This transcript has been edited for clarity.
Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. Emily and Laura here. Very excited to welcome you guys to our second Ask Us Anything show.
Laura: Yes, it’s very exciting to have another stab at this from last spring.
So really quick, before we jump into a lot of questions, we wanted to share a couple of really exciting announcements. Some of you guys, if you follow us on social media may have noticed awhile back that we posted a job opening at Risen Motherhood for a Community Manager position. We were completely overwhelmed by a ton of amazing applications – we wanted to be friends with all of you. [Laughs] Totally humbled at how many gifted women there are out there and God did provide somebody for that position.
So we are excited to welcome, Kaitlin Simmons to the team. Kaitlin has some awesome skills that you guys will be seeing, if you haven’t already noticed that we’ve upped our game. [laughter] It is all Kaitlin, you guys – she’s helping us with things like being more organized and all the behind-the-scenes stuff so that Emily and I are a bit more freed up to do shows and things like that. She’s also working on some branding stuff and helping us to be more consistent all around. I feel like, what was life without Kaitlin? I don’t even know. She’s so great; she can never leave us.
And we also have another really fun addition, Autumn Kern, she came onto the team around the same time as Kaitlin and she is helping us doing some editing for the blog. As you guys probably heard, we are adding some guest contributions to our blog so she is going to help us coordinate a lot of those things. She’s also a really gifted writer and has a really good mind for solid theology so we’re excited because she’s going to be doing some additional posts and some of these “wish lists” projects that Emily and I have – she’s going to be helping us to execute those things. Pretty crazy Risen Motherhood is a team of five now, if you include our third sister-in-law, Becca, who is still working very hard on a lot of things on the financial side and some other special projects that we have coming down the pipes… Isn’t that crazy?
Emily: It is – It’s so crazy! [laughter] And you also might have seen if you were perusing our show notes that there are some experimental discussion questions there. We’ve heard from some of you guys that you discuss the podcast with friends from church or in your community. So this fall we are going to be testing those out. So if you seem them, and you use them, and you have some feedback for us – let us know how those are going so we can figure out what that might look like in the future.
Laura: Yes, alright. So let’s get to the show. We polled you guys on Instagram and Facebook and were just overwhelmed with how many questions came in… which we love – we love how interactive you guys are, we love how you guys feel even some ownership towards Risen Motherhood and that you really value contributing to the conversation. A lot of your questions we did answer in our last Ask Us Anything show and we tried to respond to some of you as we could, but we know we didn’t reach everyone so maybe check that old show just in case you feel like your question was not answered.
We like to do this show because we feel like we get a lot of the same questions pretty frequently, so hopefully by answering them somewhere that we can reference it later.
Emily: Yes, we also like it because we don’t always share tons of personal anecdotes on the show because of time and so hopefully it’s a good way for you guys to get to know us a little bit better and get some context from even what’s going on in the background in Laura and I’s lives as you are listening to us respond to some of these other topics that we cover.
Laura: Right. And many of you guys asked about topics like birth control, pornography, sexual intimacy, a lot of these more “hard topics” – or “heavier topics” – for this show, we are tabling those topics, mainly because they deserve shows in and of themselves. And at this point, we’re really just not sure how to speak to those things in a public way that protects our family, portrays Christian freedom, and doesn’t distract from the heartbeat of our show. So as we are able to, we will try to address some of those questions, but we know that there are other people out there that are tackling those things. Or of course, what we really always recommend – getting with women in your church, getting in the local church, talking to with them about your unique situation is always the best bet, rather than hearing it from an online source. They’re able to give you that biblical truth and help guide you forward. So we just wanted to say that we hear those things. We know those are very hard things but we want to encourage you to try to talk with women in-person so you can really get gospel-centered advice.
Emily: Alright. This is going to be pretty light hearted… Laura and I are just going to be bouncing questions back and forth to each other. For those of you who have requested longer shows, here it comes.
Laura: Man, we are going to be exhausted by the end of this. [laughter]
Laura: So Emily, what are you currently reading?
Emily: Alright. I’m going to start from the thing I’m closest to being finished with to the thing I just started – how about that?
Laura: Sounds good.
Emily: I have been listening to the audio version of Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance, which is kind of a memoir, not something I typically venture into but it’s been a very interesting listen. And I’m also in the middle of Good and Angry by David Powlison, which I started last February. But it’s a very deep book and so it’s one that I have to digest one chapter at a time, here and there. I’ll finish it maybe by the end of the year, we’ll see. And then I’m in the last book of the Wingfeather Saga. And what I’ve really been loving and consuming the most is the Imperfect Disciple by Jared Wilson.
Laura: I know – that’s on my list.
Emily: It’s new non-fiction Christian read that – I think the tagline is something like, Grace for People Who Can’t Get Their Act Together.
Laura: Sounds like me…
Emily: I saw that and was kind of like, “Hey, that’s me!” [laughs] So anyways, what are you reading now, Laura?
Laura: Yes, well I usually read six to eight books at a time. I know that sounds crazy but I keep them all over my house ,so prior to having my youngest daughter, Eden, I was reading a lot of books. And didn’t finish any of them. I mean, I had her and just stopped reading, stopped everything besides caring for my daughter. And so I picked up a couple of new books about three or four weeks ago, when I started feeling like I’m getting my new-baby-sea-legs under me. I’m reading Ordinary by Michael Horton, which is really good if you feel like you’re just an ordinary, normal person and that’s not doing something crazy radical for the faith – I highly recommend it. And then I’m reading Divided by Faith by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith, which is about racial reconciliation and the church. Very good. And then, this fall, my church is doing the Keri Folmar study on Ephesians so I’m also reading Gloria Furman’s, Alive In Him, as sort of a companion book. It goes along with it, and I’m just really slowly reading it as I work through the book of Ephesians.
Emily: Nice. Alright. Another question that we get a lot – kind of going along with that is, what is your ratio of bible reading to spiritual book reading and how do you find time for both?
Laura: As I mentioned, I read a lot of books at one time. And I do keep them all over, one is in my diaper bag, four are by my nightstand, a couple are downstairs, one is in the car – they’re all over the place. I do just squeeze reading in where I can. As far as ratio of bible reading to spiritual book reading, in terms of sheer word count, I definitely read more non-fiction. But that’s because typically I’m trying to deeper study the Bible, word by word, paragraph by paragraph, or chapter by chapter. Although, I do try to take time to try to read large chunks of the Bible, so when I do that – I don’t know, the balance gets shifted. But I wouldn’t say I have a real – “Oh, it’s 60% and 40%,” Or that it needs to be that, I think there’s different seasons for different times, and I think it’s a matter of, are you getting in God’s Word? Or are you only reading non-fiction? You need to be getting in God’s Word, so just make it happen.
Emily: Yes, totally. I’m with you there. I think I don’t see them as the same thing or they’re not in competition with each other at all. My mental goal is that, four morning a week on weekdays I would be in the Word consistently doing a deeper Word study – even if that’s only 15-20 minutes of sitting down and being in the Word. And then non-fiction is something that I find myself reading in spurts because usually at the end of the day if I’m tired, if I find myself reading a book, I would just fall right asleep [laughs] and I can’t digest it. So I often find myself reading on trips or over the holidays, if I get a little bit of time at a coffee shop, taking a bath, and that’s kind of how I get through books these days. I think one thing that I love about non-fiction, Christian writing, it can kind of be a companion, often times it can help me process the biblical truth I’m learning in a new and fresh way and can help me apply it differently. So I do feel like it’s a pretty important part of meditating or digesting scripture.
Laura: Yes. Okay, Emily. Will you share your testimony?
Emily: Phew! We’re just going to jump right in– I love it! [laughs] This is fun. I can’t believe we’ve never shared this on the show before. I grew up in a Christian home, both my parents are believers; we went to church a lot. I can never remember a time when I didn’t believe in God or think the Bible is true. But I was not following the Lord when I was younger. I think if you were to look into my life and I was to even articulate what is the deepest desire of my heart – the deepest desire in my heart was to find comfort in worldly things, to feel loved and accepted in the ways of the world, so that is what I pursued. Although I was kind of churchy on the outside, on the inside I was really trying to fit into the world around me. You can extrapolate, obviously there’s a ton of details.
But around the age of 20, I started to realize that I wasn’t able to find fulfillment in some of those worldly things like relationships and achievement and doing everything right on the outside. And God was really gracious to bring me to a point where I was at the end of myself. And I can very vividly remember sitting in my car after a broken relationship with someone I had, just crying out to God for help. It was probably the first time I remember crying out and knowing I could not get myself together. I could not get my act together. I needed the grace of God to help me do that. It was a turning point moment for me.
I don’t ever remember “going back” after that, and I had a passion for reading the Word, I got involved in a local church. I don’t know, my whole life changed course. What I found pleasure in, who I was spending my time with – all of those things changed. From there, it was really the first couple of years was healing from a lot of the baggage and the trail of destruction in my life from different sins I was involved in. There was a couple of years of bursting in growth and understanding in scripture. And from there, it’s been slower growth in theology, growth in understanding the gospel, applying that to my life – and now I think I’m going on 11 plus years of faithfully walking with the Lord. Although, I’m still a big sinner. [laughter]
Laura: Isn’t it funny how we just never arrive? [laughs]
Emily: Alright. There was my testimony in two and a half minutes.
Laura: Good job. I’m impressed. That was quick.
Emily: Alright. Go for it, Laura.
Laura: Okay, so I am blessed to never know a day without Christ. I think often these can be coined the “boring testimony” but I have to remind myself that it is never a boring testimony when you remember the incredible miracle for God to take a dead heart and make it alive again, so that is never, ever boring. I have taken great comfort in that, because at times I’ve thought, “Oh I want one of those really cool conversion stories,” or “I want even one more like Emily’s where it shows how God just took me out of sin and brought me to new life. Well, that’s exactly what He did. It’s a real mercy to never know a day without the Lord.
I came from a family who taught me Christ from the beginning – we moved around a lot when I was little and that also meant we moved through a lot of churches. We finally settled in central Iowa and we found a really, really wonderful church that was really integral to the understanding of my faith and helped us to apply it to our everyday lives. I think they were really, really good at that and in many ways I was groomed as a Christian from a young age. I was definitely a good, moral kid, I went to church multiple times a week, my main friend group was found through the youth group.
But particularly in high school there were the natural pressures and there were some more difficult trials that happened in my life at that time where I think my faith was tested. And I can say, at that point, it stopped being my parent’s faith, it stopped being something I did because it was the only thing I’d ever really known and it really became my own. Then I went on to college and that was when I started growing my love for theology and understanding why is it important to know why you believe what you believe. I took some theology classes at my local church in college, began doing some more leadership work in small groups and bible studies. Those things deepened my faith to the point where I was able to pour into other women and to invest well. There are definitely things that happened in there and still things that are happening now that are hard, and difficult, and have deepened my faith. But I’ve been really grateful for a solid foundation since I was born.
Emily: Yes, so hopefully that gives some context and background. I feel like we have a little bit of different testimonies– although, God has forged us together in relationship. Which is exciting – and moves us onto our next question so well…
Laura: I was going to say, “That ties well to our next question!” Someone asked, “Ws sister-in-laws, how did your friendship develop? Did it come naturally? And how much did you work for it in the beginning?”
Emily: [laughs] So Laura, I don’t know if you remember this as vividly –
Laura: I don’t – I don’t remember first meeting you… Is that terrible? [laughs]
Emily: Okay, I can remember every detail … I can remember what you were wearing when you came down the stairs at your parent’s house. So it was October 2008, I’m taking everyone back there now…
Laura: Oh my goodness! I literally don’t remember this – this is terrible.
Emily: Well, it was probably a bigger deal to me. So Laura’s brother, Brad, had never had a girlfriend before and they were very close growing up and very close friends in college. So I knew I had to pass “Laura” [laughs] to keep going. I felt like there was a lot of, “I want Laura to like me, I want us to get along.” I was also very self-conscious because I was a pretty new believer at that time; and my husband was surrounded by a community of very mature believers … It was a really strong Christian community and I was like, “Oh no, I don’t know the lingo.” I just kind of felt like a misfit a little bit. And I remember sleeping in a twin bed in Laura’s apartment and staying up and talking with you a little bit for the very first time.
Laura: [laughs] I remember that.
Emily: Okay, good! It’s funny, that’s what I remember about the beginning of our relationship. But I think we’ve always gotten along and had good discussions and stuff.
Laura: Yes, I mean it hasn’t been without some bumps. Especially in the beginning – I don’t know, I can’t believe how easily I accepted you! [laughter] You were dating my brother, who was like, one of my best friends and I immediately liked you. We immediately hit it off. I was just excited because both my brothers were dating and bringing some girls around. And I was excited for sisters I think – for the concept of future sisters.
But if we want to get real, I think a lot of people have asked us, “How do you guys have such a good relationship?” Or, “How are you all able to work together?” Because now, Becca, is with us as well … And I’m always like, “By the grace and mercy of God!”
There are things that we’ve done through just learning what friendship looks like through communicating really well to being open to seeking forgiveness. Emily and I have definitely had to say, “we’re sorry” to each other. I don’t do that with all my friends – or I maybe I just don’t get to that point – but one thing that I’ve always really appreciated about the way that I was brought up and the way that I know Emily and Becca have also taken in this concept as well: family, you fight for family. You strive for those relationships.
So family comes first – meaning over Risen Motherhood, over whatever petty argument we have, over whatever thing we are going to do. Emily and I have always strived to say, “We value each other more than any of these things, so what can we do to preserve our relationship?” And to be very honest, I will say this candidly – we are willing to say “no” to Risen Motherhood if it comes between Emily and I. And God has been merciful that that has not needed to happen yet. But that’s how committed we are to one another and preserving that family relationship.
Emily: Absolutely. And I think one of the things I really value about Laura and I’s relationship is that Laura and I are very different. We have the same heartbeat in theology; we have the same heartbeat in life and in motherhood and all of that. But our personalities are different, so it has just been a mercy and a gift in my life to have Laura, who I think helps refine me and push me in areas where I am weak and quick to maybe turn to what’s more comfortable for me.
So I think whenever a relationship gets to a level where you can both sin and still love each other and work through that and be like, “This isn’t a perfect person or a perfect relationship, but yet I love it and God’s using it in my life and it’s so valuable to me ..” It’s just so beautiful – it’s kind of like when you get to that point in marriage and you realize your husband is a sinner. [laughs] And yet, you’re like, “I love him and I’m on his team and he and I are partners together in this.” It’s cool to get to that level in a friendship so I’m very grateful.
Laura: Yes, we are always on each other’s team. And that’s even when we disagree and it can be really hard to see – yet we sit back for two hot seconds and remember … we want to sit on the same side of the table. It does sound like a marriage relationship, Emily. [laughter]
Emily: I know!
Laura: I think that’s what makes it work, when you covenant with another person and you say, “I’m sticking by your side and we are together.” And so just know that Risen Motherhood isn’t without its bumps, that our relationship is imperfect. That there have been really hard days but I that’s what makes it work – the mercy and grace of God and two people who are willing to say, “I’m really sorry, will you forgive me?”
Emily: Amen. There can never be too much forgiving in any relationship.
Laura: Yes. So some more behind the scenes about Risen Motherhood – we had a lot of questions about this, so how do you try to balance ministry work life (Risen Motherhood) with everything else? And how many hours or days are you working on the ministry and how do you make the most of your time?
Emily: So Laura and I – I think we will answer this separate because it looks differently for each of us. We have different capacities, different family lives, different things that we enjoy doing, as part of Risen Motherhood, and different things that are harder for us each to do. So we have really – like Laura said – by the grace of God, over two years now Laura? Is that right?
Laura: A year and three-quarters.
Emily: We have tried to understand what each person needs in order to be able to do Risen Motherhood, and how we can help one another and accommodate that. The way it looks for me is, I try to do Risen Motherhood in chunks of time, in terms of “hard time.” Each day, I do all the normal things for my family, whether that’s keeping the house clean, getting laundry done and making sure that everybody’s eating. All of these things. Then, when my pocket of time comes up during the day, I will sit down and work on whatever content creation or email, or prepping for a show, writing, etcetera for Risen Motherhood. My hard time probably averages anywhere from two to five hours a week. It just depends; sometimes there’s no real hard time, and other weeks there’s a lot.
Then there’s these soft hours that are hard to quantify [laughter] for Risen Motherhood. Like, if I do an Instagram story, does that count? If I check Instagram, if Laura and I are having a conversation about strategy. Like, if I do that while cleaning, does that count? That’s where it can be kind of be murky, and it’s difficult to explain how it fits into life. It’s something that I’ve had to push harder than I feel comfortable with sometimes. Then there’s other times when I’ve had to pull back, and put boundaries where it’s creeping in too far. It’s all just a balance and praying, and checking in with my husband and all of those good things.
Laura: Yes, as Emily mentioned, we’ve really figured out different roles. At one point though, I was probably spending something like 30 hours a week on Risen Motherhood, doing more of the main behind-the-scenes running of it. It was too much time. It was all that I did. I did it anytime I had a chance, even if my kids were present or not. It really probably wasn’t the most healthy, especially because I still desired to be generally a stay-at-home mom. Through the encouragement of Emily and Becca; that is one thing I think that Emily is really, really good at, is saying, “How can you love your family best in this season, and what boundaries, or what things do you need to set into place so that you can do that?” I probably would not have done this on my own. But I am so glad that they encouraged me to do so.
With Becca coming on, and then as we mentioned, we have Kaitlin and Autumn. I really don’t have to do nearly as much, it’s really freed me up, even to a point where I am like, “Okay, what do I do now?” I do tend to be a type-A, go-getter person. I am now learning what a new routine looks like. I can’t really speak to it quite yet because we’re sort of in transition mode, but I have four hours of childcare a week. My youngest is still with me, but I do try to do bigger projects like the writing projects, or different, higher-level thinking things, during that time. Then, I would say I am an early riser, and so I do a lot of things before the kids get up, now that we’re getting back into routine. But it has been all over the place. Now that we’re trying to get into a more healthy routine, I am really grateful for that. I needed it more than I knew.
Emily: There’s obviously lots of details of the ins and outs. But another behind-the-scenes questions that we were asked is, do you live close to each other? How do you record together? Do you do a bunch of podcasts at once or separately, and how do you choose your topics? If we just talk through the logistics really quick here, Laura?
Laura: We do not live close to each other; we’re five hours away. I am in Chicago and Emily’s in central Iowa. We both record locally into our computers while we use Skype. Like right now I am looking at Emily on Skype [laughter]. Then I edit the shows into Garageband. But we both listen to the final show for clarity and for content. We do try to record a couple shows at once; that’s also a new thing. We used to record really early in the morning, so if you’ve been a long time follower you might have seen us on IG Stories that we’d post at 6 a.m.
Emily: I can’t believe we did that Laura.
Laura: I can’t either, I don’t know what got into us. But now, we are trying to use childcare time in order to record because we’re a littler peppier, we’re a little more with it. We both just feel like it’s just not as hard. It was really hard.
Emily: It was the most efficient at the time.
Emily: We theoretically set aside a couple of afternoons a month during naptime or school time or morning time. Whatever. Just trying to make the most of it. The topics that we choose are a combination of a few things. First of all, it’s often things that God is laying in our hearts to talk about. It’s things that we’re learning in our own journey of motherhood, and what He’s teaching us about gospel application, in our own lives. Then, honestly, a lot of it is Frequently Asked Questions from listeners. That, coupled with what we feel God is leading us to talk about a topic now. Sometimes our topics are just reason or direction-motivated. By that, I mean we may look at the year and say, “Hey, this is something we think that should be understood or talked about sometime in the next year.” So we will try and put that in our editorial calendar, or add in some type of perspective, or get a different kind of interview on a topic. So that’s how they come together.
Laura: We do have a Frequently Asked Questions page on our website, which, particularly for the logistics of, if we hear from some of you, you want to start a community like this, or you want to start a podcast. If you want some of our links, we’re happy to share; there is an answer in there that you can look at and see more nitty-gritty to this. Another layered-on question someone asked is, do you get paid for Risen Motherhood? We love having the free access, all the resources on the website, but I am just wondering if you make anything. [laughter]
Emily: No. Not right now.
Laura: Nope, we don’t make anything! [laughs]
Emily: We don’t make anything right now. It’s definitely been an interesting journey, so when we first started out. Honestly this is just been a passion project for Laura and I. This is an area where we feel like God’s gifted us and given us a calling for. It’s something we’ve done in our spare time. Podcasting is not free, so we did start out paying the expenses out-of-pocket. That’s where we’re still at, but maybe Laura you can speak to what the plan is as we continue to grow.
Laura: Well, the plan is always changing. [laughter]
Emily: That’s why I popped that question over to you.
Laura: Because neither of us knows the answer! Yes, it has been a passion project for Em and I, and as the podcast has grown … when it started, it wasn’t super expensive, but as it grows and we have more listeners, we have more resources, we have more things that are necessary, those expenses have just grown with it. We have been really grateful because we’ve had donors just pop up – God has provided where we haven’t had to seek anything.
Emily: We’ve had some incredible stories with that, where we’ve literally had an expense for a new thing, where we’re like, “Oh we really want to add this in, but we aren’t sure if we want to have that expense yet.” Then a check will show up in the mail. It just floors us; it’s amazing.
Laura: For the exact cost of whatever that expense was. We’re modern day George Millers you guys. [laughter] It’s been pretty amazing. But, we are looking ahead to, “Okay, how can we stabilize?” The expenses are getting enough that it’s a bit more difficult for Emily and I to cover. There some things that you’re going to see. We are fairly committed to not wanting to do ads. Not that ads are bad, but for us, they add a little bit more work and complexity. Also, we feel that with the very short show that we have of twenty minutes, it’s pretty precious to give up even one minute of an ad. So we’re looking into different things. They’ll probably be more information for you guys on that. But yes, we’re not really sure. We want to steward this platform well, and we are just trusting God to lead us to each stp, and how we need to move forward. How we can care for our families well, but also be able to continue to engage with you guys, and just encourage other moms on to a higher level of motherhood. So we’ll see.
Emily: We’re always encouraged because God provides. Like I said, whenever we get to a point with Risen Motherhood where we’re both like, “We don’t know how we’re going to keep doing this,” either because of time, or finances or whatever, God has been so gracious to provide a solution that we would not have thought of, or a resource that we didn’t previously have available. Or a person, or a helper. We just praise the Lord. He’s been very good to us.
Moving on to some other motherhood stuff, what things did you get, or do you get hung up on pertaining to little ones? Or what things did you obsess over, and try to control, and how did you give those things to God?
Emily: Well, currently, [laughs] if you want to know what I am hang up on, kind of a little thing - I am hung up on my kids not climbing on our upstairs couches right now. [laughter] Not because I care about the couch necessarily, but because I want one area of our home that I am like, “We don’t climb on this part of the home. We sit like nice, little, civilized people with our bottoms on the cushion. There is another area over there where you can climb.”
We’re pretty rigid about 7 p.m. bedtime at our house, and pretty much have always been. Honestly, that has some really good things about it, and has some things that are hard at times, and some things that is like, “Hey, we should be more flexible with that.” Another thing right now is touching the baby’s hands and face. That’s something I can be kind of crazy about. Little kids, or a little kid comes up and is like, “Ooh, baby”, and they rub their snot inside. I am like, “Get away!” [laughter]
Laura: And on the outside you’re like, “Ooh, sweet little thing.”
Emily: I am like, “Ooh, let me just hide my baby. Lock him away.” There’s always that part of me that is like, “Okay, you know what, we live life and we’re all like, “These are just burgers, this isn’t a severe illness, and I can trust the Lord. Even if something happens, I am going to trust Him with her life, and all of that.” It’s always that rehearsing the truth. I don’t know if there’s anything else right now. Our three-year-old twins are really into whining right now and I am very much into correcting them the whole day. I feel like their main area of training right now is, “No, you need to stop and say that to mommy in a kind voice. You need to try again.” [laughs] It’s a good stubbornness, but it’s also something that I have to remember like, “This is obviously a heart change. This isn’t something that just saying it over and over and over again is going to make the change. You need to be praying for them in this, and trusting that God is working in their hearts, and working through my parenting.”
Laura, what are all the things you’re stuck on?
Laura: I can identify with many of yours. I often I am just like, “Kids, how hard is it to ask kindly?” Like, “Come on.” But yet we repeat our sins all the time. I have to remind myself that, but it does seem like, “When will that set in?” [laughter]
Right now, not a lot of things are sending me into a true tizzy, and that doesn’t mean that I am not uptight at times. But in the past, I really was, especially with my firstborn. I just remember being really, really rigid about sleep schedules and what kind of food they were served, or being green and eco. None of those things are wrong, but I would have very, very visceral reactions if things got off track. Or if I wasn’t respected in some of those rules, or the way that I wanted to raise my firstborn, in the physical aspects of raising him. Part of that is sort of a natural learning process that every mom goes through. We have to sift through what matters, what doesn’t matter, and we feel like – especially as first-time moms – that a lot more things matter than when you have subsequent children. You just have to start picking and choosing a little bit more.
Emily: You can’t control every detail any more, and then you’re like, “Ah, oh. This really isn’t all under my care and control all the time.”
Laura: Exactly. Even now, looking at – I know Emily and I have shared this on the show so many times, so this won’t be new to you – but asking, “Hey, what am I worshipping right now?” Am I super bent out of shape because grandma held the baby for a nap? Or because someone just gave them sugar before dinner?” Or dad said, “Let’s go out for ice cream,” or something like that, right before dinner. Whatever that may be, I continually, even today, have to ask myself, “Does my response match the offense?” Going back to that and being honest about how I am really feeling, and checking my heart, and where it’s at. That just applies to motherhood no matter where you’re at, when we get uptight about things that aren’t really worth getting uptight over.
Emily: That right there was great advice Laura. Which leads us to the next question - what is the best spiritual and most practical advice you’ve received during your time as a mom?
Practical, right off the bat, I had a light-bulb moment when a mom sat down with me and we were talking about discipline. I was prepared for her to share all of her tips and tricks with me, and she spent a lot of time telling me about training. [laughter] Which is teaching my children in advance what I want them to do, and preparing them and setting expectations. Honestly, that’s my number one most helpful thing I need to do, when it comes to helping my children do what I’ve asked, and it’s usually the thing I forget the most.
The best spiritual advice – and this is not an exciting answer – but stay in the Word. If I am not growing in my relationship with God, and I am not feasting on true food that’s going to fill me up, I am going to have nothing to pour out to my family. Again, that’s something that is easy to lay by the wayside, but I keep coming back to it over and over again.
Laura: As far as practical, for me I want to use Emily’s because that truly is mine as well. But if I have to give something else, this probably isn’t the best thing that I’ve ever received, but it’s one of the best things that sucker punched me in the gut. Once when I started counting to three – I was just disciplining in front of this person – they said to me, “Oh, counting to three only teaches them to obey on three.” I was like, “Oh, that’s a really good point.” [laughter] That’s not necessarily the best advice that I’ve gotten, but I just thought it was a really good point.
Something else that helped me is when my mom once told me when I was trying to make some decisions about some stuff, she said, “What will matter for eternity, just do that.” I was like, “Yes, that’s actually a really good point. That’s really helpful, to evaluate: “Will it matter if my kids eat a cookie for eternity?” Probably not. But if I don’t help them shape a grateful heart, or help them with their heart attitudes, that will matter for eternity. It’s helped me keep my focus. Actually going back to that question we just answered, it’s a good question for determining what matters in motherhood and where to lay down our battles and draw our lines, that’s a good … thermostat … right?
Emily: Yes. Thermostat …
Laura: I am trying to say, “It’s a good measuring stick.” Whatever. It’s a good measuring stick [laughter].
Emily: There you go.
Laura: Moving on. Somebody else asked, how do you do more than just survive with multiple kiddos? There are so many needs all day, I feel like all I am doing is nursing, or trying to get the baby to sleep.
Emily: Well, can I just say we’re right there with you [laughs].
Laura: That’s pretty accurate though, isn’t it?
Emily: Yes. But one thing that I’ve learned and it’s taken me – for the last three-and-a-half years – I’ve felt like we were in survival mode ever since we had twins enter the picture. But even before that too. It’s just like, that is where my life is happening. I keep thinking I am going to get out of this stage and that we’re going to move on to something else.
But honestly, the way that we’re interacting with our kids - we can help train them so that they can sleep well. Fill up their tummies with good things, and help intervene with thingg. Showing them how to clean up their toys when they’ve spilled them everywhere. Helping get them from point A to point B. That is life. That is where this good stuff is happening. That’s where the training ground is happening, that’s where the gospel’s being passed on. So I am learning to, I won’t say embrace survival mode, but see it as not something that I should put my life on hold until I get out of it.
Laura: Another good point to bring in here was Ruth’s comments about God not letting us dominate every area of our lives. Remembering that, as Emily was saying, survival mode is His mercy, showing us that we can’t always be in control. We can’t always have it all together, so seeing that truth as evidence in your home, when you feel like you’re in survival mode. As Emily was saying too, I feel like it’s just my “mode.” Like, just take out the word “survival,” I am like, “This is just the M.O. right now.” For the first five years of motherhood, it’s just one big “survival mode.”
Emily: Practically, because I know you’re probably wanting a little practical titbit, [laughter] something that’s helped me over the last few years is developing a really stable home management routine. That means our house is in order and for us, that’s going to bed with a really clean kitchen every night, and having a picked-up house. It’s not perfect every single day, but honestly, that is the first thing that I add back in, as soon as I can when we go through a transition. So if everything else is chaotic, our house feels under a routine. Then starting to add in one little thing as you can, like, “Now I’ve got to meal plan a little bit.” Or, “Now I’ve got to take a little time away so I can figure out how to organize that closet.” It’s just doing it in little bite-sized chunks. Then not being upset if for one day your baby was sick, and all you did was sit on the couch with them and rock them. [laughs]
Laura: Speaking of babies to rock, “how do you cope with little sleep? Pregnancy insomnia, new-born’s stage, temporary illnesses?”
We did do a show that talks about transitions and times with little sleep, so check out episode 60 which we’ll link in our show notes. But on top of that, I know Emily and everybody else can identify with this question so much. My second born \had colic, and she crushed me. I was getting about three to five hours of sleep a night, and was not able to nap during the day because my toddler went on a different schedule, we had just moved, and there were a lot of transitions happening in our life. It was a very, very difficult season, and one that was actually really painful, and really revealed a lot of sin issues in my life. When I don’t get sleep I am totally the worst version of myself.
What I can tell you is during that season, I did cry a lot, I was a total train wreck. I read my Bible out loud and felt like, “Mmm, I feel nothing.” I felt like nothing had meaning, that God wasn’t listening to me, that He wasn’t hearing me. I prayed so much that He would bring us out of that season more quickly than He did. But I realized that as he progressed me through that season, he took me to a really sweet season of rest and recuperation, and so I was able to look back on that time. While I don’t have any practical tips for getting through a lot those things besides “catching sleep where you can,” which was something that I wasn’t able to do in that season, it really dug a lot of truths into me. So much deeper than a season of rest would have been able to do. Remembering that it may be a season that is really, really hard and really difficult, but it does have meaning. All suffering has meaning, and sleep depravation is a type of suffering. Suffering always has meaning; God works in that. So if you are there, I understand how difficult that is, and I am sorry I don’t have super practical advice. All I can say is that, where you’re at, God is going to work in that time, and He’s probably really, really refining your heart.
Emily: I am with you Laura of, if you want to see the worst version of who I am, catch me when I haven’t been sleeping for a period of time. I know I am super irritable with my family, I feel short, I feel like I’ve no self-control with food, [laughter] it’s like, “Whatever.”
But on a note of, let’s say it’s not like an illness, or a baby has colic or something that you have absolutely no control over, and God is just truly sustaining you. One thing is knowing that sleep has a direct correlation to how I treat my family. How I am feeling, in general, has helped us prioritize sleep - when I have babies - in terms of training, and some of the different sleep arrangements that we make. There’s complete freedom in the way that each family wants to do that.
But that is something we take into consideration when we are going, “Hey, where should this baby sleep? How should we help train them in that?” I just know if we can do what we can, knowing we cannot control everything, to help them sleep well so that we can be rested, I can, and my husband can really come alongside our kids a lot better during the day. It’s usually a better situation for our family, but it doesn’t always work out perfectly. [laughter]
Laura: Okay, how have your marriages weathered the recent health issues of your kids, and what do fights and reconciliation look like?
Emily: I thought this was a really insightful question.
Laura: I do too.
Emily: If you haven’t heard, your probably you’re like, “What are they talking about?” Go back and listen to a recent episode about questions and evaluations and appointments, and when your child does not fit the mold. On there, Laura and I shared a little bit about where we have been recently with kiddos who are going through different medical needs and therapy needs, etc.
Laura, you and I have different journeys in this. One thing that God has been really, really gracious to my husband and I, is to keep us unified in this season, and lockstep. That’s something I do not take for granted because my background is a little bit … I have one sibling who has significant special needs. I have a degree in special education, and most of my work experience has been with people who have special needs. By the time my husband and I had gotten married, we already had lots of conversations about the special needs community, and how that would maybe impact our family some day. Not our own children; we had no idea that was going to come into our life as parents. It wasn’t like a brand new thing to us, but I was under no illusions that it was going to be an easy thing when it happened to us as parents. I have seen first-hand in my own parents’ marriage, and in families who have children with special needs, that each parent absolutely grieves differently. They process differently and have different ideas about the way treatment should happen sometimes. That was something I was very fearful of as the situation started to unfold in our family.
But my husband and I have prayed and asked people. Every time someone is like, “How can we pray for you in this challenge you’re facing?” Over and over again, our number one prayer request is, “Pray that we are unified. Pray that our hearts would stay together in this.” So far, He has been so faithful to answer that prayer, and that is something that I am going to continue to cry out for as the years go on.
Laura: We’re pretty new to this journey, and my story’s very different than Emily’s. I really haven’t had much experience with special needs, or any major differences really. We’re still only a couple months into understanding diagnosis, so it’s a bit hard to say. But we are similar to Emily and Brad and we’re really grateful to have them in our lives. It’s pretty amazing that, again, God would just put Emily in my life, and Brad and Mike. So just unifying all of us in some senses of understanding, and being able to comfort one another as we work through the different diagnoses of our children.
One thing I would say is that my husband and I have talked – when we talk about grieving for our daughter – when my father-in-law passed in our first year of marriage, it was a really difficult imbalance in the grief levels. I had of course grown close with my father-in-law, over the five years that I knew him, but it was nothing like what my husband was experiencing, having lost his dad. At that time, I had no idea how to comfort my husband, and he could not comfort me. We were both very lost as we process grief differently. It was the first time we’d gone though that, and in many ways I felt like I needed to hide my grief because I didn’t deserve it, because his was so much more.
Not to get into what was right or wrong about some of that thinking or what happened during that time – the point is, when you have a child that is experiencing any type of health issue, as parents, you’re both grieving at the same level. So we can be allowed whatever amount of grief we need to have, we can have that. Maybe it looks different, but there’s this element of just knowing – for me and my husband – that we are experiencing the exact same thing. We both 10,000 percent get each other, and we 10,000 percent need each other during this time. It’s been really neat to be unified at that level, having experienced two different types of grief in my marriage, that we’re really able to support one another, even though we process these things differently. We both have the same dreams and we both feel like some of the hopes that we had for her have changed. We are allowed to be sad about that; we just understand each other more than anyone else can because she’s our daughter, and no one really loves her as much as we do – besides God of course. [laughter]
Emily: The next question is husbands -– about husbands getting leftovers because you’re so tired when he comes home. A version of that question was asked many, many times - how do you best balance the needs of your husband and your infant or your child? We have episode 35 about this, and we also have a show we did on the DadTired podcast that talked to this a little bit.
Laura: I’d say check out our marriage tab on our show notes. There’s a whole tab on marriage, and we’ve done like five shows. All of them will have probably pretty good nuggets of truth. But episode 35, I literally think it’s called “giving your husband more than the leftovers.” Something like that.
Emily: There you go. All of our answers are probably there.
Laura: We’re going to move past this question. It was asked a lot, so we wanted to address it. But that is one of those that we have done an entire episode on, so we will just encourage you to listen to it. We will link this on our show notes, and you can just check it out.
Emily: Alright. Another husband question - we would love to hear about how you balance housework with your hubby.
When I had just one kiddo, it was mostly me doing the vast majority of the housework on the inside. My husband did much work and he did a lot of that outside the house. When we added twins to the family, I felt like everything changed. It was like, “No, all hands on deck.” [laughter] We have been in that mode ever since. Our oldest is five so we have five kids, five and under. When my husband comes home from work, it’s like, “Okay, we’re all in this together.”
We have this unspoken rule of, “If you see it and it needs to done, you do it.” That’s where we’re at with housework right now. During the day, I try to keep the house as picked-up as possible. Usually my husband will do breakfast, I get meals cleaned up, ect. I do laundry during the day and prep dinner. Then when my husband comes home, after bedtime we both clean up the kitchen together, we load the dishwasher, we sweep together, we wipe counters, we do all of that stuff. Then when we’re done, we crash on the couch and look at each other and go, “Wooh!” Sometimes we chat after that. It’s just become more of a partnership; I do this, my husband does that. That’s where we’re at right now, and it’s totally fine. It changes season to season, especially on the weekends. We both just work at home; whatever needs to be done, we do together. It’s usually a mountain of laundry on our kitchen island; we put on a podcast, or we put on Audiobook and our kids play, and we fold laundry together. [laughter]
Laura: For me, my husband broke his leg in July. It is now the end of September when we are recording this episode. He is still on crutches, which, I just had to laugh when I saw this question because I thought, “Well, right now it’s kind of all landing on me though that is not our choice.” When he broke his leg I was like, “Your arms aren’t broken, here’s the basket of laundry.” He definitely has been helping where he can, but it’s a little bit of a weird season for us.
Prior to that, typically I usually do almost all of the housework. Even things like, I will mow the lawn or shovel the driveway. My husband does help out where he can, but my husband as you guys know, he does work pretty long hours. Because I have capacity, and where I have capacity, I really try to keep the house running because he is really the primary breadwinner in our home, and he is working very hard out there. So I do what I can here. That’s not to say it’s always like that; he was helping me cook lunch the other day, just sitting on a chair and cutting vegetables. I feel like, again, we don’t have strict rules, and as we’ve added more children to our life, especially with our youngest daughter’s health needs, with a lot of appointments and things like that. It has also been similar to what Emily said, it’s all hands on deck, so whatever he can do he does. I know that once his leg is better – please pray that it’s soon and he can walk and do it - that he will also just be contributing a lot more. [laughter] But yes, we’re in a funny season right now.
Emily: I would jump in too and say it’s the same as becoming true for our children too. Like, all hands on deck in this house, and they are now expected to help clean up as well. It’s not just us splitting our duties with our husbands. I know Laura and I are both intentionally saying, “Hey, kiddos, we need your help in this family too, and you need to pick this up.” Or, “You have this chore, or that thing that you’re responsible for.” It’s nice to be getting to that point where it’s not just mom and dad; it’s the whole family working together to make the house run well.
Laura: Very true. Yes, my kids can put away laundry, they put away the colorful dishes out of the washer. There’s lots of good chores they can do.
Emily: Next question was, do you keep your kids with you on Sunday, or send them to nursery? Do you send them to Sunday school, and how do you balance receiving from the Lord and caring for children?
Laura: This is a good one. Right now we actually kind of switched this up over the summer, my husband and I. All three of our children are with us for the first half of the worship service. There is Sunday school offered for our kids, but right now, we’re just keeping them with us. Our son had some questions about, “What do you guys do in there while I go and play?” We’re like, “Come see,” and it just stayed that way where we wanted to show them what it looks like, to see adults worshipping the Lord. Seeing their mom and dad, seeing the other kids’ parents and friends worshipping God, and see what it really looks like.
In terms of how that balances of getting things from the Lord, I am sure Emily you and I will have the same answer, about training our children, [laughter] back to what Emily had referenced eariler in the show. We prep them in the car, we talk about what the expectations are. Our only real expectations are that they sit or stand quietly with whatever the order the service is going in. But they don’t have to sing, they don’t really have to do anything special. They just have to behave and be quiet during the service. [laughter] It’s really fun and enjoyable to have them with us. To see them looking around and watching and coming home singing the songs that we’re singing. It’s not difficult to have them with us.
Emily: We are similar to you Laura. We just went through a transition. Our church at the age of five there is no more nursery or anything you can go to. So our oldest now is in the service with us the whole time. Like you said, we just have some activities. Right now the baseline is, “Be quiet, and don’t disturb any one.” But it is fun, and the goal obviously is integrating them into the church service. But other than that, I feel like we’re pretty liberal with the church nursery, just because of the quantity and ages of our kiddos. As it is, somebody will end up crying or needing us pretty regularly anyway. We definitely send our twins to the nursery, and we know that their time will come to start training them to be with us. That’s the way we’ve handled it this far, but it’s nice when your church culture dictates it for you. We’re just taking the lead of our church.
Laura: Alright. This next one is a related question which we have answered before. But we got it quite a few times, we continue to hear it, so we thought we would address it on air. The question is, how much should I sacrifice my child’s own needs in order to be able to attend church, or growth group? Basically to attend types of things that allow for spiritual growth. Emily, do you want to tell them where to find that answer?
Emily: We talked about this on our last Ask Us Anything Show, so you can definitely go check that out and we’ll link it in the show notes. We also touched on it a little bit in our show about finding your primary tribe. Definitely go check those out. But in a short answer, basically Laura and I would say that going to church as a family is super important. Being a part of a small group of people that meets weekly is really important. A Bible study is very worthwhile, and all of those things once or twice a week – disrupting that schedule is probably worthwhile, in our opinion, in order to fill up yourself spiritually and grow as a family.
Laura: Another one we got a lot is how do you balance housework versus playing with your kids? “Do you play with your children all the time?” That was how the question was phrased a couple times to us. [laughter] The answer’s “no, we don’t.” But we have also answered this before, again it comes into our inbox quite frequently, and it popped up here again. Check out the last Ask Us Anything Show for our answer on that, and how we balance the juggle because we know it is tough for sure.
Emily: Yes. Actually I am going to link in the show notes a resource too from Hannah Anderson and Erin Straza. They did a podcast episode at the very end of the summer about going back to school. They actually referenced this topic, and I thought they did a really great job of covering it. That just came into my mind. I’ll make sure we link to that.
Another question we have is, what resources do you have for training our toddlers, or for general discipline? We always get the question about resources for discipline and training. We have episode 57 about discipline, and you can also check out our resources page on our website, or the show notes for that show. We try to link to a lot of our favorite things, or at least a few things to help get the conversation started.
Laura: As we mentioned at the very beginning of the show, a lot of the topics we aren’t able to cover in full today, and they’re great questions, but we chose not to cover them because they really deserve their own shows. Some that we had already slated and we wanted to tell you about because they were asked about so many times: We are definitely going to talk about school. Emily and I [laughter] are definitely facing that right now, we’re dealing with that decision and working through all of the different options. So know that there is a three-part series coming up that we’re very excited about. We will cover all the major styles of schooling. That is coming down the pipe. Then, also we have a full-time working mom that’s coming on the show as well; that’s something that we’ve been trying to get, and we keep ending up with these very wonderful entrepreneurs, but they have a more flexible work-life balance. So we wanted to bring on someone who would really connect with all of you working moms. We hear you, and so we are bringing on a woman who has a really neat background, and we’re excited for her to apply the gospel to this topic. We want you guys to also know that we are working on that topic for sure.
Emily: Along that same vein, we are also frequently asked about working moms versus stay-at-home moms, and the whole mommy wars debate. We thought we would attempt to give an elevator speech to answer that question on this show. Even though we hope that over the course of many, many shows – if you’ve listened to us for a while – you can maybe even predict what our answer will be. [laughs]
Laura: Emily and I always joke about this question, because the question, “Should a mom work outside the home?” isn’t really the question that should be asked. The question that really needs to be asked is, “How can mom best fulfill her calling to raise her children in the Lord, in the unique circumstances that she is in, in a way that honors her husband and worships God with her gifts, skills and abilities for His glory?” It’s a longer question, and probably a much more difficult question. Oftentimes we go about this in the wrong direction. We want to basically say, “Yes,” or, “No.” Or, “Thirty-hours-a-week-maximum.” We really want this easy answer. But reality is – and this is what Emily and I talk about all the time on the show – there is freedom in Christ on this topic. There are a lot of different ways that this will play out. As we often also say about things, we can’t speak into every situation. We can’t know your heart, and why someone chooses to work and why someone doesn’t work. We think that you can work for a lot of wrong reasons, but you can also be at home for a lot of wrong reasons. It can go both directions. Emily I’ll let you jump in.
Emily: Yes, I echo all of that. As I saw somebody tweet the other day, “I echo that echo.” [laughter] It just always goes back to the heart; when you start on this practical level and try to draw lines, it’s like, “Well, how many hours away from your kids is okay each week?” It just falls apart really fast. What we want to do on Risen Motherhood is always go back to our mission as moms – what God is calling all of us to do - encouraging moms to be in the Word, to be involved in their local church, to have people in their lives who can speak into their unique situation. To have moms discipling one another and valuing the role of motherhood and how important it is to pass on the gospel to our children. We are trusting that God will be working in, and through that in families, to help moms make wise choices about what work may look like for their family in each season.
Laura: We hope that non-answer is helpful for you. [laughter]
Emily: It answers a different question right? Or asks a different question.
Laura: Exactly. It does not answer it for you. That’s your job. [laughter]
Emily: Oh! And speaking of choice, we know that it isn’t always even a choice. There are a lot of difficult situations that moms, and whole families find themselves in. Anyways, all that to say it really is a complex topic that goes back to the heart and trusting God with each person’s unique circumstances.
Laura: Okay, that’s our final question though, Emily. We’ve finally wrapped up.
Emily: Okay, thanks for joining us on another episode of Ask Us Anything. We will hopefully have another one of these in the future, so store up your questions! [laughter]
Laura: If you like what we’re doing here, please head over to iTunes and give us a rating and review. Those really, really help other moms find the show. Of course we are always engaged and listening to you guys over on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. All three of those platforms. At this point you might get any one of the five Risen Motherhood team members. It may not be Emily or I, but at the same time, we all keep each other very updated. We’re a tight-knit community, and we so appreciate hearing from all of you guys, so know that we are still listening, still engaging, and we love hearing about this stuff that you guys want to see on Risen Motherhood, and about the ways God is growing and changing you.
Emily: Yes. Thanks for joining us guys.