it. [laughter]

The pride of that is, is it not enough to be seen by God in the secret places of your home? Is it not enough to be satisfied fully in that? The fact that you're righteous in Christ, you are always and will always be approved by God? And so you don’t have to work for that approval on a stage or at home.

The why helps me to figure out what to do with it. That’s part of what it is. When I identify the why then I go back to the scriptures and what the scripture has to say about how I should handle the why for myself. Therefore, for me, it’s just finding a level of humility in how I see myself and how I see God and just reminding myself of him. Like, he was a carpenter for goodness sakes. And he was not anti that being a part of what he did.

He was about to save the world and yet he still had a job, [laughs] and he still was making tables for people, and I am sure he wasn’t making tables on Mount Sinai [laughter]. As in looking to Jesus and seeing how much he valued his full identity as being the Son of God and what that meant. For me to be like, “Okay, I can do that too, and it is really okay for me to own what God has called me to do or called me to be, however that might look.”

Laura:  I often just find myself praying, “Lord, let my focus, my value, and my worth be found in you. Let it make everything else pale in comparison.” That’s where I want to keep my eyes so focused on him and what it means that he's chosen me, and that I have eternity with him—just this amazing gift.

When I finally believe that’s enough, I feel like then I am able to go with my children and play and fully engage maybe for the first time all day. Or when my satisfaction is just fully found in Christ, I feel like my mothering is so much better because I am not distracted by wondering, “What's going on on my phone? Or what's the next opportunity that I am going to get? And where am I going to have this other thing to do?”

It’s so hard but I find I have to say that to myself 55 times a day. “Okay, what do I have in Christ? Who am I because he died and rose again for me? What does that mean?” “Okay yes, it means I have eternity with him and I walk through that.” And then that just washes over me. It’s been really a good training ground, but unfortunately I have to do it way too many times than I care to admit. [laughter]

Jackie:  That’s huge. That’s being honest with God and letting him in on it, as if he doesn’t already know. A thing like, “Hey, this is really the truth of who I am. Or who I believe myself to be right now at this moment. Can you please help me?”

Trying to even reorient my identity without asking God for the help to do so is unrealistic because I need the Spirit of God to do that work. And I need the Spirit of God that as I read the Word of God to renew my mind so that the work is actually productive and changes things; I can’t change myself and I can’t change my heart. My heart is always going to be fought back into me believing things that are not true. Therefore prayer is just so huge in all of this.

Emily:  I wish I could quote the verse right off the top of my head. We've been going through Psalm 119 in church and there's one verse in there where the sermon is basically like, “God force me to do it your way and to live according to your will.” And it’s like, “Yes.” That’s not the official translation [laughter]. I remember praying, “God, you're going to have to do this.” Like, “God make me live according to your will.”

Jackie:  Yes. That chapter is full of barbs.

Laura:  Yes. [laughter]

Emily:  I guess carrying that a step further, we know, like you said, you're new into motherhood. We’re kind of in early years too, so we definitely try not to give parenting advice on this show. But just curious because identity in Christ has been such a big theme in your life and in your teaching, how do you see yourself wanting to do that at home with your girls? As you begin to teach them to find their identity in Christ and to know that we can’t officially do that work in their heart? But what are some things that you want to do or to share with them to help point them in that direction?

Jackie:  Umm…I…I guess…  [laughter]

Laura:  That’s how we feel with these questions after a while. [laughter]

Jackie:  I don’t know because I don’t know if I've ever been intentional about trying to help her find her identity right now. But I do think that I've been trying to establish that she's loved. I have a three-year-old named Eden and a ten-week-old named Autumn. Autumn doesn’t understand anything I am saying right now, [laughter] so I am talking specifically about Eden.

I want her to know that she's loved because even in all of my dysfunction, I was super secure in the fact that my mother loved me. And me knowing that she loved me kind of kept me out of a lot of mess, because me knowing that she loved me meant that what she had to say about certain things was because she loved me. Not because she wanted to harm me or keep me from stuff.

And so as her parents—me and Preston—we both want to anchor her in, “Your parents love you. Part of your identity is that you are loved,” and I want that to begin to eventually translate to how she can understand the love of God towards her and how that should then change how she sees herself and sees the world and everything like that.

That’s one thing I've been trying to do. I probably don’t do a great job because I do tell her that she's pretty and smart all the time, [laughter] which might be leading to some pride eventually. But I think that’s necessary because I didn’t think I was pretty. I didn’t have any idea. And so because of it—because I wasn’t hearing about it at home as often as I probably could have—I looked for every single boy that could possibly tell me that I was cute when I was just unhealthy. I don’t know, I think that’s an answer. Sorry. [laughter]

Emily: From what you’ve just observed even on social media, or following you guys, you do a great job of living in an authentic relationship with Jesus Christ in front of your family and the world. That’s one thing Laura and I have learned a lot is there may not be the specific, intentional touch point, but our kids are going to become disciples as they watch us live and come along with us.

They hear us talking about these things all the time, see us repenting and having to turn back and say, “Wow, I really messed this up and Mommy needs Jesus’ help as much as you do.” I've no idea what that’s produced in our kids, but I am praying that if they turn to Christ, God will use those memories of watching mom and dad, and hopefully, the community that they're in, finding their identity in Christ and, I don’t know, that’s my hope. [laughs]

Jackie:  Amen!

Laura:  So much of parenting is modeling, which is terrifying to be honest.

Jackie:  No, it is.

Laura:  Yes, it’s like, “Do as I do.” It’s the whole “actions speak louder than words,” and sometimes we can get so caught up focusing on, “How do I get their identity in Christ?” when really it’s just like, “Let me just show you what it looks like to be sold out for the gospel.” And, “Come along with me, and I hope that you fall in love with Jesus so much because you see how I love Jesus and what he's done for me. And I want to image that for you.”

We've got 20 years with these kids, 18 or however long we've got with them under our roofs. I have a 5-year-old now and I feel like time is slipping away, like they say. And I can’t believe I am saying that with a 5-year-old [laugher] that's going to kindergarten, and I am just grasping for that time with him. But I want him so dearly to love God, to find his identity in Christ, and to understand what that really means. I know of no other way to do that than to just try and live out my own relationship and not overcomplicate it, because then I get all tied up and am kind of ineffective, to be honest.

Jackie, for our last question, we want to ask you about what you might do with a friend who is possibly finding her identity in other things. A lot of the moms that are listening have podcast clubs or they get together to discuss the show. They’re also talking about the things of motherhood— where we’re all finding comrades along the way. I am curious how you might offer her some tips for remembering the gospel. Can you just walk us through what might be helpful as we interact with our friends?

Jackie:  What I would say is the WHY is huge; understanding why you are placing your identity and WHAT you are placing your identity in. It is valuable to understand that one, just so that we can understand ourselves, and in understanding ourselves, that gives us room to not repeat the same patterns. Because when you start to figure yourself out, it’s like, “Oh, this is why I do what I do,” so that when the same temptation comes up two months from now, or next Tuesday, I am able to identify it and say, “I know what that is, and I know what to do with it.” So I think getting to the why of it is important.

Then go back to the text, go back to scripture. If it’s a friend that hypothetically says, “I am really struggling with finding my identity in being a minister.” Or, “I am really finding my identity in being someone who's really good. I feel like I am a good person, but I feel like that’s an identity that I probably shouldn’t base my entire life on.” And then it’s like, “Why do you find your identity in that?” “Well, I guess I get some type of value of feeling like I could just do what God tells me to do.” Like, “I find some type of value in that I can work for his approval or something.” It’s like, “Maybe we should go to Galatians and look out for them. Maybe we should see that no, there's nothing you can do to be saved. There's nothing you can do to find approval in God. If that was the case then Jesus wouldn’t have died. You would have been the savior for all of us.”

Therefore knowing that that’s not the truth, knowing that only Jesus could save us and only Jesus could make us right with God, and that there is so much identity to be found in being someone who was redeemed, and not being the one that could redeem themselves, that there is glory in that truth. Let’s remind ourselves of that. And let’s pray together.

After identifying the why and identifying what that is, go to the scriptures because there is repentance that needs to take place. There is, “God, I am sorry for placing my identity in X, Y and Z, and not in what you have done for me on the cross.” And after repentance there is truth, and there is a turning from, but knowing like, “Okay, God is going to help me even in this.” To every temptation there is a way of escape. Sometimes you escape by just believing the truth.

It may not just be an exit door or turning off your phone. It’s just believing what you already know to be true. Praying together and affirming each other like, “You are this,” because we do not want an  identity of shame. Now I've changed myself because I admitted that I suck. We don’t want to do that either [laughter].

Asking why, prayer, repentance, scripture, hope. I think that’s what I would do. And I don’t think it would be as neat as that; that could happen over sections or over a couple weeks. Or it could happen over a two hour session in a Starbucks. I am not sure; it depends on how the Lord leads. But I think that’s the gist of what I've often done with my friends.

Emily:  I love how you mention—I've never heard anybody say it that that way before—that the way of escape may just be remembering in the truth of the word, because a lot of times we think that we’re in a situation of like, “I cannot escape if I have four little kids at my knees that need something.” And I am like, “Okay, how do I get out of the temptation to gripe at them or to speak unkindly,” or whatever it is. It’s to remember the truth of the word. That my circumstances may not change.

And even if it’s things that I am going to keep struggling with, those may still be there. But having that nugget of truth; to be able to remember is a great way to escape. I also really liked how you said we don’t want to start identifying ourselves with shame, which is a huge struggle. I think for me is when I repent and then I am like, “Man, I am just such a jerk,” [laughs] and really get into this really bad cycle.

Jackie:  It’s like, “Okay, let’s not do that either.”

Emily:  I know; it is really hard to remember the truth. But that’s why the community is so important and to have other believers around you who you can say that to, and be like, “Man, I am just really down on myself.” Like, “I have repented of this and I've prayed and I am trying to hope in Christ, but I am still just wanting to pay for my own sins. Help me, what can I believe?”

We just really appreciate you having this conversation with us today. So many moms are going to benefit from thinking more intentionally about what it means to place our identity in Christ. For those who are listening and that want to hear more of Jackie’s story, you should pick up her book, Gay Girl, Good God: The Story of who I Was and Who God Has Always Been. It releases September 3rd. She also has a ton of great content out there like spoken word videos and teaching and all kinds of great things, so we’ll leave some links to her account. Any last words for us Jackie?

Jackie:  No, I was just going to say you guys are really encouraging. You gave me a lot to even think about as I move forward as a mother. So I am glad that you guys are doing this podcast.

Laura:  Aw. Well, thank you. That means a lot.

Jackie:  Yes.

This episode of Risen Motherhood is funded by our generous donors. If you like this podcast, please consider joining them @risenmotherhood.com/give.

Ep. 103 || When Snack Time is Scary Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity. 

Laura:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Laura, and I have my sister-in-law, Emily, here with me. We’re thrilled to be back after a summer off; we had a very restful yet kind of crazy, really busy summer. It was Emily and I‘s first summer being in the same town together, which was so much fun, and we both did kind of similar things, like traveling, and Emily did a bunch of home decorating. What else did you do Em? [laughter]

Emily:  We went to the pool a lot; this was our first summer to really go to the pool as a family, which was fun. But Laura and I went on a lot of walks at a park nearby our house, went to the library some, and grabbed some good times with the kids.

Laura:  I broke ground at my house, which was huge, and I am hopeful that we’ll move in before Christmas. That is my hope. I hope my builder is listening right now. [laughter]

Emily:  But fun Risen Motherhood stuff: we actually got to meet our whole team in person for the first time ever back in June. We went to a conference together, so it was a complete joy to meet Autumn and Kaitlin, and be together with our kindred spirits.

Laura:  It was like we’d known them all our lives, which was so fun. We of course also worked on our book manuscript; you guys have probably seen some sneak peeks, if you follow us on any of the social media platforms @risenmotherhood. That has been a big undertaking; we actually have a first draft of the entire book written, which blows my mind.

Emily:  It’s great though. It feels so good to have that part behind us, and as Laura and I keep editing it—which has been a really fun part of the process for awhile now—we cannot wait for you guys to read this. Not because we have anything exceptional or super special to say, but just because we think this is going to resonate with you guys. And we’re so excited about the way God ended up drawing out stories and topics. We’re just really excited.

Laura:  As you guys know, we have the theme this year, which is “unity in the gospel,” and we thought we’d kick it off with a topic that might seem a little bit silly. You guys probably saw the show title; we’re talking about snacks, but it can actually be pretty divisive among moms.

Emily:  It sounds silly but it doesn’t feel silly in the middle of the afternoon when they’ve asked you about a hundred times, “Is it snack time? Can I have a snack? Mom, when do I have a snack?” [laughs]

Laura: Snacks aren’t funny at that time, that’s for sure. Emily tell everybody a little bit about what's different, and how we handle snacks.

Emily:  Yes. I don’t think about snacks at a time like that [laughter]. I try to use common sense like, “If you just had a meal, you don’t get a snack. You need to wait like two hours after a meal.” They get two snacks a day —sometime mid-morning and sometime mid-afternoon. In my mind, snacks are about blood sugar and preventing meltdowns, and if you’ve had a snack and you're still hungry, you can have carrots. I don’t really think about it too much, but for me I think one of the bigger struggles is whenever our house gets really chaotic and loud, and it’s usually late afternoon, and my kids start really whining, it’s really easy for me to use snacks as a way to avoid dealing with the other issues that are going on. I could be training character for the kids, which would be more like, “No, this is going to be brutal, but we are going to wait with patience, and I am going to help you wait and have self control until dinner.” That’s more of my, “well, we’ll just get straight to the heart of the issues.” Where are you at Laura?

Laura:  I tend to be a snack stickler. I make my kids eat fruits or vegetables before they're allowed to have what we call the treats in our family. I definitely admit that my natural tendency is to, I won’t say like I give a lot of thought process to snacks, but when you pin me to the ground, and I have to talk about them on the show, I am like, “Oh my goodness, it’s all I think about apparently.” [laughter] The kids know, “Hey, I've got to eat a piece of fruit or some veggies if I want to have something else.” I will feel guilt if I give them food “out of order,” if I give them too many sugary snacks, or if they have too many processed snacks. I don’t know why but I have this kind of high standard for what I have to feed the kids. I definitely struggle with feelings of guilt that probably don’t need to be there, and we’ll talk about that more as the show goes on, but that’s one of my most difficult areas.

Emily:  Maybe you can relate to either one of those struggles or somewhere in-between, and there's obviously a huge spectrum of different heart issues we can have. But we definitely wanted to start by saying this is a good problem to be dealing with. The fact that we have such an abundance of food and resources that we can even give our children snacks, or that our children can come to us with a whine for hunger and we have the ability to meet that need because God has given us those provisions. That is a gift, and we want to acknowledge that before we go any further.

Laura:  While you might have come to the show thinking, “Hey, we’re going to give some practical on what kind of snacks to serve your kids, or how to get them to stop saying, ‘I am hungry’ ever 20 minutes,” we have no clue. But of course we’re going to be talking about you, mom, and our hearts. We wanted to chart through some of the motivations, and the attitudes that our hearts take on when we’re giving snacks to our kids or when someone else is feeding snacks to your kids. We see this as two different areas—one is the frequency of snack time offering, and then also there's the content of what the snacks are. Sometimes those things can affect moms in different ways. As we’re delving deep into this topic, this is making snacks very complicated. [laughter] But there's different facets to it, so we want to talk through both those things today.

Emily:  Starting off with some common pitfalls, maybe you can find yourself somewhere in here, is one thing we struggle with occasionally is feeling superior to other people. It’s that pride element that other moms don’t manage as well as I do, and they don’t have as good of rules set up as I do. Or maybe they're not giving them as healthy of snacks or as homemade of snacks as I am. There's definitely that pride element that can show up.

Laura: And then on the other side, you can also feel guilty where maybe your snacks aren’t as healthy or homemade as “what the internet says” or what another mother deems that they should be. Or you maybe have a higher frequency of snack serving than another mom, and you start to feel comparison in that way, and guilt. Or maybe you feel frustrated when you’ve set boundaries on your snack schedule. Sometimes you feel frustrated because you're out of control when another person doesn’t respect your snack wishes.

Emily:  Or you can feel fearful about what someone else is going to feed them when your kids are away from you. Some of these can be founded in really true things—maybe your child does have a food allergy and there is a significant health concern. You're probably going to deal with that in a different way. That’s outside the realm of what we’re talking about today. But there are those fears of like, “Oh there's something I don’t want my kid to be exposed to,” for whatever reason, and you’re concerned that that’s going to happen outside of your care.

Laura:  Okay, so since it’s snack time, you came into the show thinking it was super innocent, but now you know [laughter] all the pitfalls that it can bring.

Emily:  Snack time is scary.

Laura:  Yes; let’s talk through the gospel. In the garden we know that God gave Adam and Eve all the food in the garden to eat. They could eat from every tree except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil. It wouldn’t have mattered which tree or which plant they selected to pick their food, except for the one off limits tree. Everything nourished and sustained their bodies perfectly, and at that time, Adam and Eve found their identity fully in God. They weren’t looking to the right or to the left to decide what they should eat, how often they should eat it, or how they really measured up. They were just looking to God who was perfect, and they were resting in his acceptance and affirmation for them, for exactly who he made them to be.

Emily:  It’s so interesting when we look at the fall, and we think about any issue really to do with food, because the fall came because someone was tempted to eat something that God said was off limits. There's a lot of different ways to look at the fall, and therefore that’s just one facet of it. But we see that when Adam and Eve think that there is something that God has held off limits for them and maybe if they just get this one thing, they’ll finally be satisfied. Sin enters and that affects everything, including our hearts surrounding food, and including our hearts surrounding rules, personal standards, and comparison. All of that obviously flows into how our heart comes to the table for snack time. Oh, I am just full of puns!

Laura:  Here we go! [laughter] And with that, we can be so thankful that Christ purchased our freedom through restoration, and in this, among many applications, we see two main things that we want to draw out today. Is that our choice for what we serve at snack time and when we serve it is very much a matter of personal conscience. But our heart motivations while serving snack time are a matter of godliness. When we’re serving snack time, when we’re thinking what we’re going to have in it and how often we’re going to allow our kids to engage in snack time, mom that is completely up to you. Christ sacrificed and purchased that freedom, and we’re not declared righteous by the number of snacks we have, or whether you served gold fish or cookies or fruit. It is by grace through faith. It is not by the health or eating habits. You can have five small meals a day, you have two big ones, you can do Whole30, or you can go all homemade, or organic, subsist on rice and beans. Whatever it may be, just recognize too that countries and cultures all over the world do things differently, and so you and the mom across the street, you guys do things differently too.

Emily:  [laughs] Yes. One great place we see this is in a lot of the letters to the churches in the New Testament, where they're really having to bring together these different cultures. You’ve got people from a Jewish background that are now followers of Christ, people that are Gentiles, and people that have come from totally different pagan religions. They all had different ways that they were consuming food, they had different types of foods they were eating, and they probably had different patterns to their mealtime. Therefore you have all these moms coming together in Christ, and one of the encouragements is that they would eat and fellowship together and see unity over the essential doctrines and the mission of the gospel. They would see some of these rules and pass on cultural things; not as like, “Oh, we’re going to throw this to the wayside and act like they don’t exist. But we’re going to coexist in Christ and love one another in the midst of that.” That is challenging, but it’s a good example for us as we think about these issues.

Laura:  Paul talks about that too in Romans 14. We won’t go into it here today, but we did talk about it pretty in-depth on our food episode—Episode 56—so we’ll link that in the show notes and you can hear even more on this specific topic. Moving into our heart motivations when we’re serving snack time, just to recap, remember that the frequency of when you give your kids snacks or what you give them, well, there is some value in those things.  There are things to think about, things to consider, and you definitely don’t just want to be willy-nilly, like, “Snack time, 12 times a day for no reason.” Those things are of some importance. But what is so much more important to Christ are our heart motivations when we serve the actual snacks.

Emily:  Let’s give some examples; we’re not going to be able to cover the gamut. But some examples when you may be struggling with a wrong heart attitude is when you want to keep checking out on your phone instead of engaging your child who may need a snack or is needing you for something. Maybe you are tired of hearing the whining and you just want them to stop and be quiet. Therefore, instead of parenting and engaging them, you're giving them a snack. Maybe you feel a lot of anxiety about your kids and their health, and in order to control that, you feel like, “Okay, I am just going to serve them only certain foods and keep it really tight and clean because then maybe I’ll have more control over what happens to them.” There could be any number of heart issues where we’re worshipping the wrong things. But there are a lot of ways that we can also worship and glorify God and our heart attitude as well. Maybe we care deeply about wanting our kids to have good physical nourishment so that they can enjoy the bodies that God gave them. And that they can play and grow. That’s a great thing if we want to talk to our kids about what God has provided and to be worshipful about how generous he's been with us, and we want to enjoy the good food that he's created. That’s a great thing and it’s okay to enjoy an apple with your kids. That’s what people do.

Laura: We want to be clear; it is one hundred percent okay to be like, “My kid is hungry; I am giving him a snack.” It is not always going this deep, but we've just noticed a pattern in ourselves that we want to speak to because we’re willing to bet some of you are like us, where sometimes snack time can cause angst.

Emily:  That is a good distinction, as we’re saying, this is not examining it every time if I make it two snacks a day and they have 14 snacks a week. But over the course of all the time I've given my kids snacks for six years, yes, I've noticed patterns in my heart, and I've said, “Oh, I need to check myself and make sure I am aware of that as they're asking.” I am not using this as a chance to draw into myself and be so focused and just get out of heart stuff, but I am becoming more dependent on Christ, which is ultimately what God wants to do in and through all heart things—small heart things and big heart things.

Laura:  One quick note, I want to move right into restoration. At that time we won’t be struggling with when or how to give snacks and what our hearts look like when we do it. Today we can image that and we’re going to take you through a quick list of a few things that we can do during snack time. As we said, don’t over think snack time every time you serve it. But we also want to give you some thoughts as you consider what your heart attitude is. The first thing that’s important to share is just make the best decisions you can with what's available to you. Trust God that he's going to provide for your needs and for your kids’ needs. He's going to sustain them, so no matter how snack time goes, or how often we serve it or what you serve. Ultimately God is the sustainer of life, not the snack, and not you. Just trust him.

Emily:  [laughs] Another thing we can do is recognizing others’ preferences. Again, this is a gray area; these are not essential, doctrinal issues. We can love others as God in Christ has loved us. If you have a friend, a family member, or neighbor who prefers that their children eat a certain type of diet, or they like to keep their kids on a certain snack schedule, or whatever, we can try to accommodate that and be gracious. It’s not a big deal to bend to that.

Laura:  On the flipside is when someone doesn’t necessarily bend to what you have as a preference. Being gracious in that too and not holding that as greater than God. With that, we just want to trust God in those situations where other people are making decisions about what or how often your children eat. Say, for example, if they're staying with family, or they're in daycare during the day, or at school, you cannot be in all places at one time. There are probably a lot of chances for your child to be eating things that you're not able to monitor. Therefore trust God with your child’s health needs and what diet that you are hoping for them to have.

Emily:  Sure. Some of you guys may have different situations from this and you feel like, “No, actually there is a conversation that needs to happen around who's feeding my kids what.” Again, maybe there's a food allergy involved, or there's some other more complex issues, it is okay to have conversations in love. But start with prayer. A couple of other episodes that may be helpful in this is Episode 69 about loving the difficult mom in your life, and then also Episodes 74 and 75 talking about grandparents and the gospel. Which we know often comes into this conversation a little bit.

Laura:  With that, just remember, the way you do snack time is up to you, and there are things to definitely consider when you determine what snack time’s going to look like in your family. Wanting to serve healthy snacks, or having sweet things in the pantry at all times; whatever it is that you really care about with that, those things aren’t necessarily a sin. Sin comes into the picture when your method becomes ultimate—when it becomes your pride and your joy and your value. Just a friendly reminder from two moms who struggle with this as well, that we don’t want to start considering other things as inadequate for our children. Or to judge others who are not doing the same. We just want to guard our hearts as we’re going through something as simple as snack time, and just remember that God is God and this food is not. We can be thankful and worshipful that we even have something like this to consider and to think about. Even for me it’s been a good reminder of like, “Hey, how can I have gratitude during snack time? How can I have gratitude for the chance?” Therefore, I talk with my kids and have a moment in-between all of the meals in the day to talk with them and enjoy who they are and enjoy the food that God’s given us.

Emily:  Thanks for joining us today, guys. This show is a really good example of what Risen Motherhood does or tries to do, is say, “Look, the gospel matters in every moment of your day, even in something as seemingly as simple as giving your child a snack.” Therefore if this is something that you’ve benefited from—you probably heard a plug at the beginning about giving—we want to invite you to join our community of donors. We’re really thankful for all of you who have already joined us and given to us over the summer and last spring. But if you want to support the work that we’re doing— getting the gospel to moms all over the world in their most everyday moments—you can find more information @risenmotherhood.com/give. Thanks for joining us.

This episode of Risen Motherhood is funded by our generous donors. If you like this podcast, please consider joining them @risenmotherhood.com/give.

Ep. 70 || Is Motherhood Your Measure of Success? Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Well,  hello! Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood! I have my pregnant sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here with me,

Emily: [Laughs] I just love being described like that—thanks!


Laura: Beautifully pregnant—I don’t know…pretty and pregnant?

Emily: I’m hot right now.  Actually, I’m sitting in a room with no AC, but I’m smiling.

Laura: Aw. You poor thing, I’m sorry! By the time you guys hear this episode, I’m hoping that, at the very least, my baby is in my arms and Emily will be 5 weeks out from your due date. She’s due in early August. So you heard us hint at last week, but just to let you guys know, we are actually going to be taking a two month—I have air quotes here—“maternity leave”.  I don’t know if you can count it as a maternity leave, but we are going to be taking a break from releasing new content. But we are not disappearing completely. We will be sharing content on social media, so go find us over there @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. And then of course, we are also probably going to do a couple blog posts that we’ve written ahead of time. You guys are not completely rid of us during these next two months but we are going to be taking time to just be with our families and be with the new babies. And we are coming back just roaring! We already have plans for September so a lot coming to you guys come September. But until that point, it’s going to be a little quieter around here.  

Emily: Yes, a little quieter. Although, not at our houses because we’ll have lots of little cries…

Laura: Oh man…

Emily: But they’re so sweet sometimes.

Laura: Yes, except at 2 a.m., that’s when you’re like, “AH!” But then you wake up at like 8 a.m. and you’re like, “Why are you so cute? I forgive you for everything!”

Emily: I know! "I forgive you for everything." Exactly. And we will make sure we share on social media pictures when our babies come. But another fun thing if you follow along, especially on Instagram and Facebook, we are going to sift through our archives and maybe pull some shows from the depths of the archives that you guys didn’t even know we had.

Laura: Yes!

Emily: Sometimes I go sifting through  the website and I’m like, “Wow! I forgot we recorded a show on that!”

Laura: Me too! Yes, me too!

Emily: So we are going to try to share some of our favorite shows or ones that we almost forgot about that we think still have a ton of relevance. So again, like Laura said, definitely hang around social media, and we are excited to be back in September.

Laura: Yes, so look for us then! But today we are talking about just a fun, light-hearted topic. Something  we talk about all the time. We are talking about motherhood. What? What? Shocker! [Laughs] But all of us talk about motherhood with everyone we know. It seems to feel almost all consuming, you know? It can become something that we build up to where we can’t think of about anything else, we can’t talk about anything else, we can’t almost do anything else. It’s kind of this altar that we start to give everything to. Em, do you want to jump in and talk a little bit about some ways that you can make motherhood too important in your life?

Emily: Yes! And it was funny as you were saying that, I can remember before having my first baby, sitting around other moms and being so annoyed like, “Why do they always talk about their kids? When I’m a mom, I am not going to talk about my kids all the time!”

Laura: Ohhh. That’s adorable!

Emily: Here I am! [Laughs] At the podcast about moms.


Emily: So anyways, we know this just happens. And I think for me, one of the biggest traps is really letting the way that my motherhood is going kind of control all of my emotions and how I’m feeling about myself as a person. If my kids seem to be doing well, and they’re making progress in certain areas, or I feel like they’ve been really obedient lately or whatever, I tend to feel pretty good about myself. If they won’t seem to go number two on the potty—which I’m dealing with right now—or some other issues, you start to really feel like you’re going to have a personal crisis, you know? So definitely I will tie my own self-evaluation and how I’m doing as a person with how my kids are doing, you know?

Laura: Yes, exactly! And I think that I’m really, really similar except a little bit of a twist on that in the sense of I look at the homemaking as a whole, you know? Not just how my kids are doing but I can kind of be like, “Well, am I also keeping a very clean house?” and “Am I getting dinner on the table? It must be wholesome, well-rounded, and homemade.” Or “Am I remembering to change the sheets?” Why are sheets so hard to remember to wash and change? It’s sort of the worst job. But I can start measuring myself on these silly little things where I get very caught up in the doing of motherhood. Of making sure that my kids show up on time, you know, that they have clean faces, and they have clean clothes or whatever. Instead of just enjoying, and being grateful for and resting in the fact that Christ ultimately is caring for them and that I don’t have to be perfect or successful in all the things of motherhood. But that’s where I can kind of get my identity tied up in.

Emily: Yes, and what I think is really interesting is most moms I know—probably myself and Laura included—can quickly define in their own mind what they think success is.

Laura: Yes!

Emily: And we have this standard in our heads, and it’s very detailed often.  It comes from a lot of different things we’ve collected over the years. Whether that be a friend we really admire, or an older woman where we’ve watched what see does, or maybe it’s kind of a church standard or something our own mom did. And we put all these pieces together and form this puzzle and say, “OK. If I look like this, I am successful!” And when we are matching that a little bit, we feel good. When we are not, we are despairing. But I think, that’s not what God meant for us to be doing in our motherhood. And he didn’t really want us to do that with any rule or relationship in our lives—to be defined by it and to be constantly striving and judging and comparing ourself against this earthly standard or picture of what something should be. So the question is, are we doing that? Are we defining our success and our identity in motherhood?

Laura: Yes, I think that it can be really easy to put motherhood too high. I think people can kind of use the phrase, "Motherhood our highest calling." Or is it the most important thing you will ever do? And that’s kind of the question we want to answer today is, “Hey, does motherhood ever get too important… Is that possible?” Short answer is, "Yes!" [Laughs] So if we dive into the gospel, this is Risen Motherhood, we can just look at the catechism, "What is the chief end of man? And man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever." And so we know that ultimately, it’s not to enjoy motherhood forever. It’s not to glorify motherhood. We are to glorify God and to enjoy him. And Jesus says when asked, “Hey! What is the greatest commandment? What am I supposed to do?” Jesus responded saying, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.” That’s the greatest and first commandment and so we know that they’re not using the word motherhood. That’s not what it’s all about. And if motherhood is above worshipping God and looking at ourselves as a woman or a person that worships God, then it has usurped the right order of your heart.

Emily: Yes, which we know is something that all men have done—all men and women are fallen. Adam and Eve, in the garden, traded this good provision and these good promises that God gave them to enjoy something that was created. They questioned God’s goodness and they were looking for satisfaction in something other than God himself. And so, this is sometimes referred to as idolatry. I actually think…


Laura: Just the way you said that kind of like, “Shocker!” It’s very-

Emily: That sounded really dorky. OK, we are going to try to stay on task here today.


Laura: Yes, sorry!

Emily: OK! So I think Tim Keller does a really good job explaining this. He has a book called Counterfeit Gods. And he says, “An idol is something that we look to for things that only God can give.” So instead of, again, turning to God knowing that he is the ultimate provider of all of the things that we need, we look to things that are really dead and unable to give us that satisfaction.

Laura: So this is true of our sinful nature in motherhood too. And what we do is we put that on the pedestal, on the altar where God should be, and we expect for it to provide our joys, our hopes… As we talked before, it really can influence our feelings when it’s way too high up. Another thing that we do is that we can sinfully lay down things that we shouldn’t be putting aside when we put motherhood too high. So basically what we’re doing is taking what should be a good thing—motherhood—and we are putting it too high on the altar where all these other good things kind of fall because of that. And we sacrifice these things in the name of making motherhood too important. So things like your relationship with your husband can be hurt, your own self care, living beyond limitations. Hannah Anderson interview—right Em—is really good about limits. We can begin to sacrifice time with God and getting to know him more, our connection to and serving the church body and the ministry that we should have there, management of our own homes, balancing our own schedules. There are a lot of things that when we put motherhood too high, dominos fall because we’re not looking at ourselves as a whole person.

Emily: Yes! So I think the question is, how do we break out of this pattern? Or is it just do we grit our teeth and try harder to get that shower in? Or be a little nicer to our husbands? That’s really good. But ultimately the only answer to that is found in Christ. God knew that there was no way that we were going to break out of this idolatrous, sinful pattern on our own by our own efforts. We needed a Savior to free us. And when we trust in Jesus, we get the Holy Spirit and he gives us a new heart and a new nature and a new ability to do what is right and pursue the things of the Lord. Now obviously, we are not going to be perfect in that— it’s a battle, we’re going to stumble. But it’s this beautiful way that he can help us from one degree of glory to another, to overcome some of these sins in our lives and bring him glory in our lives.

Laura: Yes. And with that, as we move into restoration, we find that our hope is not going to be in all the things we accomplish or do as a mom. Our hope isn’t in our children; it’s not all about you. You don’t rise or fall based on your motherhood. What we hope in now is what God has done for us and what he’s done in the gospel and that is a beautiful long lasting eternal hope with great promise. And so, that also means that we’re far more than just being moms. When the gospel truly defines us, we don’t primarily think of ourselves as a mom, we think of ourselves as a woman created in the image of God to love Him, to love others in his name in every role and relationship that we have, not just in motherhood. So that really changes how we find and determine our success or our achievement when we look at ourselves as a whole woman created to worship God—motherhood is not all there is! So our worth cannot be found in children, homemaking, any part of motherhood. It is found in Christ, and that is such a better and more stable foundation than those shaky sands of idolization that we tend to do.

Emily: Yes and praise the Lord! Because I think one look at any of our hearts on any given day in our mothering, in our homemaking, in what we want to define ourselves by will just show that we fall desperately short. And Christ never does. He is an infinite well of hope. But some of you may be like, “OK, bring it down to earth for me!” [Laughs] What does this look like realistically? I know on the show, we talk a lot about living the gospel or applying the gospel and it can be hard to really understand how to do that. So first of all, we need to know it.

Laura: Yes, we need to know it. And you’ve heard us say that we need to know God, know what he says, know what the gospel is… So this goes back to biblical literacy, our theme for the year. If you are wanting to dive into studying the Bible and knowing God's word more, we do have some really good tools through motherhood equipping. They’re completely free. We design them because we desire for moms to be able to know God’s word intimately and personally, not just through the podcast or someone else who is talking to them. We want your mind to be transformed as you take in his word yourself to know the real God and not just some random version of him.

Emily: Yes, and I think as we’re doing that, lets say, even if it’s a couple of times a week—which we hope it’s something where you can get to where we do everyday—it shifts my perspective for the day. It helps me when I have that moment of weakness or I have that moment where I realize, “Ooo, I sinned there! Or I didn’t live up to that standard.” I realize, “I’m not in control of everything!” That can be a moment where I remember the truth of the gospel and I’m able to say that back to myself in my head—sometimes out loud, sometimes I’m freaking people out in my house by saying stuff out loud. [Laughs] That over time, changes – I hope, our response!

Laura: Yes. The way to change your heart on this is a lot of where your heart is and  where your peace and rest is found. So as we get into this practical, just knowing the way this fleshes out, it starts by what are you pouring in, and that’s what is poured out. So the practical isn’t as tangible as I was thinking. But I think as Emily talked on, we’ll start to see our weaknesses, we’ll start to see areas where we have need, and as we study the scriptures more, as we’re in God's word, we see those things more. And conviction is a wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit, knowing that we are truly regenerate and those things lead us back to Christ and recognize what our place is and what our standing is before God. And really it should bring you to such gratefulness that, again, your love for God and what he’s done for you allows you to love your family well and to put them in the right order in your life.

Emily: Yes, so just to summarize today, what might it look like if we’re making God and his glory the most important thing and not our motherhood? I think one benefit is that we don’t have to ride that roller coaster again, like what Laura is saying about our ups and our downs being tied to how our children are doing or how we think we are doing at home or with our parenting. Another thing we touched on is that we can invest in a lot of different relationships and a lot of different ministries because we are a woman that is on mission for the sake of the gospel to make disciples. We are living that out in every role and every sphere of our life with all of the gifts and abilities God has given us. So that’s going to come out in motherhood, and it’s going to come our in our relationship with our husband, and hopefully the way we’re serving at church, and the way we’re serving our neighbors. The story isn’t about us and it’s not about our motherhood, and we can live that out!

Laura: Exactly! And I think that the pitfall that I really fall into is wondering, “Am I doing enough? Am I really doing my best and my hardest in motherhood?” And when you put Christ in the right order in your life and motherhood in your proper place, you don’t have to wonder any more if you’re doing enough for your family, that answer is clear: you’re not, and you cannot. If you’re wondering, here’s your answer: you can’t save everyone in your life. Instead, when Christ is on the throne, we can seek faithfulness in our roles and trust God for our weakness. So when we can’t meet a need for our family, it doesn’t totally throw us out of the loop. We don’t have to be a person that’s living on edge or that’s always wondering how we’re doing or living in an uptight way. We can be peaceful, joyful, patient, and easy to be around, because we’re not comparing ourself to some standard that God hasn’t asked us to do.

Emily: Yes, and I think going back to the interview we did with Hannah Anderson a few weeks ago, which I just loved, we’re able to be free to take care of ourselves within the limitations that God has given us as humans. Like we need sleep, we need food, we might need some level of exercise and emotional care, and all of those things. And whenever we’re saying, “ You know what, God is God, I am not. He has not put me in this domain to rule over it perfectly!” We are able to do those things and I think be a lot less stressed in general and just be free in that. It’s not perfect, but I don’t know, I feel like I experience more and more freedom as I realize it’s not up to me to hold the whole world together.

Laura: Exactly, so as we wrap of here for our final show of the summer, we hope that you will spend July and August really diving into the gospel of getting to know the things that God loves—to begin to love the same things that he loves. And when you start to feel tempted or realizing that motherhood is maybe becoming too important that you would just stop and take a moment to look at Christ and to remember what your heart should love first and foremost. We, again, will be on social media while we are out as we preach to ourselves—this is going to be especially difficult with new little babies around. We will be over there so we hope you will join us in those communities. And anything else, Em?

Emily: Yes, just head over to our show notes, we will try to include a lot of great resources and books for you guys in terms of this looking to Christ and how that fleshes out in our parenting. So yes, we will see you guys back in September!

Laura: Yay!








Ep. 69 || Loving the Difficult Mom in Your Life Transcript

This transcript is edited for clarity.

Emily: Well, welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood! I’m Emily Jensen, here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler.


Laura: Hello! Hello!


Emily: And just by way of a few housekeeping items before we get started…First of all, Laura is about to have a baby if she doesn’t already have one in her arms when this is released.


Laura: I know. I kind of hope I do have one in my arms when this comes out.




Emily: We are sharing with you guys a little bit about a small break we are going to be taking. We will talk more about it next week so no worries! Just come back next week, but I wanted to go ahead and plant that bug in your ear. And also, if you want to share with others about this podcast and you’re like, “I have some mom friends or people I know who would benefit from hearing gospel application to motherhood,” we would encourage you to take a few minutes to leave an iTunes review. They have all these algorithms, and that is one way that can help us spread the word about Risen Motherhood. If you don’t know how to do that you can hop over to our website, www.risenmotherhood.com, and we have some quick tutorials there but hopefully it should not be too hard.




Emily: Today we are going to tackle a topic we have had a lot of questions about from different angles. We are trying to sum them all up with “Hey, how do we love moms that are different than us and moms that can be kind of hard to love and hard to be around because of  their opinions or their parenting style?”



Laura: Yes, exactly. I’m sure every mom who is listening is like, “Oh, I know the mom!” It’s really normal and natural for us to want to find moms that are similar to us and often I think, whether we admit it or not, we are always observing another mom. What is she dressed like? How many kids does she have? What’s her age? How does she talk? Things like that. And I think we are looking for commonalities or if we are going to like her, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t sort of ease into sizing up a mom or judging her. But it’s just a natural human thing to make observations and to see, “Oh, they look like me!” or, “Wow, they look really different than me!” And so we have that beginning foundation that I think that we all do. But then on top of that—especially in motherhood—even someone who looks just like you from the outside, maybe it’s your best friend, and suddenly you guys both became moms and you’re like, “We don’t even recognize each other anymore!” [Laughs] Because there are so many different areas, especially gray areas, where I think we can take really firm stances and we can even surprise our self with some of the decisions we make. Things like, feeding your child—breast-feeding, bottle-feeding, organic, not organic, how hard you try doing it. Feeding toddlers—are you from the clean your plate club or the eat your age club, are you a no thank you , one bite…






Laura: Kind of ridiculous all the types we have…I don’t know. What else is there, Em?



Emily: I think sleep is a big one.



Laura: Yes!



Emily: That’s usually an early conversation about moms. I was just at a baby shower not long ago, and she was gifted a couple different books that were different philosophies and I was like, “Oh it’s going to be fun to navigate through that.” And even if—well, let me say this, the reality is… I literally don’t know anyone who parents exactly like I do. You know?



Laura: Yes, that’s a good point!



Emily: Even the people that are most similar to me that I can think of still have a ton of differences. It’s just a reality that we have to learn to live with really fast as a mom.



Laura: Yes, and I think that in every area, we can all think of a mom that’s maybe more extreme than us and maybe less extreme than us, you know? And so, we can, generally speaking, probably choose to live in harmony with one another and recognize the differences and be cool with it. But every once in a while, we meet a mom or there’s someone in our life who either has an incredibly strong opinion that they enjoy sharing. Or sometimes a mom—this goes to another level—but sometimes the way a mom parents can inconvenience or maybe interfere with the way that you want to parent. An example of this would be, maybe a mom has a higher tolerance for rough play or what they consider fun play. Maybe they allow their kid to watch a more mature show than you would choose whenever your kids are at their house. Or maybe you have a friend of a family member that watches your children and they just are not quite listening to some of your requests that you have. So you’re consistently seeing behaviors in your child that maybe you wouldn’t allow but because they’re watching your child. It can be hard to know exactly what to do with it or how to deal with that kind of conflict.






Emily: Yes. I’m just laughing because this is so complex. But one thing we just wanted to make clear really quick as we are talking about dealing with differences with other moms is that today on this show, we are not primarily talking about situations where there is potential harm that could come to your child, or there’s a person in your life who’s making really destructive choices. You definitely have to protect your kids and put up good boundaries. There may be people that you need to be out of relationship with for a while or that your children can’t be around—we know that those situations exist. But on today’s show, we are primarily sticking to some of those examples that Laura just gave with moms that are just hard to understand or hard to be patient with. Anyways, we just wanted to offer that caveat before we get too much further into the show.



Laura: I think what we are going to try to get at the heart of today is what do you do. Should you just cut these people out of your life? Or if you can’t get rid of them, maybe they’re family, should you just avoid them? And as we know, the gospel applies to everything and God’s word has principles for processing everything, including this issue. We are going to just try to think through today a little bit. What does the gospel say to these types of situations? Maybe we can start the conversation and then you’ll have to find a way to finish it.






Emily: This is definitely high level, ladies.



Laura: Looking at creation, Adam and Eve were created to live in perfect harmony with each other and with God and to worship him and everybody was on the same page. There was no guilt or shame or conflict—things like that. And if we look at the Trinity, I think we also see how the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all a picture of that perfect relationship and perfect community that God models. Certainly, God values and originally created for all of us to live in peace with one another in healthy relationship. Because of the fall, we know that sin entered and our relationships became broken and severed between one another and also with God. We weren’t just hard to be around or be with, but actually it was impossible for God to have a relationship with us because of his holiness and because of our sin. And so, I think that it is important to remember that it’s not just this person that maybe is coming to mind right now that is hard to love—you, yourself, are hard to love! And I know it’s a hard truth, I mean, it’s hard for me to hear because I’m like, “Everybody should love me!” You know? But what’s funny is, we might just be that typical person in someone else’s life and we don’t even realize it. Sin levels all of us onto an equal playing field and no one becomes better than another person. And so, I think that is important to remember, as we talk through this today, is that you can think about this person that you want to love better because there are some difficulties but also really doing a heart check and seeing, "Where am I being that mom as well?"



Emily: Yes. And I think maybe the reverse side of that is sometimes when we meet a mom and she seems more extreme, we feel this inner need to be like, “She’s wrong! She’s not thinking about this rightly.” It’s kind of a backwards way of stroking our own pride. Like Laura’s saying of needing that validation that we’re more right, we have things together a little bit more than they do. And so we can kind of give ourselves these brownie points, you know? But I was thinking the other day that it’d be like owing someone a million dollars and then playing Monopoly to try  to win it back. Every time you win at Monopoly, you give them you’re Monopoly money and they’re like, “Well, that’s great, I’m glad you’re good at Monopoly, but you haven’t paid back any of your debt. “






Emily: And the same is true for us. Once our relationship with God has been severed, there is nothing we can do to earn favor with him in our mothering. And so it doesn’t really matter if we’re more right about the food choice or about the bedtime or whatever.



Laura: Yes, maybe you are more right. But it doesn’t really matter and that’s why we needed Jesus  to atone for our sin for these areas of pride or despair that we have. And so what comes with Christ’s atonement on the cross is since we have now been loved, we can now love others with a deeper well of patience and understanding that never runs out because it comes from the source—from Jesus Christ. And so we need to look at the person and the work of Jesus and have that inform and motivate our love for other people. Even just thinking about Jesus examples in the Gospels, he was always seeking the unlovable, the hard to love. He touched really gross things, he surrounded himself with the outcasts, he found the broken and the weary people, and he called them to himself—he called themhis own. And so, we can model that because of what Christ did for us.



Emily: Yes, and I think another point in redemption is just acknowledging  God is just and he is the just Judge. We look on outward appearance but he is looking on the heart and someday every heart motivation is going to be exposed. When we are trusting in Christ, we are also trusting God that it’s not up to us to be the mommy moral police.






Laura: Yes.



Emily: God is taking care of that. He’s seeing everything so we can be gentle. We can be patient, knowing that we don’t know the whole picture; we don’t know all that friend’s circumstances. We don’t know everything that’s going on, but God does, and we can gently and lovingly, over the course of a long time, point that friend to Christ.



Laura: Yes! I think that when we find our identity in Christ—like we come back to so frequently on the show—when our worth and our value isn’t tied up in what another person’s opinion is, or how they treat our kids, or what we think they are doing or not doing, we finally live in freedom. Just being thankful that God made us all different and I don’t have to look like that person or I don’t have to carry my feelings in what that person does. There’s a lot of freedom when we remember the disordered love of our hearts, as is it Augustine? Who says that? Maybe I shouldn’t have quoted that on the podcast but we have to reorder them to putting God as our first and foremost priority, so that our identity is found in Christ, and therefore we are not relying on other people to fill us up.



Emily: Alright. Deep breath everyone. I think that was hopefully a fly overview of how the gospel can encourage us in these situations but practically you’re still like, “Hey, though this person is still there [laugh], what do I do? What are some practical steps that we can take in terms of managing these relationships?" And I think first of all, exactly like what we just did, try to remember and rehearse the gospel. And the more that we learn about God through his word and the more we understand what things are important to God and what things matter eternally, it just helps put some of these non-eternal things in perspective and in their proper place.  And also I think studying scripture and knowing the gospel helps us know the difference between clear commands of God—things that are just black and white, right and wrong—versus areas that would be considered a disputable matter or a gray area. We have freedom to make those decisions and what really matters is our heart attitude. It’s important to just be saturating ourselves in truth so that we can know what perspective to have.



Laura: Exactly! And as you’re thinking about, “OK, here’s how I want to maybe deal with this situation keeping the gospel in mind,” I think it’s also remembering what you want to be known for and really doing a heart check before you do any approaching or any talking to anybody is to say to yourself, “Am I the hard to love mom?” Like, “Am I being overbearing?” or “Am I being too sensitive in this situation?” I think that it’s really important to do that self heart check, as Emily was saying, of knowing the gospel allows you to do a correct and accurate heart check. Then remembering going forward, what do you want to be known for? Do you want to be known for peace and grace? Or discord and dissension?



Emily: And pray. I mean, think about the scripture about getting the log out of your own eye. I think prayer and meditation on scripture is one of the ways that we can sit down and be like, “God, can you help me be patient with this person?” And a lot of times he will even reveal areas of our own lives  where we need to repent or be more thoughtful as well.



Laura: Exactly. Again, looking at a situation and thinking about, “Hey is this something that I need to talk to somebody about? Do I just let this go?” I think that’s the common tension. I think it’s really choosing your battles wisely and if at all possible, letting it go. I think we can all look back on a time when we were new moms—maybe you experienced something new and it was the first time you went through and we all might do things a little bit differently. We maybe would have spoken with a little less confidence or we wouldn’t have talked about certain things in certain ways. And so I think it’s really important to remember that we all have foolish behavior at certain times and we don’t realize until later what we should or shouldn’t have done. Try to remember that mom, especially if she’s experiencing something for the very first time. She will eventually probably come to her own conclusions and realize that maybe she’s being a little extreme on a certain point. And it’s not your job to be her Holy Spirit or to convict her. Unfortunately, for a season, you may just have to endure a mom that is difficult for you to love in your life and just pray that God will help them see the error of their ways, giving you grace and patience to endure it.



Emily: I think there’s this natural tendency to avoid people and hard situations that seems really strong. Just in general, find ways to reach out to those people, find ways to love them, and bear with them, and seek to understand, asking questions, get to know them. You might be surprised by what you learn. I know there’s been several times where I kind of pressed into to someone’s differences from me as a mom and then I really benefited for it. And if anything, it’s just given me more understanding for people who are different from me and I just think God has used it to show me, “Hey, we can be unified in our goal for the gospel and have different ways or doing things and we can still love and respect one another.”



Laura: Yes, and here we move to those difficult situations where you really feel like God is leading you to talk to that person. How do you know if that’s correct and how to you go about that? We get a lot of emails about that from moms, so we want to say up front this is super case by case and this is not something that we can tell you, “Hey, this is what you should do. You’re for sure right.” You might not be right that you should approach that person so please see these as guidelines not solutions. Start out with prayer, as we continually go back to, make sure that your heart is aligned correctly. Then maybe talk with your husband, or older wiser woman if you are a single mom or maybe talk to both your husband and an older wiser woman. And explain the situation, explain all that they’re able to ask you like the back end details and a lot more of the story. Maybe they''ll see it from a more objective point of view than what you’re able to see it. And so see what they think about what some of the right next steps are.



Emily: Yes and I think another really practical thing you can do is just be preventative and proactive about things. When you’re going to go into a situation where you know you’re going to be around another mom or caregiver who has some really different opinions than you, you can go ahead and mentally know your boundaries before going into that situation. Prep your children, be on the same page with your husband or whoever you’re there with, and have a game plan in advance for how you’re going to handle it. And resolve that, you know what, you may get some push back but you’re going to stand firm and be gracious and talk through some of those scenarios. I know my husband and I have had a lot of situations like that where it wasn’t that big of a deal but we had a boundary that we were wanting to keep and it was really just as simple as a conversation beforehand or a conversation with the other people beforehand. And it didn’t turn out to be that big of a deal at all.



Laura: Yes, I’ve said this before on the show, but communication is so huge, it’s amazing the things that we'll just bury down and assume that this person will get through osmosis that you don’t like what’s happening or what’s going on. And really, it’s amazing what can happen when you sit down in a room and with someone and say, “Hey, this has sort of been bothering me and maybe I...” kind of blaming it on yourself. I think it’s really important just to communicate. And maybe write down your thoughts ahead of time. Be very careful with what offenses you choose to bring up. Don’t start nitpicking and going after the little thing and really make sure you’re framing things in a way that doesn’t make that person feel like they’re on the judgment seat or on trial. Be very gentle with their heart, treating it as you would want your heart to be treated. I think those are some practical things if you need to get to that point of having a conversation and you feel like the Lord is affirming it through some of these other avenues. Those are some tips, as you approach a conversation with someone. [Sighs] Which I hope you don’t have to have too many of those…



Emily: [Laughs] Oh, please… But yes, I think overall remembering again that in the gospel, we are undeserving of God’s grace and he showed us grace and mercy, and we want to—and get to—show that to other people as well. Alright, I don’t know if we put the mommy wars to rest on this show or not, Laura.






Laura: We solved all the world’s problems, what are you talking about?!






Laura: Alright, well, thanks again for joining us. If you want to find more resources you can get those on our show notes at www.risenmotherhood.com. And also, it’d be so awesome if you’d leave a rating review on iTunes, and you can find us on social media, instagram, Facebook and Twitter @risenmotherhood. See you guys next week!



Episode 58 || Having A Child with Special Need: An Interview with Abigail Dodds Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily: Hey guys, this is Emily Jensen here. Today we have a really special episode for you. We’re talking to Abigail Dodds about her journey with her son, Titus, who has special needs. She is a wife, and a mom to five kiddos, and she’s also a Bible study teacher and she does a lot of writing online. We will link this to our show notes, but you can actually find a lot of her stuff on being a mom to a child with special needs on her blog, hopeandstay.com. But we know no matter where you’re at in the journey, or even if you don’t have a kiddo directly with special needs, you are going to be encouraged by this show. She has so much wisdom to share; everything for how to deal with practical self-care, how to trust God’s goodness in the midst of hard things; how do we face fear with truth? So the list goes on, I’ll just really encourage you guys to stay tuned and I know that you’ll be blessed. So, let’s listen in.

Laura: Hey Abigail, thank you so much for joining us today on Risen Motherhood. We’re so happy to have you here. Can you take just a second to tell us a little bit about yourself? We know you’re a wife, a mama, a writer. Please share a little bit with our listeners, about your child with special needs.

Abigail: I am married to Tom. He’s a great man and I got a really great deal when I married him. He is an elder at our church, here in the Twin Cities, and we’ve been married 15 years this June. We’ve got five kiddos; our oldest daughter is Eliza, she’s 13, and then we’ve got Seth who’s 11, Aliana who’s nine, Evangeline is six, and then our youngest, Titus, who’s three. He’s our little guy with special needs. We part-time home school, so that keeps me busy. That means that our older four kids are in school for three days a week, and then home two days a week. I also write and teach Bible studies at our church, and I spend time in therapy appointments and doctor appointments. I love baking and gardening, and I am an “okay” knitter, [laughter] but I like it. Those types of things take up all my free time, and then, just like the rest of you, I am just trying each day to stay awake [laughter] to be kind to my kids, and to keep everybody in our house alive [laughs].

Emily: I love that, “being kind”. That’s an important detail that I always have to work on. [laughs]

Abigail: Isn’t it? It so easily slips away. That’s right [laughter]. For Titus’s story, before he was born, at his 20-week ultrasound, he was flagged with a small cerebellum. We had lots of check-ups and appointments just to check on his brain growth. But then when he was born, they thought everything was fine. He was born full-term; he was little, so 4 pounds, 15 ounces, but they sent us home just like normal, and said, “We think things look fine.” But I knew pretty quickly that things probably weren’t fine. So at two months, I finally took him to a pediatrician and said, “I am seeing things that don’t look good”. His eyes were very, very crossed and he had very low muscle tone, which in a newborn is so hard to tell. But he had no muscle tone. So those types of things tipped me off. We went to see lots of doctors after that, and we were sent on a whirlwind of appointments. He ended up having eye surgery early on, and he had an MRI which showed all the different things that were going on in his brain, which basically just amounts to the fact that there were some places that weren’t fully developed. He’s got a hypoplastic pons—which is a fancy way of saying that part of his brainstem is small—and that’s the part that regulates breathing and swallowing and sleep. That area between the two hemispheres of your brain is thin, and so that can affect a lot of development. And then, just delay overall; he’s just not getting the connections made as much as he should by that point in time. So basically what we were told, at that point, was that it looked like what he had was genetic, and that there was only one real condition that lined up with some of the things that were happening with him. It was a fatal condition, and that usually those kids die around one or two years old. It was pretty devastating at that point because they had nothing else really to tell us except, “Just keep working with him”, and, “We don’t know for sure”, which was really wonderful when they said that. But it was really hard to be in that limbo mode for so long; that waiting and just watching to see whether he declines, or whether he progresses. So we started lots of therapies, lots of testing. And then at fourteen-months-old, he had a massive seizure at our home, and so we went by ambulance to a children’s hospital, and I stayed in this room—it felt like one of those horrible TV shows—while over a dozen people worked on him and he was unresponsive. He was intubated and at that point, he had another MRI and while we were still in the hospital, they gave us the results of it. And it looked just horribly bleak; it was like they were saying there were all these new things wrong. I was pretty thrown back because it looked like he had been progressing in some ways. I was surprised. But then our neurologist just looked at the MRI and said, “Why, actually I think it’s good news. Things aren’t really getting worse; they’re holding steady, that’s what we want to see”. So it’s good to get a second opinion. Not that that opinion would have changed anything, but it sure can mess with your emotions. After the seizure, which seemed like the worst thing that had ever happened to us, it really set us on a positive course for his life and development, because he got on anti-seizure meds after that, he got a feeding tube placed because swallow studies showed that he was aspirating everything. And also he had not gained weight well and so he needed one anyway. And they had been debating with this, and this sort of pushed them over the edge. Those two steps were just so positive for him; his development after that point just took off in a lot of ways. It was very counter-intuitive, but we were very, very thankful. And now that we’re past that point of worrying like, “Oh, is he going to make it or not”, they are saying he’s looking great, his brain is holding steady, he’s developing; now we’re just spending a lot of time being thankful, seeing what new things he’s doing. He runs around like a crazy man and makes his opinions known. He’s got quite a personality. It’s also very funny because he’s the tallest and biggest of our kids at three-years-old; [laughter] for a three-year-old, which is hilarious because he’s totally tube-fed [laughter]. And it’s like, “Oh Lord, you’re giving us a very healthy, growing child now”. He’s a big boy which is funny because he was so little for so long. But we’re just spending a lot of time being thankful now.

Emily: Thank you so much for sharing your story. I know that there are probably moms listening, who are just all over the spectrum with different things that they’re dealing with, with their kiddos, who are maybe just starting evaluations for a couple of therapy appointments, or they’re seeing neurologists, or they’re talking through different medications with their doctors. No matter where people are at on their journey, it feels exactly like what you described; it can be a rollercoaster and it can be scary, and it can be one day you’re encouraged and the next day you’re just devastated. I know so many moms probably identified with you, and I am so glad to hear that, like you said, that the thing that felt like everything is going wrong with this thing really helped him grow and develop.

Laura: As Emily said, and you shared a little bit, I know that especially at the beginning of the journey, there is a lot that plays in—a lot of emotions that play in. A lot of times you’re doing some research which brings in fear; you have the unknown ahead. A lot of times no matter where you are, with special needs, there’s a lot of unknown guilt; maybe feeling like it’s your fault, or just feeling very, very alone in your journey. What are some of the first thoughts that you had when this journey was just beginning, and how did the gospel really shape your thoughts? Or, how did God comfort you with his truth?

Abigail: You know, one of my very first thoughts—it probably sounds silly—was, “Does having a child with a disability or with special needs mean that I have to get all new friends”? [laughter] That really was something that hit me hard and I don’t know why. And thankfully, I discovered that the answer is of course, “No, we don’t”. But it was a strange discovery process of figuring out how our friendships, with folks who have no commonality in the special needs world, how they could enter into our life, to what degree they wanted to, and also making new friends within the special needs community. For a long time, it felt like we had nothing to give in the friendship department. We were just receiving, receiving, receiving and all we had was needs. That to me felt really terrible, it was hard. But God really used it in profound ways to humble me, and to grow us, and others, in meeting our needs. So it really deepened our friendships and did really wonderful things in many ways.I also had lots of thoughts that started with “I can’t.” Lots of “I cant’s” flooded my head; like, “I can’t do all these appointments. I’ve got kids I am homeschooling, I can’t do this.” I thought, “I can’t survive with this kind of sleep depravation, I just can’t.” I thought things like, “I can’t watch my child decline,” and thankfully, I haven’t really had to watch that. But those kinds of “I cant’s” led me into self-pity; a kind of a self-pity mind-set that the Lord, thankfully, convicted me of pretty quickly. But that conviction didn’t keep me from sometimes having the “I can’t” thoughts. But what the conviction did was it helped me know what to do with those thoughts when they started firing at me. I remembered that I am united to Christ, and I didn’t think of it like that. But basically that was the gist of it; remembering that he had already walked the path of obedience for me when he went to the cross. And that all those “I cant’s” that kept flooding into my head, those were acknowledged there, and those were dealt with there. Because it’s true; it wasn’t a total lie, it was true. I can’t do everything. I can’t do anything apart from God. But because of Jesus, I can walk this road that he’s given me. I can follow in his footsteps. Those are the ways that I had to combat those thoughts, and just realizing that I can die everyday, and I have to, to my sin and to live in him. Then the other thing was just recognizing that he is sovereign, and that none of what was happening was an accident. That he planned for Titus to be our son before the foundation of the world, and that that was a good plan that he had for us. It wasn’t just a good plan for me, it was a good plan for my husband, and it was a good plan for each of our older kids. That was one I had to wrestle through. But the goodness of the plan doesn’t take away the pain of what’s happening. I would love to just make sure that the people listening hear this. Disability is a sign that something has really gone desperately wrong, and that is that sin has entered into our world, and we need to grieve over it. It is worth grieving over. It’s really sad that sin has entered into our world and caused disability. Not because of a particular sin that we committed or our family committed, but just sin in general. It’s come into this world and it gets into things like babies’ brains. And so on any given day, the parent of a child with special needs is somewhere on that spectrum of being really, really happy that God tailor-made this plan and gave you the special child, and then feeling very grief-stricken over the loss and the pain of it. That’s something that special needs parents have to live in. That’s the kind of group that we have to be—a sorrowful,  always-rejoicing kind of people.

Emily: I am already a mess Laura [laughs]. I’m just sitting in the listener position being ministered to.

Laura: I know, and I can totally tell. Abigail you make such a good point about what we talk about here on Risen Motherhood all the time, about how the fall affects all of us. That none of us are immune, and that it should grieve us, and it make things really difficult and we have to confront that. How would you say the gospel, and your understanding of creation and redemption, give worth and value to your child’s life and to your role as a mom? In what ways does this show God’s good design, because we know that his plan is good, even if we can’t see it in the moment, or we’re not able to tell because of life circumstances around us? It’s not as obvious. What would you say are ways that point you to seeing God’s goodness?

Abigail:  Well, for able people, for those of us who aren’t struggling with a disability, it’s really easy to think that our worth comes from our ability to reason, to think properly, or to perform. But it isn’t, and disability helps us to learn that. Our worth is derivative; it comes from God. It’s because we were made by him and according to his image. Then our worth is also underscored by God’s love for us. God loves us, and he proved that at the cross, and that gives us immeasurable value. His love actually transforms what is otherwise unlovely and unlovable into something lovely and lovable. That whole truth helps me to see the grace of God everywhere, and it really puts thankfulness into my heart. One of the things that came to the forefront really early on in my thinking, in this process, was the reality of the resurrection. This was something that I absolutely had to get settled, and it is so simple [laughs]. It is just so simple, but I had to do business with this. Did I really believe that a man, who was God, died and that his actual body, like, his physical body was resurrected and that he’s alive even now? I really believe that. I really believe that a real man, who was God, died and that his physical body was made alive again. I believe that it’s going to happen to me and to all of God’s children. And that hope, that resurrection hope is so powerful. It’s powerful because it’s true, and it has kept me from wilting during some of the really hard times. Thinking on the possible death of our children can be absolutely terrifying, and I spent the better part of a year kind of with that possibility staring right in my face. And I was told by really wise Christians, good advice. The advice was, “Do not borrow that kind of trouble,” like, “Don’t think on that possibility.” It’s good advice and there’s wisdom there, but on the other hand, fears don’t abate. They don’t go away simply by ignoring them. I needed to look my fear right in the face and take out its fangs. The only way I could do that was by really doing business and thinking on the resurrection, and remembering the hope that dead bodies are brought to life and restored. Even now, dealing daily with disability, and things being, for us, fairly stable and good, resurrection hope is still the solid ground that I stand on in this special needs world.

Emily: I love how you brought that to the forefront. My younger brother has special needs, and many years ago, when I was scrupling through this issue, as a young adult, one of the things that finally brought me tremendous joy and comfort was the realisation that because he places his faith in Christ, some day he will experience the same resurrection that I will. And he will not have the limitations that he has now, and I’ll have a relationship with him, as God created him, without any of the intellectual delays, with the speech delays, and the physical things. It was like once that clicked to me, I was just like, “Okay." And it’s not that there isn’t still grief, but, just that...

Abigail: Oh, but there is freedom , isn’t there?

Emily: And it’s for all of us, and all of our sin in every relationship. I think that was particularly comforting to know this is not forever for him.

Laura: I just love what you talked about of taking the fangs out of fear. No matter what we’re facing as moms, we all have different areas of fear that we face. And that is such a good truth of just staring that down, because when we do that and we apply the gospel to that, and we put the cross in front of it, it holds no fear for us because we know, that no matter what happens here on this earth, that eternity is waiting for us. That no matter how much our present changes, it doesn’t change our future at all—our standing with the Lord. One thing I know that can get really lost when you have a child with special needs, or just even any time in the little motherhood years, specific to a situation where you do have a child that is demanding more of your time, what practices have helped you to hold fast to your relationship with God, and just remember these promises, especially these ones that we’re talking about right now?

Abigail: Self-care is a hard topic for special needs parents, because the nature of the special needs often means that it’s hard to find other people to care for your child. I am really thankful I’ve got close family. So family live nearby, and they know how to care for Titus. My mom watches him once a week on a Wednesday morning so I can do Bible study. I have a couple friends who are really eager and said, “We want to learn to take care of Titus. Please teach us, put us on the list.” And they had to keep nagging me, and I was like, “Oh, no.” So I am just very thankful. But I would just say, it is worth the time to find a couple people and help, if it’s possible. Sometimes it just isn’t possible, but if it’s possible, to train them and get your child comfortable with them, spend whatever time you need to with them so that it can happen. If it can’t, just to know that God will sustain you and come up with other ways that you can have some time or some space. One of the things that my husband and I do is that we let each other sleep. One of Titus’s hardest things is sleep. He just doesn’t sleep well, and he never has. He sleeps in our room, in a bed next to our bed because he’s on a tube feeding overnight, and the sleep depravation is real and it is horrible. So letting each other sleep is just a practical way that we can keep each other sane and feel cared for. He lets me sleep in on certain mornings of the week and sleeps in on certain mornings of the week. But I would just say that the main way to care for yourself is to feed yourself God’s word, and keep going to church to hear the word and be with God’s people. I was so tired and stressed out during Titus’s first year; I could not concentrate on my Bible reading plan. It’s hard to explain, but it just felt like driving down a highway and the cars are just going past you, and it was like the words were just going past me and I was having a hard time taking things in. I eventually chucked it, and I started studying a very short book, in-depth. I can’t handle anything longer than five short chapters or something because I can’t think longer than one sentence. My brain was just very compromised, I guess [laughs]. My encouragement would be to special needs moms, don’t require more of yourself than is realistic. God doesn’t require you to do a certain kind of Bible reading plan, or a certain checklist. You might not be able to feed yourself a gourmet meal of God’s word, but you just need to eat the meal that you can digest. That might be the little memory verse that your child gets from Sunday school. Eat it up, savor it, and ask God to make that little verse abound in your life. You will be so shocked and surprised at how God uses something little like that, when you shut down all the voices of guilt, and just allow His word to nourish you. Don’t stress about what form it comes; just allow it to nourish you. That’s probably the most important self-care practice. I would say the other practices that would be important to apply are things like, you just need to pray. When everything has gone wrong in your special needs child, everything is going the wrong direction and it just feels very out of control; like for us that might be maybe Titus has only slept a few hours and maybe he’s throwing up first thing in the morning or in the car, or we can’t go to church again, or whatever it is, that’s when we find out if we really trust God and His plan. When we’ve tried to put all the good stuff in place and things are just still not working, that’s when we don’t have time to strategize. There’s no moment then, to say, “Okay” [laughs]. You might have a very brief moment, but it’s not going to be much of a strategizing moment. But it is a moment to pray. It is a moment to say, “I need help right now because there’s throw up everywhere, and I’ve got these other kids coming apart, and things are wild; they’re just spinning.” So cry out to God in your weakness, and God will come and help. He does enable us to clean up the throw up again, cheerfully. He does enable us to do whatever that thing is that makes us obedient that next moment, that seems so impossible. But we need to ask him for help, and he’s really willing to give it. So those are the strategies I would give for things like self-care.

Emily: Those are really helpful and again, no matter where a mom is at, or what she’s dealing with, we all have those moments where we’re like, “I can’t do this again,” or, “I don’t know where to go from here.” You feel paralyzed in that moment, like you said, where you feel everything around you is spinning out of control. I love that you’re on the highway and all these cars are rushing past you and you’re like, “My brain has stopped working” [laughs]. I love that—just praying and savoring what we can.

Laura: And as we wrap up here, what are a couple final words that you would want to share with a mom? Especially here at Risen Motherhood, we have a lot of really young moms who are probably just beginning their journey with a child with special needs. What’s an encouragement that you would want to share with them?

Abigail: Those beginning stages are difficult, and it’s okay for it to be difficult. So one of the first things that I would say is, it’s hard, and that’s okay. You can let it be hard. You’re going to have words for the wind at times, you’re going to have struggles and difficulties, and there’s room for your mess with God. I would also want to say to her, God has not given you a stone. He hasn’t. It might feel like that right now, but he has given you his Son, and along with his Son, all things. So raising the child with special needs may be the hardest, best thing that you ever do. You may be doing the things that no one sees, for the child who can’t say, “Thank you.” But you do not do them just for your child; you are doing them for Christ himself. And so love well because you have been loved so well. My prayer for that mom would be that she would be enabled to walk in a manner worthy of the gospel. So in her grief, in her joy, in her sleepless nights, in the wild behavior that comes, that her life would be poured out as an offering to God. It’s such a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Laura: Emily I think you have no words. I, too, have nothing to add to that. It’s a great place to wrap up with those truths, and just letting them saturate our souls. Abigail, thank you so much for being on Risen Motherhood. We really appreciate you taking the time out to be here, and just to share encouragement with all of us moms.

Abigail: Thanks for having me.


Ep. 68 || How Can Mom Support Dad Spiritually?: An Interview With Jerrad Lopes Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. Just in time for Father’s Day, we are excited to have our very first male guest on the show to talk about some of the most Frequently Asked Questions we get about marriage and our husbands; including things like, how do we encourage them spiritually, specifically in the areas of scripture reading and family leadership, family worship, and more. He is going to address a lot of practical topics, and it so interesting to listen in, and hear what he has to say. I know Laura and I learned a lot from this show. Our guest today is Jerrad Lopes. He is from Dad Tired. He started this ministry to point men to Jesus and to help them understand how the gospel impacts their fatherhood. So it’s kind of a similar counterpart ministry to Risen Motherhood. We get asked a lot, “Hey, what’s something my husband can listen to, or learn from, about gospel-centred fatherhood?” Dad Tired is one of those ministries. Jerrad lives with his wife in Portland, Oregon. They have two kiddos, and they just started foster care. He also runs Dad Tired, and he has been busy getting his devotional ready to be released. It’s called Stop Behaving—a four-week, 28-day devotional written for men to take their family life and their marriage seriously in light of the gospel. You guys can check that out at his website, dadtired.com. We know you guys will have lots of things to think about after listening to this interview today. Hopefully, it will help you celebrate and encourage your husband in light of Father’s Day. So here we go, here’s Jerrad.

Laura: Hey Jerrad, thanks so much for joining us. We are so excited today to have Jerrad from Dad Tired. I know we’ve given you guys all a little bit of an intro. But this is the first male we’ve had on our show, and I feel that’s a mile marker, Emily.

Emily: It’s a big deal.

Laura: Yes, so thanks for being on.

Jerrad: Oh my gosh, no pressure [laughter]. I’ll try not to mess it up for every guy out there. [laughter]

Laura: We’re super excited because you’ve got a great podcast that we’ve promoted in the past, and we think that every dad should listen to. We often get asked, from our listeners, “Hey, what can my husband listen to? What’s the Risen Motherhood counterpart?” We feel that’s Dad Tired, so we’re thrilled to have you on the show today. Can you give us a little background about who you are, what’s your family make up?  What is the heart behind Dad Tired, and who you hope to reach?

Jerrad: Yes. My name is Jerrad, I am married—way up—to a woman named Leila. She’s a nurse, and the mother of my children, and just an amazing woman. We have two little ones—a three-year-old girl, five-year-old boy. Then, we’re foster parents now, and actually as of today, we’re getting our first foster child placement with us. So that’s our family dynamic.

I have been a pastor for 13 years, most of that was in the church. Then in the last two years, I stepped out of the church role, started Dad Tired, the ministry. Now I host that podcast, and help guys fall in love with Jesus.

Emily: Today, we are excited to have a guy and to ask you anything. [laughs]

Laura: Get all the details, all the things we want to know. So we’re going to dig into some of the most commonly asked questions we get about marriage and fatherhood, from moms who really want to love their husbands well and encourage them spiritually. Let’s kick it off with, "How can a wife best support her husband, in serving as a spiritual leader of her home?" A lot of times it can seem like, for some marriages, that maybe the husband isn’t initiating. Or maybe he’s not showing much interest in leading the family. What would you say to a wife who’s in that position, and just how to equip husbands well?

Jerrad: I was that husband for a season in our marriage; that’s kind of how the Dad Tired podcast started. I felt like I was sucking as a dad and as a husband, and I was not leading my family well. I was not serving my wife well; I was not engaged with my children in being any kind of spiritual leader. My wife knew it, and we were in a really tough season in our marriage. Relationally we weren’t getting along or connecting with each other, nor were we communicating with each other. I remember we were in the middle of a little bit of an argument and she said, “Jerrad, I just want you to know I’ve been waking up every morning at 2 a.m. and I go into the living room and I pray for you, and I pray that God brings your heart back to him.” I remember thinking like I would rather her cursed me out; [laughs] I could have handled that better. But it was so convicting to hear she really wants, more than my behavior to change, she really wants my heart to come back to Jesus. I would encourage women who are not seeing their husbands leading their family spiritually that some guys just don’t know how and it’s totally foreign to them. Also, they’ve never been taught that. Other guys just feel far from God for whatever reason. But what often happens is, it can seem that our wives really start to, for lack of better words, nag our behavior. “Hey, do this, do this, do this.” Or, “Step up”, or, “Stop doing this, stop doing this.” I always say that behavior modification lasts for a little bit, but it doesn’t last for a long time. What lasts for a long time is when a heart’s changed, and my wife can’t change my heart. She knew that, and so she went to the one who can change hearts, and that’s Jesus. It’s kind of like a churchy answer, but really, as a wife, you do not possess the ability to change your husband’s heart, and that’s what he needs; his heart changed. But there is One who can change hearts, and that’s the one we serve. So pray and beg and plead that the Holy Spirit will start to chase after your husband’s heart relentlessly.

Emily: I love that you gave that answer. I know that Laura and I have tried to share that before. Even as you were saying it, I was like, “Oh, I’ve got to remember that! I need to set my 2 a.m. alarm.” Definitely that ministry of prayer for our husbands just cannot be overstated how important it is. That verse in 1 Peter always comes to mind—I am not going to be able to quote it exactly—about winning him over without a word. The way that we do that is by living out the gospel, and then praying that God would change his heart. That’s just an incredible testimony that you shared. It may be churchy, but it’s the right idea.

Laura: That segues well into the idea that a lot of moms—depending on our work schedules and stuff—can be involved in church programming nearly everyday of the week. We can have time, while it may be loud and noisy, there is time to study the word, or to open your Bible, or just listen to the Bible playing on your phone. To really get soaked into that scripture, even if it’s maybe not exactly the way we want it to be in these little years. How would you encourage a mom to equip her husband to get in God’s word? Because they’re just so short on time, especially when they’re gone all day. What would you say are some ways for her to encourage him? Are there some resources that they could look to?

Jerrad: First I would say to the husbands—because I get guys all the time that are telling me, “I am just too busy,” and I just call them out on that—I don’t care if you’re a 16 year-old dude, or a 95-year-old grandpa, we all feel too busy, right? [laughter] I am not going to take you working full-time as an excuse to not be in God’s word. We’re just all busy—moms are busy, dads are busy, singles are busy. We’re all busy. When I am walking guys through discipleship, what we often do is I have them write out a list of things that they say are most valuable to them. Like, in your heart what are your priorities? They often give me the churchy answer which is like, “God, my wife, my kids, my work.” They put things in the right order, as it should be. Then I ask them to write, what are you actually spending your time on? Make a second list, and that list then is all over the place. It’s work, it’s sports, it’s the NBA playoffs, it’s whatever else is going on, it’s the golf times, it’s the long lunches, or whatever. So, the first thing is what are you saying “Yes” to, that you need to be saying “No” to? What are you saying “Yes” to that doesn’t make sense for the kingdom of God, that is affecting the other things that you should be saying “Yes” to? The first is of just calling them out on the time thing. The second thing is using all the things; you guys have a lot of great resources on your website, that you’ve pointed other of your listeners to. There’s also the Bible app where you can listen to the entire Bible for free. That is an easy way as you’re driving from work, as you’re commuting to and from work, or to lunch, or sitting at your desk filling out a spreadsheet. Listen to the word of God. Let it start to permeate your heart, instead of listening to whatever else you have on the radio, or whatever podcast is talking about—an MMA fight or whatever [laughter]. Listen to the Word of God. So, using times, in the midst of busyness, to be intentional is a huge tool.

Emily: Jerrad, maybe I am going to jump in a question here that, at least in my mind, maybe other moms’ minds. Let’s say I am a wife, and I am seeing that in my husband’s life. I know he really does want to get into the Word of God, but I don’t see him doing that. Is it okay for a wife to recommend that to her husband? How could a wife suggest some of those ideas to her husband without coming off like a nag? [laughs] Or like, “Oh, I just want to give you a quick behavior modification.” Is there a way that that could be received well?

Jerrad: That’s a really good question [laughter]. My wife has never asked me how I am doing with the Lord, when I am doing well with the Lord [laughs]. In other words, when I am doing well with the Lord, it’s obvious, and I am leading the family well, and I am in scripture and all that. She only asks me when I am not doing well with the Lord, and so it immediately comes off as offensive or antagonistic. Right or wrong, that’s how I feel, and that’s how most guys feel when we’re asked like, “Hey, how’s your relationship with Jesus?” One’s like, “Why the heck are you asking me that, because you know it sucks right now?” [laughter] That’s why you’re asking me that. [laughter]

Laura: It’s so passive-aggressive of us, but we do it. [laughter] I can hear my voice saying those things. [laughter]

Jerrad:  There are other ways. There’s ways that Leila’s approached me and I am trying to think off the top of my head. Like there’s times when she’s said like, “Hey babe, what kinds of things can I be praying for you for?” That feels gentle; that’s probably making the same point that she was trying to make by like, “How are you doing with Jesus?” It’s making the same point, but I just feel like it’s a lot harder for me to feel any aggression towards that, like my wife is asking me how can she pray for me. Okay, “Can you pray that God would draw my heart back to him because I feel far from him,” might be one of my answers. Or she might even say like, “Hey, I am feeling like I want to re-read through the Bible again this year. Maybe we could do that together, or maybe we can make date nights out of that, after the kids go to bed?” That’s her prompting and taking an initiative that really I should have been the one doing. But it’s just God using her, in my life, to point me back to him, and maybe capture my heart again so that I can lead well.

Laura: Yes. There’s always something too about saying, “I’ll come alongside you in this.” Like, “”Let’s do this together.” I know I got all revved up, read a prayer book and wanted to pray with my husband, or see him pray on his knees every night. I was like, “Okay, now let’s just start with praying before bed. I am going to do this with you. We’re tired, but we’re both going to do this because it is good for both of us. I don’t expect you to do something, especially if I am not doing it too.”

Jerrad: That made me think. I don’t think most guys would be offended if their wife said, “Babe, will you pray for me right now?” Like, “I am feeling vulnerable or weak” or whatever. “Would you just pray for me out loud?” Some guys may totally be intimidated by that, but they’ll step up to that challenge and they won’t feel threatened by that request. It gives them an opportunity to lead.

Laura: That’s good advice.

Emily: Yes. Thanks for that practical insight there of the difference between what’s gentle and coming alongside, and what’s accusatory, [laughs] and is a subtle way of going, “I am noticing that you’re falling in this area right now.”

Jerrad: Yes, totally.

Laura: From a dad’s perspective then, what is it like to transition home after work? When mom’s busy, the kids are crazy, the dad is super tired and probably, we know, we hear they want downtime a little bit to adjust. How can a mom best serve her husband during that transition period?

Jerrad: Again, my natural responses and answers are always thinking through for the guys, because I want to talk to the guys.

Laura: Which we love as moms. We’re like, “Yes, just bring it to the dads.”

Emily: Every mom is going to have her husband listen to this. [laughter]

Jerrad: For the dads, that’s what we’re preaching on Dad Tired all the time, is like, “Dude, you should be exhausted. It’s called dad tired.” Like, “You’re going to be tired, and if you’re not tired, you’re doing it wrong.” It means you’re probably spending too much time playing video games, or whatever else. Like, “You should be tired.” If you are living a life that God has called you to live, as an engaged husband, dad, worker, disciple, you’ll go to bed exhausted, and that’s the way it should be. We’re always telling guys like, “You pull up in the driveway, you turn off your car, you take a deep breath and you realize that the second shift has started. You move into your other titles that are going to last for eternity—your title as 'husband,' your title as 'dad.' You step up and get to it." So that’s what I’d say to the guys. For the wives, what’s helpful for us is clear expectations. For moms that have been in the routine all day, you know the rhythms of your kids, sometimes better than we do because you’re with them all the time and all the subtleties. There are times we’re like, “I accidentally gave them something to eat that they maybe shouldn’t have eaten.” [laughter] Or like, “Hey, let’s go get ice-cream,” and I didn’t know that mom had said earlier like, “No, you’re not having ice-cream today,” because of this whatever. But there’s should be clear expectations laid out so that we don’t have that guessing game or step into something that we didn’t know was outside of a rhythm because we were ignorant. We’re just straight up ignorant—we weren’t there, we didn’t know. It’s always best to give those expectations outside of the storm, not in the middle of the storm. You know, figuring out a time where before he comes home and steps in the door where you’re having conversations like, “Babe, how can we serve each other well when you get home from work? Here are some things that would be helpful for me. What would be helpful for you?” If it’s the dishes, then let him know, “The dishes.” If it’s the sweeping, if it’s the getting the kids through their bedtime routine. We often guess and we often guess wrong. [laughter]

Laura: Clear expectations are super info, and it’s helpful also for moms too, because sometimes I’ll find myself just keeping moving. Dad walks in the door and I am in the middle of dinner, or changing a diaper or whatever, and I am like, “Oh, hey hon,” and just ready to keep going, almost not acknowledging the fact that life has changed because Dad entered the door. It’s good for us as moms to stop and acknowledge that, “Dad is home,” and “Yay, this is exciting!" I remember my dad always went to my mom first before he went to the kids. He just went straight for her, and she welcomed him home, and then, he received the kids. I always thought that was a little unfair as a kid. [laughter] But I thought it’s a neat picture now of my mom and dad both prioritizing each other during a crazy time in the house.

Emily: Recently I’ve come back from some women’s conferences, or some times away, where I was super refreshed. Or maybe I was tired, but in a good way of something that I was really passionate about and worked hard at. I walked in the door, and heard everyone’s crazy, running around, my husband’s trying to hold it together, and thinking like, “Wooh, [laughter] this is a little abrasive.” I’ve even felt that, coming into these situations after I’ve been away. I think we have to remember that it can feel like that to a husband who just walks in the door and be handed a child or something. Even if you just know that he may be experiencing that, you’re probably going to treat him a little differently. [laughs]

Jerrad: One of the gifts that many men possess is the ability to compartmentalize, which we often use toward sin. We use it towards the negative, but it’s actually a strength, and it can be a strength in many ways. For a lot of men, we do have the ability to click off, literally. Like, “I am done with this, and now I am moving into dad-time.”  Even with what you said, part of me was thinking almost the opposite, like “Yep, I checked out of that conference, and now I’ve moved into my compartment of "Here I am as a dad."

Emily: I didn’t have a category for that. [laughter]

Laura: Sounds amazing.

Emily: It really does.

Jerrad: They say that women’s brain is spaghetti and men’s brain is waffles. Have you heard of that?

Laura & Emily: No.

Laura: I’ve never heard that. [laughter]

Jerrad: Women’s brain is spaghetti; everything touches everything. Like, this affects this, affects this, affects this. Guys’ brain is a waffle. We have compartments, and this does not touch this, does not touch this, does not touch this. [laughs]

Laura: I can’t imagine. Like Emily said, I can’t imagine [laughter]. One last practical, how do you handle family devotions in your house? Then, how can a mom, again, encourage her husband to be intentional with these types of things, especially if they’re lacking? Or if it’s just a crazy time to be able to settle down and know what to do. What’s mom’s role in a family devotion?

Jerrad: Good question. First, a bigger picture premise here is that I want my kids to see all of life as worship. So I am really trying to use every single opportunity to gospel them, and to teach them the gospel. As opposed to having the compartments that I just talked about. I don’t want my kids to think, “Okay, it’s devotional time. It’s church time. It’s Bible study time or community group time,” or whatever, and they see us as a family have very clear cut compartments. The scriptures say in Deuteronomy, whether you’re sleeping or eating or walking or talking, whatever you’re doing, train up your child towards the things of God. Don’t quote me on how I just said that.

Laura: Paraphrased.

Jerrad: But I want them to see that in everything, and I really push hard for that. When we’re driving to school, when we have interactions at the grocery store, I am looking for every single opportunity to point them back to the gospel. My kid just heard a secular song on the radio that they were saying, “Please have mercy on me.” I won’t quote the song, but that’s a line,  “Please have mercy on me,” and he’s like, “Dad, what’s mercy?” Okay, a beautiful opportunity to talk about the gospel here. That’s the bigger picture here —that’s the goal where we want all of our families to get is to that point where the gospel was permeating every area of our lives and not just these sections. There are some good resources you guys have actually done on this. I think you did an Instagram story feed. Or maybe you posted them on the resources page on your website. But some, like children’s Bibles, you listed out all the children’s Bibles. We go through as a family, the Jesus Story Book Bible, which is one of my favorite Bibles for kids. That’s my time, that’s daddy time. Mommy’s done her stuff all day and I do the bedtime routine, get their jammies, make sure they’re bathed, teeth brushed, and then when they crawl into bed with daddy, daddy gets to read the Jesus Story Book Bible with them and talk through that part of life with them. That’s one really practical way where a wife could do some research, or maybe even utilize the resources that you guys have put out there already. Get some of those resources, and then just say, “Hey husband, will you lead this time? Will you be the one that reads these stories to the kids?” It’s also subconsciously getting him in the word, even if it’s a children’s Bible. I have actually found myself weeping in the children’s Bible. [laughter]

Laura: I like that because it’s so simple. There’s no prep—I think that’s what can get daunting to both parents, is like, “Oh, I have to gather my materials and my art supplies and my dress up clothes, and then we’re going to have this devo with a guitar that we don’t know how to play.” [laughter] We have these images in our mind of how big and grand it needs to be, of what this perfect, Christian family worship looks like. When really it can look as simple as, in bed, reading the Bible, and answering questions that out kids have because God just uses his word and never returns void. So he will use that time well, and to invest in our kids.

Emily: Jerrad, I’d be interested to get your insight on this. Let’s say there is a mom who’s going, “I don’t know if my husband would ever even do something like that. I think approaching him with that would even be potentially offensive, or would come off as nagging.” Is that something that a wife could faithfully start—getting that routine ingrained with her kids? Maybe for two or three months she reads it before bed, and then one night, “Hey honey, could you just step in and read this?” I know that sounds really manipulative actually now that I am saying it. But, I mean in a good way of, would you see that as undermining your position? Or would you be honored that your wife stepped in there and was like, “Hey, I am going to help get this established?” So it’s even easier for Dad to come in one night and just do it.

Jerrad: Possibly. If you’re just setting it up as the, we-do-story-time-before-bed, and the stories that we happen to do before bed are Jesus centered or the Bible, like the children’s Bible. If the dad is offended by leading that time, there’s deeper issues going on. That’s when we go back to question one, and be praying for your husband. Dude should be doing story time and reading. Like we just talked about, there’s really no prep work. We’re not asking you to give a sermon. We’re asking you to read the Bible to your kids, so step up and do it. If that’s offensive, again, there’s probably some deeper heart stuff going on. I guess to not just give like a harsh answer to that, the answer would be, maybe if you have to soften it up, set it up as story time. “Can you lead story time?” And the stories that you happen to have are all the Jesus stories.

Emily: I see.

Jerrad: I really want guys to be able to equip their kids in every situation with the gospel. My son’s been super into fishing, if you’ve been watching my Instagram story. We go fishing like five, six times a week and we’re just always at the pond fishing. He’s super into it right now, and there’s tons of analogies within fishing that I can point my son back to the gospel and even Jesus. We’ve been talking a lot about how Jesus says, “Let’s be fishers of men.” So then we come home and we read the Fishers of Men stories at night. Or, when Jesus told his disciples, “Don’t cast your nets on this side of the boat, cast them on this side of the boat”, and they caught that many fish. Using the things that your kids are already into, and figuring out how scripture can tie into that, how the gospel can tie into that. But again, we don’t want to compartmentalize, we want everything to interweave with each other.

Laura: It’s just a word of encouragement to dad or mom listening to, what Jerrad’s talking about. It sounds so beautiful, but it is kind of hard or daunting at first. I know at least for myself, when I first became a mommy and my husband too. We were like, “Aah, what does the gospel have?” Or, “How do I tie in this bird that my child’s admiring in the yard, or the worm, and the gospel? I know there’s a connection there, but how do I articulate it?” Just to encourage you guys to practice. The best way to do that is to fumble through, and you’re going to misstep, and there’s probably going to be some like, “Whoop, that was kind of wonky theology there.” But God uses everything that we do, no matter what we say. When we’re doing it with the right heart, and looking to speak truths to our children, he is going to use that. You will grow in that skill to see the gospel. I know if what he’s talking about seems a little bit scary and you feel, “Oh, I don’t know if my husband could do that,” or, “I don’t know if I could do that,” just start practicing, and start getting comfortable with that kind of language.

Jerrad: It’s so true; practice. I remember literally thinking, "I’ve been a pastor 13 years," and I started doing this recently when we had kids, and, it was daunting for myself. I remember one of the first times my son could talk and start to comprehend things, there was what felt like a beautiful opportunity to share the gospel with him. I went into this like a long sermon basically [laughter]. I remember he was staring at me, and I am like, “This is it. He gets it.” Like “He’s comprehending it and he’s with me.” At the end of it, literally his remark was,“Daddy, can I have a bowl of cereal?” I was like, “Yeah. But did you hear anything I said?” [laughter] I don’t think he got any of it, but I’ve learned through practice to tighten up my language and to not give 30-minute sermons to a three-year-old.

Laura: Exactly, and they don’t judge you. They don’t know any better. They forget about it the next five minutes, so these little years are the great years to practice because they’re not going to hold it against you. That’s covered in high school, right, or middle school, or something like that. [laughter] Looking at you cross-eyed and wondering, “What did you just say?”

Emily: They’re going to ask really hard questions afterwards.

Laura: As we wrap up here Jerrad, any last thoughts or words of advise to wives? Any words of advise you’d like to give women in supporting their husbands in fatherhood?

Jerrad: So here would be my final thoughts. What we get in Jesus is the ability to be fully known and fully loved at the same time. Which is freaky; we don’t get that anywhere else. We’re usually fully known and not loved, or we’re fully loved and not known. I don’t know any other relationship outside of Jesus, where you can be fully known, and fully loved at the same exact time. The only other place that we get a glimpse of that is marriage—that my wife could know me fully, and love me fully. So I would encourage wives to be intentional about setting up an environment where your husband feels the confidence to share his junk with you, to share his sin, that he feels like you are a safe spot to land so that he can be fully known and fully loved at the same time. Even bigger than that, that would give him a glimpse of the God that he serves through his wife.

Emily: That’s wonderful.

Laura: That’s inspirational. [laughter]

Jerrad: That’s all I got.

Laura: That was great. No, thank you.

Emily: I know, thank you.

Laura: That’s a real challenge and incorporates a lot of different things for sure. That’s a good word to end on. So thanks for joining us today on Risen Motherhood.

Jerrad: Thanks for having me.


Ep. 65 || Finding My Tribe: Momma, Who Is Your Primary Community? Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Emily Jensen, here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler.   We are excited to talk about an exciting topic today. We’re going to use a trendy word, your “tribe.” [laughs]

Laura: Emily and I don’t love this word, we’ll be honest, but it is the word that is used. So we’re going with it. [laughter]

Emily: Sometimes you might also see people—this is a little younger than us I think—use #squad. [laughter]

Laura: I don’t think at our age we’re allowed to use that, Emily. #squadgoals [laughter]

Emily: There is a lot of talk out there about finding your “tribe” in motherhood. Sometimes when people use that, they mean my “tribe;” like, “Look at my little 'tribe,' my family.” Sometimes it’s my “tribe” like, “The group of moms that I work out with.” Or my “tribe” is like an entrepreneurial group. Or maybe it’s just a group of women like boy moms or adoptive moms or twin moms. You can go through the whole list, but there are so many places out there today where people are just encouraging you to find your “tribe.”

Laura:  There’s absolutely nothing wrong with finding like-minded moms. I am in a group called “little four eyes;” we’re about little kids and glasses. When my son was on  getting glasses, this was a lifeline for me to meet other moms. So there are really wonderful benefits, particularly with these online resources where you can find women who are like you. But there is also danger sometimes in at least having those people be your primary “tribe.” What we’re talking about today is an online “tribe” versus an in-person “tribe” within your local community, and specifically, your local church. How do we balance those and weigh those? There’s a greater discussion that’s going on in the church right now about the role of women’s ministry, different ministries—like Risen Motherhood for example—that are outside of the local church. How a lot of women are looking to these ministries as being their primary source of meat, or food, to grow and to learn spiritually, in particular. We want to talk about that a little bit today. We don’t often talk about popular topics.

Emily: Especially in terms of motherhood. There’s definitely a women’s ministry conversation and we see it happening, especially in moms. That’s a time in your life, especially when you have really young children, that you have a lot of these felt needs. A lot of these, “I don’t know if anybody understands me,” or “My spiritual needs aren’t being met in a way that I like, or that makes me comfortable.” Well, there’s a whole internet out there of places we can go to.  Again, like Laura’s saying, we definitely see a place for that. Obviously there would be no Risen Motherhood if we didn’t see a place for that. But we also want to have the conversation because if you were to peek into Laura and I’s lives on a weekly basis—in our home, in our community lives—you would see us both really heavily involved in our local churches. You would see us as a product of the people who are pouring into us in our local churches. Our community of peers around us that are talking through gospel stuff—our pastors, the teachers at our churches. It’s just hard because you don’t always get to see that when we just come record a podcast. But we want to be intentional to say it like, “That’s where this comes from.” 

Laura: It’s the real, in-life personal relationships that we have. Just to be very, very clear, Risen Motherhood can fill in some gaps; we hope that we are a supplemental resource for you to help launch you into thinking about things differently and to hopefully discuss these things in-person with your friends. But we do not want to become a replacement ministry for you or a replacement friend for you. We really desire to see each and every listener of Risen Motherhood invest well, locally, and for us not to be your primary source of food. I feel like we just want to say that. It is the heartbeat from our show since the beginning. Now it is out verbally and clearly. It’s out there.

Emily: We thought we’d just spend a few minutes and talk about community and God’s design for it, because it’s something that we’re not always educated well in. I’ve even realized that Laura and I have talked about that a ton in the last year, like, “Oh, we just take for granted what true gospel community is.” Starting of course with creation and the way that God made things to be: He is, as the Trinity, a picture of community and relationship. Out of that overflow, he created Adam and Eve who were different, but they’re also in his eyes equal in value. They were created to enjoy relationship with God and to worship him together. Then they were both to work together to carry out a mission and a purpose. That was the original community.

Laura:. But we know that community has been broken by sin. So the number one mark for that is we start looking about our own interest. We begin to really look for, specifically online, friends that are going to make us feel good. Friends that can soothe our itchy ears. We often stop looking for friends that are going to push us or exhort us or get us ready for the kingdom preparation and sanctification. The other thing that happens though, is that the church doesn’t meet our needs any longer. Not perfectly, at least. It’s relationships with other sinners; so we see that community is marked by people using their gifts for the benefits of themselves. They don’t love the church as they should. It’s marked by slander and lying and gossip. So sin entered in and broke community to function as well as God originally designed it.

Emily: It’s like when we start replacing Jesus, who is the cornerstone of our churches and the cornerstone of our communities, with shared interests. When we make that the primary thing, then we will start to become really dissatisfied with the church that God gave us and start to look outside. But, of course, the gospel obviously plays into that a ton. Because Jesus died for our sins and adopted all of believers into his family for a new purpose, and we were all set apart to bring the gospel to the ends of the earth, we can be unified in that. We can see that we all have a part to play. That we need to treasure the church as Christ does, as his bride, which is really hard because we’re treasuring sinners. But God has given us a new heart with the Holy Spirit to be able to do that, even when it’s hard.

Laura: We can look at, again, the biblical example of women are to live life with one another. Men too, but specifically here, we’re called to live life together, to learn from one another, to teach each other. We can see that Paul lays it out in Titus 2 and we see that littered all over the Bible. That doesn’t happen; you can’t do life with someone online. There is a literal, physical block for you to be able to do that. Doing life means park play dates, and getting together to cook, and crying on each other’s shoulders, and going out for coffee. That has to happen as an in-person relationship. We’re going to talk through some of the dangers of finding your primary—again, we don’t want to say there’s no place for online ministries—but for it to be a primary crew, we’re going to talk about some of those dangers. The first one is you get really focused on having relationships and organizations meet your needs instead of the local church meeting your needs.

Emily:  And we talked through this a little bit in how sin has wrecked this whole situation. Something I have to go back and remind myself—and Laura and I were just having a conversation about this over the weekend—God has designed for the local church to be able to meet our spiritual needs as moms. The thing is, it’s not always in the way we think. We want it to be like, “I am going to lock arms with moms who I think are having the exact same circumstances as me, and are reacting to it the same way.” But God has designed that we would interact with different generations and people who come from different backgrounds and have different views on things, that love Christ, and are studying doctrine with us to help meet those needs that we have. It’s counter-intuitive, a little bit, from what we want, but it’s the way it was really designed to be.

Laura:  And with an online relationship, you only let people see what you want them to see. Even if you’re willing to be pretty vulnerable, and maybe email someone—and we’ve had many of you that have been sweet enough to email us some difficulties that you’re going through—we only see this very, very small picture online of each person. A real in-person relationship is really the only thing you’re able to ask a lot of questions and you’re able to get to the heart of the matter. Maybe they see the physical sin happening right in front of you. Maybe it’s something that you yelled at your kids and you’re struggling with that and they saw it happen and you’re able to say, “Oh, in this situation, what would you do?” A real, healthy in-person relationship won’t just leave you with inspiration and maybe some empathy, which is what a lot of online ministries do. A real, healthy in-person relationship sees your sin and sees your needs, and challenges and exhorts you. It monitors you to move beyond that in the light of the gospel.

Emily: Another danger we wanted to bring up is that, sometimes, if you are primarily finding your “tribe” in an online environment, it can sometimes cause you to have these skewed doctrines or skewed beliefs about what scripture actually says. This is because you are getting the bulk of your learning outside of your local body where there’s accountability. Again, examples of this might be that you’re reading blogs or, again, podcasts like Risen Motherhood, or those other online teaching ministries. There’s parent-church organizations. Again, all provide, sometimes, really amazing supplemental content, and we certainly hope that we do. But when that becomes your replacement and your main voice, again, it’s that you choose what you want to hear. When you view gaining good theology similar to going to the store or picking out what you want, you’re destined to get off-track at some point.

Laura: The true convicting question to ask yourself is are you more interested in what the latest, cool blogger or the new book or what the podcaster says? Or are you more interested in what God’s word says? So, really looking at, as Emily said, that God’s word isn’t just a store where you can take your shopping cart to. But instead, there are solid truths that you need to dig into and find out. Sometimes those are hard things to hear, and sometimes when we’re only seeking it online, we just don’t hear those things. Our eyes kind of glaze over to them.

Emily: Some of the hardest things I’ve been challenged by have been from the pulpit of my own local church or from the mouth of an older woman at my own local church. They weren’t just speaking off of the polls of the latest things that are circulating online. They’re committed to speaking the truth no matter what. Those are the times I am like, “Urrgh!.” It just gets you. But that’s good. That’s what’s supposed to happen, and it doesn’t always happen when we have a consumer mentality.

Laura:  So what are some of the benefits? We’ve been sort of hitting on those and hinting at them. One big benefit is that you have other women who will see you parent and help you work through the real issues. So I started touching on this when something’s happened even before their eyes. When you’re in a local community of believers, you’ll start seeing and finding, hopefully, that there are some peer-moms around you. Or maybe some moms that are a bit further down the road, but they still remember what it’s like having your littles, and it’s so much better than taking what little an online person can give you in a written format. Instead, they’re able to ask the right questions to get to the heart issue and to truly speak into your actual situation and not just a general one.

Emily: Also, you get the opinions of people who are going to do it a little differently from you, rather than just people who you feel are in the exact same spot you are. Sometimes that difference is valuable. Another thing is just that the benefit of teaching your kids to love and value the local church. Needing to model that and saying, “Our spiritual growth and our learning happens primarily in this body of believers and not out there online.”

Laura: It brings in, too, people from different walks of life. They can see younger college students or singles, grandparents-type figures doing things differently, but they’re all for Jesus. I love showing my kids, “Hey, it’s not just mom and dad that love Jesus. All of these people around us from all different walks of life, they love Jesus in their own way and have their own personal relationships. Look at all these people who are pursuing him.” For me as a younger girl, that was really inspiring that like, “Hey, this isn’t just for my parents’ faith. There are a whole lot of people who do this. It’s really individual and special for those people." The last one is knowing what we’re talking about a little bit, but your challenge and your discernment of your theology. It does help you to stay focused on what matters. Sometimes I might mention a popular author’s name, and be like, “Hey, did you read blah, blah, blah’s new book?” It’s so funny because some of the older women in my church will be like, “Who? I’ve no idea.” [laughter] They keep me grounded. Let’s just put it that way. [laughter] They remind me that I don’t need any resource besides God’s word. That is all that I need. I was just talking to a woman over the weekend and that’s what she said. She’s like, “What can you find online that you can’t get from the Bible?” I was like, “Uh, uh, uh...” She’s totally right and while it’s easier to consume—and again we see major benefit; we wouldn’t have Risen Motherhood without it—it was very convicting for me to remember, "Where is my primary source of truth coming from? Is it online, and is that how I expect to grow? Or do I expect to grow through God’s word?"

Emily: Do we expect to grow in the way that God has ultimately designed, which is within our church community? Even in motherhood, and especially in these motherhood things, it’s not just in a “tribe” we find outside. I was thinking about this; my husband and I had some hard days this week where we got some hard news. I had a woman stop by within an hour to give me a hug and two more offered to do it within two hours later. No Twitter follower or Instagram person can ever walk into your home and do that. Also just loving that we can’t hide; I love that. I love that the people who I go to church with see me and they see everything about me, and it’s there. That’s what we’re supposed to do; it’s live in community with one another.

Laura: That’s right. We’ve built the case for finding a local church and some of you might be thinking, “Oh, I don’t have a good local church.”

Emily: Or like, “I really don’t like that. We’re not in agreement with our local church.”

Laura: Start with finding one that you can agree with doctrinally. It may not be perfect with every single thing, but get it right on the big things, and get involved. None of this, “I showed up and nobody talked to me” jazz; it’s my pet peeve. You talk to people, you tell them that you’re there and that you want to help, that you want friends, and you initiate it. I know that it is hard, but be brave, moms. I have a whole blog post about this that we’ll link to. But essentially, I just want to encourage you to not just show up to things, but to say, “Okay, I am going to take that first step of saying, ‘Hi, my name is....’” and try to build that bridge. Because again, sin is in the room, so people aren’t always noticing all the needs.

Emily: Join the Bible study that they’re offering. Join the small groups that are being offered. Get involved. Intentionally get inter-generational relationships—find older women you can hang out with, find younger people than you that you can hang out with. Honestly, if these things don’t exist, and you’re going, “My church doesn’t have anything like that,” start it ! Something that Laura and I hear a lot with Risen Motherhood is, “No one else is talking about this in my friend group.” I am so grateful that Laura and I both have friends that are talking about these things. But if you’re in that situation, just start; like once a month, or once a week, or whatever. Have people over for a play date and say, “Would you guys be willing to talk about this? Would you guys be willing to tackle these topics intentionally?” My guess is there are other women out there who want to do that, and they’re just terrified, as well.

Laura: Be open to them looking a little bit different than you are. Another key is that sometimes we don’t have the exact same demographic for these people. We want all moms of littles, or we want whatever. But that’s where most growth happens; again, it’s when you bring all these women with different life experiences in. Don’t expect it to look exactly like you want to have an open hand as you start these things. Or you can get involved in these things, and say, “Lord, let it look like what I need, not what I want.” I think we’ve harped on this long enough. This was kind of a heavy show, guys, and we don’t want you to leave discouraged. But we also really wanted to speak truth into the situation. I am just encouraging and exalting each of you to take a hard look at where you’re finding your source of truth. From there, maybe make some adjustments or tweaks if you need to do that. Just look at how can you love your local church and be most invested there. We just hope that you guys will re-evaluate those things in your heart. Maybe you’re doing it awesome, but maybe there are some things that need to be tweaked.

Emily: Yes. Find your true “tribe.”

Laura: That’s right. So find us on—speaking of another “tribe,” the Risen Motherhood “tribe” is still [laughter] a “tribe”. But again, supplementary “tribe”. Let’s start using that word, that’s a hashtag.  Anyway, @risenmotherhood.com, find us on social media—Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. Check out the show notes for more resources on this topic. Yes, that’s it. Thanks for tuning in.


Ep. 64 || Making a Home: Decorating for the Glory of God Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Laura Wifler and I have my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here. First off, we want to encourage you guys, if you have not yet, come find us on social media. We’re on Facebook, we’re on Instagram, and on Twitter and we’re @risenmotherhood for all of those platforms. We just do a lot of different things. We share a lot of things especially around the same topic as what that week’s show is on. We hope you’ll come find us for more encouragement and to communicate and talk with other women who are pursuing intentional motherhood. It’s a really cool community, and we’re really thankful for what God has done with it. We wanted to encourage you to get over there if you haven’t yet, if you’re on those platforms. Today, we are talking about decorating. We’re not talking about the Pinterest, Instagram decorating if that’s what you think.

Emily: It’s always hard. Laura and I, as we were talking through this, we were like, “Oh, how do we describe exactly what we mean?” But just the idea of, as women, as moms, we want to take the environment that we live in, regardless of how big or small it is and just make it a place where those who are in our home feel welcome—kids, husband, even the people who come to visit. That can look a lot of different ways, but God has certainly used a creative beauty, and so we want to reflect that.

Laura: Decorating can be one of those things. I love to decorate, for the record. [laughter] I really enjoy putting together a beautiful and functional home environment, I like helping friends out with it, I like receiving help from my friends.

Emily: Laura’s helped me out a ton.

Laura: It is something that I really enjoy, even just for the aesthetic of it, which is a great and good thing. But one thing we want to talk about today is that—whether or not you feel like you have talent in this area or you have gifts in this area, or you even have one big hindrance—we can feel like our home isn’t the right home yet or our next home will do that. It’s something that we can easily put off, or want it to be magazine-worthy, want it to be Instagram-worthy before we do it. There’s just a lot of emotions tangled up with decorating and how we make our homes function. But no matter what, most people, no matter how minimalistic you are, you think you need a chair, you need a bed, or you need a dresser. You need a few things, and you have to pick those things. Picking those things is decorating, whether people want to think so or not. The chair you sit on, you picked it, you probably purchased it, or maybe it was given to you. But there’s decorating elements in that, and there’s a way to create a home intentionally for your family that also has beauty and significance. We’re going to talk about balancing those two things and what the Bible says about it, of course.

Emily: Of course yes. It would not be Risen Motherhood without trying to understand how does the gospel play into this. That’s one of the things that we keep coming back to, and harping on, is these things can seem very materialistic or cultural. They can also be redeemed and used purposefully for the glory of God. A lot of times it just takes us thinking about it more critically. So jumping in right in here into creation. Honestly, this is one of the most convicting points for me Laura, of realizing God is a great creator of amazingly beautiful things. He’s the most awesome designer ever.

Laura: Oh my word. If you just ever take a second to look at the Rocky Mountains, or to look at a flower petal or any of those things, and you just realize no-one could have ever done this or thought of this on their own. He loves beauty. Even outside of what we read in the Bible, all of nature proclaims his glory, and people have an awareness of God, of a higher creator, just by looking around at the beauty. I mean look at a rainbow. How beautiful!

Emily: I don’t know much about math, but I know that there are supposedly like patterns in everything. It’s not chaotic. It was well designed, it is so intricate, it’s so thought out. Even if you look at the Old Testament—I remember a few years ago when we were studying through the design of the tabernacle or the priestly garments, and you’re going like, “Wow.” Every single part of that had beauty and symbolism and it was luxurious. It was the nicest materials they could possibly get their hands on. It’s really interesting to even think that God obviously values beautiful, well-designed, well-thought out, organized things. He’s a great artist.

Laura: That’s the point that we want to drive home is that our God is a creative God. He loves great design. He’s also a God of order and of function. Good design really takes good function into account.  We see it in the scriptures; I am just thinking about 1st Corinthians 14, “For God is not a God of disorder, but of peace.” Right there it’s just laid out that he is not a God of chaos and craziness. As we’re starting to hit on, if you even just take a second to look at science, and see how orderly God is with the way our bodies are made up, the seasons, the earth’s rotation, or like all the planets don’t run into each other—all of those things. Or how numbers are used in the church, or used in the Bible, and patterns, the Levitical law, and the order that goes with that. It’s pretty cool when you start trying to find it in the Bible.

Emily: I love thinking about the order that he’s intentionally given to us within our churches and within our families. There is again, design in a way that things are supposed to work together. They aren’t just thrown out there; God has a specific plan for the way that they work best.

Laura:  And we just want to make an important note here too that to know that while God loves order and function, he’s not always predictable. We want to make that clear here. He doesn’t fit into a perfect mold; he’s still a wild God, and we can just see that in the life of Jesus, and how he was consistently doing the exact opposite of what cultural logic would have rendered itself to. We can see it in the life of a lot of the people in the Bible. Take Job for example. We don’t really know the why. Just remembering that just because God is the God of order, doesn’t mean that...

Emily: He’ll fit our order.

Laura: Yes. He will do as he wills. He’s not always predictable, but he is always good. Then we have the fall, right? We have the fall deal.

Emily: Yes. The fall specifically, again, thinking in terms of decorating, bringing it home here. We as humans now with sin always use every possible opportunity to have things point to us.

Laura: We are so good at that. [laughter]

Emily: So especially in this area, decorating can be this additional way we’re like, “Oh, look at me. Look how many financial resources we have,” or “Look how beautifully I can pick things out.” It just becomes another way to compare and another way to display our own selfishness and it can get really gross. We can really distort it.

Laura:  We can definitely fall into either a lot of pride or discontentment or despair in our decorating. As Emily was talking about, you can have pride in some of your talents and start to worship all of those created things, even yourself, over the Creator and the original designer. That’s something that we have to remember that we are never worth being prideful in ourselves, because God’s holiness is our standard and we’ll never measure up to that. We have a whole show, episode 18, just about comparison. If you’re wanting to dive into that or feel convicted on that within design, that’s a good show to listen to.

On the other hand, I can’t tell you how many moms I’ve talked to that fall into despair or discontentment with decorating life. Em, don’t you feel like that’s more common maybe?

Emily: I go there a lot. And we’ll probably get more into this—there’s Christian freedom in this. This is, again, another way that we’re living out the great commission, but we can feel like, “Because I don’t look like something I saw on Instagram,” or “Because my friend’s home is really well decorated, I don’t feel like mine looks as good.” We can start to get self-focused and focused on the wrong things—stuff instead of people. We have more episodes on that as well.

Laura:  We’ll link it in the show notes. You just have to be careful to not let it hinder your life if you’re discontent with what’s going in. That’s a common thing is that we become introverted and weird about what our homes look like. I do that, I am like, “I don’t want anybody over because this doesn’t look perfect.” We need to remember that our homes are designed to serve us in helping us to serve God’s purposes and to fulfill the Great Commission. We’re not meant to serve our homes. So if you’re feeling like you’re in enslavement to what your home looks like and lusting after these different images that you see online or at your friend’s home or a specific lamp that you really need to have, you need to remember to check your heart in those things. To make sure that really your home is in its proper place and what it looks like is in its proper place—where it’s just serving you in being able to participate in the great commission and to raise our children to know and love Jesus. It is literally a vehicle. It is not the end all, be all. So it’s really important that we’re finding out our true source of life in Christ and not in the new concrete counters that we really, really want.

Emily: That goes back to the heart of what we try to talk about on every show which is just that our identity is found in Christ. That’s what the gospel buys us and that’s where we are now defining ourselves. When we know that we have all of our needs met, and this is just a short time where we have a specific purpose and mission to accomplish. Then these other things are, like Laura said, they’re good and they can be useful, but they’re not the ultimate thing.  We can have seasons maybe where our home isn’t decorated the way we want or we can have seasons where it looks beautiful and we don’t have to take pride in it. But all of that, too, comes from an ongoing relationship with God and studying scripture and being reminded of that over and over and over again. We’re so forgetful, and I’ll literally get up from my Bible study and walk around the house, and be like, “Oh, I don’t have a rug for that spot yet, and I don’t want to have people over because we have this blank living room.” We’re just so forgetful. We have to keep going back to the truth over and over and over again.

Laura: To leave you with a little bit of practical here, as we work through making sure our heart motivations are pure, there are still some good guiding principles or questions to ask when you’re thinking about the design and decor of your home to help it function well for your family. At a high level, our first question is asking yourself, “What materials, fabrics, shapes, styles are best for the makeup of my family?” [laughter]

Emily: If you have little kids, it probably won’t include a lot of white on furniture, unless you really love Scotchguard, which Laura told me about.

Laura: I do love me some Scotchguard. I also love the washing machine and stain remover and of all those things. [laughter] This will change as your household changes. So with littles, it is making sure you have a lot of soft surfaces; maybe you have indoor, outdoor fabrics or rugs or you’re keeping your breakables on the side, like Brad and Emily’s house. You guys, it’s so funny. If you walk into her house, everything is adult shoulder-height up.

Emily: It actually might be like 6ft and up [laughter] because my kids can climb.

Laura: They have removed anything that’s lower than 6ft in their home. It just takes away some issues. Sometimes that’s the wise thing to do. One thing that my parents always pounded home into me that is always a good thing to remember is if you are devastated when it breaks, you shouldn’t have it. There are family heirlooms or really special things that are different, so protect those. But if you’ve got a vase out and it’s within touching distance of your children and it breaks, you know, my mom would just be like, “Whatever.” I used to have an open hand with it, and if you’re caught up in feeling anger and frustration and you’re just devastated, it might be not the right time in your life to have that. It’s just a quick note.

Emily: That relates to our next question we wanted to bring up, which is how does our home, in the decorating, reflect our interests and the things that we value as a family? This could be everything from mom and dad’s personal style and personal design choices and preferences down to thinking through the practical, missional aspects. Like people who always have a spare bedroom because they like to have people over to stay the night. Or people who have a larger-than-average kitchen table because they know that they have people over for dinner a lot, and they like for everybody to be able to sit in the same place. It is both the beauty aspect of, "How does this reflect our family?" but also the,  "How does it reflect our family’s priorities and the way that we want to serve the kingdom of God? Have we strategically used our home in a way that promotes that?"

Laura:  Then drilling that down even further, thinking about, in what ways can I create special places for my family members and their unique talents and gifting? It’s a little more specific than what Emily was mentioning, which is still a great question. But saying like, “I’ve got a son who’s obsessed with Legos, let’s figure out a way to organize those beastly things." I am just starting little Lego world and it is killing me. I don’t know how you feel about it.

Emily: I hide the Legos right now, but I know they’re good; they’re going to start coming out more.

Laura: You’ve got a ton of them, I am sure.

Emily: When you step on a Lego, it’s about the worst feeling ever.

Laura:  Yes, I want to die. [laughter] So things like reading nooks, or maybe dad needs an office. Maybe it’s a play room for your kids, or if you have older kids it’s having the TV room with a fridge so you’re like the cool people. [laughter] Basically, this means intentionally thinking through and placing a high value on the things that will serve your family well.

Emily: Speaking of family, our husbands are a huge part of that. This is a question we sometimes don’t ask right away. [laughs]

Laura: Maybe we don’t want to know the answer. [laughter]

Emily: What does my husband want? What is it to him? And just to give a really practical example, my husband, Laura’s brother, is an engineer by training. He is a very efficient, excellent, driven man, but he loves no clutter, minimalism, and keeping things as simple as possible. When we designed our house to build it, he thought through every door swing, every detail of the whole house. That was a little bit hard for me because I am a little bit more knick-knacky and eclectic and I want these cool, fun pillows.

Laura: She’s got the Bohemian style you guys.

Emily: Things like, “Why are you putting little figurines on the shelves honey? I don’t like that.” [laughter]. But over time I’ve come to really appreciate that’s my husband’s preferences and his style, and actually it really helps our family function well. It’s a hard question to ask, but a really good one. It’s fun when your husband comes home and he just loves the place that he lives in.

Laura:  Some guys have more opinions than others. My husband has no opinions so if he says like, “That’s a weird looking pillow”, I am like, “Oh, get rid of it!” because he has so few opinions. I really do want to take into account the few things that he has. The next one is, "How do you create spaces for people to connect and develop relationships?" This can also go with family values, but no matter what, all of us as believers are called to, again, spread the gospel and to use our homes as vehicles to help disciple others. This includes both your nuclear family and maybe a hospitality arm. Are there ways to arrange your furniture that will foster conversation better, even if it’s an intimate small one? Maybe re-thinking the layout of your room. Emily has a really cool coffee bar, speaking of her new house, for hospitality and I am super jealous of it. No I am not jealous, I am happy for her. [laughter] Then maybe creating a big space for kids to play, so you can have people over for play dates. Thinking through those spaces, how can they function best for the spread of the gospel?

Emily: Something to keep in mind, and again, this is super practical, is bringing in other friends who may be do things well. I have a friend of mine who’s super good at organizing, and many times, I have had her come over for a play date. She’ll see stuff around our house and be able to strategize in a creative way how I could use this space that I do have differently. So even if you feel like, “Oh, I don’t have all the pieces, or all the rooms that I want,” sometimes it just takes a strategic eye to help figure that out.

Laura: Our last question is, "How can I bring the beauty and creativity into our home?" Those first five questions are sort of order and function and priorities. Then this is where it gets really fun; I like to call this the second layer of decorating because it’s all decorating, even though this feels a little bit more like what traditional decorating is. This is where we can bring in the plants and maybe get flowers from the backyard or hanging up your kids’ artwork, adding throw pillows and blankets. Thinking through those things practically, like, “What would serve my family well to make this a space that we feel like we belong in, and that we enjoy spending time in? What would foster conversations and real heart connections?”

Emily: Just before we close out here, to bring it in, I am going to call it western-Christian-subculture, feeling that your home has to be decorated from the latest Target stuff or it has to have that certain standard. It can feel like, “Was that really attainable for all women in all households for all of time?” It’s like, “No, not really.” Just want to differentiate here real quickly, what Laura’s talking about, like bringing in some fresh, cut flowers, finding some plants, using your kids’ artwork. These aren’t things that cost a lot of money. These aren’t things that require some special design skills. It’s just valuing the beautiful things that God has created, seeing the beauty that’s in front of us and trying to show that, and point our family to this lovely loveliness in the lovely world that God has given us. That’s just something to keep in mind, that this isn’t about meeting a cultural expectation or even like a Christian sub-cultural expectation. This is just about wanting to reflect the gospel in everything we do, including the way that we create our home environment to bless our family and others. We will have a lot of resources in the show notes. There are some good books that have been written on this that Laura and I have read and some good articles. You can head there, risenmotherhood.com and definitely check us out on social media @risenmotherhood.


Laura: Yes, and thanks for joining us guys!


Ep. 61 || Prayer and Motherhood: An Interview with Valerie Woerner

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Laura Wifler, and today I am excited for all of you to hear an interview with Valerie Woerner. Val is a wife, a mama to two little girls, and a business owner and a blogger. She runs a company called Val Marie Paper, and she creates some of the best prayer journals that Emily and I have ever seen on the market. As you can imagine, Val writes and talks about prayer a lot. So we want to have her on the show today to talk about prayer and motherhood. She’ll talk about what prayer actually is, what hindrances we face, especially in motherhood, and share some practical tips to help and prop up your prayer life. In addition, I wanted to take a moment to share with you all about a special new project that Emily and I have been working on behind the scenes. Today, we’re launching another arm of Risen Motherhood called RM|EQUIPPING. One thing Emily and I have noticed is that there are not a lot of free resources for truly equipping moms to grow in intentional motherhood, which as you know if you have been a listener of the show for much time at all, we believe is through having a purposeful and intentional relationship with God by reading his word and, fitting for today’s show, through prayer. Emily and I have developed a few resources for you to download and use to share with your friends. We have a couple different worksheets to help you study the Bible inductively, as well as a Companion Card, which you can consider like a little cheat sheet for using the Inductive Bible Study method. If you’re not sure what the Inductive Bible Study method is, definitely check out Jen Wilkin’s book, Women of the Word, which we have listed on our resources page. Or you can Google it. In addition, we’ve also created a couple of handy little prayer cards; one is a weekly prayer card that’s divided up by the days of the week along the top, and then has categorical props along the sides. So each day you’ll pray for a specific request and each topic area that you fill in ahead of time. It sounds complicated but it’s not. Just take a look at it online and you’ll get it. The other card is actually a blank card. It has the producer’s lines around it, of course, but you can use it to write down specific prayer request, a memory verse, or just use it for your grocery list. We hope that these resources are helpful and profitable for you to grow in motherhood. Print out as many as you like and share them with anyone you’d like. You’ll also find a new post today on the blog that will walk you through how to use all these resources. So if these concepts are new to you, never fear, we’ve got you covered. Head to the blog and you can learn more about the Inductive Bible Study method as well as how to use the prayer cards. Of course even with all these free prayer resources, we totally still recommend investing in one of Val’s Prayer Journals. She had them for everything—pregnancy, a men’s journal, gratitude, and even a kid’s version. Definitely check those out at valmariepaper.com. Of course as always, we’ll have lots more resources listed on today’s Show Notes which you can find at risenmotherhood.com. We will link to Val’s journals, we will link to the RM|EQUIPPING page, which I’ll be talking about a little bit here today. And we’ll have other posts that Val has written as well as other things that Emily and I have enjoyed that have really helped encourage us in our prayer life. Definitely not a week to skip reading the show notes. And finally, you can find us of course, on social media; we’ll be on Instagram and Facebook, as well asTwitter. So we hope you’ll join us on these platforms as we talk more this week about motherhood and prayer. Let’s get to the interview with Val, myself, and Emily.

Laura: Hey Val, thank you so much for being on Risen Motherhood today.

Val: I am so glad to be here you all. I listen to your podcast and, in fact I binge on it, so I’m really honored to be here.

Laura: Thank you. We’re thrilled to have you. Emily and I were chatting—we’ve been using your products for at least quite a few years and knew about your prayer journal long before we knew about your blog. Now it’s good that we get to meet face to face. Well, we’re chatting over Skype here today, so it’s sort of face to face, I guess.

Val: Yes, I love hearing that whenever I get to talk to people who’ve used it for just a couple of years to know it’s something they’re sticking with, and that it’s making a difference in their prayer life. So it’s always good to hear.

Laura: Which is why we wanted to have you on the show today to talk about prayer. But first, maybe tell us a little bit about yourself, your family make up, what your typical day looks like; sort of that introductory fun stuff.

Val: Yes. I live in South Louisiana; I live with my husband Tyler and my two little girls. I have a three-and-a-half-year-old named Vivi, and Vana is about to be one. We’re working on her birthday invitations right now, so I just can’t believe that she’s about to be one.

Laura: That is crazy.

Val: My typical day though; I have more of a typical week than anything else. Vivi goes to school for a few days, so those days kind of look the same. I’ll get a little bit more quality time with Vana, when she’s at school, and then when Vana takes a nap, I get about two hours of work done. So that’s the bulk of my work time during the week. I have about consistently six to eight hours a week to work. The other two days; one day, we do shipping for the journals and then the other day is like our Friday, where we just do whatever we want. So every week is the same, but not everyday is the same. But we like it like that.

Emily:  It’s fun to get an inside look at your business, and as Laura mentioned, we’ve both personally benefited from your writing and your resources, so we’re excited to talk about prayer and motherhood.

Laura: Speaking of Val Marie Paper, tell us a little bit more about your business. We love the heartbeat behind it, but can you explain what that is, and sort of where business is at today?

Val: Yes. I definitely feel like I fell into this several years ago, and I felt that this was just another way of saying that God did this, I didn’t do this myself. But I was pregnant with Vivi, and I am a hypochondriac and was just very sensitive to everything that I feel in my body. So pregnancy was not something that I was looking forward to at all. Actually I was looking for a prayer journal and couldn’t find what I had envisioned in my head. But it actually took me several months to design it because I was thinking, “Surely, somebody’s made this before.” I eventually made it and then the response was huge, and I’ve been able to do that now. Since that time, I guess just interacting with so many women about this topic of prayer and everything that that revolves around our prayer; we pray about everything. It’s really given me the heart to be inspired during the day. A big part of that was about motherhood and where they go for a source of energy. Basically, the Source for everything is God. I feel like my mission now is just to keep women inspired to find joy and peace with practical tools. I love worksheets. I love anything that will be a practical way to apply truth to them. I love what I do. I am lucky to do this right now.

Emily:  I am so grateful for people like you who make these practical tools because for me, one of the hardest things about praying in the midst of the busyness of motherhood and the urgencies is honestly organizing my prayers and keeping track of that thing that person told me at church or little things that I want to be praying for my family. It seems like it’s already hard to sit and find that quiet moment that we need sometimes, and then in addition, trying to remember all the things that you want to pray for is hard.  I just really appreciate the way that you thought to organize that. So at least when you do sit down, you feel like you can get somewhere and really make headway on the things that you want to talk to the Lord about.

Val:  And it feels like we don’t want to make it legalistic or organize it too much because it feels like it takes away from it. But our thoughts go everywhere, so to be able to organize your prayer life sounds silly and too organized. To be able to do that has really helped me. That’s what I hear from women too, that they need help organizing their thoughts.

Laura: Yes, baby brains. Emily and I have both heard about it. That is a real thing but it lasts. Doesn’t it last all through motherhood? The baby brain never actually goes away, so it’s very helpful to have a place to organize thoughts. Can you frame up for us, a little bit, the purpose of prayer and how we see it played out in the gospel, since this is Risen Motherhood, we just have to go there.

Val:  I feel like prayer is so huge. But on the simplest level, you can just say the purpose of prayer is just getting to communicate with God. He's the one who made us, so being able to talk to him and have access to what he wants for our life and everything like that is possible for you to do that. I would say on the simplest level it’s just being able to talk to our Creator, hear his thoughts for our life, and being able to make a request of him too.

Emily:  Sometimes these simple definitions are the best. I always think about how I can say something, and the easiest way possible to explain it to my kids and that’s all I say is, “Prayer is talking to God, and we hear from God when we read his word”.

Val: Vivi asked me the other day, she was like, “Can he hear us?” [laughs] I was like, “Yes, he can,” and that’s just such a strange concept, but yes, he can hear us.

Laura:  I love what you guys are saying here, let’s just not overcomplicate it. Keep prayer simple; that it is truly just talking to our Father. I’ve heard it compared to sometimes “just like breathing.” It should be very, very natural; it’s not about rules and style and getting it right and correct. But it’s really about having that relationship with our Heavenly Father and being able to talk to him and access him, any time of the day. I do think one great prayer, just to look at the Bible, is when Jesus teaches his disciples to pray the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew. That’s a great example of different pieces of prayer that, if you have time, that would be an awesome spot to study—what prayer looks like, what components can make up prayer. But generally, yes, it’s just speaking to him authentically, and  in a real way—whether that’s quick, short prayers, or it’s also really sitting down and having an intimate longer conversation with our Father. Both are necessary, and they're both exemplified in the Bible.

Emily: As we think about the gospel, I know the first thing that comes to my mind is, again, all the hindrances to prayer that we’ve been talking about. It’s difficult to talk to our Creator, not only because our relationship was severed, but also even after we’ve trusted in Christ, we do have that bold access to God and the confidence that we can go before his throne because we’re fully justified, we still struggle with things like guilt and shame and distraction and choosing good things instead of the best thing. So it is just a struggle and especially in this season of motherhood, when you have little ones at home, and you just have a lot vying for your attention. I feel like we need the Holy Spirit, and we need God’s word to be alive and transforming us, so that we can talk with God and have that conversation and truly live our lives in worship of him.

Laura:  And that plays into our second question that we wanted to ask, which is, all of us moms and women, probably all people, really wish that they had a better prayer life. This seems to be one of the most difficult areas for us to keep healthy in the Christian walk. So is there anything else that you think, where the fall plays into this, or what are some of those really common hindrances to prayer, especially, or more specifically, to mothers?

Val:  I was telling my husband this just the other day. It’s like the fall and Jesus dying on the cross. Basically, when we think about Adam and Eve and how they were able to communion with God, and how natural that was, I don’t want to say effortlessly, but that’s what it seemed like. Whenever  that sin came in, it definitely separated us, and even the parts like you said, like the fact that we’re going to toil and strive for food and to make a living and everything like that. But there are a lot of things in our world that are distractions for us. You mentioned it that when the veil was torn, or it’s just the fact that we have complete access to him now is awesome, but we don’t take advantage of that because there's still sin and we have to choose that every day. So for moms, some of the biggest distractions is having so many other priorities in their life that come in, like the phrase “We’re putting out fires a lot of the times,” and there are other things that feel more urgent. Prayer doesn’t feel like something that is going to be a make or break in our day, so it’s easy to put it on the back-burner. We know we have to get our kids dressed for school and out the door, but we can feel like we can survive without prayer for a little while.

Whenever I go a few days without praying, I start praying and it is like, “Man, why haven’t I being doing this?” It is life-changing and it sets my heart on a different level; a different view of the world. I am not answering the question but [laughs] the distractions are pretty much the reason why we don’t pray; just feeling like there are other things that need our attention. We’re so guilty of putting everybody's needs before ours, forgetting that we have to take care of our own heart, and we know that prayer is one of the biggest ways to do that. It is important to remember this. If we just remember, from our prayer life and our thoughts, everything flows from everything else—how we respond to our kids, how we respond to our husband, and how our attitude goes for the day. Remembering that would help us choose that. Prayer is so nebulous and that’s why it’s one the things that is constantly on our goal list every year—to pray more or to get better at that. It’s just hard to measure it.

Emily: Another hindrance, and I don’t know if anybody else other than me struggles with this, is that I can go several days without praying. I am not in that habit of really sitting down and talking to the Lord throughout the day. But I can also feel guilty, like, “Okay God, can I just jump back in the relationship with you now?” It feels almost awkward and uncomfortable for me, it’s just preaching the gospel to myself and remembering that, as you mentioned Val like, when the veil was torn, I now have access to the Lord through Christ. He’s my Father and I have a father-daughter relationship with him. So he’s not annoyed when I come to him and neither is he burdened. He's not like, “You need to pay for what you did [laughs] for the time we spent apart.” All of the wrath that he had for my sin was laid upon Jesus, and so now I can come to him and know that there is no more wrath for me. I don't have to feel guilty or ashamed. I'll just have to stop and remember that, that there may need to be a little bit of confession and repentance there, because I had my priorities wrong, but that doesn't mean that I need to sulk and spend three more days feeling bad. It's just, run back to the Father.

Val:  It makes me think of the phrase “We could take ten steps away from him and it only takes one step to go back to him,” so I think you're right.

Emily: That's a good one.

Val:  I think that probably is something. I have heard that what you do, when you don't want to go to him because you feel guilty that you haven't gone to him when things are easy, but now you need him because things are hard. And I think that it's good for us to realize that we are doing that, but it's not a reason not to go to him because, as you said, it's a parent-child relationship and he loves us and he wants us to come to him with anything.

Laura:  Exactly! And also, though you didn’t say this exactly but basically, prayer can feel a little bit intangible, especially for moms. I think that you were talking about kind of putting out fires and meeting those immediate needs, and it can feel really more productive or it can feel more purposeful when we are sort of checking things off the list or taking care of those things, and prayer sometimes doesn't feel as productive. For someone like me who is very task-oriented, I can look around the house and just see everything, and it can be so hard to just say, “I am going to close my eyes to those things and focus and slow down,” but I think that's what Satan wants to do with us—to distract us. Anything that he can use, whether it's the dishes in the sink, or it's the kids' bad behavior. It's all the things that we fear. If you're a work from home mom, or you work, those distractions are out there. Just remembering that there is great productivity in prayer and I think that that is in resetting our hearts and minds on the gospel, it's staying focused on what is most important. I think Emily and I talk a lot sometimes about doing not just the better thing, but doing the best thing and really learning to discern what those things are, and I think that happens through prayer. One other thing I always like, that I think Emily you've said this before in an Instagram post but it was about, when you don’t know what to do in a discipline situation, or with your kids as a mom: Have you tried praying? Have you just slowed down and tried praying? Instead, we bring in all these solutions, we get parenting hand books and poll our mom friends, and really I think there is so much value in bringing it to the Lord and allowing him to bring thoughts to mind, to allow the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts. I think we just underestimate the power of prayer.

Val: I have been talking about prayer for years and in this past year I’ve been studying more about it, because I feel I have exhausted everything I knew about prayer. So, I have been learning more and E. M. Bounds has an amazing book called The Purpose in Prayer that I read. The way he talks about people praying, they're so passionate about it. He talks about people staying up all night, praying for different things and I know it's a different time and so it can feel it was easier back then. But it really puts a fire in me to feel that dependence on prayer the way they did and not feel like I'm dependent on friends' advice, books and stuff like that. I want to feel that dependence on God, the way they felt that. I want to read his books, just a couple of pages every week, because I feel like it puts me in a different mindset about prayer. I think here in America, we do not depend on God as much, because we can get our own food, we can do everything, and we see other people in other countries have more of a dependence on him. I think the same can be said in this day and age about prayer too. Does that make sense?

Emily: Completely. We were just talking about this in my Bible study last night. Talking about how you're renewed in the spirit of your mind and of course, I think the first thing that is easiest for me to run to, is to sit down and open my Bible study and say, “Okay, I'm going to get all this right doctrine and I'm going to get all this right thinking from scripture and it's very tangible and it's something I can see myself making progress on. It's something I'm growing in knowledge of and it's so good.” We absolutely have to have sound thinking and right theology. But I think in our culture, as we were talking about in my Bible study last night, in America, we love this logical, task-oriented stuff. Somehow I find myself almost neglecting prayer for my Bible study because that is something that I can feel and walk in and grow in. And like you said, prayer can feel more nebulous and harder to grasp how it's actually transforming me. However, there's that element of we can trust that it is transforming us because the Holy Spirit lives in us and God's word is living and active, and as we have that back and forth conversation with God, we can be confident that we are being changed, even if sometimes that feels kind of nebulous to us.

Val: That's a really good point to think about how we can be distracted from this personal relationship with him. I think part of that personal relationship comes from the Bible but we can't just get laser focus from this reading and not listening to what God might be saying to us, through it.

Emily:  There's this Martin Luther quote, and I’ll paraphrase it but it’s something like, “I have so much to do, I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” And I love that because I'm always like, “I don't have time for three hours! I don't have time.”

Val: Just reading about these old guys, they really believed that, and they did it and it just seems crazy. But it's cool to remember that one quote because just hearing that again can totally shift so many thoughts you have.  It’s a short quote but it just reminds you of so much.

Laura: Perspective! So speaking of all of the hindrances to prayer, what are some of your best tips Val? I know you're talking about all this, your whole business is really about practical tools. So what are some of your tips for creating a life and a habit of prayer especially in the season of little kids?

Val: I'll try to walk through a couple of them but first, I want to give one tip to people who maybe aren't moms yet. They are probably just listening to this so they should be prepared and get some knowledge. I would really cultivate a habit of quiet time in the morning and get really steady with it now, because I think whenever we go through those seasons of a newborn, you know different things like that, we may not be able to do that. However, I think quiet time isn't necessarily about the only thing that gets us  in prayer, but it is creating a foundational relationship with the Lord, so that we can talk with him throughout the day, and that it's not weird to talk to him in small conversations. I guess just to put an example to that, it's hard to start a friendship long distance if you don’t have a good foundation. You can do it but it takes a lot more work and it's a lot harder to call somebody or text them every week, but if you have years and years of a firm foundation, or lots of time put in, you can kind of pick up where you left off. I think cultivating a habit before you have those seasons that are hard to have a quiet time, you will be able to have more of a conversation with God throughout the day. You will have that foundation to where those things are a little bit more natural. So, that's what I was saying to people who are not moms yet. But I would say, the tough love answer first, track your time. See if you really don't have time to spend with the Lord in a solid chunk, because I know our default is to say that we don’t have time because we're busy. We say we have a lot going on. But I know for me, if my phone is in my room, I'll pick it up and spend 20 minutes on Instagram and be like, “How did I do that?” David will come in early and my time is over. So, track your time just to make sure that it's not there and that you're missing it for something like that. And just be really honest with that answer and see what you can do with that time. If you're in a really busy season, I know this happens. But what I did, whenever there was a newborn, was I had a couple different devotionals around the house, and one would be in her room. She had a Rock N Play and I would just have to rock her to sleep or literally just have to bounce her Rock n Play up and down, but she couldn't see me or she wouldn't notice it.

Laura: Oh yeah! We've all been there.

Val: You all have the visual. I would literally just lay a devotional and open it up and be just lying on the floor rocking it. Did you do that too?

Laura: I wasn't as wise as you with using my time that way, but I definitely have laid on the ground and rocked a Rock n Play, that's for sure.

Val: I was able to redeem a lot of time like that. One of my favorite devotionals for a quick read is New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp. It's crazy how deep he can take you in one page. So I love that one. I also just posted this on the blog but something called “House Prayers” where when Bear was young, I would just bounce her around the house praying. What I made was basically a PDF of different creative things to pray in each room of your house.  She's older now, so I haven't been doing that but I have started to do that as I clean the house. I've shared this on the blog. I'm not somebody who's just going to let my house to be messy. I know a lot of blogs tell you not to worry about it and just be okay with the mess. But the mess in my home feels like it clouds our minds. So I want to redeem the time that I was spending tidying. It’s been really cool to pray over our home and get creative with what we pray over in our house. I think that just goes back to creating a firm foundation of those quiet times and having the conversation, the accurate lesson to start praying throughout your day. You can jump into it quickly and it doesn't have to feel, “I've got to have quiet. I've got to have everything perfect to jump into it.” I think that helps.

Emily:  What you're describing is really not saying, “Oh, I have to find this totally separate time in my day that may or may not exist, where everything, like you said, has to be perfect.” I am going to attach a habit to something I am already doing and that is how I am going to add something to my life that I really really want to do more intentionally. I now that is something Laura and I have talked about before. And when I used to work before I had kids, I'd have a Bible verse in my car that I could pray on the way to work, and it wasn’t like, “I'm going to have a separate prayer time before I leave.” It was, "No, I'm going to utilize this time and do double duty. Or I used to pray in the car on the way to Bible study, and my son knew that we were going to do that every weekend, so he would totally remind me about it if I forgot. And we would pray before meals—whatever those rhythms look like. I just love that you are giving these practical ideas. Tape a Bible verse to your broom stick if you need to so that every time you sweep, you are coming back to that truth and you're remembering it that this is a conversation with God, that you want to keep having throughout your day.

Val: It's true and I have just noticed how every time that I make my bed now, I pray for me and my husband to have good communication, for us to have rest, you know,  different things that. I's cool just to feel we redeem those things that we can kind of feel take up our day but are not important. It can just feel nice to redeem those things and make them purposeful. I actually have something that I am working on. You guys will the first to hear about it. It's a new product and I've been doing this this month. One of my big goals this year was to live in the presence of the Lord and kind of take that idea of not just doing quiet time in the morning but walking with him throughout the day. So I'll find a verse that I really want to look at and break it down and I will kind of break it down in the morning. I will take 10 or 15 minutes just to look at different translations, and I'll write the verse on one side of the card, and then on the back I'll put little phrases from different translations that kind of help me get a bigger picture of it. Then I'll write out a few questions that kind of come to mind, or things that I don't know what this is saying. Or things that I'm just like, this is a really cool phrase and I want to unpack this more. I'll carry that with me and I'll ask those questions in prayer, throughout my day. It's been a really cool way to walk with God throughout the day, in a bigger sense. I know for a while I really thought, “I pray in the mornings and I lay down and I feel like, "Where was God?” He was not a part of my day at all. It makes such a difference and being a mom, I feel like I can't do that anymore. I can't get through my day without him and when I try, I am angry and mean and you guys probably wouldn't recognize me. I think just not relying on just that time alone has been transforming me as a mom and my prayer life as well.

Laura: I like what you're saying about finding those pockets that already exist, and meditating on even one passage of scripture, or just making sure that your first response is going to the Lord. Lately, I've been trying anytime I have gotten the urge to pick up my phone for social media or just a non-urgent item, I've been saying, “I'm going to read a book. I'm going to read a hard copied book or the Bible.” I mean any of those are included in that, but one thing, I was just thinking here, "Why don't I spend that time on prayer?" You were talking about spending 20 minutes on Instagram or whatever, and I totally have those pockets, and I am amazed at how much reading I have gotten done when I say, “I'm not going to pick up my phone. The first thing I'm going to do is to read, even if it is three pages.” But I feel like that could even be a) more accessible to pray and b) just incredibly productive to be able to spend that time in the word, and find those pockets.

Val: I love that you do that, that's awesome. Just like people always ask me, how do you read so much and how can I read more? And that's a perfect way. I have to suggest that.

Emily: And another great thing about a return on our investment is the fact that it is a training tool. I also have to remind myself of this because sometimes, I want to sneak off and have these quiet prayer times or always write my prayers. And I'm like, “No, I should really be saying these things out loud,” so that my kids can see, throughout the day, that I'm having these conversation with God. Because if we are not saying those things out loud, they have no idea and they're watching us and that is a means by which we are discipling them and showing them what it looks like to walk with God.

Laura: And your kids do not know that it is weird if you start them young enough.

Val: That's true.

Laura: My kids will believe anything.  I would just say, “Go for it moms. Have no shame.” I am always testing out my theories in front of my kids because I’m just, “Well, you're not going to judge me. You think I am sort of normal still.” So I'm going to play on that as long as I can. We were going to get into a lot more things about different ways to pray, but thankfully Val has a lot of that information on her blog which we will to link to in the show notes. I know we could just talk about prayer and God and all this wonderful stuff forever with you Val.  We appreciate you so much for being on the show and sharing your wisdom. And as I said guys, you'll find links to Val's blog in the show notes, as well as these materials that she was talking about. You'll definitely want to check out her prayer channel to do some of those organized thoughts and leave on your counter to pray throughout the day. Thanks Val so much for joining us.

Val: Thank you all for having me.







This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Laura Wifler, with my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen. Today we’re talking about a very commonly asked question, especially from the Ask Us Anything Show earlier this Spring. The question is, "How do you transition from one to two, or beyond? And, do you have any tips or suggestions to navigate this new season?" The principles we’re going to share for today apply to whether you’re bringing a child into the family through foster care, adoption, or childbirth. Obviously, we’re not getting into some of the nuances that bringing an older child in does bring into a family or a child with special needs, but we’re doing it on a general level here today.

Emily: We’ve both been through transitions.

Laura: We’re both pregnant now.

Emily: So we have transitions [laughter] on the horizon because, yes, within a few months, Laura’s going to be going from two to three, and I am going to be going from four to five [laughs].

Laura: That is a big number, Em. Yes, we’re five weeks apart. I’ve only done it once, but going from one to two was pretty tough for me, I’ll be honest. How was your transitions, Em? You’ve been through a lot more than me [laughter].

Emily: It’s funny because as I was thinking about this, actually my transition from one to three was the easiest one I did, and that was when I had twins. I think it’s because everybody expected me to have a really hard time, and I expected me to have a really hard time. Basically people gave me a ton of space to transition and people were super helpful. I had help forever. People were so kind and understanding when I backed out of commitments. They were just great. It was so healthy for me, even though it was really hard. Then when I transitioned from three to four, I felt like people were like, “No, she’s good, she’s been through twins, she’s an expert now.” [laughter] Not to say like family; people were so helpful. But I feel it was more expected that I was going to pull myself together and do it well. I was much, much harder on myself. I had a tremendous amount of anxiety and stress in my most recent transition. I am just a little bit apprehensive and trying to figure out how to adjust my expectations this next time.

Laura:  It’s funny because when you’re a first-time mom, there’s a ton of help usually. You’re having all the baby showers, all the excitement. Then you transition with all the meals and everyone’s wondering how you’re doing. Then you have two, maybe it’s three or four, and it’s like, “You’re a veteran now.” [laughter]

Emily: I know. People are like, “You’re pregnant? Who cares?” [laughter]

Laura: You know like, “Let’s move on with life.” It’s just funny how that changes, and our expectations set us up to rise or fall to the occasion.

Emily: That was one of the main things we wanted to touch on in this show—expectations—and also why is this a question that we stress out about so much?

Laura: We have gotten this question a lot. A lot of moms seem to have a ton of anxiety around the topic or worry about, “Oh, what’s it going to be like?” So really the question we asked ourselves, Emily and I is, “Hey, why are we getting asked this question so often?” There’s tons of articles online of course—Google has it as an autofill, it has a million hits on Pinterest. Why is this so popular as a source of angst for moms? The short answer, for when people are like, “What do I do?” I am like, “Survive. You just survive!”  You just do it moment by moment. Seriously. But at the same time...

Emily: It’s the unknown.

Laura: It is.

Emily: It’s something that feels like it’s going to be out of my control.

Laura: It is out of your control [laughter].

Emily: We’re not very encouraging, yet [laughter]. Sorry. But actually what it comes down to is realizing we’re limited, and things are not in our control. And that is scary.

Laura: Yes. But we have gospel-hope for you all.

Emily: Yes, we have a great answer. So we’re just going to be Risen Motherhood, we’re going to talk through how the gospel applies here. But first of all, we wanted to just touch on creation, and just reminding all of us that adding life to your family is a great thing. This is part of God’s good plan; He loves children. They are a blessing, not a burden. So don’t view a family transition as this really bad thing that God is forcing you to go through. It may be hard, and we’re going to talk more about that, but, ultimately, this is a great thing, and God loves life.

Laura: But if we look at the fall, of course it brings in all of our human weakness. It reveals that weakness, and pregnancy is one of those things, too, that really reveals a lot of physical weakness that can mimic our spiritual and emotional weakness, in a sense. Family transitions like adding more kids to the family really brings a lot of those things to the surface. So we’re fighting that battle with impatience and irritability and anger—we’re limited. We’re just realizing how we can’t do it all, and it’s stuck in our face when we transition.

Emily: That is so counter-cultural, because the mom-culture that we live in right now says, “Look, if you just get really organized and you just exercise right and eat right and nap when the baby naps and you do all these things, you’re going to be able to overcome anything”. But we know deep down the reality is we are limited, and that is the fall, but also God’s grace that he shows that to us.

Laura: Redemption! So that is our limitation, as Emily is talking about, and our weakness; those are not the things that earn us favor or standing with God. Another thing with our weakness is Jesus was totally clothed in all weakness, just like us. Fully man, yet he lived a perfect life and went to the cross in our place so that we could experience the full benefits of living in relationship with him, which means you can, and you now have the ability to live a life sold out for the gospel. You can reveal that and show that to your children every stinking day during a family transition. You can have this well of patience and love and long-suffering and all those things we deal with when we’re transitioning with our toddlers and our babies, because of what Christ did on the cross.

Emily: Yes, and because our hearts are resting—even as we look ahead to what we’ve been restored to and looking at our daily circumstances, our life in the trenches, as those things are going to change and they’re going to feel out of our control because that’s not where we’re placing our hope—we can endure that because we are walking with a God who is unchanging. Something that’s really helped me is to remember God’s promises; that often he doesn’t promise that things are going to be easy. He doesn’t promise that he’s going to spare us from sleepless nights or from gassy babies or whatever the thing is. But he does promise he will always be with us. He will never forsake us; He will fulfill all our spiritual needs.

Laura: We can rest in that. So let’s move on to the practical because we know you all want it.

Emily: Yes, and we like it too.

Laura: We like it too. We love it too, we just feel sometimes nervous to get there, because it’s just very subjective. But, we’re going to try to weave the gospel into this stuff of course. So, expect your kids are going to change.

Emily: Expectations...

Laura: Oh, yes?

Emily: I was just going to say this is about our expectations.

Laura: Yes, Emily’s right.

Emily: But I don’t have a cool, brilliant point to add in there.

Laura: I thought it was a cool point.

Laura: But she’s still right. Yes, so you have to expect that your children and their expectations are going to change their behavior. I know a lot of especially moms who have one kid are like, “Ah my toddler is being a weird because I am pregnant."

Emily: They’re going crazy.

Laura: Yes, because they’re like dogs, they have a sixth sense. Just expect that your child, before the baby comes, can sense it. When the baby comes, when the baby starts crawling, when the baby starts walking—all these changes—your other kids are going to change too. They are going to be affected, but this is a time when you can show grace and patience, to expect it, and work through it with your kids.

Emily: Indeed. Good training moments. More expectations; you’re going to need help which is hard, again. Recognize that limitation and that we were made to live in community. And sometimes it’s a really great thing when we go through seasons, where we feel dependent, not only on God, but others. Another thing to keep in mind is, some of you guys may have grandparents or other people that have to be your proxy parent in the meantime, and that can feel really out of control and really stressful. But just an encouragement; we’ve been through that a lot and you can always come back out of it.

Laura: The next one is just to expect chaos. Nothing is going to be under control. It’s not in your control as we mentioned earlier. It has always been true that you are not in control. But transitions have this wonderful way of highlighting that truth right in your face. Just remember that God’s sovereign over the children that did come into your family, the timing, the spacing of when the kids are coming into the family. So you can trust that God is good, that he is in control and not you. So give things extra time. What else would you say, Em?

Emily: Speaking of time, expect you’re going to have less of it. Go ahead and have that expectation before the baby comes home. We know motherhood is always going to be this season of sacrifice, and it’s hard because you’re going to feel like there’s even more. You’re like, “In case I thought I’d got to the end of it, no, there’s more to give with more children." But God is really gracious, I feel, to expand our love and expand our capacity in ways that are beyond what we’re capable of. He’s really gracious with help in all kinds of things.

Laura: Know that your self-care might be on the back-burner for a little bit of time, and Emily and I even always try to remind each other like, “This is just a short-term new routine”. With kids, you’re always changing new routines. It’s every six months or every three months sometimes, where you’re like, “Establish a routine, enjoy it for three months, move to the next routine.” So if you can, take your naps, try to get out and get a pedicure, manicure, whatever it is that fills you up. I know for my Mothers’ Day of my son’s first birthday—it was around Mothers’ Day—I asked my husband for a full night’s sleep and I didn’t have to respond to my son one time.

Emily: That’s an awesome gift. [laughs]

Laura: I was like, “I don’t have to see my son. I love him so much,” but I was like, “I can’t see him in the middle of the night.” I pumped and just got to sleep. It was one of the best Mothers’ Day gifts I ever had. My son wasn’t one; he was like five weeks old.

Emily: That makes a lot more sense. [laughs]

Laura: He was a newborn, and I just pumped for that whole night, and it was really wonderful to be able to just pump, sleep, go to bed, and not deal with dirty diapers. No. It was great, thanks.

Emily: What was the last one here? This is our big point. [laughs] Yes. Expect that you are going to need this gospel truth more than ever. The main thing that we really wanted to remind ourselves of, and to bring out in this show, is that sometimes we look at these transitions—I look at transitions like this: as something I dread a little bit, and they’re a bad thing. But in God’s kingdom, in light of the gospel, these types of situations are good. This is where big transforming heart work happens. When I look back and go, “When are the times that God has transformed me the most and helped me repent of sin and trust him more are the times like these, when I’ve been totally helpless and dependent and exhausted and at the end of myself.

Laura: When you’re in your weakest points like that, is you know all you have is Jesus. All you have is Christ.

Emily: I don’t even have a clean shirt on, I am wearing sweatpants, again. [laughter]

Laura: Haven’t showered in four days.

Emily:  All I have is Christ. [laughter]

Laura: And you know what, all you need is Christ. That is the end and the beginning. When we are in our high-strung points, we think like, “Oh I have all these other things that I need, plus Jesus”. Or those posters that are like, “Jesus and Coffee.” But, you don’t need coffee, you don’t need naps. Emily’s giving me a look of like, “Well you do need...”

Emily: Not at a high level, but I get it.

Laura: Okay, so roll with me here [laughter]. But I do think it’s this false lie that we tell ourselves, that we need all these things. Our weakness says, “If you have Christ, you have everything”. That really pulls that out and defines that for you, and you can look back. Both Emily and I have said, when we’ve gone through hard things—family transitions or other things—those are moments that we look back and see transformation that lasts long-term, long into the future, even if it was a short-term painful moment.

Emily: It’s those things that get stripped away from you, like what Laura was saying. We have a lot of security blankets that probably don’t provide us as much security as we like to think they do. It’s God’s mercy that he peels those things back in these times, shows us what’s really going on in our heart, what we really love, what we really value. It’s just striking when we get to connect with God in that time. That was really all that we wanted to encourage you in is that, wherever you are—if you just had a baby, or you’re getting ready to have your next baby—when you get into that moment, you’re exhausted, you’re like, “This is chaotic, this is crazy, I didn’t know I was going to feel this stressed out.”

Laura: You just want to cry.

Emily: Just try to hold on to the hope. That God is still with you, and his promises still apply to you, and he is going to sustain you and he’s working in your heart if you’re trusting him. You can believe that, and cling to that.

Laura: Amen. Well, in order to do that, priority numero uno is getting God’s word. It’s going to be hard; you’re in a transition season where you’re not really sure when it fits in. You’re probably not waking up early; you’re probably not going to bed late. You’re just catching sleep when you can.

Emily: You have to be creative. I keep stretching myself for that, like this next time because I’ve heard of moms who are awesome about reading scripture on their phone in the middle of the night during a night feeding. Or listening to an audio version of their Bible.

Laura: Here’s the deal: do not believe the lie that you don’t have time for God’s word. Do not believe that lie because that is the lie that Satan wants to tell young moms, especially because we hear it from culture, and we hear it from the world that says, “You don’t have time for this.” You need to meet all this 500 needs that are in your face. But I see you scrolling on Instagram in the middle of a night nursing session [laughter]. I know it’s hard to stay awake.

We are there with you, but also know that there are creative ways to fit it in. Sometimes it is duty, but as John Piper says, it turns to delight. I always love that quote of, “Duty unto delight,” and remembering that if I put in that hard work, I will reap reward. And this may not be the most fun thing right now, but I know that it is the best thing for me right now. So taking those moments when you can to read God’s word or listen to God’s word—and even like some of these family worship CDs, they have straight up scripture to sing—just take a moment to meditate on it if it’s playing in the background. Choose Christ in those moments.

Emily: Another thing we’ve talked about on other shows and we’ve heard from other moms—older and wiser—God can nurse you in these hard seasons with a tiny nugget of truth. It may be that you put a little piece of paper next to your rocking chair of something that you pray over your baby. It is a scripture and that’s like the scripture that is going through your heart for a month. Or it is, again like Laura said, a hymn that has truth in it that God is able to use that to nurse your soul. There are a lot of ways that he can sustain based on just this smallest, little bit of truth that you can get a hold of. Also there’s this resting in his grace and knowing that because we are fully justified, we are not doing anything to earn his favor. You can meditate on the gospel and go, “God thank you that I can be at peace with you even if I didn’t read my Bible, even if I didn’t pray, even if I am just exhausted. You’ve paid that for me in Christ. In that, there is rest. Praise the Lord” [laughs].

Laura: Exactly. It ties into an episode that we’ve already done on Risen Motherhood here as well, Intentional Motherhood Starts at Day One. We’ll link it in the Show Notes. But if you’ve got a newborn, you’re going to want to tune into that show. It’s got a lot of really practical stuff to do with your little kid, even also as you have a season with a newborn.

Emily: As you face this next transition along with Laura and I, adding more kiddos to the family, let’s all agree to lock arms and trust God in those moments, as Laura said.

Laura: Yes, and know that we can face the future without fear. We don’t have to have anxiety over the transition. There are practical things that you will need to work out and figure out. But ultimately, God’s got it. He’s in control and you’re going to survive.

Emily: Yes, He’s working, even through spit-up and blow-outs.

Laura: Yes. He’s using it for his glory and your good. Spit-up and blow-outs for God’s glory. Amen [laughter]. Alright, we hope you guys have a great day. Thanks for tuning in.


Ep. 57 || How Discipline Helps Us Communicate the Gospel Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I have my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here. We are doing a long-awaited show for all of you today. We are going to be talking about discipline. We get a question about this  once a week, it feels like. You guys—understandably so—have so many questions about discipline. But the problem is, we have the same questions and so we have avoided doing this show because we feel like we’re still figuring this out, and we don’t have the answers, and that we’re asking the same questions that you are. Emily’s oldest is four and a half, and mine is four next month. We just feel like we’re not super deep down this road. There's no proof in the pudding that we can say, “Hey, we did this and look how wonderful our children are.” That’s what's been the hang up or the slow down, but we’re excited to tackle it from the gospel, the high level side of things. So it’ll be less on the practical, but just general truths about discipline that you can apply right now, and hopefully, encourages your heart, and encourages the way that you discipline, even if that’s a little bit different from the way we do it, or any other mom.

Emily: We’re right there with you. Probably one of the reasons a lot of you guys want to know like, “How do I discipline my toddler?” Or, “How do I get started on discipline?” Or “What resources do I look to?” is because there are so many varying opinions and strategies out there, even among people that are very respected and very strong in their biblical knowledge and very gospel-centered. [laughs] Even among that small niche of people, you'll see a variety of different opinions. I also think it’s one of the hardest things. When you get to discipline when they're one and a half, or two, it just feels like you are on shaky, earth-quaking ground, and you have no idea what you're doing [laughs].

Laura: You feel it with the newborn for sure. But then you start realizing like, “This stuff, like legit matters.” Like, “What would I give my kid to eat?” Like, “They're going to survive if it’s the wrong thing probably”. But these deep heart issues, you start seeing their sin really in your face. And so you're feeling really uncertain, and a lot of fear I think, and very, very, very insufficient. It’s a moment that every parent comes to where they're on their knees.

Emily: [laughs] We are there with you, we are in the constant trenches every day with pre-school and toddler-age children. It is constant, we know. Today, we are going to start by really quickly defining what discipline is, just so we’re all talking about the same thing]. We are going to go through this; it’s going to be a little bit different than the way we’ve structured other shows. We’re just going to go through the gospel; the four parts that we talk about on most shows. We aren’t always really explicit about it, but we’re going to try to be really clear, and talk about how those parts of the gospel apply towards discipline. Then we’re going to try to give you four strategies that maybe you could apply, or just examples. To start, we wanted to make sure again, we’re all talking about the same thing when we’re saying the word “discipline”. One of the places in scripture that, at least for me, clearly helps define that, is Hebrews 12:3–11. We’re not going to read all of that for you, we’ll provide that verse link in the Show Notes. But mainly at the end of that passage, it talks about how God reserves discipline for his sons, for his children. And that, “He disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness”. And it talks about how for the moment, “All discipline seems painful, rather than pleasant. But the fruit of it is righteousness for those who’ve been trained by it”. That is what we are talking about today, that kind of discipline.

Laura: My parents made me memorize that, actually almost exactly what Emily was talking about there, the second half of the passage. They made me memorize that when I was in a particularly rebellious teen years, and I remember I just hated it.

Emily: “‘This for my good’, I know." So those are the things we wanted you to pull out really quickly, is that, biblical discipline is proof that you are a child and not an outsider. It’s going to be painful for the moment, but it’s ultimately for the child’s good. The point of it is to train children in holiness and to point them to the gospel, which is what we are chatting about today. Laura, should we fly over this gospel stuff?

Laura: We’ll start with creation, and  basically as we all know, God is the Creator of all things, he has authority over all, we give him all power and he deserves all of our worship because of what he did. He gets to decide right, and he gets to decide wrong, and he also gets to decide how we operate within those boundaries. He created us for and to have relationship with him, and that’s huge. He always desires relationship with us, and our purpose is to give him glory in everything. Application with this Emily, we set standards as parents based off of God’s command. We also have things that are for safety of our children, for them to function—socially and culturally—and then we also set standards based off of God’s commands and is principles.

Emily: The main idea is in discipline, like Laura said, there isn’t this relative, “Hey, however you feel it’s okay to treat people.” Like, “Whatever you feel morality is, or the good thing is, is okay for you”. We say “No, God has given clear boundaries and standards and we’re going to—as parents, in whatever the circumstance looks like—hold you to that”. We’ll get into a little bit more on how that can mimic God’s law. That’s part of telling our children and setting that standard because as we talk further, we’ll see that kids are not going to be able to do it. That becomes a really good gospel pointer. For creation, showing our children how to image him. One super practical take-away is to start when kids are very, very young, even as young as two-years-old, or younger. Giving really simple commands like, “Come. You need to come to mommy”, and expecting them to do it right away. Or telling them, “Stop”; we like to use the word “freeze” because “stop” seems to be something they're deaf to [laughter]. Just little, simple commands like that can be a really easy early way to establish it.

Laura: And moving into the fall; this is a huge one because every day we see the fall in our homes, in ourselves, in our kids. We all know that you cannot uphold God's commands; it is impossible to do it. We are born sinners, even from infancy. Even that tiny little newborn that is sleeping beside you in the sleeper, they're born sinners. We sin in ways when we know the good that we should have done, but we didn’t do it. And we also sin sometimes when we take an action; whether or not we knew it was against God’s law, it can still be sin against God or against others. We can’t be good on our own, that is what that means. The law shows us our need for a savior, it shows us our deep sin and how we need someone to come and redeem us. So, tons of application in all sections.

Emily: One thing I always remember here is that, I want all my kids to experience the feeling of the fall in their sin, and that feeling of, “Wow, I really can’t do this. I cannot obey mommy and daddy every time they ask”, which is a biblical standard for children. We’ve all been children at one time, but that is a huge bar to try to measure up to. Like, “Every time mommy and daddy tell me something, I have to do it right then, and anything less than  ‘with a joyful heart’, is sin.”  All of these things, like sin or sin in their heart, make it so they're not able to share; they’re not able to love or express love for God. You see the selfishness in their hearts, and we point out that to them. In the past I viewed this as, “This is the really rotten part of discipline”. No, this is the part where we’re different from the world, and we get to show our kids, “You are desperate for a savior”. So don’t overlook this part, moms [laughs].

Laura:  It’s important. These are parts where we can say to them, “You aren’t able to share with Johnny on your own, but with Christ, if you trust in Christ,” and we’ll get to that. But to recognize that, “Yes, it's hard for me to hold my temper and it’s hard for you to hold your temper. We’re both fallen in this because we’re human”. And so to be able to unite and agree in that area of the fall and to both feel sadness over that, while understanding this sadness and that the relationship’s severed between your child and God as you speak with them. This is an area where, if children truly see they can uphold the law and understand that, deep within themselves, eventually that’s what's going to create a child that loves God out of an overflow of what he did for him, rather than just some moralistic Pharisee or robot. That is a lynch pin and it makes us different from other people because this is the area that we really need to show them to grieve over and to understand that their own willpower isn’t going to get them through it.

Emily:  A super practical take-away, as we’re trying to take that a little bit from the theory for you guys, this is the kind of aspect of discipline where there are consequences for sin. Those in a child’s life can play out; things like going to timeout, or there might be some natural consequences of like, “You spilt that,” or, “You broke that. Now we're going to sit and clean it up.” Or you’re going to have to…

Laura: Which takes five times as long [laughter]. When you make your kid clean up their own spilt milk, it’s a consequence for mom too [laughs]. But it’s good but I am always like, “Urrgh, it’s going to take forevs”.

Emily: Something like a spanking or losing a privilege, or sometimes in a non-shameful way, a verbal rebuke or a very firm, “No, you may not do that,” or whatever the wording is. There is a variety of strategies here. This is what we‘re not going to get into; this is where the water goes so deep we can’t even begin to talk about it. Whatever it looks like, going back to that Hebrews verse, it’s going to cause the child some pain in some way. That is okay because that’s what’s going to point them to the next part which is redemption.

Laura: Redemption, our favorite part. Well, restoration too. I feel like they’re both obviously wonderful! This is where as we all know, Christ came and he paved a way for us to be reconciled to himself, because we can’t do it on our own. We failed, and cannot keep the law, but Jesus kept everything perfectly, therefore his sacrifice on the cross was absolutely perfect. The only way that we can get to God and to have relationship and commune with him is through Jesus Christ and his death on the cross. This is a free gift and so no one can boast in it, no one can say that they did something to receive it, because this is a free gift that Christ gives out of his love and grace for us. This is obviously where the gospel’s is so beautiful, and it just comes in. At times, I will be talking to my child and my voice can even change. If I am talking about sin and the fall and then we bring in Christ’s love and his mercy and what Jesus has done for us, I feel like if I am really believing in that, and jiving with it—which doesn’t happen very often, I’ll be honest—but I can feel it in my soul, like the warmth that comes. That’s where we teach them about the consequences and their natural sin, and the barrier that it places between us. So you can do this in conversation with your kids, of talking through, “Hey, here is the hard truth, like we were saying earlier about the Fall and how you cannot do this on your own. But if you trust in Christ, then you have access to these things. Your debt has been paid for at the cross and you are forgiven. You are able to be reconciled to not only God, but to your friend, or to mommy, or to whoever it was that you sinned against.” This is the part where I, as a parent, really see the gospel played out. Not only for my child—I want to show him and point them to Jesus, but also for my own life.

Emily: In terms of practical take-aways, this is exactly what Laura was saying; when inappropriate, and it’s not going to be every single time they sin. If you are desiring to do this and you are in tune with the Holy Spirit, he will lead you in moments where you will see your child feel really broken over their sin. Not just like, “I want to go back to playing now,” and that may not be the appropriate time to talk about it. When they're really broken and you get to come in and share the good news of the gospel with them, and pray with them, and hug them, make sure every time after discipline happens, you are reconciling with them. That  shows that, “I am going to forgive you because Jesus forgave mommy,” and “We don’t keep accounts here because God does not keep accounts with those whom he has forgiven in Christ.” Those are great ways we can display God’s grace. Then there is the restoration part which we’ve gotten into a little bit; the truth being that now, once we place our hope and our faith in Christ, we are living for something bigger than ourselves. I know sometimes people will talk about talking to kids in terms of the negative, of what you don’t want to do. We do that sometimes, but also teaching them that they are a part of this bigger story, that their lives are meant for a purpose, and that purpose is to glorify God, and to lay down everything and follow Jesus with bravery and courage and all of those exciting things. Also, to help children catch a vision for that is the point.

Laura: This is the ongoing work of discipline that both Emily and I’s children who can’t talk, they all profess faith. Its super exciting to feel like, “Ooh, they can talk about this stuff”. We also want to continue to not assume that they're saved. We still talk to each other like, “Hey, trust in Christ. Help my unbelief Lord,” and still talking to our children about what the gospel has done for them. We also need to remind them that they need him constantly, and remembering that just because you're saved—maybe you have an older child who you feel very confident that they are saved—but just because your child is saved doesn’t make you necessarily less sinful. It just means that you're forgiven. We’re constantly a work in progress, so talking with our kids, and having those conversations about, “Hey, this is who you are in Christ,” or, “This is who God wants you to be if you trust in Christ—to be kind, patient, gentle and loving - all of those types of things." We’ve had shows about this before, but just like teeing them up about, “This is the behavior that we strive to have as image-bearers of God”. It’s not always the “nos”, like Emily said, like, “Don’t do this, don’t do that”. But it’s about what he has called us to be, and who we are in him, and how the Holy Spirit really empowers us to live out a life that follows Christ.

Emily: What that can look like practically—this is a little bit something you want to do first on the front end, but is cyclical—is to be teaching your children, training them in those practical skills. You can think of it as training in righteousness or in low stakes environments like, how do they share? How do they say “please” and “thank you?” How do they show mommy and daddy respect? How do they follow the household rules, whatever those look like? It’s giving children intentional training because that is what God does for us in his word, that’s what God does for us in our lives, and we want to pass on that same courtesy to our children to image the gospel. The main thing today is we want you to know this really matters. Laura and I just really want the take-away to be like, "This is so important to communicate in the gospel.”

Laura: Even though it is stinking hard [laughter]. We are with you on flubbing it up, messing it up, knowing we didn’t do it right, feeling like sometimes we take action, that, maybe we take too much action, sometimes we don’t take enough action. We don’t weave the gospel into every conversation, and we’re definitely not those perfect people who are able to see every sin and then zap them with the gospel. We don’t think anything greater than we are. We are in this with you, and just know, God commands us to discipline our children. This a major aspect of your role as a mom and your husband as well. It’s not popular these days to discipline your kid, it’s like, “Just let them go and do whatever they want”. Or, a lot of times too, we could just teach them morals like we were saying; or just the no, no, nos. But when we really strive to show them their need for a savior and the deep grief over their sin, that is when in the long term, when they see their true rebellion, they are going to understand the beautiful grace that they have access to. Don’t shy away from discipline.

Emily: We know we've left you with a billion practical questions about how that looks in real life. We’re going to hopefully—as time goes on—continue to flesh this topic out more. We will try to provide some resources for you on our Show Notes at risenmotherhood.com. As always, you can also find us and more information or resources on social media on Facebook and Instagram @risenmotherhood and Twitter.

Thanks for hanging in there with us today, guys.


Ep. 56 || Feeding Our Families & the Gospel Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. Today we are super excited. It’s been a while but we have a free printable up on our website for you guys at risenmotherhood.com. You’ll find it in our show notes and it is beautiful and flowery and springy. We all need spring right now. It is done by Anna from Copper Paper Company. You can find her at Copperpaperco.com and this printable features a verse, which stems onto our theme for the year, biblical literacy, Psalm 119: 10A, “With my whole heart I seek you.” It’s really beautiful. You might want to stick it in your Bible or stick it somewhere where you want that reminder that we long to spend our whole lives in worship of God. It’s beautiful.    

Laura: It’s gorgeous. Head over, get it, download it, put it in a frame, and pop it above your sink. Definitely do that and check out Anna. Today we are talking about how we feed our families. This is a complex scary topic because there are so many opinions on it. I feel like if you hop on Facebook, Emily, it’s petrifying if you see one of those articles and then you read the comments. That is like a war zone in there. There’s so many fads, and diets, and ways of eating, and lifestyles of food or something.     

Emily:  It’s a status symbol too. I feel like in our culture, the more you can eat certain ways, it says certain things about you and what you value and all of that. I feel like there is so much at stake with it sometimes. Whether we like it or not, food takes up a huge portion of everyone’s day. If you are a mom, when you are around your kids, they are always needing to eat. About the time you’re cleaning up the food and you’re like, “Hey guys, go play now,” they’re like, “It’s snack time. It’s meal time again, it’s meal time again.” [laughter]  

Laura:  I know, “I’m hungy. I’m hungy. I’m hungy.” I think when you become a mom, generally, if you are the person who decides what your family lifestyle and culture is around food, if you have a husband who does that, we are super jealous of you. [laughter] But most moms usually seem to set the tone for food preferences. Then I know there’s a lot of stress as a new mom. “What do I feed my baby? What’s the first food they should have?” Should it be egg whites or avocado or all of these things?" There’s stress around that and so much different research about what it should be and allergies. Then you move on and progress in life and you’re wondering, “What do I even eat?” and, “Is gluten bad?” or, “Should I be eating more kale?” or, “Bacon is a new thing right now.” It’s so confusing out there and I think we all want to make wise food choices for our families but at the same time, it can be a real trap and I think something that Satan uses to very quickly get our focus on something else.    

Emily:  We’re going to attempt to apply the gospel to- [laughter]

Laura:  To food.

Emily:  And asking questions like, how do we decide how much time to spend on these types of things? How do we know? Is it okay to make more convenience food choices for our children? Can that be loving in some way, or is it okay to be passionate about this and to want to love my family well through certain types of food, or nutrition, or having a garden in the back, or whatever that looks like? We’re going to try to dive into that a little bit today. But first of all, we wanted to start by remembering, what is that hash tag Laura? First world problems?  

Laura:  Oh, it is a first world problem, that’s right. [laughter]

Emily:  I think it’s good for us to stop and remember the fact that we have food is a huge mercy. God is very gracious to put food on our table. If you have food on your table, God has been very gracious to you. This is so unique that we are mincing out, “Which vegetable is okay?” and, “Are you having the non-GMO vegetable or the regular one?” because there are  lot of people in the world who don’t even have access to basic nutritional food. It’s just good for us to remember that.

Laura:  Keep it in mind as we talk through this real privilege that we all have. This is what I love Emily. I love thinking a little bit about how Adam and Eve were vegetarians and [laughter] they got to pet lions. I have been dying to pet a lion.       

Emily:  I hadn’t thought about that. I need to bring that up with the kids.  

Laura:  Oh, to stick my hand in a lion’s mane sounds pretty awesome. Back then, pre-fall, pre-Genesis 3, Adam and Eve were vegetarians. They ate all the food in the garden and all the food was pleasant to the sight and good for food. They were allowed to eat from every tree except as we all know, the tree of knowledge of good and evil. But the great thing was all food tasted good. It didn’t harm their bodies in any ways. They didn’t need to diet. They could eat of anything and they enjoyed it. It probably tasted … I can’t even imagine. How good would chocolate taste? [laughter] I mean, cocoa from one of the trees, how good would that be?   

Emily:  I wonder if they had coffee back then? If they discovered coffee beans. We’re getting a little off topic here, but we know. Obviously, we’ve talked about this a million times, that they decided that what God has given them isn’t good enough or maybe there’s something that they want to taste that’s better than what he’s provided. So they eat from the tree that they’re not supposed to eat from and all of a sudden sin enters the world and we know that sin breaks everything. There’s a lot of different ways that people interpret the fall but it’s good to remember it touches every facet of our lives. As time goes on, we see that food becomes an issue. It’s hard to get food. Bacteria grows on food and it makes people sick. We can idolize food or we can overeat food and that can cause health problems. If we don’t get the right kinds of foods, it can impact our body and so definitely the fall breaks the way we eat food and consume it.   

Laura:  Back then too, there were a lot of laws around how they could eat food. You take one little glance at Leviticus and you are going to see a lot of the laws. But when Christ came, he brought freedom from food. He fulfilled the law and from that, we see so much grace in the food that we can enjoy today. We have a lot of options about things to eat. We no longer have to live under the Levitical law of different food preparation and things like that. It’s an area of Christian freedom essentially because, and only because of Christ’s work on the cross. Of course, it’s still important to eat responsibly. 1 Timothy 4 says we need to be wise stewards of our bodies, to care for and nourish our bodies well because they are a temple of the Holy Spirit. As 1 Corinthians 6 says, we want to remember that we are made in the image of God, but the food choices that we make are an area of Christian freedom.    

Emily:  There’s some really good verses about this. They talk about food preferences and some of these very things we struggle with in our modern culture in the New Testament. Romans 14 is an area where Paul starts to talk a little bit about, "Hey, some people are vegetarians, some people are not. There’s different food choices among believers but we don’t need to quarrel about that."There’s a verse, Romans 14:1-4, “As for the one who is weak in the faith, welcome him but do not quarrel over opinions. One person believes he can eat anything, the weak person believes they can only eat vegetables, let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains.” It goes on to talk about how we are not to be the judge of that. That every person in their own conscience, for their own family is going to have convictions about what they feel is the best type of food and that we are not to have pride in that.    

Laura:  I love it because the Bible is very clear on this. I think a lot of stuff that Emily and I tackle, while it might be a grey area, the Bible is always sufficient on a topic but it’s not always exhausted. I feel like in this topic though, Paul legit addresses it. Even with Peter, in the early Church, you can see an example of him where he struggles with food, in particular, of the Jewish food restrictions and wanting to abide by them. But then, sometimes he’d eat with the Gentiles who didn’t have those food restrictions, but when the Jews would come over and catch him, he would run away because he didn’t want to be seen eating all of the options that the Gentiles had to eat and Paul totally called him out on it. You can check that out as well. [laughter] That’s in Galatians 2. Basically, we find that food choices are an area of freedom. We are talking especially to this show. We’re not talking about legit allergies or dietary restrictions that you need for your health. Obviously, you have freedom in how you tackle those but there are severe consequences with those right now. We are really talking about the types of choices that we make that are optional, so we want to also be clear. We should have said that at the beginning probably.         

Emily:  [laughs] The main thing is this is something you need to work out in the context of your own family. We are going to talk a little bit about some practical questions you can ask. Going to the heart, which is really what matters, we can all do similar things on the surface and do them for similar reasons, so questions like, why are you choosing to feed your family these things, etc.? The first on is how much time do you spend thinking about what your family is going to eat and planning?   

Laura:  We need to think about how much do you think about it? How much time each day do you give towards meal planning, and preparation, and thinking about what you are going to eat, and if you ate something wrong? Are you really watching what you husband eats and your children eat? Maybe if you’re not the one who prepared the food, are you analyzing and critiquing that? Sometimes we get so caught up in a certain diet or a fad that we are really researching it like crazy because we want to defend it. We want to know all the ins and outs and how we’re going to eat like that. But a big question to ask yourself too is, how much are you researching it, and studying, and giving thought towards a certain way of eating vs. how much time are you really spending in growing your relationship with God, and spending time reading God’s word, and investing in your spiritual life? I think that is a real barometer of if you’re maybe spending too much time on something, just like anything. If something is above your time with the Lord, it doesn’t matter what it is, it shouldn’t be there.  

Emily:  It’s just terms of priority in your heart, even more than the minutes you spend. We know everyone spends way more time prepping food. Again, another thing we are trying to hammer out is, how does this fit in the context of your family, in the context of what’s important to your husband? Because you may be really passionate about this and you may be more passionate about Jesus than you are about food, and you may still spend a significant amount of time doing food stuff. I know for our family, my husband really values breakfast but he is okay that in this season if dinner is not something that I spend hardly anytime on. We are working through that. So I try to follow that lead where I can, and say, “In the context of our family, of the things are important to us, of the way we are trying to live out the gospel, right now, certain types of foods or a certain type of time spent on food isn’t the highest priority for us,” but it could be for different people in different seasons. Family context matters.    

Laura:  As a contrast to that, in our family, we eat very little breakfast, like fanciness. We eat breakfast but it’s low key. But I love to garden and I love doing that with my children, and I love to cook with my kids and it takes forever. We make homemade bread. Generally, I’ve fallen off that a little bit. I went through a season where I made homemade broth and I had that time; that was pre-kids. It’s not about, this is too much time and here’s the rule and here’s the line, but it is about, what is your family culture? What do you value? What’s your husband in agreement on? Does he think you are spending too much money at the grocery store on certain types of ingredients or maybe too much convenience food? Maybe he really wants some home-cooked meals and he’s asked you for that and you’ve plain out refused? Or maybe you are stressed because you want to make all these homemade foods and you are not giving yourself any leeway or grace. It’s okay to pop some chicken nuggets in the oven for once. You’ve got to look at that balance and scale and say, “What does our family value? Am I still fulfilling my role as a mother and a wife?” and, “Am I able to really glorify God while I maintain these efforts that you’ve decided on?”  

Emily:  To see if you are idolizing food or making a certain type of eating more important, is to see your reaction when that can’t happen. When either your husband deviates from it, or you go over to your grandparents’ house and they give your child something that you don’t really want them to have, or maybe it’s a friend’s house, or maybe your child does get something, what do you do? Do you freak out or do you have a measured response and know that this is temporary? Again, we are not talking about allergies here. We are not talking about, “My child has a serious health problem,” we’re talking about, “Hey, I don’t want my kid to have chocolate milk and somebody gave it to them.” How do you react when that happens is a good indicator.    

Laura: Look at how your kids talk about food choices. Especially as your kids get older, how are they talking about their food choices? Do they have a holier than thou attitude or do they snub their nose at anyone who does choose to eat differently than them? Are they feeling like, “I can eat anything I want,” and, “That is so weird that you are eating that quinoa muffin or something.” Checking both directions. Your kids are a good barometer because they are reflecting you.  

Emily:  Food is a great area of training and so I think if we’re teaching our kids food is for nutrition. Again, it’s not something we should feel pride in, which was the last point we wanted to bring out. That our choice in food, like Laura said, whether it’s okay for you to have Cheetos and Gatorade or you cannot have any sugar, wheat; we only eat clean, whatever end of the spectrum you’re on, nobody gets to feel pride in that because it’s an area of Christian freedom. Like we said at the beginning, it’s a mercy that we have food. We need to be talking to our children about things and modeling a gratitude for food, whatever those choices are, whatever you are passionate about, and not seeking to convert others to whatever our style is.    

Laura:  You can look at some questions to ask yourself. Do you feel a need to talk with other people all the time about the way that you eat and what your family has decided to do for their food? Are you spending a lot of time wanting to talk or even talking about how you don’t like a certain fad? Maybe you are doing this online and maybe you are doing this in person. What’s your tone of voice when you are talking to someone or when you’re typing on social media? Social media might be maybe a little better of a look at what your heart says. Are you trying to convince people to convert? That’s a big one. Really, it’s not even what you say out loud but just checking your heart. The issue isn’t the fact that you have chosen to be gluten free, vegetarian, or we eat every type of food under the sun. That isn’t the issue. The issue is what is your heart valuing? Is it idolizing a certain way of eating? If so, that’s where we want to check yourself before you wreck yourself basically.  

Emily:  Yes. [laughs] The main takeaways we wanted to talk about today wasn’t to try to prescribe for you what the right kind of way to feed your family is. Laura and I don’t have the answer to that question for your family or for you, but to encourage all of us to remember the big picture. The big picture of what God has called us to, to live a life that worships him, and brings him glory, and is humble before his throne, and remembers that the grace he’s given us is a gift including all of the other good things that he gives us. To remember we’re not supposed to be divided with fellow believers or others over these types of issues. We’re not supposed to judge other people on these things, as we said earlier. That we all have a responsibility, in the context of our family, to look at our time, when we’ve sat down with our husbands and said, “We are passionate about,” or, “We want to spend our time here for the sake of glorifying Christ. What does that look like for our family right now?” Be thoughtful about it, whatever that might be. It might be your thought’s to do more convenience things or another way.     

Laura:  That’s a good spot to end. As you go forth in your day, I hope that you will stop over to risenmotherhood.com and download that printable from Copper Paper Co. It is super beautiful and I think you are going to love it. Of course, also find us on social media, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, @RisenMotherhood. You can easily find us. We’ll be talking about food probably all week, so you’ll get more there. Then of course, if you have time, we would love it if you would give us a rating or a review on iTunes, best way to spread the word about the show, help other moms find us. We would really appreciate if you would take five minutes and go head over there and rate and review the show. Have a great day.


Ep. 55 || Hospitality in the Little Years Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. Today we are going to dive right in to talk about hospitality with children and the whole nine yards. This is sometimes a overwhelming topic in motherhood and something that we want to do as believers, but it’s definitely something that we want to think about, understand, and know why it is so important that we apply that, not only for the sake of the gospel but also as a really great teaching tool. We are going to jump right in today, right Laura? [laughs]   

Laura:  Yes, we’re diving deep. I grew up in a house that practiced a lot of hospitality. It was definitely full on. Every weekend there was somebody coming over for something, a lot of impromptu meetings. So it’s something that my husband and I have a huge passion for, and again,  I’m really excited to talk about this today. But it has definitely gotten harder. It used to be so much easier before kids and now with kids, I feel like there are so many more factors.   

Emily:  Obviously, I’m married to Laura’s brother,] so he’s cut from the same cloth, experienced the same things growing up like a ton of hospitality. I’ve enjoyed the hospitality of Laura’s parents, my in-laws, but I think that’s not always been a passion area for me if I were to look at all the different ways I do ministry in life. Hospitality is definitely on the list, but it’s not at the top of the list. I think with young kids, it’s been taking it day by day and month by month sometimes, and saying, “How does the Lord want us to lay down our comforts and sacrifice and extend what we have been given to others, and enjoy those relationships?” It’s definitely been a process for me.    

Laura:  With kids, I think no matter how good you are at hospitality, how naturally it comes to you, it definitely becomes more sacrificial. It becomes difficult for even the most hostess with the mostest I guess. Let’s chat through the gospel really quick. We have a couple of different things to speak of here. I think the first thing, if we look at God’s word, we are going to find hospitality all over the place. In the Old Testament, it was a command for the Israelites. When the people travelled around back then, they had to rely on the kindness of strangers. You can go to Leviticus 19 to see God’s law on this and his love for the traveler, for the sojourner. He commanded for the people to treat others to love him as you love yourself. They were called to remember how they were outsiders in Egypt, and now they are called to show the love of God that they received when they were rescued from Egypt.

You can even look at Genesis 18, I think that’s one of the most popular examples of hospitality in the Old Testament, where Abraham and Sarah were entertaining three strangers. They did all this great stuff that you can read as an example of great hospitality. It turned out that they were entertaining angels and one of them was Christ himself. Again, you can see in the New Testament this just continues, this charge for believers, especially with the early Church. You can see it in Romans, Hebrews, 1 Peter, 1 Timothy, Titus, all of these are charging the church body to show hospitality to each other, to strangers and to friends, Jews and Gentiles, and it was even a requirement for church leadership.    

Emily:  It is everywhere in scripture. That was an awesome overview. I’ll just be really honest here because I think we’ve been in this habit of bearing our souls on Risen Motherhood. I think all of those almost feel really burdensome to me. I’ve been a believer for a while and I know I’m supposed to be showing hospitality. I know we are supposed to be opening our home. I want to be like that, but for me, it has been hard to find motivation with just the biblical examples. Which is why it’s been helpful, as Laura and I were thinking about the show, to process through why. Why does it matter to God? Why does he love hospitality? I’ve enjoyed thinking through even in the Garden, think about how hospitable God was by creating this gorgeous place for mankind to live. They had good food and they had work to do and they had a purpose and they had good fellowship with God. So if there is an originator of good hospitality, it is the Lord.     

Laura:  God is the hostess with the mostest. [laughter]

Emily:  Did Adam and Eve appreciate that and trust God? No, sin enters and we’re definitely selfish beings who are always looking out for our own interests and so hospitality is very difficult for our sinful, selfish hearts. But we know that God made a way for his people to come back to him and be reconciled through Jesus. That was something that happened at great personal cost to Christ. He laid down everything to the point of death for us, so that we could be back in God’s kingdom again and someday, in a new heaven and new earth, experience that feasting at the table again, being  with the Lord, being in fellowship with him, being in a place that is beautiful and enjoyable with people we love. It’s this ultimate big picture of hospitality and it’s exciting and undeserved.

Laura:  I think when we hear this side of hospitality, I totally agree with you Em, that I think it rises within me, this desire to model God’s heart, because we want to love the things that God loves, to hate the things that he hates. This beautiful story of the gospel—hospitality is all over it. Even when it costs us something and, not even close to the cost that it cost Jesus, but when it costs us time, our energy, our money, sleep routine, crabby kids, all of those fun things. When we image God, we are showing them a picture of the gospel and just how radical God’s love is. I think that hopefully this picture of what God has done for us starts to motivate you and grow in you a love for exemplifying the same things that God loves, because this is how we draw others. We are a light. We are a salt and light to the others and we draw others to image him.   

Emily:  As you’re basking in that, now we’re going to get all the objections. Tthey’re all going to surface. Maybe you have lots of little kids at home, maybe you have one little kid that’s really in a difficult season right now. Maybe you have a newborn that you’re like, “I’m going to have to nurse this baby in the middle of the meal and our guests are going to want to be talking. I can’t pay attention because I have little ones that need to get down for a nap,” or maybe there’s a bedtime issue that you’re having to deal with. Other issues may be that your husband travelled somewhere. He is gone a lot and so you feel like, “Is this something I can do by myself with my kids?” Maybe you have a kiddo with some special needs or considerations like, “Oh, we’ve got lots of food allergies in our house,” or, “I have a kiddo that needs almost my full attention while people are here. How do I deal with that?” Maybe you are a working mom to whatever degree and life is really busy and you’re like, “I want to get home and just provide food for my own family.” Maybe you also have older kids and there’s activities. I don’t even know, I haven’t even gotten to that realm yet, but I watch other people do it and I’m like, “Wow, that’s really busy. How do you make space for hospitality?” There’s certainly a lot of things that come up.         

Laura:  There are so many variances but we can see that no matter where you’re at or what life stage you are in with your kids, hospitality is still a wonderful teaching tool. I think that’s one of the reasons why I love hospitality so much is that it really shows our children so many different facets of the gospel. I think that a lot of this is done through modeling, through the hosting of itself but also, a lot of it is done through communicating around it, before it, after it, and during it. I think that’s where those truths are. They come full circle for our children and they are able to see, “Oh, this is why we do this.” One of the first things that hospitality can show our kids is God’s love for all people; both the stranger and our friend. Hearts are changed in the living room. That is where the gospel does it’s work. It’s getting more and more difficult to invite people to church these days, as there are so many stereotypes or personal histories that hinder people from being open to something called “church”. But to come into your home, most people are super excited and willing to do that. It’s a comfortable welcoming inviting place and so in front of our children, it can show that, “We have believers in our home and we have unbelievers in our home. I think it shows them a heart for the lost and also how encouraging and refreshing it is for us, in our own souls, to meet with people that also love Jesus.

One big thing that I’m working with my kids is teaching them to make conversation, to ask good questions. It can show our children that everyone who comes into our home, we want to show them the good news of Jesus. With my son and my daughter, we are working on having them talk to people who come in. I know with little kids, a lot of times, they can shy away or get nervous or not want to talk. We’re like, “We don’t have to have a full conversation with them but we want you to be polite and show kindness even if you don’t feel comfortable with this person.” We talk him through that and we talk about it afterwards and it’s amazing to see the transformation as he’d had practice and also as we prep him for it than when we are like, “Hey, talk dude, talk, talk to this stranger.” [laughter]       

Emily:  What Laura just mentioned is a great universal tip, if you’re wanting to train your kids in anything, which is talk about it before, teach them how, do it and then talk about it afterwards; how it went pre and post activities—super good stuff there.  Some other things, real quick are, modeling for our children that we want to be generous, and that all of the possessions that we have belong to the Lord ultimately. I was reading a scripture yesterday about eternity and all of the riches and all of the wealth that God has lavished on us. It is funny when I think about what we are going to have forever, so why do we hold on to what we have right now? It doesn’t matter. We should spend it all for Christ. We shouldn’t be holding on to it because we have so much wonderful riches and comfort coming. I think it can be a way to show that to our children. Then finally, teaching our kids to have a servant heart and to lay down what they want to do in order to really care for others in really practical ways like helping set the table and seeing if they need any help with anything like coat. This all overlaps but all good stuff.      

Laura:  If you’ve spent any amount of time with me ever, you’ve probably heard me say, “See needs and meet them.” That was my mom’s mantra and she drilled it into us as kids, that no matter where we went, if the dishes need washed, well, that’s you. It didn’t matter if we were at someone’s house who we knew really, really well or at someone’s house who we didn’t know well, we tried to be able to serve whomever’s house we were in. Even in our own homes, we want to see needs and meet them. If someone needs a drink or if someone needs their coat hung up or whatever it is. That’s something I’m working on with my children of like, “Hey, can you go take this napkin to Mr. Steve over there?” We encourage them. Even my three-year old and my two-year old can learn how to see needs and meet them, even if mom is seeing them and then the child is meeting them but that’s something you can do right away.  

Emily:  If you are listening and you are like, “Hey, I want to get started on this,” or like, “Now I’m feeling all the motivation  and all the excitement,” what are some things that you could do, we could do, I could do? I need this list here.  [laughs] I think we went through a few examples in scripture of hospitality but that can be something you can be on the lookout for as you are reading scripture, doing your Bible study, whatever it is your working through right now. Also, just be praying even day by day like, “God is there somebody that you want me to reach out to today, or invite over or bring into our home for a deeper relationship?” I think sometimes I can get in radical mode of like, “What’s this big crazy hospitality thing I can do?” when really, it’s like, “Hey, we already have some people in our lives that probably wouldn’t mind coming over.” It’s probably a simple smaller thing for me that I miss or even brainstorming. My husband loves to brainstorm when we are going to have people over. [laughter] You and Brad need to get together and have some planning.  

Laura:  We used to, we used to. [laughter]

Emily:  So even entertaining that and processing through that and then getting it on the calendar, even if it’s not something that we send out invites for. It’s that prompting, so lots of good ideas.   

Laura:  Yes, and make it part of your natural rhythm. As I was going to say, my husband and I’s tendency is to overextend. I know right now we say, “We’re not going to throw this big elaborate Easter brunch because that’s a little bit difficult in this season of young kids but we strive to host twice a month. However that’s going to look, and it’s super impromptu—order pizza, use paper plates, don’t over think. The hosting isn’t about getting out your nice plates and making sure that you have fine china and all this stuff. It’s just about gathering together and so don’t over complicate it. I know you Emily, you guys invest deep in a few select people, right? I like that. Talk about that for a sec.   

Emily:  In this season, we’ve got four young kids and I’m pregnant so it’s mass chaos. We have a college student and my husband has a high school student that we are responsible for and we are always, “If no one else…” we have these people as part of our natural rhythm and we try to see them, at least our college student, every week and see how can she come into our home more. How can she have a bedroom here? Have a place here? Maybe we can’t have all the house parties right now but here’s something that we feel like the Lord is leading us to do, and she’s cool with our hot mess. [laughter] We love it and we are hopefully doing these things in the name of Christ, which is like what Laura was saying, is really what matters. What I’m learning, as well, is that this is about relationship with people and talking to them about Jesus and growing with them and less about all of the other details, although those can be a tool to minister to people.

Laura:  For me, I have a big mouth and I’m like, “Hey, let’s hang out.” Suddenly, randomly, I just got the idea that I want to spend time with a person. We’ve learned to  do some stuff after bedtime where people have babysitters are a little bit cheaper sometimes or we do things that are midmorning play dates so there’s no meal happening. So get creative. If there is a hindrance for you, get creative. There are definitely ways around it. No excuse is in surmountable. The last thing is learn from others in your life. If there is something that you are getting hang up on like, “What do I do with these muddy shoes in the winter? There are so many of them,” or, “What recipe do I make for gluten-free or for a lot of kids plus a lot of adults?” “What coffee craft do I use?” As I’ve grown in hosting, I’m like, these are some really good tools that I like to have on hand. It’s helped my experience to make hosting enjoyable because when you have the right equipment. Talk to someone who you know is a great host and learn from them. I think we need to wrap up here but hospitality is going to look really different for every family in every season. We really want to hit that home but know that it’s still something that we hope you can grow a love for, and grow and improve in, and really see the gospel revealed in your own life and in others’ lives as you guys begin an attitude and a practice of hospitality. Remember that it’s an overflow of what Jesus has done for you and of all the things that you’ve been given.

Of course, you can find us on social media. As always, we are on iTunes.  We are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and then of course, find us on iTunes, leave us a rating and review, we’d love that. Have a great day.


Ep. 54 || Ask Us Anything! Spring 2017 Edition Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Hello and welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I have my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here with me. We have a really fun, long episode planned for you guys today. This is the Ask Us Anything Show that you probably heard a little bit about on social media, so we’re super excited to kick things off today.

Emily:  We feel like over the last, what, year and a half now Laura, we’ve been storing up questions, and we have some questions we get pretty frequently. As you guys know, each we week, we don’t really necessarily talk about super practical stuff on the show, so we thought it would be fun maybe like twice a year, to sit down and have a group question-answer session [laughs].

Laura:  We threw this out on social media a few weeks ago, and we got covered in questions. It was unbelievable how many you guys sent, and we so appreciate it. They ran the gamut from really simple stuff to really hard stuff. Come on guys [laughter]. There were all sorts of things, but one thing to note, is that a lot of these things we do answer on Instagram stories. If you’re not on Instagram, get over there, come over and follow us because those are only 24-hour things that last, so unfortunately it’s not like they last a long time. You can head over to Instagram and periodically we’ll answer some of these frequently asked questions that we get throughout the week that relate to that week’s show. We hope that you’ll find us there. It’s probably our most active platform and the community of women there is awesome. I love hanging out over there.

Emily:  Feel free to email us too because what often happens for show ideas, other than the fact that Laura and I are always generating all these show ideas, but sometimes we’ll get several emails in a row over the course of a month, about the same topic. We’ll go, “Okay, I think the Lord may be leading us to do a show on this.” Don’t hesitate. If there is a burning question that you have, because there are maybe other women who have it too, and it may become a show topic, which you’ll find out. We got several show topics from this little question session.

Laura:  Let’s dive in with our first question. Somebody asked, “How many coffees, AKA life juice,” those are her words, “Do you guys drink each day normally, then when you’re pregnant, and then when you’re nursing?” You want to kick us off Em?

Emily:  Sure. I’m one of those pregnant ladies who gets sick in my first trimester, and I think coffee sounds disgusting, but I have to drink it [laughs]. I choke it down for the first twelve weeks, but that usually ramps me down a little bit from my normal maybe three-ish cup, four-ish cup habit.

Laura:  Four cups?

Emily:  No, not really. I think it’s four cups in my mind, but realistically, it’s probably 2.5.

Laura:  Reheating it four times probably.

Emily:  Yes, I don’t think it’s really four. Maybe I’d fill it up four times and I don’t know what happens to it [laughter]. After my first trimester, usually I’ve naturally ramped down to about 1.5. I don’t even know what the cup measurement is. I literally mean a normal-sized mug. I drink a one and a half normal-sized mugs.

Laura:  I’ve seen some of your mugs. Some of them are kind of oversized girlfriend. [laughter]

Emily:  I don’t drink out of one of those jumbo mugs. I am only like, “This is just my one cup” [laughter].

Laura:  It’s like six total cups. [laughter]

Emily:  Same when I am nursing too. I don’t know, I almost never totally ramp down.

Laura:   I never change anything. I am a two-cup girl, and I don’t change it when I am pregnant, I don’t change it when I am nursing. I love coffee all the way through pregnancy. I am one of the lucky few, I suppose. There are other things that get me. It’s not that I don’t get sick, but coffee has never been repulsive to me. I learned to drink it back in college, but I love it all the way through. My kids, when they’re nursing, you have to get used to it baby.

Emily:  I really liked this question.

Laura:  Of course you did because you like fashion more than me. [laughter]

Emily:  Even though it’s becoming a smaller and smaller portion of my life, [laughter] the question is, “What are your go-to momiforms; mom uniforms, for on-the-go with your kiddos and what are your favorite places to shop for pieces?”

Laura:  We have a whole episode on momiforms that we’ve covered, so you can learn about how Emily and I are so different in this area [laughter]. Emily is much more fashionable, and has a lot of variety in her wardrobe.

Emily:  I am coming around though. I just don’t have time for that anymore [laughs].

Laura:  Well, five kids will do that to you. My go-to everyday is jeans, shirt, a nicer-ish shirt, but not a blouse. The silk blouse is a no-go with kids. I think every mom is going to be nodding along. But just like a cool tee, or whatever, and then a cardigan. And I wear sneaks; I wear slide-ons, whatever you call those.

Emily:  Like your Vans?

Laura:  Like my Vans. I wear them a lot. But I don’t change it up. I wear the same clothes all the time. You’re going to see me in the same clothes [laughter]. I am very boring, and I wear almost all neutrals. I’ve gone more and more towards that way.

Emily:  You always rock some cute flannels. I feel like I see you in sweaters that are cute and flannels.

Laura:  Yes, oversized sweaters.  I’m totally into the oversized stuff [laughter].

Emily:  I am right there with you. I am glad that oversized is in style.

Laura:  Thank goodness the midriff style is not in because there would be baby bellies all over the place.

Emily:  I think I like the moms in the ‘90s when it was like your shirt barely matches to the top of your jeans.

Laura:  Or didn’t even match and you we’re just… [laughter]

Emily:  Now we have this, “Okay, sure, if you pull on some leggings and some long wavy tunic...”

Laura:  Yes, like, “What’s under there? I don’t know. It’s a magic trick.” I just love it. I love it. You don’t even have to care [laughter]. So where do you shop at?

Emily:  It totally depends on if I am pregnant or not. [laughter] But when I am not pregnant, I love LOFT. It has this line called Lou & Grey, and it’s like a little bit of an ‘athleisure’ line. [laughter] Is that what it’s called, ‘athleisure’?

Laura:  I think that’s a legit word.

Emily:  I have several, what I would call ‘cute sweatshirts’, not grungy sweatshirts, but fashionable sweatshirts.

Laura:  You wear those a lot.

Emily:  You will regularly find me in a cute sweatshirt and jeans. Then another place I like to get my cute sweatshirts from is Nordstrom actually, because they have, I think about two sales a year. If you’re watching those sales, they’ve got some pretty good deals, and it’s free shipping, free returns.

Laura:  I do love that.

Emily:  Shop from home.

Laura:  Yes, I haven’t been to a dressing room in years.

Emily:  [laughs] Once a year I may go out shopping somewhere.

Laura:  For maternity, I love Old Navy, Gap, Target, and then non-maternity, I’m into Old Navy, Gap, Target, but I added Madewell. I don’t buy them for maternity; they do have maternity, but I love Madewell. I love me some Madewell when I’m not pregnant because I feel that, for spending the amount of money that I do, it’ll last me longer than…

Emily:  Go ahead Laura.

Laura:  A good maternity place that I found this pregnancy is PinkBlush Maternity. We will link to that, but they have great tops and they’re really cost-effective; they’re economical.

Emily:  But, I have been looking there for pants, so listen you guys. This is an all-call, if you know of maternity jeans that do not sag in the bottom after a day, [laughter] and they’re full panel, you email us. [laughter]

Laura:  Yes, I’ll take it too please. A baggy butt, not cool.

Emily:  Moving onto something much deeper. [laughter] What are you currently doing for your quiet times? How do you choose what you’re going to do, and anything you’d like to recommend or try.

Laura:  It’s like a six-part question there. For me right now, doing women’s Bible study, we’re doing From Garden to Glory by Courtney Doctor. It’s a nice, thick booklet, heavy little book there, but it’s very good. It covers a whole overview of the Bible, and it talks about the metanarrative of the Bible, which, if you’ve heard that term, it basically means seeing the whole Bible is one large story. Everything from the Old Testament, all points towards Jesus. It’s a very fun study. It’s something I’ve never formally done. I’ve done this informally, but where she walks you through the entire Bible to see how it’s one, big beautiful story that God put together. So I highly recommend it. I think it’s really, really good. It is a little bit time-intensive, but most things that Emily and I do are. I’m currently reading through the Bible from front to back with no special plan. I’m trying to read it for comprehension and I am looking for certain truths. I read five to ten chapters at a time. Not in a way to check it off the list, but to really comprehend, and take the time to go back and look, and see how all of these things are connecting. I’m reading for comprehension, and I take a little bit of notes and write down what little nugget of truth. I am currently in Ezekiel. I’d like to recommend any John Wilkins study, the Garden to Glory by Courtney Doctor. I know Em you’re doing a really good that I want to try so maybe you should go now.

Emily:  That was a good question of, how do you choose what you’re going to do? Like Laura, I really try to follow a lot of what our women ministry in the church is putting out. Probably most churches, either for women, or general, offer some type of Bible study, some type of curriculum. So it’s really easy to have that accountability and jump on board [laughs] with whatever your church is doing. Right now, we’re going through Ephesians by Keri Folmar, and I’ve just loved it. It’s an inductive study and so that is a method all in itself. Maybe Laura and I will jump on Instagram stories this week, and share about some different Bible study methods but I’ve just loved it. It’s the second study our church has done by her, so I would highly recommend it. When I am not doing a Bible study through church, and that’s literally all I do when I am in my study. But when I’m not doing that, I try to have a plan. It varies because if I don’t have a plan, I think it’s super awkward to just wake up in the morning and like, “I don’t know, I’ll just open up my Bible and point to something.”

Laura:  That is a recipe for not having a quiet time, [laughter] like two-minute one.

Emily:  Or having one and maybe pulling some things that aren’t true, or getting some weird stuff going on. I will often pick a book of the Bible that I’ve been interested in going through, and I’ll do an inductive study on my own. Occasionally, I’ll go through a book that’s not my steady diet, but sometimes, especially if there’s a particular issue I am wanting to think through, I will do that. Laura and I have both done some good Jen Wilkin studies. One of my favorite studies I’ve ever done for seeing Jesus, like Laura was saying, in the metanarrative of scripture was a study by Nancy Guthrie  who has a series called Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament. She’s got several books in that series. In the book, she  explains things, and there’s Bible study. It’s really, really good and I think that was one of the most helpful tools I’ve ever used to understand how Jesus shows up in the Old Testament law and all those good things. [laughs]

Laura:  It changes everything when you start seeing Jesus in that Old Testament. It changes everything. Next question is, what temp do we keep our home in the winter months? I have no idea why someone wants to know this but we’re cold. We usually are about 67 during the day, 64 at night. My kids have space heaters in their room, well my daughter does. I remember my mother-in-law would always, when we lived back in Minneapolis, would bring a winter coat and wear it the entire time she was in our home. I would have to put up the heat for her.

Emily:  Laura’s husband is a Minnesotan.

Laura:  Oh my goodness. If it’s 60 degrees, he’s sweating. [laughter]

Emily:  We’re the opposite. I wrote this down, I was like, “This is a little bit embarrassing actually.” [laughter]

Laura:  I laughed when I saw Emily’s temperature.

Emily:  We keep it at 71 [laughter].

Laura:  You know what, I would love to keep it at 71. I am getting more used to my husband’s frugalities/he does like it cold so that’s why.

Emily:  When I’m pregnant, I’m pretty picky about temperature. Maybe I’ve just been pregnant so much in the last few years, my husband’s finally just like, “Whatever.” [laughter]

Laura:  “Whatever you want babe.” [laughter] Next question is, what are your favorite resources for teaching little kiddos about God?  Mention books, and shows, music, etc. We have a million shows on this, we’re not going to go into this, and this is where stories I think really plays in, Instagram stories, where we post a lot of this. We’ll link to these in the show notes but episode 4, 12, 27, 29, 44, 46 and 51. I just went through and figured out which shows we’ve had a talk about this topic. Any of the show notes for those shows/there’s a Resources We Love page on our website. Go there because it is constantly being updated. Any time you want to see what are we currently using, what are we loving right now, head over there and you will find direct links.

Emily:  Definitely keep updated on that. Like Laura said, if you haven’t ever headed over there, we really do try to load them with stuff. [laughs]

Laura:  We try and make them legitimate; something that you’d want to click to. It’s even stuff we didn’t mention on the show and related things that we’ve been enjoying. Next question, what are you involved in outside of your home, Em?

Emily:  [laughs] What am I involved in outside of my home? Not much right now [laughter]. I know we don’t always mention this on every show, but I have four kiddos, my oldest is four and a half, and my youngest is 18 months. None of them are in a pre-school program or in a mother’s day out program or anything so they’re all home all day. We’re in a season right now where there’s not a lot of ability to get them out and do a ton of stuff. So formally, outside of the home, I am involved in Bible study every other Wednesday night. [laughs] I’m on the women’s ministry team at church, that occasionally meets and looks into Bible studies and plans events. But our recent thing, which I’ll get into more, is our youngest kiddo just transitioned into about six therapy appointments a week and so, that has become my new part-time job [laughs]. Even though I am not necessarily doing like, “I work outside the home”, or, “I’ve got this really cool church thing I am involved in right now”, a huge portion of our life is making sure that that child’s needs are being met for their development. That’s become a huge part of my life in the last few months. It’s really new. What about you Laura?

Laura:  I am in more things. I only got two kids. I said Em has five earlier because I counted the one in your belly [laughter].

Emily:  It’s good to count the one in the belly.

Laura:  They’re the easiest they’ll ever be in your belly but they do count. They slow you down in some ways.

Emily: They do slow you down. 

Laura: And make you heavy breathe everywhere you go. But I’m really involved in my church and my son, after a little while, he’d be like, “We’re going to church again?” We are there a lot but I’m involved in the women’s Bible study and the women’s Bible Study Leadership Team; I lead a small group in Bible study. Then on Wednesday nights, I am lucky enough to be able to take theology classes at my church, which are awesome so we’re there then. My husband and I teach three and four-year-old Sunday school and we get to be involved with my son’s class, so that is super fun. Then we’re also Growth Group leaders and we host that in our home as well on Mondays. Then of course, Emily and I both have Risen Motherhood. We know is not outside our home necessarily, but it takes up a significant portion of our week, more and more as the podcast continues to grow, which is so fun. But it’s certainly becoming a large hunk of each of our weeks, I would say. I think I’ve talked about this before, but we’ll get into it more as well, but I do a lot of play dates and try to do a lot of hosting. Hospitality is one of a big ministry area for my husband and I. That’s just scattered throughout the week. I have childcare every Wednesday morning, which is phenomenal for three hours and it’s the best part of my week [laughter].

Emily:  It’s probably the fastest three hours of your week, every week. [laughter]

Laura:  Oh, it’s awesome; and then we just come home and we slam them down for a rest time/nap time, and then we go to theology class. Wednesdays are the best [laughter] part of my week because we’re just clipping through the day. It’s really fun so that’s awesome. Next question.  Guys, I don’t know why you want to know this, but a million times, we get asked this question.

Emily:  Yes. I’m always really curious about this for other people, so I kind of get it. What are your daily routines? When do you clean, cook, work out, play with your kids, food shop, all those good things?

Laura:  Emily and I are going to wave the white flag on the working out. [laughter].

Emily:  We don’t work out. [laughter]

Laura:  Neither of us work out and our bodies reflect that [laughter]. I know for a lot of people, that’s the tough one to fit in. We’re just going to talk about working out for one second because I feel like this is kind of a thing. Personally, I started working out as I had this strong desire to work out. Well, I had this strong desire for the results of working out. [laughter] I started to do it periodically, but what I started realizing is that when I worked out, I didn’t have quiet times. That it just seemed to replace that time because especially, I like to do those things first thing in the morning and I made a hard decision. It was hard, I’ll be honest, of just saying, “If I can’t juggle these two things, I would rather be spiritually fit than physically fit.” I know that some moms can totally juggle it and totally do it, but for some reason, every time I work out, the other thing falls. I realized what is hindering me from having quiet times, or the reason why I don’t work out, is that I felt like it was interfering with something that was more important to me.

Emily:  It’s really hard. Laura and I have talked personally; I don’t think we’ve ever talked on the show too much about this. But any given mom, or any given person only has so much capacity and can only juggle so many kinds of big things in life at one time. Working out consistently is a big thing and it’s great to prioritize that. I trained for one 5K in my life after I had twins.

Laura:  That was awesome.

Emily:  I felt so good. I totally get why that’s important. But I think everybody for themselves, like Laura said, has to look at their own life and their own schedule and say, “How does this fit in?” I feel like I live a pretty active life, and not necessarily in running but I am on my feet all day. I’m up and down, I am practically jumping to chase my children. [laughter] I look forward to a season of life someday when I can both work out and have a quiet time, and eat, [laughs] and take care of my family. We’ll just say that upfront.

Laura:  We’re not saying working out is bad at all; that you’re not having your quiet time. This is literally something Emily and I have had many conversations about. We tend to be kind of similar, and this is that, something else falls when we add working out and so for us, we’ve decided what our priorities are. For some people, working out is like a genuine form of self-care . They’re easily able to fit it in, and if that’s you, that’s awesome and we’re cheering you on. I know you can do even like twenty minutes and all that stuff, and we’ve heard it all. We don’t want to knock on working out at all, but just to let you know where we’re at on that. [laughter]

Emily:  An interesting question too is, when do we sit down and play with our kids? [laughs] I was thinking, I rarely actually think I sit down and play [laughter] anything with my kids, in terms of like, “Mommy will run the car down the track with you.”  Laura’s probably the same way, but I’m always watching their play. I’m involved in it, at a distance and I’m watching it. I’ll probably help setting up the toy, I am trying to help direct what they’re doing. That was another one I thought we could throw out real quick that I think you and I are pretty similar on.

Laura:  I think as you have more kids this gets so much easier because I definitely probably ‘intentionally’ played with my son when I just had one. I had two under two and Emily has four under four. After the first one gets past that age two, I feel like they just start playing together, so there is hope, moms, if you’re in that stage of feeling like you have to entertain. [laughter] There’s certainly times where I feel like I do puzzles with my kids, or, I love the train table. I don’t really imaginary play with my kids. I do a little, but I’ve got about ten minutes of acting like a dragon and then I am done. I’ve just learned that it’s okay. I don’t want to play house the way a three-year-old plays house; it’s very boring. [laughs]. When I play with my kids, I do want to do structured things and so we’ll sit down and we’ll color together, or we’ll do the train table. But there isn’t necessarily like, “I do this every day at 9:00 o’clock.” It’s really just when it fits in or when I sense my kids need it. Sometimes if they’re begging for attention or acting out, I think a lot of the times that means they’re looking for attention. So many times when I am thinking clearly, I will be like, “Okay, you know what, I need to stop whatever I am doing and I need to go over here. We’re going to do this activity,” and I will direct them. I heard once that a parent was talking about how she will sit down and help the kids learn how to play. They’ll be at the train table let’s say, and everybody’s fighting and pulling things. She’ll model the correct behavior, and intervene. If you do that for 20, 30 minutes, spend that time intentionally teaching your kids how to play, not explicitly, but modeling it, and helping to show them, the kids are going to start mirroring you. Oftentimes, they play so much better after you’ve spent that intentional time with them. Just a quick tip. If your kids are all over the place and they’re fighting and pulling at toys or whatever, to sit down and be intentional to play with them because oftentimes, then I can walk away for a significant amount of time and do my stuff, and they will play nicely, generally, together.

Emily:  Totally agree. Invest that time. If you’ve got multiple kids playing on the train set, two words: crane arm. You pick up the train, you pick it up like a crane, and you pass the person, and you move on with your life [laughter]

Laura:  That is a great tip [laughs]. I was like, “Crane arm? What is a crane arm?” That is hilarious.

Emily:  Whenever they’re getting ready to have a huge train accident, I am going, “Crane arm! Crane arm!”

Laura:  That is hilarious. I know my kids will just be like, “Oh, it’s a tornado,” and then the whole train table’s just be across the room.

Emily:  We should just blast through our routines here really quick.

Laura:  I was specifically asked especially with a husband who works long hours, how do I manage that? Maybe someday we’ll do a show on that because it’s a whole world of being a more single-type mom during the day but here’s our schedule. My kids go to bed late, I’ll tell you that already, so that they can see my husband, so they get up late, which means I get up at about 5:00 to 5:30, 5:30 when I am pregnant, I am struggling here. I do my quiet time first thing, and it’s about 30 minutes to an hour and most of that is spent in prayer. I’ve really been working on settling down and getting into my prayer life more. Then I finish, I do emails, answer Risen Motherhood stuff, all of that good stuff. My kids are up at 8:00. Yes, I know that’s late, but I am not going to apologize. [laughter] I used to apologize for how much my kids slept, but you know what, God’s just blessed me. So they wake up at 8:00, maybe 9:00, it’s awesome. We are all dressed, eaten, have a little family quiet time typically, by about 9: 00a.m. and we’re out the door between 9:00 and 9:30. Most of my morning stuff is at 9:30. Sometimes a play date might be at 10:00 but I like a very structured and full day. We are gone to either church, or we sometimes have appointments or a play date; different things in the morning. Then we come home, have lunch, rest, nap time; my son does not nap any more so we have rest time. They’ll give me about two hours with this recent transition to rest time. My son is learning how to stay in his room. Usually he’ll move around the house a little bit because two hours is a long time to be doing one thing so I’m involved with him during that time. But generally, I get about two hours of mommy-ish time. Then in the afternoon, we typically go to the park, if it’s nice, we’ll play in the backyard or we’ll play in the basement. That’s usually like if you’re asking me when my intentional play happens, probably around then, the kids need it more then. Then we cook together as a family, the kids and I. Sometimes when it’s a tough night, that’s TV time. I usually reserve it around them, but at around 4:30. Again, I only have two kids. They’re getting older and can help cook, so we do dinner together. It’s pretty fun, it takes a long time, but it’s something to do together. The kids play on their own after dinner, typically, while I clean the kitchen and vacuum. Sometimes that’s when my cleaning happens, is after dinner. Dad comes home between, I would say, 6:30 very rarely, and 9:00 p.m. My kids will hopefully get an hour with him, is what we strive to do, so they go to bed between 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. sometimes 10:00 p.m. That’s why they sleep in later.

We’ve shifted our whole day so that dad gets to see the kids as much as possible. There are definitely days where he does not see them, and I won’t get into all of that. I know you moms, who are with me on this, are feeling for me, and I feel for you. It’s definitely a different family culture and season that we hope to get out of, to be able to have Dad home more but it does make the times with him very, very sweet. When Dad is home, he does bedtime 100%. That’s one great thing. Yes, so I am cleaning the kitchen, doing some clean up, doing some stuff, and then I’m on the couch. That is my break time; my first real break time for the day. Dad does it and he loves it. That’s his special time with the kids. We want to make sure he gets one-on-one time with the kids when he can.

Emily: Jumping into my routine here. Our wake up time depends on the day, it depends on who woke up in the night, and how everybody’s feeling so I’m up anywhere between 5:15 and 7:00 a.m. [laughter]. I know, that’s a huge range but that’s just where we’re at right now. My kids are up by 7:00 a.m.

Laura:  They’re like little soldiers. [laughter]. It’s like they sense it’s 7:00 a.m. and they’re all up right away. [laughs]

Emily:  Yes, no matter how dark their room is, no matter how much white noise.  They have an internal clock [laughter] that goes off. We have tried to make a little rule too, like, “If you are up, you can be in your room quietly but please do not come out until 7:00.” I know I need to get one of those little Okay to Wake clocks.

Laura:  Yes, they’re the best.

Emily:  They come matching in at 7:00 a.m. ready to eat my arm off. I have all boys [laughter]. Usually breakfast is our most elaborate meal of the day; it’s our most intense meal of the day. We will usually cook a full breakfast and sit down and eat together.

Laura:  That’s awesome.

Emily:  When I get to dinner, you’ll be less impressed. [laughter]. We eat pancakes, and eggs, and bacon, and toast, and muffins, and the whole nine yards, and that’s a really nice time, and I always really enjoy it. After that, they run off and go play for usually 30 minutes to an hour while I do quiet time. I clean up for breakfast and do a variety of random things. I usually feed our youngest child, so he still requires me to sit, and feed him, and give him liquids since he doesn’t do that on his own fully independently yet.  That is a real chunk of my time there at breakfast. Then we build in TV time to our morning every day. It’s just a nice predictable time that everyone can count on. And it’s been nice to play too, because I plan to do administrative things during that time. The kids usually watch a show and I am right there with my computer so I can monitor what’s going on, [laughs] usually doing emails and making appointments and all of those things. Like Laura, by 9 o’clock-ish we are still adjusting to our new routine. We’ve just moved, and our kiddo is in a bunch of therapy now. We usually have some type of therapy, people in and out of our house going somewhere between 9:00 and noon. We’re busy all morning; we have lunch. My three oldest kids do not nap anymore and so they have a rest time where they need to play quietly. I basically am like, “This is mommy-needs-a-break time.” I’ve gotten to a point where they all play together. I’m like, “If you guys can play without fighting, go for it but if you’re going to have an issue, we’re going to be in separate rooms and you can read quietly or whatever.” And they’ve learned pretty quickly how to do that. My youngest naps, and then late afternoon, we try to get out of the house again and do something. If it is anywhere near a nice day, we’re outside running off energy, and hang out with grandpa. My neighbors are now my parents [laughter] and so we see my dad most days of the week. He’s like a grandpa dream-nanny. [laughter] He’s awesome, so he helps out with the boys a lot. I will say dinner is a little bit of a hot mess for us right now. We’ve been in survival mode for a while, I am not even meal planning.  At 5:00 o’clock, I’m like, “Okay, what do we have? I’ve got frozen salmon, I can pull the rice cooker out. I’ve got a bag of frozen veggies, I can heat that up. I’ve got a frozen loaf of bread.” [laughter] It all just comes together. We eat with family a lot during the week. I think dinner is something that I am constantly like, “Oh, I’d love to improve on that.” But it’s also something in this season we’ve just chosen to say, “It is what it is.”

Laura:  You guys do the big breakfast, and your husband’s home for that and he values that. You’re placing priority too on what your husband wants. My husband is not home, he’s gone at 5:00 or whatever, so I am like, “Granola bars, kids. You want toast, that’s fancy. Toast is fancy."

Emily:  Our kids are in bed by 6:45 p.m.

Laura:  Hence the 7:00 a.m. wake up. If you push their bedtime back, it’s like...

Emily:  Yes, so everybody gets their time somewhere. Ours is at night and my husband and I try to spend several hours together in the evening doing a variety of random stuff. Sometimes just staring.

Laura:  That sounds nice [laughter]. What’s the balance of staying home and getting out with your kids and why do you intentionally choose those commitments?   How do you find balance? We’re going to generally answer this question. Em and I were just chatting about it. We really think it’s both a heart and a personality issue. She and I have super different personalities, if you haven’t picked up on that throughout the show. We have the same values, we have the same principles in our life, but we play it out really, really differently. I love to get out and about. Emily is in a new season where it’s more required for her son to get out, and for me, it’s definitely more of a choice. I love to have a bit of different things throughout the day. But, for both of us, we’re learning that if you’re going out so much that it’s really hard on your kids, maybe it’s hard on your ability to manage the home, you’re dropping balls in your home with being able to clean or cook or do those types of things, or maybe you’re trying to run away from something. I know this was a big issue for me of trying to run away from boredom or loneliness. Those are heart issues, so then it might be time to scale back. Like most things that we talk about on this show, it’s really about evaluating what are your motivations for getting out? What are your motivations for being in a commitment? That’s even choosing how much time to spend out of the house, plus in the house but then even what you’re engaging in is really important. If you feel like, “Oh, I have the time to be out,” and this is not hurting or hindering anything in the home. But remember that even if you’re a stay-at-home mom, or a part-time work-at-home mom, or somebody who feels like, “Hey, I’ve got this time that’s extra”, your time is still incredibly valuable. The question is, are you just going to Target and Starbucks every day, and spending some money and daydreaming of Target, just to be out and about? That’s okay every once in a while, but is that your consistent pattern? Or are you involving yourself in ministry or trying to grow spiritually? Maybe you’re trying to nurture a dream that you have of starting a business or maybe growing in a specific talent or a hobby. Are you applying yourself with that extra time that you have? Are you applying yourself in a way that is going to move the needle forward in a sense? A big, big, big question is, what is your husband’s support? What does he value?  Emily’s husband values spending time on breakfast and my husband loves a great dinner. Even though he warms it up in the microwave, I’ve spent time on dinner because he does value a great dinner to come home to. I manage my days so that I can make dinner and Emily manages her day so that she can make breakfast. Then things like, is he supportive of how much time you’re spending out and about, or how much money you’re spending engaging in these types of things? Make sure that he is on board, and what does he value? If it’s a clean house, or if it the kids looking presentable, whatever it may be, that you are prioritizing that piece of the puzzle. What’s the ROI on your time, essentially, is what you want to know?

Emily:  I echo everything Laura said and a lot of those principles apply. We have had a really similar question, which is, how do you balance your kids’ needs, and then being involved in church things? That similar, “Okay, we’re going to have to be out and about for church. They may have to be in childcare, or there may be something we have to do for small group where we have to stay up late.” I wanted to share a quick story, an example of a lesson that I learned about this, and then maybe share a few principles. For about three years, when I was pregnant with my first, all the way through when I had three under three, I was really heavily involved in a Bible study. Not at my church, but a parent church organization Bible Study. The actual hours’ commitment of when I had to be there was just about two and a half to three hours, two mornings a week. On paper, it was like, “This isn’t that big of a commitment,” but, by the time I had gotten to three under three, that also required me to wake up almost an hour earlier in the morning. Getting them all ready to be out the door early in the morning, and feeding them breakfast and all of those things we talked about, took an extra physical toll on me. Getting them there was really difficult, even getting them in the door. It was a huge parking lot and I had three little kids who could barely walk in the door. It was kind of a fiasco. People used to stand at the door and gawk at us walking in.  Like, “Here comes Emily with her three kids. Are they going to run out into the parking lot again?” [laughter] Then I had to pick them up, take them home. By that time, they were all starving, they were desperate for a nap, they were crying. Realistically, from probably like 6:00 a.m. to 12:30 or 1:00 p.m., that was the real time it was taking me. Then by 12:30, I was exhausted. I had already expended all of my physical energy, all of my mental energy, all of my emotional energy pouring out in this Bible study. I had almost nothing to give in the afternoon in terms of parenting, or even just things around my house. What I found was, this little Bible study that I committed to, that was wonderful, was actually taking up two full days of my week. I was doing stuff on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, I was functionally out of commission for our home, and Thursday and Friday, I arrived again. The story is, I think you have to look at the whole impact sometimes. That’s not to say that it’s not super valuable but when I was pregnant with my fourth, I was like, “Look, is this even wise? [laughs] Can I even live through this with four kids? Is this smart? Is the amount of energy and toll this is taking on our family and our kids and me worth the investment?” That answer is going to be different for everyone, in every season, for every event but some of the questions that I have found myself asking, exactly what Laura said, “Am I able to complete the basic things around the house that I need to get done? Can I look for warning signs in my kids? Am I almost finding that I’m never disciplining them?” We’re always masking their behavior because we’re always gone, so I am not dealing with things. “Are my kids crying at the drop of a hat, and they’re getting upset over things that they’re generally okay over? Am I, as a mom, having really high anxiety levels about this commitment, I’m feeling overwhelmed and drowning? Is my husband asking like, 'I feel like you’ve been gone,' or, 'I feel like your mind has  been absent from the family.'" This isn’t something like, “Oh, I just had a hard day. I just had a hard week”, or even, ‘I’ve had a hard month.” This is like an extended season of time where you’re going, “Look, this church commitment or this ministry, this is something I’ve prayed about. This is something I’ve talked to my husband about, and maybe it is something I have to pull out of.” Or maybe like Laura said, you have this margin time and you are not spending it on eternal things. And there is time, and it is going to cost something to invest in ministry, and to invest in church things. Expect a cost, I would say, for sure. Maybe Laura can speak to that.

Laura:  Those are really great questions for something that is consistently taking up a ton of time. Something like going to church, or going to a small group every other Tuesday night, I would say those are things that you try to schedule for one night or one morning. I remember, as a new mom especially, I was very nap crazy. I wanted my child to get the best rest that they could. They were very structured and I felt like the sky was going to fall [laughter] if my son didn’t get his nap, or didn’t go to bed at 7:00, or I had to put him down in an unfamiliar place and then bring him home. I would encourage you to remember that your spiritual life is so important, even as a new mom. It’s more important than bedtimes. I can’t decide that for you, and Emily can’t decide that for you, but I would say that there are seasons and times where I think it’s important to not idolize that nap schedule or that morning wait time, or evening wait time, whatever it may be, in order that you can be fed spiritually. Being isolated with your children is not healthy. If you find yourself saying no to all of these commitments, particularly going to church, and being involved in a small group are some of the most important two pieces of the Christian community. You are doing that consistently, and you’re saying, “This season is too hard.” I think that something needs to be checked in your heart there, and to look at, “What am I valuing? Is my child really that messed up because they missed one nap [laughter] or is it something that we can recover from within a 24-hour period and move on?” This is a very short season of your life, but it is not unimportant, spiritually. I think we can say, “Oh, it’s just three months”, or, “It’s just the first year my child’s life that I am not really going to church; I’m not doing these things.” I would advocate to try to sacrifice in a few areas. In Emily’s example, it’s a large hunk. We’re talking about 48 hours here, but trying to be willing to sacrifice and suck it up for the church. [laughter] Sorry, I am always a little bit harsher but yes.

Emily:  I think it’s understanding what we’re getting to, is like some of the non-negotiable things that are like, “We’re going to go to church on Sunday.”  With my kids, it’s exhausting and that does require sacrifice but that’s not on the table to take out. We’re going to work around that small group and be a part of that. We’ve tried to be creative. For me, being in a Bible study is essential for my spiritual health.

Laura:  Yes, I would agree.

Emily:  I will find a way to get in a Bible study. Even like this season, I can’t do it during the day, I’ve started to do it at night, leave the house after the kids go to bed. I think you have to figure out for yourself, for your family, what are those things that are like, “These are not on the table to get out of our lives and so we’re going to have to figure out how to train our kids to work around them.” And, “What are the things we’re involved in, maybe from a ministry perspective, maybe from a church perspective, that are wonderful to do but could be things that you could cut out if you needed to?”

Laura:  How do you transition from full-time working to stay-at-home mom? I became a stay-at-home mom when I had my first child, so I didn’t transition in the between. I’m not sure how the people who asked this question, if it was like, “Hey I’ve got three kids and now I am coming home.” What I can say is, going from 40 to 50-hour week job to staying home all day was a big shock, and it wasn’t the flowers, and roses, and daisies that I was expecting. I really struggled with my identity. I struggled with knowing where did my attention and my affirmation come from? I remember talking my husband’s ear off, and really struggling when he came home late, and I felt like, “Oh, I need help, I need relief,” and this was just with one kid. I think that I would encourage you, with your expectations, to know that the adjustment might be bumpy. It’s not necessarily going to be amazing, even if this is something you’ve dreamed of and longed for your whole life. I do think that becoming a stay-at-home mom forced me to realize so much more to find my satisfaction, my affirmation, my identity in Christ and my fulfillment, because there aren’t these natural, worked-in affirmations that were provided. My best tips I guess, and I think Emily would echo these, is get involved in different things, like we’re talking about, using these checks and balances that we’ve just provided. Don’t stay home all day or  isolate yourself. Even if you’re getting out just a couple times a week, try to meet with people, find community, find hobbies and involve your kids in the stuff that you’re doing. Be intentional with your naptime. I think it can be easy to fritter it away and say, “I deserve to watch TV right now,” and sometimes you do. There’s a genuine rest time that’s allowable but try to be intentional with structuring your day. Emily, any other last advice pieces?

Emily:  I am right there with you. What you said about getting comfortable, that is going to be bumpy. Those are the moments. I’ve been through billion transitions in the last four and a half years and I always look back on those transitions and say, “That’s really what God was doing—working in my heart to show me sin areas that I’d been idolizing and things that I’d been putting my hope in, that were no longer there. Also, gear up to be looking to Christ and finding your identity in him. Another question that we get a ton and I think we are going to do a high-level show on this. Disciplining your toddler is the question. How do I discipline my toddler? How do you offer discipline to your toddlers? I will just say that we’re going to get to it. It’s just too big of a thing. It’s a great, over-coffee conversation.

Laura:  It’s also very subjective. We don’t exactly know what people always mean with discipline. It’s a very hard question to answer but we’re going to try. We’re going to give you guys a high-level overview, with some biblical concepts, in a full show. We’re going to plead the fifth today, but just know that this is coming, and our encouragement would be to remember that discipline is a requirement. Scripture compels us, as parents to do something to discipline our children, and that it’s important to have a system and be consistent in whatever it is that you do, even if it looks different from your girlfriend, or from child to child. We will get into this. We don’t have time today. We’re nervous to do it because it’s a hot topic. I get the hives when people ask us about this, and it comes probably couple of times a week. [laughs]

Emily:  Like Laura said, we want to cover it. We both place a very high value on discipline in our homes. The Bible places a high value on discipline. This is a major role of parents. We don’t want to ignore this, [laughs] but we’re still praying through and we’re going to find a way talk about it. It’s hard too, because we’re both like, “Hey, neither Laura and I have a book that we’re like, hey, this is what we do exactly.”

Laura:  We know nothing.

Emily:  My husband and I are probably like a conglomeration of four books that we’ve read, plus three older couples we’ve talked to, plus things we’ve read in scripture, plus our personalities. That makes up our discipline system and so it’s very difficult, because there isn't a Christian discipline book that I am like, “I fully endorse that 100%.”

Laura:  I’m hesitant too because I’m like my son is almost four but I have no proof in my pudding.

Emily:  We may have messed our kids up. [laughs]

Laura:  Yes, seriously. I think that’s my biggest hesitation with talking about it. It’s just that I feel like I don’t have the answers and I know it. I know that I’ll mess it up. My kids haven’t turned out to be these amazing, contributing citizens to society, that are super spiritual. I don’t know what they’re going to turn out to be.

Emily:  We’ll get there. We’ll do it on some level soon.

Laura:  What is your favorite place to go on a date-night, Em?

Emily:  We do not go out for dates very often.

Laura:  Okay, what’s your favorite date-night in activity? [laughter]

Emily:  Date-night in, we watch shows together or watch movies together. That’s probably the highlight of things, these days. We have a little restaurant here in town called The Cafe; it’s the fanciest restaurant [laughter] in our little town. It’s not that little but it’s little compared to where I grew up.  

Laura:  A middle-sized town.

Emily:  Yes, so we’ll go out to dinner occasionally. We actually like to have breakfast dates often, because it’s easier to convince my grandparents to watch our kids from like, “Hey, can you watch them from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.?” and we’ll go out and get breakfast. We’re not on any formal date night, but I know Laura, you and Mike have some awesome dates sometimes?

Laura:  My husband can be quite elaborate, but, yes, we love food. We’re wannabe foodies so we do go out. We also love going to movies because it never happens anymore and so it’s really special to get to go to a movie. Those are our two big things; date-night and we cook together.  That doesn’t happen that often but we like to cook and we eat on the couch, because we never eat on the couch with kids anymore because you have to have them eat at the table. We eat on the couch, which sounds so silly, but it’s nice for a date. I think the biggest thing with dates is calling it ‘a date’, saying, “We’re going to have a date-night.” Even if it’s at home, we’re going to open a bottle of wine and hang out, and we’re going to call it this so that your husband knows he’s not supposed to be on his phone, and you know you’re not supposed to be answering emails. You’re intentionally taking that time so, that would be my tip. Okay, so love stories. Emily, can you give a super-fast version of your love story? Is that possible?

Emily:  I met my husband, Brad—Laura’s brother—remember, in Kansas City. He had just graduated from college and moved there and I am from Kansas City. A mutual friend introduced us. She knew me really well and knew him and knew that we are both Christians, and she was like, “Hey, you guys should meet.” [laughter].

Laura:  Based on this.

Emily:  I know, which is I’m like well, “That’s a needed thing.” We were just friends for a while and if you know my husband, he’s super intentional, a big decision-maker, would you say Laura?

Laura:  He’s intense.

Emily:  He takes a long time to make decisions. He contemplated asking me out on a date for months, and I’m just like, “Whatev, we’re friends” [laughter], you know. Eventually, we did start dating each other more intentionally. I just thought the world of him. I have always admired my husband to no end, and have just thought he is incredibly smart, and interesting, and a great man and loved his family. I probably knew pretty quickly. I hoped he would ask me to marry him.

Laura:  And how quick was that Emily?

Emily:  Maybe within a month or two. I was like, “Hey, if he’s feeling this, I am on board. I really care for this guy.” He did not say “I love you,” until we got engaged.

Laura:  But this is my question is, how quick did you get engaged and how quick did you get married? Please give numbers.

Emily:  Probably 10 months after we started dating. We did get engaged, and 11 weeks later, we got married. 11 weeks you guys. 

Laura:  11 weeks, count them? [laughs]

Emily:  Yes, that was my full-time job for 11 weeks, planning my wedding [laughter]

Laura:  It’s my full-time job for five months girlfriend [laughter]. It was impressive.

Emily:  It was a whirlwind, but, yes, I wouldn’t change a thing. He’s absolutely great for me because of our personalities. We value the exact same things, but our personalities could not be more sanctifying for one another. But it is wonderful. I just absolutely love it.

Laura:  They’re a good couple. I’ll tell Brad to listen to minute 55, or whatever we’re on [laughter]. Tune in and get some information, brother. [laughter]

Emily:  What about you Laura?

Laura:  My love story, not quite as simple as Emily’s. My husband and I met in college and he was a couple of years older than me. We really only dated in town together for about two months, maybe not even that long. Formally, official boyfriend and girlfriend, we certainly played the flirtatious game for quite a while. We met through my brother Brad, Emily’s husband. They were friends, so I was dating the friend of my big brother, which didn’t go over well with Brad at first; it was not cool. But Brad came around and now they have man crushes on another, which is so fun. My husband moved because he graduated a couple of years before me. He moved to Minnesota to start working full-time, so we dated long distance for about two years. I lived in the cities through different internships in the summer time, so we did get summers together. I was graduating in December; I graduated a little early and he proposed for the first time. We were engaged two times. In December right after I graduated, we were only engaged for a couple of weeks. It wasn’t very long when I knew and he knew that it was not the right time. We don’t have time to get into all the reasons, I am sure everyone’s dying with bated breath, but know that it was 100% my fault. [laughter] It was just I needed to deal with quite a few things before I was able to get married. My husband, he was a total saint throughout the whole thing, and he loved me so much you guys; he stuck with me. But ultimately, he called the engagement off, I did not even have the strength to do that but it was the best thing for us. We didn’t talk for quite a few months. We both took time separate, and then I ended up moving to Minnesota to date him. The girl that said I would never move for a guy, moved for a guy. But I needed to figure out what it would be like to really live life with him. About eight or nine months later, we were engaged a second time. From there, we got married about five months later, and it has been bliss ever since, [laughter] and it’s just been wonderful. I would agree with Emily that we are exact opposites. He is much quieter, he is super calm, nothing shakes him or rattles him. He is brave and courageous and wise and he calls me out when I am wrong and, “You shouldn’t have said that”, or, “That sounded a little funny.” Just guides me in a very quiet manner. We’re very different, but I am so thankful, as Emily said, because he just continues to sanctify me. He really did just love me through our dating relationship, which is ultimately, when I knew he was the right guy, which is the way that he handled this bomb that I dropped on him. Praise God that we were able to find a reconciliation and healing and be happily married with, what do you say, 2.5 kids, 3 kids, plus the adoption process so it’s fun.

Emily:  This is not to make it sound like we have perfect marriages by any means but one thing Laura and I have come to deeply appreciate is the joy and the goodness of God in the midst of difficult things.

Laura:  We don’t have perfect marriages, that’s right [laughter]. Our last two questions, we’re going to do full episodes on these. We are going to do, how did you plan your family? Did you plan as you went? How did you know you were ready to add another child? That’s a conglomeration or bunch of questions we got asked, but basically, family planning. We’re going to do a show on that in the next couple months. Then, how did you transition from one to two or beyond? How do you navigate the new season, and how did it change after six months to one year? That is going to be a second show; it’s transitioning to additional kids. Emily has much more experience than I, [laughter] and we’re both staring at down the pipe of another transition. We’ll try to apply the gospel to both of those pieces, and talk through the heart issues but just know that those are shows that are coming. Because of the sheer number of times we got asked those questions...

Emily:  … and the magnitude. [laughs]

Laura:  And the meatiness, we’re going to take time to answer those thoroughly and well in a different show. And there were so many questions we didn’t even get to today.

Emily:  Maybe on Instagram stories this week when the show comes out, Laura and I will pick a few more softball questions to pop on Instagram stories and talk through some things, like Laura was going to talk about plough and trowel Bible study methods. I know some people maybe asked about our house.

Laura:  That’s Emily’s new house.

Emily:  Definitely we will try to sprinkle some more in there, in some creative way this week.

Laura:  If you have any other questions, always feel free to email us. As we mentioned at the beginning of the show, find us on social media as well. We are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Then of course, we would just love it if you guys could give us a rating and review on iTunes. We’re really grateful to those of you that have taken time to do it. It’s about five minutes long, but we would love it if you would bless us with that, to get the word out about the show to more moms. Lots of moms have reported finding us through the search results on iTunes. Those rankings that you offer us brings us higher up in search results.

Emily:  We’ll be back at our normal time, next week! [laughter]

Laura:  Yes, this was so long. [laughter] All right, talk to you guys soon.



Ep. 51 || Family Devotions in the Season of Young Children Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Hello and welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I have my sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here with me. Today, we are diving into a frequently asked question to Emily and I. We’re talking about family devotions. What do they look like? What are your expectations? How do you do them? What resources do you use, and Emily and I love to add, why do we do family devotions? Because this is Risen Motherhood and we talk about the “why” here because there’s no reason doing something if you don’t know why you do it. Emily, what was your picture pre-mom of what family devos looked like or pre-older children when it became a reality?

Emily:  Whenever I hear the word “family devotion”, my mind harkens back to like the 1800s. A family sitting in a one-room home around a fire and the father is reading out of this big old Bible for an hour.

Laura:  It’s probably King James.

Emily:  Yes and the children are all very well behaved and very quiet.

Laura:  They are knitting and crocheting or something.

Emily:  You are right there. Maybe they sing an old hymn together and they pray and it’s very picturesque. I even have a modern version of that in my mind too. That has caused a lot of issues for me because that’s completely unattainable, especially with young children. It leaves me always feeling like we are doing a really bad job at passing on our faith and our disciplines to our children. What about you Laura?

Laura:  It’s similar to you and definitely the sitting still thing, I have pictured my kids sitting still, listening and obeying and gobbling up what I was saying to them, and desiring to read it so much. It’s definitely anything but we are talking about monster trucks and if Jesus rode on monster trucks. That’s a common question in our home and questions about dinosaurs and dragons. It’s all over the place. That’s the reality.

Emily:  Most of our questions are, "Does Jesus love my stuffed animals?" and [laughs] stuff you just are like, “I don’t even know how to answer that question.” Whatever your expectation is that comes to your mind, picture it and we are going to hopefully encourage you today in how exercise this practice in a normal family.

Laura:  We are going to shatter all your unrealistic expectations.

Emily:  For the sake of today’s show, we thought we’d define what we are talking about because it may mean something different to each of you. We are saying this is a regular time when your family or most of your family sits down together and has a more intentional time of reading the scriptures, or maybe it’s a Bible storybook and learning together about the word of God. It’s an example of a time when mom and dad both act as disciplers and are showing their children, actively modeling what this practice looks like. Saying we need this daily. We rely on his word and here is what it looks like to press us through it and apply it to our lives.

Laura:  The whole reason behind why we have family devotions is that if you boil it down, it says if the gospel is everything to mom and dad then wouldn’t we want to share that with our own children, with our own flesh and blood? Out of the overflow of the joy of what we’ve received from Christ and God’s wonderful, magnificent plan that flows from that joy to say, “I want my children to know this truth. I want my children to share in this joy, to share in eternity” and if we understand our need, if we understand the need that we have for God’s guidance and his intervention in our life through his word, then we want to train our children in those things. If we believe that the gospel is just critical for our children in their eternity in life and in death, then our greatest hope and our greatest desire is for them to know Christ. That’s what family devos do is that they build a very solid foundation for our children to grow and understand. Emily has said in a previous show at one point that even if we don’t see our children come to faith until they are 20, 30, maybe we never see that happen, but when they do or if they do, this provides a wonderful foundation, a platform for which they can draw on, and that they have years and years of built up of truth and of knowing that, “Hey, this was so important to my parents. This was something that they took time out every single day to do,” and now they have something to draw on when they create their own relations with Christ.

Emily:  One of the things that happens sometimes, and I’ve experienced this a little bit is that, kids are going to church on Sunday or they are in Sunday school class or they are in youth group but in the home, they are not seeing mom and dad open the scriptures. They are not understanding how it’s critical to daily life and why it impacts their daily life. There can be this disconnect of thinking, church stuff is at church, and at home we can live another life. That is one of the many reasons why we want to make that connection for them, and see the home as primary spiritual training ground. We have talked in-depth about this topic a lot, in a lot of different ways and on a lot of different shows on Risen Motherhood. One thing we’ll do is, in the show notes, we are going to try to list a lot of related shows, if you want to understand this more; why parents are the primary disciplers of their children and how God has commissioned dads and moms to pass along the gospel to their children. We will just list a lot of resources there for you.

Laura:  While we don’t see the specific example, proper example of family devos in scripture, we do see in scripture, a lot of examples of parents passing on their faith to their children. You can look at Deuteronomy. It’s very explicit where the Lord says, “Teach these things to your children, talk to them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise.” That’s a big one in Deuteronomy 6. We can even see a lot of common examples with Timothy, learning about these things from when he was young from his grandmother. The Proverbs 31 woman. No matter what, it’s important to remember that family devotions are family worship, and we see families practicing that all over the Bible especially even large communities at a time, practicing worship. That’s basically what you are doing in a family devotion. You are having family worship together. You are singing songs. You are reading the Bible. You are talking about God. All of those things honor him and worship him.

Emily:  Our goal today, like we said at the beginning, isn’t to put another burden on you. We want to encourage you that this is a great thing that you can start, in the season of young children and basically, though the main thing is we have to adjust our expectations and understand that doing a little bit or getting started on this habit is worthwhile in the season of young children. Laura and I thought we’d go through and share some our expectations and how we’ve managed them and learned to think more rightly about them.

Laura:  One of my biggest difficulties was learning how to talk to a two-year-old about Jesus. I felt I have never done that before. I’m not a big kid person. I didn’t babysit growing up and it was tough for me to learn how to bring down these big truths that I was barely even understanding in some ways, and be able to talk to a child about those things, especially with interruptions and distractions and things like that. One thing I want to encourage everybody in too is if that’s something that’s hard for you, your children are the best training ground ever. I feel they don’t remember the little nuances and theological errors that you might have, and they are not going to pick up on if one day you said something, and the next day you slightly correct that or change it to be more understandable and bring it down to their level. This is the time to do it when they are really, really young and they are soaking everything up and they trust you and you are diligently bringing these truths to them and this is a time where you can learn how to share the gospel in a very, very simple way. Because that’s one beautiful thing about the gospel, is it can be like that.

Emily:  One of the things my husband and I have been saying recently, because we have a kid who will ask endless questions before bed about the Bible and about God—some valid, some not. We’ll say we should have patience for these questions while he is still excited to ask them. Exactly like Laura said, you don’t have to have a perfect answer but that desire to engage our children spiritually is what draws them into relationship with us so that there is that trust there. Another expectation with young children to be aware of is the amount time. You are not going to wake up tomorrow morning, if you haven’t been having a quiet time or prayer time and you are going to start two hours a day, every day. You have to build up to it, especially if you have kids under three. This may be five minutes or seven minutes or three minutes a night. If you have kids a little bit older than that, maybe it’s 15 minutes. Maybe you have a good night and it’s 20 but I don’t know many families with young children who are doing 30-minute to an hour long quiet time. If you are able to do that, that is wonderful but that that’s something we have to train our kids in. Speaking of other families, that’s another thing we have to careful of is remembering that there is freedom in Christ, like Laura and I say on every show. The way families are going to pass along their faith to their children is going to look different. There may be some families where there’s a guitar involved in the family worship time.   

Laura:  I know a family that’s got dress up clothes. It is awesome but that isn’t us.

Emily:  That is okay and it’s okay to look at where your family is at and say, “Hey, we want to be faithful to tell our children about Jesus. What does that look like for us in this season and go do it?"

Laura:  What about dads’ involvement? Ideally, dad would lead this time but I can speak to the fact that my husband often sometimes doesn’t see my kids during the day at all. A lot of this does ride on me and when he’s home he does lead but we also keep it very simple for his days. We do little bit different things when he’s home, and if your husband is maybe in not interested in doing this or maybe he’s not a believer, or maybe he’s still growing in knowing how to be the spiritual leader of the family, we have shows on that. If you have more questions on what dad’s involvement looks like, we will link those up on the show notes.

Emily:  Yes because that can be a hard question and it can feel like you are doing it alone.

Laura:  Emily and I are going to talk through a little bit about some of our favorite resources, what we are each doing for quiet times, and what it looks like to give you that practical stuff we know all of you guys love. Em, do you want to go first?

Emily:  Sure and especially in the season of young kids, I feel it’s changed for us. Every few months I feel family devos starts to look different. Things we’ve done in the past, when we’ve done it in the morning have been … I had this little gospel book that I created where we talked about the 10 points of the gospel and literally the kids memorized it. I’ve done a book called Leading Little Ones to God, which I’ll link to and it’s old school. It maybe was published in the 60s as a theological lesson and something to help get conversations started. More recently we’ve been doing things before bed. In December, we sat down and read through most of the Gospel of Luke and we’d read a chapter or a section at a time, and then I would generally give a principle from it, if my kids would ask a question that didn’t make any sense, they would go to bed. My husband’s family, Laura’s family, did Pilgrim's Progress every January growing up. We got a kid’s version of that called Dangerous Journey that we read through and the boys loved it because it was scary.

Laura:  This book we will show it to you on show notes, but it’s really good but it is a little bit scary, right Em?

Emily:  It is scary but they loved it and they were so engaged with the story. It’s a metaphor for the Christian life and it’s a great conversation starter. Recently, we’ve also done The Biggest Story by Kevin DeYoung, which we’ll link to and that was good to talk through the main message of the Bible and weaving Jesus in there. Right now, we are going through The Jesus Storybook Bible and I know that’s something a lot of people around us have gone through with their kids. I feel until now our kids haven’t been able to grasp it. I will read that one little section at a time and then everybody gets to ask a question and we pray and we go to bed. Go to bed kids. Go to bed now.[laughter]

Laura:  We tend to do something in the morning over breakfast with me and the kids every day-ish. We are going to give a nice caveat on there. It doesn’t happen every day.

Emily:  Not every day-ish.

Laura:  Then also at the end of the day, we always read the Bible before bed and the two that we tend to read are Jesus Storybook Bible and The Big Picture Bible. I think that’s what it’s called, and The Greatest Story, that Emily mentioned. We have a few like that and Pilgrim’s Progress. My son calls it the dragon book and he loves it. He’s super into the skulls and scary parts of it. Anyway, we rotate on those before bed and then in the mornings, I switch it up a lot. We memorize scripture typically, at some point and we tend to do longer passages. I find it a lot easier with references, and my kids can get into it with a lot of actions and it’s just amazing what a three-year-old can soak up. Don’t underestimate your kids moms because I am amazed all the time by what they can take in, what they can process and what they can spit back out. We usually do that. We’ve done New City Catechisms. There’s also a CD that has all the catechisms to song. It’s called Songs for Saplings.

That’s not part of our quiet time but we play that throughout the day, to reinforce what a catechism means and remember the catechism. We will work through different theology books. I’ll link to two of them that we use in the show notes. That basically frames up a theological question or truth and then as Emily said, we always leave time for questions. A lot of times I’m saying, “What do you think about this? Why did God do that?” making up questions on the fly. I can’t think of how I do it now but if you’ve never done this before, it’s practicing and talking about the pictures and talking about what images the kids are seeing, and why didn’t Sally want to share with Suzie and what does God think about that? Basic stuff but a lot of it is on the fly, asking questions and giving that opportunity for your kids to ask any question, and to let them know we love talking about God, and we love and value the Bible and God’s truth and all those things. If you want to do this, we want to talk about a couple, practical next steps.

Emily:  All of that can sound like there’s a hundred things to do but Laura and I are not doing all these things at one time. I feel at least for us these change every week or every couple of months. Just think about one thing and add into your routine, something that you are already doing. At breakfast, like Laura said. We are going to do this while we are already all here or do something in the car, if you have a long commute somewhere or right before bed. That’s something our kids remind us of every day, even if we don’t want or we are ready for them to go to sleep. It’s in the routine and start small. Do one little thing even if it’s just reading two pages out of The Jesus Storybook Bible. We are not even going to get through the whole section. Start somewhere and then know that you can add to it, you can change it, you can let it evolve for your family and don’t forget to be in the word yourself. It’s hard to insert this into your kids’ life or to your family’s life if this isn’t something that’s important in our own life. That’s definitely important too.

Laura:  The main idea is we want you guys to all be encouraged to spend a certain time in your day, where you communicate to your kids how much mom and dad love and value the Bible, how you can learn from the Bible, how we want to think about what the Bible says, apply it to our lives and to show them that prayer is important. That is a key way to commune with God and a key part of the Christian life. It looks so many different ways and there are lots of different things that you can do. We hope that you leave this show, not feeling overwhelmed but instead equipped to be able to take just a piece of something that we shared today and apply it to your own life.

Emily: If you go to our show notes at RisenMotherhood.com, we will have links to all of these resources in detail, plus things that we didn’t remember to mention on the show. Then you can also find links to some of the other shows we mentioned that give other background into this conversation. Thanks for joining us. You can find us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter at Risen Motherhood and thanks for joining us.


Ep. 50 || When Momma Gets Mad, Part 2: Practical Ways to Stay Calm Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I am Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. We are picking back up in the middle of a serious conversation we were having in the last episode. If you didn’t catch that, definitely go back and listen for a little bit of the background to today’s conversation. Primarily, we were talking about when mom gets angry or frustrated with her kids, and how sin impacts that and causes that and then how the gospel gives us hope. When we left off last week, we were getting ready to start talking through our identity in Christ and how in Christ, we are seen as righteous before God and that frees us from having to label ourselves as the yelling mom or the angry mom or whatever condemnation we put on ourselves. That isn’t who we are in Christ, and we are free to repent and to seek Christ and live in that freedom and walk forward and fight sin. Today’s episode is going to be talking about what does that look like? How do we practically fight that sin? Laura and I are happy we are talking through this because we need to know what these tools are. [laughter]    

Laura:  Em, I feel like you just dove into the deep end immediately. It’s so good but I was like, “Okay, I’ve got to catch up with Em.” I do have to totally agree though with what you said about our labels and our identity. It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy, it seems like, when we begin to say, “I’m the angry mom,” we begin to live out what we believe we are. As Emily said, we don’t want to be chained to that condemnation but we want to remember that we are a child of the most high God. That we serve the King of the universe that gives us all power and all ability to concur that sin because of his death and resurrection. If you are feeling like you clicked on this episode because you’re an angry mom, you know what, that’s not who you are anymore. You are a redeemed child of the King. Sometimes I just need to hear that. Maybe you need to hear that but as Emily said, we are not perfect; we want to talk through these. We’re verbalizing, thought processing with you. We hope that this is a helpful show with a lot of hope for you.        

Emily:  In that hope again, talking about fighting sin, I was thinking about how there are things that need to be right in our hearts, that we’re always in process; we’re always trying to work it out. Maybe you’re on a diet, it is not smart to have chocolate chip cookies in your pantry or Cheetos where you can grab them. There are some common sense things that you don’t need that level of temptation in your life. What Laura and I are talking through today is, in terms of anger and frustration in motherhood, how can we get the cookies out of the pantry, so that you’re not standing there looking at them going, “Oh, man, I’m going to break down. I’m going to break down.” What things can we do to set up in our lives? Maybe we are still working through some of these, “I want to be in control. I want things to be according to my preferences. I want to be comfortable.” That’s probably going to be a lifelong thing that we are working through but in the meantime, how can we protect ourselves from sinning against our children in our anger and learning to have that self-control? That’s the context of today. To start out, we’re going to through some of the things that make Laura and I angry. [laughter]      

Laura:  We are preaching to ourselves you guys. We do want to say, there is a righteous anger, so kids shouldn’t disobey. Sin should bother us, but it’s how we react to that. Sometimes I think we get angry, often at least I get angry, not even from sin in our children, it is 100% my own sin. Some things to look at if you feel like, “I’m getting ticked off all the time.” Are there areas that you have not yet trained your children but you should? This is a huge one. For me, Emily, I go to Target all the time, I feel like I live there. It was funny because once my daughter got big enough to sit on her own in those huge massive red carts, the big double semi that you drive in there, once she got big enough, she didn’t want to sit still any more. My kids want to lay underneath the cart, legs spread, they’re knocking the pasta boxes off the aisle because I have this massive load. For a while, I let them because my two kids, they fed off each other and they we’re all over the place. I was like, “This is the best way I’m going to get my shopping done because otherwise, she’s going to cry when I strap her into the cart.” But it became frustrating. The kids were falling off. Their fingers were getting rolled over. They were not being well behaved honestly and it was causing issues. They would fight. They both wanted to pick off the same piece of gum on the bottom of the cart or something weird like that. I realized I would get so frustrated but I had let them do this. I had laxed on the rules. I had not trained them how to sit in the cart and make that a priority. Honestly, in the end, how could I expect anything different? I would usually let them but then when it got too crazy, I would be like, “You guys all have to sit in the cart,” and realizing that I needed to take time to train them and to talk to them through those things, to prep them before we got to Target and talk about it afterwards when they did a good job or when they didn’t do such a good job. That’s a huge one I think, when we don’t train our children what our expectations are. We don’t allow them to practice. We flow around and then suddenly, erupt in anger.        

Emily:  Yes, and this is one of the bigger ones for me because I like to think of myself as the laid-back parent. I’m like, “I’m so cool. I’m so chill. It’s cool, you can do that to your brother, I’m just being patient here.” But the reality is it’s not patient, it’s putting off what needs to be dealt with. I think as a mom, I’ve learned I either deal with this now when it’s a small thing and it’s pretty easy to train and correct, or it becomes a big thing, and I freak out, and that’s the only way to get it under control. That’s exactly what Laura is saying, is to be proactive. If we let our kids get out of control and we are not stepping in when it’s still small, it’s really easy to lose it. Related to that, these are a little bit overlapping, but are we getting angry due to a lack of preplanning on our part or organization or we’re being overcommitted? An example of that that Laura and I could both relate to is the other day, I’m trying to get out the door for an appointment and realistically in hindsight, I didn’t leave enough time. Whenever all of our kids go into sloth mode, it’s so frustrating, and I was angry because they wouldn’t get themselves into the car. But really, I should have left more time.   

Laura:  Another one is an expectation or a behavior that’s too advanced for your child. My simple easy example of this is getting mad when my kids knock over their bowl of yogurt and it goes everywhere. Honestly, it’s a two-year old behavior. My daughter didn’t do it out of trying to be defiant or disobedient. We don’t want to get angry because our child literally is incapable of doing something that we expect.  

Emily:  [laughs] Another thing that can happen is you get frustrated because you feel like you have corrected a child, maybe you have been keeping them with discipline, but you’re still dealing with the same issue over and over again because, guess what, your kids are sinners. That can be really frustrating especially when you feel like, “I’ve been working on this for two years.” I remember we went through a season with my twins where they did not want to sleep at night. We literally, for months, we were on them. We did all the right things from a parenting perspective and nothing worked. We would get so frustrated but one day, they just went to sleep and that was the end of it. [laughter] We never had a problem with it ever again. In the meantime, that can be a real anger trigger when we forget this is just sin nature and guess what, I have things I keep doing over and over and over again and the Lord is so gracious.     

Laura:  Finally, we want to be aware of some of those external causes. A lot of these things are issues we haven’t really dealt with with our kids but if you have not gotten a lot of sleep, you’ve got a newborn, you’ve got kids like Emily where they’re getting up out of bed all the time, in that example, or maybe you’re super hormonal, you still have to be kind. Emily and I can both attest. We’re both pregnant and so we are feeling the whacky hormones or you’re PMSing or whatever, that’s where we want to be aware that those are not excuses. Just because you are PMSing, you are not allowed to be like, “I get to be mean and rude to everybody because my hormones are going crazy.” No, not an excuse. I have tried it many times and it doesn’t work.      

Emily:  We maybe mentioned this in our last show about saying, “I’m going to be different. This is going to stop on its own,” is when we are in those exhausted hormonal stages. Because if you’re having even several young little kids in a row, it’s easy to be like, “Okay, when it’s not a newborn, when I’m done nursing,” [laughs] and it’s like, “Wait a minute, it’s been three years and I haven’t been done doing any of those things.” It’s a legitimate thing to be aware of, like Laura said, but at some point, we have to go, “This though cannot be an excuse to sin against my children.”

Laura:  Unfortunately, these little years, we can come up with a lot of excuses but it’s not worth it. How do we fight this? We’ve gone through identifying a lot of common triggers and those are one way of eliminating many of those triggers. Figuring out, “What’s setting me off? How can I plan ahead? How can I change things up in my daily life so that I am no longer dealing with that?” But we talked about our kids are still sinners, we live in a fallen world, this is not perfection so we are still going to be dealing with the issue of anger, and impatience, and frustration on a daily basis, if you are a normal human being, [laugher] so I hope you all are. All the stuff we said in the show, we are not going to go through and repeat it here, but all the stuff that we said last week, about having a right perspective about what sin is, and what grace is, and who you are in your standing before the throne, remind yourself of the truth of that gospel. How do we do that? That’s what we’re going to get into.         

Emily:  One thing, and this is really hard for me, is to just pray and to stop either in those moments, or especially in the morning before I start my day. I think that is a big one that, when I’ve done my Bible study or I’ve done my quiet time, to stop and pray through who I am, who God is, what Jesus did for me and what that means for me today, especially focusing on my anger or my frustration. I feel like prayer is one of those things, as soon as I stop and pray, it is immediately admitting that I do not have it all together and I need God. I can be really stubborn in that, I need to grow that, but that is a great way to fight sin.       

Laura:  And be specific. It’s so funny how sometimes we are like, “I need help Lord.” Be specific and say, “I get upset when this happens. God, please help me. I don’t want to sin anymore because I know that’s not who I am. I am a new creation in you.” How do we learn what to pray or how to talk to God or how do we hear from God? It’s amazing. We have this thing called the Bible [laughter] and God speaks to us through the Bible. Get in God’s word every single day moms. This is so much more important than social media. It is so much more important than watching whatever show you are watching online, that you feel super committed to and you don’t miss an episode. Don’t miss time in God’s word. This is where you are going to learn who you are. When we read the Bible, what we really want to do is learn about who God is. That’s what the Bible tells us. We don’t open the Bible and say, “What does this say about me? How does this touch me and identify with my anger?” What you are going to be doing, we hope that you do when you read the Bible, is that you look at the Bible and say, “God what does this say about you? What could I learn about you? How does that change me? Because I know this about you, how does that change me?” I don’t know about you, Emily, but I feel like once a day isn’t even enough because Lord, I’m still a sinner. Personally, I will share with you guys, I’m starting to read the Bible again around four o'clock and read a short psalm, and hit the reset button to go into the witching hour. If you’ve got to read it six times a day, keep that Bible open and don’t be afraid. Don’t feel like you’re a one-and-done person because sin is not a one-and-done.    

Emily:  That leads us into our next one of remembering that part of our role as a mom and passing along the gospel is reminding our children that we need Jesus too, and confessing to them. “Mommy should not have talked to you that way,” or, “Mommy needs to trust God. This is something that God is working on in my heart.” It’s a wonderful example to them that Jesus and the gospel are powerful. They’re powerful for mommy and they’re powerful for our children too. It’s a great way to stop you in your tracks.   

Laura:  Exactly, oh man, it is very humbling but it’s a very beautiful picture as you are saying, Em. Finally, one of the things we want to talk about is community and accountability with anger. I think anger is one of those things we don’t really like admitting to each other or even believing that another mom struggles with. It’s one of those things where you have this perfect mom friend and you can’t even imagine her getting upset so why would you ever confess that that’s a struggle but it happens to everyone. All that stuff that we talked about, about grace and sin and all of that, that liberates you from any pretenses of trying to wear a mask with your friends. We hope that even by Emily and I’s example of sharing, because you guys, we’ve been talking about doing this show for six or eight months and have not even got the courage to really speak about it because we feel so behind in this area. We hope that this is an example to you of being able to confess and be very honest about where we struggle because there is power in that. God, in his beautiful plan has created a way for us to be able to encourage one another as we admit sin and confess it, and then we begin to move beyond just saying, “Yes, I get angry too,” and, “That sets me off too,” and, “I totally get it; you are so normal.” Let’s move beyond that to saying, “Hey, me too but what am I going to do about that? How can we stop being like this?” Let’s not fester and wallow in that sin but instead, let’s move beyond it with the hope that Jesus Christ brings to us and pray for one another and with each other.     

Emily:  Again, even if you aren’t struggling maybe with this right now, let’s say you’re like, “Okay, I really don’t understand this,” but your friend comes to you and is jokingly, “I had a bad day with my kids again. I wasn’t really patient with them,” I think, how can we respond graciously, remembering that we shouldn’t condemn other people or make them feel shame for this because that puts somebody into a hole. [laughs]

We had this Milton Vincent quote in our notes and I think we shared this gospel part of it before but, “With the worst facts about me exposed to the view of others, I find myself feeling I truly have nothing left to hide,” and it’s true. There is no sin that has not been paid for in your life, in your friend’s life, and because of that, we can be free to share in community.    

Laura:  Amen, I love that. I feel like there has been so much good fruit in my life when I feel like I have admitted things to close friends and been able to be held accountable and to grow and improve. We hope that this show has been an encouragement to you. I know we barely scratched the surface of probably some of those things we can do, but the biggest thing if we can press it on you is to get in God’s word moms, to become biblically literate, and reading the truth of the gospel, and letting it wash over you, and encourage you and admit that weakness. Because God’s light will shine the brightest against that really bleak and dark backdrop of your sin. That is where he shows up and there is a beauty in the gospel when you admit that you are a weak mom in need of a savior, yet you continue to serve and love your family well. That is the gospel right there. Go forth today and try to make changes in your day if you’re struggling with this.   

Emily:  We’ll try to have some more resources as well on our show notes. You can find those on risenmotherhood.com. Again, you can find us across all social media platforms, well, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, [laughs] the ones we’re on, @RisenMotherhood. If you’ve enjoyed this show, you’re enjoying listening to Risen Motherhood, it would mean a lot to us if you would leave a rating, a review on iTunes. Thanks for joining us.


EP. 47 || Facing the Cold & Flu Season with Grace Transcript

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura:  Hello and welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. We are so glad you are tuning in today. I have my lovely sister-in-law, Emily Jensen, here, and Emily has a really special announcement today.  

Emily:  Much like Laura shared a few weeks back, I am also pregnant and expecting our fifth baby in August.  

Laura:  It’s going to be so fun because Emily and I are, how many weeks apart, are we like six?

Emily:  Four, five, six, I don’t know. [laughter]

Laura:   Neither of us could even probably count where we are today and how many weeks along, but we are going to be very pregnant this summer.  

Emily:  There’s going to be two Risen Motherhood babies this summer, which is really exciting.

Laura:  And that ties into our show a little bit. Today, we are talking about sickness. We both are experiencing lots of morning sickness but that’s not the exact kind of sickness we’re talking about. We are going to be talking a little bit about the colds, the flus. What else?  

Emily:  All the winter sickies.

Laura:  The runny noses, the bugs, the snots, coughs.

Emily:  Which I feel like in a season of young children, can feel like it’s going on nearly all the time in the winter. In fact, funny that we should record this show this morning because I was up with a sick baby last night for about an hour and a half—the cough, the runny nose, the whole, “Just come to our bed. We’ll try it out for a little while,” everything. Our family is actually coming off of a couple of weeks of passing it around to every person and I’ve had it. I’m pretty sure we got it because a couple of weeks ago, we were at a Legoland. I looked down and I saw an empty bottle of cold and flu medicine on the ground. I was like, “Well, hope everybody is having fun because we’re trading two hours of Legoland for two weeks of sickness.”  

Laura:  This will be the last time we’re having fun for a couple of weeks.

Emily:  Actually, I feel like it’s gotten a lot better. Overall, I remember when everybody was three and under. I think there was a couple of winters there where they were literally sick the entire winter.   

Laura:  I feel like my son, especially with his first year of life, we were in the ER six times. It was insane because of course, kids love to get sick in the middle of the night with the high, high fevers or on the weekends and things like that. Probably as a new mom, I was like, “Doctor, right away.” I feel like kids go every other year for some reason. Maybe that’s not true but mine do. We have a bad year, we have a good year, we have a bad year, and then a good year.   

Emily:  The other thing that I feel moms always get worried about in the winter is transferring the illness to people, and all of the things surrounding that. Like I mentioned, our kids were sick and I think it was last week or whenever that they first came down with it. I dropped them off at grandma’s house and I had to take my youngest son to an appointment. They barely had runny noses so I was like, “Whatever, kids have runny noses all the time in the winter. That in itself is nothing. They were acting normal. I come back later in the day to pick them up. They’d been with their cousins all day and literally two of them look like they’ve got severe pink eye. Grandma is going, “I think one of them has a fever,” and I’m like, “Urgh.” I feel horrible because they’ve been playing with their cousins all day long. Anyways, we’ve all been in that situation where you’re out somewhere and you think your kid is fine and then they throw up.   

Laura:  I thought it was always so funny in our church nursery. A bout of sickness would go around, and so all the moms would be talking about it. Somebody came down with hand-foot-mouth or RSV or something. It would be like a murder mystery to figure out which mom brought their kid who was sick. Where did this originate? We need to find patient zero. It was so funny because that’s something, and we’ll get into this later, but often times, you’re not going to find the exact source. Even though we always want someone to blame, it seems like we want to figure out, “Who did this?” it’s like, okay, everybody gets sick. As you and I can attest with however many kids we have between us, kids just get sick and often times, you don’t know that you are the cause and maybe your child was patient zero and you feel horrendous about it. [laughter]       

Emily:  Today we mostly want to talk about this common frustration we have maybe in the winter or feelings of frustration we have maybe in the winter or feelings of exhaustion surrounding the constant sickness and colds and flus of little kids. We wanted to caveat real quick. When I had my newborn twins and they just left the NICU, the doctors, as we were heading out were like, “Do not pass these babies around to anyone. You need to live a hermit lifestyle because if they get a cold or flu or fever, they are back here in the hospital immediately.”

We know that there are some more extreme cases out there where children, during this season, may be at a higher risk if they were to get a cold and flu. We know that those situations sometimes have different considerations. Today, we are talking about your general, “I’m so tired of having to take them to the doctor but they’re generally going to recover okay,” and more is our heart surrounding those common winter illnesses.   

Laura: That’s a good caveat Em. We’re going to look into where do we find sickness in scripture, what is some of the biblical basis surrounding that.  Obviously, sickness occurs due to the fall. It entered as soon as Eve took that bite. We started getting sickness, death, all of that physical suffering that we all experience, that’s when it entered. There are tons of examples of this in the Old Testament.  

Emily:  I think there’s everything from God judges Egypt with the plagues, and sends sickness that way. We see Job experiences all kinds of different bouts of illness. God, when he sets up Israel, gives all kinds of laws about how they are to deal with illness, both for their own health and because there’s issues of cleanliness and uncleanliness. Then we see it in the New Testament too. Look at Paul or any of the apostles, they’re like the first missionaries. They talk about how they encountered illness and physical suffering due to things that are going on with their bodies, like ailments, while they were spreading the gspel, and so this is certainly not anything that is new to the modern mommy. [laughter]   

Laura:  God doesn’t promise us, a life that is free from sickness ever. If you look at his own son and his followers, as Emily was starting to say, they experienced so much physical suffering from both persecution and from sickness. If you think about living back then, they didn’t have all the modern medicines that we did, and so they probably experienced things to a much more extreme degree than we ever did. Emily and I get it. We do not like it when our kids are sick any more than any other mom does.  It’s okay to hate the results of the fall, mourn those frustrating and painful aspects, but I am a firm believer that sickness sanctifies us. [laughter] I know Emily would agree but there is so much hope in sickness and grace that we can find.

Emily:  There’s not much worse than feeling like you’re experiencing or your children are experiencing some type of suffering and you feel like, “What is this for? Is this for nothing? I can do this if there’s a purpose in this but if the purpose is everybody is hurting and miserable, that’s not cool.” What’s wonderful is that when we are in Christ, we know that nothing is meaningless. God doesn’t waste anything. He has a plan and a purpose for our lives, and he is working everything for our good and so we can trust him that even when everything feels miserable, even if we don’t know the specifics of what is going on, that it’s not for nothing. It is to work out holiness in our lives and honestly, a lot of times it’s a good reminder to me because I don’t realize how much I take for granted when our children are feeling really well. I take for granted the amazing way that God made the human body, and the amazing modern medicines that he’s brought out. Because if I were a mom, 100, 200 years ago or living in other parts of the world, it may be quite a bit more serious when my child got just a “common illness” that we would experience here in the United States.   

Laura:  We can find so many different graces when our children are sick. As Emily was saying, being amazed at the bodies that God created with our immune system to fight off most of these sicknesses, especially when we’re talking about, as we were saying, the common cold or the flu. It’s amazing how our bodies  rest and take time to heal. Our children’s bodies are built to heal and that is a grace, because God does not need to allow that to happen. I think we can all attest to understanding how much more thankful we are for our health, for able bodies once we’ve gotten done with the sickness. We are so thankful to have a nose that does not run anymore, that that is not our permanent life. I think too, we can look at the image that it shows us. As God heals our outward bodies, as modern medicine, he uses those types of things to heal our outward bodies, we can be thankful that Christ heals our inward souls as well with his death and his resurrection on the cross. We can see that parallel and that’s where I think sickness can be a reminder of our flawed, feeble, weak bodies that are now healed in Christ and someday will be totally made new, and that someday we won’t experience these effects of the fall ever again.     

Emily:  Thankfully, you won’t have to take your kid to the doctor in heaven. [laughter] We are going to transition now into probably all of the stuff that you are really wondering about when it comes to sickness, and motherhood, and kids and how the gospel plays into that. Things like, “How do I respond if go into Chick-Fil-A and I see a mom has brought her super sick kids there to the play area?” or if like Laura was saying, you see a kiddo show up to the  nursery and you’re like, “Why did they bring them here?” We wanted to talk through some of those principles of things like we get those momma bear feelings. How can we be gracious? How can we have our minds and our hearts centered on Christ and be ready to trust God? The first thing was loving our neighbor as ourselves. I think that that’s a really practical thing we can do when our kiddos are sick. I know, over the years, my husband and I have a little bit different judgment calls on this but I always ask myself, “How would I feel if someone brought their kids out in the same state that my kids are in?” I try to think, “How can I treat another mom or another family with the same courtesy I would want to be treated?” instead of, “They’re probably not feeling well but I don’t want to lay aside my stuff so we’re just going to go.”   

Laura:  We can take Philippians 2:3 of counting others as more significant than yourself, as Emily was saying, of looking at other people’s children and then also your own children, considering the needs of your own children. They need rest and fluids. They need time probably to snuggle with mom. Often times, we can begin to want to do our own things. We don’t want to lay down our plans and our schedule, but that is a great chance to serve your children by saying, “No, we’re going to stay home. We’re going to have a tougher day probably on mom, of being here but allowing your body time to heal.”   

Emily:  That is so challenging to do in practice sometimes but so good. Another one we wanted to talk through was that practically, you can extend the same grace to moms as you would want to be extended. I know we mentioned earlier in the show, some of those examples of times when we’ve brought our kids places and we really didn’t think they were that sick or we really didn’t know they were going to get sick and it happens. It feels awful and so sometimes, we want that grace. We don’t want moms to get really upset with us or judge us or all of that. I think we need to remember that. When another mom may bring her kid somewhere, you don’t know why she chose to do that. You don’t know all the factors that went into her morning. You don’t know all the things that are going on and so try to believe the best of her intentions. I think sometimes too, it may not have been fair that she made that decision or exposed your children to illness, but there are a lot of unfair things in the gospel. [laughs] God has been very gracious and merciful towards us when we don’t deserve it and so it’s one of those remembering to extend that same forgiveness and grace. Maybe if a kid throws up somewhere and mom is absolutely mortified, definitely shuttle your kids away first, but after that, what would it look like to extend, “Can I help you? This is awful. It feels so bad when your kids get sick,” and just extend that courtesy.      

Laura:  Reality is you’ve made somebody else’s kid sick. Even if you don’t think you have, remember that illnesses start getting contagious 24 hours beforehand and so every time that I feel like I would get maybe frustrated at a situation, I have to remind myself, I have been her and like Emily was saying, I would want that same grace extended to me. You are not perfect in your own actions and so keeping that in mind. I think too, along with that, is just trusting God with your kids. We obviously should take appropriate precautions and do the whole vitamins and washing hands and making sure that we try to keep our kids safe but we don’t want them to live in a bubble. Honestly, it’s just not trusting God when we are too paranoid about germs that are around. Em, didn’t you find some study about sick kids?       

Emily:  Yes, I couldn’t believe it. I found it on Wikipedia or something, so take it for what it’s worth, but the average young kiddo gets between six and ten colds a year. A kiddo who may be exposed to a lot of other little children a lot, maybe in a daycare setting can get up to 12 on average, which is crazy to me if that’s the average because that means there’s some poor kiddo out there getting like 16 colds a year.     

Laura:  There you have it. Especially because colds come mostly in the winter, that’s your entire winter. If you feel like your kid is sick all winter, well, they’re just on average so you can feel great about that. [laughter]  

Emily:  I know Laura and I have both battled that in the past of feeling like, “Am I doing something really wrong as a mom because my kids are getting colds?” Again, I want to emphasize that in all things in life, we should do the wise precautionary things and do the things we need to do to keep our kids healthy but I think that we sometimes underestimate, and now that some time has passed and I looked back, just how normal it is. Sometimes illness is a reminder of how much we are not in control as moms and that can be really hard to grasp.    

Laura:  That ties into our last point of what we want to make. We need to always check our heart in sickness. We’ve been talking a little bit about that throughout the show, but basically, as Emily was saying there, let’s check our heart and see is there something that you’re idolizing during that time your child was sick? Maybe it’s your schedule, something that you wanted to do that day, your own personal comfort and desire to have an ‘easier’ day with your kids. Reality is sickness is inconvenient with whatever you’re going to be doing. Maybe you’re a working mom and you have to stay home and you feel like, “I cannot take another day.” There are a lot of things that we can begin to idolize. Some are valid reasons like missing work. I can see that definitely being a difficult thing but we need to check our hearts and see, “Am I going to be more tired? This is going to cost me money to take my kid to the ER or take my kid to the doctor. I’m not going to be able to clean my house or keep it as perfect as I really like to keep it or I am going to feel like I don’t have it all together.”  Even that idea of you don’t want somebody else thinking that you got their kid sick or you don’t take good care of your kids. If your kid’s sick all the time, maybe you feel a little bit of shame like Emily was saying of, “Hey, what did I do wrong? Is that my fault?” I think there’s a way to be lovingly concerned as a parent and to be genuine in feeling, “I don’t like to see my child hurt. I don’t like to see them not feeling well,” but at the same time, we always need to check our own motives with the anger or frustration that I think we can often experience that comes with sickness.

Emily:  Examining my own heart here, and I think Laura would agree, that a lot of times when I get really frustrated about all these winter illnesses, it’s a little bit about not wanting to see my kids uncomfortable, but it’s more about me and me not wanting to be uncomfortable, so always good things to think about. Ultimately, we know that in all things, God calls us to rejoice and he calls us to give thanks in circumstances. That’s really difficult when we think about circumstances that are less comfortable or less fun but this is still true. Even when your kiddo has a really bad cold, even when they have the flu, those are still times when God calls us to trust him and to give thanks and to believe that again, He is doing a good work in your heart, and in your life, and in that child’s life, and he is doing things that we cannot see. That’s the hard commission for the end.    

Laura:  If you were hoping for some practical nitty-gritties of how to treat cold and flu, I’ve written a little bit about it so we’ll have a little bit in our show notes. One thing you definitely want to check out are these DIY homemade lollipops. They’re honey lollipops, excuse me, so they’re simply made from pure honey and they’re awesome. You’ve got to try them out. They’re super easy and my kids love them. They eat them even when they’re not sick. That link will be in the show notes because I’m a big fan of making them.  So we’ll have some practical stuff, but of course, we will have lots of stuff in there around the heart issues around sickness. Head to the show notes, that’s risenmotherhood.com. Of course, there’s social media links, @RisenMotherhood for Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, we’d love it if you found us over there. If you have time, please leave us a review on iTunes. We would so appreciate it to get the word out to all the other moms about gospel-centered motherhood. We hope you guys have a great day.


Ep. 46 || Intentional Motherhood: Communicating Your Family's Mission

This transcript is edited for clarity.

Emily:  Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my lovely sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. Before we get started, a couple of really quick housekeeping things. If you haven’t taken our survey yet, please hop over to our show notes on risenmotherhood.com, we would love to hear from you. Just some good feedback that would be helpful for us in the coming year as we want to continue to serve you guys well and keep producing helpful content.

Then also, if you follow us over on Instagram, you might have noticed that we have a hashtag, #RisenMotherhood—big shocker right there. [laughs] Laura and I check that pretty frequently, at least once a week or so, and so we love scrolling through and seeing the way that the g4ospel is impacting your life in motherhood so consider using that. It’s definitely really encouraging to us and hopefully to others.

Laura:  Today we’re going to be talking about a family mission statement, family vision. These are things we want to be super clear upfront, that are nice to-dos and not necessary to-dos or need to-dos but we are going to be chatting through that a little bit today. Emily, I don’t know about you but I don’t think I grew up with a true family mission statement. Did you have any phrases that your parents would consistently say that you knew, “That’s a Graham thing to say?” that’s Emily’s maiden name.      

Emily:  For some reason, when I think about this, I can only think about stuff my dad said. I’m sure my mom said things, but I can remember on Saturday mornings, he would drive us to the airport to go watch airplanes take off. He would always look back in the car, because I would complain and he’d be like, “Emily, life is not always fun. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do.” He used that one on me a lot.

There was a few other things that I remember him saying over and over again, but I think a lot of it was just, I want to say subconscious, but probably they didn’t realize they were doing it but over the course of my lifetime, communicated a lot of messages about what my parents valued, and what they hoped that I valued.       

Laura:  I know my dad and my mom would always say, “Remember who you are,” on our way up and, “Don’t worry,” and I was like, “Ta, ta, ta,” but my parents had a lot of catch phrases. I feel like they would say, and I say this all the time to even my husband or my kids, but my mom would say, “See needs and meet them.” She’s like, “You have two hands, so you need to go help. If you see dishes on the counter, go clean them up. If you see that the floor needs mopped, you need to go mop that even if it’s at your friend’s house.” It was very much like, if there is a need, you need to be the one to meet that, which as a kid was tough, but as an adult, I see immense value.      

Emily:  That’s one of things you see yourself turning around and saying to your own children, “I get this now, come on, come on, [laughter] pull your weight around here.”   

Laura:  I thought I’d never sound like my mother, and I sound exactly like my mother. It’s interesting because as we grow up, a lot of times, and maybe some of the listeners can relate to this, but as individual families, we all look different but sometimes there are things that you’re defined by or known by. That’s something that can happen naturally even if you’re not trying to have it happen. The point of this whole family mission statement thing is that—actually Emily was saying this, of talking about it—it helps you be in control of the message that we’re hoping to communicate.       

Emily:  I think I’m like you, PR queen.

Laura:  Yes, I have a background in PR. That’s exactly right. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it. I’ve been removed from the workforce for too many years. We want to encourage you guys in thinking about, “What does our family stand for?” We all want to have a purposeful home, and I think we all would say we have goals for our children, and for our families but they may not have been ever spoken aloud for or really formulated.

That’s what a family mission statement helps you to do. It determines your priorities and your values as a family so that everyone can get on the train and get behind it. Sometimes it comes with a clever catch phrase and sometimes it doesn’t.    

Emily:  Half the battle is sitting down and thinking about it and talking about it, out loud with your spouse, and verbally affirming and getting on the same page. It can happen in formal ways and it happens in informal ways too, all the time. You sit down to make a family decision and it’s like, “Are we going to start our kid in this activity or not?” and then you can back into, “How does this fit into our family?” and, “How does this fit into what’s important to us?”

I think the main thing is being intentional there, like Laura said, and controlling the message, which really means making sure everything is consistent with our biggest mission as parents, which is to pass along the gospel to our children and hopefully raise our children in the Lord, and be showing them what is of supreme value is glorifying God and loving Jesus and not all the things of the world.

That’s definitely not something that happens naturally. I think naturally, our bent is to go the way of the culture. We always have to stop and check that because if not, you do that by default.            

Laura:  It’s a lot like the whole New Year’s resolution thing or one of those things you’ve gotten off track with. A mission statement or a vision statement can help you come back around to say, “These are the things we determine that are important to us.” I feel like maybe we need to give an example if you’re not familiar with these. My husband and I, we created ours by force. Our small group a few years ago literally forced us to make it or else we would be the weirdoes that didn’t participate.

We were like, “It sounds really cool,” but when the rubber hit the road, it was a little harder to do. My husband likes to joke about the Wifler way—things that are included in ours are beyond a high level; we exist to glorify God and some of those things. We will have examples in the show notes you guys. If you’re like, “What the heck are you talking about?” there’s going to be a lot of how-tos in the show notes. Underneath that, some of them are our personal family priorities, our hospitality and service and giving. We talk about how does that play out in our lives, and how does what the Wiflers do every day, how does that include our family mission statement.

One great thing about a mission statement is it helps you to say no to things like, “No, our kids are in too many activities,” or, “Those activities don’t serve us.”  When you’re asked to be in a lot of commitments, it helps you say, “These are what we’re saying yes to, these are what we’re saying no to, because we have talked about in a clear-headed situation where we’re both wanting to stay focused, we’ve talked about this. We know what is most important to how we can live out the gospel with the unique characteristics and traits that God has given us.'         

Emily:  Laura actually had this great quote she pulled out which I feel like I’ve read before from Stephen Covey. He says, “A family mission statement is a combined, unified expression from all family members of what your family is about, what it is you really want to do and be, and the principles you choose to govern your family life.”

I know if you have little kids, they’re probably not contributing to the conversation. [laughter] We did not sit our kids down. In fact, I think we did ours several years ago before we even have all the kids we have now. Still, I think it’s something exactly like he expresses, it’s something that the whole family can rally around and know, if nothing else, these are the things that we value.

That obviously can be communicated in a lot of ways but I think to tie it back to scripture, because obviously, we don’t want to go rogue here, [laughs] this is definitely something that we see. It’s not a path but an example that God has set. He set the course for his children and his kingdom and his family. He gave the greatest commandment, which is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself and then he gave us theGreat Commission. Both of those things are functionally mission statements. They’re things that we refer back to over and over again, and they’re things that define who we are and what we care about most as Christians. Keeping that in mind, missions statements are something that really is biblical if the point is to point your family to Christ.          

Laura:  The gospel’s essential to a believer’s family vision or what a believer’s daily life looks like and so it definitely, for us as believers, it’s going to look way different than a non-believer's. All we have to do, based off of what Emily was saying about how you flip open the Bible and you can see the mission statement that was given by God. Then how that plays out is in the entire Bible, the Old Testament and the New Testament. You can look anywhere.

A few examples from even Paul’s writing. Ephesians 4, “Leading a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called in all lowliness and meekness with patience, forbearing with one another.” Romans 15, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good to edify him.” Romans 12:10, “Outdo one another in showing honor.” Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing out of selfishness or conceit but in lowliness count each other better than yourselves.”

We can look through the Bible of how does this play out in family mission statements or vision statements. I feel like we are using it interchangeably, but I don’t know which one’s the correct term. These things are backed up by scripture so you might have a few bullet points out of, “We want to be hospitable so where is that found in scripture and what does that look like played out in the Bible? What is the way God teaches us or Jesus showed hospitality?"

That’s another way that you formulate that, is you want to obviously as a believer, have the gospel essential and undergirds everything in that mission statement. Talking about, what type of people do we want to be and who do we hope our children become? That is all entirely shaped out of the overflow that God has done for us.                        

Emily:  Our mission statement is kind of wonky, [laughter] I feel like I need to say that. It’s an acrostic but it’s not like a normal acrostic where our last name forms the first letter. We just poked the letters [laughter]. One of our statements is about worship—that our family would know everything we do is worship. The heart of that statement is that our kids would know, “Whenever you are cleaning or you’re playing or you’re doing an activity or you’re at church or at school or whatever it is you’re doing, you are always valuing or treasuring something.”

Reminding them, “Is what you are doing something that you are doing to worship God? Are you thinking about it as a means to glorify God and a means to serve others and live out this purpose?” I think that’s one example of what Laura is saying; the gospel undergirds some of the statements in our mission and then we can communicate to our kids, “How does that apply to our lives and why is that important?" Just one example. I don’t know how many letters are in our last name off the top of my head, but we have that many little statements. [laughs]    

Laura:  The one thing too is that a family mission statement can change but remember that it flows from the top down, so right now, most of you listeners, your kids are probably, as Emily said, too young to really contribute. Some of you do have older children that can probably say, “Here’s what I value. Here’s what I’m interested in.” Know that the gospel‘s essential, it’s the foundation and it is what everything revolves around, but those little spokes to the wheel, I suppose, can change and will change as your family changes.

Adoption wasn’t necessarily in our family plan way back when we wrote this, but it has changed as God has changed our hearts and grown that in us and now we know it’s a part of our lives. That is a main piece of our family mission statement—orphan care. That’s another way to know that this isn’t set in stone. This isn’t a forever thing, just the gospel is forever.            

Emily:  I am already looking forward to rewriting ours and simplifying it. If you are like, “I would like to try to write something like this,” or, “I think this would be cool,” don’t feel any pressure. If you are informally having these conversations with your husband and you are informally basically communicating to your children that these are the most important things, then you’re already doing it.   

Laura:  You’re better than we are sometimes because Emily and I were talking about this and we were both like, “We need to dust ours’ off and actually look at it.” [laughter] So go you, if you’re informally doing this.

Emily:  If you want to write this, and if you’re in a small group at your church, you may elbow people and be like, “Let’s do this as a group.” We all got it done and it was a fun exercise to do with some of our good friends and other couples and we had that good accountability. We’ll put some resources in the show notes because really, it can look a lot of different ways. It doesn’t have to be a goofy acrostic, it doesn’t have to be this long paragraph, it can be a short sentence with bullet points, it can be one sentence, it could probably be a few words even, if you can be that concise. [laughs]        

Laura:  There is this one, I’ll link to it in the show notes, but they said, I think it was something like, “Inward, outward, onward, upward.” The family knew what that meant and then they could say it like a password, like something cool and the kids knew what it meant. It had a very robust neat meaning. I’ll link to that in the show notes but that’s an example of how skinny it can be.     

Emily:  My husband and I have the most conversations about this stuff in the car, when we’re on long car trips. When you put in your movie in the DVD player and you get everybody settled like, “Okay, we’re going to talk about all this family business things,” probably depending on the age of your kids but think of creative times like that. Maybe you can go out to coffee one morning and say, “Hey, let’s formalize this or let’s get on the same page.”

It’s definitely something that doesn’t have to take a super long time and it can exist for a while. Even ours gets a little dusty, but it’s still there and it’s still in the back of our minds and it’s still informing what it is that we are valuing as a family and the decisions that we’re making in terms of where we’re spending our time, where we are spending our resources, and all that.    

Laura:  Exactly. What do you do with it? We touched on it all over the place in this show so far but some people frame it. We have a family crest you guys because our small group made us make a family crest. Can you believe that? It’s not very good—I didn’t frame it, but we have a family crest. You can make beautiful artwork out of this. Some people in our small group did that and it’s on their wall. Ours is framed but it’s not currently on our wall, oops.

Refer to it. Maybe pull it out every January or when you’re making a hard decision, you can refer it out. Again, this is if you want to be more formal with it. Like we’ve said, we don’t want to add a lot of pressure or another to-do or a scary thing for you to do but it can be helpful, if you’ve taken time to write this down, to remember what it says. Some people have their kids memorize it, like I gave the four words earlier where their kids know what that means.

My husband and I joke about the Wifler Way but we hope that our kids someday will be able to say, “Hey, is this the Wifler Way?” because we want them to remember, “This is what I stand for. This is what I’m about. This is what my parents taught me and they didn’t teach me to do that.” We do want there to be meaning in what is starting out as a joke. We want there to be a reminder of, “Hey, this is what matters to the Wilfers but more than that, it’s what matters to God,” because that’s how we shaped this.         

Emily:  If you are in new year’s mode, this is a great time to stop and think about, not only what’s most important to us individually, but what’s most important to our family and sit down, formalize it if you want, and communicate it. The family mission statement is definitely an awesome thing. We will have a lot of resources for that in the show notes if you’re like, “How do I do this specifically?” There’s a lot of good articles out there that can give examples. Anything else Laura?  

Laura:  No.

Emily:  Again, you can find all of our show notes at risenmotherhood.com along with our survey or you can keep up with us on Instagram @RisenMotherhood, #RisenMotherhood or Twitter and Facebook. Thanks again for joining us.   


Ep. 45 || Welcome Back!

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

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

Emily:  We are literally sitting together right now, which is so exciting because usually we record over Skype.

Laura:  Emily creeps me out when we’re together because she stares into my eyes really deeply and I’m a little bit like, “I’d rather look at the computer.” She’s deeply lovingly looking at me right now but it’s okay."

Emily:  We are breaking into this because we have been on a break for a few weeks, so we are getting back into the swing of things. We are super excited to be back for 2017. When we started this podcast, we didn’t even know if there would be an episode six, let alone a 2017 one.

Laura:  It’s so crazy. We want to look back at where we’ve come and how far this has been. I think something that’s so cool is that Emily and I started this as a five-episode series. We weren’t really sure. We were like, “Let’s put some ideas out there.”   

Emily:  Maybe our friends will be nice and listen to it. [laughter]

Laura:  Exactly, and so it’s really cool because thousands of women tune in every single week, and it’s really neat to see how it has grown. It seems to be a message that is really resonating with moms. We’re so grateful to all of you guys that are coming along on this ride with us, and have encouraged us to keep going and fostered the conversations because again, as we always say, “We haven’t arrived. We don’t know everything,” but we’re so grateful that we can share the things we’re learning and that you guys are sharing with us. It’s a really cool experience.   

Emily:  We wanted the show to kick off the New Year with some personal updates to start out with and then some Risen Motherhood updates. We’ve been doing lots of dreaming, and planning, and praying in the background, and thinking about what God has on our hearts to share this year and talk about, and so that’s what the show is going to be about. A little different than what we normally do but we haven’t given a personal update in a year maybe [laughter], so it’s time.    

Laura:  I guess I’ll start with my big news.

Emily:  You do have big news.

Laura:  I have big news. I’m pregnant! It’s weird to fall flat when you tell that to a microphone [laughter], but that’s okay. By the time this thing comes out, I’ll be about 14, 15 weeks; somewhere in there. Third baby, you don’t ever really know how far along you are. It was kind of an unexpected thing because as most of you guys know, we are also still adopting two children from Bulgaria. We started that process last January.

Emily:  I teased Laura. I found this really cute picture on Instagram one day of this family that had five kids and the mom was holding a baby in this cute little wrap, and then she had her adopted kids that she’d gotten in the same year and then her two toddlers. It was a family of five that happened in one year or so, like, “Ha, ha, Laura, that could be you.”  [laughter]

Laura:  Totally. It could be us. We’ll see, who knows? The adoptions should take two to three years, but God’s in charge of the timing and we are just praying that he has mercy on us. We’re really excited. We’re really grateful. I’ll be due in June, so that’s probably our biggest news. The adoption process, we’re eligible for kids. Somebody else had asked for an update on that, so we’re eligible. We’re waiting for an email or a phone call any day, any time so that’s exciting. Besides that, just cooking a baby and trying to enjoy my last few months with two kiddos.    

Emily:  You guys are still living in Chicago.

Laura:  Still in Chicago.

Emily:  Well, we are, Lord willing, moving soon. I think I’ve been saying that now for, it feels like six, eight weeks but, I don’t know, we don’t have a ton of updates.

Laura:  You’re moving though, to the same town. Let’s clarify.  

Emily:  Yes, about seven minutes away. [laughter]

Laura:  They’re building a house, which is really exciting.

Emily:  We’re building a house. That’s what we’ve been focused on in the background, throughout the fall. Our oldest son now is four and a half, and he is very spunky and our twins are three now and then our youngest son is 17, 18 months old [laughter]. Something else with our youngest that’s been keeping us busy, he’s actually the absolute sweetest personality of all of our kiddos. He doesn’t keep us “physically crawling on everything” busy but this year, he did have some developmental delays so we’ve been going through lots of therapy this last fall and trying to understand what’s going on. That’s a topic that Laura and I may jump into more this year.  

Laura:  We’ve had a lot of requests for special needs mommas out there. They’ve been asking for a show about how the gospel ties into that. We know that that’s a real struggle and something that’s near and dear to Emily’s heart and history. You’ve heard her talk a little about that on the show probably, but it’s definitely something that bridges us into maybe what we’re going to be talking about this year; some of the topics. So for special needs, we’re going to try to have a mom on. Maybe Emily can talk more about her experience as well, as she feels led to share. What else are we going to have?

Emily:  We definitely want to have a show for working moms.

Laura:  We hear you working moms. We support you. That’s the number one requested show.

Emily:  It’s been on our mind for probably like ever. We’ve been trying [laughs] to get it recorded.  

Laura:  I think part of it is finding the right mom and getting all that sorted out, but we definitely have a few people in the hopper that we’re going to bring on the show early on. Then also, PPD is another big topic that we want to cover.

Emily:  Which stands for?

Laura:  Postpartum depression. 

Emily:  That is a big one. What else?

Laura:  Those were the three bigs. Of course, we’ll smatter it in with everything. We’ll probably talk about pregnancy because it’s near and dear right now.

Emily:  That’s on the docket, probably more adoption this year.

Laura:  Yes, and all the usual stuff. Intentional motherhood, that’s what the heartbeat is going to be. Biblical literacy, we’ll get more into that in a little bit on the show but you can expect some really fun things. We’re excited about some of the interviews we have lined up; some of the show topics. Even over break, Emily and I were bursting at the seams with ideas.   

Emily:  We have show topics for days. Although, we always love hearing people’s ideas because sometimes, when we get two or three people that basically at the same time email or talk to us about a topic, we really feel like that’s the Lord leading us to record a show about that. Don’t be shy if there’s something you’re dying to hear about.   

Laura:  Drop us an email. That leads us into our next point, is that we actually want to hear a whole lot more from you guys. We mean it, and so we’ve pulled together a survey that we’d love you guys to take. It’s 10 questions, and it’s about everything from demographics to learn more about you guys, to how Emily and I use social media and how you guys use social media, and what is working, what’s not, even some of the stuff on how we cover our expenses. We know that that’s one of those touchy topics but we want to talk about it, to hear from you guys, what you would prefer. If you’re wondering more about what we’re talking about, head over to the survey; it’s fully explained in there. We’re even going to be asking a little bit about audio quality, although a little bit nervous since we are not computer and sound engineers or anything like that.  

Emily:  We will keep the survey up through the end of January. We would love for as many of you as possible, especially if you’ve been listening for a long time, we would love to get your feedback so that we can improve. Also, all of you out there, Laura and I are busy moms, and we want the time that we dedicate to Risen Motherhood to be absolutely maximized to serve you guys as well as we can. If there’s something we’re doing that is not beneficial at all, we want to hear that, and if there’s something that you guys are loving and God is really using, we want to do more.    

Laura: In return, you guys will receive a free printable. You can see a little preview of that on Instagram, and we’ll post to Facebook.   

Emily:  It’s beautiful.

Laura:  It’s pretty. It’s like winter, very beautiful, hopefully, you’ll like it. It’s got Colossians 3:16 on it, a verse that Emily and I both love and so we hope that will be a blessing to you. You will unlock that by taking a survey and can print as many copies as you want. As Emily said, it’ll be open through end of January and of course, we’ll remind you so don’t worry.   

Emily:  2017. When we started out 2016, I feel like when we were brainstorming show ideas, we were literally like, “Let’s talk about one of everything.”

Laura:  We were shooting from the hip. [laughter]

Emily:  We would get these ideas in the middle of the week, and we would message each other, and then we would fish through everything and talk through it. It was cool to see how all those ideas came about. But what’s interesting is that for 2017, Laura and I both feel like God has laid a general theme on our hearts. We will still be talking about a really wide variety of things related to motherhood, but particularly, I think moms need to be connected to God through scripture. I think that’s one of the things that we are so prone to leave out of our day. It’s one of the things that I know for Laura and I, is the most essential part of being able to keep the gospel as central in our motherhood.    

Laura:  I think it’s really interesting because almost daily, we are asked for our recommendations on different books and what resources we would do for this or that, or what would we read to learn more about discipline or hospitality or some things. We love that there are so many wonderful materials and resources out there that I’m so grateful for, that we have learned a lot from, but, really, what we see a lot in, I think our fellow moms today, and a lot of young mothers is that lack in biblical literacy and really knowing God’s word. I forget what missionary this was but I read a biography, I think it was George Muller, but he was talking about, “Why would I read any other book besides the Bible? Because it is the most important book. No other book is this important so I’m not going to waste my time on the other books.” While Emily and I both believe there are a lot of wonderful things that we can learn from authors and the books that are out today, that’s really why we want to encourage you guys to be spending your time reading the Bible. Maybe we’re reading these fun books or watching these TV shows and we’re learning and growing a lot, but have you read your Bible? Have you checked the truth of God’s word first? That’s a major thing will be knowing your Bible.       

Emily:  Everything from the practical of, “How does that fit into my day?” and “What do I do if I can’t fit it into a season?” and, “What can that look like?” Things like using discernment and, “How do I check the resources that I am reading online or that book that my friend recommended to me?” or, “How do I sort through some of these discipline questions?” or praying with kids. All of those things, I think we want to go through all the nitty-gritty and that, we think, will take at least a whole year of a lot of different topics. Another thing Laura and I have been really passionate about is not just be in a place where you come, listen and be like, “I’m inspired and that was good,” but really, trying to pass on how are we doing this, which is very imperfect, but to try to duplicate that, and have it feel a little bit more like discipleship and training, instead of just inspiring.     

Laura:  What we really want you to do is when you hear us talk, we want you to say, “Hey, amen! That’s right. That’s true,” or “Hey you! That’s wrong.” Emily and I aren’t right all the time; we fully admit that. You’ve heard us say it a million times. What we want to be able to do is not for you to say, “Laura and Emily said this thing,” or, “On Risen Motherhood, I heard this and that’s truth.” We want you to say, “Hey, that lines up with the Bible.” Everything you’re reading, whether that’s a print, social media post, the cool hot new book that everyone’s reading or the new podcast you’re listening to, for you guys to have an understanding of knowing how to discern truth and aligning that with your Bible.

I think there’s a lie out there that as a young mom, you don’t have time for your Bible. If you can’t get your Bible study done this week, don’t worry, that’s no big deal. There are genuine reasons and seasons that that happens. We will not overlook that because, amen, we need those, but there is a lie that Satan wants to fester and grow in young moms these days, where a lot of people are saying, “Young moms, you’re off the hook because you’ve got little kids so somehow, you cannot manage it.” That is not true. The fact that you don’t have time to read your Bible, that is a lie from the pit of hell. [laughter] I will say it. You can find time; we all can find time. This is not an everyday thing. I don’t want, “Don’t hear what I’m not saying,” type of thing but I think that most moms have a lot more time in their schedule to fit scripture and the truth of God’s Word into their daily life.    

Emily:  Yes, because I know I always have time to scroll Instagram and read all the cool inspiring things on there. Even for Laura and I, I know you mentioned that George Muller quote, as we’re looking into 2017, I think we’ve been challenging and encouraging each other, are we making scripture the most important thing and our time with the Lord? How can we do that even more next year?

I know in early December, I started reading the actual Bible to my children before bed. I have been so humbled by watching them listen and eat up the word of God. I typically think, “This is too hard for them. They’re not going to get this. They’re not going to be moved by this,” but their questions and seeing God work is amazing. I want to experience that in my own life too. This is for people who are busy and it’s for people who are stuck, and people who don’t understand everything yet. We need God’s word.        

Laura:  Remember, we’re still going to be talking about all the hot topics that we always talk about. [laughter] I know we’re sounding like, “It’s going to be the same show every week,” that’s not true at all but that will just be a port. We hope it’s a heartbeat from this year as we talk about all the crazy topics that affect you as a mom and the gospel is still going into every week. That’s something we’ve heard a lot of feedback on, is, “I love how everything goes back to the gospel,” and the “why” is explained. The why we don’t have to live that way is explained. Those things are going to be the same. It’s starting to sound like we’re a different show [laughter] and we’re not—we promise. It will still feel that way. We just hope that you will hear a cord and a heartbeat in our show that says, “Hey, you check us against scripture and not just take our word for it.” We hope that you do that in all of life.

Emily:  That is a huge plan for 2017 but we are excited. We’ll be back into our normal routine next week so Wednesday 5 a.m. Central Time [laughs] the podcast comes out. Be looking for us.  

Laura:  If there is a book you’re looking for a little bit on this, we wanted to plug one resource, Jen Wilkin Women of the Word—but read your Bible first— [laughter] I should have said that. Women of the Word is a great starter book if you’re like, “I have no clue how to read the Bible or study the Bible.” You can read it and it will work in your heart. That’s a great book and we’ll link it in the show notes. Speaking of, head over to our show notes, as always, risenmotherhood.com. We’ll have a little bit more about biblical literacy listed on there plus a link to that book and a link to the survey.    

Emily:  The survey yes, can’t forget about that.

Laura:  No, it’s very important that you take it, people. This is life or death here. Emily and I are like, “What are we going to do?” Please take the survey, we would really appreciate it; unlock that printable, print off a lot of copies. Find us on social media @RisenMotherhood for Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, all of those good things and leave us a review on iTunes please. If you haven’t done that, make that your new year’s resolution, your first one; the most important one.   

Emily:  Maybe that could be a new year’s resolution somebody could actually accomplish.

Laura:  Exactly, you can accomplish that one. [laughter] That’s not like, lose 10 pounds, that’s like, “I can go and do that today and feel real good.” Sometimes on my to-do list, I’ll write, ‘Write to-do list’ so that I can cross it off and it feels so good.

Emily:  You have to be related to my husband.

Laura:  Oh, really? It’s one of those. We hope you guys have a wonderful start to your year and your week and we’ll see you next week.  

Emily:  See you.