The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.
Laura: Hey guys. Welcome to another episode of Risen Motherhood. Today, it’s just me Laura, talking to you guys right now from my living room. Today marks a transition point for Emily and I. When we started this podcast, we did a five episode series. We figured, “Let’s just see where this goes, and see if there’s some interest,” and thus far we have just been thrilled with the response and God’s blessing over the podcast.
You guys have all been so receptive, and we’re incredibly thankful for all of your support, your messages, your note - and the fact that we have anybody tuning in is somewhat surprising and shocking to us, but we are so grateful. Emily and I were chatting a little bit more and we had initially started this out, as I mentioned as just five episodes. We had said, “We’ll just test it: test the market and see what happens. If nobody tunes in, we can sort of fade off into the distance,” but thankfully, because of all of your response, we’ve decided to move forward and continue recording episodes with Risen Motherhood.
Today’s episode is a talk that Emily recently gave at a baby shower. My two cousins were pregnant together and Emily was asked to give devotion at their dual baby shower. If you haven’t figured it out by now, Emily is much more well-spoken than I, and I tend to think she’s the one who actually helps you guys learn something through this podcast. She has a real heart for teaching women, and a real gift, and I think that’s going to come out through this podcast, as she casts her vision for motherhood. She and I use Voxer to communicate quite a bit, and she ran the devotion by me one day and just said, “Will you just let me know what your thoughts are?” I think I was listening to it on my way to church; I was going to Bible study that morning, listening to it in the car, and I started tearing up as I was listening and I was reminded of these amazing truths that she was going to share with these new, pregnant, first time moms.
I was reminded, as a mom who’s entering her third year now with two kids, just what an amazing mission that we’re on; the meaning of the work that we’re doing. I Voxed her back and said, “Let’s share this with everyone who listens to the podcast, because I think they’re going to be touched as much as I was.” I’m pretty sure as I got my son out of his car seat - they’re always so tough to unbuckle from the seat belts - but I got him out and I was looking at him, and I was tearing up and he was like, “Mom, why are you crying?”
I said, “Because I’m so happy that I get to be your mom.”
You all can’t see me, but I’m tearing up now, just thinking about that day and the deep meaning that we have as mothers, so I want to share this with you guys. I asked Emily to record it for the podcast, so she is going to do that. It’s coming right up.
Before we do that, I also wanted to let you guys all know that we’re going to be switching to an every other week schedule, with the crazy lives between kids, the blogs, our husbands and travel. All that stuff. That’s what we think we can keep up so be looking for episodes to come out every other Wednesday around 5 a.m.
So let’s get to the heart of the episode; the good stuff, the things Emily has shared. It’s meant as a devotion for new moms; pregnant first time moms, but I believe these truths are so important for all of us moms. She’s talking about catching this vision of how we can live out our callings as moms, and how the gospel intersects with that, which is what we want to talk about here on Risen Motherhood.
Emily: When I was first asked to participate in this devotional time, I was keenly aware of my own newness and the role of mother. In my short years of being a mom, one thing has become very clear to me. How much I need Jesus and the wisdom of others, because I have a lot of questions and not a lot of answers.
You have a lot of questions and choices ahead of you too. For instance, how will you feed your baby? Will you use a schedule or a routine? Will you swaddle or leave their arms out? Will you give them a pacifier or not? If you choose to, how soon will you give them a pacifier? Will you sleep them in your room, in your bed, or on the other side of the house? Are you going to use cloth diapers or regular ones? I think you get the picture. I could go on and on about the questions, and choices new moms have, and those are just the obvious ones right off the top of my head.
The thing is the Bible doesn’t speak directly to our cultural norms and choices. Most of these decisions, you’ll find that there is freedom; there are grey areas. Parents get to do their own research and decide what’s right for their own lifestyle, but there is one thing that the Bible is clear on, and it’s not whether you decide to breastfeed or formula feed, or at what age you decide to potty train. The Bible is completely clear about your primary mission as a mom.
Today, my goal isn’t to give you the perspective of a mom, who’s looking back with decades of wisdom and good experience under her belt, but to give you the perspective of a mom looking ahead. A mom who’s catching a vision for motherhood, which is something that I’m doing right alongside you. In this short time, I hope to give you an overview of a mom’s mission, a few examples of what it might look like to carry out that mission, and explain how you cannot only survive, but thrive, as you live out this important calling.
What is a mom’s primary mission? To teach her children the Gospel, helping them to know and love Jesus. This is the main thing, the thing from which everything else flows. This is the thing that gives all the other things eternal significance. It’s what makes diaper changes and act of service and image bearing. It’s what makes cradling a baby in the middle of the night really a matter for eternity, and it’s what allows you to have deep joy in the days that feel mundane and trivial.
Some of you might be wondering what I’m talking about when I say the Gospel. Well, it’s the good news that Jesus died for our sins and was raised to new life, so that those who hope in Him can have a fully restored relationship with God for eternity. Why am I so confident that this is a mom’s primary mission? Because as followers of Christ, we are called to be part of the great commission, bringing this message of the Gospel to all the people of the world, and in just a few short weeks, you are going to bring a little unbeliever home from the hospital.
The frontlines of the mission field, is coming right to you. There will likely be no other unbeliever in your life over which you have so much influence. Carrying out your purpose as a Christian, to give glory to God and to tell others about Him can now start with this little person in your home, as you bring them alongside you, and later share the love of God with those outside of your four walls.
How you will carry out this mission is generally outlined in scripture, with many of the specific details left up to us. We will need to seek God’s guidance and prayer, if God gave us a perfectly clear handbook, they would be no need for dependence and faith. With a step-by-step guide to our own individual children, we would just become prideful and self-righteous, but instead, God’s way requires us to understand that His ways are higher, and we can trust Him at all times. As I’ve learned more about carrying out this mission in motherhood, I’ve noticed two different ways that I teach my children about Jesus.
The first is the informal teaching. These are the things that happen in each and every small moment. You will cultivate rich soil in your child’s heart when you care diligently for their needs as a baby, rocking them, singing to them, kissing them, dealing gently with them, and using smiles and laughter. A baby’s brain is growing at a rapid pace, and you can help determine the pathways of their neurons which are shaped in love.
A baby that has been loved well, can become a toddler that is trustworthy of your instruction. You can teach your young child about Jesus when you look out the window at snow, or pick up after them for the millionth time, ask them to do a hard thing, because you’re training them in righteousness, and even when you send them to time out. Discipline teaches them God’s law and that they can never perfectly obey, and that they’re sad and just really painful consequences for disobedience.
Teaching a child to know and love Jesus doesn’t mean that you make sure they’re always happy or entertained, or having a good old time or getting their way, but that you are loving them with sacrificial love and joy. Speaking of joy, a wise older mom once told me that if I lose my joy, I lose my witness. Surely Christ was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, but He died so that we could have life abundant.
Crazy hormones and sleep deprivation, a feeling that you have no idea what you’re doing and adjusting to a new way of life, will threaten to steal your joy, even in the first few weeks of being a mom. Biological challenges are real, and I don’t want to minimize them, but also don’t underestimate the power of your faith in Christ, and the impact that that can have on your daily joy.
When moms are struggling to feel happy and peaceful, sometimes it’s simply because they are placing their hope and their faith in something other than Jesus. As it says in Acts, there is no other name given in Heaven, among men, by which we must be saved. No one else and nothing else is going to be able to give you supernatural energy and love for your children. Only Jesus dwelling in your heart can give you the hope you crave, and if you lose your joy, your children will have a hard time longing for that mysterious connection to Christ.
You are the aroma of Christ in your home, so talk about Jesus, sing about Jesus, read books about Him, let them see you studying the Bible and making time to be in church. All of these small daily things will help you fulfill your mission as a mom - to share the Gospel with your children.
In addition to all of these small and the natural ways you teach your child the Gospel, there’s also a way to fulfill your mission more intentionally with formal teaching. In the Israelite culture, God wanted the people to live in a sort of religious isolation. Living under the same law and worshipping the same God as their family and neighbors. A Jewish child, theoretically, was immersed in the teachings and ways of the Lord throughout the whole of their daily life, but this is not true of our modern American culture.
Your children will grow up in a culture that doesn’t worship the one true God, and unless you intentionally teach them a different way and help them to understand the Gospel, they will learn from social media, and friends, and other forms of entertainment. It’s likely that Jesus’ first education about God didn’t come from a fancy Jewish school, but from the lips of His mother and father in His own home. There He learned the law of the Lord and about the writings of God’s revealed word through the prophets. He later was acquainted with the teachings of the local synagogue, learning from the religious leaders who built upon the truths He gleaned at home.
Don’t underestimate your own influence of teaching in your child’s life, and the need to formally and intentionally tell them about God’s word, through things like memorizing scripture, reading Bible stories, discussing cultural issues through a biblical lens and singing songs rich with truth.
You don’t have to be a Bible scholar or have a teacher’s background to talk to your child simply about the Bible, but you do have to spend time in it and get to know God yourself. As you teach your children about God in your home, they will be able to understand and value what they learn at church.
Listening to all of this might have left you feeling a bit overwhelmed and trust me, I can totally relate. Some days, I’m not sure how in the world I’m going to teach my children about Jesus when I am such a sinner myself. I mean, I can’t even manage to keep our boys from coloring on the walls and tearing pages out of our books, but I’m encouraged when I remember that motherhood is a marathon and not a sprint. The best thing we can do for our children is to explain that we are full of sinners, learning to hope in Jesus right alongside them. We need forgiveness from God too, because we mess up and fall short and don’t do the best thing as a mom.
We can’t do right, but we can point them to the God of all righteousness who has cleansed us despite our failures, and in that we are giving them the Gospel. Knowing that this is your mission, how are you going to carry it out? How in the world are you going to stay focused and not get caught up in the world’s agenda for motherhood? There are going to be thousands of blog posts, and articles, and moms along the way, who are going to tempt you to jump onto their bandwagon, buying into a particular brand of motherhood as the right way.
Here are some thoughts on how to stay on target and be faithful, and as I say these things, I am listening to my own voice and being reminded that I need to make these things important as well.
How Can Moms Stay on Target With Their Purpose?
Abide In Christ - First, you must abide in Christ. In a sermon I once heard, the pastor talked about a conduit. He talked about us being a conduit of grace. We’re just a vessel, a means of getting grace from God to others, but if we aren’t connected to the source, nothing can flow through. We cannot produce fruit on our own and we can’t teach our children to love Jesus, apart from a loving relationship with Jesus ourselves. I encourage you, at every turn fight for time with Jesus. Do it while your kids are awake, on your lap or taking a nap or eating lunch. It doesn’t matter really, but don’t neglect time with the Lord. When you are feeling exhausted first ask yourself, am I trying to mother apart from Christ?
Take Care of Yourself - Secondly, you must take care of yourself. This is the second question to ask when you are exhausted. We have real physical needs as women, and while God can supernaturally sustain us, we also need to be good stewards of our bodies, and sometimes we do have to sacrifice sleep to rock a baby, to image Christ in his sacrificial loving nature. Sometimes we also need to help our babies learn to sleep, so that they can develop healthy bodies and we can approach life as a rested woman. It takes prayer to understand that balance. I’ve heard it said, “The most holy thing you can do is sleep.”
Also, while you don’t have to be in perfect athletic shape, staying active and eating healthy food can help you feel energized, in order to keep up with the demands of motherhood. Emotionally, you will have needs. Female friendship and the joy of using your unique God given gifts is a must, but careful, warning here: It can be really easy to use these things as an escape, because motherhood is hard. If you feel yourself wanting to fill up just to get out of the hard moments, that’s different than filling up so you can love and reflect Christ more fully. Also, don’t underestimate the power of a shower, real pants and blow-dried hair.
Take Care of Your Marriage - Third, you must take care of your marriage. This could be an entire topic in and of itself. Respect your husband and give him space to lead your family. Enjoy his preferences and trust him as a parent. Don’t view him as a babysitter or a stand-in for the real parent. Don’t get down on him for not doing all the things that you do. Don’t envy him or compare. Joyfully serve him and your children. Pray for him, involve him from the beginning, ask him to take the night shift or to even to change a diaper or whatever he’s comfortable with. Trust his intentions and believe in him. If you have to approach him about a parenting issue, just do it gently, and in a private setting where he won’t feel belittled or ashamed. Treat him the way you would want to be treated: included, important, valued and loved.
Get Help From Your Community - Fourth, you must get help from your community. If you don’t already have this, I would encourage you to get connected to the following:
- First of all, some moms who are just one step ahead of you will remember how hard it is to be where you’re at, while still being able to offer hope and perspective. They will also give practical wisdom. These are the people you call and text when you aren’t sure how to help your child drop the pacifier habit or how to introduce solid foods.
- Second, you’ll want to get some older moms around you, who have grown Christian children. They can give you a long-term view and help you keep your eyes on your mission, instead of the trenches of your current circumstances. They will also inevitably tell you to enjoy the stage you’re in, which is sometimes hard for us moms to swallow, but they’re right.
- Third, you need a church family, the people who are going to bring you meals, and help you with childcare so you can go on a date, those who are going to support the Biblical teaching you’re giving your children and more. These people are your support group when things get hard, and you need prayer, and wisdom, and direction.
With all of this good wisdom ridded in truth, the reality is, we still don’t know how our kids are going to turn out yet. You might do a lot of right things, and faithfully but not perfectly live out your mission, but the results aren’t guaranteed, and that’s another reason why you have to hope in Christ. Even through my husband and I’s attempts of faithful parenting, just as last week, my kiddos filled up my brand new winter boots with fire place ashes, tore a cabinet door off in our kitchen and they got into countless fights.
I am on this journey with you, but what I hope you can do early on is catch a vision for motherhood, understanding that your primary mission isn’t just to educate them or cultivate their gifts and talents, or feed them healthy food or make them popular, but to share the Gospel with them in hopes that they will know and love Jesus.