This transcript is made possible by our generous donors. Learn how you can join them. This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Laura: Hey guys, Laura here! We’re excited to be back with new podcast episodes after a summer break. There are so many fun things going on, so we’re going to share a few of them with you before we dive into today’s extra special show. First, you might’ve heard something unfamiliar when the show started. That’s because this season of shows are sponsored. We’re so grateful for the brands, organizations, and ministries that are willing to support the work we do to bring the gospel to moms all over the world. Their support—and the support of our donors—helps bring these episodes and all our content to you each week. Secondly, many of you have already share about this, but the Risen Motherhood book—co-written by Emily and I—releases next week on September 3rd. We’re so grateful for all of your excitement. And if you haven’t pre-ordered yet, I want to make sure you know about a great additional offer we have right now—to anyone who pre-orders the Risen Motherhood book, you’ll receive two free bonus chapters that Emily and I wrote. These won’t be available after the book comes out and we really want all of you to have them, but you only get them if you pre-order. There’s only one week left to get these, then they disappear. If you want in, head to any major online retailer, like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, ChristianBook.com, and place your order today. Now to those of you who have already pre-ordered if you haven’t redeemed your bonus chapters (thank you!)q, head to our website at risenmotherhood.com/bonuschapters to enter your confirmation code and get your chapters sent straight to your email! They come right away, so you don’t even need to wait until the book ships!
Finally, we want to give you a heads up that to celebrate the release of the book, we have a really fun fall ahead. While you’ll still hear a lot of episodes with Emily and I talking about motherhood and the gospel in our regular format, we’ve also recorded interviews with our husbands, parents, and friends. We even have some fun roundtable discussions planned. We can’t wait for you to join us! To kick off the season, we’ve invited our Communications Manager, Autumn Kern, to host an interview about what it looks like to trust God and walk in faith when you’re still in process. Autumn’s married to Josh, and is mom to two adorable children, Wren and Cohen. In addition to her work at Risen Motherhood, she’s a budding writer and an acclaimed wedding photographer. And, of course, we consider her a close friend. On today’s episode, we’re going to give an inside look at the book writing process, but also talk about what it looks like to be faithful in any area of life—including motherhood—when you feel you just haven’t arrived yet. Okay, let’s get to the show with Autumn, Emily, and myself.
Autumn: Hey guys, welcome to this episode of Risen Motherhood! I’m Autumn, the Communications Manager for the R|M team, and I’m here with Laura and Emily who are joining me to talk about their book today along with the idea of being women who are in process.
So, hey guys. How are you doing?
Emily: We’re really good! We’re so excited to be chatting with you.
Laura: I’m impressed. Autumn, that was super good. That was legit.
Autumn: Does this feel weird?
Laura: A little bit. I love getting to talk to you, because it’s sort of like Voxer. I can pretend by closing my eyes and not seeing you on the video. [Laughter]
Autumn: Well, I’m really excited to be talking to you. Thanks for having me on to talk about the book and to share with our audience a bit of the behind-the-scenes for what it was like to write a book. And I think a lot of it connects to what many women experience in wanting to share the gospel in their own lives. So, to kick us off, I would love for you to tell us how you got a book deal. Was it something you were looking for? Something that landed in the realm of possibilities? And how did you feel when you found out you’d be writing one?
Emily: Well, we started out, of course, as a podcast. We came up with a five-episode pilot to see where it would go. That was all we had on the horizon to begin with. Over time, we kept planning more and more content a few weeks out or a couple months out. Our focus when we began Risen Motherhood was to be faithful to the message God had laid on our hearts and to proclaim the good news to moms in a way that could reach them right where they were at, as we processed those things too. I think about a year into the podcast, Laura and I were power-recording over a weekend, and an email popped up inviting us to connect with an agent about potentially writing a book! That was one of the first times we considered it in a serious way.
Laura: Yeah, there had been some inquiries prior to that from publishers or agents, but nothing that really sounded super promising. But this one was actually from a Risen Motherhood community member, which was really cool. She was someone who’d listened to the show for a long time, and her brother is an agent from a reputable firm, so we wanted to take a second look at it. She was willing, as we emailed back and forth, to connect us with them. The ball got rolling from there!
I remember Emily and I were both pregnant at the time. I was with my third, and she was with her fifth. Much of us was feeling like, “Eh, I don’t really know. We’ll talk but maybe we won’t write a book for a few more years.” It was kind of neat how it happened. It was a little sneaky. [Laughter] They passed us each little piece of the proposal—which is typically 25 pages or longer—really slowly. We had no idea how to write a proposal or what it contained. Our agent just led us forward little by little; these two pregnant ladies who were very overwhelmed. Before we knew it, we got an email from him that said, “Congratulations! You’ve written a book proposal.” [Laughter]
Emily: It was really cool to see that come together. It was scary to release that out to different publishing houses and see what the response would be. We were overwhelmed with this good response from a lot of different people. Others were excited about the message we were sharing and it seemed to resonate with people. It probably took a few months from proposal to securing a final deal, but it was exciting.
Laura: From there, we had about a year to write the book. I moved during that transition, so that was a big thing we’ll probably talk about later. It was plenty of time to write the book, and then you move into this marketing season, which is what we’re in now. It feels odd and a little strange, but it’s a fun season. That’s kind of the journey in a nutshell.
Autumn: I think that’s great. I love, as someone on the team, watching you be co-laborers for the gospel. I think it’s really wonderful and unique. I’d love to know through this process what you learned about each other and individually? What did you learn about the gospel and motherhood? This was a long season, and the Lord did a lot through your relationship and through your time writing.
Emily: Well, I learned I don’t know very much. [Laughter]
Laura: Me too. I’m just going to ditto that. [Laughter]
Emily: Again, before we started, we’d been podcasting on subjects relating to motherhood and the gospel for about a year and a half. There was this baseline that I kind of had a sense for how we wanted to communicate things because it was already laid out. I had written for many years before and I read a lot! But the deeper I got into it, the more I realized I have a lot to learn about these topics still. I think another thing I learned about myself, which was probably the biggest revelation or lesson for me, is that I have a lot of critics living in my little brain that I’m always trying to please. This was a huge battle for me. Every time I sat down at my computer, it felt like I was sitting down at a table and I could picture the personalities and people around me, and the things they were saying about my writing. “Ooh, that’s not very smart!” “Ah, that’s not very funny! I’m done reading this book. I’m going to put this down; she’s not very relatable.” Or all those different things that made it difficult to stay focused on the essence of what we were trying to communicate while not being self-focused but focused on the Lord.
I think at the end of it, I felt freedom from that. I had to come up against it so much, there was a point at which there was no way this book was going to be written unless I battled them with truth and was willing to say, “You might be right, but God has still called me to do this, and I can communicate the gospel with his help.”
And then, in terms of learning about Laura, I was impressed over and over again with what a fabulous writer she is. She’s so good at taking a theme and sticking to it like glue and carrying it or weaving through all of her chapters. That was something I learned from her along the way. I also think she was a really good editor for me. Again, I already knew those things, but it was fun to watch in-action her ability to pull out different things I needed to shift and tweak, and help me hone in on how I could connect with people better. I really value her as an editor.
Laura: Aw, thanks, Em!
I would have to ditto Emily. It definitely brings you to your knees with all the things you didn’t know you didn’t know. That was a great reality check. I think we talk a lot about how humbling it is to write a book.
And similar to Emily and the critics, it’s a twist for me. I have a deep desire for people to like what I wrote; for them to think I’m clever, funny, or what I wrote is witty and winsome. To Emily’s credit, she’s very good at reminding me it’s never worth sacrificing truth for cleverness. They always say, “Writers love their own words the most. Nobody will love them as much as you.” That rang in my ears so often, because I’d want to cling to a rhythm or poetic moment, and I wanted that more than I wanted truth. That’s a really hard thing to get around as a writer. I had to be willing and remember truth and clarity are of most importance, whether or not I’m the best writer. I had to ask myself, “Is this something that might be helpful? Is it going to blow her away and most amazing thing she’s ever read?” Most of the time, I felt like, “No, probably not.” But hopefully God is going to work through that and move her—not because of the words I use and my sentence structure or my powerful argument—because the Holy Spirit is working through her life. I can trust God to do the work and my words don’t have to. That was a huge thing for me to overcome and feel freedom in as I write.
In terms of Emily, I’d say a lot of similar things. She’s a wonderful writer. She’d draft a lot; she’d have a chapter and we’d say, “Let’s move forward with it,” and the next thing I know, she rewrote it. So there’d be a new chapter in my inbox, and then oh!, she rewrote it again! [Laughter] She builds on her ideas really well, and you want to hone them in. I loved seeing that. You worked so hard on the chapters and have all these amazing ideas. I still stand behind the idea that a lot of those ideas could’ve worked because they all were wonderful. But ultimately, I value Emily’s value of truth and clarity. I think we balance each other out really well with our different strengths. You were really helpful in encouraging me and helping me process through an argument, making sure it was really logical and helpful for the mom on the other side. It needed to be true to scripture and not bounce around, which I can tend to do. I’m so thankful to have had her by my side the entire time.
Emily: Aw, well it was really fun to work together.
And I think we learned a lot about the gospel and motherhood along the way. We touched on it a little bit, but one thing I learned is on one hand it’s hard to apply the gospel to motherhood. You have to stop and think. Sometimes I’d have a chapter I was trying to apply the gospel framework in, and I’d have to do a mindmap on a piece of paper.
Pencil paper, draw lines, and connect things.
Laura: Ha! Ha! I’ve never done one of those. [Laughter]
Emily: It was complicated! [Laughter] I still have those somewhere. It was hard. But then, the funny thing is it’s also quite simple. We’re often the ones wanting to overcomplicate it. And that’s true of the good news and the Bible. A child can sit and listen to it and comprehend the most essential and wonderful things, like, “God loves me, “ and “I trust Jesus.” But then an adult scholar with a PhD can sit and read the text and feel a little confounded by it. I think I learned that tension as we wrote the book.
Autumn: That’s great. Thanks for sharing all that. I think you’re pulling out this tension point of wanting to share the gospel really well but also realizing your still in process, therefore it’s not going to be perfect. I think that’s something a lot of moms feel as they think about sharing the gospel—whether that’s written down or verbally amongst friends—is you can look back at what you’ve said or written and you sort of cringe. You wish you hadn’t said it a particular way, or that you understood nuance better, or even that you better understood what you were talking about. That desire and inability to carry out the gospel perfectly is the reality of being women who are moving towards holiness but aren’t holy yet. And that’s all of us. Whether you’re in a ministry position like Risen Motherhood or if you’re doing ministry in your everyday life with the people around you in your community. It can be really nerve-wracking, but I imagine putting those words in a book that’ll sit on bookshelves indefinitely seems a little higher stake. So do you have encouragement for the moms who feel that tension how they, as women in-process, can share the gospel even if we can’t be perfect in our theology, application, or rhetoric?
Laura: I think that’s a really great question and something I struggle with beyond just my work here at Risen Motherhood. I’m consistently reminded when you love someone, you share about that person. I’ve been thinking about Luke 8, when Jesus heals a demon-possessed man. Jesus says, “Go home and tell everyone how much I have done for you.” Or Jesus with the woman at the well. The woman ends up saying, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did.” Jesus did great things for these people, and they couldn’t help but talk about him and share him. When your life has been changed the way Christ has changed mine, I can’t help but share. I know I’ve touched on this, but I struggled with the idea that there’s nothing new under the sun. I can’t produce something new; someone’s going to do this better than me or say it in a more fabulous way. I had to remind myself that the message itself doesn’t rely on me and God is going to carry it; and if I adore Christ as much as I say I do, I’d be compelled to share for all of the amazing things the Lord has done for me. That’s something I want to remember: I want to glorify God with my words, actions, and speech no matter where I am on the journey, because of the good, amazing, and wonderful gift he’s given me. The way I speak about him, or share about him. or the time I invest in this book or other things is because I love God so much. I long to honor him with my life, and this is what’s in front of me and the way I’m able to do that.
Emily: Amen. I piggyback on all of that. The reality is as Christians, if we love him and hope in him, we’re compelled to share about him. For me, it was also going back to the perfection of theology. That can paralyze me. I want to wait to say something until I can get it exactly right. Or if I felt like there was a knob I could turn to make it even better, it was extremely difficult for me to say, “This is as good as I can reasonably do with the time God has given me and with the mental capabilities and resources I have right now.” I think one thing that’s encouraged me was Paul. He shares that compared to the speakers of the age, he wasn’t eloquent or well spoken. He didn’t have fancy, elaborate arguments. But he preached the gospel; he preached Christ crucified. The great thing is it’s really God who is powerful in our weakness, and it’s the gospel that’s the power for salvation. People come to faith as they hear God’s word and God’s good news shared. When I’d remember that, it’d take the weight off of me and put the weight on God, who can most certainly carry it, and be powerful and transform lives. I think we need to remember God isn’t thwarted or caught off guard by human failure or sin or mistakes. In fact, we have lots of evidence in scripture of how he used sin, failure, and mistakes to further his plan, make his gospel more beautiful and go further, and show his glory brighter. I take comfort in that. There may be things I didn’t say right, but even in that, God can still be glorified as we learn and grow in humility.
Autumn: I think that truth transforms it from being a burden of trying to make it perfect and instead makes it a delight to go and share. The gospel has clearly advanced—in its entire timeline—through sinful people. There’s never been a perfect person, other than Christ, to share the Word of God. I love to think that God is faithful to his church and the Holy Spirit is shaping our hearts towards what the word teaches. So we can take in great content and trust, if we’re studying the word, God will continue to teach us the way that he does. We can be faithful and then we can rest, which has been the theme we’ve been talking about: being faithful in the next step and trusting God with what you’re offering.
So, I think that tension causes some fear because of the vulnerability required. Being in process requires vulnerability. When you’re being taught, stretched, and changed, you come up against your own sin, weaknesses, and all the ways you misplace your affections. I think women feel desperate for anything that answers those issues they see, especially the quick fix offers. A lot of what the world offers seems really easy; it’s usually “10 steps to this” or “The one trick you need to keep your child in bed at naptime!” Instead what we ought to be doing is the slow plod of scripture study and prayer. That can require waiting and some heavy mind-lifting. I’m curious what you think are some of the most tempting false hope surrounding moms today? And how is the gospel the true hope we really need?
Emily: I think for me it’s pretty straightforward. I think I can mother well enough to buy my kids a good future. If I’m careful enough, keep them safe in the right ways, and I’m super nice and friendly, and I offer them all the right life experiences, they’ll be happy, healthy, and thriving adults. It’s a formula in my mind, and it’s hard not to think that if I do all these things right, God owes me good kids. Or on the reverse side, I live in fear that as I make mistakes, God will punish me by allowing my kids to be bad if I can’t be everything we need. I think we dive into this a lot in our episode, “Is My Child’s Faith My Responsibility?” For me, I find that most tempting to put my hope in. Frankly, it’s myself.
Laura: Yeah, I’m the same way I think. So often I’m a pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps kind of gal. I think I’m the answer; if I do a little more research, ask better questions, study a bit harder, stay up later, Google the right thing, I’ll create a great life for us. And some day, my kids will look back and call me, “Blessed.” [Laughter] Right? That’s the measure of a good mom. But I think some days I do want to hear that. I forget the true measure of success. We did a whole show on that, “What is Your Measure of Success?” For me, I think someday I want my kids to tell me I did a really good job. My hope is in them liking me and them thinking I helped create the success they are. So often, it’s a wordly version of what success is instead of a godly one. I think that theme is common with moms in general. We all have our different ways, methods, things we can subscribe to create successful children. Even Christian circles have their own way of saying this or that is a great lifestyle or parenting choice that will create a successful child today or make you a successful mom. The reality is there isn’t a formula for being a successful mom outside of God’s plan. God’s plan is that we’ve all failed—none of us have been great moms—but in Jesus, we have redemption and reconciliation with God. Jesus gives us that “good mom” status, so we can be confident in knowing we have his word, the Holy Spirit, and his church to grow us and sustain us. God will provide everything we need every single day, as we live faithfully according to his plan, to be good moms for our children. Ultimately, every act of good we do is a grace and mercy of God, giving that to us. That’s the heartbeat of our book. That’s what we really care about here at Risen Motherhood; a mom learning reliance on God, not herself. I think there’s a lot of freedom when that’s fully understood in your heart.
Emily: Yeah, to build off that, another thing we see is when we’re in seasons of feeling really overwhelmed or like we’re not doing a good enough job, we can try to self-medicate. So another direction people can steer from the formula is I’m going to self-actualize and become the best version of me I can be. It’ll be through self-care, or a life balance I’ll strike on my own, or becoming a victim to our own circumstances. Moms can really wrestle with that.
I think the good news has an answer for moms there as well. We are limited, and we do need to care for ourselves. We’re women who matter to God. We’re created in his image. Our feelings matter to God. But we gain our lives by losing them in Christ. I think that can be really hard to hear and comprehend, but it’s for our joy. We’re not a victim to motherhood, we’re actually a servant of God. That’s another way we can find hope in the midst of our struggle and hopelessness.
Autumn: It’s so beautiful that the gospel meets us where we are in process, because we’re all at different points. I love knowing the hope of the gospel is true no matter what stage of motherhood you’re in, or what’s happening in your house on a Tuesday, or how bad your week’s been; God’s grace meets you there and enables you to enjoy his gift of joy to you.
So I’d love to know if you could stand by the shelves in a bookstore as women are looking at your book, what would you say to them? Knowing this is the heartbeat of the book, what would you want to say as she touches the cover?
Emily: I want to know if I can have childcare so I can go to a bookstore and stand around the shelves. [Laughter]
Emily: That sounds fun.
Laura: Oh man. Well, I hope it makes them think. I hope they’re convicted by it and encouraged by it. I think we’d both say we hope women who read it are willing to wrestle with it and do some heart work. It’s not just a quick read, but some thought that goes into it about how their thought patterns might change and what heart tendencies might be revealed. Our hope and prayer is that God will use it in the lives of moms to point them to himself. I don’t care if you remember my name, but remember I love Jesus. As women read this book, I don’t care if they’re impressed by my writing or Emily’s writing but that they’re impressed by God and desire to know him more. Not Emily. Not Laura. Not Risen Motherhood. It’s about God. I hope they go and get involved in their local church, and pull their Bible off the bookshelf even if it’s been a really long time. I hope they invest in their relationship with him after reading, and that God would be their source of life that they cling to forever. The reason I went through the pain to write the book is because I believe in the message so much. I believe in the power of God to change hearts. So we’re hopeful it is a blessing to anyone who picks it up, and that it starts great discussions.
Autumn: Well, Emily and Laura, thanks so much for joining me on this episode of Risen Motherhood. If you’d like to check out our show notes, you can find them at the link on our website at www.risenmotherhood.com. You can also follow us on social media @risenmotherhood on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. And these guys will see you next week!
Emily: Great job, Autumn.
Laura: Thanks everybody for listening!