Ep. 73 || Ruth Chou Simons: Faithfulness & Work in the Season of Young Children - Transcript

The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.

Laura: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. We’re so excited to share this interview with Ruth Simons today. She’s someone who has influenced both Emily and I in gospel-centred motherhood. We originally found her through her Instagram account where she shares strong encouragement about things like motherhood and marriage and securing your identity in Christ. Her handle is @gracelaced, and you definitely need to go follow her.

But one of the reasons we want to chat with Ruth is that, well, she has a lot going on. She’s married, has six boys and is currently home-schooling them. She has a thriving business and a brand new book. And yet, even with all this going on, she remains faithful to her calling as a mother, to disciple her children in the gospel. As I mentioned, she has a new book, it’s called Gracelaced, which features her beautiful artwork and is a great devotional to encourage you in any season you’re in. You can find a link to her book on our Show Notes page, on risenmotherhood.com.

And with that, I’ll let us get to the interview with Ruth, Emily and myself.

Laura: Hi, Ruth. We are so excited to have you on Risen Motherhood today. Thank you for joining us.

Ruth: Thanks for having me.

Laura: I’ve got my sister-in-law, Emily here too, so she’s joining in.

Emily: Super excited for this conversation.

Laura: I know; we’ve been looking forward to this one for a long time. And we know Ruth, that this is a busy week for you. We’re recording during your book’s big launch. How are you feeling?

Ruth: I am feeling great. I am super grateful and just glad to be here and glad to be sharing my heart, and on different platforms, including your podcast. So, thank you.

Laura: Can you tell us a little bit about – for those people who don’t know you, or maybe don’t follow you on Instagram – your family, your boys, and what a day looks like for you. I am sure it looks different, but...

Ruth: Sure. I am a mom to six boys. My oldest is fifteen and my youngest is four, so I feel like right now we’re in a really interesting stage; having teenagers, and that pre-school not-able-to-tie-his-shoes-yet kind of stage.

My husband’s name is Troy and we’ve been married for almost 20 years. We have been through various seasons – I have ministry and work, we have founded a school together, started a church. He was a preaching, teaching pastor for seven years, and so I was a pastor’s wife. I’ve been a blogger for 10 years. There have been various seasons, and I know we’ll probably get into it a little bit today. But my day right now looks a lot different than it used to because right now, as a family we do Gracelaced, the business, full-time. My work schedule is very different than it used to be when the kids were young. However, I still work from home, and so my day very much still looks like a lot of juggling and a lot of prioritizing and deciding on the spot, what is the most non-negotiable important things of each day. That’s something that – and again we can talk about it more today – for sure that I’ve had to learn, that each day is a new beginning and is a new opportunity to learn those things. When eight people do home-school and business and life together in one home, including several employees that come in and out of our house, there’s a lot of grace that has to be applied to one another, and to learn a rhythm that will benefit and bless one another, rather than just declaring what you need for your day. We do school around the kitchen table, we do business in our garage, I paint wherever there is a clean surface [laughter] and so our days are full. We’re very, very normal, and yet it – admittedly – is not entirely normal to have seen my dream realized at this stage of my life.

I am turning 42 in a few weeks, and I say that just because I speak at conferences sometimes where I meet young twenty-some-year-old young moms and a lot of times, young ladies ask me things like, “What should I do to be where you’re at?” And I want to say, “20 years” [laughter]. I want to say, “It takes time, and it doesn’t mean that it always includes those 20 years. But it means that whatever the Lord has for you, it usually doesn’t mean instant gratification.”

Laura: You’ve touched on about six of our questions here [laughter]. We love it. We are so excited [laughter]. So going with that, maybe I’ll take the interview here since you started touching on that. Emily and I have followed you for a long time, and as we’ve watched your stories unfold, we know that you have slowly expanded your business to be able to pursue your dream. As you said, it is a little bit of an unusual lifestyle that you lead, to be able to accomplish this. And in many ways it does seem like a lot of moms’ dream gig is like, “Hey, I am home with my kids, I’ve got a thriving business, I have a book.” It’s really neat things, but we know, Ruth, that you are really grounded in the gospel. What kind of gospel-centered advice do you have for a mom who’s thinking to herself – she’s home with one baby, maybe two - and thinking, “Arrg, I want a side gig. I want to do something more fulfilling. Is this all that there is?” What should play into her decision as she thinks through those thoughts?

Ruth: My favorite thing to say to women in that position is, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.” Sometimes we look around and we see all these opportunities; it’s like you can take a webinar on how to grow yourself on social media, you can go to this conference and hobnob with just the right person and maybe you’ll get ahead a little bit. Or you might see somebody else who’s just as talented as you are and you think, “They did it, why can’t I?” But the thing that’s amazing is, it reminds me of, I think it’s in The Horse and His Boy by C. S. Lewis when Aslan is telling Shasta that Aravis’ story is not for him to hear. He says, “Well, why did you do that? Why did you this? Why did you do that?” I am paraphrasing of course, and C.S. Lewis does it so much better, [laughter] but he says, “I only tell each person their own story.”

The trouble with social media right now is that we can, in the moment that we’re in somebody else’s feed, we might think that their story is the right one. We think that their story is the only one that can be told. The thing is, we can all have very, very different circumstances, and every motherhood journey is different; every creative journey is different. But the Lord is always after the same thing. He’s always after us – realizing and seeing that He redeems us so that we might become full in the likeness of Christ. That we might actually be image-bearers the way He intended for us to be - proclaiming the gospel with our lives, living out the reality of death to sin and forgiveness and redemption, through whatever creative means He’s given us. That might look like creatively setting out the table for dinner of mac and cheese and salad for the night. It could mean having a dinner party, or it could mean sewing your way through an apron business. It could also mean starting an art business. But it may not mean that you see fruit the way it looks on the outside for other people.

One of the things that I really had to come to grips with, because before I had the art and writing dream, my dream was actually to be overseas and to be a full-time missionary. Troy and I were on the fast track to being lifelong missionaries either in China or in Latin America, and that felt like running after purpose and serving the Lord. One of the biggest things that I had to learn was that as I became a mom, the mission field wasn’t out there. It was right in front of me, at the kitchen table. I say that a lot, but I mean it in that it certainly does not look like a mission field when you step up to the sink full of dishes because really what we want to say is, “Isn’t there anyone else who knows how to rinse dishes and scrub this off?” [laugher] Or you want to say like, “Did I really go to college to have these toddler conversations of what pink is? Pink and red.” [laughter] Or, “Am I really listening to these little sing-songy things?” All of this.

We would all agree that there are days when motherhood is beautiful. We are just sitting there, we’re like, “This is glorious” [laughter]. I’ll be, “I am the luckiest woman in the world." And even on hard days sometimes we’re like, “This is beautiful.” But, honestly, 75 percent of the time, it is fighting against everything our flesh wants to do with our day. We don’t really want to change another nasty diaper. We really don’t want to deal with colic or screaming or crying. We really don’t want to deal with the three or four-year-old throwing themselves on the ground and kicking and screaming, right? What we really want to do is just read the book that tells us what we can do to get over this stage and do it successfully [laughter]. And then how we can balance it all so that we can actually produce really great things we want to produce, and do something that will be like, “Look what I did with my day.” 

Because honestly, at the end of the day, most of the time we’re just like, “What did I do?” As a young mom, you could be like, “I know I folded laundry today, but I can’t show anything for it because my house is still a wreck.” Part of the mercy of God is that He gives us areas in our lives that we can’t dominate. We just can’t dominate them, and that lack of being able to own it and rule it and be like, “I am amazing at it,” causes us to fall at His feet. Early motherhood is a time where try as you might, you could run a full-time business, but no one can do everything. And so, in those years you’re going to have to make a choice, and it’s not that that choice is the same for everybody. But the reality is there’s no such thing as “having it all.” If you give the majority of your time developing a business, you’re probably not going to have much bandwidth to developing the lives of your children and your time with them. That is something that will not stand still for you; time will not stand still for you, your kids will not wait around for you to get your business off the ground. I am not saying that to guilt anybody. Everybody has a different story, and some moms find themselves absolutely needing to work during those early years, and God will absolutely provide for that. But that goes back to why we have to look at our motive, right? And you touched on that, with the whole question of, if a mom says, “I want something else. I want to do something else.” What is the motive behind that desire to do something else?

Emily: First of all, [laughs] you’re speaking so much rich truth. I feel like moms with little ones, you’re describing my day and my heart and what’s so hard. But just that idea of wanting to see the fruit right now, and really struggling because the input is constant.  We’re not seeing yet, a lot of that tangible progress either, in our children, or in the things that God is growing in our hearts. I just really appreciate it, and I am not going to quote it exactly, so maybe you’ll be able to tell it back to me,  where you say, “You’re growing...” what is it about? You use it as a hashtag all the time, about the fruit?

Ruth: That, “You don’t have to be blooming to get flowers...”

Emily: Yes!

Laura: There you go [laughter]. We both have newborns... [laughter]. I love that.

Ruth: I am in a season right now where publicly, people can see a lot of fruit. You can see a lot of blooms going on, but you know I started motherhood before I was even on Facebook right? It was back in a time when there were no pretty pictures that went along with your faithfulness every day. I love to mention this, especially to young moms that, “What is lived out in the unseen absolutely informs your platform someday.” Whether that’s a little stage in which you get to minister to ten women in a Bible study, or whether you’re speaking to 500,000. Whatever it is that the Lord gives you impact over, is what you do behind closed doors, and with the people that are never going to share about you on social media. That’s where it counts the most; your children are not giving you shout-outs all day long, “Hey, shout-out to my amazing mom, #bestcookever.” That’s not happening with our children, right?

No one’s giving you credit for those 30 minutes you spent in the bathroom, dealing with a child who seems too hard-hearted to admit that he’s wrong. Those are hard things that you do day in and day out. But, you may not see the fruit of it right now, but it’s changing you. It’s not just changing them; it’s changing you. Maybe you’re a young mom that says, “I sure would love to write. I sure would love to have a platform, or I sure would love to share my heart and encourage other moms.” My biggest encouragement would be, use what the Lord has given you right now, and be an encouragement within your immediate sphere of influence. That might be with your two-year-old, or with a young lady from church. That might be simply applying the truth to yourself first, because in time - when you’re not looking for the stage – the Lord will open up opportunities for you to use the content that you learned in secret, and He will give you opportunities to share those in the public forum. But when we aim for the public forum, that’s when it goes backwards.

Laura: Emily and I talk a lot about, even just with the Risen Motherhood platform like, “Wouldn’t it be a shame if someday Risen Motherhood is huge and big, but our children felt neglected when they were young?” Or, “Wouldn’t it be a shame if someday down the road we’ve realized all our career dreams, but our children, and when we asked them, “Hey, how did you think you felt like your childhood went?” they would say, “Oh, you were distracted, you were always stressed, you were always gone.” Our hope is that we can keep that balance because it is a tricky thing. But like you said, whatever the Lord has in front of you, to be content in that. That’s why I’d love for you to talk a little bit about, what are some simple strategies for a mom who is maybe feeling this way? Or feeling like she wants more? To keep your identity rooted in Christ, rather than your success? Even the success of your child’s behavior – of them doing well, or seeing their mom...

Emily: Being the perfect homemaker.

Laura: Right, because it can come in all forms of our pride, where it hits. So what would you say, “Here are some simple strategies that I’ve done to help keep my focus on the Lord?"

Ruth: Well, first and foremost - I don’t mean for this to be a Sunday school answer – but sometimes we go to God’s word thinking that we need it to do our job. As in, we need it to be able to know how to love our kids. We need it because we’re a child of God. We need to commune with the Lord, and if I were to be honest, I would say that’s the first thing that I want to put aside. I am like, “Oh, I don’t need to be in the Word today. I need to get after my list.” I don’t even say it that way, I just say, “I don’t have time right now. I need to get on with whatever I need to do,” or, “I need a few more minutes of sleep.” 

I’ll tell a real quick story about when one of my boys was three and four. For pretty much two years he would wake up like seven times a night, and we couldn’t figure out why. He would just wake up and start screaming. Like, it felt like night terrors, maybe there were some cramps, we didn’t know. But it got to the point where we were like, “Lord, we’re here listening. What do you have to say to us?” because it got a little like, “There’s no answer for this.” We tried lots of things – we tried everything from going in and patting him on the back, or cry it out. Anyway, long story short, we were so low on sleep honestly, that I just remember Troy, my husband, getting up really early this one morning. I noticed he got up after having slept maybe sporadically for a few hours that night. And I was like, “What are you doing?” And he goes, “I need to get up and spend time with the Lord and read my Bible.” I was like, “How can you survive this day [laughter] without more sleep?” He’s like, “How can I survive this day without being with the Lord?”

That has always stuck with me, and not because he’s heroic, and amazing, and he always is perfect at reading his Bible. No, that’s not the point. The point is that we forget that the very things that are the hardest about that season, and those little years, and just how stretched we feel, are meant to drive us back to the Lord and cause us to commune with Him, rather than use Him as like, “Hey, what scripture verse will get me through the next moment?” But rather like, “What do I do to thrive in Christ, and to remember my identity in Him?” It’s like I’ve written about in the book, there is no follow through in obedience, that I can come out of simply saying, “I want to be better, I want to do better, I want to tick off my list.” There’s no power in that. You get discouraged, you stop, you say, “Whatever, just throw in the towel.” 

That’s where all the jokes come in, where moms empathize with one another and lower our standard for what it is that we’re even trying to do. We don’t find it a divine calling. We say, “Arrg, let’s just make it through.” But instead, when we concentrate on the character of God and who He says we are, then you recognize that whether He’s given you Zimbabwe to minister to, or a two-year-old and a coloring sheet, it’s equally kingdom work. That keeps us aligned with knowing, “It’s not me that’s determining my worth today, it’s Jesus.”

Emily: I relate, that’s my go-to;  that, “Oh, let me go to my to-do list.” But it’s really, that is so temporary. Literally, sometimes I have a to-do list written on a crinkled piece of paper, and by the afternoon, somebody’s colored on it and thrown it in the trash. When I am thinking about the eternal things, and really remembering, “This is momentary, and what’s going to last forever is the Word of God and my relationship with Him.” It’s like, “Of course it’s worth investing in time with Him and the relationship because that’s the only thing that’s going to stand." But I feel like that takes a lot of practice, and speaking truth to our own hearts. It’s like that backward thinking; it’s counter-intuitive to what our flesh wants to do, which is this temporary thing that I can immediately accomplish. [laughs]

Ruth: It’s choosing it every day. The thing is, I am such a perfectionist that I feel like unless I have it down perfectly, and I am the most routine person in the world. I don’t know how to pick back up and try because honestly, I am not the most perfect routine, disciplined person in the world. And there are seasons when I am getting to my Bible at the wrong time of day, and I am like, “Wow, tomorrow morning, I want to start earlier.” That’s an adjustment. We need to be okay with adjusting. But to get back to, Laura, just a little bit more, at a practical level - because I don’t just want to speak on only a big paradigm, and paradigm is important - and that’s why I always start there because we have to have the mind of, “My self-worth in Christ is what’s going to determine what I do today.” It absolutely has to start there.

But once we lock ourselves into the fact that there is no circumstance or no action today, that defines my worth more than my identity in Christ, once we have that in place, that will determine how we use our day. We can’t just be willy-nilly, we can’t just be sitting around going, “Let’s see how this day goes,” because if we were to be honest, this day would go to Facebook. [laughter] This day will go to social media, this day will be like us chasing a few legit links that take us to a bunch of non-legit links. [laughter] That we’re all of a sudden not reading anything that’s even beneficial, and we’re just all of a sudden going, “Wait, what happened here?” or, “Who is this person?” And your day’s gone.

Just on a practical level, I would say – I have written about this before – but we do a lot of team meetings as a family. We have a lot of getting together at the breakfast table, and going through our day, and making a plan for our day. And partly we have to do that because our kids are home. We’re all home, so we really have to determine, “Hey, when do we convene together for snack time? When is it quiet in this house? When do you need to respect that mama’s door is going to be closed and you can’t come in? During that time, these questions will be taken to dad, or these questions will be taken to one of the girls that help in the shop, or these questions will be taken to whatever it is. You have a list and you know what it is that you’re supposed to be doing during that time. Kids can’t respond accurately to things that you haven’t prepped them for.  That’s one of the things that I keep learning is that you have to set yourself up for success in that you have to prepare hearts. You can’t say, “Hey, I want quiet, and I want time to work.” There’s nothing wrong with having time to work, but you can only have time to work if you predetermine what that looks like, and as a family, agree on the cost, right? We will say, “Hey, it’s costly because I am not available during that time. But I am available after this time. And during that time, I am putting my phone away and we’re going to work like this.”

One of the things that I feel like we do a lot as a family, is we discuss what it is that I do because I don’t want any mystery to it. I don’t want them to be like, “Oh, she works, and then she’s on her phone a lot." No, I’ll say, “Mama’s Instagraming right now. I am writing out a post. Let me read it out loud to you. Why don’t you guys read this with me? What do you think? Does this describe the way we’re seeing the Lord work in our lives today?” I actually have them, they don’t really help me at it, but they read it with me. They look at the photos, or they preview this post that I am doing so that they’re a part of it.

And sometimes I ask forgiveness and say, “You guys, I can’t come to dinner just yet because I am on a deadline. I am going to finish this and then I’ll join you guys in a minute.” And so verbalizing and acknowledging, rather than feeling guilty about how you’re not juggling it all perfectly is a really practical way to enter into that conversation with your family. So rather than being like, “I am pretending,” or “I am just going to put aside the fact that I am not perfect,” and just be like, “I am just doing my best, you guys. I feel so guilty here." Rather than doing that, just to say, “Hey, can you all offer me a little extra measure of grace this week because I’ve got a few deadlines? It’s like other jobs where sometimes it’s busy or sometimes it’s less busy. But can you guys pray for me? This is what you can expect; I will be done by this time, and then let’s go for a walk." It’s really good to lay out expectations ahead of time in your day.

It’s funny because it leads me back to that story about Susanna Wesley, about how she flipped her [laughter] apron over her head. She taught her family that there’s a signal for when mom needs alone time with the Lord. And that is just a picture; we clearly don’t wear aprons or flip them over our heads. But maybe it’s something that you will do to communicate with your family - the kind of time you need, and when you need it, and how your family can support one another, based on certain signals and predetermined things that we do as a family, to make those times sacred.

Emily: What a wonderful example of how to communicate the gospel to our children. Of just bringing them in; it doesn’t always have to be this formal, set-aside thing. It can just be a matter of saying, “Mommy is flawed” [laughs] and “Mommy needs Jesus and I am depending on Him right now. I don’t have it all together, I am not juggling. I need this just like you do." I just need that reminder that I can stop and invite my children into the mess, and I can invite them into, even the hard places in my heart, and the ways that I am struggling, and say, “Hey, let’s stop and pray.” Even the practical preparing, well I don’t do that enough. [laughter]

Laura: The importance of communication just can’t be overstated. As we’ve said, like explaining, “This is exactly what I am up to." My son knows the jingle to Risen Motherhood at the beginning, and he knows, “momma has a podcast, and she tells women about Jesus.” At three and four, that’s where he can understand and  it can just grow with your children. I am curious for, especially like your littlest ones, or maybe when your children were younger, were there any other practical things that you did, to help bring really young children into your work? Or even just like Emily said, of informal ways of passing on the gospel to your children? We know you guys are a really intentional family, so we want to get some practical tips out of you. [laughter]

Ruth: For one thing, I would say we really believe in conversation. As a family, we are a very conversational, always-chatting family. Personality-wise, not everyone’s chatty, and not everyone’s communicative in that sense. I happen to have a verbal processing kind of family. But, we lead out on that, so we choose to not divide the sacred with the secular. Meaning it’s not like, “This is the time that we are going to track practice. We’re in the car getting ready for track practice. This is not church and discipleship time.” We just say, “It’s all discipleship time." So looking for teachable moments is a really big thing with little ones, because we all want to say everything we want our kids to change and grow in, in the moment of disobedience. Or when they’re throwing a fit, we’re yelling louder over them like, “This is not okay. You need to learn!” and they’re kicking and screaming and we’re going, “Why are you not hearing me?”

But what I find so special is that you actually make so much room for those kinds of conversations, when you’re finding teachable moments. So for example, with my four-year-old, if I am painting, legitimately for work, and I give him a spot next to me and say, “You grab your watercolors, but here’s the thing, mama’s painting. In fact, I might even record something while I am painting it, so you need to be really quiet, okay? So if you want to join me in my work, you need to be real quiet." And then as we sit there and we do the work, he feels welcomed, and he’s not in trouble. There’s not something major going on where I am trying to teach him about something; he’s just enjoying my presence. Then, it’s a real opportunity to say, “You know what, you were so quiet just like I asked you to. I really see the Lord working in your life and causing you to understand obedience more and more. Do you remember? Doesn’t that make you feel so happy? Are you happier when you see you and mama are on the same page, and I am asking this of you, for your good, and you’re obeying? We’re enjoying one another, right? Do you remember the other day when I said ‘Hey, you’ll be most happy if you do it the way I am asking you to do it,’ and you said: 'No, I am going to do it my way.' Were you really happy that day?” – Obviously, I am going off the top of my head here, and just rattling off this conversation. But usually, some version of that he’ll say, “No, I wasn’t happy." 

So you take a moment where there’s really sweet communion, and that’s the opportunity to say, “You know, it’s kind of like that with the Lord. It’s kind of like that with our relationship with God, where we’re in sin, and we can’t come to Christ and we don’t realize that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty of our sin." Obviously, I am using bigger words than I would with my four-year-old at this moment. And maybe not, we’re growing into that. But it’s a perfect opportunity to say, “We’re the happiest when we’re in the right fellowship with the Lord, and He makes that possible through Jesus on the cross."

We’re not happy when we aim for all these other things that we think will get us closer to being okay with God, and we’re really not unless we recognize how He made that possible.

So those are the kind of conversations that you creatively think to yourself, “What if my everyday life illustrates pointedly, the way God provides for us through the gospel?” And you just find ways to invite that conversation to be something that doesn’t happen just at church, on the way home from church, on the way to VBS. You invite those conversations in the most normal moments of your life.

Emily: It requires us to slow down. I was just thinking, you’re talking about something that requires me to put my phone down. That requires me to make eye contact during the meal time or to just have moments in my day where I am not untouchable. It’s like, “Mom is so busy on a mission to get this house cleaned up, to get this laundry folded, to take care of this other thing” that you can’t even approach me in a teachable [laughs] moment because we’re just on a mission. So that’s really convicted to me, just to think about slowing down so that those conversations can even happen.

Ruth: I don’t know if any of your listeners will feel this way right this moment, but sometimes women hear these conversations and they roll their eyes and go, “Oh yeah, slow down. Sure, if I can afford to do that.” So sometimes I like to say it another way – and I’ve posted on this before – where rather than make it seem like this is a hard thing to nail, what does it look like to slow down? What does it look like to have leisure in your life?  Instead, I like to say, “This is proactive. This is actually something you do do, is that you plan for nothing.” I like to talk about that because that’s something you can achieve; you know how to plan nothing in your schedule. Sometimes it’s hard to know what it looks like to slow down, or to be like, “Oh, enjoy your kids.” Well, what does that look like? But if I tell somebody, “Look at your calendar and cross out at least half of what would naturally be scheduled in.” Just plan for nothing because that’s when it happens.

When you plan for nothing and you don’t schedule every minute of your day, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Just because you feel obligated to have dinner with everybody that you want to have dinner with, doesn’t mean that you should have dinner with everybody. It doesn’t mean that you should be constantly filling up your schedule with those things. Some of the sweetest times that we have with our kids is actually when they say, “So, what’s going on tonight?” And we say, “Nothing.” And then they go, “Oh, let’s go on a walk.” So then we go on a walk and you usually talk when you’re on a walk. And so things come up, and I can actually ask the question like, “So, tell me about that weird look that you gave [laughter] me the other day when I mentioned such and such.” You know you can actually bring those things up now because you’re on a walk, and they know that they have you, and your attention.So, for entrepreneurs, for busy people, something proactive we can do is actually to schedule nothing.

Laura: I like that idea, maybe even putting it on my to-do list - “Live out the gospel with my kids,” or “Talk about the gospel,” just so that every time I look back, I am like, “Oh yeah, that’s something that I would want to do. That’s the most important task of my day,” physically maybe even writing it down.

Ruth, as we close here, is there anything, any charge you want to give to young moms? We know you’re just a couple steps ahead of us. It’s probably still pretty fresh – these diaper days and nursing days and things like that. So is there any charge that you would want to give to young moms as they invest well in their children, if you could speak into their life now?

Ruth: I would say, “Don’t discount the most ordinary moments. Do not discount and think that it’s a waste.” I have let too many years go by where I thought that I was trying to arrive somewhere; like, “I will be more effective once I am out of the diapering stage. I will be able to speak to my kids once they’re over the tantrum stage, I will...” whatever it was. I am so aware right now, that the Lord is sanctifying us in every single step of the way, even in those sleepless nights when a baby wakes you up in the middle of the night, and you can’t go back to sleep and you’re lying in bed. That is not a wasted time because if He gives you that particular thorn and that trial in your season, and you’re lying there in bed going, “I just need another extra hour of sleep, why am I awake,” let that drive you back to the cross and say, “Everything is meant to cause me to give my heart back to Him.” That might be in the middle of the night, that might mean that when your kids are crying and crying, crying, you put on a Curious George for a minute, and you think, “Aah, I can’t believe I am just putting them in front of the TV.” Rather than immediately going from one extreme to the other like, “I am the best mom /I am the worst mom,” stop and just say, “Just like our Christian work, our work with the Lord is not about performing our way to acceptance.” Or, “I am feeling so much, that we’ll never make it back. It’s the grace of God that sustains us; that’s the way it is in motherhood as well. When you hide yourself in Him, [laughs] you can’t fail hard enough. You can’t succeed enough to make your kids brilliant, and you can’t fail hard enough to cause them to be a wreck. The Lord is in control, and you’re just part of the process.

Laura: What a relief. [laughter]

Emily: There’s this collective sigh of relief here.That’s what the gospel does. I feel like the gospel removes the burden of guilt and performance that we have, and that’s resting it right there, a sigh of relief. [laughs]

Laura: Well thank you so much for being on the show today Ruth. We just loved talking to you so we really appreciate your time.

Ruth: Thank you so much for having me guys.