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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laura: Oh dear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laura: No, go ahead. [Laughter]

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

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

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

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

Laura: That’s very fitting.

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

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

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

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

Emily: So true.

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

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

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

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

Laura: Yeah, what’s easy.

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

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

Nancy: You are what you eat!

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

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

Laura: Of course! Please do.

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

Emily: Thank you.

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